Chavez Gives Midnight Speech to Launch Chinese-Built Satellite

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez spoke until 12:40 a.m. Caracas time on state television as the nation celebrated the launch of its second Chinese-made satellite into orbit last night.

“This is only possible under revolution,” Chavez, who is bidding for a third six-year term in an Oct. 7 election, said. “We’ve entered the future.”

The Miranda satellite, as it’s known, was launched from China late yesterday and will conduct observation of the Earth to support agriculture and housing projects in the South American country, Science Minister Jorge Arreaza said on the Televen network yesterday. The satellite will also boost surveillance capabilities to protect against security threats and detect illegal mining sites during its 14 daily orbits, Arreaza said.

The satellite was funded with loans from China that Venezuela repays with oil, Chavez said. Since 2007, the China Development Bank has lent Venezuela $42.5 billion collateralized by revenue from the world’s largest oil reserves, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from announcements of deals by the Chavez government. The loans are fueling increased government spending ahead the election.

“One of the cameras allows us to analyze where you find vegetation, water and minerals,” Arreaza said. “That way, we can guarantee all the planning processes including those in agriculture, urban and environment.”

Crowds gathered in a plaza in downtown Caracas to watch the launch on large television screens.

China and Venezuela signed a $140 million contract last year to build and launch the satellite. Venezuela operates another Chinese-built satellite, known as the Simon Bolivar, which supports telecommunications projects including spreading internet access.

Venezuela is working to develop its own satellites and will open a development center next year, Arreaza said on state television.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jose Orozco in Caracas at jorozco8@bloomberg.net; Nathan Crooks in Caracas at ncrooks@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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