March 05, 2005


When the Bush administration's beady little eyes focus on the western hemisphere, I wonder who irritates them the most. Obviously they hate Castro, but mainly on ideological and historical grounds, considering that he hasn't engaged in more than run-of-the-mill internal thuggery since about the time of the Cuban missile crisis. My guess is that the person who steams their clams the most is one Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela.

Considering recent announcements, he's probably being moved up the administrations most hated foreigners list by the day. Lately, he's said that cheap oil is history, has just rewarded India with an expanded petrochemical exploration and refinement agreement, and has continued to claim loudly and often that the US is trying to assassinate him and was behind the 2002 coup that almost succeeded in toppling his government. And, horror of horrors, Chavez has increased ExxonMobil's extraction royalties from 0-1% to 16.6%.

Chavez' vice president says that the US is out of control with regard to statements implying that the Venezuelan government has become a destabilizing influence, and is clueless about Latin American issues in general. Whether that's true or not, Venezuela's substantial expansion trade with Brazil, new manufacturing agreement with Iran and Iranian-mediated petrochemical sales to China are putting them in touch with a lot of potential business.

If you want more background, I'd previously written a series of posts on the 2003 general employee lockout and oil strike leading up to the unsuccessful recall referendum.

Posted by natasha at March 5, 2005 09:25 PM | International | Technorati links |