TITLE

Crude Analysis

AUTHOR(S)
Kahn, Jeremy
PUB. DATE
February 2003
SOURCE
New Republic;2/10/2003, Vol. 228 Issue 5, p14
SOURCE TYPE
Periodical
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
Discusses United States-Venezuela relations during a period of imminent war against Iraq and a general strike in Venezuela. Critics claim the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush's push for regime change in Iraq is motivated by oil, but in Venezuela the exact opposite is true: Oil is the reason the United States is leaving Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in power. The United States normally imports 14 percent of its oil--1.5 million barrels per day--from Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest petroleum producer and home to the Western hemisphere's largest proven reserves.The loss of Venezuelan oil supplies during its general strike has helped send U.S. petroleum reserves to their lowest levels since 1975 and has helped drive up prices at the gas pump five cents nationwide. More importantly, Venezuela's crisis threatens to seriously complicate the Bush administration's planning for war with Iraq. Chávez, a former paratrooper turned leftist populist, has irritated the United States ever since he was first elected in 1998. The administration seemed to endorse--and, some speculate, covertly helped plan--an abortive April, 2002, coup against Chávez that even many of his opponents denounced as undemocratic. The new American diplomatic push centers on a group called "The Friends of Venezuela," which consists of Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain, along with the United States. It's a clever maneuver designed to head off a rival proposal by Brazil's new left-leaning president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. And the strike cuts both ways, sapping the economic strength of the opposition, which is largely composed of middle-class workers and wealthy business interests. The Bush administration believes Chávez will be voted out eventually.
ACCESSION #
9018390

 

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