Posts Tagged ‘Venezuelan Oil Exports’

Why Hugo Chavez was anti-U.S. (and vice versa)

March 13, 2013

Above is a report by American investigative reporter Greg Palast was broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corp. on May 13, 2002 about the short-lived attempted military coup against Chavez in 2002.  Below is a report by Palast for the BBC on April 3, 2006, which explains why the oil wealth of Venezuela is important to the United States.

The most important fact about Venezuela, so far as the United States is concerned, is not that it is a major supplier of oil to this country.   It is that Venezuela potentially has the world’s largest known reserves of oil, much more than Saudi Arabia.  Most of Venezuela’s oil is a thick gunk called heavy crude oil, which is too expensive to refine as long as oil prices are low.  Greg Palast said in his 2006 broadcast that heavy crude would be economically viable if world oil prices were $50 a barrel.   He now reports Venezuela’s export price is $100 a barrel.   What do we want—Venezuela’s heavy crude or Canada’s tar sands oil?

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Venezuela under Chavez: by the numbers

March 13, 2013
Double click to enlarge

Double click to enlarge

Hugo Chavez, the radical left-wing President of Venezuela, died last week.   What was his legacy?  His admirers say his policies changed the lives of poor and working people in Venezuela greatly for the better.   His critics say he left the Venezuelan economy in a shambles.  I think the figures on these infographics are as close as you can come to an objective answer.

The first infographic is from The Guardian newspaper in England.   It indicates that, during the Chavez administration, there was a big drop in the number of poor and unemployed Venezuelans, and the number of Venezuelan children who died in childbirth.  The overall Venezuelan economy was strong.  The value of oil exports rose, and economic output (GDP) increased.

However, the Chavez government was unable to bring down the high rate of inflation, and the value of Venezuela’s currency, the Bolivar, fell against the U.S. dollar.   Chavez’s worst failure was the rise in violent crime.   The murder rate almost doubled.

Double click to enlarge.

Double click to enlarge.

The next chart is from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.  It basically tells the same story, but puts it in historic perspective, by showing figures prior to 1998 when Chavez was first elected.   Economic growth was less under his predecessors, and inflation was even worse.   The Brookings analysts said he “all but silenced” the opposition, but the charts show the opposition received a substantial portion of the vote in all four elections, and a larger percentage in the fourth than in the first.

The last infographic, below, is from RIA Novosti, the official Russian news agency.  It shows that while Venezuela’s oil revenues increased under the Chavez administration, oil production languished.  Chavez’s admirers say that this was a policy decision, for the purpose of keeping oil prices high (by avoiding a glut on the market) rather than depleting a non-renewable resource.  Chavez’s critics say it was a result of a failure of the government-owned oil company to invest in keeping up oil production, which would bode poorly for Venezuela’s future.  Maybe the truth is somewhere in between.

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