Sunday, November 27, 2005

CITGO, Hugo, and all that gas

Via Hans Bricks, Melana Zyla Vickers's article Venezuela's Worrisome Export: Revolution at TCS
Consider how his government takes advantage of Venezuela's oil wealth. When an American driver fills up at the local Citgo station, those gas dollars go from American wallets into Chavez's governing pockets -- after all, his government controls Citgo. From Venezuelan coffers, the money goes to fund leftist narco-insurgencies in Colombia, Ecuador, and other Latin American countries -- insurgencies the U.S. soldiers and U.S. taxpayers have expended great resources to tamp down.

Leftist guerrillas from eight Latin American countries have received training at Venezuelan military bases this year, according to an Ecuadorian intelligence report revealed in a Quito newspaper earlier this month. El Presidente Chavez of course denies the charges. But his recent vows to create a regional, anti-American leftist front, his alliance with Fidel Castro's Cuba, his rising military expenditures and persistent reports that weapons disappear from the Venezuelan military into the hands of regional leftist rebels, make the charges all the more believable.
Jeff Cohen thinks this is just peachy, because
The President is Hugo Chavez. Call him "the Anti-Bush."

Citgo is a U.S. refining and marketing firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company. Money you pay to Citgo goes primarily to Venezuela -- not Saudi Arabia or the Middle East. There are 14,000 Citgo gas stations in the US. (Click here to find one near you.) By buying your gasoline at Citgo, you are contributing to the billions of dollars that Venezuela's democratic government is using to provide health care, literacy and education, and subsidized food for the majority of Venezuelans.

Instead of using government to help the rich and the corporate, as Bush does, Chavez is using the resources and oil revenue of his government to help the poor in Venezuela.
(hat tip Babalu). Obviously Jeff Cohen wasn't been reading The Bad Hair Blog's Oil-For-What posts on where the oil is going. Never mind the funding of narcoterrorism.

I'll dare say that Jeff Cohen's article qualifies for an honorary mention in what Carlos Alberto Montaner calls Chávez's 'banana left' alliance. Send the man a t-shirt.

While Jeff Cohen wastes his time praising "the Anti-Bush", Investor's Business Daily sees Chávez's maneuvers for what they are
The problem in each of these cases is that an aggressive move to undermine and checkmate the U.S. on the foreign policy front was made exactly as the public relations moves started.

If Chavez were serious about delivering cheap fuel to the poor, he might start with his own people. Despite subsidized gas selling for 16 cents a gallon, half of Venezuela still can't afford it.

Or he might do something about the fuel shortages — absolutely incredible in oil-rich Venezuela — now reported in Tachira state. Or he might lower world prices by ending threats to cut off fuel to the U.S. Or he could just step up production — which has fallen about 25% since the U.S. Energy Department looked at it in 2002.

But why does Chavez need to do that? By the time he does something really outrageous, like take over a small country (and he's dropping hints on Guyana), or imprison a dissident or undermine the U.S., he'll have all the support he needs in the U.S. Congress.
Of course this is not news to us.

Update: Captain Marlow has a chart on what else Chávez is trying to buy.

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