Saturday, July 30, 2005

Chavez Using Venezuela's Oil to Extend Influence

While the U.S. focuses attention elsewhere, Venezuela is trying to extend its influence and its "Bolivarean revolution" in Latin America and the Caribbean. Venezuela provides help to Uruguay so that a refinery there can process the sulfur-heavy crude from Venezuela. Venezuela also offers oil at better terms (such as barter) to the poor Caribbean countries that do not produce oil. Trinidad and Tobago, which is near Venezuela but produces its own oil, and Barbados are about the only Caribbean nations resisting Venezuela's offers. Meanwhile, Cuba, in what may be a coordinated move, offers to send medical doctors to poor countries on favorable terms.

The U.S. needs to keep its eye on what Cuba and Venezuela are doing and to counter their efforts. The Caribbean island nations and Latin America may not have much wealth or power, but they are near enough to concern us should they join the cause of Venezuela and Cuba.

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