Saturday, October 15, 2005

Chavez Says Oil Gives Venezuela 'Strong Card' To Play Against US

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 10.03.2005, 03:29 AM
*** My Note: PEHAPS NOT.  This current neocon~fascist bunch in the white house started a pre-emptive war in Iraq based on lies and fraud and saddam had plenty of oil.  -- Kevin

BUENOS AIRES (AFX) - Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez boasted in an interview Sunday that his country has a 'strong oil card' to play in its contentious relations with the US, and said its hand will be even stronger if other Latin American countries join it in a regional economic alliance.

'In Venezuela, we have a strong oil card to play on the geopolitical stage, and we're going to play it clearly in the interests of regional integration,' Chavez told the daily Clarin newspaper in an interview published on Sunday.

'It is a card that we are going to play with toughness against the toughest country in the world -- the United States,' Chavez said.

He stressed that Venezuela's actions will always be governed by 'transparency and respect'.

Chavez' remarks followed the first meeting last week of the South American Community of Nations in Brazil's capital, Brasilia.

He said Venezuela's hand has been strengthened by spiraling oil prices.

'We are confronting an energy crisis that can't be ignored: oil production is dropping and the price is rising,' he told Clarin.

Chavez, who has offered to invest 5 bln usd in a 'South American Development Bank', has expressed his disappointment with the South American trade summit, which produced a vague program with no start-up date.

Leaders of South American nations, minus Argentina, Colombia, Guyana, Uruguay and Suriname, met in hopes of mounting a South American free-trade zone. But Chavez criticized the alliance as merely a union of Mercosur and the Andean Community, free-trade areas with an inordinate influence from Washington, he alleged.

Last month, Chavez agreed deals to provide oil on preferential terms to most Caribbean nations after a meeting of regional energy ministers in Caracas. Bilateral agreements were signed with the Dominican Republic, Dominica, Grenada, Suriname, Belize, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda.

He earlier signed similar agreements with Cuba and Jamaica. The arrangement allows participating governments to pay market price for Venezuelan oil, for just a small portion of customary up-front costs, and allows them to finance the rest of the payments over 25 years at one percent interest if oil prices exceed 40 usd a barrel.

Governments could also pay for part of the cost with services or goods such as rice, bananas or sugar. Venezuela has also agreed to provide assistance in expanding shipping and refining facilities.


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