[Marxism] Chávez taunts US with oil offer

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Aug 26 10:56:01 MDT 2005

(This won't be sufficient to satisfy Chavez'
armchair critics in the United State of America.
While Robertson and the United States government
revile Chavez as a Castro-loving dictator, even
though his electoral majority was somewhat more
substantial than Bush's was, sectarian critics
will question Chavez's honesty and commitment
to improving the lives of Venezuelans and of 
the people of the United States as we see here.)

Chávez taunts US with oil offer

Venezuelan president hits back at assassination remarks with offer of
cheap petroleum for poor Americans
Duncan Campbell
Thursday August 25, 2005
The Guardian

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela hit back vigorously at calls by an
ally of President George Bush for his assassination by offering cheap
petrol to the poor of the US at a time of soaring fuel prices.

In a typically robust response to remarks by the US televangelist Pat
Robertson, Mr Chávez compared his detractors to the "rather mad dogs
with rabies" from Cervantes' Don Quixote, and unveiled his plans to
use Venezuela's energy reserves as a political tool.

"We want to sell gasoline and heating fuel directly to poor
communities in the United States," he said.

Mr Robertson's remarks have threatened to inflame tension between the
US and one of its main oil suppliers.

Yesterday the religious broadcaster apologised for his remarks.

"Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologise for that
statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man
who thinks the US is out to kill him," he said.

In a TV broadcast on Monday, he said: "If he thinks we're trying to
assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."

Yesterday Mr Robertson initially said his comments had been
misinterpreted, but went on to add that kidnapping Mr Chávez might be
a better idea.

"I said our special forces could take him out. Take him out could be
a number of things, including kidnapping."

The Bush administration tried to distance itself from Mr Robertson's
views without upsetting the large Christian fundamentalist wing which
the veteran evangelist represents.

A State Department spokesman said assassination was not part of
government policy. "He's a private citizen," Donald Rumsfeld, the
defence secretary, said of Mr Robertson. "Private citizens say all
kinds of things all the time."

But Mr Robertson's remarks are seen as an embarrassment at a time
when the US is calling for a united front against terror.

Democrats have challenged the Bush administration to be more
outspoken in its response to Mr Robertson's remarks on the Christian
Broadcasting Network.

Venezuela's ambassador to the US, Bernardo Alvarez, said: "Mr
Robertson has been one of this president's staunchest allies. His
statement demands the strongest condemnation by the White House."

The Venezuelan government is asking for assurances from the US
government that Mr Chávez will be adequately protected when he visits
New York for a special session of the UN next month.

Venezuela's vice-president, José Vicente Rangel, said the possibility
of legal action against Mr Robertson for incitement to murder should
also be considered.

Venezuela, the world's fifth largest crude exporter, supplies 1.3m
barrels of oil a day to the US. It remains unclear how poor Americans
might benefit from the cheap petrol offer, but Mr Chávez has set up
arrangements with other countries for swapping services in exchange
for oil. Cuban doctors are working in the poorer areas of Venezuela
in exchange for cheap oil going to Cuba.

Jamaica yesterday became the first Caribbean country to reach an
agreement with Venezuela for oil at below-market terms. The
Petrocaribe initiative is a plan to offer oil at flexible rates to 13
Caribbean countries. Jamaica will pay $40 a barrel, against a market
rate of more than $60.

Mr Chávez said oil importers such as the US could expect no respite
from the oil market, predicting the price of a barrel would reach
$100 by 2012.

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