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Monday, August 28, 2006

Venezuelan Communist's Oil Threat

Luis Tascon is a leading Venezuelan parliamentarian and a founding member of the Movement for the Fifth Republic (MVR). The MVR is the main parliamentary party supporting President Hugo Chavez and his “Bolivarian revolution”. Luis Tascón was re-elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly in the Venezuelan parliamentary election of 2005, representing MVR and the Communist Party of Venezuela of Táchira state.

Tascon caused a national scandal in 2004 when he published on his website the signers of 2004 referendum to recall Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. According to Chavez opponents, this list of 2.4 million people was then used to fire people, ban them from jobs, from obtaining ID cards, passports etc.

According to an interview published in the latest Green Left Weekly, there were "difference between Venezuela’s revolution and the 1979-90 Sandinista-led revolution in Nicaragua, which Washington successfully defeated through funding the Contras’ bloody insurgency. As with Nicaragua, Venezuela’s revolution has faced stiff opposition from the US ruling elite. This has included a Washington-backed military coup in April 2002 and a devastating lockout by Venezuelan bosses in December the same year.

Tascon explained that Venezuela and Nicaragua had significant differences that have helped the former from so far falling victim to the latter’s fate. “Nicaragua is a very poor country, with very few resources. Venezuela is a rich country, with very substantial resources of oil. We have 12.5% of the internal petroleum market in the US. We are owners of [the state-run oil industry] PDVSA. We could cause a lot of damage to the US economy if our oil was cut off — more than any war.

“This is the context in which President Chavez has entered world politics. Oil has given Venezuela a little power. At present, the US is involved in the Middle East, which is more of a priority than Venezuela right now. The US also has North Korea on its agenda. Because of this, they are using Colombia as a platform against Venezuela, rather than direct intervention. Venezuela cannot be tackled head-on for the time being.

“The price of petrol has risen to close to [US]$76 per barrel. When we began the revolution, oil was at $25 per barrel. Venezuela has the biggest reserves of oil in the world. Inflation is under control. We have managed our strong economy, thanks to the price of petrol. So, it is very different to the situation of Nicaragua [in the 1980s].

Tascon told GLW that the US “must take care”. “Nicaragua only had bananas [to export]. The effect of a war with Venezuela would seriously de-stabilise the world oil market. If this happened, the price of Venezuelan oil could rise to over $100 per barrel, and this would undermine the US economy. The US will do everything it can to bring down Chavez, but under these conditions, Venezuela is a very difficult target for them.”


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