Monday, September 25, 2006


GREG PALAST - You'd think George Bush would get down on his knees and
kiss Hugo Chavez's behind. Not only has Chavez delivered cheap oil to
the Bronx and other poor communities in the United States. And not only
did he offer to bring aid to the victims of Katrina. In my interview
with the president of Venezuela on March 28, he made Bush the following
astonishing offer: Chavez would drop the price of oil to $50 a barrel,
"not too high, a fair price," he said -- a third less than the $75 a
barrel for oil recently posted on the spot market. That would bring down
the price at the pump by about a buck, from $3 to $2 a gallon.

But our president has basically told Chavez to take his cheaper oil and
stick it up his pipeline. . .

Venezuela, Chavez told me, has more oil than Saudi Arabia. . . His
surprising claim comes from a most surprising source: the U.S.
Department of Energy. In an internal report, the DOE estimates that
Venezuela has five times the Saudis' reserves. However, most of
Venezuela's mega-horde of crude is in the form of "extra-heavy" oil --
liquid asphalt -- which is ghastly expensive to pull up and refine. Oil
has to sell above $30 a barrel to make the investment in extra-heavy oil
worthwhile. A big dip in oil's price -- and, after all, oil cost only
$18 a barrel six years ago -- would bankrupt heavy-oil investors. Hence
Chavez's offer: Drop the price to $50 -- and keep it there. That would
guarantee Venezuela's investment in heavy oil.

But the ascendance of Venezuela within OPEC necessarily means the
decline of the power of the House of Saud. And the Bush family wouldn't
like that one bit. It comes down to "petro-dollars." When George W.
ferried then-Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia around the
Crawford ranch in a golf cart it wasn't because America needs Arabian
oil. The Saudis will always sell us their petroleum. What Bush needs is
Saudi petro-dollars. Saudi Arabia has, over the past three decades,
kindly recycled the cash sucked from the wallets of American SUV owners
and sent much of the loot right back to New York to buy U.S. Treasury
bills and other U.S. assets.

The Gulf potentates understand that in return for lending the U.S.
Treasury the cash to fund George Bush's $2 trillion rise in the nation's
debt, they receive protection in return. They lend us petro-dollars, we
lend them the 82nd Airborne.

Chavez would put an end to all that. He'll sell us oil relatively
cheaply -- but intends to keep the petro-dollars in Latin America.
Recently, Chavez withdrew $20 billion from the U.S. Federal Reserve and,
at the same time, lent or committed a like sum to Argentina, Ecuador,
and other Latin American nations. . .



ROBERT COLLIER, SF CHRONICLE - He pops up almost everywhere -- Africa,
Asia, the Middle East, South America and this week at the United
Nations, denouncing U.S. policy with revolutionary fervor. Like a
recurring bad dream for the Bush administration, Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez is molding himself into one of the world's most pre-eminent
anti-American leaders. Days before he addressed the United Nations --
where he called President Bush the devil Wednesday -- Chavez hosted the
equally anti-American Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Caracas.
They cemented an increasingly close alliance by signing more than 20
trade and investment deals, and Chavez promised to cut off oil supplies
to the United States in the event of a U.S. military attack on Iran.

At last week's summit in Cuba of the 116-nation Non-Aligned Movement,
Chavez emerged as the heir apparent of the movement's longtime patron,
the ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro. However, Chavez has something
Castro never had -- huge oil revenues that will last for decades to

"Unlike Castro, who depended on the Soviet Union, Chavez is completely
independent economically, which gives him a large margin to maneuver,"
said Luis Lander, a professor of social sciences at the Central
University of Venezuela in Caracas. . .

"Chavez is wildly popular in places where you wouldn't imagine people
had even heard of him," said Carlos Mendoza, who was Venezuela's
ambassador to Russia until last year and previously was ambassador to
Saudi Arabia. "In the (Persian) Gulf states, for example, everyone knows
who he is, they admire him and love him."

In the past two months, Chavez has been an international whirlwind,
visiting China, Russia, Belarus, Iran, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia,
Portugal, Qatar, Syria, Mali, Benin, Angola, Argentina, Brazil and
Jamaica. He visited Cuba three times, becoming a fixture at Castro's
bedside and relaying news of the Cuban president's medical condition to
the world. . .

Chavez has single-handedly rescued Cuba's economy, providing an
estimated $1.8 billion annually in oil and other investments. In
Argentina, Chavez bought $3.1 billion in government bonds in the past
year, allowing the government to pay off its debts to the International
Monetary Fund and World Bank; in Bolivia, he is giving about $200
million in aid programs, ranging from military supplies to computers for
schools; and in Nicaragua and El Salvador, he has discounted oil and
gasoline to leftist municipal governments controlled by the Sandinista
Front and Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, respectively. . .

Polls show that Chavez is the third-most popular leader in Latin
America. According to a report by Consulta Mitofsky, a Mexican polling
firm, based on surveys taken March through May, Chavez is supported by
70 percent of Venezuelans, trailing only his leftist allies Evo Morales
of Bolivia and Nestor Kirchner of Argentina, at 81 percent and 80
percent, respectively.



JUAN GONZALEZ, NY DAILY NEWS - Hugo Chavez, the fiery president of
oil-rich Venezuela, is pumping up the volume - of cheap fuel oil for
low-income New Yorkers. And he's named a Kennedy as head salesman.
Individual homeowners and cooperatives in four of the city's five
boroughs will be able to buy cheap fuel this winter from an
oil-for-the-poor program, sources have told the Daily News. CITGO
Petroleum, the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela's state- owned oil company,
has earmarked 25 million gallons of fuel for low-income New York
residents this year at 40% off the wholesale market price. That's enough
fuel to heat 70,000 apartments, covering 200,000 New Yorkers, for the
entire winter.

Chavez launched the program last December in the South Bronx and other
parts of the Northeast. CITGO delivered 1 million gallons of discounted
oil to three nonprofit South Bronx housing groups in a pilot project.

This winter's expanded program will be administered by Citizens Energy
Corp., the Massachusetts nonprofit company founded by former Rep. Joseph
Kennedy. The company ran similar pilot efforts last year in
Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.


HAMILTON SPECTATOR - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez got a standing
ovation with another anti-Bush speech at a New York college. The South
American leader spoke at Cooper Union last night before a packed
audience including professors and union organizers. . . Chavez compared
the Bush administration's actions to those of the Nazis and said the U-S
president should be brought before an international tribunal.


CBC - Author Noam Chomsky got an unexpected boost in sales after
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez cited one of his books in a speech to
the UN General Assembly. . . Hegemony or Survival, originally published
in 2003, had jumped into the top 10 of Amazon and Barnes & as
of Thursday afternoon.

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