Thursday, July 24, 2008

It's scary

"Venezuela is broadening its network of regional alliances into Central America with its cheap oil financing initiative Petrocaribe, as countries find it increasingly hard to turn down President Hugo Chávez's largesse amid soaring oil prices.After Guatemala formalised its membership at the Petrocaribe summit on July 13, Costa Rica has officially requested to sign up. Honduras joined earlier this year.

Chavez may be far to the left side of politics, but cheap oil can easily win moderate and slightly to the right friends. "Petrocaribe" allows countries to pay for half the cost of the oil they import from Venezuela when they buy it. The balance can be paid off over 25 years.

The idea is to make friends with neighbors and keep U.S. influence down, Chavez claims.

And you thought the mortgage crisis was bad. Wait until Cuba, Guatemala, Jamaica and other poor countries find they owe Venezuela billion-dollar fuel bills they can't pay.

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