Byline: Breakfast Table: Adrian Cristobal
PETRODOLLARS have been suspected of funding terrorism, but Hugo Chavez openly uses Venezuelaas petrodollars for foreign aid in a bid, according to critics, to enhance his image with the Majority World and at the same time embarrass George W. Bush (who denied Chavezsa accusation of supporting a coup against him).
Chavez is using his countryas bulging oil accounts to sponsor samba parades in Brazil, provide free eye surgery for poor Mexicans and heating fuel for poor American families "from Maine to Philadelphia." Argentina has paid its $9.8-billion debt to the International Monetary Fund through aid from Venezuela. Four African countries have also benefited from Chavezas largesse. In our part of the world, Indonesia as well.
All these amount to $3 billion in foreign aid, which surpasses Washingtonas allocation for development programs and the drug war in western South America.
Another feature of Chavezas foreign program is selling oil at cut-throat prices to Caribbean countries, bolstering his claim as the modern Simon Bolivar.
Itas likely that his foreign aid will increase with Chavezas government taking control of oil fields operated by Franceas TOTAL and Italyas ENI. …