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Venezuela squandered oil opportunities

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez takes part in a meeting of the leaders of the Bolivarian Alternative group at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on April 23.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

KAI RYSSDAL: Oil prices tumbled today, as I mentioned. More than 6 bucks. The biggest dollar drop in 17 years. Part of that was the grim economic forecast from Mr. Bernanke this morning. Another was that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez didn't make news with any public announcements today. Venezuela's a key crude supplier to this country. So this week as we're trying to get a handle on why oil prices move the way they do, we've called Michael Shifter with the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.

Mr. Shifter, good to have you with us.

MICHAEL SHIFTER: Thank you. It's nice to be with you.

RYSSDAL: The Venezuelan oil industry today isn't really what it was just a couple of years ago, is it?

SHIFTER: No, it's not. They've had tremendous problems, lack of expertise, lack of investment, a lot of technical difficulties. So, it used to be the jewel of Venezuela. It no longer is.

RYSSDAL: How much of that lies with President Hugo Chavez and his plans to reshape the economy there?

SHIFTER: Well, I think Hugo Chavez has introduced a new form of governance. And there was a strike at the oil company at the end of 2002, early 2003. And, basically, President Chavez put in a lot of people in key positions whose primary qualification was to be loyal to him. but it has had a tremendous cost in terms of the productivity of the state oil enterprise.

RYSSDAL: And has that hurt the Venezuelan economy domestically?

SHIFTER: It has hurt in the sense that there was a tremendous opportunity that Venezuela had really to use the resources well for the purpose of developing the country. That hasn't happened. So, unfortunately, Chavez has managed to stay in power and he has kept some support.

RYSSDAL: Venezuelan oil, obviously, is important to the United States. It's either the number four or number five importer to this country. How important is it for the Venezuelan economy, though? How reliant are they on oil revenues?

SHIFTER: Well, it's tremendously important. And one of the ironies of Chavez's rule is that he really attacked the old political-economic establishment in Venezuela that preceded him for being too dependent on oil. And yet, his economy is even more dependent on oil -- even more dependent on exports to the United States than his predecessors were, despite the political tension with the United States.

RYSSDAL: So when he does things that make geopolitical news around the world, whether it's nationalizing the oil industry or -- as he did a year or two ago -- calling President Bush the devil, is he doing that with one eye on oil prices, helping to bump them up a little bit?

SHIFTER: His main objective is to consolidate his political power, stay in office as long as he possibly can. For him, oil is a political instrument, a political weapon that has enabled him to mobilize support, to provoke enemies from the outside like the United States, with the aim of trying to increase . . . see oil prices go up and to see his power tighten.

RYSSDAL: The Bush administration has been dismissive of President Chavez. The president wouldn't even mention his name when he was down on that South American swing a year, year-and-a-half or so ago. Does the White House ignore Mr. Chavez at its own peril when it comes to oil?

SHIFTER: Well, I think Chavez has to be taken very seriously. It's a mistake to ignore him. But what I think President Bush was trying to do was to not go for his bait. Because the United States has done that and at every turn he's become stronger. The challenge is who to deal with him in a more sophisticated way -- strengthening relationships with other Latin American countries. Really, the United States hasn't been able to really keep him in check and really deal with him in a very effective way.

RYSSDAL: Well, Mr. Shifter, thanks a lot for your time.

SHIFTER: Thank you. My pleasure.

RYSSDAL: Michael Shifter is the vice president for policy at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.

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SHIFTER:So, it used to be the jewel of Venezuela (IN THE HANDS OF FOREIGNERS). It no longer is.(NOW IT IS IN OUR HANDS) SHIFTER: Well, I think Hugo Chavez has introduced a new form of governance.(RIGHT, HE CALLED FOR A REFERENDUM TO REVIEW THE CONSTITUTION AND IT PASSED, THEN THE PEOPLE AND GOVERNMENT TOGETHER DRAFTED THE NEW CONSTITUTION WHICH INCLUDED A NEW LAW FOR HYDROCARBONS, THEN THE PEOPLE VOTED AND IT PASSED, SINCE THEN HE HAS GRADUALLY FOLLOW THE LAWS OF THE NEW CONSTITUTION WHICH INCLUDE MAJORITY OF GOVERNMENT SHARES IN ANY JOINT VENTURE IN OIL) And there was a strike at the oil company at the end of 2002, early 2003(DESIGNED, FINANCED AND SPONSOR BY THE USA). And, basically, President Chavez put in a lot of people in key positions whose primary qualification was to be loyal to him9APROX, 17,000 WERE FIRE FOR GOING ON AN ILLEGAL STRIKE, MOST OF THEM OVERHEAD, MANAGERS VPS AND DIRECTORS WHO WERE PARASITES GETTING BIG BUGS TO SERVE FOREIGN INTEREST. but it has had a tremendous cost in terms of the productivity of the state oil enterprise. (PRODUCTIVITY WAS RECOVERED FAILY QUICKLY THANKS TO LOYAL WORKERS WHO CARE FOR THEIR COUNTRY, THIS COULD BE EASILY VERIFIED BY LOOKING AT THE ECONOMICAL GROWTH FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS, THE COUNTRY'S RESERVES AND INVESTMENT IN EDUCATION, HEALTHCARE AND INFRASTRUCTURE ETC) SHIFTER: It has hurt in the sense that there was a tremendous opportunity that Venezuela had really to use the resources well for the purpose of developing the country(WHY IS IT THAT BEFORE CHAVEZ AND UNDER US DOMINANCE THE COUNTRY WAS DRIVEN TO MISERY? WHY DIDN'T THE US INVEST IN INDUSTRIALIZING THE COUNTRY, YOU JUST WANT THE THIRD WORLD TO STAY UNDEVELOP SO THAT YOU CAN RIP THEIR NATURAL RESOURCES THAT IS WHY). That hasn't happened. So, unfortunately, Chavez has managed to stay in power and he has kept some support.(HE WILL REMAIN IN POWER FOR ANOTHER 4 YEARS AND THE NEXT PRESIDENT WILL FOLLOW HIS LEAD OTHERWISE THE PEOPLE WILL NO TOLERATE IT, THE USA MUST KNOW THAT THE VENEZUELAN PEOPLE WILL NO LONGER TOLERATE UNLOYAL PRESIDENTS AT YOUR SERVICE) SHIFTER: Well, it's tremendously important. And one of the ironies of Chavez's rule is that he really attacked the old political-economic establishment in Venezuela that preceded him for being too dependent on oil. And yet, his economy is even more dependent on oil -- even more dependent on exports to the United States than his predecessors were, despite the political tension with the United States. (WRONG ANSWER MR SHIFTER: BEFORE CHAVEZ 100% OF VENEZUELAN OIL EXPORT WENT TO THE USA. NOW WE SUPPLY MANY COUNTRIES IN LATIN AMERICAN, CHINA, INDIA AND MANY MORE, THE OIL BELT HAS MANY CONSESSIONS GIVEN TO MANY COUTRIES) YOU ARE JUST LYING TO THE PUBLIC SR. BUT HEY... THAT IS YOUR JOB. SHIFTER: His main objective is to consolidate his political power, stay in office as long as he possibly can. For him, oil is a political instrument, a political weapon that has enabled him to mobilize support, to provoke enemies from the outside like the United States, with the aim of trying to increase . . . see oil prices go up and to see his power tighten. YARAYARAYARA....REPLAYING SAME GARBAGE THE MSM PORTRAITS TO DECEIVE THE PUBLIC..CHAVEZ IN NOT AN ENEMY OF THE USA....HE IS AN ENEMY OF THE BUSH ADMIN AND THE BILLIONAIRES WHO CONTROL THE GOVERNMENT (IE:ROCKEFELLER TO NAME 1, HE SPONSORED THE COUP AGAINST CHAVEZ AND WORSE YET RESPONSIBLE FOR 911, see interview with Aaron Russo)http://mx.youtube.com/watch?v=7nD7dbkkBIA SHIFTER: Well, I think Chavez has to be taken very seriously.(THE IV FLEET AS A PROOF) It's a mistake to ignore him. But what I think President Bush was trying to do was to not go for his bait. (BUSH IS NO MATCH, INTELECTUALLY, POLITICALLY, ETHICALLY, HUMANLY)Because the United States has done that and at every turn he's become stronger(HE HAS PROVEN TO THE WORLD THE US HIPOCRICY). The challenge is who to deal with him in a more sophisticated way -- (CIA, SPONSORING THE OPOSITION IN VENEZUELA THROUGH ALL KINDS OF ILLEGAL WAYS AS PROVEN ALREADY, ARMING COLOMBIA, DISTURBING THE PEACE IN VENEZUELA, SPONSORING COUP) WE KNOW THEM ALL MR. SHIFTER strengthening relationships with other Latin American countries. Really, the United States hasn't been able to really keep him in check and really deal with him in a very effective way. (AND YOU WON'T, THE ONLY OPTION YOU HAVE IS ASSESSINATION AND INVASION AND YOU HAPPEN TO BE ALREADY TOO BUSY DOING THAT) IF THAT WERE TO HAPPEN, THAT WOULD BE ECONOMICAL SUICIDE AND MOST LIKELY THE START OF WW3. RYSSDAL: Well, Mr. Shifter, thanks a lot for your (LIES)time.

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