Chavez pushing for OPEC cuts

OPEC headquarters in Vienna

KAI RYSSDAL: It was a slightly inflationary morning economy-wise. The consumer price index came out today. Core inflation's running a little hot, about two-tenths percent last month, three percent even over the same time last year. That rise comes as oil prices are falling. Along those lines, OPEC's called an emergency meeting tomorrow. The cartel will be debating a plan to cut production by a million barrels a day to put a floor under those sagging prices. The biggest proponent of more expensive crude isn't Saudi Arabia or Nigeria. It's Venezuela. From the Marketplace Americas Desk at WLRN, Dan Grech reports.


DAN GRECH: High oil prices have helped Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez grab the spotlight on the world stage. A further drop in those prices would threaten his newfound status.

Adam Isaacson is with the Center for International Policy, a think tank in Washington D.C.
ADAM ISAACSON:"He's got big plans. An expansive foreign policy, weapons purchases and, to his credit, a lot of spending on the poorest in Venezuela. And I don't think they want to make any cutbacks from the levels that they've been able to spend at over the last three years."

But Chavez isn't just thinking economics. Jerry Haar is with Florida International University.

JERRY HAAR:"Anything that he can do as an inducted member in President Bush's Axis of Evil, he certainly will. No different that Kim Jung Il and others who want to tweak their nose at the United States."

That has the U.S. working behind the scenes to limit Venezuela's influence at OPEC — and to keep gas under $3 a gallon.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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