With oil this cheap, why say no?

Oil refinery

TEXT OF STORY

Doug Krizner: Energy ministers from 16 Caribbean countries are in Cuba today. They'll celebrate the reopening of a Soviet-era oil refinery, rebuilt with money from Venezuela. It's part of a foreign policy victory for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: the promise of cheap oil. Marketplace's Dan Grech has more from our America's desk at WLRN.


Dan Grech: Venezuela has agreed to sell oil to poor countries in the Caribbean and Central America at sweetheart rates. Deferred payment of their oil bills for 25 years, at 1 percent interest.

Phil Peters: Who could turn that down, regardless of your politics?

That's Phil Peters with the Lexington Institute. He says the U.S. portrays Cuba and Venezuela as leftist ideologues.

Peters: But what they offer to the region is not just ideology. They offer very concrete economic benefits: cut-rate oil, health care and educations services all over the region.

Critics say the deal on oil puts countries deeper in debt. The countries say it frees up money for social programs.

I'm Dan Grech for Marketplace.

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