Politics at play with Petrocaribe?

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks in Caracas

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Today, Venezuela opens a summit with countries in the Caribbean. This is part of an energy agreement called Petrocaribe. Reuters reporter Brian Ellsworth has more from Caracas.


Brian Ellsworth: President Hugo Chavez created Petrocaribe to let countries like Jamaica and Haiti buy oil through contracts with sweetheart terms. Some of them pay their bills in products like bananas and nutmeg instead of cash.

Analyst Jorge Piñon says Petrocaribe is part of Chavez's efforts to boost the influence of his leftist politics.

Jorge Piñon: We see Petrocaribe as more as a political tool than as an economic tool.

But energy expert Roger Tissot adds the deal is attractive for poor Caribbean nations facing big fuel bills.

Roger Tissot: Oil prices are high, so this obviously is very tempting for those governments to see their imports bill reduced.

The conference will include 14 countries. Some of these are Latin American nations in the Caribbean region.

Chavez himself is wrapping up a tour of four South American nations where he's offering to help build energy facilities.

In Caracas, I'm Brian Ellsworth for Marketplace.

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