The Revolution Inside

From Latin American Odyssey, to a profound investigation of the Bolivarian revolution. Hugo Chavez says: Socialism or Death! Leftists rejoice, and Capitalists squeal. But what do the people of Venezuela think about all of this?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

El Salvador Gets Cheap Oil

Interesting times for El Salvador. The FMLN (Faribundo Marti Liberacion Nacional), formerly revolutionary armed group turned political party, barely wins the election, after three days of delayed results. This comes right after Bush administration goes around the stalled CAFTA implementation, preferring instead to sign one on one deals with Latin American countries.

And now, Chavez says, if you´re going to sign a deal that doesn´t benefit El Salvador, we´ll sign one that does: cheap petroleum in exchange for agricultural products. Now, I don´t know exactly how the products get to the border of countries like Bolivia and El Salvador - but if there are provisions that ensure that these products are produced by small farmers and agricultural cooperatives, these deals really do help campesinos in these countries. Without seeing some numbers, I can´t tell on what scale, but one of the problems of the campesinos we met in Nicaragua was that CAFTA would make it more difficult for their farmers to get their products to an international market, because they can´t afford all the shipping infrastructure that the big agriculture companies can.

It´s pretty interesting foreign policy.

Chavez Lashes Out at Free-Trade Pacts

The Associated Press
Monday, March 20, 2006; 11:43 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela agreed Monday to sell fuel under preferential terms to an El Salvador association created by a group of leftist mayors. Details of the amount of fuel that will be sold to the Intermunicipal Energy Association for El Salvador were not immediately available but shipments were to begin "as soon as possible," said Violeta Menjivar, mayor-elect of San Salvador.

It was not immediately clear what kind of fuel was covered by the agreement, but local Salvadoran officials said they hoped for diesel and gasoline. The Venezuelan state oil firm subsidiary PDV Caribe reached the agreement with the El Salvador association, formed by mayors belonging to the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front party.
Under the agreement, cities headed by the FMLN will pay 60 percent of their oil bill within 90 days while paying for the rest in-kind through agricultural products and locally made goods, said Soyapango Mayor Carlos Ruiz.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose country is a major world oil producer, has broadened his influence with generous oil deals to countries across Latin America and the Caribbean. The program has also extended to the United States where the leftist leader has shipped cheaper heating oil to low-income people in New York and Massachusetts via its company Citgo Petroleum Corp.

Chavez, a frequent critic of U.S. policy, used Monday's signing occasion to criticize U.S.-backed free trade agreements such as the one El Salvador joined March 1. "They're making deals with the devil, the devil himself," Chavez said.

Salvadoran President Tony Saca criticized the oil deal and urged the FMLN not to try to generate "false hopes" among Salvadorans. The FMLN, once backed by Cuba and the Soviet Union, battled conservative U.S.-backed governments until a peace treaty in 1992, when the FMLN transformed itself into a political party.


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