Mr. Chávez imagines that he can damage the United States by rerouting Venezuelan oil to other markets. He fails to understand that oil is fungible: If Venezuela's crude is sold to the Chinese, the Chinese will buy less of it elsewhere, freeing up supplies for U.S. consumers. But Mr. Chávez also appears oblivious to the technical difficulties in sending oil halfway round the world rather than selling it in his own hemisphere. Oil tankers do not come cheap, and China will have to build special refineries to process the heavy brand of crude that Venezuela produces. Despite Mr. Chávez's bluster about tripling exports to China in three years, Venezuela will depend on Yanqui consumers for the foreseeable future.
To the extent that Mr. Chávez's wild talk stirs up anti-American feeling, he must be regarded as an irritant. If he secures a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council, as he hopes to do next month, he will doubtless render U.N. diplomacy even more challenging than it is already. Yet it is not the United States but rather Mr. Chávez's own countrymen who should most fear his intentions. Venezuela's courts, media organizations and civil society groups have been bullied into submission, and Mr. Chávez is talking about a constitutional change that would allow him to remain in power indefinitely. "The people should not be stripped of their right if they wish to reelect a compatriot whoever it may be three, four, five, six times," he said recently.
Yes, this man is taking the economy of Venezuela down the toilet, even as he panders to adoring crowds in the U.S., who love his Bush-bashing rhetoric and flamboyant style. Like most totalitarians, his selfless sociopathy is only designed to gratify his own perverse need for attention and unlimited power.
The situation in Venezuela will continue to decline as this pathetic--and potentially dangerous-- despot carefully wrings the society dry to enhance himself as a big important player on the world stage.
Oil apparently not only provides the energy for many mundane activities in life, but also fuels the grandiosity of a lot of two-bit punks who want to be kings. Oil is the new "divine right" of this latest crop of secular tyrant-kings.
(Cartoon from Cox and Forkum!)
UPDATE: Fausta: "Chavez' Inferno"