Ding, dong the wicked witch is dead! Or his male equivalent. It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy!
Chavez ruled an empire which included effective and total control over the governments of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and very substantial influence over Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Uruguay, and Argentina. His nine nation block stands for tyranny, oppression, and authoritarian rule purchased by massive recycling of our oil cash to purchase food, clothing, and medical care for the poor — giving them everything they need but freedom, a job, independence, and dignity.
He died just in time. By 2016, the U.S. will have no need of his oil. He used to produce three million barrels of oil a day. New he produces only 1.5 million (after he nationalized his oil industry and chased everyone with any ability out of the country). We import 1.1 million barrels, the bulk of his production. In three years, our domestic sources plus those of Canada will fully replace Venezuelan imports. With especially heavy oil which only specially built refineries can handle, he would have found no other markets. Now, of course, his tyrannical regime, held in power by military force and phony elections, may give way to a democratic regime and we will have no need to cut off oil purchases.
We need to do all we can to encourage democratic rule in Venezuela now that God has laid the source of our troubles low.
But, behind the brutal trade of food for freedom that Chavez offered lies the unmet needs of an entire continent. Why are South and Central America so poor? They have followed neither the models of Mexico nor of Brazil.
Mexico is becoming a middle class country due to NAFTA and its deepening economic relationship with the United States, Europe, and China. Particularly with us. By contrast, Latin America only sells us as much as it buys from us each year. No trade surplus. If oil is subtracted, we have a surplus over them! But Mexico shows, as Japan, Germany, Taiwan, Korea, China and India have already demonstrated that trade with the U.S. plus foreign direct investment are the path out of poverty.
Nor have they followed the Brazilian model of energy independence, off shore oil drilling, domestic economic growth, and regional free trade.
Now is the time for Latin America to wake up and move out of poverty, not through the old combination of commodity dependence and societal exploitation, but by opening the kind of economic relationships with foreign investors and customers that have propelled a billion people out of poverty in the past two decades in Asia.
Now that Chavez is dead, we can do business.
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