Tough Times to be an Oil Dictator
What do you do when you are a dictator (elected one, but a dictator none the less) trying to convert your country into a socialist paradise, while facing massive declines in your countries only real export, oil? For most of us, it would be a puzzle too difficult to answer, but not for Hugo Chavez. The Venezuelan leader knows who to call when things are bad in a socialist sort of a way: He’s calling in the Russians.
The connections between the two countries has gotten much stronger in the last few years. Both economies have been fueled by huge increases in oil prices, which have allowed Russia to rebuild their military and allowed Chavez to bribe his citizens with massively under priced staple foods and other state sponsored benefits. Russia even was invited to join in military exercises in 2008. Now with revenues plummeting fast, Chavez is working a deal with the Russia mining group to come in and mine gold in Venezuela. With the price of oil near or around $40 per barrel, Chavez is unable to maintain his socialist spending programs on oil money alone, so this sort of project might go a long way to supporting his utopian dreams. Read the whole story here.