VIO News Blog

October 8, 2008

Venezuelan Oil Company Helps Cars Run on Natural Gas

The Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA is preparing for a greener future by converting cars to run on natural gas. A new conversion center should produce nearly a thousand cars by the end of this year, according to Bloomberg. A government resolution requires automakers in Venezuela to convert 30 percent of cars to natural gas by next April.

On the economy, the Chicago Tribune reports that the US financial crisis will “test” the Latin American region’s resilience after years of steady growth. Local stock markets and currencies appear to be feeling the effects of the crisis. Meanwhile, the price of oil has dropped to $90 per barrel, but still remains far higher than a decade ago when President Chavez was first elected. An expert at the Inter-American Dialogue said: “whatever credibility the U.S. had in the region, on economic management, that’s clearly gone.”

According to the Miami Herald, Latin American leaders have also noted the irony and hypocrisy of the Wall Street bailouts in the US, saying that they amount to “communism for the wealthy” and calling Bush “comrade.” President Chavez said: “How many times have they criticized me for nationalizing the phone company? They say, ‘The state shouldn’t get involved in that.’ But now they don’t criticize Bush for having nationalize . . . the biggest banks in the world.”

Finally, a Delaware newspaper reports that the local Venezuelan expat community is nostalgic for the “petrol-dollar days” when oil wealth benefited only a small elite. They are critical of the pro-poor policies of President Chavez — such as discounted heating oil in the US — which which are seen as, at best, “not good but OK.”

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