Chavez offers billions in Latin America
CARACAS, Venezuela - Laid-off Brazilian factory workers have their jobs back, Nicaraguan farmers are getting low-interest loans and Bolivian mayors can afford new health clinics, all thanks to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.Forget the fact American investment bolsters the economies of most if not all Latin and South American countries.
Bolstered by windfall oil profits, Chavez's government is now offering more direct state funding to Latin America and the Caribbean than the United States. A tally by The Associated Press shows Venezuela has pledged more than $8.8 billion in aid, financing and energy funding so far this year.
While the most recent figures available from Washington show $3 billion in U.S. grants and loans reached the region in 2005, it isn't known how much of the Venezuelan money has actually been delivered. And Chavez's spending abroad doesn't come close to the overall volume of U.S. private investment and trade in Latin America.They just finished telling us he's offering more, but have no idea whether it's even been delivered.
Has it occurred to these idiots maybe Chavez is full of it?
Chavez's largesse tends to benefit left-leaning nations that support his vision of a Latin America with greater independence from the United States. But he denies the two countries are in a competition.Considering the Venezuelan economy is in shambles, some suggest whatever money Chavez is tossing around is best spent at home.
"We don't want to compete with anyone. I wish the United States were 100 times above us," Chavez told the AP in a recent interview. "But no, the U.S. government views the region in a marginal way. What they offer is a pittance sometimes, and with unacceptable pressures that at times countries can't accept."
U.S. aid tends to be low-profile, constrained by strict guidelines and often distributed through other institutions so that recipients may not know it's from the U.S. government. Venezuela offers money with few strings attached and a personal Chavez touch that aid experts say generates more good will dollar for dollar.
Clay Lowery, the U.S. Treasury Department's acting undersecretary for international affairs, argues that the U.S. plays a larger role than reflected in its aid figures. The United States, for instance, drove Inter-American Development Bank and World Bank debt relief deals totaling $7.5 billion over the past three years in Latin America, he said.
Opponents say Chavez is spending haphazardly on "giveaways" abroad at a time when more than a quarter of Venezuelans still live on less than $3 a day. They question how long he can sustain it since government revenues are highly dependent on fluctuating oil prices.Once Fidel Castro croaks, we won't have to look far to see which Communist thug will be the leftist media's new golden boy.
While Venezuelan asphalt paves streets in Bolivia's capital, a sign recently protruded from one of Caracas' potholes reading: "Why for Bolivia yes and for me no?"
UPDATE: The paranoid despot is buying Russian sniper rifles to help ward off the U.S. invasion he swears is coming. He's also bullying a cement maker. Maybe they can fit him for some shoes.