Some readers have complained that Leonidas engages in too much "quoting and pasting" of others' opinions without comment. It is true that Leonidas attempts to confine his first person comments to personal experience and recent events have lent him the opportunity to do so:
Venezuela holds a special place in our cruising experiences as we spent two years in that country and made many friends there. Also growing up in the "oil patch" and being familiar with its workings contributes to the mix.
Venezuela is blessed (cursed?) with a substantial reserve of crude oil. The development of these resources was primarily accomplished by North American expertise, capital and technology. In the early 1960s The Venezuelan government nationalized the oil industry and seized control of the assets of several North American oil companies including Sinclair and Chevron. The wealth generated by oil production was diverted to social programs and a major increase in the various bureaucracies. Lately the wealth has been used by the (demented?) anti American soon to be President for Life Hugo Chavez who came to power in 1998 to purchase substantial quantities of military equipment such as 100,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, 24 MIG 20 fighter aircraft and 53 assault helicopters from Russia. These weapons have not all been distributed to the Venezuelan military (La Guardia Nacional) but have been used to arm Chavez' political base which consists for the most part of the urban proletariat living in the makeshift shacks (ranchitos) on the mountain sides around the capitol. The 40 year experiment in socialism has swelled the ranks of these poor and resulted in the shrinking of the middle class, many of whom have fled to neighboring Colombia as well as Spain and the U.S. Chavez appears to be trying to create fear in his ignorant political base that the U.S. is planning an invasion of the country to seize the oil reserves. A concept that both Leonidas and the remaining middle class of Venezuela find ludicrous.
Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat,...defended Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's United Nations speech in which Chavez called President George Bush the devil. Harkin said the comments were "incendiary", then went on to say: "Let me put it this way, I can understand the frustration, ah, and the anger of certain people around the world because of George Bush's policies." Harkin continued what has been frequent criticism of the president's foreign policy. Interestingly enough two unlikely defenders of President Bush have been found in Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Charles Rangel, both Democrats and who have supplied Sr. Chavez with most of his talking points. Oh, I forgot those two are campaigning for re election.
Incidentally, the U.S., neither under the present or any former administration has ever evinced any wish to come in conflict with Venezuela which was the founder of OPEC. It may be in Sr. Chavez' interest to be hostile to the US, but not in the interest of the Venezuelan people. It is sad to observe what was once a great and beautiful nation being dragged down the socialist rat hole a la Cuba.