The US government has yet to respond to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s offer to send planeloads of aid, including 2,000 soldiers, firefighters, volunteers and other disaster specialists to Louisiana. Venezuela, the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, also pledged $1 million in Hurricane Katrina relief aid through its state-owned Citgo Petroleum Corp., plus fuel to help in hard-hit areas. (AP, Sept. 1) The company’s CEO Félix Rodríguez said this donation had the full support of the company’s parent organization, the Venezuelan state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), as well as President Chávez. (Venezuelanalysis, Sept. 1)
Meanwhile, Chavez warned of a global energy disaster if the US invaded his country to seize its oil reserves. During an interview on the state-run VTV television, Chavez said the Pentagon is interested in Venezuela’s Orinoco region, which has a crude reserve of 300 billion barrels. He said the Venezuelan intelligence services have learned of a US plan to invade his country and capture the oil fields. Under the US plan, code-named Balboa, the major cities of Caracas, Maracay and Valencia will be bombarded and occupied, according to the president. Chavez vowed that the US soldiers “will bite the dust” if they invade Venezuela.
Venezuela, with a daily 2.8-million-barrel output, is the second most important producer of crude oil in Latin America, after Mexico. It is the region’s main exporter with 1.5 million barrels of oil being shipped out every day. (Xinhua, Sept. 1)