Friday, September 26, 2008

Chávez says U.S. economy "a sinking ship"

Seattle Times

Venezuela President Hugo Chávez, speaking in China moments before flying on to Russia as part of a five-nation tour, on Thursday described the U.S. economy as "a sinking ship" in the final throes of capitalism but pledged that he would not cut off oil exports to the U.S. unless his nation were attacked.

Venezuela has among the largest proven oil reserves of any country — at about 80 billion barrels, the country has nearly as much as Russia and the U.S. combined.

"I said to President Hu Jintao in our meeting yesterday ... that Venezuela's oil reserves just keep going up and up, and I showed him the math," Chávez said, assuring reporters that Venezuela's sharply rising oil exports to China wouldn't cut into sales to U.S. or other markets.

Venezuela is the fourth-largest source of foreign crude oil for U.S. markets after Canada, Saudi Arabia and Mexico.

Venezuela owns seven U.S. refineries, Chávez noted, and supplies gasoline to more than 10,000 gas stations in the country as well as offering discounted heating oil to lower-income U.S. consumers.

The Bush administration has described Chávez as a destabilizing element in the Western Hemisphere, accusing his government of bolstering leftist governments in Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador and Nicaragua that are opposed to U.S. influence in the region and having financial and organizational links with Colombia's leftist rebels.

Earlier in the day, Chávez met with Chinese entrepreneurs and told them, "The next president of the United States is going to receive a sinking ship," according to a statement from the Caracas government.

"The U.S. model of capitalism is collapsing," Chávez said.....

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