The Chavez Distraction

Uh-oh. Venezuela's political chaos cuts off vital oil to the U.S. and puts a crimp in Bush's war plans

Venezuela proves that oil is too often a curse. The South American nation has the hemisphere's largest crude reserves, yet 80% of its 25 million people live in poverty, thanks largely to los cogollos, the oligarchy chieftains who looted the wealth of the wells for decades until populist President Hugo Chavez won a 1998 landslide election. But Chavez, as drunk with power as the cogollos had been on high-priced Scotch (Venezuela was the No. 1 per capita importer of the stuff under their rule), declared a left-wing "revolution" that put inept socialists in charge of Venezuela's state-run oil company and tipped...

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