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...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!