Preliminary Test

The worst strike in 14 years all but paralyzed Venezuela's $2 billion oil industry last week. It began when two small unions in the western oilfields walked out because employers refused to renegotiate a contract that still had a year to run. When the government declared the stoppage illegal, more than half the country's 40,000 oil workers quit in sympathy.

That was enough to make an effective strike. Creole, the Standard Oil Co. (NJ.) subsidiary that produces almost half Venezuela's oil, reported output down 75% and closed its 300,000-barrel-a-day pipeline south of Lake Maracaibo for fear of sabotage. Shell Oil...

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