Energy: The Latin Oil Czar

Can a former guerrilla lead Venezuela's oil monopoly to do well by doing good?

When Ali Rodriguez was one of Venezuela's communist guerrillas in the 1960s and '70s, his chief duty ostensibly was making bombs. But Rodriguez admits he knew less about explosives than about oil--the stuff of real political power in Venezuela, which possesses the hemisphere's mother lode of petroleum reserves. "In the mountains, I organized seminars on oil administration," says Rodriguez, 66, whom fellow combatants remember as being the same energy-policy wonk then that he is today. "I committed myself body and soul to it." Not surprisingly, his petro-philosophy was more Marx than Rockefeller, and his rhetoric even now might give a capitalist...

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