Sorry, Ken– no cheap oil from Chavez

The BBC reports:

An oil deal between London and Venezuela faces delay after a planned visit by Ken Livingstone was cancelled.

Mr Livingstone had hoped to travel to Caracas to sign an agreement that would see London gain cheap oil from the Latin American country.

The trip was cancelled because of “intense pressure” of the Venezuelan presidential campaign.

That’s one way of putting it, I suppose.

President Hugo Chavez is taking intense criticism from his opponent in next month’s election over the cheap-oil deals that Chavez has been making in an effort to win friends and influence people around the globe.

“That is political corruption,” Manuel Rosales, the opposition candidate, told foreign journalists. “I ask the (London) mayor not to commit that injustice to Venezuela, because he is taking a part of our wealth and doing grave harm to the country.

“It is not just the person that commits the crime, but the accomplice ends up becoming a part of the crime.”

And The Guardian reports:

[T]he deal has become a political minefield for Mr Chávez ahead of the presidential election on December 3, with his opponents accusing him of giving away cheap oil to rich countries while securing little in return for Venezuela’s poor. [Rosales] has reiterated that Venezuela should not subsidise London and cities in the United States when schools and hospitals at home languish.

With less than a month to go before the election, Venezuelan blogger Daniel Duquenal reports on the campaign, including news of a huge rally for Rosales in Caracas on Saturday. Despite assurances from the chavistas, it appears opposition to Chavez extends beyond Venezuela’s wealthy, white elite.

venezuela rally.jpg

Meanwhile Chavez defended his Oil Minister, who threatened to fire employees who oppose Chavez’s reelection.

Television footage released during the week by opposition supporters showed Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez telling workers of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) to back Chavez or give up their jobs. The opposition said it was proof of political coercion which violated rules against the use of state bodies as campaign tools.