Hugo Chavez is dead at the age of 58. Why does it matter? Well, two good reasons. One, Chavez frequently took the United States and certain unpopular leaders (I’m not gonna name any names, but George W. Bush) to task on a regular basis and on an international stage. He once called aforementioned leader the devil in a speech to the United Nations. The other reason…well, it’s pretty predictable, but Venezuela is like the little Middle East in South America. The country boasts the largest reserves of crude oil in the world. So, yes, it matters, and there will be much talk in the conspiracy world in the coming days as to what this means and what will happen next.
In a region of the world where most nations try to stay on the United States’ good side, Chavez, along with longtime U.S. foe Fidel Castro, was always the most vocal of adversaries on this side of the world. It’s probably safe to say that President Obama won’t miss Chavez too much, but he will certainly be watching with all that oil, and power, hanging in the balance. Chavez was confirmed to be dead by the Venezuelan government today. Rumors have been swirling for almost a year, even to the very beginning of a confirmation from Chavez himself that he was battling cancer. It is surmised that cancer won that battle and the “21st Century Socialist” succumbed at last.
So, about that oil. Venezuela’s enviable supply of crude is only as profitable as it is in terms of processed output. They have struggled recently, with the output falling over a million barrels a day. It once peaked at 3.5 million barrels per day in good times. Now they are lucky to roll over 2.5 million. This is not due to lack of supply, but lack of ability to deal with it. The supply in Venezuela continues to be one of the South American nation’s biggest claims to fame, and there is no end in sight. However, the ability to process the bounty is not getting any better, and the people have Venezuela have missed out on profits because of their inability to keep up with demand.
There are plenty of Canadian oil companies chopping at the bit to get a piece of Venezuela’s action. They are used to oil fields in the same vein as the ones down south, and they know how to turn it over fast, hard, and profitably. Venezuela has long rejected foreign interference for fear of becoming dependent on it. This and a refusal to invest money to keep technology and equipment up to date are what led them to have the problem of not being able to put out as much as they could sell, if they could only do it faster.
While Canada may stand as the most likely foreign investor to want to capitalize on potentially more friendly economic environments with the passing of Mr. Chavez, it won’t stay that way for long. The oil in Venezuela is the kind of oil that causes wars and people die for the chance to cultivate. Long cut off from the world, at least in terms of sharing technology and resources to achieve the most efficient productions levels, Venezuela may very well be ready to welcome the world and become a major player again. And you can bet that while President Barack Obama and the American government won’t be holding any vigils for Hugo Chavez in Washington tonight, they are all anxiously turning their attention toward a source of oil that may have just become that much more accessible.
Remember, conspiracy theorists believe that the United States somehow caused Chavez’ cancer, anyway. Could this finally be the fruit of the American labors? Or is it just time for opportunists to do what opportunists do?
Maybe as troops leave Afghanistan, they might want to turn their attention to a new war for oil that might be an even greater commodity.
Who knows? Maybe Venezuela even has some weapons of mass destruction, if you look hard enough.