“Hugo Chávez: Friend or Foe?” Sounds like a dumb question about a dictator who has seized U.S. businesses and called the U.S. president "the devil." But Parade Magazine teased that notion on its October 21 front page and made the case that Venezuela under the leadership of Chávez isn’t so bad.
“Instead, trade between the two [United States and Venezuela] is soaring, with our exports tripling between 2003 and 2006,” the Parade Magazine story said. “Car sales to Venezuela grew from $9.3 million to $323.9 million, where exports of computers and related accessories rose more than 400% and organic chemicals increased 800%.”
If trade between the United States and Venezuela is so wonderful, why are there so many economic issues plaguing the Chávez socialist regime?
According to the June 25 issue of BusinessWeek, many Venezuelans are fleeing the country, and businessmen who stay behind are watching their businesses crumble. And inflation is rising at a whopping 18 percent per year.
Parade also pointed out how much U.S. oil comes from Chávez’s nation: “During the same period [from 2003 to 2006], U.S. imports from Venezuela more than doubled, fueled by the purchase of more than $27 billion of crude oil in 2006.”
While that’s true, it’s misleading for Parade to use the “$27 billion of crude oil” statistic without mentioning how the increase in the price of oil has caused the U.S. imports dollar figure to increase. In fact, actual oil imports per barrel have decreased.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, since importing nearly 569 million barrels of oil in 2004, oil imports from Venezuela have steadily declined to 518 million barrels in 2006 and the U.S. is on track to import 494 million barrels for 2007.
In reality, the dollar-amount increase in oil imports is more of a direct effect of Chávez himself. In 2006, Chávez threatened to cut off oil from the United States and urged OPEC to set a minimum price of $50 per barrel.