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Context of 'January 30, 2005: Venezuela Expands Cooperation with China'

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Hugo Chavez is elected president, beating Henrique Salas Romer, a Yale-educated former governor of Carabobo state. (CNN 12/6/1998; CNN 12/7/1998; Schemo 12/9/1998)

For the two-month duration of a strike in Venezuela (see February 3, 2003), the only commercials on Venezuelan TV are pieces by the opposition attacking President Hugo Chavez. (Dahlsen and Wentz 2/10/2003)

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s government signs a deal with China to expand its oil market into China in search of more lucrative deals. (United Press International 1/30/2005; Kennedy 2/2/2005)

President Hugo Chavez announces that the Venezuela controlled oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, may sell eight oil refineries owned by US companies. Four of them are owned by Citgo Corporation and are currently used to refine Venezuela’s heavy, high-sulfur crude oil for use in the US. This move is part of a strategy to reduce Venezuelan dependency on US oil markets. At his speech in Argentina, Hugo Chavez describes Venezuelan dependency: “Not one Venezuelan works at these refineries… they don’t give us one cent of profit… they don’t pay taxes in Venezuela… this is economic imperialism.” Ivan Orellana, Venezuela’s representative to OPEC says that any “contracts found to be not in the national interest would be renegotiated.” (Kennedy 2/2/2005) The Venezuelan oil industry currently exports half of its oil to the US. (Romero and Ellsworth 1/25/2005) This latest move is an indication to the Bush administration that the Chavez government is willing to test their relationship. US officials are worried about the implications of the sale for the American economy as 15 percent of US oil imports currently come from Venezuela. White House spokesman Scott McClellan says, “we have serious concerns. We have made our concerns known when it comes to President Chavez….” (Kennedy 2/2/2005)


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