[Times] Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, left, and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev speak at a press conference at the Russian presidential residence in Gorki on July 22
Ever since the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. has seen the Caribbean in the way that the Romans viewed the Mediterranean: Mare Nostrum, Our Sea. From the Spanish-American War through the Cuban missile crisis and the Central-American dirty wars of the Reagan era, Washington was always quick to flex its muscle over the rum-soaked waters that stretch from Florida to Venezuela. The bad news: it ain’t our sea anymore, gringos.
Ce paragraphe est surprenant!
Most Caribbean and Central American nations have now defied the Bush Administration’s wishes and signed on to Chávez’s regional energy cooperative, Petrocaribe. Started in 2006, Petrocaribe lets the basin’s fuel-starved countries buy Venezuelan oil at just 40% of the current skyrocketing market price and pay back the difference over 25 years at 1% interest. Few Caribbean nations, struggling to juggle food and energy prices, can refuse Chávez’s petro-diplomacy. His critics call it petro-bribery, using oil to broaden his fledgling anti-U.S. bloc in the hemisphere. But this month it won over Guatemala and Costa Rica to bring the number of Petrocaribe members to 19. And in U.S.-friendly countries that have so far balked at Chávez’s deal, such as Barbados, the governments have taken heat from voters. Costa Rican President Oscar Arias was narrowly elected in 2006 by promising to keep Chávez’s influence out of his Central American country. But last week, realizing that its oil expenditures have jumped 88% over the past year, he conceded that Costa Rica needed « to benefit sooner from this help. »