WikiLeaks cables: Chavez desperate for capitalist oil companies to fund broke socialist revolution

American diplomats say president is now desperate to attract foreign partners after nationalisation frightened many away
by Rory Carroll in Caracas

The Guardian
Dec. 09, 2010

Venezuela's tottering economy is forcing Hugo Chávez to make deals with foreign corporations to save his socialist revolution from going broke.

The Venezuelan president has courted European, American and Asian companies in behind-the-scenes negotiations that highlight a severe financial crunch in his government.

Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PDVSA, is the engine of the economy but buckled when given an ultimatum by its Italian counterpart and has scrambled to attract foreign partners, according to confidential US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

The memos depict an unfolding economic fiasco and suggest some of Chávez's key allies – Argentina, Brazil and Cuba – are gravely concerned at Venezuela's direction. "President Chávez, for his part, is acutely aware of the impact the country's general economic trajectory has had on his popularity," says one cable.

With a recession, underfunded infrastructure and 30% inflation, Venezuela's economic woes are no secret. But the government has insisted PDVSA, the country's golden goose, is thriving and capable of funding Chávez's vision of "21st century socialism".

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