Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez challenged Latin American leaders at a summit yesterday to lower regional oil prices, telling big producers to sell oil cheaply to their neighbors.
Addressing leaders by name, Chávez proposed the creation of a region-wide oil alliance that would help sustain booming economic growth in the region by sharing energy resources. Venezuela is Latin America's second biggest oil producer after Mexico. "I propose to you that we unite, that we join together in mechanisms of cooperation with countries that don't have oil and who cannot afford to pay US$100 per barrel," said Chávez. Oil prices reached record highs of more than U$98 per barrel this week. Leaders from Latin America, Portugal, Spain and Andorra are in Santiago for a three-day Ibero-American summit where energy has been high on the unofficial agenda. Many Latin American economies have expanded rapidly in recent years and energy supplies have been stretched by booming consumer demand and factory output in countries such as Argentina and Chile