Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that his country will continue exporting oil to the United States because it is in interest. In a statement published in the Lima daily El Comercio that “many people don’t know” that Venezuelan state oil giant PDVSA, through its Citgo subsidiary, has seven large refineries and more than 10.000 service stations on US soil.
The statements in Lima’s main daily can be interpreted as a reply to some ironic quotes by Peruvian president Alan García during the recent Unasur summit in Argentina.
“Venezuela can’t take a decision against itself. We send the oil to our refineries and to our distribution systems in the United States” he said.
The populist president gave as an example the trade ties between Washington and Moscow during the Cold War despite their ideological differences.
“It has almost always been that way. The Soviet Union and the United States at the height of the Cold War traded billions of dollars. Communist China and the capitalist United States also. China holds United States Treasury bills, I believe for 600 billion US dollars, if I remember correctly,” he said.
The Venezuelan president also considered “a joke” comments made by Peruvian President Garcia who during the last Unasur summit said that Chavez feared a pact that would allow the US Armed Forces access to bases in neighbouring Colombia even as Venezuela is a top supplier of crude to the United States.
“How come you fear such a treaty if you already sell all your oil to the US?” said García who immediately added “I’m joking, don’t misinterpret me”.
During the live transmission of the Unasur summit Chavez was seen to smile but did not reply Garcia’s irony.
“The truth is, aside from President Garcia’s joke, that for the first time Venezuela has diversified its market” Chavez said, adding that his country also donates heating oil to residents and institutions in more than 20 cities of the United States.
“To poor neighbourhoods, orphanages, old-people’s homes, schools, very poor neighbourhoods, above all to the black population” he added.
President García who is known for his remarkable oratory capacities and quick responses also joked about the Unasur meeting host Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.
When Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa praised the “beauty” and “fresh presence” of Mrs. Kirchner, Garcia went no to say, “I respect very much married ladies”.
“I think it was a horrible joke, he thought he was being funny but I considered it a macho, disrespectful attitude”, said Chavez.
Garcia also was ironic about Chavez admission that he is becoming short sighted and has difficulties with the proximity of the microphone.
“I guess that is why you are always so close to the mike” said Garcia in obvious direct reference to Chavez passion for his hours-long “Alo President” radio program.
When asked to comment President Chavez latest remarks, García simply said “can’t be in politics if you don’t have a sense of humour”…