Venezuelan opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles claims that the regime of President Hugo Chavez handed out nine billion dollars to Mercosur members (except for Brazil and Chile) as part of his plan to “export the Bolivarian revolution”.
The report elaborated by the Democratic Union Table, MUD the opposition alliance details some of the ‘soft’ loans, gifts and extravagant investments financed by Venezuela’s oil dollars since the year 2000. The numbers were collected from official Venezuelan government stats.
In the list figures Paraguay, under removed former president Fernando Lugo, whose administration received the equivalent of 114.5 million dollars in 2008/09 including 113 million dollars for Petropar, the Paraguayan government oil corporation and 1.5 million to combat ‘extreme poverty’.
However according to the current Paraguayan authorities it is not clear what happened with the alleged 113 million dollars, since Petropar purchased oil and refined fuels directly from Venezuela’s PDVSA, but on long term credit which figures with a pending debt of over 500 million dollars.
Argentina seems to be the country which most benefited from Chavez generosity under the administrations of Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez. This includes buying Argentine bonds valued at 3 billion dollars back in 2007, plus other investments and purchase of vessels, farm equipment and a whole raft of services, which according to the MUD report reached 8.4 billion dollars.
Uruguay also figures in the list with 476 million dollars between 2008 and 2011 and this includes money for upgrading hospitals (most of it went to higher salaries), setting up a technological development pole (board members have ended in jail for discretional management of funds and delinquent checks) plus the normal sale of subsidized oil on long term credit.
In the Uruguayan parliament it was recently revealed that the government owned fuel company Ancap debt with PDVSA was above 600 million dollars and it was partly re-scheduled with the Uruguayan government acting as guarantor. Apparently the cash-funds from the oil-on-credit were invested in other undertakings by Ancap.
Finally Bolivia, an associate member of Mercosur and very close ally of Venezuela between 2007 and 2011 received 1.7 billion dollars. This does not include the several agreements in the military field signed by both countries which remain as classified information.
The list of extravagant investments in Bolivia includes 1.2 million dollars for the construction of 19 courts to play Basque ball, as well as another five million for two football pitches, sport of which president Evo Morales is a fan. Other outlays in the list are 1.4 million dollars to build the headquarters for the Cochabamba Workers’ Union and the Cochabamba Peasants Federation, both in President Morales electoral base.