The Financial Times

Chávez seizures fuel Venezuela oil fears
The Financial Times

A fresh round of expropriations in Venezuela has raised fears that the Opec producer’s already declining oil output could sink to its lowest level in the past 20 years.

Troops were mobilised over the weekend to assist Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, in seizing the assets of some 60 oil service companies, after a law was approved last week that paves the way for the state to take increasing control over its all-important oil industry.

“To God what is God’s, and to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” said Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez, as he presided over the expropriation of more than 30 oil terminals and some 300 boats.

This move forms part of a broader assault against the private sector, which Mr Chávez has increasingly blamed as Venezuela slides into recession. Simultaneously he is engaging in what opposition leaders say is a campaign of persecution of his political foes.

Manuel Rosales, a former presidential candidate, has been granted asylum in Peru to escape arrest over corruption charges, while congress has removed almost all the spending powers of Antonio Ledezma, the anti-Chávez mayor of Caracas. Other opponents have been jailed or gone into hiding.