CARACAS (AFX) - Venezuela, the only
Latin American member of OPEC, remains opposed to the
US-led invasion of Iraq but has ignored Baghdad's demand
for oil-producing countries to stop sales to the United
States and Britain.
"We have always defended the idea at the heart of
OPEC, and it is the policy of the current government,
not to play politics with the oil supply," said
Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez, as he
guaranteed his country's supplies to the United States.
Iraq had called on its fellow OPEC members last week
to stop the flow of oil to the United States and
Venezuela is the fifth largest oil exporter and the
eighth largest producer, and along with Saudi Arabia and
Mexico is a major supplier to the United States.
President Hugo Chavez has repeatedly made clear his
government's opposition to US-led military action in
Iraq. Some government spokesmen have even suggested that
a side-aim of the conflict was to break up OPEC.
Therein lies a contradiction, according to oil expert
and university lecturer Victor Poleo.
"The agression against Iraq being about oil, and Iraq
being a member of OPEC, it's contradictory that
Venezuela should assure the United States of its
supplies," he said, adding that oil was inherently
political and that the conflict in Iraq would leave a
deep wound in OPEC.
A second oil analyst close to the Venezuelan
There was no other position for the country to adopt,
except to guarantee supplies to its principal client,
according to Alberto Quiros Corradi.
Ideological differences "are one thing, commercial
and bilateral relations are another," he said.