Did Stephen Harper Just Celebrate Venezuelan Prez Hugo Chavez’s Death?

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Did Stephen Harper Just Celebrate Venezuelan Prez Hugo Chavez’s Death?

“Now, the death of Hugo Chavez offers the promise of domestic oil market changes that could roil the energy world and place substantial opportunities at the feet of Canadian oil companies whose expertise in heavy crude is directly applicable to Venezuela’s Orinoco oil fields.” – Globe and Mail

By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive | March 5, 2013:

Hugo ChavezDid Prime Minister Stephen Harper just celebrate the death of Hugo Chávez Frías, the President of Venezuela, who died today after a 2-year battle with cancer? Celebrate as in: good riddance, now we can walk in there and promote “the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights”, and get our hands on the Latin American country’s oil?

It would seem so. At least if you read the Globe and Mail.

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he hopes the death of President Hugo Chavez brings a more promising future for the Venezuelan people,” the Globe and Mail said. And of course Harper’s below-the-belt jab at Chavez isn’t the first. “Harper himself has in the past pointedly challenged the world view of the influential Venezuelan leader.”

The “promising future” Harper sees now in Venezuela isn’t really about the people of Venezuela. It’s about the Harper Government’s foreign policy and Venezuela’s oil.

First,  “Chavez led a leftist revival across Latin America that posed a direct challenge to U.S. influence in the region.” Not a thing to tolerate for the Conservatives. Author, activist and commentator, Yves Engler, has suggested that the Conservatives are openly hostile to Venezuela and the leftward swing in Latin America. Except in Cuba, where Canada has significant commercial interests.

Second, oil. Engler, the author of The Ugly Canadian, “a well written, thoroughly researched, powerful indictment of the Harper government’s radical shift to the right in foreign policy”, has argued that the Harper Government’s Latin America policy is oil-driven.

A different Globe and Mail piece:  Chavez’s death opens door to Venezuela’s oil riches

Now, the death of Hugo Chavez offers the promise of domestic oil market changes that could roil the energy world and place substantial opportunities at the feet of Canadian oil companies whose expertise in heavy crude is directly applicable to Venezuela’s Orinoco oil fields. Venezuela, after all, boasts the world’s largest crude reserves. The country’s ability to exploit them has been constrained by a lack of investment in dwindling older fields and the regime’s hostile treatment of foreign capital.

Here’s the PM’s statement:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today issued the following statement on the death of Hugo Chávez Frías, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela:
“I would like to offer my condolences to the people of Venezuela on the passing of President Chávez.

“Canada looks forward to working with his successor and other leaders in the region to build a hemisphere that is more prosperous, secure and democratic.

“At this key juncture, I hope the people of Venezuela can now build for themselves a better, brighter future based on the principles of freedom, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.”

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Obert Madondo is an Ottawa-based independent journalist, progressive political blogger, and activist. He’s the publisher and editor of The Canadian Progressive blog.
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