Venezuela said to have spent $33B to influence neighbors

Por Venezuela Real - 24 de Julio, 2008, 18:52, Categoría: Injerencia de/en Venezuela

El Nuevo Herald
July 24, 2008

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has spent close to $33 billion to influence the regional politics of Latin America, helping to finance the economies of nations such as Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, a former U.S. intelligence official has testified before the U.S. Congress.

The Venezuelan government also provided resources to Colombia's FARC guerrillas, the Basque separatist group known as ETA and Islamic organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, according to Norman Bailey.

Bailey briefly held the post of Venezuela and Cuba program manager for the Office Ver opciones avanzadasof the Director of National Intelligence last year, a position that coordinates information-gathering for areas considered top priorities. Bailey, now with the Institute of World Politics and the Institute for Global Economic Growth, testified that Venezuela continues to present a ''clear and immediate'' threat to U.S. national security, ``especially due to the broad and ever-increasing ties to the Islamic Republic of Iran.''

Bailey testified Friday during a hearing on Venezuela by the Western Affairs Subcommittee of House Committee on Foreign relations.

He questioned Washington's ''passivity'' in confronting the excesses of the Chávez government and criticized the arguments by some U.S. government officials that it ''will ultimately destroy itself,'' and that any U.S. measures against Chávez could make petroleum prices spike.

Bailey said the impact of a U.S. embargo on oil imports from Venezuela could be countered by releasing around two million barrels a day from the U.S. strategic oil reserves. In contrast, he said, for Venezuela, ``the effects would be devastating.''

Bailey also denounced the close relations with Iran that have been ''assiduously cultivated'' by the Chávez government.

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