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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lunch with Hugo's Ambassador

Well, I didn't exactly have lunch with Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's controversial President, but I sat with at least a thousand people invited by the Greater Houston Partnership to the Westin Oaks for the lunch sponsored by Venezuela's Citgo - to hear the Ambassador talk about relations between the U.S. and Venezuela.

It was a free lunch (thanks to the people of Venezuela and owners of Citgo). They served steaks the size of a Volkswagen bug. Then the Ambassador took eons to basically say: "We are the biggest source of oil on this continent, you guys (the U.S.) are the biggest consumers. You need us. Things are different but we are no threat, so get used to it."

Then he said we basically needed to talk and work things out. End of lunch.

He made no mention of the nationalization of the oil companies, including Exxon, ConocoPhillips, etc. Nationalization normally causes production to decline as inefficient government bureaucrats (usually someone's friend) take over and technology and investment lags. How Chavez thinks that will help them is beyond me. And if there production drops it won't help us either.

Without energy independence, the U.S. has energy insecurity. Simple as that. We need a Manhattan project for energy independence by 2020 or similar goal. Without it, we remain subject to an unstable Mideast and the whims of individuals like Hugo Chavez, who considers Fidel Castro his role model.

If Mr. Chavez follows the Castro model, I wonder if the people of his country are ready to endure the same economic malaise Cuba has.

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