The Dizzying Highs and Terrifying Lows of Living Off Somebody Else’s Oil

Caracas Chronicles


My first post for is up on their site now. Behold:

It’s easy to lose sight of just how central Venezuela’s oil largesse has been to the Cuban state’s financial strategy. Following a landmark 2003 “Cooperation Agreement,” Venezuela has been sending 115,000 barrels a day to the island. The Cubans re-export some of the crude that Venezuela sends them to other countries, pocketing some $765 million in 2014. That’s a vital source of fresh dollars for an island that doesn’t have a lot of other good options for earning hard currency.

But surely that’s a fraction of the value of the Venezuelan oil deal to Cuba: The much bigger piece is getting the island’s whole energy import bill more or less paid for. Without Venezuelan shipments, Cuba would have to scrounge up billions in foreign currency it doesn’t possess to pay for the oil it needs to keep buses…

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He traveled hard for the money

Caracas Chronicles

Source: @samuerudesu

On Friday, January 2nd, Brent crude oil prices closed at around US$57 per barrel.

Two days later, an alarmed Nicolás Maduro announced that he would travel to China for the China-Celac Forum, and to several OPEC and non-OPEC countries “to continue high-level efforts (to create) a strategy for a recovery of oil prices.” Everyone knew Nicolás was really trying to get fresh cash from close buddies.

First stop: Russia.

On Monday January 5th, Nicolás, his entourage, and his scarf landed in Moscow, but his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, did not receive him. Instead, Maduro met with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov Alexeevich.

Markets were not impressed. By the end of the day, Brent prices closed at around $54 per barrel, and the Russians didn’t give him any checks.

Second stop: China.

On Tuesday, January 6th, Nicolás arrived in Beijing to meet with President Xi Jinping. Nicolás would also meet with the…

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