Chavez to the Rescue

Whatever you think about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, you have to admit that the guy is a pretty central figure in Western Hemisphere's oil politics. Hugo is in town this week for the United Nations General Assembly. Last night on nightline, he directly accused the US of having plans to invade his country - a plan called Balboa (as in Rocky I guess)

In-between making fiery speeches condemning the US and saying the UN should move its HQ to the 3rd World, Hugo has made a few stops in poor NYC neighborhoods in Harlem and The Bronx. And he's bearing gifts: He has offered to sell deeply discounted Citco gasoline and heating oil to community organizations, schools, churches, and low income residents in several poor communities in the US.

That might make him more popular in those communities, but I doubt it will change Pat Robertson's mind that he should be assassinated.

also of note was this quote from the NY Daily News:

Echoing his favorite American writer, radical linguist Noam Chomsky, Chavez warned that "Americans must reorder their style of life" because "this planet cannot sustain" our "irrational" consumption, especially when it comes to oil.

On his drive from Kennedy Airport to Manhattan this week, Chavez noted, "Out of every 100 cars I saw on the road, 99 had only one person in the car.

"These people were using up fuel," he said. "They were polluting the environment. This planet cannot sustain that mode of life."

At our meetup last week, this former oilman and gas law professor told us that Venezuela owns Citgo.
Yes, Venezuela owns Citgo. Citgo was founded here in New York City in the 1910s as the Cities Service Corporation. The company's flamboyant chairman, Henry Doherty, built the magnificent 70 Pine Street, a slender Art Deco tower that was to serve as a monument to the corporation, with a huge bachelor pad as his apartment on top. Sadly, 70 Pine Street has become the tallest building downtown after 9/11. In 1976, Cities Service Corp. sold the building to AIG and moved to Tulsa, where it changed its name to a more sprightly Citgo. In the 1986 and 1989, the company was sold in two halves to Petroleos de Venezula, Venezuela's state-owned oil company. I'm not so sure I can vouch for Citgo, but their former headquarters is my favorite building in the city, not just for its architecture, but for what it symbolizes about success. Companies that occupy the building seem to do well, but only so long as they own the building.
Chavez has boatloads more democratic legitimity than either Bush or Robertson (ha!), so I think if anyone has a right to criticize them (and not the other way around), it's him.
I was mad at Chavez for suggesting that the United Nations move out of town.
Why? I think he had some pretty good arguments...
The U.N. is great for New York, no matter how bad New York's host country may be for the U.N.
Sure, and I don't think Chavez was talking about NYC. But still, the fact is that the U.N. headquarters is in a country that waged war against the will of the U.N., tried to discredit it any occasion it got and send John Bolton as its representative there.

I also agree that maybe the U.N. would be more reminded of its task if it was in a poorer country...