Photo: Hugo Chavez and Syria
The day before the United Nations voted to denounce Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad for his violent response to the recent Syrian uprising, Hugo Chávez was sending his own message to Syria in the form of fuel according to reports from The New York Times.
A Venezuelan ship called, the Negra Hipólita, named after Simón Bolívar’s wet nurse and nanny, arrived in Baniyas, a Syrian port. This is the second trip for this ship to Baniyas after it carried fuel to aid President Assad this past December. It is believed that both shipments likely contained different types of fuel.
The oil shipment has created an international stir. Yet, such controversy is nothing new for President Chávez. Just last month he supported Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amidst claims that Iran was producing dangerous nuclear weapons.
Yet, when asked about the alleged oil shipments, Chávez defiantly responded with his own questions. “Have we by any chance asked the United States what it does with the fuel we sell to the United States? Have we by any chance allowed anyone to impose conditions on our sale of petroleum to the United States?” Chávez stated that the answer was no and then said, “We are a free country.”
It is well known that Venezuela and Chávez have benefited from the sale of oil. He has also been known to use this oil as a way to endorse his own interests abroad. Cuba has exchanged doctors for oil with Venezuela in the past, while China is also a large buyer of Venezuela’s oil. Chávez has also back Middle Eastern countries such as Iran causing an even larger divide between the South American country and the United States.
It is still unclear how these actions will affect Chávez politically in his own country. The leader finds himself in a personal battle with cancer as well as a political battle with the popular opponent, Henrique Capriles Radonski.