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Chavez Chills Relations with the U.S. Poor

As a result of the global economic downturn, foreign aid has begun to dry up . . . from Venezuela:

Venezuela’s national oil company is suspending a program that provides discounted heating oil to poor communities in the United States, as officials here struggle to find ways of preserving hard currency reserves amid a plunge in oil revenues.

The move, announced on Monday, halts one of President Hugo Chávez’s most ambitious foreign aid projects — and one that allowed him to poke at the Bush administration, which had proposed a cut in funds for heating assistance to the poor.

It looks like this whole international socialism thing might be harder than Chávez expected. And come to think of it, couldn’t North Koreans use that heating oil more than any Americans?

Cutting off its foreign aid to America is not the only international economic change Venezuela has made:

The suspension of the heating oil program follows a decision to tighten currency controls in an attempt to stanch the flow of dollars leaving the country. On New Year’s Eve, officials cut in half the amount that Venezuelans can spend abroad on their credit cards, to $2,500 a year.

Curious as to whether Chávez also put limits on traveler’s checks and other loopholes, I discovered this Bloomberg.com new story:

Along with cutting the travel purchase allowance, Cadivi [the Venezuelan Foreign Exchange Administration Commission] also reduced to $250 a month, from $500, the amount of cash at the fixed exchange rate that Venezuelans can withdraw from foreign banks. The agency cut the amount of travelers checks Venezuelans can buy to 400 euros or $500, from 500 euros or $600.

The new rules also require that travelers have a plane, ship or bus ticket abroad, eliminating the option for them to get currency for trips by car.

Starting tomorrow, new cardholders can’t get Cadivi dollars until they’ve had their cards for six months, the rules say.

The amount of dollars Venezuelans can use for internet purchases remained at $400 after an 87 percent cut last year from $3,000.

One expects that Venezuelan travelers will increasingly accoutre themselves with hidden wads of cash and jewels.



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