San Jose (Miami Herald) - Costa Rica's bid to join Venezuela's Petrocaribe alliance, which provides subsidized oil to Central American and Caribbean countries, has been delayed by the plunge in crude prices, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said.
"I haven't heard of Petrocaribe for the last few months and don't really know where it stands these days," Arias said. "We need to ask Chavez if is he's willing to continue with it."
A 72 percent decline in oil prices since July has cast doubt upon Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's ability to sustain crude oil subsidies for international aid programs. Venezuela, the biggest oil exporter in the Americas, depends on oil for 93 percent of exports.
Chavez "isn't as enthusiastic as in the past about trying to broaden that program," Arias said.
Costa Rica applied for full membership after ministers attended a Petrocaribe summit in July. Venezuelan Finance Minister Ali Rodríguez said Wednesday Venezuela will maintain the program, continuing to provide aid to "brother countries.''
Note:I may be one of the few Ticos that is happy about this delay. I have always criticized Arias for agreeing to join Petrocaribe last year. Arias has in the past criticized Hugo Chavez's politics and the way he spends his Petro dollars to influence the governments of the region, however he then agrees to join Petrocaribe?
I accept that joining Petrocaribe would have been benefitial to the country a few months ago when oil prices were soaring. The low prices and preferential payment options that Venezuela was offering were rather good, but now I don't think it's worth it. I sincerely think that the farther our government stays from any alliances with Chavez's dictatorial empire the better we will be in the long run.