Venezuela's oil aid to Cuba amounts to more than $1-billion dollars a year says Hans De Salas of The University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies. The Kansas City Star reports oil shipments have increased from 53,000 to 90,000 barrels a day.
"Without this artificial lifeline the Cuban economy would be dead in the water," said Damian Fernandez, director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University in Miami.
Unnamed experts are cited in the article as saying hugo's oil shipments have thwarted President Bush's attempts to tighten the embargo.
Like most Americans, for me hugo chavez just suddenly appeared a few years ago as a troublemaker who was already president of Venezula. VHeadline.com publishes an article that gives a bit of hugo's background, although it's written by an apologist who's obviously in love with both hugo and fidel - for example:
The Venezuelan President shares with his friend and ally Fidel Castro Ruz an oratorical style that moves effortlessly through a wide gamut of effects, from self-deprecating banter to sustained historical analysis, from clever invective to geopolitical strategizing and impassioned declarations of the political ethics of what he calls "the Bolivarian Revolution."
Like President Castro, Chavez Frias possesses a stamina that might well make classical rhetoricians from Demosthenes to Cicero green with envy. He spoke, without notes (but with the assistance of occasional cups of coffee supplied by aides) for more than three hours in Havana’s Karl Marx Theatre to an audience of conference participants and students from the medical and other faculties of Havana’s institutes of higher education.
The article does outline what hugo calls his defining moments, and it's worth reading through all the BS to see just what chavez thinks are the important moments in his life.
Update - Fausta has some very interesting information on the relationship between Cuba, Venezuela and China. She reports that Venezuela's total oil production has dropped by more than 800,000 barrels a day. Why do we care? The U.S. gets 15% of its oil from Venezuela, and hugo plans to stop selling to us, and to sell his oil to China.