Venezuela seizes petroleum tank transports
Dec 9, 2002 12:00 PM
With a nationwide strike now entering its second week, Venezuela’s petroleum industry is teetering on the brink of paralysis. On Monday, December 9, President Hugo Chavez ordered the National Guard to commandeer petroleum delivery trucks belonging to trucking companies and ensure that service stations remained open. Soldiers also were sent to protect oil wells and refineries from possible sabotage by strikers who want Chavez to resign from office.
The Venezuelan National Guard seized at least three petroleum distribution terminals on the outskirts of Caracas, the nation’s capital and economic center. The terminals had been shut down in support of the general strike. The government has hired civilian truck drivers to operate the commandeered petroleum delivery trucks, which were idled by their owners, who are sympathetic to the strike. Armed soldiers are guarding many service stations.
The indefinite strike started December 2 and has crippled the oil industry of the world’s fifth-largest producer. Venezuela accounts for 12- to 14-percent of the crude oil and refined petroleum products imported by the United States.