Venezuela: Chavez Showing Smarts in Nationalization Drive
The firebrand former soldier and declared enemy of both capitalism and Washington has put up $1.4 billion in the last week to take over U.S. companies' assets in his push to exert increasing state control over the OPEC nation.
Highlighting Chavez's combination of bluster and pragmatism, the pacts with blue chip companies such as telecom giant Verizon surprised investors who had feared an outright seizure by the protege of Cuba's Fidel Castro.
Share prices in Caracas jumped this week as markets took short-term consolation from the deals.
"I think it shows he's picking his battles," said Miguel Tinker-Salas, a Latin American studies professor at Pomona College in California. "This is the military man in Chavez understanding that you don't fight a forward battle and a rear battle at the same time."