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But something quite different has been developing over the recent years, perhaps
caused partly by the preoccupation of America in the Middle East.

In a recent column, some weeks before President George W. Bush's whirlwind tour of
South America, it was noted there was a major shift of most of the principal nations of
that continent toward socialism.

President Bush was met in those nations he visited with a number of anti-American
demonstrations, and his trip appeared to be mostly ineffective. Much has happened in
recent weeks to confirm the shift.

    Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has
    taken charge. Within the last week, Chavez
    announced two dramatic changes in
    governmental policies. He notified the
    world's largest oil companies, BP PLC,
    ConocoPhillips, Chevron, ExxonMobil Corp.,
    France's Total SA and Norway's Statoil SA,
    to turn over their Venezuelan oil assets
    valued at $30 billion to Petroleos de
    Venezuela SA, Venezuela's state oil
    company, meaning eventual confiscation.

    In addition, he announced he would formally
    pull Venezuela out of the International
    Monetary Fund and the World Bank. With
    these moves, Venezuela now reportedly
    controls three-quarters of the world's oil
    reserves, larger than Saudi Arabia.

With IMF and World Bank gone, it is expected that smaller nations surrounding
Venezuela may follow suit. Published reports state that Chavez, in anticipation of this, is
providing alternative forms of credit and financial support for countries in the region,
establishing what he calls the "Bank of the South."

Eight of the 10 major countries of South
America have now elected leftist presidents.
Some of these leaders have indicated their
intention of taking the countries more to the left,
even to socialism.

Now that Venezuela is leading the way, other
countries could follow suit.

Nicaragua is reaching out to communist Cuba to
strengthen their relationships. Chavez is offering
aid to President Ortega of Nicaragua and President
Rafael Correa of Ecuador, who promises "swift
radical political changes" in his country. Both are
aligning themselves more with Chavez.

Hugo Chavez has formed an alliance with Iran and a closer relationship with Russia,
witnessed by the fact that Venezuela's newest addition to its military is a group of
Russia's newest jet fighters, part of a planned increase in armed influence in South
America.

    Just a few weeks ago, in mid-April, all the nations of
    South America with the exception of French Guiana,
    were represented at the founding of the Union of South
    American Nations (UNASUR) during the continent's first
    Energy Summit on Margarita Island in Venezuela.

    All this will give Chavez greater access, combined with
    his oil wealth, to create more control in South American
    politics. This costly loss of Western and capitalistic
    influence in South America is largely due to two closely
    related subjects: One is oil itself, and the other is the
    cowardice of the U.S. Congress which should have
    provided full energy independence for the United States
    but, instead, collapsed in the face of opposition from the
    far left, the anti-capitalist Greens, the Marxists and worse.

    Hugo Chavez's path to power can be laid directly on the
    transference of American wealth to his doorstep through
    excessive crude oil pricing. The United States is
    financing armament buildups in a number of areas
    in the world by this same manner.

Had the U.S. needs for petroleum been satisfied by its own development of
energy, the price of oil would have remained stabilized in the range of $15 to
$20 per barrel.

Forgotten are the memories of the Arab boycotts of the mid-1970s into 1980s when the
price of oil went from $4 per barrel to $40 per barrel, an increase of 1,000 percent.
America's economy was saved at that time by the vast oil reserves of Alaska and the
Alaskan pipeline, both of which came on line in the 1970s and '80s which brought the
price of oil down to as low as $10 per barrel. Obviously there were brighter bulbs in the
congressional chandelier at the time.

It is America's need for oil that provides the lightning rod for our enemies.
There is no shortage of oil in the world. The supply easily meets the demand.

The oil issue has become the "Great Game" of the day—"How many ways are there to
make America squirm?"

They're laughing at us, folks.
This GUEST eCOLUMN is
used by MyBestYears.com
with special permission from

E. Ralph Hostetter
, a
crusading newspaper
editor, owner and publisher
for a half-century, and a
champion of individual
liberty.

In his columns Hostetter
consistently warns of the
harmful erosion of our
constitutional rights.

Born and educated in
Maryland, he enlisted in
the U.S. Navy in 1941 and
was assigned in 1943 to
the Naval Reserve Officers
Training Corps at Harvard
University, where he
earned a bachelor of
science degree in 1945. He
was released from World
War II service in 1946 with
the rank of Ensign.
Recalled into the U.S. Navy
in 1950 during the Korean
War, he served as a Naval
Intelligence Officer until
released in 1952 with the
rank of Lieutenant, Senior
Grade.

Hostetter is chairman and
publisher of American
Farm Publications Inc.,
Easton, Md., and former
president and owner of
TriState Publishing
Company, Elkton, Md., a
chain of 13 community
newspapers.
He was elected to the
Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press
Association Newspaper Hall of
Fame in 1990. The New Jersey
Agricultural Society awarded
Hostetter its highest award, the
Gold Medallion, in 2003.

Hostetter is also Vice
President of the Strasburg
Rail Road Co. (PA),
Chairman of Ambassador
Travel Service (DE),  
Chairman, Southside
Virginia Auto Auction, (VA)
and owner of Camelot East
Farms, Prince Edward
Island, Canada.

Active in civic affairs,
Hostetter is presently a
member of the Board of
Directors of Free
Congress Foundation,
Washington, DC.

In nearly 50 years of travel,
Hostetter has made three
round-the-world trips,
visiting 113 countries,
including traveling to
Antartica, going through
the Northwest Passage on
a Russian ice breaker, and
to the North Pole on an
atomic-powered Russian
ice breaker.

He married the former
Edith White of North East,
Md., in 1947 and they have
five daughters, one son and
13 grandchildren.
E. RALPH HOSTETTER
...Losing Our Influence in South America

Over the years the United States has fallen out of
favor with one country or another.

To lose favor with an entire continent would seem
a difficult task, until we take a closer look at South
America.

I used to joke about the stability of South American
governments by referring to their longevity in
RPMs, or "revolutions per minute." Usually these
disturbances occurred on a country-by-country
basis, and the United States would adjust its
foreign policy to meet the situation.
Chávez and Argentina
President Néstor
Kirchner discuss energy
and trade integration
projects for South
America.
Hugo Chávez with Socialist
Worker's Party Brazilian
President Luiz Inácio Lula
da Silva
(2004) Schafik Handal (the late El
Salvadorian Communist leader), Hugo
Chávez, Cuba's Fidel Castro and
Bolivia's Socialist President Evo
Morales, all smiles in Havana.
INTERESTING NOTE: The demand for energy in the world
has experienced a sudden increase in the developing
regions, particularly in Asia, and predictions are that in
2030, it will increase by 66% compared to demand back
in 2000. The Asian region alone will account for almost
40% of that growth.