So basically Chavez was Obama, before Obama was Obama.
Despite being an oil power, Venezuela ran deep into debt as the price of oil fell. Meanwhile Chavez took over the oil on “behalf of the people” and gave away sizable amounts of it to Cuba and to the Kennedy clan.
Perhaps no American will mourn Hugo Chavez more than Joe Kennedy.
For years, the eldest son of the late Robert F. Kennedy has relied on the Venezuelan strongman to prop up his charity with tens of millions of dollars in donated oil.
The steady flow of heating oil allowed the former congressman from Massachusetts to portray himself — and Chavez — as heroes to the poor even as Kennedy and his wife pull down more than $1 million in salary and benefits from a web of for-profit and nonprofit energy concerns.
Kennedy, 60, founded Citizens Energy Energy Corp. in 1979 to provide low-cost home heating oil. In the early years, the nonprofit bought crude oil from Venezuela at a special price and sold it off at market rate, using the proceeds to bring heating oil to Massachusetts. Running the charity gave Kennedy his activist credentials. He ran for Congress in 1988 and served in the House until 1999.
During that time, his younger brother, Michael Kennedy, ran Citizens Energy and garnered criticism for a pay package as high as $313,000, including money he got from related for-profit ventures.
After Joe Kennedy left Congress, he returned to run Citizens Energy. That job paid him $86,311 in 2010.
For Chavez, with little familiarity with how American politics worked, helping a Kennedy move up the ladder made sense. One Kennedy had made it to the White House. Another nearly did. It wasn’t too improbable from his point of view that maybe a guy named Joe Kennedy might make it to the White House on the back of Chavez’s oil.
Considering Venezuela’s precarious economic situation, the oil was bound to dry up even if Chavez had stayed in power.
China lent 42 billion dollars to Venezuela, making up nearly half of its national debt. China isn’t pulling out, but there’s going to be less money to go around.
The good news for Joe Kennedy is that there will be plenty of other oil-rich countries looking to buy a Kennedy at a discount.