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Chávez watch: US motorists calmed

The Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, sent a calming message to US motorists this month, reassuring them that Venezuela is not about to cut off oil shipments to the US.

Early last month, Chávez sent shock waves through the oil markets when he threatened such a move in retaliation for Exxon Mobil’s success in convincing courts in the US and Europe to freeze Venezuelan assets. In a mixed message the president said: "We don’t have plans to stop sending oil to the US," but he added that he would cut off supplies to the US if Washington "attacks Venezuela or tries to harm us". The market’s reaction to the news reaffirms Chávez’s power over its north American customer. The US relies on Venezuela for about 10% of its oil imports.

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