Hugo Chávez must be distraught. There’s nothing he loves more than to launch into spirited tirades against the “empire” (a.k.a. the USA), and now he has the perfect excuse: it slapped sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA for selling fuel to Iran.
But with the firebrand currently convalescing from problems with his knee, more than a day has gone by and he has still held his tongue (barring a few comments on Twitter), leaving that pleasure to his flunkies. And indeed, they haven’t held back, using the kind of nationalist rhetoric others would reserve for a full-blown land invasion.
The fact is, the impact of the sanctions will be minimal. They won’t affect Citgo, PDVSA’s US subsidiary, nor will they stop Venezuelan oil exports to the US – as if either party wanted that to happen anyway. All they will do is prevent PDVSA from doing things it has little to no interest in doing anyway: competing for US government contracts, obtaining export licenses or receiving financing from the Export-Import Bank.