(p. 14) CARACAS, Venezuela — After decades of dominating its oil industry, the Venezuelan government is quietly surrendering control to foreign companies in a desperate bid to keep the economy afloat and hold on to power.
The opening is a startling reversal for Venezuela, breaking decades of state command over its crude reserves, the world’s biggest.
The government’s power and legitimacy have always rested on its ability to control its oil fields — the backbone of the country’s economy — and use their profits for the benefit of its people.
But the nation’s authoritarian leader, Nicolás Maduro, in his struggle to retain his grip over a country in its seventh year of a crippling economic crisis, is giving up policies that once were central to its socialist-inspired revolution.
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(Note: the online version of the story was updated Feb. 18, 2020, and has the title “To Survive, Venezuela’s Leader Gives Up Decades of Control Over Oil.” The online version says that the article was on p. A8 of the print version. But it was on p. 14 of my National Edition print version.)