Left-leaning president Hugo Chavez, long President Bush's nemesis south of the border, has never actually said he wants Western oil firms to leave. But he sure is making it hard for them to stay.
The populist Chavez has canceled contracts, seized fields and steadily increased royalties paid by foreign firms over the last few years.
On Tuesday Chavez seized majority control of the country's huge heavy crude Orinoco fields from BP, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, France's Total and Norway's Statoil. The companies are invited to stay on as minority partners, but under conditions that will be no doubt less favorable to them.