Hugo Chavez may not be a particularly fair ruler.   He may oppress the people, hoard to much wealth for himself etc.   But the current disputes about oil contracts transcend that.

The issue is should a nations wealth be able to be signed away to other companies ?    Should a banking conglomerate or a large corporation be able to manipulate their way into the control of the natural resources of a nation ?   Or should the natural resources of a nation belong to that nation.

The answer of course is that the land and the produce of the land should belong to that nation.   In the case of the Irish nation it was precisely the idea that the resources did not belong to the nation that resulted in starvation when the harvest failed and instead of letting the people eat their own crops the crops were removed from the land and sold because there was already an obligation to sell them to a corporation and to protect its shareholders.

“I tell you now: we will not recognize any decision by ICSID,” Chavez said during a televised speech. He has repeatedly accused the U.S. oil major of using unfair deals in the past to “rob” the South American OPEC member of its resources.

“They are immoral … How much could they steal in 50 years? Who would dare launch this madness without any foundation? They wanted $12 billion. From where, compadre?” he said.

“We are not going to bow before imperialism and its tentacles, understand that … They are trying the impossible: to get us to pay them. We are not going to pay them anything.”

Thus when Hugo declares that he will not bow to the will of a corporation and a “World Bank” he is to be commended.   There is of course a totally separate question about the manner Hugo rules his country and whether the government of that nation is fair to its people.   But that is an internal question for the nation of Venezuela to sort out on its own.