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Petropolitics hang over Latin America's producers

Elections next year in Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil have pivoted politics to the region’s fore again. Can it break the self-destructive resource-nationalist cycle?

At the turn of this century, nobody would have guessed that within two decades Brazil, then a backwater for the oil industry, would be pumping more crude than powerhouse producers Mexico and Venezuela. Yet last year it did just that, partly thanks to a run up in its own output, and partly because of the decline of the others'. The change in fortunes shows how the region's volatile petropolitics, and of course a bit of geological luck, have shaped the landscape and will forge its future. Venezuela is now the poster child for oil politics gone awry. Twenty years ago, it was embarking on a policy of apertura, opening its vast Orinoco oil reserves to private foreign investors. Cash flooded in a

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