Chavez Threatens To Stop Oil Exports Over New EU Immigration Laws

Chavez threatens to stop oil exports over new EU immigration laws

Jun 19, 2008

CARACAS (AFP) President Hugo Chavez threatened Thursday to shut off oil exports to European countries that enforce tough new EU rules on illegal immigrants.

“Our petroleum should not go to these European countries” that apply the new laws, Chavez said at a press conference here.

Just as European nations could return undocumented immigrants to their country of origin, Latin American countries could also decide “the return of European investments,” Chavez said.

“At least in Venezuela,” he said. “We don't need them here.”

Chavez said that his government would “review the investments that they (the Europeans) have here to see if we can also apply a 'return directive'.”

The European Union adopted tough new rules Wednesday on illegal immigrants, allowing detention for up to 18 months prior to expulsion, and angering human rights groups.

The measures, which could come into force in 2010, passed their final political hurdle at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, where they were endorsed by 367 votes to 206 with 109 abstentions.

They will oblige authorities in 27 EU nations to choose between issuing residency or other permits to the estimated half a million people coming in illegally each year or returning them to their countries of origin.

Those denied residency have two options: “return” home or face “removal.”

Currently nine EU states set no limit at all on the amount of time that people can be detained. Many others have far shorter custody times than the six months the so-called “return directive” will introduce.

The new measures will form a major building block in a sweeping new EU “immigration pact” which France is preparing to unveil in July when it takes over the bloc's rotating presidency for six months.