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Economy of Venezuela
The petroleum sector dominates the Venezuela's mixed
economy, accounting for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of export earnings,
and more than half of government revenues. The oil sector operates through
the government-owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), which among other
things owns the US-based distributor CITGO and its more than 14,000 retail
gasoline outlets. Despite the significant oil wealth, 50% of the population
live in poverty, and thousands are unemployed.
Venezuela is one of the five founding members of
OPEC, the international oil cartel. The initiative of Juan Pablo Pérez
Alfonzo, OPEC was proposed in 1960 as a response to low domestic and international
oil prices. Since 2005, Venezuela has been a member of Mercosur, joining
Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay; it has yet to gain voting rights.