We have discussed Petrocaribe a few times on this blog. The basics are here. To recap, under the scheme, Venezuela sells Caribbean countries oil on credit. At current prices, receiving countries pay 70% up front; the rest they can pay off over 25 years at 1%. (Some of the new adherents to the agreement pay 2%.) In addition, the recipients can pay in kind, if they desire: Guyana has paid in rice and the Dominican Republic in beans. (Page 6.)
The Caribbean buyers have to establish state-owned entities to handle their end; the price difference, in effect becomes a long-term cheap loan to the entity, which uses it to finance development projects. That is how Nicaragua uses Venezuelan money to pay for the prep work on the Gran Canal.
Occasionally the Venezuelans give an even bigger subsidy than that. In 2011, for example, Caracas decided that countries participating in its subsidized oil schemes would not be liable for the royalty payments that PDVSA owed the Venezuelan government. That effectively transferred $13.1 billion to Venezuela’s putative allies. (It is not well-known that Venezuela has extended this arrangement to non-Caribbean countries: frex, here is Uruguay’s. Here is Paraguay’s.)
And what does Venezuela get?
Not much. Caricom just declared that they support Guyana in its border dispute with Venezuela. (It is a big border dispute; Caracas claims half the country.)
This is only the latest failure in Venezuela’s attempt to buy influence. In 2009, the Caribbean countries politely told the Bolivarian Alliance that they were not interested in military integration, they would stick to their own Regional Security System, thank you. In 2010, when Nicaraguan troops blundered into territory claimed by Costa Rica, the West Indian nations backed Costa Rica rather than their fellow Bolivarian in Managua.
Hey! St. Lucia is backing Caracas against U.S. sanctions!
Oh, wait, that article says that some individual St. Lucians back Caracas.
There must be something.