CARACAS Feb 18 Venezuela on Tuesday renamed its
largest crude reserve, traditionally known as the Orinoco Belt,
after the country's late socialist leader.
"I've decided as of today to name it the Hugo Chavez Oil
Belt," said President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's protege and
successor, during a rally of oil workers. "Do you agree?"
The crowd roared its approval.
"The biggest oil reserve on the planet was rescued by our
Commander Chavez," Maduro said, referring to his predecessor's
crusade to boost state control over natural resources.
Chavez died last year after a 14-year rule in which he built
up a cult following thanks to liberal spending of oil revenue
that helped him win repeated elections.
His detractors accuse him of squandering a decade-long
windfall and leaving behind an economy weakened by state
The United States Geological Survey in 2010 estimated the
area held 513 billion barrels of recoverable heavy oil, calling
it "one of the world's largest."
Maduro, who casts himself as the "son" of Chavez and has
pledged to maintain his political legacy, was speaking on
another day of unrest in Venezuela which has seen a week of
demonstrations against the president.
Four people have died.
(Additional reporting by Deisy Rodriguez; Editing by Andrew
Cawthorne and Chizu Nomiyama)