The week at a glance...Americas

Americas

Amuay refinery, Venezuela

Blast kills dozens: A huge explosion at Venezuela’s biggest oil refinery killed 41 people and raised concerns about industry safety. The blast, caused by a gas leak, shook the earth for miles. Critics of President Hugo Chávez said his policies were to blame for shoddy maintenance at the plant. Chávez fired thousands of skilled workers from the state-run oil monopoly a decade ago and replaced them with political allies who are expected to proselytize for his government, in addition to doing their refinery duties. Oil output is nearly 20 percent lower than it was when Chávez took power, in 1999.

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