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Some experts say that Mr. Chavez is unlikely to declare an oil embargo on the United States because he has few customers aside from U.S. firms capable of processing Venezuela’s heavy crude oil.

They say Mr. Chavez may need U.S. revenue more than ever as he builds new housing developments and expands social programs in run-up to elections. The Venezuelan government budget shows current year outlays rising 46 percent from 2011.

PDVSA and the Syrian Embassy in Washington did not respond to interview requests.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.