Caracas, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez's government scored a victory in Venezuela's political crisis by producing more than 1 million barrels of oil Tuesday, frustrating a 2-month-old opposition drive to strangle the world's No. 5 oil exporter.
By raising production to a third of its normal rate, Chavez seized another advantage over his opponents -- jump-starting Venezuela's oil industry while defeating calls for a February referendum on his rule.
But the 58-day-old strike has put Venezuela on the verge of economic collapse, caused long-term damage to oil infrastructure and forced Chavez to extend his ban Tuesday on U.S. dollar purchases to preserve foreign reserves.
Chavez surpassed the 1 million-barrel benchmark by focusing on newer oil fields where crude is easier to extract.
Dissident executives at the state oil monopoly, Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., confirmed production surpassed 1 million barrels, compared to a low of 200,000 during the strike. Oil provides half of Venezuela's government revenue.