Archive for September 9th, 2003

Discrimination, PDVSA and the Chavez Government

September 9, 2003


Good article in the Miami Herald (sent by Russell) on how the Chavez Government discriminates against those that oppose the Government, most of the stories are not new and they are truly sad, when a Government discriminates against its won people on the basis of political beliefs. Even more remarkable is the bit about the People’s Ombudsman firing those that are not pro-Chavez. What really irked me in the story was MVR Deputy Luis Tascon saying that discrimination is insignificant; he knows that PDVSA has sent letters to all its contractors and providers telling them they can not hire any of the 18,000 people fired by PDVSA. Now, imagine that, 18,000 people can not work for any oil or oil service company in a country where the Government controls that industry. What else can they do? Somewhere in this blog is the link to a copy of the letter sent by PDVSA Western Manager to all service companies telling they could not hire any fired workers. I know that people with Ph.D.’s who worked in PDVSA can not find jobs at Government research institutes because they are branded as traitors. Thus this Government acts like all those fascists Governments one reads about in history books but thinks it can not happen again as issues as basic and human rights are better ingrained in the world. Well, let me tell you they are not, the same people that claim a few signatures in the recall petition are bad ignore thousands of Venezuelans and their families that are being discriminated against. Moreover, many of these same people are choosing to leave the country to be able to support their families. Many of them have advanced degrees that cost the country a lot of money to obtain. Even worse, they have experience in fields which are not only critical to the country’s oil industry, but in which it is quite difficult to find qualified people. But as it has been usually the case with anything that has to do with knowledge, ability and competence, those are values despised by this perverse Government.

Orimulsion project on hold

September 9, 2003


 I still can’t believe that the Government and PDVSA have decided to do away with the Orimulsion project. For those that don’t know, Orimulsion was a fuel oil substitute developed in Venezuela using heavy crudes (70%) suspended in water (30%) in the form of an emulsion. For years PDVSA and its research and development center worked on this project until they made it into a real commercial project. Power pants in the US, China, Korea the UK, Italy and other countries began importing this cheaper product to generate electricity. For Venezuela Orimulsion had a number of advantages, first, it allowed the country to export the cheaper heavy crudes, the process is fairly economical and the product is not covered by the country’s OPEC quotas. PDVSA even created a company called Bitor to commercialize the product which had been quiet successful despite charges that it was quite dirty as a burning fuel. In fact, I consider Orimulsion to be the most important contribution by Venezuelan Science and Technology to the economy.


Given this preamble, I was quite shocked to learn that the Chavez administration had decided to ditch the Orimulsion project reportedly because it is intensive in knowledge and technical expertise and those that have that are part of the people fired from PDVSA. While some reports say that only new projects will be cancelled, the Italian Ambassador to Venezuela visited the Vice-President today to express his dismay on his country not receiving any more Orimulsion. Thus, once again, the Chavze administration puts politics above everything else, simply canceling a project that would add to economic activity and would bring foreign reserves to the country and profits to PDVSA. According to former PDVSA executives, just the fact that Canada’s New Brunswick Power will not initiate its Orimulsion project will cost the Republic US$ 750 million in 2004 alone. Reportedly PDVSA will replace Orimulsion by fuel oil. Orimulsion was designed to compete in costs with coal not with fuel oil and its margins are more attractive. As usual, there was confusion on the issue, while the Italian Ambassador expressed his concerns to the Vice-President, PDVSA’ General Manger told Globovision that the current contracts would be fulfilled. Venezuela is the only country in the world which produces Orimulsion.

The two-faced Chavez Administration

September 9, 2003


 If ever there was a government where there is no separation between political party and the Government it has to be this one. Chavez’ MVR does whatever he says and even party affairs are broadcast live forcing TV broadcasters to transmit these events for free. But then, the same tow-faced Government wants to walk a very fine line, when the Minister of Foreign Relations says that he will not hold a meeting with the Ambassador or denounce it internationally. But at the same time Chavez’ MVR plans to denounce at the OAS the “intromission” by the US Ambassador in Venezuelan Internal Affairs. The truth is that what the Government is preparing itself for, is for the possibility that if the recall referendum is held other countries might want to send international observers. The only way that Chavez may obtain a victory in a recall referendum is if his Bolivarian Circles take to the streets and intimidate people into not voting, then according to the Constitution, Chavez may not be recalled if the number of people voting to recall him is less than the number of those that voted for Chavez in his last election. Much like in Peru’s Fujimori election, the presence of foreign observers may represent the only obstacle for Chavez to make the world believe that he was not recalled.


In the same note, the Minister of Foreign relations says that Venezuela’s democracy is “normal”. Weird concept the Minister has of normalcy in a country where electoral processes have been on hold since January 23d. This has stopped Venezuelans from carrying out the most basic right of a democracy, the right to vote.