Buffoonish Nationalism by Teodoro Petkoff

May 27, 2005

Teodoro Petkoff is so mad about what is being said about PDVSA that he broke his tradition of not writing the Friday Editorial, to write this:

Buffoonish Nationalism by Teodoro Petkoff in Tal Cual


Minister Ramirez attacked this week the oil opening projects. He affirmed that the operating agreements approved by the National Congress in 1995 said one thing and that the multinationals have done something else.


It just so happens, however, that of the ten years that the oil opening has been in place, ALMOST SEVEN have been under the administration of the “revolution”. Thus, if these companies have cheated, as Ramirez affirms, it has been under the noses of these shoddy nationalists that today govern us. If we suppose that the foreign companies have not paid what they owed, the blame is on those that were obligated to collect from them.


Nevertheless our “anti imperialists” have played leading roles in remarkable contradictions. Chavez assured us on March 200th. 2002 that “Total” and “Statoil”, precisely the two companies that Ramirez pointed to as cheaters, “should be given a trophy” and on March 9th. of this same year, only two months ago, Chavez was filled with pride with the alliance with Total: “With Venezuela’s technology and allied with companies like Total, we are extracting heavy and super heavy from the Orinoco Oil belt…Then? Surely, we are like in the case of the “revision” of the relations with the US (The Foreign Office is explaining to everyone that Chavez did not mean to say what he said), our President will tell “his friend Jacques Chirac” that the thing with “Total” (a French company for those that don’t know it) was a “misunderstanding”.


Not long ago, when his anti imperialistic measles broke out, Chavez said that “it can’t be that an oil company comes and pays 1% of royalties (…) I have given orders to PDVSA and the Tax Office to collect retroactively and with interest what they owe us (…) If they don’t pay they have to leave”. All the stupid jerks, Ramonet-style, must have had an orgasm confronting such courage. However, Ramirez in his speech could not avoid saying the truth, Chavez, apparently, was not informed that the stuff about increasing the royalties was in the law and the contracts with the companies. The Minister explained that according to the Law of Hydrocarbons of 1943, one could reduce royalties “to economically support projects under development”, but, according to the same law, once those economic conditions were overcome, the Minister of Energy could adjust the royalties to the normal levels.


“That’s what we did” said Ramirez candidly. Nothing then about the exploits, Lazaro Cardenas style, when he nationalized Mexican oil or Mossadegh style, when he did the same thing with Iranian oil.


No, it was a simple matter of “revising the numbers” according to the law. What Ramirez should explain is why they took so long in discovering that after three consecutive years of stratospheric crude prices “it was illogical that the companies pay a royalty of 1% “and because of this “we adjusted the royalty to 16%” and “we did not go to 30% for legal protection”. Nothing about the “clear clarions” of the revolution. Just accounting adjustments. The rest is pure show. Read our central pages of today’s edition, where, through the words of Chavez along these years, one can follow the trajectory of this fake and erratic policy.

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