Archive for July 6th, 2005

Sumate preliminary hearing takes place

July 6, 2005

After being postponed five times since September, the preliminary hearing to decide whether there will be a trial or not against the Sumate directive took place today. The judge will decide tomorrow if the trial will take place and in which conditions.

Note that despite that the Supreme Court indicated that in the event of
a trial, the accused should be free, the Fiscal in charge of the
case is asking that the Sumate directive be put in jail during the

Yeah, right, they are such DANGEROUS criminals that the society is in
REAL danger having Maria Corina and Alejandro Plaz walking the streets
of Caracas!

27 military masked police officers wandering around with machine guns are OK…but Maria Corina! that’s a no-no, she is a real threat!

I’ll keep you posted.
Jorge Arena.


To sow the oil by Arturo Uslar Pietri

July 6, 2005

[Before leaving, Miguel prepared this excellent post. Enjoy]

While the phrase “To sow the oil” is quite famous in Venezuela,
it was not until this week that I first read Arturo Uslar Pietri’s famous 1936 original
article in which he first used that phrase. You can find that article here in Spanish.
I thought it was worth translating to make it available in English too. I will
translate a second article from 1961 by Uslar himself about the subject, when
time allows it. While some of the terminology is certainly old fashioned, it is
impressive how the basic concepts outlined in the article remain true even in
the globailized world of today. To me this article shows the intellect and
clarity of thinking of one of Venezuela’s
most famous writers. While the first oil discovery in Venezuela
was in 1914, it was not until the mid 1920’s that oil was discovered in amounts
large enough for it to become our Devils’ Excrement.

To sow the oil by
Arturo Uslar Pietri in Ahora

When one considers with some care the economic and financial
panorama of Venezuela, the notion of the large role that the destructive
economy plays in the production of our wealth gives us some anguish, that is,
that one which consumes without concern about how to reconstructy the existing
amounts of matter and energy. In other words, the destructive economy is that
one which sacrifices the future in favor of the present, the one which taking
things into the realm of fable writers, it is more like the cicada than like
the ants.

In effect, in a budget of effectively rental income of 180
million, the mining sector figures in with 58 million or almost one third of
the total income, without making estimates of the many other numerous indirect
and important contributions that can be equally attributed to the mining
sector. Public Venezuelan wealth lies currently, in more than one third, on the
destructive utilization of the oil fields underground, whose life is limited
not only for natural reasons, but the productivity of which depends on its
entirety of factors and wills which have nothing to do with the national
economy. This great proportion of wealth of destructive origin will grow
without any doubt the day that mining taxes are made more just and
remunerative, even to get close to the suicidal dream of some naive people that
see as the ideal of the Venezuelan finances, to be able to pay the totality of
the budget with only the mining income, which could be translated more simply
this way: to manage to make Venezuela an unproductive and idle country, an
immense parasite of oil, swimming in the momentary and corrupting moment and
devoted towards an imminent and inevitable catastrophe.

But it not only does the destructive character of our
economy reached this grave proportion, but it goes even further reaching a
tragic magnitude. The wealth of the ground among us does not only not increase,
but it tends to disappear, because agricultural production decays in quantity
and quality in an alarming manner. Our scant fruits for export have seen their
place in the international markets snatched by more active and capable
competitors. Our cattle industry degenerates and gets poorer with epizooties,
ticks and the lack of adequate crossbreeding. Lands get sterilized without
fertilization, people grow crops using antiquated methods, enormous forests are
destroyed without replacement, to be converted in firewood and vegetable coal. From
a recently published book we take this exemplary data: “In the Cuyuni region
more or less three thousand men are working who knock down, on average, nine
thousand trees a day, which totals 270 thosuand in seven months, including the
areas of the north, this totals one million and eight hundred and ninety
thousand. Multiplying this last sum by the number of years that the beefwood
tree was worked on, we would obtain an exorbitant amount of trees knocked down
and you will get an idea of how far gone the beefwood tree is”. These phrases
are a brutal epitaph for the beefwood tree, which, under different procedures, could
have been one of the biggest sources of wealth for Venezuela.

The lesson of this threatening scenario is simple: it is
urgent to solidly create in Venezuela
a reproductive and progressive economy. It is urgent to take advantage of the
transient wealth of the current destructive economy to create the healthy and
ample and coordinated bases of that future progressive economy, that will be
our true declaration of independence. It is necessary to get out the most
income from the mines to totally invest it in aid, facilities and stimulus to
agriculture, breeding and national industries. That, instead of oil being a
curse that will turn us into useless and parasite people, it would be the lucky circumstance
that will allow us, with its sudden wealth, to accelerate and strengthen the
productive evolution of the Venezuelan people under exceptional conditions.

The part that in our current budget is dedicated to this
true promotion and creation of wealth is still small and perhaps is no more
than a seventh of the total amount of expenses. It is necessary that these
outflows destined to create and guarantee the initial development of a
progressive economy reach at least up to the level of the mining income.

The only wise and saving economic policy that we should
practice is to transform the mining income in agricultural credit, stimulate
scientific and modern agriculture, importing stallions and pastures, repopulate
the forests, build the dams and canals necessary to regularize irrigation and
the defective water regime, mechanize and industrialize the rural areas, create
coops for certain crops and small owners for others.

This would be a true act of national construction, truly
making use of the national wealth and this must be the goal of all conscious

If we had to propose an insignia for our economic policy we
would launch the following, which seems to us summarizes in dramatic fashion
the need to invest the wealth produced by the destructive system of the mines,
and create reproductive agricultural and progressive wealth: to sow the oil.

Arturo Uslar Pietri. June 14th. 1936