Archive for July, 2007

The autocrat shows his true undemocratic colors

July 23, 2007

Yesterday was a bad day for the supposed democratic credentials of the
autocrat/dictator. His basic instincts betrayed him and he proved once again that he may be anything, but certainly not a democrat.

First, Chavez said that the indefinite reelection will be proposed only
for him, using the new euphemism of “continuous” reelection, which has been chosen
as the new term given the low popularity of the possibility of
“indefinite” reelection. Said Chavez: “No, no, no and one thousand times
no, if there is continuous reelection here, it will be for the
President”, proving that there is no philosophical basis for the
proposal other than perpetuating Hugo Chavez in power.

Then, using his
ability to lie, deceive and exaggerate, Chavez said :”I will do what the
“people” say…” as if the “people” had been consulted on the subject.
In fact, all that is known is that the “people” reject the concept of
indefinite reelection in polls and that is why the Government has begun
this campaign of promoting the new word “continuous”.

But the saddest episode occurred when Hugo Chavez did not allow a
community leader to tell him what he wanted, because he was telling
Chavez that he is being lied to, as shown in the video below.

First the
guy, who is pro-Chavez, tells him that he is being lied to and is
being misled about the need to move the barrio where he lives. Chavez responds by
telling him that he has been poisoned, stops him from talking and tells
the guy that he is wrong and that they will continue later.

Three hours
later (!!!), the guy is allowed to speak again and he tells Chavez :”How is it possible, that we as a community are being imposed what we
should say in “Alo Presidente” (Chavez’ program), we are in a free and democratic country, where we should be able to say what we feel. What we feel is that we want to be listened to as a community… and that no Vice-Minister should mistreat us”.

Chavez then stops him once more and says that what he is questioning is Chavez’ program and who knows what interests he is trying to defend. The guy was not allowed to say anything else. Some democracy or exchnage of ideas, no?

“Sr. Presidente, a Ud. lo están engañando”
Uploaded by lbracci

Can it be any clearer than this?


A friend sends some nice pictures

July 22, 2007

Santos M. saw his brother’s pictures on this page and could not resist sending his own, strangely many of them did not arrive well, but there are sufficient of them to have a few posts while I get my act together with my own. I am guessing at soem of the names, will correct if necessary

On the left Angraecum Leoni from Africa. On the left, it looks like a Cattleya Giga from Colombia.

On the left Cattleya Araguayensis from Brazil, not an easy plant, I had one that flowered twice and the one day it just died. On the right a good bunch of Coryanthes Macrantha.

Above left is a Cycnoches hybrid, one of these days I will get a brain transplant and remember the name, it is some lady’s name. On the right a Trichoglotis from the Philipines.

An efficient Government only for persecuting and going after its political enemies

July 21, 2007

It makes you wonder what the last eight years would have been like, if the robolution went after and worked on the problems that affect the country with the same efficiency and intensity that it does when it comes to persecution and prosecuting its enemies. Case in point is the speed and efficiency with which the Government has attempted to deal with the “new” RCTV International, the monster created by them when they decided to cancel the concession of that broadcast station just because the autocrat/dictator felt like punishing what he considered to be his strongest enemy among media outlets.

No sooner had the Government realized on Monday that the new RCTV was not under its control and could continue its regular programming while the regulated stations would show Chavez’ speeches, that William Lara, who continues to retain his dual role as spokesman for Chavez’ party and Minister of Information, said that the Government will propose that all broadcasts via cable and satellite TV should carry both Chavez’ odious “cadenas’, as well as all institutional messages and advertising as I reported a couple of days ago.

But even faster than s speeding bullet was the “Board for Social Responsibility in Radio and Television” which, while seldom heard from, met on Monday and by Tuesday it had already managed to study the programming of RCTV and decided that while a foreign company, RCTV International’s programming was directed to Venezuela and mostly produced in Venezuela and thus should abide by Venezuelan laws. Thus, according to the infinite wisdom of the Board, RCTV International would have to adjust to legislation and , of course, broadcast Chavez’ cadenas.

The curious thing is that not only was the decision too efficient, but it is also discriminatory. You see, Chavez’ pet project Telesur, which is mostly produced in Venezuela and is also broadcast to Venezuela is not required by law to carry the Government’s transmissions, nor does it ahve to abide by the country’s laws. The reason? Simple, because if Telesur has had difficulties in penetrating the audiences of Latin America that Chavez thought would be ready to watch it, they would be instantly turned off by having to watch Chavez whenever he gave one of his long speeches, parades and institutional messages.

Once again, the Government wants to tailor decisions and make the laws so as to persecute its enemies much like it has done before. This is nothing new. While crime and corruption run rampant, the Government has gone after its enemies prosecuting them for even the smallest details, just to get them out of the way. Case in point was the charges yesterday against former judge Monica Fernandez for events during April 2002, while all of the deaths and injuries those days remain without a single person having been sentenced for any of them.

It is all part of the cynicism of the robolution and its actors. While PDVSA is called “in an operational emergency” due to inefficiency and corruption by one of its most important Vice Pesident and oil production is down significantly, while local consumption goes up, Chavez yesterday in Nicaragua starts the construction of an oil refinery in that country with Venezuela’s money, which will use 150,000 barrels a day of our own oil, of which that country will use 50,000 barrels a day and export the remainder 100,000 in another example of how Chavez appears to believe that Venezuela is his own personal hacienda at the service of the promotion of his image and leadership.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s main source of revenue is being destroyed by corruption, incapacity and cronyism, in the belief that the price of oil will never go down and will always save the day. However, at the pace the deterioration is going, by the time reality sets in, there may not be media or enemies around to point out that this is all the result of the autocrat’s idiocy, while he is likely to blame the CIA for all of his problems.

It is hard to foresee where this country may be going, but it ain’t very pretty, as Chavez’ closed circle is constantly reduced more and more and very few capable managers are part of it, since it is only the political and loyal operators who are constantly rewarded. This becomes a vicious circle of political hate and persecution, which guarantees the continuity of the autocrat’s misguided policies.

The History Chavez by Laureno Marquez

July 20, 2007

This column in Tal Cual was originally published in 2005. Note in particular the sentence about the fact that there is no censorship because not a single TV station has been shutdown. Humor is certainly necessary, the problem is when the humor only tells us how crude our reality is.

The History Chavez by Laureno Marquez in Tal Cual

As Poleo told someone: Everything has been said, but since nobody seems to pay attention, everything has to be repeated….Up to the end of history.

(Warning: Some things are written before their time. This article was already published in this page (2005, to be specific). I came back to it because I thought it recover its meaning in the light of the recent announcements that cable TV should also be in cadena (obligatory broadcast of Chavez’s speeches). If at the moment of its publication it seemed like an exercise in humor-fiction, now I think it can be a pathetic reality. Some names have been change or omitted to protect the innocent (that is, the author) because in 2005 on would not apply self-censorship as much, nor had the fear like we do now.
I have also cut it a bit, not so much because of fear, but because t at its time it was extensive, with this warning it may be insufferable.

Any likeness that remains, after the cuts, with circumstances or real names are purely coincidental (with the reality that insists in coinciding with what one writes and not the other way around)

20th Century Fo, Parameao Pictures and Endogenous Productions present the new subscription channel using cable that will change the way we look at history: The History Chavez

Weekly Programming

–Every Sunday at 19 hours (If we have time) Biographies

Learn the true history of Esteban de Jesus and change your image of this imperialistic manipulation has introduced in your mind. Follow the life story of this man who from his beginnings as a street vendor selling little spiders in Sabaneta de Barinas, up to the unquestionable Latin American leadership he has today.

—Every Monday at 18 hours: Mysteries of history.

What truly happened on April 11th? watch a group of fascist military officers and assasins, following the instructions of George. W. Bush, go after a Government that, more democratic, would simply be impossible. They claim tyranny But where is the tyranny. We have not shut down a single TV channel here… You can not miss this documentary.
Veracity guaranteed.

—Every Wednesday at midnight: Mysteries of the Bible

A passionate tale of the relationship between the church and the Government in thee apocalyptic times. Was Jesus a communist? Was his plan to multiply the fish and the loaves of bread the first endogenous process? Were the merchants of the temple the first neoliberal savages? Find out why our maximum leader carries a crucifix in the pocket of his jacket. Find out why Christ is the supreme commander of the revolution.
See the expulsion of the demons from the body of a pastor of the church during a rally in Agenda Bolivar… All of this and more in Mysteries off the Bible.

—Every Saturday at 7: Stigmata: Marked forever. Does the Tascon list really exist?

Learn the true story of the former workers of PDVSA, kicked out during the strike and understand why these dangerous criminal cannot be hired anywhere.
Judge by yourself the reasons that fired them to execrate those that had signed and see in detail how these undercover agents of the CIA work.
The History Chavez transmitted free and soberly by you cable operator. Coming Soon!

PDVSA to create eight companies, overextending its financial and managerial capabilities

July 19, 2007

On the same day that The VP of Exploration and Production Luis Vierma said at the National Assembly that PDVSA was currently in an “important operational emergency” and that the Board of Directors as a whole was to blame, it comes out that this same bunch of incompetent fools are getting ready to destroy the country’s main source of revenue.

Vierma’s sharp criticism is the first attack from an insider on how the company is being run, while outside analysts all question the company’s production numbers. Vierma, who is being investigated for some reported monkey business in the hiring of some Chinese drilling rigs, using phantom companies, simple said the whole thing is a mess. Vierma seemed to have little memory of why particular companies were picked, other than the bidding committee recommending them. he then proceeded to tell the Deputies that oil is a difficult business and that it took 15 years to form a good oil engineer, thus, he said, PDVSA was in the hands of multinationals, until all those engineers could be trained. Vierma selectively forgot how his team fired thousands of such technically trained people in the name of ideology and politics, guaranteeing that PDVSA would be mired in the mess it is in.

And as Chavista fanatics still want to believe the fake numbers given out by Ramirez and his cronies, the truth is that not only is PDVSA dysfunctional in its operations, but its finances are now being compromised beyond repair.

But these guys, who can not even manage PDVSA properly, have an incredible ability to believe their own BS and now have come up with an even bigger scheme: Let’s have PDVSA get involved in a whole bunch of different areas, reviving the same Venezuela Inc. concept that failed so miserably in the 70’s for the same reasons, trying to do too much without the required managerial capability.

Thus, these guys have now come up with the idea that PDVSA will create eight companies called: PDVA Industrial, PDVSA Servicios, PDVSA Construction and building, PDVSA Naval, PDVSA Gas, PDVSA Urban Development and PDVSA and PDVSA Agriculture. An eighth company has yet to be approved called PDVSA Home (Hogar), the most ambitious of them, which will manufacture everything from lightbulbs to shoes.

Now, I will not bore with the details of what each company will do, but suffice it to say that it will be a sort of Everything Inc. taking over gas bottling and distribution from the private sector, house construction, shipbuilding, tools, matresses, shipbuilding, oilr services, refining design and whatever they come up with.

So, they can barely run the country’s most important industry and they want to do them all, guaranteeing that PDVSA will not make the investments it needs, because the funds will be used elsewhere, and that none of these new companies will do their job efficiently, since there is little technocal or managerial capability to do them.

But it is the financial part that is getting truly scary. As PDVSA is not making the investments required, its cash flow is being diverted to social programs, airlines and the like and now it will be needed to fund all of these grandiose plans. But even worse, PDVSA has committed to help build 14 refineries abroad, has to compensate its former and current partners for their stakes in the heavy crude companies and may even have to buyback some US$4 billion in bonds from these projects.

Clearly, not even at US$ 100 per barrel of oil, there is sufficient money to do all of this. In the meantime, attention is diverted from the focus of PDVSA and the future gets even murkier then. Of course, all of this plans assume that PDVSA has fantastic management and oil prices will hold up at current levels. This from the same people who can not even manage to keep up oil production or even guarantee that the country will have sufficient functioning oil drilling rigs to sustain oil production, a business which they are supposed to know.

It is all a gigantic circus where the lack of transparency and accountability does not reveal the extent of the damage that is being done to the country’s main industry. And with it, the damage will be done to the whole country. PDVSA and its clowns will subsidize competition with the private sector, which will suffer. Perfectly running private operations are being nationalized. Factories will be built that will never even open or sell anything. Money will be wasted. Corruption will be rampant. All in the name of the revolution.

Until one day it will all run out of money, gas and more importantly, all that hot air!

Baduel sends a strong message in farewell speech as Minister of Defense

July 19, 2007

Yesterday, a new Minister of Defense was sworn in and legendary General Raul Baduell gave his farewell speech. Leaving aside his strange religious and samurai musings, the speech represnts a very strong condemnation of Hugo Chavez and his Government. Politely but firmly, Baduel took shots at everything that Chavez and his Government stand for, making you wonder how much more was left unsaid.

Here are some pearls of wisdom by Baduel:

On XXIst Century Socialism:

“The call by President Hugo Chavez to construct XXIst. Century Socialism implies the urgent and imperative need to formalize our own theoretical model…We have to admit that such a theoretical model does not exist up to this moment nor has it been formulated and I estimate that as long as this persists, uncertainty will persist among social groups.”

Jeez, where do I start. After eight years in power Hugo Chavez has only managed to give a label to whta he wants to do, but exactly what he wants to do and how is unknown, has yet to be defined and we have to go along with it no matter what it ends up being. I guess you could call this journey into the unknown led by an amateur and ignorant autocrat/dictator.

“On political matters, , our model must be profoundly democratic”

Well, given the fact that it has not been defined, Baduell seems to be saying that so far it is not.

“A socialist model for production is not incompatible with a political system which is profoundly democratic, with counterweights and division of powers”

My God! Can it be any clearer than that? Counterweights? Division of Powers? Certainly not in Venezuela under Hugo Chavze, where exactly the opposite is happening. There are no counterweights or divisions of power and Chavez wants even more control an more decisions by him, whom Baduel has already told us is clueless about the type of system that he wants.

“We can not allow that our system be transformed into State Capitalism, where the state is the only owner of the means of production”

Well, so far it seems as if that is all Chavez’ model is about, he has not only expanded dramatically the role of the state in the means of production, but also on the distribution area where the state is now competing head to head with the private sector in a very inefficient manner and talking advantage ofi ts access to foreign currency at the official rate of exchange. In fact, just today (next post) it became known that PDVSA will create as many as 8 companies which have little to do with its core business of exploring for and producing oil.

“Let us not forget something which is evident but we obviate many times. Before distributing wealth one has to generate it. You can not distribute something that does not exist”

Need I say anything about this dart by Baduel? This Government has given away abroad and in Venezuela the easy oil money, destroying value, rather than creating it , by spening money in acquiring efficiently run operations, rather than creating new wealth or getting rid of good managmenet because they were not ideologically aligned with him.

“Our model must break with the bad custom of the past (recent?)of teaching the people about their rights, but not about their duties…the model has to each the people that things do not appear by magic, but they need to be obtained on the basis of effort and work”

With this sentence Baduel is saying the model has to be exactly the opposite of what Hugo Chavez has said and done for the last eight years. With Chavez you get only if you are loyal and you get it for nothing. Chavez has created useless dierct assistance programs which do not promote work or responsibility only to create unquestioned loyalty. Baduel can not be talking about a project led by Hugo Chavez, this statement is the definition of the anti-Chavismo.

Baduel spoke directly, he is ambitious. In private he tells his friends he would like to be President one day (“If Chavez can, so can I” he has been quoted as saying). Was he warning Chavez? Was he telling him he will be watching? There are rumors Baduel will be named to an important position in the next few days. If he is not, Chavez better watch his back all the time, there may be a criollo Samurai who is religious ready to step into his shoes…

I guess our military is full of megalomaniac nuts.

RCTV uncontrolled broadcasts drive Government to attempt to control TV subscription services

July 18, 2007

And soon after RCTV began broadcasting via cable and satellite, the Government realized what a monster it had unleashed even if it has limited reach by subscription. You see, RCTV is broadcasting its signals without any Government control or supervision from abroad as part of satellite broadcasting and it would no longer have to broadcast either Chavez’ boring “cadenas” or the so called “institutional speeches. Thus, RCTV, which was widely popular befoe it was illegally shutdown by the Government would gain an additional advantage.

Thus, the Chavista dictator/autocrat in his infinite wisdom has decided that all broadcast systems by subscription whether cable or satellite shoudl be forced to carry both Chavez cadenas as well as the Government’s institutional messages, in another attempt to control information and impose censorship at will whenever it is necessary.

Except that implementing this is not as simple. In the satellite systems, these are not signals broadcast solely for Venezuela, that one could simply replace with the Government’s feeds. Most satellite systems are broadcast to wide regions of Latin America under contract to local distributors. These contracts in themselves, have clauses imposing that these programs can not be changed, broadcast in part or be limited by the distributors. Finally, at least by satellite, it is nt technologically feasible to do this selectively.

The Government had already forced these broadcast systems by subscription to carry a special channel with Chavez cadenas and institutional messages, but what is being proposed nos is extremely difficult to implement and if the Government insists it will likely mean that these subscription system will have to reduce programming by 80%.

The truth is that even if limited RCTV’s return this week using subscription services has been a resounding success, with long lines of people signing up for both cable and satellite services as these systems made special offers to those that can least afford it. Thus, the Government faces the threat of having a revived RCTV which is no longer under its control and would have the added advantage of not broadcasting Government speeches, military parades and Chavez’ long and boring tirades.

The cool thing is that even if the Government insisted, there are technological solutions to it. You can just buy a Direct TV card from for example, Puerto Rico, insert it into your box and you will see that country’s programming, bypassing Chavez, the national anthem and all the political crap.

Of course, the Government will not tolerate RCTV broadcasts free of control and limitations, where those speaking will be able to openly criticize and detail all of its abusive actions, including but not limited to freedom of speech issues. In some sense RCTV will have wider latitude and freedom than before to report the daily events and abuses by the autocrat and his cronies.

Ironically, the Government has somehow created the monster itself with its action against RCTV and now is looking for ways to stop it.

What else can you expect from the autocrat?

Tascon/Chavez fascist list alive and well at Sincor

July 18, 2007

I have written extensiely about the fascist Tascon/Chavez list, which has been used extensively by the Chavze Government to discriminate Venezuelans according to their political preferences. The list has been used repeatedly by the Government to fire, deny contracts and benefits and only delusional fanatics of the autocrat/dictator continue going around denyin its use for political purposes.

While some Venezuelans thought teh use of the list ended with Chavez’ public recognition of its use and existence when he said on a Sunday Alo President quite a while ago, all evidence point to the opposite: The list is alive and well and continues to be used without scruples as not even the autocrat can now contain the hate and tools for hate he unleashed on those Venezuelans that are against his abuses.

The latest example is documented in today’s Tal Cual, when we are told about how four young engineers of heavy crude partnership Sincor were fired this week without explanation. Sincor is one of the projects in which PDVSA forced a 60% majrity on its partners on June 26th. and the company is now running the project.

The four engineers, whose names are Andrés Pieve, Laura Atencio, Nataly Barcia Durán and Zully Álvarez were simply called and told they were no longer working at Sincor.

Of curse, by now Chavista readers are saying they were probably fired for incompetence, bad manners or whatever and nobody can prove they were fired for opposing Chavez’ autocracy. Except that Tal Cual got hold of a carefully elaborated list in which each employee of Sincor is judged according to whether they signed for the consultative referendum, for the recall vote or had their signature repaired. This list is shown here including the names of those fired. An elaborate system of X’s next to each name and each referenda was placed next to each person’s name to determine whether they were “apt’ to continue working in the country’s oil industry. The four fired recently are clearly marked with a V and they all signed against Chavez, failing to pass the loyalty grade. None of those considered “apt” has been fired and those not yet fired with X’s next to their name are sure that they will soon join their co-workers in the ranks of the unemployed.

And some fools will continue in denial, much like Germany during Hitler or when the McCarthy list was being used in the US to blacklist and discriminate. And when it is all over, they will also claim they did not know, but we will know better

The fake reform by Marino Gonzalez

July 18, 2007

I have been meaning to write about the issue of the new planning bill which centralizes all decisions in the country in the President’s hands, but it is a complex topic that I am still studying, but Marino Gonzalez who usually writes about health issues in Tal Cual, clealry saw the meaning of the new Bill and wrote this very clear and succint article on the topic in today’s Tal Cual

The fake reform by Marino Gonzalez in Tal Cual

It was clear that the discussion about the changes to the 1999 Constitution would not be characterized by its openness or consensus

It was evident that a Government that has diminished the democratic capacity of the country would not use the channels that the Constitution itself established to approve those changes.

The control of the National Assembly and the rest of public powers are simply manifestations that the project backed by the Government will be the only option that would be presented to the country. As if this were not enough, the Government proceeded to convoke the creation of a new party for the revolution and to make the “adjustments” needed within the Armed Forces.

In the first few months of the year some sectors, including some from within the Government pointed out that if any of the changes affected the first ten articles of the Constitution, a National Constituent Assembly would need to be convoked.

The Government replied that it did not touch them: the changes would not involve the first ten articles of the Constitution. Those backing the Government could sleep well: there would be no National Constituent Assembly.

It was thus that the “Presidential Council for the Reform of the Constitution” was named. It was composed of representatives of all public powers, among them the President of the National Assembly and the Supreme Court. It was an attempt in vain to make constitutional change appear distant from the will of the Executive power.

As the months have gone by the citizens have learned through the media that the changes proposed are simply awaiting the approval of President Chávez to be sent to a supposed “discussion” in the National Assembly.

It is also supposed that in this discussion all sectors of national life will participate. And that later, as it is established in the “current” Constitution, the citizens will go to a referendum to approve or reject the proponed reform.

For all Venezuelans it is already clear that all of the above has been a complete farce elaborated by the Government with the servile approval of all of the powers of the State. It is too obvious that the changes that they want to make are those dictated by president Chavez. The rest of the people will have to accept the authoritarian will. It is also evident that the constitutional reform aims to a central goal: increase the power of the presidency of the Republic and end the principle of alterability.

The biggest demonstration of this great farce is the constitutional change that has already take place. Protected under the special powers given by the National Assembly via the Enabling Bill, President Chavez, in his Cabinet meeting, has issued a Decree/Law that eliminates one of the first ten articles of the 1999 Constitution.

That Decree/law, Number 5384 to be more specific, published in the Official gazette on June 22nd. of this year, named Organic law for the Creation of the Central Commission for Planning, establishes that the structure of the sate is a centralized one. That the planning of all entities of the public administration will be exercised through the direction decided by that Commission. That the same centralized planning will also affect all of the Governments of states and municipalities, as well as all of the civilian societies of the state and the actors from the private sector.

All of this is being done in order “to transit towards a socialist model for society, which will insure satisfying the needs of human beings”. Besides that, it leaves in the hands of the President of the Republic the approval of the “strategic directions, policies and plans whether regional, by sector or international” for the country (Article 7). In other words, the only organization of the administration of the Sate that approves the plans is the maximum instance of the Executive Power.

This is probably one of the most centralizing acts of political power in the history of Venezuela.

Thus, the Constitutional change in Venezuela has already been consummated. Venezuela has ceased to be a federal decentralized state without the Constitution needing to be changed.

Without millions of Venezuelans expressing their opinion.

Which all goes to show that the current Government is disrespectful of both the forms and appearances of a democracy. Thus, it is all a complete farce.

Sowing the country’s oil…elsewhere

July 17, 2007

Today, news from Ecuador tell us that Venezuela and Ecuador will build a refinery in that country at a cost of US$ 5.5 billion and that Venezuela will be a an investment partner in that project. The refinery will process 300,000 barrels of oil a day and reportedly will allow Ecuador to be energy independent.

The first question one has to ask is why Venezuela, which has failed to invest much in its own country at the levels required to maintain oil production, let alone its refining ability or capacity decides to invest in another country. When Arturo Uslar Pietri said we had to sow the oil, I think he meant here in our country, not elsewhere. The second question is whether this is much like those projects in Venezuela announced frequently by the autocrat/dictator, simply hot air, personal propaganda for Chavez and nothing will ever come out of it.

You see, while Venezuela’s oil production falls, no matter whose numbers you follow and while PDVSA has not been investing in its own operations, President Chávez and Minister of Energy Ramirez do nothing but announce new projects that nobody knows where the funding will come from, if ever, or whether it is simply more grandstanding by the autocrat. Not only does Venezuela not invest in its own oil production or refining capacity, but it also needs to compensate partners in the heavy oil crude operations and maybe even buyout bonds from those projects, which will require many billions of dollars that could be used elsewhere., including, just as a random thought, helping the poor of the country.

But let’s look at the other refinery projects announced by both Chávez and Ramirez in recent months to realize how harebrained the whole thing is.

The only refinery project known to exist so far is, of course, the Cuban project. But there have been announcements about refinery projects in Jamaica, which according to Veneconomy combined with the Cuban one would have a cost of US$ 1.5 billion. There is also a project in Brazil, another in Paraguay, and one with Uruguay, one inVietnam, now one Ecuador, and then projects Argentina, Indonesia, Iran, Syria, India, Panama, Nicaragua and Nigeria.

Estimates are that Venezuela’s share of these projects (if all are ever completed) will be around US$ 25 billion without taking into account the cost of the Amazonian pipeline which is estimated to cost at least US$ 20 billion which Venezuela (or the autocrat) has said he will fund alone. I am, of course, ignoring other projects such as the Bolivian pipeline, the pipeline through Colombia to Chile, since we don’t not have enough natural gas production for the great Trans Amazonic pipeline, then how can we really build these other ones?

But the whole point is that nobody knows anything about these projects except for the loud and bombastic announcements from the Government. Only the Cuban one really exists and given PDVSA’s hard-pressed and unknown finances (numbers in various PDVSA’s 2006 reports don’s even agree with each other, but cash flow is clearly way down) then can anyone really believe these projects will ever come to reality?

But you see, now that “PDVSA es de Todos” (PDVSA belongs to everyone) nobody really knows what is going on within the company. OPEC, IEA and others disagree with what PDVSA claims its oil production or exports are. Projects and contracts approved by the country’s Congress in the 90’s are now voided without consulting anyone. Service contracts are changed, giving ownership in the oilfields to the former contractors in violations of the Hydrocarbons laws. Heavy crude exploration and production projects are given out to State oil company’s in the underdeveloped world without any approval from anyone, other than the index finger of the autocrat/dictator pointing at them, without regards to their ability capability’s or potential financial contribution to the project.

Such is the state of the oil industry under the robolution: No transparency, giving away oil fields, projects handed out at the autocrat’s whims, a weakening of PDVSA and little investment in the country’s oil production, while our oil, or the autocrat’s hot air, is sowed elsewhere.

Neither Uslar, nor the people ever meant it to be this way.