June 29, 2008

As Petrobras becomes the top Latin American oil company, we can’t accept
new blacklists that bar the best from working for Venezuela

about Petrobras this weekend, I could not help but be envious about the
different routes the two state oil companies Petrobras and our PDVSA have
taken in the last few years. Petrobras, the one time oil importer has
managed in 30 years to make Brazil not only self-sufficient in oil, but a
company for which Brazilians can feel proud about. The article I was
reading in Barron’s (by subscription, but you can read it here:
uid={6D03B92C-4F04-431F-936B-F03D73F5877C}) paints the company as
self-sufficient and competent and sitting on top of what may be the biggest
oil find in 30 years, the Tupi field. The article praises Petrobras and its
people saying:

“They’ve been deepwater drillers for 40 years and
have the people and have the processes in place,” she adds. “They’ve got
top-line people. Are they credible? Absolutely.”
This contrasts with our
own PDVSA who not only lacks the people required to do the job, but has in
fact sent them over to the competition, principally Canada where they are
shining and demonstrating how good they were.

Meanwhile in
Venezuela, production goes down and recently PDVSA signed a contract with
Schlumberger as it realized how it has lost technological capacity to
sustain operations.
Those that were part of PDVSA, 22,000 strong, were
not only fired, but to this day remain blacklisted whether they work in oil
or they make food, their ID numbers are checked at every step so that not
only is it that they can’t sign a contract with PDVSA, they can not even
have access to PDVSA buildings to sell, as one example I know, prepared
food to PDVSA workers.
And as Carlos Blanco says so well today,(
3103.shtml) our tolerance of earlier blacklists allows new ones to surface.
PDVSA fired 22,000 for participating in the 2002-2003 strike, but in the
end got rid of any one suspect of not being “rojo-rojito”. The 22,000 were
not only fired illegally, but their personal savings and voluntary pension
plans have been confiscated and there is not a Court in the country that
will hear their case.  The illegality remains in place backed by
Chavez, his Prosecutors, the Courts, the Comptroller and the People’s

And while we hear the stories of success, we don’t hear
the many cases which as Blanco calls them today in his article: “Detrás de
cada excluido hay un drama humano de inmensas proporciones; pero, desde el
punto de vista social hay otro drama que es el de una nación que se priva
de la participación de mucha de su gente mejor preparada” (Behind every
excluded person there is a human drama of inense proportions but, from the
social point of view there is another drama of a Nation that blocks itself
from the participation of many people who are better prepared)

the drama is worse the lower level the person fired from PDVSA. The
engineers and technical people, the managers found jobs, left the country
or started their own businesses, but the secretaries and messengers, the
field workers with careers in PDVSA, have suffered the most. Lives
destroyed by the whims of Hugo Chavez and the approval of his sorry
And thus, it is Brazil with a quarter of Venezuela’s reserves,
which has become the great Latin American oil company. as PDVSA has had
even trouble trying to certify that it has the reserves that it has been
known for years it has. But in the simple mindedness and ignorance of the
President at PDVSA that certification ahs become the only purpose, never
mind that he has no clue if we can ever get it out of the ground. Certainly
not under his leadership.

Which proves once again how powerful the
concept of The Devil’s Excrement is. Brazil had to build its oil company
under negative circumstances, lacking even the most basic source for its
business. But it not only exploited ethanol in the lean years, but has now
developed all of the country’s oil needs. And in contrast to Venezuela,
Brazil has actually increased gasoline prices in the last few years, not as
much as they have to but enough to make the subsidy irrelevant in contrast
with the irresponsible policies of our Government.

And we keep
chugging along, using up as much as 800,000 barrels of gasoline a day, used
to run subsidized automobiles for the wealthy classes of Venezuela. A
subsidy close to US$ 14 billion a year which represents a perverse subsidy
given away by a Government so that autocrat Hugo Chavez can remain in his
position, literally screwing his constituency without them knowing about

And some of those that ignored the PDVSA firings and subsequent
blacklist are now victims of the new list disqualifying their candidates.
And if we don’t do anything, there will be new lists, new abuses, new
exclusions and new discrimination in a Government that does not pretend to
include every one. And the excluded are needed to make a better Venezuela.
We need every competent person. We need inclusion. We need everyone,
independent of its political beliefs, as long as he/she is there to do a
job and not to turn the job into a political project.

And at the
pace we are going it seems Chavez may have to exclude every single
Venezuelan before we actually do something about it. And so many have been
excluded because they were not loyal, that few competent and independent
thinkers are left yo help a Government that hates “experts”.

the, we will never get Venezuela out of where it is. People have to wake up
and realize they can be next.


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