Sunday, April 09, 2006

Oil oligopoly over…

Or Orinoco overflow!

‘Sowing the oil’ was a phrase much in the news when I was in Venezuela recently. It is a phrase that has a long history, since
1936 in fact, and was coined by Arturo Úslar Pietri; if you're interested I found a good translation at The Devil’s Excrement blog, here. He made at least two other pertininent and insightful speeches - these can be read via links on the same site.

“Why Is The Economy Growing? This reinvigoration of the Venezuelan economy is direct — although nonexclusive — result of the increase in oil prices to an average of 57.4 dollars per barrel (Brent blend, December 2005). The hydrocarbons are — and will continue to be for years to come — a pillar of the economy. But, then, what else is news in Venezuela? The novel thing is that definitely the country is sowing or planting oil in the productive sectors of the economy, as required by Arturo Uslar Pietri seventy years ago.”, taken from Luciano Wexell Severo’s long but nonetheless reasonably fair article
“In Venezuela, Oil Sows Emancipation”.

Venezuela's Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Rafael Dario Ramirez Carreno outlining ‘Popular Distribution of Petroleum Rent’,"…under the leadership of President Chávez, the people defended our main resource and rescued it, in order to make it serve our Nation. Under this same orientation, it is also the people who will be the beneficiary of petroleum rent: the popular distribution of this rent constitutes the revolutionary dimension of our oil policy, beyond its eminently national character. It is, at the same time, a popular vision of the sowing of oil. The sowing of the oil in the past failed, certainly, because it rested on an elitist vision of an exclusionary Venezuela." The rest here, OK, OK! "Anti-imperialist" rants are what really bug me about Chavez the man of whom I have been an outspoken critic – especially his clowning on the ‘International stage’ – but I have also supported his social programmes boosted by high oil revenues.

He is also not squandering it as many critics are saying. I now believe he is using it well
to try to boost Venezuela to where it should have been decades ago. From the Energy Bulletin, "We have the largest oil reserves in the world, we have oil for 200 years." Mr Chávez told the BBC's Newsnight programme in an interview to be broadcast tonight [3rd April] "$50 a barrel - that's a fair price, not a high price."…anyone see the programme? Full, original article here.

On March 30 he said this, telling the oil giants to pay their way or get out, and on March 31st he signed a deal with 17 oil companies (not all – some didn’t sign). He spoke for nearly 2 hours and I watched the whole thing, when he speaks of Venezuela and it’s people he can be quite a good orator and somewhat convincing – except he always has to go off on a tangent and waffles about US imperialism – in this case it was re the US envolvement in the 1964 Brazilian coup that had it’s anniversary the same day.

Whilst there I also heard him speak in Apure State, my home from 1987 – 1995 (apart from a one year break in the Orinoco Delta [1989] the photos in the link are what I saw every day but they do not do it justice: the fauna and flora are wonderful) re the endogenous development schemes he is undertaking; again he was convincing and honest; whilst there (all on TV) he spoke with my ex-boss who has just signed a deal that saw them collect 4 million US dollars for a ranch that had been invaded by 'settlers' but they also donated another massive ranch in Apure that will now be used by dozens of small cooperatives. “El acuerdo contempla una indemnización de 4,1 millones de dólares por la expropiación de una finca de 12.950 hectáreas en el céntrico estado de Cojedes hasta ahora propiedad de Agroflora, que adicionalmente donó otra finca de 43.000 hectáreas en el occidental estado de Apure, valorada en 4,7 millones de dólares.” Unfortunately on the same TV programme he said that he thought the opposition may not field a candidate in the December Presidential elections and that if so he would propose a change to the Constitution to allow for his reelection....indefinitely...DOH!

Anyway, what I’m getting at (because this post could go on for ever) is that the country has turned a corner; where before there was no overt inversion or investment and things were looking bad, now I see improvements everywhere, money being well spent on infrastructure, people at work everywhere, the roadsides being cleared and cleaned, people getting educated where before they were the ‘forgotten’, the money being spent countrywide is incredible - they are importing cememnt not because the national production is poor but because so much is being used! The waiting list for new cars increases as people everywhere spend, spend, spend!and those that can’t see the improvements don’t want to see them. I am enthused and happy because this is what should have been happening years ago – you may have guessed that Venezuela is ‘mi segunda patria’, and why not, my
children are half Venezuelan and I may move back soon!



Augustus said...

Welcome back, Span - to Europe at any rate. I think you'll find you're wrong about Venezuela though. It's a terrible place. I know because Dubya said so on TV. Seems they've done a bit of intelligence gathering down there... It's nice to know that there is investment going on there. About time if what I've heard over the years is true. The only other thing I know about Venezuela (apart from an in deptyh knowledge of the FC Caracss and ULA Merida performances in the Copa Libertadores of course) is how to cook a tarantula.

You will need:

A long stick.
A tarantula hole.
Sturdy boots.
A fire.
A ravenous hunger.

Take one's stick and shove down tarantula hole and wiggle (the stick) until occupant gets pissed off and grabs same. Remove stick quickly and tread upon arachnid firmly whilst he/she still has a firm grasp of the stick. Being essentially "hydraulic" the legs will continue to grasp the stick after death enabling you to roast the creature over fire whilst resisting the tempation to ask "who wants a leg?" and incurring further disgust amongst one's companions.

Augustus said...

Caracas, Caracas, Caracas - just to prove I can type it correctly if pushed.

Span Ows said... you were thinking of a carcass weren't you!

Your comment re Bush is probably unfair to him - all the insults are from Chavez about Bush and I'm sure the US know exactly what's happening. Most of the middle class, the Church, the Unions(some), the press etc have all been against him for a while but it's slowly changing...those that deny it's doing any good are, as I said, those that do not wish to see. I think with a decent 'diplomatic' adviser and a little make-over he could be a great leader....I forsee my next job...:-)

Gavin Corder said...

Come on Ows, it's Easter and not an Oeuf in sight....?

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

Happy Eatser (no that is not a typo) Span, you sexy babe.

Now as it's late and I cannot concentrate (too much restless energy but Mr Mags is watching a film so is not available just at the moment) could you tell me in four words, what that blog was all about?

Span Ows said...

Hiya Mags - you mean you can't be bothered! In 4 turning pro Chavez!!!! Although only slightly! Very difficult to explain but I feel a lefty urge to shout that he is doing a lot of good that gets buried under what little bad heis doing.

Gavin, sorry bud! Un ouef is enough as the great joke goes! Been super busy!!! although ahd a few days as an 'almost regular MB poster' last week.

Gavin Corder said...

So I see mon ami.

But a lefty!


IsobelMagsBuchan said...

Oh Span, ye of little faith. Of course I can be bothered reading it just couldn't do it the other night.

So, one asks, if Span is going left, when can we expect to lose the right whinging right winger from the MB and salute the new left you? Or is it our dirty secret?

Gavin Corder said...

Well... where he stands dependeth upon where he siteth...sayeth Corder somewhat cryptically...

Span Ows said...

Gav and Mags...hmmm, well I know I mentioned that I had been enjoying the Guardian to you (Mags) a while back but now I'm surprising myself. Having said that I have taken the Political Compass test 4 times with varying answers where I knew I was 'between two stools' and I always end up in the bottom left of the chart!!!...Google it if you haven't done it before. I may do a post on it soon if I get a to Brasil then Peru for 2 weeks from Sunday...not bragging just excusing my lack of posting and commenting on your blogs as well...I feel guilty!!!


Also I'm out later watching the footy! Come on Arsenal!

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

Serious point Span. A lot of people are automatically prejudiced against the Guardian, citing it as a left wing yogurt knitters paper. I think it was but it hasn't been for a good five to ten years now. If you actually read all the comments and analysis, first you note that the quality of the writing is consistently good and second, there are actually a myriad of views represented and there is probably more depth than any other paper. It isn't all a left wing mantra......

Or perhaps I have been brain washed?

Gavin Corder said...

Between two stools? Isn't that constipation?