Archive for June 29th, 2008

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

Reading
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:

http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/drilling-deep-flying-high/story.aspx?g

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,(

http://opinion.eluniversal.com/2008/06/29/opi_34919_art_tiempo-de-palabra_92

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
Ombudsman.

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)

And
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
cohorts.
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
it.

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”.

Without
the, we will never get Venezuela out of where it is. People have to wake up
and realize they can be next.

June 29, 2008

Random Bits from the revolution

Passionate about money: Remember
when the Minister of Justice dismissed the murder of RCTV’s anchorman
Javier Garcia as a “crime of passion” that should not affect society? Well,
as usual the Minister was talking without knowing anything about the case.
Yes, the murderer was caught, but the only passion so far in the case was
that of the murdered for money as the police said the motive was robbery.
Another triumph for the stupidity and incompetence of Minister Rodriguez
Chacin! In any reasonable country he would have resigned six cases
ago.

Supreme Switch: Venezuela must be the only country where the
Supreme Court issues a decision, the decision is published on the Court’s
webpage and sawn into the Court’s records (A strange custom in itself!),
only to be modified when the Government calls the Court and tells it to
change it. This happened this week with the decision by none other than the
former President of the Venezuelan Electoral Board (remember the one that
could barely speak?) on what is considered taxable and when it will be
applicable. The original sentence said it was only regular salaries, which
is the case in the new one, but the old one said it would apply from the
original decision by the Supreme Court, while the new one says starting
next year. The difference is important, as it would imply a credit to all
those that paid taxes this year. This creates a loophole in that companies
may give workers special non-regular bonuses as a way of giving them
non-taxable income and thus a salary increase. Of course, the original
decision was filled with revolutionary intent, which can backfire when
reality hits. 

Failed Plan: Two weeks ago General
Manager/Chief Justice/Commander in Chief/President Chavez had the brilliant
idea of stopping crime by placing two National Guardsman with FAL rifles on
every public transportation bus in the country. As everything in Venezuela,
this was simply improvised on his live reality show Alo Presidente, but
clearly the President had no clue that this would require more National
Guardsmen that the country had, without taking into account the danger of
untrained, armed soldiers on every bus. Some eager beavers took the
President’s words as an order and for one day many buses in Caracas carried
the two guards until someone realized what a stupid idea it was (I am sure
they never told Chavez). On top of that crime did not go down that day in
Caracas. The idea was dropped and the new “program” lasted only twenty
fours hours. Don’t complain, that is longer than many other programs
started by Hugo Chavez.

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