Thursday, June 24, 2010

Venezuala: Where 'State Owned' means 'State Stolen'

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post in which I argued that Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, wasn't the horrific dictator the right-wing portrayed him to be. This is because I am occasionally the poster child for the politically ill-informed.

Today reminded me that Hugo Chavez is, in fact, every ounce the corrupt sleazeball the wags at Fox News portray him as being. In an act of socialist skulduggery worthy of any tinpot South American dictator, Chavez coolly 'appropriated' 11 oil rigs belong to US company Helmerich & Payne, who had been drilling off the coast of Venezuela for the past 52 years.

Chavez was frustrated because two of the rigs had stopped drilling for his beloved 'black gold' back in January, and the other nine rigs were scheduled to stop drilling in July. This is because PDVSA - the state-run oil company in Venezuela - had racked up a cool $100 million in unpaid payments to the American rig owners.

It's theft, plain and simple - and not exactly unprecedented. Last year Dallas-based Ensco International stopped drilling after PDVSA racked up $35 million in late payments and instead of just paying what they owed, Hugo Chavez 'resolved' the situation by 'nationalizing' (i.e. stealing) the American rigs.

This kind of behavior is a neat little reminder that Hugo Chavez is, essentially, nothing more than a swaggering gangster and his version of 'socialism' is very far removed from anything Karl Marx (or others) envisioned.

In the great scheme of South American tinpot presidentes, Chavez doesn't rate high as much a malevolence - but neither is he the legitimate character many liberal-minded Americans (including some with unprecedented access to the White House) like to pretend he is.


Susanne said...

It seems his true character is coming through. My brother in law grew up in Venezuela and most of his family (dad, mom, brother, extended family) is still there. He has told me some interesting stories so I have no use for Chavez. I'm sure the ones who benefit from his policies love him, but many many people see him for the thug that he is. My BIL doesn't even like the football famed Maradona because he "supports the dictators" of S. America. Will always groups them in with his own president. Well, Chavez, I mean. I guess Obama is now Will's President since he is a US citizen now.:)

Paul said...

Roland, you have become more politically ill-informed, not less. Poor people having decent food, shelter, and health care is more important than Helmerich & Payne executives and shareholders increasing their fortunes. And, sadly, this is the choice in the neoliberal globalized world of today.

I say nationalize away Hugo! Note that the majority of the people of Venezuela agree.

Read this for a smidgen of enlightenment...

Hugo may be an asshole but he's an asshole doing God's work.

So, for the second time, the Pharisees summoned the man who had been blind and said: / "Speak the truth before God. / We know this fellow is a sinner." / "Whether or not he is a sinner, I do not know," / The man replied. / "All I know is this: / Once I was blind and now I can see."
- John IX, 24-26 / the New English Bible