Venezuela: The Spectre of Big Oil

by Paul Kellogg

Global Research, March 4, 2008
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“Never again will they rob us — the ExxonMobil bandits. They are imperial, American bandits, white-collared thieves. They turn governments corrupt, they oust governments. They supported the invasion of Iraq.”

This was the response from Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez to the successful lawsuit by the world’s biggest corporation (ExxonMobil), freezing $12 billion in assets of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA — a serious escalation in Big Oil’s long running dispute with Chávez and the movement he represents.

ExxonMobil isn’t suing PDVSA because it needs the money. The world’s largest publicly traded corporation recorded profits of $40.6-billion (U.S.) in 2007, up three per cent from 2006′s record of $39.6-billion. “If Exxon were a country, its 2007 profit would exceed output of two-thirds of the world’s nations. Its 2007 revenue of $404-billion (U.S.) would place it among the 30 largest countries, ahead of such middle powers as Sweden and Venezuela.”

ExxonMobil claims it is suing PDVSA because of a June 2007 deadline given by Chávez to Exxon and other Big Oil corporations operating in Venezuela, demanding they cede majority control in their heavy-crude upgrading projects in the country. ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips filed arbitration requests with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, and ExxonMobil simultaneously took legal action in courts in the U.S. and Britain, which on February 7 agreed with their claim, and ordered the freeze of PDVSA assets.

But there is much more at stake than a simple legal disagreement. First — many other Big Oil companies have agreed to Chávez’ terms and not gone to court — among them, Chevron Corp., Norway’s Statoil ASA, Britain’s BP PLC and France’s Total SA. Second, Venezuela is not the only country to confront Big Oil and demand that old contracts be renegotiated. Here in Canada, Newfoundland’s Danny Williams demanded and won an ownership share in the multi-billion-dollar Hebron offshore oil deal. Even the Tories in Alberta are forcing Big Oil to pay higher royalties. And in Russia, “both BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC have ceded control in big, lucrative Siberian projects to Russian gas monopoly OAO Gazprom.”

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War pimp alert: Colombia to accuse Chavez before international court

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(CNN) — Colombian President Alvaro Uribe said Tuesday that he will seek Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s denunciation in international court for financing a terrorist group.

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President Bush vowed to stand by Colombia and criticized Venezuela’s “provocative maneuvers.”
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Camilo Ospina, Colombia’s ambassador to the United Nations, will go before the International Criminal Court to accuse Chavez of “supporting and financing genocides,” Uribe told reporters.

The Colombian leader alleged Monday that correspondence taken from computers seized in last weekend’s military raid into Ecuador showed Chavez had given $300 million to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

Colombia’s largest rebel group, known by the Spanish acronym FARC, has sought to overthrow the government for more than 40 years. The United States and European Union consider the FARC a terrorist organization. Video Watch tension build in South America »

Raul Reyes, a FARC leader, was killed in Saturday’s raid.

Venezuelan officials have denied Colombia’s allegations.

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa severed diplomatic ties with Colombia on Monday and moved troops toward the Colombia border, as did Venezuela. Map »

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South America on brink of war

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia — South America was on the brink of war yesterday as Venezuela and Ecuador amassed troops on the Colombian border in response to the killing of a Marxist rebel leader.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened to join the rebels in a war to overthrow hard-line Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, a key ally of the United States, deploying tanks, fighter jets and thousands of troops along the Colombian border.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa also ordered troops to the border, expelled Colombia’s ambassador and recalled its ambassador to Bogota, but left its embassy open. Venezuela closed its embassy in Colombia and ordered all diplomats home.

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Chavez warns of “war” if Colombia strikes Venezuela

CARACAS (Reuters) – President Hugo Chavez warned Colombia on Saturday it would be a “cause for war” if its forces struck inside Venezuelan territory as they did in Ecuador killing a top Colombian rebel commander there.

“Don’t be thinking that you can do that here … because it would be extremely serious and would be a causa belli, a cause for war, (if there is) a military incursion in Venezuelan territory. There’s no excuse,” Chavez said in his most belligerent comments to date in a diplomatic dispute with Bogota.

Colombia’s military said troops killed Raul Reyes, a leader of Marxist FARC rebels, during an attack on a jungle camp in Ecuador in a severe blow to Latin America’s oldest guerrilla insurgency. The operation included air strikes and fighting with rebels across the border.

Chavez has been at odds with U.S.-backed Colombian President Alvaro Uribe over the Venezuelan’s mediation with the FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, over the release of hostages held by the rebels.

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Chavez Warns ‘U.S. Pawn’ Uribe of Impending War

January 26, 2008 

Argentina – La Capital – Original Article (Spanish)

In a further escalation of tension between the two countries, the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, accused Colombia’s President, Alvaro Uribe, of “devising a belligerent provocation,” on orders from the United States, “that could ignite a war.” “I accuse the Government of Columbia of plotting a conspiracy, an act of war against Venezuela, on orders from the United States,  to which we will be obliged to respond in a way that could ignite a war,” said Chavez during a press conference alongside his colleague Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua.Read more The press conference, held on the eve of the Sixth Summit Meeting of ALBA [Bolivarian Alternative for the People of Our America - Chavez' answer to Free Trade Agreements with the U.S.], the Venezuelan leader stressed that it was no coincidence that three senior officials of the United States, including Condoleezza Rice, had been in Colombia during the past few days.

Chavez urges withdrawals from U.S. banks

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez urged his Latin American allies on Saturday to begin withdrawing billions of dollars in international reserves from U.S. banks, warning of a looming U.S. economic crisis.Chavez made the suggestion as he hosted a summit aimed at boosting Latin American integration and rolling back U.S. influence.

“We should start to bring our reserves here,” Chavez said. “Why does that money have to be in the north? … You can’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Chavez noted that U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Colombia in recent days, saying “that has to do with this summit.”

“The empire doesn’t accept alternatives,” Chavez told the gathering, attended by the presidents of Bolivia and Nicaragua and Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage.

Chavez warned that U.S. “imperialism is entering into a crisis that can affect all of us” and said Latin America “will save itself alone.”

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Rice pushes free-trade deal with Colombia

MEDELLIN, Colombia (AP) – Colombia’s problems with violence — particularly labor strife — could get worse unless Congress approves a free-trade deal with the country, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visits Medellin, Colombia, with U.S. lawmakers Friday.

Rice’s visit Friday is the latest, most high-profile one in a coordinated campaign by Colombia and the White House to win over skeptical Democrats and revive the trade pact, which was first signed in 2006 but has not yet been passed by Congress.

“[I'm here] to say very strongly that whatever the challenges facing Colombia, they are not going to be easier if this free-trade deal does not pass,” Rice said Thursday in the Andean nation’s second-largest city, Medellin. “In fact, they will be harder.”

Colombia is the world’s most dangerous country for labor organizing. Rice and nine Democratic lawmakers met in Medellin with union leaders who oppose the deal to hear complaints that President Alvaro Uribe has failed to stamp out the violence, including murder.

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Chavez: Colombia plans ‘aggression’

President Hugo Chavez on Friday accused neighboring Colombia and the United States of plotting a military “aggression” against Venezuela.

“I accuse the government of Colombia of devising a conspiracy, acting as a pawn of the U.S. empire, of devising a military provocation against Venezuela,” Chavez said.

“A military aggression is being prepared from Colombia against Venezuela,” Chavez said, linking the U.S. to the alleged plot. He claimed that Washington aims to “oblige us to respond, and later a war could be set off.”

He cited intelligence reports but did not offer evidence to support his claim.

Venezuela and Colombia have been locked in a diplomatic crisis since November, when Colombian President Alvaro Uribe ended Chavez’s mediation role with Colombia’s leftist rebels in seeking a hostages-for-prisoners swap.

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War pimp alert: Rice meets Uribe, ex-Colombian paramilitaries

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lunched with President Alvaro Uribe at his ranch Friday after meeting with 20 ex-paramilitary fighters to hear about their life stories.

Rice and a delegation of US Democratic Party lawmakers have concluded a two-day visit here aimed at promoting a free-trade deal that is languishing in the Democratic-led US Congress over alleged links between Uribe and paramilitary groups accused of committing atrocities.

On her second day of the visit, Rice also met with union members supportive of a US-Colombian free trade agreement (FTA).

“If we don’t push through the FTA, we will have problems because to exploit mines we need large machinery that does not exist and is not produced in Colombia,” said Jose Palacio, one of the union representatives.

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No oil for US if it meddles: Chavez.

(RTTNews) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez while addressing a mass rally of supporters on Friday has threatened to cut oil exports to the United States, shut down television channels and expel journalists if the December 2 referendum victory he expects is disclaimed and violence starts in this country

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CIA Operation “Pliers” Uncovered in Venezuela

Last night CNN en Español aired the above image, which captions at the bottom “Who Killed him?” by “accident”. The image of President Chavez with the caption about killing him below, which some could say subliminally incites to assassination, was a “production error” mistakenly made in the CNN en Español newsroom. The news anchor had been narrarating a story about the situation between Colombia and Venezuela and then switched to a story about an unsolved homicide but – oops – someone forgot to change the screen image and President Chavez was left with the killing statement below. Today they apologized and admitted it was a rather “unfortunate” and “regrettable” mistake. Yes, it was.

On a scarier note, an internal CIA memorandum has been obtained by Venezuelan counterintelligence from the US Embassy in Caracas that reveals a very sinister – almost fantastical, were it not true – plan to destabilize Venezuela during the coming days. The plan, titled “OPERATION PLIERS” was authored by CIA Officer Michael Middleton Steere and was addressed to CIA Director General Michael Hayden in Washington. Steere is stationed at the US Embassy in Caracas under the guise of a Regional Affairs Officer. The internal memorandum, dated November 20, 2007, references the “Advances of the Final Stage of Operation Pliers”, and confirms that the operation is coordinated by the team of Human Intelligence (HUMINT) in Venezuela. The memo summarizes the different scenarios that the CIA has been working on in Venezuela for the upcoming referendum vote on December 2nd. The Electoral Scenario, as it’s phrased, confirms that the voting tendencies will not change substantially before Sunday, December 2nd, and that the SI (YES) vote in favor of the constitutional reform has an advantage of about 10-13 points over the NO vote. The CIA estimates abstention around 60% and states in the memo that this voting tendency is irreversible before the elections.

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Afghanistan’s opium crop at an all-time high

by Jerry Mazza

Global Research, December 9, 2006
Online Journal – 2006-12-07The question is why. Under Taliban rule, which began in the late 1990s, Afghanistan just about kicked the growing habit by 2001. After five years the Taliban is slipping back in, but poppy production has grown by leaps and bounds.

According to the Washington Post, “Opium production in Afghanistan, which provides more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin, broke all records in 2006, reaching a historic high despite ongoing U.S.-sponsored eradication efforts, the Bush administration reported yesterday.

“In addition to a 26 percent production increase over the past year — for a total of 5,644 metric tons — the amount of land under cultivation in opium poppies grew by 61 percent. Cultivation in the two main production provinces, Helmand in the southwest and Oruzgan in central Afghanistan, was up by 132 percent.”

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Exxon seeks deal on Venezuela oil

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

Mr Chavez’s government took control of the oil project in May

Exxon Mobil is seeking arbitration over a stand-off with Venezuela about the takeover of its oil assets.The US oil firm made its case to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a group with close ties to the World Bank.

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Is George Bush Restarting Latin America’s ‘Dirty Wars’?

By Benjamin Dangl, AlterNet. Posted August 31, 2007.Signs are emerging of a new wave of U.S.-backed militarism in Latin America.

Two soldiers in Paraguay stand in front of a camera. One of them holds an automatic weapon. John Lennon’s “Imagine” plays in the background. This Orwellian juxtaposition of war and peace is from a new video posted online by U.S. soldiers stationed in Paraguay. The video footage and other military activity in this heart of the continent represent a new wave of U.S.-backed militarism in Latin America.

It’s a reprise of a familiar tune. In the 1970s and 1980s, Paraguay’s longtime dictator, Gen. Alfredo Stroessner, collaborated with the region’s other dictators through Operation Condor, which used kidnapping, torture and murder to squash dissent and political opponents. Stroessner’s human rights record was so bad that even Ronald Reagan distanced himself from the leader. Carrying on this infamous legacy, Paraguay now illustrates four new characteristics of Latin America’s right-wing militarism: joint exercises with the U.S. military in counterinsurgency training, monitoring potential dissidents and social organizations, the use of private mercenaries for security and the criminalization of social protest through “anti-terrorism” tactics and legislation.

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Venezuela frees Colombians convicted in alleged 2004 plot against Chavez

SAN ANTONIO, Venezuela (AP) — More than two dozen Colombian prisoners arrested three years ago in an alleged plot to assassinate President Hugo Chavez were freed Saturday after being pardoned by the Venezuelan leader.

The 27 Colombians were serving prison terms after being convicted of military rebellion. They were among more than 100 Colombians arrested in 2004 on accusations of plotting to stage a rebellion and assassinate Chavez.

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