North Amerikkkan Press Shows Its Allegiance

To capitalist corruption and hegemony, once again.

Wall Street Journal Claims Chavez Oil Policy “Aims to Weaken US”
By Stephen Lendman
May 13, 2007, 21:10

The Wall Street Journal’s main Hugo Chavez antagonist is its self-styled Latin American “expert” Mary Anastasia O’Grady who makes up for in imagination and vitriol what she lacks in knowledge and journalistic integrity. She, however, wasn’t assigned to write the May 1 Journal attack piece reporters David Luhnow in Mexico City and Peter Millard in Caracas got to do titled “How Chavez Aims to Weaken US.” Of course, when it comes to Venezuela, the issue is oil and Chavez’s having the “audacity” to want his people to benefit most from their own resources, not predatory foreign oil companies the way it used to be when the country’s leadership only served the interests of capital ignoring essential social needs. No longer.

Chavez, of course, announced months ago his government would complete renationalizing his country’s oil reserves when state oil company PDVSA became the majority shareholder May 1 in four Orinoco River basin oil projects with a minimum 60% ownership in joint ventures with foreign partners. The plan was broadly denounced in the US major media with Journal columnist O’Grady writing April 16 “Chavez (was) brimming with bravado as he shredded (the) oil contracts (telling) foreigners to step aside because he’s in charge now (but the move will likely) end up hitting the ‘commandante of the revolution’ in the pocketbook (because of) corruption, incompetence and mismanagement” meaning Venezuela will now run all its own oil operations and forge its own future, not Big Oil O’Grady wants sole right to do it. No longer indeed, and O’Grady’s not pleased. She’s also dead wrong in her outlook for Venezuela’s oil future run by PDVSA with foreign partners, but don’t ever expect her to admit it.

So is the New York Times agreeing April 10 with O’Grady and other corporate media Big Oil cheerleaders. The Times used charged language condemning Chavez’s “revolutionary flourish (and his) ambitious (plan to) wrest control of several major oil projects from American and European companies (with a) showdown (ahead for these) coveted energy resources….” The Times went on to claim this action would undermine Venezuela’s growth hinting Big Oil’s threat to leave might get Chavez to back down enough to get them to stay. It never happened as this writer suggested April 12 in an article titled “Wall Street Journal and New York Times Attack journalism.” The article made it clear oil exploration and production in Venezuela is so profitable that even with a smaller share of the profits US, European and other Big Oil investors wouldn’t dream of leaving. Whine plenty, leave, not likely, and now we know they won’t.

AP’s Natalie Obiko Pearson reported April 26 that “Four major oil companies (stopped whining April 25 and) agreed to cede control of Venezuela’s last remaining (majority-owned) privately run oil projects to President Hugo Chavez’s government” with ConocoPhillips coming around May 1 showing it, too, was all bark and no bite. Those agreeing through signed memorandums of understanding were Chevron, BP(Amoco) PLC, France’s Total SA, Norway’s Statoil ASA, ConocoPhillips, and with most antagonistic of all to the idea ExxonMobil finally doing it privately as was almost certain to happen and then did.

AP reported ConocoPhillips has the most Orinoco basin exposure in two of four projects, Ameriven and Petrozuata with a (former) 50.1% stake in the latter. It was inconceivable the company would abandon them, and on May 1 it announced it would stay on. The one remaining issue to be resolved is compensation with foreign investors having until June 26 to negotiate terms for their reduced stakes. Expect more Big Oil whining followed by capitulation again to Venezuelan Energy Ministry’s expected offer of fair and equitable takeover terms.

On April 26, PDVSA’s web site reported a total of 10 foreign oil companies agreed to transfer majority control of their “Oil Belt” operations to the state-run oil company. Further, the company expects to achieve a daily capacity of 5.85 million barrels in 2012 and said its January 1 taking control of 32 oil fields will advance the country “toward full national sovereignty over (its) natural energy reserves.”

In response to these actions, and on the day it took effect, the Journal went on the attack again with more ahead certain to be as false and misleading. Its writers called Chavez a “self-proclaimed Maoist (wanting to) reshape the global oil business by sidelining the US and making China his country’s chief strategic energy partner” for investment and export. The Journal also accused Chavez of using “oil as a political weapon” since taking office in 1999 offering discounted oil “to dozens of Latin American countries” as his weapon of choice plus forging alliances with US “economic rivals like China and political rivals like Iran.”

Hugo Chavez, in fact, is a self-proclaimed social democrat charting his own independent course toward progressive “21st century socialism” along the lines Latin American expert James Petras calls the “pragmatic left” in contrast to the more “radical left” of Colombia’s FARC guerrillas; elements of “teachers and peasant-indigenous movements in Oaxaca, Guerrero and Chiapas in Mexico;” many “small Marxist groups in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and elsewhere;” and Venezuela’s “peasant and barrio movements,” among others. Other Latin American leaders Petras calls “pragmatic” leftists include Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Cuba’s Castro and many “large electoral parties and major peasant and trade unions in Central and South America” including Mexico’s PRD party, El Salvador’s FMLN, Chile’s Communist Party, “the majority in Peruvian (Ollanta) Humala’s parliamentary party;” and others including “the great majority of left Latin American intellectuals.”

Unlike what the Wall Street Journal and rest of the US corporate media report or imply, Chavez and others on the “pragmatic left” aren’t aiming to destroy capitalism, just tame it. They also plan no wholesale renunciation of accumulated IMF, World Bank and other international lending agency debt, only calling for it to be on more equitable terms; restructuring it to make their nations’ debt burden fair; and aiming to become free from its repressive yoke as Venezuela did paying it off completely with Chavez announcing May 1 his country is pulling out of the IMF and World Bank, formally breaking free from the kind of debt slavery these institutions impose on countries they lend to guaranteeing their people continued impoverishment.

It’s an important move that may encourage other countries to follow as Ecuador’s President Raphael Correa already did ousting the country’s World Bank representative saying “we will not stand for extortion by this international bureaucracy.” Look for more IMF-World Bank resentment to surface ahead as Chavez’s and Correa’s courage may embolden other leaders to move in the same direction or at least begin by openly voicing public discontent as a first step to possible policy change to follow.

Read the rest here.

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