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Gustavo Coronel : Venezuela:
14 years under Chavez's gang

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Venezuela has been under the domination of a Venezuelan-Cuban gang of gangsters for the last 14 years and two months. Our country has had bad presidents before but never such a combination of ineptitude, corruption, ideological perversion and abuse of power. I have listed below some basic information for the use of readers interested in Venezuela. I have separated the information into quantitative and non-quantifiable. Together, they give a good idea of what this regime of gangsters is all about.

Some important quantitative indices

I. In 1998 Venezuelan oil exports represented 77 percent of the country’s total exports. Today they represent 96 percent. The country has become more dependent, really totally dependent, on oil. Still worse, in 1998 these exports went to commercial clients who paid cash. Today, about 50 percent of Venezuelan oil exports are not sold commercially but tied to political agreements, such as the 100,000 barrels per day going to Cuba essentially for free or the 300,000 barrels per day that will be going to China for the next ten years, to repay Chinese loans to the Venezuelan government.II. In 1998 the Venezuelan national debt was about $34 billion. Today is close to $150 billion, in spite of the fact that the national treasury has received the largest petroleum income in history, some $700 billion during the period. When other income and the loans received are added, the Venezuelan government has received about $1.4 trillion during the period and has very little to show for it.

III. Petroleos de Venezuela, the Venezuelan state oil company produced about 3.3 million barrels per day in 1998. Today it produces anywhere between 2.4 and 2.9 million barrels per day, depending on the source of the information. At this time, if they had executed their five-year plan, the company should have been producing 5.5 million barrels per day. The company has been forced to partially abandon its core business and now engages in importing and distributing food, building houses and raising pigs, among other non-oil related activities. It has not built one single new refinery or petrochemical installation during these years and sits ineffectively on the largest oil resources of the hemisphere, the Orinoco heavy oil deposits, talking about but not developing them.

IV. Gasoline and Diesel are now being imported due to the explosion and collapse of the large Amuay refinery, which has been operating at a 60 percent capacity for the last 6 months

V. The labor force of the state oil company has exploded, going from 32,000 employees in 1998 to about 115,000 in 2012, in spite of the forced dismissal of 22,000 technical staff in 2003, after they protested against the politicization of the company at the hands of the regime. The swelling of the labor force has been due to the massive expropriation of companies serving the oil industry and the hiring of their labor, in an effort to asume total “control” of oil activities.

VI. The number of private companies active in the country has gone down, from some 14,000 in 1998 to about 9,000 in 2011. Government policy has been to absorb most industrial and commercial activity, an obvious impossibility and one that is driving the Venezuelan economy into the ground. A particularly disastrous example has been the electric sector, which is now generating more electricity with imported diesel, at a large loss to the nation.

VII.Industrial employment in 1998 accounted for 840,000 jobs. In 2011 the number of employees is down to about 540,000

VIII.Whereas expropriations did not take place in Venezuela before 1998, more than one hundred private companies and countless private buildings and farms have been taken over by the government in the last 14 years, while many of the legitimate owners have not received proper or timely compensation.

IX. Public expenditure in 1998 amounted to $21 billion. In 2011 it was $115 billion. However, the large increase went to current, not capital expenditure. Increasing expenditure has created the largest fiscal déficit in history, 18 percent of the GDP in 2012, and a very high inflation rate.

X. The value of imports, mostly food, has increased from $17 billion in 1998 to some $50 billion in 2011.

XI. GDP had been growing at a rate of some 10 percent in 1998. In 2009 it had declined to -4 percent

XII. Direct Foreign Investment went from positive in 1998 to negative in 2011

XIII. In 1998 Venezuelan steel production was about 3.2 million tons but fell to 1.7 million tons in 2012, the lowest on record. All companies beoning to the state agglomerate CVG: iron, Steel, alumina, aluminum, bauxite, etc, are essentilly bankrupt today and do note ven have money to pay salaries.

XIV.In 1998 there were 3200 murders in the country. In 2011 there were 17,900.

XV.In the last two years 753 prisoners have died violently in Venezuelan prisons, due to the negligence of the government.

XVI.In 1998 there were 16 ministries. In 2011 there were 28 ministries, indicating considerable bureaucratization in the government.

XVII.In 1999 there were 1,395,326 public workers. In 2009 this number had increased to 2,372,587.


Some important ,non - quantifiable indices.

I.The presidential language/rethoric has deteriorated significantly during these 14 years. Insults have replaced arguments. The majesty of the office does not longer exist

II.Tolerance and respect for political dissidence have dissappeared

III.Class and racial components have been introduced by the government as political weapons

IV.Oil income has been used for handouts to political followers in Venezuela and abroad, in order to keep them loyal to the regime

V.Secrecy dominates the actions of the government. Transparency and accountability do not exist

VI. Undue dependence on Cuban leaders and advisers has weakened Venezuelan sovereignty

VII. Inclusion of the poor has ben done at the expense of exclusion of the middle class

VIII. High levels of corruption permeate the public ranks

IX. Institutions are not autonomous but are under the political control of the Executive

X.The Armed Force has been put to the service of a socialist/militarist political project

XI.The regime has connections with terrorist and drug trafficking organizations worldwide and withdraws from international organizations that decide or judge against them, such as the Inter American Human Rights Commission and the Center for Arbitration of the World Bank.

XII. Political prisoner rights have been violated systematically. In particular, Judge Afiuni, ordered to prison by Chavez himself, was raped in prison. Even Chavez’s friend Noam Chomsky has publicly called for her release, to no avail. Police Supervisor Simonovis and two of his colleagues remain in prison, sentenced by a politically motivated judge, in need of medical attention that is not given to them.

XIII. The current provisional government and the situation of president-elect Hugo Chavez have been decided in open violation of the constitution.

This government is, in fact, ilegitimate. This is the overwhelming opinion of Venezuelan jurists. President elect Chavez remains in a Havana hospital, true condition unknown since he has not been seen or heard for sixty days. Actions are being taken by the government which are said to derive from his orders but nobody has verified these claims.

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Gustavo Coronel is a 28 years oil industry veteran, a member of the first board of directors (1975-1979) of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), author of several books. At the present Coronel is Petroleumworld associate editor and advisor on the opinion and editorial content of the site. All his articles can be read in Gustavo's blog. Las Armas de Coronel . Petroleumworld does not necessarily share these views.

All comments posted and published on Petroleumworld, do not reflect either for or against the opinion expressed in the comment as an endorsement of Petroleumworld. All comments expressed are private comments and do not necessary reflect the view of this website. All comments are posted and published without liability to Petroleumworld
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Petroleumworld News 02/13/2013

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