hugo chavez, erstwhile leader for life of Venezuela, is taking more steps in emulation of his idol, fidel castro. First, he took on Exxon-Mobile. PDVSA, the Venezuelan owned oil company that does business in the US as Citgo, wanted to take over Exxon-Mobil’s interest in a joint venture called Cerro Negro. Exxon didn’t agree to the terms, so the Venezuelan government took over the entire venture. Exxon-Mobile did what corporations do – it sued, and on Thursday a court in London granted an injunction and froze $12-billion in the country’s assets.
Over the weekend, hugo chavez threw a fit and threatened to stop shipping oil to the U.S. From the Guardian (UK)
“If you freeze us, if you really manage to freeze us, if you damage us, then we will hurt you. Do you know how? We are not going to send oil to the United States, Mr. Bush, Mr. Danger,” Chavez said on his weekly TV show.
“Venezuela will join in your economic war and other countries will be with us in the economic war,” added the ally of oil producers such as Iran and Ecuador.
However, Forbes reports that oil markets aren’t playing much attention to the little dictator wannabe today.
But while prices initially jumped on the news, they have eased back as the market digests the full implications of Chavez’ statement.
‘Obviously on the surface this was very bullish,’ said Societe Generale analyst Mike Wittner. ‘(But) I don’t expect anything to come out of this in terms of (Venezuela) actually cutting supplies to the US.
‘This has has made for some very bullish headlines and some knee-jerk reaction, but that is now easing off,’ he said.
During the same TV show, chavez went on to threaten more multi-national corporations – Nestle and Parmalat. Venezuela is suffering shortages of milk, and rather than take responsibility himself for his own failed economic policies, el mico putumayo is threatening to seize milk plants owned by the two companies. The International Herald Tribune reports chavez is upset because the private companies can obviously operate more effiently than his state-owned plants.
“It’s no use for us to be setting up plants (if) then there is no milk for the plants because Parmalat or … Nestle take it all away,” Chavez said. “That’s where I say this government has to tighten the screws.”
If companies ensure a supply through “blackmail, offering money up front” while leaving state-run plants without enough milk, “that’s called sabotage,” Chavez said. He added that in such cases, “the plants must be taken over and expropriated.”
Expropriation has worked well with Exxon-Mobile, hasn’t it hugo?