Opposition to Cuba oil deal is key campaign of v'enezuelan opposition

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Tue Sep 3 08:52:57 MDT 2002


The following two articles show the intensity of the Venezuelan reactionary
opposition's campaign, now centering on the agreement to send oil to Cuba
and focusing on both the streets and the opposition-dominated Supreme Court,
to remove Chavez.

Ali Rodrigues, former oil minister and now head of the state oil company,
was an antigovernment guerrilla in the 1960s.As Venezuela's delegate, he now
heads the Organization of Petroleum Exporting countries. -- Fred Feldman

INTERVIEW: Venezuela PdVSA To Ship Crude To Cuba This Wk
By FRED PALS
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Despite heavy domestic criticism and
ongoing controversy, the first shipment of Venezuelan crude
oil to Cuba under preferential financial terms will depart
this week for the Caribbean island, two top Venezuelan
government officials told Dow Jones Newswires late Sunday.

"This week, the first shipment will go," the president of
state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela SA (E.PVZ)
Ali Rodriguez told Dow Jones Newswires in an exclusive
interview in Rio de Janeiro. In the Brazilian city, the
World Petroleum Congress is taking place from Sunday until
Thursday.

Rodriguez added that he couldn't tell whether PdVSA would
quickly reach the average of 53,000 barrels a day as agreed
upon in the bilateral deal signed in October 2000 between
President Hugo Chavez and his Cuban counterpart Fidel
Castro. "Probably not, but eventually we'll reach the target
of 53,000 barrels," he said.

Later Sunday, Venezuela's Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez
confirmed with Dow Jones Newswires by phone that the first
shipment indeed will take place this week. "Yes, we will
resume our shipments in the next couple of days," he said.

The matter is potentially explosive in Venezuela and within
PdVSA. The original pact was suspended by PdVSA officials
when Chavez was ousted from office for two days in April.
PdVSA officials cited commercial factors after Cuba ran into
a debt to PdVSA of $142 million.

Issue Is Politicized, Says Rodriguez
Four months later, a large group of company officials and
the entire domestic political opposition keep resisting the
deal. They claim the company is giving its oil away while
the country is mired in a recession. Several white-collar
workers at various company departments have been collecting
signatures opposing the move.

Rodriguez said he has listened to complaints of PdVSA
managers, "but the issue has been completely politicized.
There's resistance, but we'll keep working to accommodate
that," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the suspension in April was based on
politics. Chavez's oil deal and close ties with Fidel Castro
have worried many Venezuelans, particularly the middle and
business classes.

The suspension of shipments was a blow to Castro as
Venezuelan crude accounted for a third of the island's
energy supply. Cuba was forced to impose measures to reduce
energy consumption and had to seek more expensive crude
elsewhere.

Both Rodriguez and Ramirez declined to comment on what the
nation's Supreme Court eventually may decide on the deal.
The court opened a case in March questioning the legality of
the pact with Cuba . The court wants National Assembly
president Willian Lara to show that Chavez's government
"fulfilled legal requirements" before signing the pact in
October 2000.

The social-Christian party Copei also filed an injunction
claiming the deal between Cuba and Venezuela is illegal,
since the National Assembly wasn't consulted.

>From December 2000 until April 2002, Cuba received a total
of 25.5 million barrels worth $675 million for which it only
paid $439 million. Of the $236 million Cuba owes PdVSA, a
payment of $142 million was far behind schedule. They have
now agreed on a new payment schedule.

Management Reshuffle Also Stirs Controversy
Chavez's broader handling of the country's state oil
industry was one of the factors that contributed to the
attempt to overthrow him in April. His reshuffle of PdVSA's
company board led to the protest march that ended in
bloodshed.

However, last week, PdVSA announced another reshuffle that
already triggered controversy within the company. Several
top managers that protested the appointment of the new board
in April are now being moved to posts outside of company
headquarters. A group called the Civil Association of Oil
People publicly protested the move. "It's like a storm.
Eventually that will calm down," Rodriguez said, who remains
unfazed.

The association covers a large group of white-collar workers
who were affected by the April labor turmoil.

"Changes as proposed are being perceived as politically
motivated, given the fact that curiously they are aimed at
those who stood firm in their position in respect to
meritocracy," the association said last week in a statement
posted on its Web site.

In separate matters, Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez
said Monday that he believes the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries has a consensus to keep its oil output
stable when the group meets Sept. 19 in Osaka. Venezuela's
Chavez already has made clear that the country won't back an
oil output hike.

-By Fred Pals, Dow Jones Newswires; 58-212-564-1339;
fred.palsdowjones.com;

Updated September 2, 2002 9:38 a.m. EDT

(In still further detail, this shows
how the rightist opposition to the
democratically-elected Chavez
administration is trying to use
every kind of legal trick in the
book to obstruct Venezuela's
economic ties to Cuba. They
have already shown they've no
scruples about using all illegal
means as well. The struggle
over this is dividing the country
politically, and that's obviously
reflected within the PDVSA
administation as well. Keep in
mind that Ali Rodriguea, the
oil minister, is both a former
guerilla fighter from the 60s,
later an oil minister, and most
recently had been appointed
to represent the country in the
OPEC, where he bacame head
of the world oil producing nations
organization.
=======================

September 2, 2002
Venezuela Says It Will Begin
Crude-Oil Shipments to Cuba

By FRED PALS
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Despite heavy domestic criticism and
ongoing controversy, the first shipment of Venezuelan crude
oil to Cuba under preferential financial terms will depart
this week for the Caribbean island, two top Venezuelan
government officials said late Sunday.

"This week, the first shipment will go," the president of
state-owned oil monopoly Petroleos de Venezuela SA Ali
Rodriguez told Dow Jones Newswires in an exclusive interview
in Rio de Janeiro. In the Brazilian city, the World
Petroleum Congress is taking place from Sunday until
Thursday.

Mr. Rodriguez added that he couldn't tell whether PdVSA
would quickly reach the average of 53,000 barrels a day as
agreed upon in the bilateral deal signed in October 2000
between President Hugo Chavez and his Cuban counterpart
Fidel Castro. "Probably not, but eventually we'll reach the
target of 53,000 barrels," he said.

Later Sunday, Venezuela's Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez
confirmed with Dow Jones Newswires by phone that the first
shipment indeed will take place this week. "Yes, we will
resume our shipments in the next couple of days," he said.

The matter is potentially explosive in Venezuela and within
PdVSA. The original pact was suspended by PdVSA officials
when Chavez was ousted from office for two days in April.
PdVSA officials cited commercial factors after Cuba ran into
a debt to PdVSA of $142 million.

Issue Is Politicized, Official Says

Four months later, a large group of company officials and
the entire domestic political opposition keep resisting the
deal. They claim the company is giving its oil away while
the country is mired in a recession. Several white-collar
workers at various company departments have been collecting
signatures opposing the move.

Mr. Rodriguez said he has listened to complaints of PdVSA
managers, "but the issue has been completely politicized.
There's resistance, but we'll keep working to accommodate
that," he said.

Mr. Rodriguez said the suspension in April was based on
politics. Mr. Chavez's oil deal and close ties with Fidel
Castro have worried many Venezuelans, particularly the
middle and business classes.

The suspension of shipments was a blow to Mr. Castro as
Venezuelan crude accounted for a third of the island's
energy supply. Cuba was forced to impose measures to reduce
energy consumption and had to seek more expensive crude
elsewhere.

Both Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Ramirez declined to comment on
what the nation's Supreme Court eventually may decide on the
deal. The court opened a case in March questioning the
legality of the pact with Cuba. The court wants National
Assembly president Willian Lara to show that Chavez's
government "fulfilled legal requirements" before signing the
pact in October 2000.

The social-Christian party Copei also filed an injunction
claiming the deal between Cuba and Venezuela is illegal,
since the National Assembly wasn't consulted.

>From December 2000 until April 2002, Cuba received a total
of 25.5 million barrels worth $675 million for which it only
paid $439 million. Of the $236 million Cuba owes PdVSA, a
payment of $142 million was far behind schedule. They have
now agreed on a new payment schedule.

Management Reshuffle Also Stirs Controversy

Mr. Chavez's broader handling of the country's state oil
industry was one of the factors that contributed to the
attempt to overthrow him in April. His reshuffle of PdVSA's
company board led to the protest march that ended in
bloodshed.

However, last week, PdVSA announced another reshuffle that
already triggered controversy within the company. Several
top managers that protested the appointment of the new board
in April are now being moved to posts outside of company
headquarters. A group called the Civil Association of Oil
People publicly protested the move. "It's like a storm.
Eventually that will calm down," Mr. Rodriguez said, who
remains unfazed.

The association covers a large group of white-collar workers
who were affected by the April labor turmoil.

"Changes as proposed are being perceived as politically
motivated, given the fact that curiously they are aimed at
those who stood firm in their position in respect to
meritocracy," the association said last week in a statement
posted on its Web site.

In separate matters, Venezuelan Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez
said Monday that he believes the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries has a consensus to keep its oil output
stable when the group meets Sept. 19 in Osaka. Venezuela's
Mr. Chavez already has made clear that the country won't
back an oil output increase.
Write to Fred Pals at fred.pals at dowjones.com1






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