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What The Heck, Halliburton Is Still Here

By Tomas Sancio | Venezuelan Politics

27.06.05 | I can imagine Hugo Chávez playing Dominoes. As a matter of fact he might be really good at it. I suppose that he's the kind of player that will continually talk throughout the game about his childhood, about national heroes, about poor people and any other subject just to get your eyes off the Domino pieces and on his lips. Once that happens, he will make a sign to his partner with his hands which will go completely unnoticed because you were paying attention to what he was saying. Then, you lose and don't know why.

Unfortunately, Chávez is not a Domino player, he's the President of this country. Today I came across an article written last year by a person called Oscar Heck in which the opposition is characterized as the local arm of the USA Supremacy movement and as coup-mongers (go ahead, generalize all you want). He talks about the PNAC and the NED (National Endowment for Democracy) heading attacks against the country (while ignoring that Súmate, which is financed by the NED, has provided the only checks on the National Elections Council). However, his most ironic point is the following:

• It appears that Halliburton has 21 offices in Venezuela.

Perhaps if Chávez were out of power, Halliburton could generate more profitable “beyond-scrutiny” contracts?

His last question is easy to answer: who knows? a hypothesis is always unproven, but for sure, currently, Halliburton thrives with Chávez firmly in power. Almost one year after Mr. Heck's article, they're still doing business in this country. As a matter of fact, if we read their 2004 Annual Report (to shareholders), we can see that they were actually affected by the oil strike. Within the document, you can see various mentions of "lower activity in Venezuela" as a cause for lower sales in fluid systems and in logging & perforation. This fact is actually spelled out in the 2003 Annual Report (page 42):

Latin America revenues decreased 1% as a result of decreases in Argentina due to currency devaluation and in Venezuela due to lower activity brought on by uncertain market and political conditions and the national strike.

If the opposition created the national strike to help foreign companies like Halliburton, it sure didn't reflect in this company's statements. However, as we can see from the chart below (page 73 - 2004 Annual Report), the war in Irak did help the company.

So, let's see: Dick Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton and he is the current Vice-President of the United States (yes, second in command to George Bush). Halliburton is doing business with the Venezuelan State oil company, which ultimately reports to the Venezuelan President. Hence, the current Venezuelan government does business with American companies with ties to Bush's VP and that have made a killing (i.e. are booming, pardon the pun) with the invasion of Irak.

Yes, we can forgive you for not noticing. You were probably paying attention to what Chávez was saying, not to what he was doing.

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