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Venezuela, The situation behind the headlines

Editorial by Aleksander Boyd

As the American admin starts bombing in Iraq and the international diplomacy has shown, yet again, that the loss of life is one of the very last points to be considered, I will comment today on yesterday's conference at the London School of Economics.

Justine Thody, Senior Editor at The Economist gave a brief and detailed account of the macro economy, commenting on the terrible performance that the Venezuelan governments have had. She mentioned that the present admin has a terrible approach towards the financial situation of the country and its possible solutions, pointing out the utopian policies that Hugo Chavez wants to bring about.

Professor George Philip, Reader in Latin American Politics at LSE gave another aspect of our conflict. With all due respect I have to say that his views are completely out of context. He criticised PDVSA for having implemented an aggressive international expansion policy and referred to the oil bureaucrats as being disconnected with the country's reality, unwilling to compromise with the government. Further, he said that the management of the company was not democratically elected - as Chavez- and therefore they would have to yield to the dictates of the president. Such being the case - with the staggering record of economic failures performed by our governments - I asked him how intelligent would be for the oil executives, from a strategic viewpoint, to give control of the only well managed and profit making company that the country has. Furthermore, how can one even consider such a variable when 30% of GDP, 80% of exports and 50% of the country's revenue are generated by PDVSA? To cede that to Chavez and his luminaries would be to destroy the company and that is exactly what they have done in only three months.

Another interesting point was the stance of the army. He suggested that top commanders were not ready to take a tough position and generate a way out via violent means for sheer fear of ending up in international prisons for having committed crimes against humanity. Instead they have aligned themselves to the majority.. Aligned indeed, with the never ending flow of money coming from the presidential palace!!

One of the speakers commented about PDVSA's production capacity being lost for good which works in detriment of the government's ability to raise capital in international markets, the absolute lack of feasible monetary policies, the unwillingness of Venezuelans in general to pay their taxes and to respect the rule of law, in sum the country can easily be put in the same league as Nigeria, Angola, etc.

All the speakers believe that the referendum will take place in August and they stress the lack of an intelligent approach from the opposition leadership. In view of what is happening today in Baghdad one thing can be ascertained, Venezuelans will face tougher times if they continue to believe that the international community will step in and solve their problems.

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