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You’re not going to hear this in any place, but reality is that a huge sea of petrol hides under the Lebanese beaches. And Syria wants its share of it h/t Le Guerre Civile:

Per una volta non c’entrano le questioni militari, né quelle strategiche, e nemmeno i conflitti etnico-religiosi, bensì una risorsa molto ricerata in tutto il mondo e di cui si supponeva che quest’area del Vicino Oriente fosse priva: il petrolio e, con esso, il gas.
La notizia verrà annunciata in queste ore a Londra durante il convegno dell’Eage, l’associazione europea dei geofisici: lungo le coste libanesi ci sarebbero almeno otto miliardi di barili di greggio. A scoprirlo è stata una società norvegese, la Pgs, che ha effettuato lo studio dei fondali marini al largo del Paese dei Cedri. E non sarebbe solo il Libano a beneficiare di questa inaspettata opportunità. Lungo la dorsale del vulcano sottomarino Eratostene ci sarebbe un immenso giacimento che riguarderebbe anche le acque territoriali di Siria, Cipro e Israele. A nord di Gaza, lungo le coste dello Stato ebraico, una nave oceonografica americana ha osservato delle fuoriuscite di gas dal fondo del mare e il governo di Gerusalemme, che ha stanziato per le ricerche più di un miliardo di dollari, è persuaso che ci possano essere grandi quantità di metano.

In prima fila, però, c’è il Libano. Otto miliardi di barili non sono sufficienti per trasformarlo in un nuovo Emirato del Mediterraneo. L’Irak, ad esempio, ne ha 115 miliardi ed è al terzo posto per riserve mondiali di petrolio dopo Arabia Saudita e Iran; ma in un’epoca di grande domanda e a prezzi che restano esorbitanti rappresentano una dote preziosa e, inevitabilmente, destinata ad attrarre le attenzioni delle potenze dell’area.

Basically, the article by Italian newspaper Il Giornale says that Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus and Israel have oil under their soil. But of them, the most important oil deposits are in Lebanon. It’s not that they are going to have a huge quantity but its 8 milliards of barrils a day can make it be under the attention of the countries of the area. And it’s curious that it’s been told this now, when there are suspicious moves by Syria regarding Nahr el-Bahred and other refugee camps’ crisis.

Related posts:

  1. Lebanon vs. Al-Qaeda-Fatah al Islam.
  2. Lebanon vs Al-Qaeda-Fatah al Islam (II).
  3. As UN approves the creation of a special tribunal to try suspects, Hezbulah and Syria take positions.

 More about the Lebanese oil:

(more…)

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If yesterday I wrote about the HR abuses found in a brickworks in China, in which 31 workers were living as slaves and the police had done nothing before because they owner was the son of a local boss of Communist Party, today a syndicate of Unions have denounced the use of children or under-payed or forced workers (that is, slaves) in the production of merchandising for the Olympic Games to boost sales:

International Olympic Committee said it supported ethical (¡!) practices

But in Britain, where the IOC is due to meet on Tuesday, trade unionists said tougher action was needed to make sure that the 2012 Games in London were not tarnished by similar accusations.

Investigators’ report – entitled “No medal for the Olympics on labour rights” – cites “gross violations of basic labour standards… including adult wages at half the legal minimum, employment of workers as young as 12 years old”.

It also highlights alleged labour rights violations, such as forced overtime, workers being instructed to lie about wages and conditions to outside inspectors and poor health and safety conditions.

Shame on the Olympic Committee for supporting this unethical practices.

But don’t even consider that the Olympic Games are going to be suspended, over this or other abuses on HR such as Chinese relations with Sudan.

Anyway, Costa Rica has announced it ends its traditional relationship with Taiwan to back Chinese idea of “only one China“, but this decision, as President Arias told the press, has nothing to do with ideology or geopolitical causes, but just to “Elementary realism” and to an “awakening in an international context” to consider China as one of the most important economies in the world. Costa Rica considers that Chinese commercial relations and inversions can make it more “prosperous and developed”. I just hope Chinese methods about HR are not imported into Costa Rica.

it would also be useful to know Costa Rica’s people support for this measure. And I wonder why this decision is not commented, considering that Taishi tao tiananmenwan is running out of friends in international relations, while China is gaining them.

[En español].

Reporters without borders has asked China to free from prison the journalist and poet Shi Tao (photo), imprisoned since 2005 because of publishing information about Tiananmen in the web.

UDPATE: Shi Tao’s mother has called on Yahoo! to be punished for giving Chinese authorities the information they needed for his conviction. he is serving a 10-year sentence. h/t China View.

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 If you haven’t heard about the turnout bid of Spanish electric firm Endesa, you should. By now, there have been three: by Spanish firm Gas Natural (who did not pay enough at all), by German E.On (which was ended after a Zapatero-Prodi summit in Ibiza) and by Italian Enel and Spanish Acciona -which the laic blessings of both Italian and Spanish Government-. The impact on Spanish energy market is going to be great: Endesa is a great firm, stabilised and with magnificent prospects. Enel is not a very efficient firm and is a public firm, which hasn’t got gas, which is one of the main products of Endesa. The main critic is then that, while Enel gains a lot by the operation, Endesa does not win anything, and can be even divided if Enel and Acciona do not agree about their results.

But the turnout bid has meant a special war between Zapatero and Endesa’s President, Manuel Pizarro. Last february he was even followed:

Endesa’s President, Manuel Pizarro, has asked today in Zaragoza “transparence and effectiveness” to the Civil Guard after being followed by two agents on Feb 20th, when took place the meeting in Ibiza between Italian President Prodi, and his counterpart, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. According to sources, it was then that was decided the entry of Enel in Endesa Al parecer, durante esa semana, se gestó la entrada del grupo Enel en la eléctrica.

According to newspaper “El Mundo”, the Government confirms that Pizarro was being followed, but does not tell about the motives. Pizarro, who took part in a post-graduates course at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Zaragoza’s University, added that both agents were later detained by Police.

“We denounced them before the Civil Guard and, through Internal Affairs, they should investigate what these 2  men were doing, not on duty, acting like that for themselves or a third party”, he stated.

Source: La Nación – Pizarro pide transparencia a la Guardia Civil por el seguimiento del que fue objeto el 20 de febrero

Don’t think I have anything more to add…

(En español)

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So the revelations about the Economic Direction of the Presidency (EDP) keep on coming. Mr. Conthe, ex-president of the National Commission of the Market Shares (CNMV, the equivalent to the US SEC) has stated that he has “direct evidence” that Carlos Arenillas, vicepresident of the same Commission, received orders and acted as a representative from the EDP in the case of FG Valores in Jan 2005. “There was an incorrect mixture of personal links and public functions in realtion with a dossier about the president of the Bank“, referring himself to Francisco González, the President of one of Spain’s most important banks BBVA.

El ex presidente de la Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV) Manuel Conthe afirmó este lunes tener “evidencia directa” de que el vicepresidente del organismo, Carlos Arenillas, recibió instrucciones y actuó como “correa de transmisión” de la Oficina Económica de Presidencia del Gobierno sobre el expediente FG Valores en enero de 2005. En concreto, señaló que tiene evidencia clara de un supuesto en el que a su juicio, hubo una “mezcla indebida de vínculos personales con funciones públicas en lo relativo a un dossier sobre el presidente de un banco”, en alusión a Francisco González, presidente del BBVA.

More about the embarrasing news:
ABC.es: economia – economia – Moncloa intentó utilizar a la CNMV para acosar al presidente del BBVA

El ya ex presidente de la Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores (CNMV), Manuel Conthe, aprovechó ayer la toma de posesión de Julio Segura, para dar a conocer las «pruebas» por las que asegura que el vicepresidente de la CNMV, Carlos Arenillas, no debe permanecer en el cargo. Según explicó en una improvisada rueda de prensa, el sábado 15 de enero de 2005, Arenillas le llamó por móvil para que se vieran urgentemente «donde fuera», porque tenía «un documento importantísimo» que enseñarle. De esta forma, Conthe se presentó en el domicilio de Arenillas, la segunda y última vez que lo haría. En sus manos tenía el dossier de la venta de FG Valores a Merril Lynch, afirmando que se lo «había pasado la Oficina Económica de la Moncloa», donde había acudido con su coche oficial a recogerlo y, con la advertencia de que una copia del documento obraba en manos del jefe de informativos de la Cadena Ser, Javier Ruiz. Acto seguido, Arenillas llamó al periodista, quien se reunió con ellos pasados cinco minutos, llevando el dossier. Conthe les dijo que ese documento sería «irrelevante» si no pasaba el registro de entrada de la CNMV, lo que sucedió el lunes 17 de enero. Cinco días después, el 22 de enero, dicho dossier quedó archivado por entender la CNMV que era «prácticamente imposible» esclarecer las posibles irregularidades contables que se denunciaban. Estos hechos sucedían en el momento en que Sacyr acosaba al presidente del BBVA, Francisco González, tras haber comprado un poco más del 3% del banco.

But the things get more interesting. The person who was then the Director of the EDP was Miguel Sebastian (photo, left), now Socialist candidate to be Madrid’s Major, appointed by Zapatero, with no kind of militants’ elections and who is said to be the one who wrote the dossier to indict Francisco González.
Leftist radio Cadena Ser from Spanish holding PRISA, S.A., denied yesterday any meddling in the affair. But leftist newspaper EL País, from the same holding, has contradicted the radio and has recognised that it was Sebastian’s doing.
The Socialist candidate has suspended all his activities for the next 2 days.
It was said on those days that Sebastian wanted González’s job.
At the same time, Solbes, Economy Spanish Minister says that “hmm, that is something of the past“. Coming from a Government who is everyday searching for Historic Memory that is a somewhat bizarre statement. And at the same time, he is acknowledging that it was true…
El País deja en evidencia a la SER y reconoce que el dossier contra Francisco González viene de Miguel Sebastián – Libertad Digital

la Cadena SER. La emisora negó este lunes que el origen del informe fuera la Oficina Económica de Moncloa, pero este martes el editorial de El País pone en evidencia a la cadena al señalar al propio Sebastián. El candidato socialista a la Alcaldía de Madrid ha suspendido sus apariciones durante este martes y el miércoles.

What is more, he said this in the act in which the new President from the CNMV was officialy named. The new President, Mr. Segura was a Communist in his youth -very appropriate as someone who has to monitorize the share markets of a capitalistic nature: La Nación – Conthe acusa a Arenillas de ser correa de transmisión del Gobierno en el caso FG

Conthe realizó estas acusaciones ante los periodistas pocos minutos antes de que Segura tomara posesión, en un acto en el que participaron el vicepresidente segundo del Gobierno, Pedro Solbes, el propio Arenillas, y en el que estuvieron presentes, entre otros, el consejero delegado del BBVA, Jose Ignacio Gorigolzarri.

AS a result of the recent scandals in the CNMV, Popular Party is going to defend in Parliament on Thursday (that is, today), that the election of the President of the CNMV is made by a qualified majority of 3/5 of the Congress, something which has been more insisted on as a result of the last scandals, both related with Endesa turnover bid by Italian Enel and Spanish Acciona, and the now voiced -but which a lot of people suspected- pressures to convict Francisco González.
La Nación – El PP plantea que el presidente de la CNMV sea elegido por el Parlamento

El PP defienderá este martes en el Pleno del Congreso de los Diputados que el procedimiento de elección del presidente de la Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores se realice a través de una mayoría cualificada de tres quintos de la Cámara Baja, reivindicación que los ‘populares’ han acentuado a raíz de las OPAs sobre Endesa y especialmente, tras las acusaciones que Manuel Conthe ha lanzado contra la Oficina Económica de la Presidencia del Gobierno al dejar el órgano supervisor.

Conthe acusa a Moncloa de usar la CNMV contra el presidente del BBVA – 20minutos.es
Left, Mr. Conthe, Mr Solbes (Spanish Mister for Budget and Economy) and Mr. Segura (new President of the CNMV), at the official act of the latter’s apointment as President of CNMV.
I have to add that Solbes and Sebastián have had a little war in the shades over the economy. Zapatero is a friend of Sebastián while he had to name Solbes to quiet some of his parties voices. It is rumoured that Sebastián is going to be named new Budget and Economy Minister after the May elections as he has not very good perspectives with the elections in Madrid.
As you can see in the photo, Segura is from Sebastian’s school. Is is my imagination or is he laughing about Solbes?

And what the leftists have said? The same El País has, in an editorial blamed all the problems in “Conthe’s lack of discretion, moderation and level-headed analysis that should have any high responsable of a financial control body“. Well, thank God Conthe is a Socialist. I wonder what they would have said if a center-right person would have been appointed.
And yes, the problem of the corruption is that people denounce it, not that people commits it. Marvellous…
La Frase Progre: “Todo arranca con el nombramiento de Conthe, que nunca dispuso de las cualidades de discreción, mesura y análisis ecuánime de la realidad que debería tener el máximo responsable de un organismo regulador financiero”

“Todo arranca con el nombramiento de Conthe, que nunca dispuso de las cualidades de discreción, mesura y análisis ecuánime de la realidad que debería tener el máximo responsable de un organismo regulador financiero”

But there is more: VP Arenillas also lied to Congress. When he asked if he had received pressures or instructions for any of the Government members or by their consulting bodies, he denied it. He said that “at any time he had received any of those“.
Arenillas minti�: Conthe demuestra que Moncloa estaba detr�s del acoso a FG – elConfidencial.com

Carlos Arenillas, vicepresidente de la CNMV, est� entre la espada y la pared, obligado a dimitir hoy mismo sin m�s dilaci�n. Las revelaciones que realiz� ayer el presidente saliente del supervisor, Manuel Conthe, sobre el �caso FG� demuestran que Arenillas minti� en el Congreso de los Diputados. All�, el vicepresidente asegur� que �en ning�n momento hab�a recibido instrucciones o presiones por parte de ning�n miembro del Gobierno o de sus organismos asesores�

Related posts: Corrupsoe reloaded (part 1): Ibiza and Arenillas.

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After the delirium he lived this last week-end, Chávez wants to nationalize the banks:

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday threatened to nationalize the country’s banks and largest steel producer, accusing them of unscrupulous practices.
Private banks have to give priority to financing the industrial sectors of Venezuela at low cost,” Chavez said. “If banks don’t agree with this, it’s better that they go, that they turn over the banks to me, that we nationalize them and get all the banks to work for the development of the country and not to speculate and produce huge profits.” Chavez also warned the government could take over steel producer Sidor, which is majority controlled by Luxembourg-based Ternium SA.

Hmm, yes, of course, and Venezuela has not any taxes on banks’ profit, hasn’t it? Did he have a lapsus? “That they turn over the banks to ME”….

More from Beitbart:

It was not clear if Chavez was only referring to Venezuelan banks like Mercantil Servicios Financieros CA and others, or if he was aiming the threat at major international banks that do business in the country, such as Banco Santander Central Hispano SA and Citigroup Inc.

Chavez also warned the government could take over steel producer Sidor, which is majority controlled by Luxembourg-based Ternium SA.
Sidor “has created a monopoly” and sold the bulk of its production overseas, forcing local producers to import tubes and other products from China and elsewhere, Chavez said.
“If the company Sidor … does not immediately agree to change this process, they will oblige me to nationalize it,” Chavez said.
“I prefer not to,” Chavez added, as he ordered Mining Minister Jose Khan to depart immediately for the company’s headquarters and return with a recommendation within 24 hours.

Ye’ be warned…

If we consider that this year, inflation in Venezuela was 4.1% till april and that last year was 14.7% till September, Venezuela can have huge bad results in not a distant future.

But that’s not all: Corruption in Venezuela has boomed as oil prices have soared ($225.ooo millions in benefits both in oil and bonds) and the fact that the national funds are managed in secrecy and with no transparency. But Venezuela is also giving away a lot of money to Cuba (estimated between $2,2oo millions y $2,300 millions per year). Gustavo Coronel, author of the study, member of the Oil Joint Council of Venezuela between 1976 and 1979, writes:

Desde registros sospechosos de votantes (Venezuela tiene 17.000 votantes nacidos en el siglo diecinueve, con una persona de 175 años de edad que todavía trabaja) hasta contratos estatales sin licitación previa, todos los niveles de la sociedad han sido afectados. La corrupción involucra a los ministros, los jueces, los militares, los banqueros y a los ciudadanos ordinarios.
Desafortunadamente, no hay mucha probabilidad de una reforma. Los casos destacados de corrupción no han sido castigados. Coronel concluye: “Para reducir la corrupción de manera significativa en Venezuela, sería necesario eliminar los motivos y las oportunidades y castigar a los responsables. Luego de ocho años de Hugo Chávez en el poder, resulta completamente claro que la lucha contra la corrupción en Venezuela no podrá comenzar hasta que Chávez se haya ido”.

From suspicious voters’ registries (Venezuela has 17.000 voters born in the XIXth century, with someone aged 175 years that is working yet) to state contract given with no previous process, every part of the society have been affected. There are ministers, judges, military men, bank businessmen and ordinary citizens involved corruption.
Unfortunately, a reform is not probable. The most important cases of corruption had not been punished. Coronel concludes: “To reduce the corruption in a significant manner in Venezuela, it would be necessary to elimininate both the motives and the opportunities and punish the culprits. After 8 years of Chávez in power, it is very clear that the fight against corruption would not begin till Chávez has gone“.

Chávez has also began “agrotiendas socialistas“, sort of “Socialist agro-shops”. El Mentidero writes about these new shops:

La iniciativa consiste en repartir una especie de economatos propiedad del Estado, que a este paso será el único que pueda ejercer el derecho a la propiedad, que ofertan productos agrícolas con el fin de abaratar los “costos” de producción a los agricultores, como dicen ellos. Además, también “asesorarán” sobre qué productos deben (o pueden) comprar los campesinos. El caso es que controlarán hasta los productos que una persona debe comprar para sus cultivos, perjudicando así la competencia del sector y atacando de frente la libertad de empresa, pues mucho me temo que los establecimientos y productores privados no podrán hacer frente a precios públicos tan bajos.

The initiative consists basically in having a sort of little shops, state-owned, through all the country. These shops will offer agricultural products with the aim of reducing costs. They will also advice the peasantsabout the products they should (or can) buy. [So] they will be able even to control the products someone buys for their crops, damaging the competence inside this sector and attacking frontly the freedom of market, because I fea that private shops and producers won’t be able to face this public prices so low.

In the link there is very interesting video, in Spanish, in which the man in charged of one of these agrotiendas says he is very happy to open another of these shops to serve the “revolusión bolivariana“.

And more Venezuelans are leaving.

Also in O Insurgente.

DIE Zeit calls Chávez “el caudillo izquierdista populista del petróleo”, that is the “oil leftist-populist leader” [Venezuelas linkspopulistischer Öl-Caudillo]. Very interesting the last paragraph which points out that he is doing really nothing to reduce the dependence of Venezuela from the profits of the raw materials, especially when the possibility exists of new materials or sources of energy which could be developed in the future.

As Chávez announces he is out of World Bank and International Monetary Fund,

Investors reduced exposure to Venezuela’s sovereign debt on Wednesday on fears that the country’s decision to leave the IMF could trigger a technical default on its external bonds.
Total returns on Venezuela’s debt declined 0.6 percent on JP Morgan’s EMBI+ index (11EMJ: Quote, Profile, Research after President Hugo Chavez announced on Monday that Venezuela will withdraw its membership from Washington-based lending organizations like the IMF and the World Bank.

You can read the marvellous post of Devil’s Excrement with some more news. Especially this paragraph about what could happen with the bonds:
You see, much of the country’s bonds, including those issued by Chavez as recently as a year and half ago, include a clause or a covenant which says that the country leaving the IMF would constitute a default event. Of course, Chavez knows it all, but apparently could not remember this detail, which led to the bonds dropping today. To make matters eve worse, the Minister of Finance, said Venezuela had no plans to default on its debt, demonstrating his ignorance about what default means. He repeated later in the day that Venezuela had no plans to default, referring to no plans of stopping paying the debt, but clearly failed to understand that a technical default would mean that bondholders could ask for accelerated payment, lowers ratings, more cost and even worse, the inability of the country to issue new debt while the condition exists.
Marvellous…
Captain Ed has more.

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Two weeks ago, Venezuelan blog Devil’s Excrement reported about the Venezuelan police had stopped the showing of a film, La Fiesta del Chivo, on April 9th:

–And there is so much freedom of speech in Venezuela that the police and the Bolivarian Circles stop the showing of the movie “La Fiesta del Chivo” on April 9th. at the Universidad Nacional Experimental del Tachira and not one of the major newspapers or broadcasting stations has the guts (I wanted to use a different word) to report it.

Jeez, I wonder why they are bothered by a movie about an autocratic Dictator, who develops a cult of his personality, creates a single political party and destroys all semblance of institutionality in the Dominican Republic? I really can’t see the parallel!

Well, I have began pointing this out because a lot of what is going on in that beautiful Caribbean country has to do with the fact that Chávez is now more a dictator that a democratic ruler. In fact, the persecution of the people who denounce the real nature of Venezuelan regime are now just part of a complot payed by evil-Satanist USA (h/t Blogbis),according to Venezuelan minister of Comunication, whose name is William Lara -you know, he is a complot in himself: his name is evil-satanist English…-. Well, Bush, you have to send me my check please. 😉

The robolusión has also tried to attack the integrity of several scientists, including Claudio Mendoza -background here-:

The Bolivarian Assembly of workers of the Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research , the country’s most prestigious scientific institution, wrote the Communiqué below. This pathetic document pretends to attack the integrity of some of the most distinguished scientists by people who live off science but have no clue what it is or does for a country. Once again, they attack one of the country’s most distinguished researchers Claudio Mendoza who is called a traitor for is excellence in research and his refusal to be quieted down by the hounds of the regime. This is clearly a censorship and intimidation brigade sent by the Government.
As if in synchrony with the Minister of Communications, it is all made into a destabilizing conspiracy, which supposedly has nothing to do with freedom of speech as if Dr. Mendoza hasn’t been warned many times for going public. Moreover, it shows total disrespect for many Venezuelan scientists that have distinguished careers and who continue to work for the country. The accusations are ironically linked to the shutdown and censorship of TV station RCTV, as simply being part of the conspiracy that the opposition is preparing, as if free speech was not under severe threat in Venezuela. In closing, they also manage to insult the intelligence of foreign reporters calling them ignorant of what is going on in Venezuela.

He also reports about Venezuela being sued by the Human Rights Court “for failing to meet the recommendations made by that Commission as well as violating the fundamental rights of reporters and workers with RCTV”. Of course, Venezuela has denied having any issue with Human Rights.

Venezuela has also announced with Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba -all of them belong to ALBA, “Treaty of the Market of the People”-, that they were retiring themselves from CIADI, an World Bank organization (h/t Blogbis). CIADI is the arbitration tribunal charged with the conflicts about investing, and any of these countries -especially Bolivia and Venezuela- are very interested in a judicial resolution about their policies regarding their oil and energy.
[In the photo the representants of Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, and the President of Haiti, as guest artist].

As he has announced, Chávez seized the last of the non-nationalised oil resources. Business Week described what was planned:

Russian-made MiG fighter jets will swoop overhead and army troops will flank Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez when he takes over four heavy-oil projects from their foreign owners May 1. The staged theatrics by the fiery nationalist, including a rally by red-shirted supporters of Chávez’s Bolivarian revolution, are aimed at driving home the message that Big Oil is no longer in charge in Venezuela.

Exxon Mobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), ConocoPhillips (COP), BP (BP), France’s Total, and Norway’s Statoil (STO) had little choice but to turn majority control of their operations in Venezuela’s oil-rich Orinoco River basin region to state-run oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). While most of the companies are expected to remain as minority partners, terms haven’t been negotiated yet for compensation of the takeovers. Energy & Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said last week that a final agreement might not come until late June. “I’m not sure that all the oil companies will stay,” says Pietro Pitts, editor of Caracas-based Latin Petroleum magazine. “They are looking at the long-term and want some assurance that their contracts will be observed.”

Chávez said on Apr. 29 that the takeovers represent the “last step” in his dogged efforts to regain state control over the country’s oil riches. Venezuela, the world’s fifth-largest oil producer, sells two-thirds of its production to the U.S., accounting for 14% of U.S. imports. “We are going to take over some oil fields that have continued to be in the hands of transnationals,” Chavez said in a meeting of regional leaders.

About the present state of the company it says:

Analysts estimate that PDVSA, which now holds a 30% to 49.9% stake in each project, may have to pony up to $6 billion to increase its stake to 60%, unless it pays in oil. The company, which recently sold $7.5 billion worth of bonds to ease cash-flow problems, may also have to pay off jittery bondholders and banks that don’t trust it to honor existing debt covenants, and that could cost billions more.

Just as important, PDVSA must also allay fears and encourage its foreign partners to stay and continue to invest in the projects, which produce about a fifth of the country’s current output of 2.4 million barrels a day. With oil prices so high, most of the companies are expected to go along with the new deal, but they may be wary of pouring in more money now that the projects will be operated by PDVSA’s thinly staffed management and engineering ranks.

The Washington Post describes the company PDVSA (h/t Blue Crub Boulevard):

The firm, which previously had a minority stake in each of the projects, will now be better positioned to make key decisions on production and refining, and on how to manage the workforce. It will also assume more responsibility for investments. But the fields contain a heavy, molasses-like oil that is highly expensive and problematic to refine — and the state company could face severe financial and technical challenges, analysts say.
[…] Company filings and interviews with oil analysts show that PDVSA has failed to invest in infrastructure and is unable to ratchet up production. If prices tumble — unlikely in the near term, but almost certain in a historically volatile industry — the company would have difficulty making up for the shortfall, troubling for a country that depends on PDVSA for three-quarters of its export revenue.

The foreign countries have invested $20 million dollars there is recent years.

Moonbattery and Noisy Room.Net have more.

Gas prices rise in the US as Chávez seizes last private Venezuelan oil fields.
Conoco Phillips seeks more talks as it loses its Venezuelan operations.

But for the Time is not so radical move:

From Mexico to China, more than 75% of the world’s oil reserves are controlled by national oil companies today. Of the world’s top 20 oil-producing firms, 14 are state-run. And even though Chavez has now stripped foreign oil companies like Exxon Mobil of any majority stakes they had in Venezuelan oil production projects — mandating that his state-run company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), have at least 60% ownership from here on out — he’s at least allowing those private multinationals to continue taking part in the drilling. Not so, for example, in Mexico or the world’s largest oil producer, Saudi Arabia. Washington touts those two countries as model energy allies, despite the fact that for more than half a century their national oil companies have barred U.S. and other foreign oil businesses from production ventures.

There is a slight difference, Time…: Saudi Arabia has never allowed someone to buy those assets and afterwards have occupied them, without any compensation. WE don’t know if these companies are going to have one, because this is the day that there have been no negotiations -even- to fix the payment Venezuela must do to these companies.

Time must be one of the idiots Daimnation! points out.

But we continue:

Chavez, who is determined to reduce Venezuela’s dependence on the U.S. market, is betting that high oil prices as well as deep-pocketed ideological allies like China and Iran will help make up for any investment shortfall. It’s a risky gamble — but not much riskier than U.S. energy policy. Between 2001 and 2006, U.S. gasoline consumption decreased by a laughably small 1%, according to a recent study by the University of California at Davis. Americans could blunt the effects of policies like Chavez’s by lessening their dependence on foreign oil. But that, it seems, would be too radical.

More demagogy: From FT.com:

Mr Chávez also took advantage of international workers’ day to announce a 20 per cent increase in the national minimum wage. He said that the increased wage was equivalent to $286 (€209, £143) a month, “one of the highest levels in the whole of the American continent”.

However, inflation figures released for April showed a rise in prices of 1.4 per cent in the last month, causing year-on-year inflation in the last 12 months to rise to 19.4 per cent from 18.5 per cent a month earlier.

Outside the Beltway and FreedomWorks also points out more about the situation in Venezuela:

Faced with an accelerating inflation rate and shortages of basic foods like beef, chicken and milk, President Hugo Chávez has threatened to jail grocery store owners and nationalize their businesses if they violate the country’s expanding price controls.

Food producers and economists say the measures announced late Thursday night, which include removing three zeroes from the denomination of Venezuela’s currency, are likely to backfire and generate even more acute shortages and higher prices for consumers. Inflation climbed to an annual rate of 18.4 percent a year in January, the highest in Latin America and far above the official target of 10 to 12 percent.

[About food rationing in Venezuela, read here].

On May 1st also the Confederation of Workers was not allowed to march because the act was going to be held “within the security zone of the Miraflores Palace“. Hmm, wasn’t Chávez a leftist…???? So, why is he forbidding people to march on the Workers’ day?

This happened the same week-end in which Venezuela, as Ecuador made some days ago, has pulled out of the World Bank (h/t Noisy Room.Net):

“We will no longer have to go to Washington nor to the IMF nor to the World Bank, not to anyone,” said the leftist leader, who has long railed against the Washington-based lending institutions.

Chavez said he wanted to formalize Venezuela’s exit from the two bodies “tonight and ask them to return what they owe us.”

Captain Ed reports that what Chávez really wants is to arrive to a partnership with China:

In late March, Mr. Chávez unveiled a raft of proposed oil-related deals with China valued at about $13 billion. Under terms of the prospective deals, China National Petroleum Corp. would develop, together with state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the biggest chunk yet of Venezuela’s Orinoco River region — the same area where Mr. Chávez is nationalizing the Western companies’ projects. Oil produced there would then be ferried to China in a new, joint “super fleet” of tankers, and processed there at three new refineries built to handle Orinoco heavy crude.

The Venezuelan leader’s goal is to supply China with one million barrels a day by 2012, up from 150,000 barrels a day. While many analysts doubt Mr. Chávez’s ability to deliver on his promises, Venezuela’s exports to China have grown quickly, from 12,000 barrels a day in 2003. Meanwhile, with oil production falling and China’s share rising, exports to the U.S. fell 8.2% in 2006 from 2005, and Nigeria has replaced Venezuela as the U.S.’s fourth biggest source of crude oil after Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

Result? just as Bolivians were fleeing Bolivia, Venezuelans are fleeing Venezuela (h/t FYI).

Related news:

Other related posts: Report of the International Narcotics Control Commision.

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[Traducido al final]
According to the new report from Amnesty International, China has not fulfilled its promise to protect Human Rights for the Olympics Game of 2008:

The report catalogs a wide range of persistent abuses, from extensive use of detention without trial to the persecution of civil rights activists and new methods to rein in the domestic media and censor the Internet.
The London-based group welcomed the new rules for foreign journalists and the referral of all death sentences to China’s Supreme Court since the start of the year. “Disappointingly, they have been matched by moves to expand detention without trial and house arrest of activists, and by a tightening of controls over domestic media and the Internet,” Catherine Baber, deputy Asia-Pacific director of Amnesty International, said in a statement.
China’s Foreign Ministry in a statement Monday rejected the report, saying the government was improving its legal system and promoting democracy. “We are conscientiously fulfilling our promise for the Olympics. … The progress China has achieved in human rights cannot be slandered by a report from an individual organization with political prejudice,” the statement said.

What is more AI denounces China is using the Olympics to increase its pressure on dissidents:

A report by the group welcomed some reforms, but criticised China’s detentions without trial and tightened control of the media and the internet.

Precisely the limits imposed on freedom of speech are one of the more worrying. And internet is precisely one of the places were it is more limites. MySpace is already on in Chinese internet… with some restrictions:

Attempts to post on topics that are deemed inappropriate by the Chinese Government will result in the message: “Sorry, the article you want to publish may contain inappropriate content. Please delete the unsuitable content, and then try reposting it. Thank you.” Even searching for blacklisted keywords results in the same warning.

Anyway, Chinese evident lack of progress on Human Rights has had some benefits: Chinese Censorship Chief receives French Highest Honor.

Long Xinmin, rewarded with the Légion d’Honneur at the French Embassy in Beijing, is a dignitary of the Chinese regime. He is the chief of the censorship administration, an administration that controls all newspapers, television and, of course, the Chinese Internet. It does not hesitate to send to prison those who do not respect the strict rules of the propaganda. Officially, Mr. Long has received the medal for being a francophile. But even inside the communist party, he’s considered as a hardliner, a conservative that has recently been harsher with Chinese bloggers.

Canada has been assured that China had not tortured Canadian citizen Huseyin Celil, a Canadian citzen accused by Chinese authorities of “separating China” and “organizing, leading and participating in terrorist groups, organizations“. I wonder if they would be soooo worried if this Canadian citizen was Christian, Jewish or Buddhist…

We will also see if Al Gore sells any of his videos to China, as the pollution there is growing rapidly: it will be this year the more important polluter:

Currently, 16 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world are located in China, and it is the second largest emitter of energy-related carbon dioxide after the United States. China relies on coal for 70 percent of its energy needs, and discharges a large amount of pollutants into its rivers. The increase of the economy’s energy demands is also the cause of higher greenhouse gas levels, as many Chinese companies build coal-fired plants and operate them without the government’s consent.

In the same link there says that AlGore has spoken about Chinese environment… in USA. It would be very good to try to speak about this with Chinese authorities…

Other news:

Rich Chinese fancy expensive cars. The most exclusive car brands are among those experiencing the fastest growth. Jenny Zheng, Rolls-Royce’s general manager for greater China, says the company’s China sales jumped more than 60% last year from the year before. She says China overtook Japan for the first time in 2006, though she declined to cite actual figures. Globally, the brand has sold 805 cars, each one tailor-made to the owner’s demands, she says. Well, this is logical considering that China is communist… or not?
China moves to restrict lending.
Thousands of Chinese mines and cement workers are dying each year from breathing of coal and cement dust. “The lung disease known as “black lung” or pneumoconiosis accounts for three quarters of all occupational deaths, health officials said. China’s coal mines are the most deadly in the world. An average of 17 miners are killed in mining accidents each day, the official People’s Daily newspaper reports. Independent labour groups believe the death toll is much higher“. “Of 677,000 occupational disease cases reported in China since the 1950s, more than 90% were pneumoconiosis cases, health ministry spokesperson Su Zhi said. Last year alone, the black lung disease accounted for 76% of the 11,000 new occupational disease cases reported. 621 of the pneumoconiosis cases reported last year involved workers under the age of 18“.
___________________
Un informe de Amnistía Internacional vuelve a denunciar que China sigue sin respetar los derechos humanos, a pesar de haber prometido hacerlo para la inauguración de los Juegos Olímpicos. Entre otras cosas, el informe denuncia las detenciones sin juicio y las restricciones a la libertad de expresión, así como que parece que se está aprovchando precisamente los JJOO para incrementar la presión sobre los disidentes.
Por supuesto, China lo ha negado diciendo que “los evidentes procesos en materia de Derechos Humano van a ser dismiuidos en importancia por una organizacion con prejuicios políticos”.
Sin embargo,las restricciones en Internet continúan: ahora es MySpace la que tiene un filtro que impide postear material considerado “no apropiado“, de tal forma que si no lo quitas el post no puedes postearlo.
Eso sí, Francia ha concedido al censor mayor de … la Republica Popular China la legion de Honor, porque es “muy francófilo“. Y mientras Canadá está muy aliviada después de que las autoridades chinas hayan asegurado que no han torturado a un ciudadano canadiense, acusado de intentar separar China y de “pertenecer a organizaciones subversivas, terroristas o semejantes”. El ciudadano en cuestión es musulmán, y, considerando loable que defiendan a sus ciudadanos, habría que preguntrse si hubieran mantenido la misma postura, si Husiyen Celil hubiera pertenecido a otra religión.
Asimismo, China -al igual que EEUU, pero ya veremos quién es más criticado- consideran poco fiable un informe sobre la contaminación, al convertirse China este mismo año en el mayor contaminador del mundo. Ya de las 2o capitales más contaminadas, 16 están en China.
Y, para terminar, a los chinos ricos les molan los coches caros (la firma Rolls-Royce ha anunciado que este año han aumentado un 60% sus ventas) mientras las 3/4 partes de los mineros o trabajadores del cemento mueren anualmente de “pulmón blanco“. Sólo el año pasado, el 76% de los trabajadores con enfermedades han muerto por esta causa. 621 eran de menores de 18 años.

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