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HomePaís PetróleoThe Citgo robbery started with the purchase of Citgo

The Citgo robbery started with the purchase of Citgo

The permission given by the Joe Biden administration to seize Citgo from Venezuela, a few hours after Juan Guaidó set foot in Miami fleeing his own political disaster, is part of the internationalization strategy of the former Oil Opening, put into practice by management of PDVSA during the second term of Rafael Caldera, in the early 90s. In other words, the theft of Citgo began with the purchase of Citgo.

The rush to take Guaidó away is also explained by the increasing international strength of the government of the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, which leads those thirsty for stealing the refinery to presume that an alleged weakening of sanctions would undermine the illegal actions aimed at taking away the subsidiary from PDVSA.

“In particular, fears have grown that the dissolution of the interim presidency will precipitate the loss of political spaces and international assets that the Venezuelan opposition has controlled and administered since 2019,” says journalist Alfonso Moleiro in a report for the Spanish newspaper El Country.

The presumption is also corroborated by the economist and international consultant Francisco Rodríguez, who acknowledges that, "in the case of the Bank of England's gold, the dissolution of the interim government increases the possibility that the Maduro Executive will win that case and obtain those resources." , calculated at around 930 million euros”.

Let's go back

Ucevista professor Carlos Mandoza Potellá, who was lucky enough to accompany the Venezuelan founder of Opec, Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo, in his research, frequently narrates how the Venezuelan and Exxon oil transnationals were “very interested” in the fact that the governments of Rafael Caldera ( 1969-1974) and Carlos Andrés Pérez (1974-1979) nationalized the oil industry, something totally inconceivable in the Cold War pendulum of power.

"In Venezuela, protected at that time by the Law on Assets Subject to Reversion approved in 1971, the country was preparing for a total reversal of the concessions given to the oil transnationals starting in 1983, when 80% of them expired," he narrates. potella

But suddenly it stands out that the strategy of the corporations did not allow this waiting, onerous in itself, since the Law forced them to comply until the end of the concessions with the operational maintenance of the deposits of which they were the owners.

Thus, between September 1972 and the same month of 1973, successive declarations were made by two presidents of the Shell Company of Venezuela (JJ de Liefde and Kenneth Wetherell) and that of the Venezuelan Petroleum Corporation (Robert N. Dolph), in the which inform of the disposition of their respective parent companies to an advance of the reversal.

In 1974, the top leaders of the consortia Royal Dutch Shell (Gerrit A. Wagner) and Exxon Corp. (its vice president, the Venezuelan Siro Vásquez) visited the country to express their agreement to a negotiated nationalization.

Potellá details that it was a precautionary formula of international capital, tested since the 60s with the process of "Venezuelanization of management" and crowned with precision in August 1975, four months before the enactment of the Law that Reserves to the State the hydrocarbon industry and trade.

And so, in August 1975, the same concessionaires appointed from among themselves those who would assume the Venezuelan oil management on January 1976, XNUMX: the then president of the Shell Company of Venezuela became president of the "Nationalized Operator" Maraven. The vice president of the Venezuelan Petroleum Corporation, a Venezuelan subsidiary of Standard Oil-Exxon, became the president of Lagoven, another "nationalized operator."

The same scheme was repeated eleven times with the managers of the other transnational subsidiaries, disguised as managers of state-owned companies, a type of company that they had confronted and ridiculed for decades.

In addition, each of these new operators had, according to the agreement, a technical assistance contract that guaranteed the presence of its former parent company in all future business. (change of refining pattern, development of the Orinoco Belt, offshore gas projects, loss control, supply of equipment, additives, parts and pieces).

In other words, the transnationals left, but they were left with technical assistance contracts, their management teams and corporate political culture practices, within which lobbying and the manipulation of public opinion against the líderIt is politicians who will not abide by his designs.

Juan Carlos Boue, in his book The PDVSA Internationalization Program. Strategic triumph or fiscal disaster, he points out that this program started towards the end of 1982, with the establishment of a joint venture with Veba Oel in Germany, at the end of the government of Luis Herrera Campíns.

"The government of his successor, Jaime Lusinchi (1984-1989), ordered the suspension of the internationalization program in 1984, because he perceived its cost as too high and its benefits too uncertain." History proved that Lusinchi was right. The profitability of the refineries was based on the fact that PDVSA sold them Venezuelan oil at prices below the market.

Potellá quotes an analyst who points out: “PDVSA was the only one among the oil companies, state or private, to launch an aggressive expansion program, investment abroad, in the midst of a sharp drop in the price of oil. And he did it when Venezuela was reeling under the social cost of the government's austerity measures and was hurtling towards a crisis.

In 1986, PDVSA acquired a shareholding in five refineries located in the United States, Sweden and Belgium, and leased a refinery in Curaçao. A typical case of this managerial behavior was the acquisition of 100% of Citgo and the negative position of PDVSA's management regarding the order of President Carlos Andrés Pérez (1989-1993) to abandon that compromising position.

Pérez considered then —1992— during his second term, that owning one hundred percent a refinery in the US was vulnerable and conducive to making it the object of protectionist measures by the US authorities. He was not wrong. The presumption today is corroborated by the kidnapping of Citgo by the US.

Potellá reproduces the synthesis of these incidents made by the Petroleum Economist analyst, who summarizes them with the following sentence: "The staunch defenders of internalization believe that they can delay Pérez's orders until he leaves office in a little over a year" .

As is

They delayed the orders and in little more than a year the meritocratic management of PDVSA was decisive in the removal of CAP from the presidency. The task was accompanied by PDVSA's good relations with the media, especially El Nacional, whose already declining weight in public opinion was used to denounce the repeated violations of human rights and acts of corruption within the CAP government. . Such a media scenario favored PDVSA and the US treasury.

In recent times, the desire to appropriate Venezuelan oil assets, warned by CAP and registered in the Internationalization of the Oil Opening, took a leap forward when the refinery was illegally confiscated by the Government of Donald Trump at the beginning of 2019 and illegally delivered to a board of directors appointed by former opposition deputy Juan Guaidó, with the support of the Delaware Court.

Werther Sandoval
Journalist. College professor.

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