Venezuela news round-up and Aleida’s book selling tour
From the Financial Times, Chávez faces claims of oil revenue cover-up
José Guerra, economic research chief at the Central Bank of Venezuela until earlier this year, says that if the official oil output figures are correct, given that oil prices are known, Pdvsa is depositing only about 53 per cent of its revenue in the central bank.
In nominal terms, the figure is more dramatic.
Mr Guerra calculates that during all of 2004 and the first quarter of this year, data for which was released this week, Pdvsa has failed to hand over to the central bank $6.8bn from oil exports. Pdvsa is required by law to convert its hard currency earnings into bolivars, the local currency.
“If you look at the evolution of the country’s balance of payments, of course you have to ask where is the money?” said Mr Guerra. “It’s clearly not going to pay off debt or to pay for imports and it’s not being converted into bolivars. There is something very irregular going on.”
This month, Domingo Maza Zavala, a central bank director, said that $20m per day in oil export revenue was not being deposited.
While lower oil production levels explain in part why the central bank’s cash flow figures challenge the official version, economists say there is also a financial shortfall because some money is being diverted elsewhere
Some of the money might be going towards training Hugo’s 2 million reservists, propping up the Cuban economy, buying off Argentina’s debt, possibly bankrolling sympathetic Bolivarians in other countries, and then there’s Hugo’s nuclear dreams. About those nuclear dreams, Aleksander Boyd has this to say,
The developing of a nuclear programme requires a high degree of continuity that Chavez and his utterly inefficient minions most certainly do not possess. Ergo I consider fitting to tranquilize some by saying that before Venezuela develops any nukes Ratzinger will convert to Islamism.
In all, those things come at a very high price. Nonetheless, at the rate of $20 million a day, there might even be enough left over for a nest-egg.
The Bush administration told Venezuela its request that Luis Posada Carriles be arrested with a view to extradition was “clearly inadequate,” because it lacked supporting evidence
Venezuela News and Views has a few observations on both PDVSA and the Posada Carriles case.
On other overseas news, Aleida Guevara, Che’s oldest daughter who last year managed to get an op-ed article published in the NY Times where she said, “”What I remember most is my father’s great capacity for love” (a capacity this blog has duly noted), is visiting capitalist Australia to flog her book, Chavez: Venezuela and the New Latin America and put down capitalism. Her enlightened comments include (emphasis mine):
Speaking at a packed book launch in Sydney on Friday night, Ms Guevara said the Alba oil treaty – signed between Cuba and Venezuela in March – had had a marked impact in both countries. “This is very important because for the first time in Latin America two countries can exchange the things they need, can trade,” she said, through a translator.
. . .
“There’s thousands of other little things that we are doing to act together to strengthen that relationship … imagine if these same projects were to extend and work in other parts of Latin America,” she said.
“It would be very, very important for our people, but also for the so-called first world.”
With a twinkle in her eye, she continued: “Because if they can’t continue to steal from us then things would be very, very different.”
And then there’s this:
We (Cubans) have fought very strongly against drugs and violence. My daughters can go out to parties until late at night and I’m not worried about them.”
Of course her daughters would enjoy all the privilege the Cuban government can offer. When it comes to the safety of other Cuban children, unfortunately for Ms Guevara, she appears ignorant of the U.S. State Department’s chief envoy on trafficking in persons‘s report,
He said he thinks most countries try to respond to criticisms in the trafficking report. But he said some governments, those with few or no official dealings with the United States, have refused to cooperate – citing Cuba, where he said children have been caught up in the sex trade.
“The major problem in Cuba is that there is a government-affiliated, supported sex-tourism industry that includes many, many children,” he added. “And not just by U.S. law, but by international protocol. When you have children in prostitution, you have trafficking. So this is the challenge in Cuba. We hope the Cuban government will take action to meet that challenge.”
Maybe she’s too busy travelling and selling her book.