Ellen Wald proposes The Radical Option to Save Venezuela, which amounts to privatizing the oil industry immediately by respecting private property rights and observing the rule of law in order to attract foreign buyers into buying into the oil company, which was nationalized in 1976.
Unlikely as that is, Nicolás Maduro now is inviting multinational firms into investing in gold mining, which was nationalized in 2011.
Ponder that for a moment.
Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves.
Venezuela’s gold deposits, if proven, may be second only to Australia’s.
Both industries are owned by the government.
Venezuela is broke.
Maduro is inviting, but there’s a problem: Wildcatters and colectivos are not welcoming,
Armed Gangs Confound Venezuela’s Bid to Exploit Gold Mines. Illegal miners aren’t about to yield access to the international companies President Nicolás Maduro has invited in (emphasis added)
But at the illegal Arenosa gold mine in the heart of the Orinoco Mining Arc, gang leader Ramón said he had other plans. On a recent day, dozens of his henchmen armed with pistols, shotguns and machine guns stood guard surrounding the mines. Around them, hundreds of wildcatters dug pits with shovels amid blaring salsa music.
. . .
Most of the workers came to the mines in the past 18 months from Caracas, regional capital Ciudad Bolívar and other cities to find work in a national economy that will shrink by 11.5% this year, according to consultancy Síntesis Financiera. They said they have no intention of returning to slums plagued by power and food shortages.
“The president wants to grab us and throw us out of here,” Ramón, a nom de guerre, said amid armed bodyguards in a makeshift tent by the pits, as army helicopters flew nearby. “Here there’s work, outside there’s hunger. The belly is stronger than fear.”
Organized gangs began to arrive at the mines in 2011, after the government nationalized gold mining and then failed to exploit the areas it seized. The trickle became a flood in the past two years, as the economy nose-dived.
Violence followed as rival gangs battled for control. The surrounding state of Bolívar is now one of the most dangerous states in the country, which itself ranks second world-wide in homicides.
On March 4, a gang gunned down 17 miners north of the town of Tumeremo, according to Venezuela’s public prosecutor. That area was licensed to China’s Yankuang the month before, although the government and the company declined to provide the exact location of the concession.
Local gang leaders believe the assailants acted on government orders to clear out the mines for companies to enter. A congressional committee set up by Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress to investigate the violence agrees. In a recent report, the committee accuses the state governor’s office of arming the killers.
And you thought Deadwood was rough.
Venezuela’s deadly colectivos
Linked to by Rest in the Vine. Thank you!