[News] 2007: Venezuela's Nationalization & Biased Media Coverage

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 19 16:17:31 EST 2007

Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2007 15:28:23 -0500 (EST)
From: VIO Venezuela News and Action <newsandaction at veninfo.org>

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was sworn in for his third time last 
week as the democratically elected President of the Bolivarian 
Republic of Venezuela. Elected with an overwhelming majority in 
December, President Chavez recently announced some new and 
interesting plans for the country. Coined the Simon Bolivar National 
Plan, Chavez plans to nationalize sectors of the nation's electrical 
and telecommunications companies. Like other governments in Latin 
America, Venezuela has committed itself to natural resource 
nationalism, or the control of key industries whose record of 
privatization has led to diminished growth over the years. Towards 
this end, the National Assembly gave its preliminary approval to the 
"ley habilitante" or enabling law yesterday, which if passed next 
week, will enable the President to pass through economic reforms by decree.

Although financial markets were caught a bit off guard by the 
nationalization news, they reacted as many economists predicted with 
associated stocks dropping. Unfortunately, most news outlets omitted 
the fact that in the past the Venezuelan state has paid for all the 
companies it has aqcuired and will continue to do so at fair market 
value. In fact, Ricardo Sanguino, head of the National Assembly 
Finance Committee, stated that the nationalization plan will involve 
compensation rather than expropriation." 
more news on this.

Despite the press' adamant claims to the contrary, the most recent 
annual poll carried out by the Chilean polling firm, Latinobarometro, 
found that Venezuelans are more optimistic about the economic outlook 
in the year ahead than any other country in the region, they are less 
likely than most Latinos to worry about unemployment, and are far 
less likely than any other country in the region to blame 
unemployment on "inadequate government policies". 
the full poll results.

Despite this, many media outlets including the Washington Post, 
Washington Times, and Wall Street Journal have amped up their attacks 
against Venezuela and President Chavez, branding him a "menace" and 
even a possible threat to the security of the United States.

What You Can Do:

Review the press coverage and talking points below and write a letter 
to the editor.

of His Power Grab by Steven Mufson, Washington Post, January 18, 
and send your letter.

Holy War by Samuel Gregg, Washington Times, January 17, 2007. 
and send your letter.

and Mahmoud by the Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2007

Important Points to Note:

    * According to Ricardo Sanguino, the head of the National 
Assembly Finance Committe, the nationalization plan will involve 
compensation rather than expropration. ``Confiscation, expropriation 
are banned words in our dictionary,'' said Sanguino. ``We will be 
tough but fair negotiators. There are legal mechanisms in the 
Constitution that give support to our plan." Some American companies 
including Verizon and AES hold stakes in the affected Venezuelan 
electrical and communication companies. Although Washington seems 
concerned, as evident from White House press secretary Tony Snow's 
remarks that Venezuela is making a mistake, average Venezuelans 
appear to think differently according to the Associated Press. 
the full story.
    * An Associated Press-Ipsos poll conducted three weeks before 
Chavez was re-elected on Dec. 3 found that 62 percent of those asked 
supported nationalizing companies when in the national interest.

    * A recently released annual poll, carried out by the Chilean 
polling firm Latinobarometro and based on 20,000 face-to-face 
interviews in 18 Latin American countries, found that Venezuelans 
tend to be far more optimistic about their economy than other 
nations, participate more in the political process, and are more 
likely than most other Latin Americans to be happy with the direction 
their country is headed. 
the poll.

    * Last Saturday President Chavez announced that private oil 
companies would be able to own a minority stake in the Orinoco 
region's oil projects. While speaking to the National Assembly he 
said that British Petroleum PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., 
ConocoPhillips Co., Total SA and Statoil ASA would all be able to 
keep a stake in the projects as partners. Since last year the joint 
ventures have saved the state $6 billion, said Chavez.

    * Chavez' use of oil revenue to fund his government's social 
programs has not come at the expense of investment in oil exploration 
and development. In fact, on top of its programs for the poor, which 
have directly benefited more than half of the population, Venezuela's 
state owned oil company-PDVSA last year committed 48% of its budget 
to exploration and production (E&P). In fact, PDVSA has put aside 
nearly $60 billion over the next 5 years for investment, which 
includes refining and exploration. Venezuela continues to be more 
open to private exploration and technology investment and development 
than other states with nationalized oil companies such as Mexico and 
Saudi Arabia.
If you submit a letter please reply to this email and send us a 
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