[News] 2007: Venezuela's Nationalization & Biased Media Coverage
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>
IN 2007 VENEZUELA USHERS IN NEW PLANS FOR THE NATION
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.
NATIONALIZATION THROUGH COMPENSATION
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.
POLL SHOWS VENEZUELAN'S ARE HAPPY WITH THE DIRECTION THEIR COUNTRY IS HEADED
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.
DEFAMATION CAMPAIGN CONTINUES
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.
* 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
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