[News] Prominent British Figures Call on ExxonMobil to Respect Venezuelan Sovereignty

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 29 12:47:28 EST 2008



Prominent British Figures Call on ExxonMobil to Respect Venezuelan Sovereignty

February 28th 2008, by Venezuelan Information Centre
http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/3209

Over 50 prominent figures representing a wide section of British 
society have signed a statement raising concern over legal action 
taken by oil giant ExxonMobil to prevent the Venezuelan government 
from exercising its right to control its natural resources. They have 
urged ExxonMobil to work for "the amicable settlement" of its dispute 
with the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA through international arbitration.

The statement is published as Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA goes 
to the High Court to appeal an English court's decision to freeze its 
assets in England and Wales.

The statement points out that "The action by ExxonMobil was in 
response to the policy of the Venezuelan government to take back 
majority control of their own oil resources. Unlike other 
international oil companies, where some 30 out of 32 contracts have 
been successfully renegotiated and amicable agreements and 
compensation terms reached with the Venezuelan government, ExxonMobil 
refused the terms offered."

The statement concludes "We further restate our support for 
Venezuela's national sovereignty, including the right to determine 
its own policy in relation to its oil and natural resources in favour 
of the people of that country, rather than in the interests of 
multinational companies."

Signatories to the letter included writer and film-maker John Pilger, 
veteran political activist Tony Benn, Bruce Kent, Vice President of 
CND, Ann Pettifor, founder of Jubilee 2000, Brian Wilson, Chair of 
the Scottish Venezuela Society, an MEP and many MPs from 5 parties, a 
number of leading writers, artists and academics and many senior 
national trade union leaders.

Colin Burgon MP, Chair of Labour Friends of Venezuela group of 
parliamentarians said: "Millions of Venezuelans are now benefiting 
from free healthcare and education thanks to the Chavez government's 
greater control over that country's oil resources. Government's must 
have the right to be able to put the interest of people ahead of 
company's profits".

UNISON Deputy General Secretary Keith Sonnet, added that, "This sends 
a clear message internationally, including to the Bush 
administration, that Venezuela's right to self-determination must be 
respected, rather than the wishes of multinational companies to make profits."

Gordon Hutchison, Secretary of the Venezuela Information Centre, said 
"There are many voices in Britain who strongly oppose ExxonMobil's 
attempts to undermine the right of Venezuela's democratically elected 
government to control its own resources."

The full text of the statement and full list of signatures is as follows:

STATEMENT RE EXONNMOBIL AND PDVSA

We note with deep concern that on 7 February an English court granted 
an injunction to US multinational oil company ExxonMobil freezing the 
assets of the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA in England and Wales. The 
order covered assets to the value of US$12 billion.

The Venezuelan Government was given no notice of the case and was not 
afforded any opportunity to be represented at the hearing.

This week PDVSA will appeal the decision in the High Court and seek 
to revoke the injunction.

The action by ExxonMobil was in response to the policy of the 
Venezuelan government to take back majority control of their own oil 
resources. Unlike other international oil companies, where some 30 
out of 32 contracts have been successfully renegotiated and amicable 
agreements and compensation terms reached with the Venezuelan 
government, ExxonMobil refused the terms offered.

We believe that the action by ExxonMobil, and the ruling by the 
court, contravenes the right of the democratically elected government 
of Venezuela to exercise sovereignty over its natural resources. The 
nationalisation of Venezuela's state oil company, holder of some of 
the world's largest oil reserves, under the government of President 
Hugo Chavez has allowed Venezuela to tackle a range of social 
inequalities, by taking back the oil wealth and redistributing it to 
benefit the Venezuelan people.

We urge the amicable settlement of this dispute through arbitration 
under the auspices of the International Centre for Settlement of 
Investment Disputes, a body of the World Bank, as sought by the 
Venezuelan government in compliance with the terms of the contract 
signed between PDVSA and ExxonMobil in 1995.

We further restate our support for Venezuela's national sovereignty, 
including the right to determine its own policy in relation to its 
oil and natural resources in favour of the people of that country, 
rather than in the interests of multinational companies.

SIGNATURES

Diane Abbott M.P (Labour)

Tony Benn

John Pilger

Bruce Kent

Prunella Scales

Caroline Lucas MEP

Gordon Hutchison, Secretary, Venezuela Information Centre (VIC)

Brian Wilson, Chair, Scottish Venezuela Society

Ann Pettifor, Fellow, New Economics Foundation

Neal Lawson, Compass

Graeme Smith, General Secretary. STUC

Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary, UNISON

Ken Loach

Colin Burgon M.P (Chair, Labour Friends of Venezuela)

Jon Cruddas M.P (Treasurer, Labour Friends of Venezuela)

Mike Hancock M.P (Liberal Democrat)

Adam Price M.P. (Plaid Cymru)

Angus MacNeil M.P. (Scottish National Party)

Richard Harvey

David Hillman

Jon Trickett M.P (Secretary, Labour Friends of Venezuela)

Jeremy Corbyn M.P

Victoria Brittain

Graham Goddard, Deputy General Secretary, UNITE

Billy Hayes, General Secretary CWU

Owen Tudor, Head of European Union and International Relations, TUC

Rodney Bickerstaffe

Sue Branford, Chair, War on Want

Richard Gott

Doug Nicholls, National Secretary CYWU/UNITE

Derek Wall, Green Party

Cllr. Salma Yaqoob

Hazel Marsh, University of East Anglia

Andy Bain, President TSSA

Maggie Bowden, General Secretary, Liberation

Ruqayyah Collector, Black Students Officer, NUS

Marie Daley, UCU National Executive Committee

Michael Derham, Northumbria University

Bill Greenshields, Vice-President NUT

Chris Kitchen, General Secretary NUM

Matt Wrack, General Secretary FBU

Dr Mandy Turner, University of Bradford

Dr Kaveh Moussavi, University of Oxford

Paul Laverty

Gerry Doherty, General Secretary TSSA

Baljeet Ghale, President NUT (personal capacity)

Joe Marino, General Secretary, BFAWU

Dr. Francisco Dominguez, University of Middlesex

Doreen Massey, Open University

Martin McIvor, Editor, Renewal

Gerry Morrissey, General Secreary, BECTU

Linda Newman, President UCU

Diana Raby, University of Liverpool

Mick Shaw, President, FBU

Notes to Editors: 1) In the past, ExxonMobil has received criticism 
from NGOs such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth for its poor 
record in terms of corporate and environmental responsibility. 
Examples can be found at 
<http://www.exxonsecrets.org/>www.exxonsecrets.org 
<http://www.exxonsecrets.org/> and 
<http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/exxons_climate_footprint.pdf>www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/exxons_climate_footprint.pdf 
<http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/exxons_climate_footprint.pdf>

2) For more information or media comment from signatory's to the 
letter, please contact Gordon Hutchison, Secretary, Venezuela 
Information Centre on <mailto:info at vicuk.org>info at vicuk.org, 0207 272 
2654 or 077 109 56332.
Source:
<http://www.vicuk.org/index.php/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1>Venezuelan 
Information Centre




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