By Jaimeson Champion, International Action Center, Feb. 13, 2008
The Venezuelan government has promised that the recent attempts by the world's largest oil company, ExxonMobil, to steal assets that belong to the Venezuelan people will be met with stiff resistance.
ExxonMobil has been lobbying through the imperialist-controlled courts in the U.S. and Europe for a freeze on overseas assets of the Venezuelan state oil company, PDVSA. On Feb. 8, courts in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands issued injunctions, pending appeal, that would freeze approximately $12 billion worth of PDVSA assets in Europe. A ruling in the U.S., to be issued by a Manhattan Federal Court, is scheduled for Feb. 13.
The courts’ decisions are legally sanctioned robbery. The courts that issued these rulings are part of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, ICSID. The ICSID is controlled by the World Bank. It operates as a group of kangaroo courts, set up to issue blanket decrees in favor of transnational corporations and financial institutions. The World Bank is assisting ExxonMobil in the attempted theft of billions of dollars worth of assets from the Venezuelan people
In a radio address delivered on Feb. 10, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez responded to the recent court rulings saying, “I speak to the U.S. empire, because that’s the master: continue and you will see that we won’t send one drop of oil to the empire of the United States.”
The contrast between ExxonMobil and PDVSA couldn’t be starker. ExxonMobil is a bloodthirsty corporation which has left a trail of death and environmental destruction stretching from Iraq, to Nigeria, to Indonesia, to Valdez, Alaska. From massive oil spills that have destroyed entire ecosystems, to criminal wars for oil that have destroyed entire countries, ExxonMobil has developed a reputation as the epitome of corporate malfeasance and brutality. Much of Exxon’s billion upon billions of dollars in annual profits are used to further enrich the corporate executives and wealthy shareholders.
PDVSA, on the other hand, is owned and operated by the Venezuelan people, for the benefit of the Venezuelan people. In 2007, more than $13.3 billion dollars of PDVSA’s revenues went towards social spending in Venezuela.
The money generated by PDVSA is used to pay for health care facilities and doctors, food and nutrition programs, schools and teachers, and many other social programs in Venezuela. One of PDVSA’s biggest contributions to Venezuelan society has been its work in the development of water systems around the country that now pump clean drinking water into homes that previously lacked access.
Workers at PDVSA play active roles in organizing PDVSA social projects. Through participation in what are known as workers councils, workers at PDVSA determine how to best appropriate PDVSA revenues to meet the needs of their particular communities.
ExxonMobil’s attempt to steal PDVSA assets is just the latest criminal action in what has been a long series of attacks carried out by the forces of imperialism against the people of Venezuela. Led by the U.S., the imperialist powers have attempted every tactic they can think of to try and destabilize the Bolivarian Revolution. From economic sabotage to the orchestration of student protests led by the children of the old oligarchy, to outright theft of resources, the imperialist powers have used all the tools at their disposal.
But thus far, the attempts at derailing what Venezuelans refer to as “el proceso” or “the process”—which refers to the revolutionary transformation of Venezuelan society from capitalism to socialism—have been unsuccessful. The process continues to develop as the Venezuelan people bravely stand up to the criminal attacks perpetrated against them.
As the Venezuelan people continue the struggle against the U.S. empire, it is imperative for workers here in the U.S., and around the world, to stand in solidarity with their Venezuelan sisters and brothers, and join in their courageous fight against imperialism.