Rafa’s Pity Party

27
Photo: Diario de los Andes

The forever-in-the-making demise of former oil czar Rafael Ramírez finally played out this week, and he’s threatening Nicolás Maduro to turn on the fan if he is removed from his UN post. This sounds juicy in principle, but it’s worth wondering if, after his criminal, disastrous and corrupt tenure at PDVSA, Ramírez will be capable of revealing any dirt that may ultimately remind us of his role in our catastrophe.

The rift between Ramírez and Maduro has been brewing behind the scenes for a long time, going public after the arrest of top Citgo officials and the firing and arrest of Ramírez’ protégées Eulogio del Pino and Nelson Martínez. Now, Reuters is reporting Rafael’s sacking and he’s denying it. Truth remains, his ousting seems imminent in the chavista purge.

But who is Rafael Ramírez and how did he rule PDVSA?

Gocho and son of a coffee farmer, his alleged relation to terrorist Ilich Ramírez Sánchez, aka “Carlos El Jackal”, gives him a lot of cred within chavismo.

It’s worth wondering if, after his criminal, disastrous and corrupt tenure at PDVSA, Ramírez will be capable of revealing any dirt that may ultimately remind us of his role in our catastrophe.

Ramírez speaks with a low, soft voice that belies his physical height and cunning. He graduated from Universidad de los Andes in 1989 (electrical engineering), rising through the ranks of Chavez’s presidency, first as Oil Minister, 2002, then as PDVSA CEO, 2004. He held both posts until 2014, when he was appointed Foreign Minister and demoted to Ambassador to the UN a few months later.

His management turned PVDSA from a world class and professionally-run oil company, into a train wreck with 3 times the employees it had before, and billions of dollar in debt that were not reinvested, but used for patronage to win elections. Much of today’s suffering in the nation can be attributed to this.

Shameless corruption scandals that were never investigated and a catastrophic explosion in the Amuay refinery (for which nobody was ever jailed) were marks of his tenure. Ramírez could never increase our oil production, which in fact declined. His is the infamous “roja, rojita” speech, evidencing illegal political discrimination. His tribalism and corruption was legendary, as he and his family participated in corruption schemes disguised as rendering of services to the company. Their arrogance and opulent lifestyle can be seen in their escrache video at New York’s most expensive steakhouse.

His management turned PVDSA from a world class and professionally-run oil company, into a train wreck with 3 times the employees it had before.

Maybe because of this lack of achievements (unless you count his La Gaviota Humanocrática brain fart), his only defense is a tweet reminding everyone that Chávez called for him on his deathbed. His excuse for the destruction of the country’s most valuable asset was pledging fidelity to the narcissist whose deranged project destroyed the country.

I know his message was intended for disgruntled chavistas and not for me, but with the adulation chavista defectors tend to get, it’s our duty to remember who these people are and what they did. Ramírez never expressed remorse. He was forced out of power and went on to write nonsensical Aporrea posts on socialism while eating $100 steaks.

Any sympathy for disgraced chavistas, like the food and drugs they disappeared from the shelves, should be scarce. I, for one, save it for the millions of people who have to live in the hell Ramirez helped create.

27 COMMENTS

  1. It’s very interesting to see how this battle between two very powerful and rich chavista gangs is going to turn out. As I understand Ramirez has the backing of Gabriela which I presume means the support of the whole Chavez clan. It also looks like Maduro & co are looking to seize and repatriate the vast fortunes stolen by the oil&gas gang. Saab was already talking about at least $35 billion. I don’t know about you guys but I’m making popcorn and will be watching closely this weekend!

  2. Good piece on a work in progress on how the Chavez regime is evolving into something ever more sinister and perverse …… devouring what were once its favourite creatures…..stalin like ……two things that perhaps deserve to be mentioned …one that even if he thought of himself as totally loyal to Chavez (which didnt stop him from growing deep claws to enrich himself) he did make an effort after Chavez death to put Pdvsa and the economy on more rational course which Maduro shot down (it involved political risks Maduro wouldnt take) ……the other is that Martinez was never Ramirez blue eyed boy …but rather a favoured member of Cilias Catia circle . the fact that he has also been thrown under the bus is a sign that no one is safe in the times we are living ….

  3. It also looks like Maduro & co are looking to seize and repatriate the vast fortunes stolen by the oil&gas gang.
    ———-

    That’s an interesting take on it, and makes some sense. Maduro is really fighting for political survival, and what he most desperately needs right now is what he doesn’t have: money.

    But whatever loot the oil & gas crooks burgled away is most certainly in foreign accounts, if not in the US, then in Europe or perhaps spirited away in of shore banks. Either way, said funds would first have to be established to exist, then that they belong to somebody who stole the dough, then a long legal battle for the bank to hand over the money to the gangsters who stole it in the first place, or allowed it to go missing. So either way, Maduro is many years to cashing out the funds burgled by once leading Chavistas.

    This guy Maduro is getting more desperate by the day.

    And that video of Ramirez living large in New York, and taking offence at being called out, tells volumes about who these rats really are.

    • I was thinking this myself. Something of shakedown/ransom to get some much needed cash.

      Look, Chavistas are not the most worldly and have a propensity to fall for pretty naive ideas.

  4. I’m interested into what side Maria Gabriela takes here, it was not a coincidence she was sent to NY under Ramirez protection. She is been considered the party future and a possible replacement for Maduro.

  5. If Ramirez were to offer US authorities detailed information on the regime’s drug operations, major players, money movement, in essence details that perhaps US authorities didn’t have, I’d have no problem with him getting some sort of special treatment. Of course, he’d also have to give up the great majority of the Venezuelan treasure he stole for later return to the country once the regime is out.

    • Plan B: Lure him to the Ritz in Riyadh, find a spare mattress for him in the back corner (amongst former friends), hang him upside down two or three times a day, then force him to reveal all Swiss/Liechtenstein bank accounts and retrieve 95% hidden stash of said bank accounts, then, …then repatriate him back to Venezuela where he forced is to live for the rest of his life!

  6. I understand that he is a Mechanical Engineer, who worked in a Engineerng Consultant firm (Inelectra) , before joining PDVSA. Leocenis Garcia from Sexto Poder newspaper used to call him “Dibujante de Tuercas y Tornillos” (Nut and Bolt drawer):

    ” El presidente dirá entonces que al menos tiene una PDVSA roja rojita aunque sea a carajazos.
    -No hay presidente de PDVSA más mediocre en la historia del país que el ex dibujante de tornillos y de tuercas de Inelectra llamado Rafael Ramírez. ”

    At the bottom of: http://chavezlosabe.blogspot.com/2007/04/leocenis-garca-perseguido-por-roger.html

    Dont forget his mother in law Hildegart de Sanso …

  7. My guess is that this isn’t about recovering stolen money. After all there is such a thing as honor among thieves. No, this is about politics and political survival for Maduro

  8. Excellent post and compilation of some of the main “trácalas” this crook did while in PDVSA. Two of his relatives from Caripe town went out to also benefit from the state oil company, one as his “testaferro”, the other as president of the research institute afíliate of PDVSA (although this last one at least holds 2 university degrees). Ramirez’s tenure in PDVSA was no doubt nefast to all, but it was not the only one. Del Pino’s has the merit of converting the company into an “antro” technical, moral and professionally. Rodriquez Araque also could be referred as the man who open the doors to the chavistas hordes, after expending so many years defamating and harassing the company during the ‘Cuarta” under the guidance of his ideological mentor, the late and incompetent Gastón Parra Luzardo.

  9. This Vox article’s title is, to say the least, rather amusing: Venezuela is collapsing. Why is its president messing with the one thing that works? Chavismo has been messing with PDVSA for the last 15 years, not just now.

    If they are going after Chavista top dogs, Maduro is getting desperate. As Lenin said, “Who..Whom.” Who is going to take down whom? More will come.

    Yes, Ramirez is a scapegoat of sorts.If all corrupt Chavistas were arrested, there would be hardly anyone standing. But as this article points out, his mismanagement of PDVSA and his corruption are reason enough to arrest him. Yes, there are thousands more that deserve it. But at least one has apparently gotten what he deserves.

  10. It is difficult to see how one can participate in a socialist government without committing any crimes, as a socialist government is, by definition, a crime itself. Screw the crimes, Rafael: the world admires a man who has the stones to stand up and admit he was wrong.

  11. Perhaps Maduro and Saab are emulating the Saudi’s.
    “Discovering” corruption that has been so ingrained that it is impossible for the regime to not be complicit in it.
    Holding people hostage until they turn over their ill gotten gains. In effect demanding ransom.
    The power struggle that is going on creates many possibilities, none of which are necessarily beneficial to the long suffering people. Wars between separate groups of gangs or organized crime syndicates, never reduce street crime. Many times conditions deteriorate as the conflict intensifies.
    There is no reason to think that a schism within the Chavismo political apparatus will do anything to alleviate the problems that the citizenry suffer under.

  12. This looks more, to me, like Maduro et al are preparing their “excuse” for the coming further/full meltdown. The scapegoats have been named and will be sacrificed at the alter in full view of “el pueblo”, as things continue their descent these faces will be shown again and again as the “cause”.

  13. Although much has been written about PDVSA little has been written about specific cases. This list I published in mi blog a few days ago is made by memory but it gives a better idel of the magnitud of corruption in PDVSA under Ramirez, Del Pino and Martínez
    Según Maduro la PDVSA rojita era intachable. Sin embargo, hoy denuncia la corrupción en PDVSA, a fin de saldar cuentas con los enemigos que tiene dentro de su mismo grupo, encabezados por Rafael Ramírez, pero deja de mencionar los grandes casos que deben ser investigados y sobre los cuales existe información valiosa. Maduro nunca ha mencionado estos casos porque todos ellos están enredados en ese pantano. Aquí los enumero, de memoria:
    EL ARRENDAMIENTO DE LA GABARRA ABAN PEARL Y DE LAS GABARRAS DE PETROSAUDÍ
    EL CONTRATO OBSCENO DADO A PASTOR MALDONADO PARA LLEGAR DE ÚLTIMO EN LA FÓRMULA UNO, EL CUAL REPRESENTÓ PÉRIDAS DE $50 MILLONES AL AÑO PARA PDVSA, UN TOTAL DE UNOS $200 MILLONES
    EL ARRENDAMIENTO DE REMOLCADORES QUE APOYABAN A PETROSAUDI POR PARTE DE PDV MARINA Y LA CESIÓN DE ESA OPERACIÓN A EMPRESAS CONTRATISTAS SEMI-FANTASMAS. ALLÍ SE PERDIERON $60 MILLONES
    LA CONTRATACIÓN DE TANQUEROS SIN LICITACIÓN, CON EMPRESA QUE LUEGO FUE DEMANDADA POR LOS RUSOS Y HASTA POR PDVSA MISMA
    LA ADQUISICIÓN DE COMIDA PODRIDA Y/O CON GROSEROS SOBREPRECIOS POR PARTE DE PDVAL Y DE BARIVEN. ALLÍ SE PERDIERON MÁS DE DOS MIL MILLONES DE DÓLARES
    LOS CONTRATOS PARA CONSTRUCCIÓN DE CASAS QUE NUNCA SE CONSTRUYERON CON IRAN, BIELORRUSIA, URUGUAY, VIETNAM, ETC.
    LOS CONTRATOS de PDV MARINA CON ARGENTINA, ESPAÑA, IRÁN Y OTROS PAÍSES PARA CONSTRUCCIÓN DE TANQUEROS QUE NUNCA SE CONSTRUYERON
    LA CONTRATACIÓN DE GENERADORES ELECTRICOS A EMPRESAS INTERMEDIARIAS DE BOLICHICOS, CON GROSEROS SOBREPRECIOS
    LA COMPRA O ALQUILER DE TALADROS A EMPRESAS FANTASMAS, COMO ADMITIÓ EL EX-DIRECTOR DE PDVSA LUIS VIERMA EN LA ASAMBLEA NACIONAL
    LOS CONTRATOS PARA LA REMOCIÓN DEL COQUE DE LA FAJA DEL ORINOCO, DINERO PARCIALMENTE UTILIZADO PARA LA DEFENSA DE LOS NARCO-SOBRINOS
    LOS CONTRATOS DADOS A SUPLIDORES DE BARIVEN EN HOUSTON. HAY GENTE PRESA PERO POR ACCIÓN DE PDVSA
    LOS CONTRATOS DENUNCIADOS POR LUIS TASCÓN (QEPD), DADOS A FAMILIARES DE LOS GERENTES DE PDVSA
    LOS DEPÓSITOS MULTIMILLONARIOS DE GENTE DE PDVSA EN LOS BANCOS DE ANDORRA Y ESPAÑA
    LA TRAGEDIA DE AMUAY Y LA RAZÓN POR LA CUAL LAS EMPRESAS DE SEGUROS SE NEGARON A PAGAR
    EL VIRTUAL MONOPOLIO DE LOS SEGUROS DE LA EMPRESA, EN MANOS DE UN FAMILIAR DEL PRESIDENTE DE LA EMPRESA
    LAS DENUNCIAS DEL WALL STREET JOURNAL SOBRE PEDIDO DE COMISIONES POR PARTE DEL PRESIDENTE DE LA EMPRESA A TRAVÉS DE SU PRIMO
    LA CORRUPCION EN CITGO DURANTE LA PRESIDENCIA DE VARIOS DE SUS PRESIDENTES. EL CASO GRANADO
    LA UTILIZACIÓN ILEGAL DE LOS FONDOS DE AHORROS DE LOS TRABAJADORES PARA OTROS ASUNTOS DE LA EMPRESA
    LAS CONTRATACIONES CON HORIZONTAL WELL DRILLERS, CON CAMIMPEG Y CON VARIAS OTRAS EMPRESAS SIN EXPERIENCIA EN LA FAJA DEL ORINOCO
    LA UTILIZACIÓN ILEGAL DE MILLONES DE DÓLARES DE LOS PRÉSTAMOS DADOS A PDVSA POR EMPRESAS PETROLERAS QUE OPERAN EN LA FAJA DEL ORINOCO
    LA CONTRATACIÓN DE ABOGADOS FAMILIA DE UN PRESIDENTE DE LA EMPRESA
    EL DESCARADO DISCURSO DE RAFAEL RAMÍREZ SOBRE LA PDVSA ROJA, ROJITA
    EL DESVÍO DE FONDOS DE PDVSA HACIA EL FONDEN SIN TRANSPARENCIA O RENDICIÓN DE CUENTAS Y EL MANEJO DISCRECIONAL DE ESE FONDO POR CHÁVEZ, RAMÍREZ, GIORDANI Y MERENTES. ALLÍ SE DECTECTARON FALTANTES POR MÁS DE $50 MILLONES, SEGÚN INVESTIGADORES INDEPENDIENTES
    LOS MILLONES DE EUROS DEPOSITADOS EN EL BANCO ESPIRITO SANTO, BANCO CLAUSURADO EN PORTUGAL POR CORRUPCIÓN. DONDE ESTÁ ESE DINERO?
    LA CONTRACIÓN PARA LA “REMODELACIÓN” DE LA REFINERÍA DE PUERTO LA CRUZ CON UNA EMPRESA CHINA, CUYO PRESIDENTE FUE ENVIADO A PRISIÓN EN CHINA POR CORRUPCIÓN
    LOS MALETINES DE DINERO ENVIADOS A ARGENTINA Y A BOLIVIA POR LA PDVSA DE RAMÍREZ
    EL POZO SECO DE UN COSTO APROXIMADO A LOS CIEN MILLONES DE DÓLARES PERFORADO POR PDVSA EN CUBA. LOS POZOS SECOS EN BOLIVIA. LOS POZOS SECOS EN ECUADOR.
    LOS NEGOCIOS DE REFINACIÓN DE PETRÓLEO ECUATORIANO
    LA TRANSFERENCIA DE PETRÓLEO GROSERAMENTE SUBSIDIADO A CUBA Y LOS PAÍSES MIEMBROS DE PETRO CARIBE CON EL OBJETIVO DE COMPRAR LEALTADES POLÍTICAS O DAR TRIBUTOS A LOS AMOS CUBANOS DEL CHAVISMO
    LA CANCELACIÓN DE LAS DEUDAS DE JAMAICA Y REPÚBLICA DOMINICANA A PDVSA POR EL 40% DE SU VALOR Y LA CONDONACIÓN DE DEUDAS A HAITÍ Y A DOMINICA SIN AUTORIZACIÓN DE LA ASAMBLEA NACIONAL
    LA DONACIÓN HECHA POR CITGO, POR ORDEN DE CHÁVEZ, DE MILES DE BARRILES DE PETRÓLEO Y DIÉSEL A LOS “POBRES” DE USA, EN PERJUICIO DEL PAÍS Y PARA BENEFICIO DE AMIGOS COMO JOSEPH KENNEDY II
    EL INTENTO DE BERNARDO ALVAREZ Y JACK KEMP, CON EL CONOCIMIENTO DE PDVSA Y DEL MINISTERIO DEL SECTOR, DE ESTAFAR AL PAÍS MEDIANTE UNA EMPRESA FANTASMA LLAMADA “FREE MARKET PETROLEUM”, LA CUAL VENDERÍA PETRÓLEO A USA CON SOBREPRECIO. ABORTADO POR DENUNCIAS DE LA PRENSA DE USA
    LOS CONTRATOS PARA EDIFICAR VIVIENDAS EN LA FAJA DADOS A ENERGY COAL, SEARLEAF Y ALFAMACQ EN LA FAJA DEL ORINOCO
    LA PODREDUMBRE EN LA FAJA DENUNCIADA POR LOS INSPECTORES DE SU MISMO GRUPO, ASQUEADOS POR LO QUE ENCONTRARON, VER: http://lasarmasdecoronel.blogspot.com/2016/02/gravisimo-aqui-estan-las-pruebas-del.html
    EL TÍTULO FALSO DE ABOGADO DADO A USTED, MADURO, CUANDO ESTUVO EN LA DIRECTIVA DE PDVSA, PUBLICADO EN EL BOLETIN DE LA EMPRESA. YA SABEMOS QUE USTED NI SIQUIERA SE GRADUÓ DE BACHILLER
    LOS MILLONES DE DÓLARES PARA LAS REFINERÍAS DE ALBANISA EN NICARAGUA (NUNCA SE CONSTRUYÓ) Y CIENFUEGOS EN CUBA, ORDENADOS POR EL DIFUNTO Y SU CARNAL RAMÍREZ
    LA RE-EXPORTACIÓN DE PETRÓLEO VENEZOLANO SUBSIDIADO HECHA POR CUBA A GRANDES BENEFICIOS

  14. Interesting read, Gustavo.

    The old saw, “Follow the money,” is especially relevant now.

    No one denies that Chavismo met a need – the entire lower class (millions) had no political voice, no power, no one in government on their side. Chavez with his firebrand rhetoric and macho attitude caught the hearts of the have-nots, whose loyalty he bought through patronage, a governing “style” that Maduro has turned into a kind of blackmailing strategy whereby you either back him and company of you get subsadized food.

    With a presidential election looming next year (maybe), Maduro lacks funds to cover the pueblo even for Navidad, let alone a coming election. The cash flow has evaporated by reduced oil output, billions owed bond holders, and the fortune spirited away through corruption. He HAS to get some of that back, or get the sanctions lifted so the cash is flowing once more (though it’s all owed to somebody, or his patronage is done and so is Socialismo.

    The pueblo is suffering badly, but the leader has empty pockets. His entire tenure has depended on patronage. But now the cupboards are bare. It must fry his mind to see those videos of Ramirez dining at New York steak houses as he tries to hang on in Caracas. And the Harvard-educated del Pino, a Spaniard after all, represents everything the bus driver never was – educated. And probably corrupt as hell.

    This is a game of survival for all involved, and nobody’s giving up without a fight.

    • It is also a battle of survival for the Castro regime.
      I have wondered if the US policy is to collapse the Cuban Communists by allowing the sanctions take their toll until Cuba is starving as bad as Venezuela.
      Most Cubans know of nothing better than what they have. They survived the collapse of the USSR and the economic support that came from them,
      It can be argued that if Chavez did not step in to support Castro, the regime may have fallen. Although the Cuban people were resilient then and can be expected to be now, the Castro regime relies on the money that is stolen from the Venezuelan people for their survival.
      For the sanctions to be effective and produce regime change. the money needs to be gone. Cuba will not have much incentive to remain involved in Venezuela if there is nothing in it for them.
      I have laid out the cash flow issues with PDVSA in other posts. I do believe that PDVSA is getting very close to or may have already exceeded lift costs being higher than they can sell their products.
      This essentially is the end of money coming into the country and a scary situation for the people that are solely reliant on government assistance to survive.
      The just released 36 trillion Bolivar budget when broken down by population and converted at the parallel rate, is only about US $1 per person per month. Within one month the exchange rate may reduce that by half.
      This is going to get very ugly, very quickly.

Leave a Reply