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.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.