This Friday, perhaps inspired by the New York Times article about PDVSA’s collapse, perhaps encouraged by the raids SEBIN carried out on Rafael Ramírez’s houses-imposed prosecutor general Tarek William Saab spoke about the PDVSA office in Vienna and claimed that it was used to sign shady contracts defrauding the nation for $4,8 billion. The Office of Marketing Intelligence and Oil Policy was created in 2006 and according to Saab, the fraudulent operations began in 2009, signing contracts with the company JBC Energy, which deliberately tampered with the information for oil commercialization, favoring individuals and companies that were involved in oil buy/sell transactions with PDVSA.

Saab claims this was done with the approval of the head of the Vienna office, Dr. Bernard Mommer, his wife Irama Zulene Quiroz and also Mariana Zerpa Morloy; the list of accused grew longer with Nélida Izarra, general director of the Office for Crude Export Assessment, who was arrested already, as well as Rafael Ramírez himself, whom Saab deemed the mastermind behind these crimes, so he urged him to return to Venezuela to face justice: the show must go on!

Ramírez’s reaction

For former minister and former PDVSA chairman, Saab’s accusations are not only false, but the evidence of his profound ignorance on oil matters. In three tweets, he explained that the Vienna office was establish to verify sale prices for Venezuelan oil, emphasizing that the Vienna office doesn’t sell oil. It was curious, however, how he defended professor Bernard Mommer by citing oil nationalization, as if Ramírez was a minister of Carlos Andrés Pérez’s cabinet, as if he had coordinated the operations that came the fruition on January 1st, 1976. Every oil expert out there was caught off guard by the accusation against Mommer, because he was one of Chávez’s main ideological pillars on oil matters and moreover, he’s just published an article alongside honorary PDVSA chairman Alí Rodríguez Araque, who should say something (for or against) after such accusation.

The lost pernil

After Portuguese Foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva had denied his country’s responsibility regarding this issue, and the company Raporal explained that the requested shipments weren’t sent because the government owes them 40 million euros for previous shipments; after Bolipuertos denied the finding of tons of rotten pernil, and pernil itself opened a Twitter account, following the impact of the hashtag #PernilMovie, Freddy Bernal claimed that 2,200 tons of pernil were retained in the border of Paraguachón by Colombian authorities, elevating pernil sabotage to a multicultural scene: from Portugal to North America to Colombia. Sadly, he failed to explain that according a National Guard report, the last CLAP shipment arrived in the country in November and since there, there have been no other shipments with CLAP products.

Pernil en salsa time

Rosales has as much sense of opportunity as his plastic surgeon has aesthetic judgement, and Nicolás is an assertive genius. After promising “the iron hand of the law” against any protest, yesterday he used the Poliedro of Caracas to broadcast a show with little salsa and a lot of paja, happy because in his view, the fact that Canada and Brazil applied the principle of diplomatic reciprocity is a recognition of the ANC’s decision. Right after claiming that talks will resume on January 11 and 12, he accused Parliament Speaker Julio Borges of sabotaging imports “conspiring so that we can’t buy a single product abroad, so that not a single ship arrives”; calling him a “common, petty, vile crook,” and demanding justice (?) to act against him.

Economy talk

Diosdado Cabello suggested the possibility of nationalizing Banesco and Economic Area vice-minister Wilmar Castro Soteldo presented before the ANC the Bill of Productive Foreign Investment to regulate the huge investment that’s just waiting for this law to gain access to the country; while the Petro (the bond disguised as a cryptocurrency) already lost interest due to its questionable support, the non-existent trust in a defaulted government, without dollars and with a Central Bank guilty of causing hyperinflation (have a seat): between December 15 to 22, the BCV increased the monetary base by 24.15%; monetary financing by 22.2% and monetary liquidity by 16.65% (the highest of the entire year!, after all they increased them in November.) Do you see now why we’re the first oil exporting nation in history to have descended into hyperinflation? The only thing that’s missing is for PDVSA chairman Manuel Quevedo to explain that the drop in Venezuelan oil exports to the United States in October have taken us to the levels we had during the 80s, and that the shipping records allow us to predict an even steeper drop in November.

Of lights and shadows

While Luisa Ortega Díaz uploaded a video urging Venezuelans to organize to demand our rights and defend the Constitution that she herself violated while she was a part of the government, MUD issued a statement with this year’s balance and apologizes for the serious mistakes and omissions they made during 2017, starting with failing to accompany the citizens in their suffering for the declining living standards we’re experiencing. MUD also acknowledges that they failed to establish the relationship between the electoral fight and the protests, the mandates of the popular consultation held on July 16 and what came afterwards. They assert their commitment to recovering and maintaining internal unity and standing with the country, as well as to choose a unitary presidential candidate for coming elections and keep exploring the negotiation track -with international support- to find solutions to overcome the regime, in the certainty that 2018 will be marked by economic and social crisis, and also government repression.

Protests continue and there are new reports of lootings and assaults of shops in several cities across the country. A fire broke out in the Amuay refinery (yes, another in less than three days) confirming the risks the place faces due to lack of maintenance and failure to comply with security parameters. The two-litre milk bottle reappeared in supermarket shelves at Bs. 165,000 (93% of the minimum wage.) Lastly, while the country demands food, the Libertador mayor’s office is promoting a concert in the Plaza Bolívar of Caracas for this December 31. Yesterday, Nicolás was fixated on the word “peace”: I guess denial helps him govern.

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  1. The Petro was sabotaged by the IMFperio. Nothing can be clearer. It is necessary to stop all oil shipments to bring Trump to his knees and show the world who’s boss. They will come crying to us, and then oil will return to $100 dollars.

    I wonder if one of the regime’s next moves will be to make the Petro the only legal means of exchange, expropriate everything else, and mandate all stores to price in Petros. Petro de la Patria! The sabotaging Portuguese will be paid in Petros Por Pernil. It will solve the problem of people waiting in line at automatic tellers, and defeat the myth of inflation. And for those who do not have computers, no problem, since free Petro-App cell phones will be given away. Free cell phones, like the Obama regime. And new Carnets de la Patria with pre-loaded BF100,000 balances of Petros available at voting booths next week.

  2. There is something that sounds right in Mr Ramirez criticism of the naivete of Mr Saabs accusation regarding the use of the Vienna market assesment office to obtain commissions on the sale of Venezuelan oil , Venezuela doesnt have the logistics to market any oil from Vienna , thats ordinarily done from Pdvsa offices in Venezuela . Understand that Mommer as a Venezuelan rep before Opec was in the past been very skeptic of the accuracy of the production figures reported by Venezuelan and had his own people visit production sites in Venezuela to check on the figures……not that other forms of hanky panky were not practiced by those Mr Saab accuses of graft and bribery , only that the method used to do so probably involved something quite different , more cunning and crafty……

  3. Will “El Pernilazo” take down Maduro? Google translation:

    It was Maduro himself who promised some “perniles” to continue increasing his “semantic pachanga”. In this regard, in this five years we have heard say any number of political, economic and social barbarities with mockery of the people, such as: “inflation does not exist”, “economic war”, ” bacteriological war”, an “iguana responsible for a national blackout”,”terrorists who commit suicide with high-voltage cables”, “law against hatred”, “I do not like silver”, ” crime reduction”, “Venezuela can feed three countries”, “there is no humanitarian crisis”, “criminal dollar”, “wage protection”, “petro”, and even “urban pigs” about the perniles that never arrived.

    In each of these constructions there has only been a component of ridicule and excess of lies against a population that is fed up of seeing how their standard of living deteriorates day by day, when we have reached the point that no “minimum wage” allows at least eat with dignity, that is, without including what a citizen needs to pay for the dilapidated and broken public transportation reduced in its minimum expression, and less to face other personal, family and social expenses related to education, health, clothing or recreation.

    Another fun read (“President, shut your mouth!”):

  4. The NY Times’ excellent reporting on PDVSA recently suggested to me that there might be something of a work to rule campaign developing internally there. There was no indication of any organization to the reported apathy and unwillingness to continue working through low pay and broken contracts, but these things can take on a more organized and militant form pretty quickly.

  5. Whether Mr. Saabs or Mr. Ramirez is right sbout these allegations is irrelevant to a hoped for result of a government free of the whole Chavista crowd. They all either for money or power ruthlessly plundered the country.

  6. Of course the true question to be made is after so many years of these henious acts of corruption and mismanagement why is it only now that they are beiing denounced , is there no complicity or neglect or fault in having appointed these criminals to their jobs , to having countenanced in silence their misdeeds for such long time , for having allowed (or perhaps shared ) in their corruption. They must be getting pretty desperate when they start throwing their own to the lions as a way of touting their innocnence before all the horrible things that are happening !! This is of course an spectacle which is being offered to us to distract the public from thinking or talking about their own deep love affair with corruption and the ruin which it has brought to our lives….!!

  7. Dr Bernard Mommer was the intellectual author for the unilateral dismantling of the first and second round Operating Service Agreements, and the creation of the new imposed terms. He had rather more personal charm than some of the other players in that transaction, but he was an idealogue with absolutely no understanding of business. He absolutely did not understand the difference between a shareholder in a company and the company itself. Equally, he was unable to understand the difference between a speculative future cashflow – based on production, sales, costs and prices which had not happened yet – and an asset on a balance sheet based on actual sunk capital and real inventory. Indeed, he insisted on using the former to “buy” the government’s share of the latter.

    The final offer was a simple take-it-or-leave-it. Those operators who did not accept the new imposed terms found that troops arrived at midnight to take over their offices and production facilities. Those operators who did accept the imposed terms found that (a) their staffs were seriously reduced by the PRIOR application of the Tascon/Maisanta list (staff were forced out BEFORE PdVSA assumed control of the new entity) and (b) the new entities were all heavily politicised (red shirts on Fridays and enforced rally attendance) (c) the companies lost management control of the business and were obliged to stump up investment based on decisions made by the idiotic and the corrupt. The private companies are now collectively owed billions by PdVSA – who collected the revenues.

    These fields were considered mature and were almost defunct when the original OSA’s were tendered. The new operators applied imported technology, new investment and good management practice to lift production to almost 700,000 b/d by the time of the expropriation in 2006. They have since been run into the ground. Production has now declined to a little above squat.

    Flush with the “success” of expropriating the OSA’s, Mommer then moved on to the de facto expropriation of the Strategic Associations for the production of Heavy Oil, with similar consequences.

    While he does not have anything to feel proud of in this sorry story, I would be very surprised to learn that Mommer was indeed a major corrupt player. He was described in 2006 by several senior Chavistas as “the Robespierre of the process” – a very appropriate analogy when one considers what happened to Robespierre.

    • Nice summation kribaez, an explanation of the “process” I had not seen before. In the early years, my production equipment company provided services in the south of Monagas, near Temblador, for one of the first companies to enter the country under one of those production-sharing agreements. Their name escapes me at the moment, but I recall they were based out of Southern California. Good people, provided a lot of jobs for the locals. I’m sure all of their production gains were quickly lost once the chavistas took over.

    • Seconded. I don’t know how she or her translator gets anything else done.

      Also, if one of the CC admins sees this comment, please email me and let me know how I can make a one-time donation as opposed to recurring monthly. Thank you.


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