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Robin Hood is Dying, The Assassination Of Chavez

Politics / US Politics Jan 11, 2013 - 12:55 AM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


On one hand a cruise through business news media like Bloomberg will tell you that the probable near-term disappearance of Hugo Chavez has put at least $7 billion-worth of oil and gas projects in jeopardy, in Venezuela. On the other hand the left-wing and conspiracy-theme media says that the Venezuelan president's previous track record of escaping kidnap and assassination attempts may or may not work another time. He might have received, like Yasser Arafat, a large dose of Polonium 230 or some other beta emitter toxic heavy metal such as radioactive lead, cobalt, cesium, thorium or uranium which are found in the effluent streams and waste ponds of nearly all uranium mines. Supply is no problem!

Anything to do with Hugo Chavez automatically concerns oil. Venezuela has oil reserves, including unconventional tarsand oil (Orinoco oilsands) that might exceed 275 billion barrels, equivalent to nearly 9 years world total oil consumption.

Iran could also or might have as much oil as that, and like Venezuela is an Upstart Republic with heavy anti-American trimmings. Although Venezuela's economy is a mess, the voting public stays heavily in favour of Hugo Chavez for his Socialist Republic strivings and oil revenue hand-outs.

Back in 2005 at a time of rising oil hysteria, because oil prices were continually increasing (WTI 2005 year peak price was $72 per barrel), the USA's firebrand pastor Pat Robertson had no qualms saying, in public, that Chavez should be got rid of.

One typical statement from Robertson, who was very close to the George W Bush regime was: "This is a dangerous enemy to our South controlling a huge pool of oil". Including the "unconventional oil" and with plenty of imagination, Robertson cited the former chief of oil intelligence for the CIA who himself estimated Venezuelan total oil reserves as possibly 1.35 trillion barrels, close to 5 times Saudi Arabia's official reserves of "conventional oil" and about enough oil to cover 40 years of world total oil consumption on a 2012 basis.

This was however a 2005-era "insight" from a person close to Bush, struggling with the blowback from the high priced and unwinnable Iraq war which has produced an Islamic-flavoured mafia republic, and which the Reverend Robertson, in 2005, estimated as having already cost the US at least $250 billion. Costs to today are probably well above $600 billion. For that reason, Roberston went on ".... It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with". This translates to assassinating Chavez by bullet or poison, directly or indirectly, for example by local insurgents, Libyan style.

The ironies start here. Chavez was certainly and surely "on good terms" with George W Bush's father and with Bill Clinton. One proof of Clinton's relations with Clinton is shown by this UPI news report dated January 2011: "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, having rejected the U.S. ambassador to his country, named others he would accept -- including former President Bill Clinton. In a televised speech in Caracas this week, Chavez also suggested film director Oliver Stone, actor Sean Penn and Massachusetts linguistics professor Noam Chomsky".

The Venezuelan consulate in San Francisco, September 25, 2009 issued this statement: "When asked what type relations Venezuela wants with the U.S., President Chávez answered, “We want relations based on respect – relations of peoples where we are respected...We want to be brothers and sisters. We want respect and equality.” President Chávez stressed that he looks to reestablish the type of relationship he had with President Bill Clinton".

Not exactly an identikit assassination target for the Obama-era CIA we could conclude.

Further back however, in the dark days of 2001 under George W Bush, the Chavez-ruled congress vote for the "Law of Hydrocarbons", setting a not-so-punitive 30% tax rate on conventional oil extracted and exported by Exxon, BP, Shell and Chevron, instead of the previous 16% drove Bush-linked ideologists to frenzy. Their rage was exarcerbated by the scrapping of the previous royalty - of exactly 1% - on "heavy unconventional" crude from the Orinoco Basin, and its replacement by a 16.6% royalty.

On April 11, 2002 President Chavez was kidnapped at gunpoint and flown to an island prison in the Caribbean Sea. Very rapidly the "world's free media" such as the BBC, New York Times, Financial Times carried headlines about Chavez being ousted by "democratic forces". On April 12, Pedro Carmona, president of Fedecamaras, the nation's chamber of commerce, declared himself President.
US Ambassador Charles Shapiro immediately had his picture taken alongside the self-proclaimed "president" and the coup leaders.

As we know, Carmona on April 14 returned his captive and himself "resigned". Chavez had done too much for the desperately poor - for example his "build your home" projects for slumdwellers, where shacks which were made of cardboard and tin were quickly transformed into homes of cinder blocks and cement, with water and electricity. "Bread and bricks" had enthroned Chavez. The previous regime chief in Venezuela, Carlos Perez, had kept the oil money in too tight a circuit. Other action by Chavez - directly inspired by the actions of Bill Clinton's hero and model, John F Kennedy - included his own "Alliance for Progress" land reforming quest earning Chavez "lasting emnity" from the Heinz tomato ketchup firm, for the forced purchase of some of its plantations.

Relative to the supposed ironclad allies of the US in the Gulf Petromonarchies, whose taxation and royalty levies on US oil and gas operations are much higher than Venezuela's, Chavez is an old-time threat from yesteryear. His local dreams for extending his personal power do not concern the pure and simple grab of a whole country - Syria - making Chvez a lot less dangerous than present day "allies".

The conspiracy-and-left media therefore have a problem. Very likely, Chavez was not poisoned although that might have been possible 10 years ago. Even more likely, he has incurable cancer and will have to quit power or only maintain a figurehead role. This itself creates problems for US and other international oil and gas corporations.

The problem is that today, totally unlike the 2001 or 2005 situation, the oil and energy corporate world needs high priced oil. Even the merest glance at financial markets shows that a day's uptick in equity markets will about 7 times out of 10 also bring an uptick for the oil price; conversely, natural gas prices can move anywhere, and in the US that usually means down. Any major fall in oil prices from their present unreal and inflated highs will spell major financial trouble for US and other international oil corporations engaged in a high cost quest to produce more oil - if the price stays high.

To the small real world extent that Chavez's image of Robin Hood Anti Imperialist bolstered oil prices, this remained useful to Big Oil. Without Chavez, his lacklustre stand-in replacement Nicolas Maduro is unlikely to trigger fear-and-loathing kneejerk reactions from editorialists and ideologists anywhere. The likely response to the disappearance of Chavez will be to swivel the spotlight back to Iran, counting on this to maybe bolster oil prices while it "thrills" the couched potato public.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Co-author 'The Doomsday Machine', Palgrave Macmillan USA, 2012

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2012 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisor.

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