Oil and bullets

cavim-balasTwo interesting stories, from the indispensable foreign press.

First, Bloomberg’s Anatoly Kurmanaev explores the lack of progress in reining in guns and munition, and how it shows the powerful sway of the military. He reminds us that, in theory, the military should have begun coding individual bullets as a way of tightening control over munition. It has not done so:

Not only does the military not code its bullets, it has also resisted greater transparency. The Disarmament Law stated that Cavim had to present an annual report on bullet production and sales to congress, starting in 2014. The company has yet to do so, according to opposition lawmakers Ricardo Sanchez and Eduardo Gomez.

“Parts of the military are clearly not interested in having greater oversight of their business activities,” Sanchez said.

Their refusal to present reports is stoking speculation that the military’s top brass is making money by selling ammunition on the black market, said Venezuelan Violence Observatory director, Roberto Briceno Leon.

It is also a further illustration of their stranglehold over the government as the economy contracts and prices spiral higher, Guzman Perez said.

Then, Reuters’ Marianna Párraga and Alexandra Ulmer talk about a strange new trend: PDVSA is being slowly de-politicized. Here is what they say:

Over the past few months, however, the company’s new management – led by president Eulogio del Pino, a low-profile Stanford-educated engineer – has eased up on revolutionary garb and attendance at militant gatherings, according to sources within and outside the company.

New posters inside its Caracas headquarters request employees don normal office wear, visitors say, a telltale sign of what could be the most sweeping changes in over a decade at a firm that controls the world’s largest crude reserves and generated some $78 billion in exports in 2013 – 96 percent of Venezuela’s hard currency revenue.

The sartorial shift symbolizes the new management’s effort to regain focus at a firm that has become a haven for political friends and operatives, according to people familiar with the strategy.

It marks a sharp pivot after a decade under the helm of Ramirez as shoring up the nation’s main cash cow trumps ideology in the face of the collapse in global crude prices.

The changes go well beyond the symbolic: PDVSA is granting its minority partners more financial and operational sway in joint ventures, according to sources close to the company. A dozen of those foreign oil companies are also poised to tap the most favorable exchange rate of Venezuela’s complex three-tiered currency system.

Some of the firm’s roughly 150,000 employees have been laid off, particularly those with overt political roles, and hundreds of oil ministry staffers have also been let go, according to a union leader and a source close to the government.

“They’re trying to find mechanisms to give people confidence in investing, and also trying to increase production,” said one foreigner close to joint ventures.

20 thoughts on “Oil and bullets

  1. I think that the failure of the military to comply with reporting laws says less about the military’s sway over the government, and more about the government’s lack of interest in stopping civilian access to ammunition and creating transparency.


    • I disagree here, Roy. The Venezuelan military is core of the government and the Venezuelan military have always been utterly corrupt but now they are much more so.
      I was surprised someone within the government came up with the idea of coding bullets. I actually mentioned this idea on several occasions as one of the steps for a future government to start reducing crime.
      How could these guys really curb it? It’s like for them to put oil prices at market level: it would lead to a coup.
      The military need their money.


  2. One massive field of research waiting to be explored is the use of the Venezuelan state as a criminal conglomerate.

    News like these are, I am afraid, only the tip of the iceberg and do not convey the connections between different lines of illegal businesses going on in our country today.

    The accounts in HSBS and BM Andorra, the lack of control on the arms trade, the “Cartel de los soles”, the smuggling behemoth, the currency arbitration business, the 25000 violent deaths per year (among others) cannot exist in isolation.

    We used to have one big corporation, PDVSA, that seemed to be bigger than the country itself.

    Now even PDVSA is subject to an even bigger multi-tentacled criminal oligopoly headed from Caracas and Havana.

    And this oligopoly is the reason why revolutionary reform is impossible.


    • Looks like this massive field of research has already been explored by the US Government and as a result Obama acted. The message is that the US considers now the Venezuelan Government as a crime syndicate.


  3. On Pdvsa : If Im not mistaken some of these initiatives where already being taken during Ramirez time , starting shortly after Maduro was elected . Most of them where not actuallly implemented but in some cases a new attitude became apparent . If anything Pdvsa operating performance has been disgraceful , a total and umitigated disaster on all fronts , Waste , corruption and gross mismanagement have been rife and pervasive. Pdvsa is now a roting hulk of what it used to be. I share Alejandros opinion that it may be too late to salvage the company unless its totally and thoroughly overhauled to its very roots..

    Mr Del Pino whatever his formal academic credentials was a willing and enthusiastic participant in the making of the disaster and probably amply rewarded for his contributions to the general mayhem thats characterized the life of the company this last decade . He may now be trying to improve the running of the company but in the past he was right there next to Ramirez frenetically attempting to gain points by sattisfying Chavez crazy whims..

    We can welcome the changes as a timid return to a more rational way of running a company , but the rot goes very deep and we dont know that the new President is free from the tentacles of that infection. Gustavo Coronel has made quite a few comments on some unsavory aspects of the rojo rojito management of the offshore gas projects , many of which have yet to be disclosed to the public .!! Well probably know more of how much confidence we can place on the new management efforts once the whole history becomes uncovered.!


    • “…once the whole history becomes uncovered.!”

      One, I am not sure that the totality of the theft, corruption, and just plain mismanagement will ever be uncovered. Two, I suspect that what will be uncovered will shock even the most cynical amongst us.


      • If the realization hits that PSUV is ever actually about to lose power (through the ballot box, unlikely, but either through coup or revolution(, every book will be burned, every computer destroyed, every paper shredded, every phone record wiped, every dollar wired to a new account and every company with a government contract will disappear. Thousands and thousands of people will then point to the guy on their left and say, it was not me it was him/her. The top thousand will be in Cuba, Argentina, Ecuador, Aruba, etc. with their bank accounts.
        All of Venezuela’s horses and all of Venezuela’s men will not be able to ever accurately reconstruct the humpty dumpty crime syndicate again.
        The smart ones already have their plans to frame the guy on their right, the wealth is offshore, and a very comfortable foreign retirement awaits for when the garbage stops being picked up, the schools are closed, the electrical system has failed, and the lawlessness besets the suckers left behind.


        • Leche,
          I disagree. The records are valuable information that the thieves will use for self protection. Imagine knowing who has stolen what and where it went. The blackmail possibilities are endless. Even Chavistas do not trust each other.


          • There are so many trails and records left all over the place from which to establish and or reconstruct the misdeeds that have been committed that its very unlikely that they will be kept hidden for a long tme , also there are a lot , and I mean a lot of people who have been witness to these misdeeds (inside and outside the whale) who owe little or no loyalty to the mischief makers and who will out of self protection come out to state what they know . The notion that most employees are rojo rojitos is a myth , a large number of them are in fact silent oppo sympathizers or people with an ax to grind

            The miscreants you musnt forget are not very careful in keeping clean records in fact quite a few misdeeds have been discovered and disclosed by the companys own inhouse or outside comptroller departments , things which are well known internally but which a wall of outer silence or misinformation keeps from public knowledge. (part of their mismanagement comes from their disorganized way of operating ) finally there are international agencies which keep a quiet tab on these misdeeds and who may at any time choose to divulge at the most convenient time , !! I dont think that they will be able to hide most of what has been done. In fact I expect that quite a few innocent people close to the action but not participating in them with get clobbered by just having been close to the corrupt activities .

            I bet this very moment there are people in the US govt agencies preparing dossiers and evidence files on what they have come to know through their informants and collaborators from Venezuela and abroad .!!

            The fact that journalists have not been able to publish so many things they either dont know or which they lack the evidence to verify doenst mean that this will be the case for ever .

            Nowadays the chances of a corrupt pol to scape unscathed from some kind of punishment is fast dissapearing .!!

            My own guess is that at some point in time people within the govt itself will sponsor purges of people who are corrupt but which are no longer graced with the support of the higher ups of the moment .!!


        • “Thousands and thousands of people will then point to the guy on their left and say, it was not me it was him/her.”

          You mean something like this? (Though it shows the Tammany Ring all pointing to the right.)


          • Rich: The people in the inner circle of power will do as you suggest , but it wont stop the wheels of justice from grinding them in its razor sharp teeth . People from within the organization who have never been part of the mayhem will gleefuly come out to help uncover the evidence of their misdeeds, you should learn more of the past , not for nothing we in Venezuela know : ‘del arbol caido hagamoslo lena’, the records of these misdeeds are inumerable . Quite sure that even at this moment those misdeeds are being worked over by teams of experts to denounce them at the appropiate time !!


  4. How many bullets do we need to deal with escualidos?

    Not many, I’d guess, since you people are cowards.


  5. “…Some of the firm’s roughly 150,000 employees have been laid off, particularly those with overt political roles, and hundreds of oil ministry staffers have also been let go, according to a union leader and a source close to the government.”

    Meaning “People, I know there’s this shit about work laws and all that other crap, but seriously, we just want to bring other friends here, so get the fuck away, and don’t even think in going to the work superintendence, because I know bigger fish there than you; so go and resell stuff from a line, we don’t care how you’ll get to eat now.”

    It’s almost like saying “Here, have some patria.”


  6. Coding bullets? What for? The system is so corrupt even the ambulance driver, medical team and coroner’s office are Bribed and twisted. They would still say the bullets are whatever they want, from Aliens or the Imperio, if they want.

    People keep coming up with dumb solutions and complicated theories when it all comes down to CORRUPTION. Theft of public monies. The military, PDVSA, everyone is deep into getting rich as fast as possible. Look no further, whatever you are trying to analyse in Vzla.

    Due to high corruption, too, the Adecos and Copeyanos never improved the infrastructure of our country or educated our people. Due to the corruption we are still highly uneducated and naive, so we elected one of our own, another corrupt, under-educated Indio, thirsty for riches and power. The military is the same, CORRUPT, exactly where Chavismo came from.

    Do the simple math from there. It’s not more complicated than that. THEFT and Ignorance. Ignorance and Theft.


    • Ignorance and Theft and IRRESPONSIBILITY at all levels of society/Government, with few sanctions, if any, unless by bullet. Even the Oppo talk about “Tomando el Poder”, when Government should be about “Serving the People”.


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