Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro speaking during the first UNASUR-and-Vatican mediated peace talks with the opposition in Caracas 10 April (Reuters)
Here’s my commentary at Americas Quarterly today, 11 April:
A delegation of foreign ministers from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) returned to Caracas on April 7 and 8, securing an agreement to hold peace talks to calm political polarization and protests in Venezuela. The talks are being mediated by the foreign ministers of Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador, plus a Vatican representative.
The UNASUR delegation first visited in late March, recommending that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and leaders of the opposition’s Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD) enter into a dialogue. The U.S. State Department had expressed support, as had Organization of American States (OAS) General Secretary José Miguel Insulza.
However, UNASUR’s plan will be complicated by Maduro’s reliance on paramilitaries within his Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (United Socialist Party of Venezuela—PSUV), whose loyalty requires his polarizing words and deeds. This conundrum already wrecked a previous dialogue.
In early February, before protests broke out, a highly placed government official explained to me, … CLICK to Continue Reading at Americas Quarterly. Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, Chavez legacy, Energy and Geostrategy, Henry Capriles, Hugo Chávez, Latin America, Leopoldo López, PDVSA, The USA, Uncategorized, Venezuela update, Venezuelan Democracy
Tagged Caracas, Chavez, Chavismo, Hugo Chávez, Latin America, Nicolás Maduro, PDVSA, peace talks, Petróleos de Venezuela, UNASUR, Union of South American Nations, United States, Venezuela, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
- The anti-government protest in eastern Caracas 13 March ended in clashes with Venezuelan police. Three more died in widespread protests. BBC
As protests continue against Venezuela’s faltering “oil revolution,” the political strategy of the chavista administration is striking for its intransigence. President Maduro has refused to recognize any grievances by students or other protesters. He calls protesters “fascists” and blames them for all the ills of the economy. Protests are attacked by the national guard and often by state-organized paramilitary gangs on motorcycles who are praised by the president.
The administration’s strategy so far appears to be that protests will burn themselves out if they can be delegitimized and contained within middle-class areas. Accordingly, the president’s rhetoric aims at inciting poorer citizens against protesters. All in all, this is a risky strategy. Protests have constantly intensified, with perhaps 25 persons dead now.
After a month of protests, the administration has taken urgent economic measures it hopes will undermine the protests and prevent their spread to poor and working-class barrios.
1. Ramirez announces Chinese and Russian loans and the launch of a very liberal Sicad 2
Posted in Chavez, Chavez lagacy, Chavez legacy, China, Faja of the Orinoco, Global Oil Market, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, Institutions and rule of law, PDVSA, Uncategorized, Venezuela oil, Venezuela update, Venezuelan Democracy
Tagged Beijing, Business and Economy, Caracas, Chavez, China, Energy, Heavy crude oil, Hugo Chávez, Nicolás Maduro, PDVSA, People's Republic of China
During Spring 2014, I’m teaching a post-graduate seminar in Berlin on the USA and the global market-centered oil system (a.k.a.”The Global Barrel”)–the syllabus sketch is below here.
While I’ve often taught seminars on “the Geopolitics of Global Oil,” the JFK Institute at Berlin’s Freie Universität had a special request: they would like their students to learn “how these policies are decided in the USA.”
For an American energy “expert”, the how of the USA’s policy-decision process is fairly familiar. However, not only for German students, but also for most US citizens, this process–whose outcome has such a profound impact on the entire world– indeed seems at best rather opaque, and, at worst, like an unseemly, vested-interest-driven and hopelessly partisan process. Continue reading
Posted in Energy and Environment, Energy and Geopolitics, Energy and Geostrategy, Euroepen Union, Germany, Global Oil Market, Global Oil system, heavy oil, Institutions and rule of law, international relations, Latin America, Oil course, Oil prices, Oil supply, OPEC, Peak Oil, Resource conflicts, Saudi Arabia, Seminar, South China Sea, The USA, Tight oil, Trade and Commerce, Trade policy
Tagged Berlin, Business and Economy, China, Energy, JFK Institute at Berlin, Middle East, oil sector, OPEC, post-graduate seminar, Saudi, Saudi Arabia, United States, Washington
Lula and Petrobras
I had a pleasant exchange with an intern – in the end a class of interns – at the Brazilian newspaper “O Estado de São Paulo” a couple of weeks ago. The questions were insightful. I tried to answer in an informative and direct manner. Indeed, things are not going well at Petrobras lately, and looking at the politics of Pdvsa and Petrobras next to one another is a useful exercise. Here’s the interview.
1) Do you agree that PDVSA and Petrobras have both had political mishaps in their administrations? Why?
Yes. Hugo Chavez used Pdvsa as the “goose that lays the golden eggs.” However, he took so much from Pdvsa — especially to support his frequent election campaigns, before each of which he increased public spending to win votes — that the “goose” has been left to starve.
Chavez’ revolution was, in his own words, an “oil revolution” and “oil socialism.” However, he did not understand how to run the national oil company. While he distributed largess from the country’s oil wealth to the poor, he was incapable of introducing a new, higher productivity of labor in Venezuelan society, which is what any real social revolution requires for success. He left the country in a very dangerous situation with a shortage of foreign exchange. If the price of oil falls further due to a US & EU accord with Iran and/or an improvement in the oil production situation in Libya, and Iraq, then Venezuela will face a deep crisis.
Petrobras too, under Lula, began to be viewed as a cash cow after it discovered the pre-salt. As a president. Lula was much more competent organizationally and in economic matters than Hugo Chavez. However, Continue reading
Posted in Brazil, Chavez, Chavez lagacy, Chavez legacy, Dilma, Faja of the Orinoco, Hugo Chávez, Latin America, Latin America and Caribbean, Lula, Oil prices, OPEC, PDVSA, PDVSA weakness, Petrobras, Pre-salt, rentismo, Venezuela oil
Tagged Brazil, Chavez, Hugo Chávez, PDVSA, Petrobras, United States, Venezuela
Inversiones energéticos de China en Latino américa. Nota que Venezuela está en cuatro lugar, en contra de las intenciones iniciales de Beijíng en 2007-08. HAZ CLICK para magnificar. (Grafico por T.O’D.)
[English readers: This post is an analysis I did in Spanish for Petroguía 2014 - the annual hard-copy guide for the LatAm petroleum sector - of China's oil and gas investments in LatAm and the Carribean. For Beijing's other investments, or a presentation, etc. drop me a line. ]
NOTA: La siguiente es mi análisis publicado en Petroguía 2014, la guía anual para el sector petrolífero latinoamericano. Soy agradecido a los directores del Petroguía por haberme permitido publicar el artículo aquí. El artículo es una resumen de una investigación que hizo sobre todas las inversiones de China en Latino américa. Si tienen interés en una reportaje o presentación detallada, por favor contactarme.
China y América Latina: ¿Quién gana y quién pierde?
Sumario. El mercado de hidrocarburos ya no está en el norte de América sino hacia el este, y la mejor estrategia de intercambio con esa plaza la lleva Brasil, mientras que Venezuela y Argentina están a la zaga.
Por Thomas W. O’Donnell
El petróleo y el gas que exportará América Latina en las décadas venideras irán mayormente a China y otras partes de Asia. Y eso es por el efecto combinado de menores necesidades de energía importada en Estados Unidos, gracias a la utilización de los nuevos métodos de fractura hidráulica (fracking) que produce cada vez más petróleo liviano, y por el tope que ha alcanzado su demanda doméstica. Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, Chavez lagacy, China, heavy oil, international relations, Latin America and Caribbean, Oil supply, OPEC, PDVSA, shale oil, The USA, Tight oil, Trade and Commerce, U.S. oil, Venezuela oil
Tagged Beijing, Business and Economy, Chavez, China, Energy, Heavy crude oil, Hugo Chávez, Latin America, oil sector, OPEC, PDVSA, United States, Venezuela
Geneva negotiations between P5+1 and Iran in early November (Reuters)
In September, President Obama came under withering criticism in Washington for not punishing Assad after crossing his “red line” on chemical weapons. By October, even Riyadh had joined those in the State Department, the White House and Congress who, according to US press reports, saw Mr. Obama as “aloof” and “indecisive” on Syria.
While Mr. Obama’s refusal to arm the more democratic and secular rebel forces has indeed permitted Assad to retrench–increasing the humanitarian disaster as well as the ability of jihadi forces to insinuate themselves into the conflict– nonetheless, imagining this is due to presidential indecision ignores the realpolitik driving his policy.
Why Has Obama Not Forcefully Supported Syrian Rebels? The Iran Factor
Consider first: What if forceful US action in Syria had scuttled any talks with Iran, or, for that matter, if the present negotiations in Geneva between the P5+1 and Iran end up in failure? Continue reading
Posted in Euroepen Union, Germany, international relations, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, negotiations, Obama, Oil supply, P5+1, Persian Gulf, Rouhani, Sanctions, Saudi Arabia, The USA
Tagged Obama, President Obama