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PSUV delegates condemn US-Exxon attacks on revolution

Caracas bloc of delegates to PSUV Founding Congress

Caracas, February 13, 2008 -- In the face of the [US] empire's counterrevolutionary campaign, and that of the anti-patriotic and lackey oligarchy, that threatens the Bolivarian socialist revolution and the Venezuelan people, the PSUV expresses its support for the Bolivarian government and Commandante Chavez.

The Bolivarian socialist revolution of the Venezuelan people finds itself faced with a new and strong attack by imperialism, led by the capitalist government of the United States. Some of the elements of the current campaign against the government of President Hugo Chavez and against the Venezuelan people include the attacks against PDVSA, the guarimbas [violent actions] of hoarding and sabotage that threaten food security and the supply of medicines, the distribution of gas and fuel, the media campaign of misinformation, fear and desperation.

They are truly tactics of a fourth generation war, with the evident aim of destabilising democracy and holding back the Bolivarian revolution, to install puppet governments that allow the few families that manage the war industry and grand transnationals, such as Exxon Mobil, gaining control of petroleum and Venezuela's wealth, in order to consolidate their anti-democratic and exploitative world hegemonic system.

All of this is part of a historic chain of imperial aggressions that have plagued a large part of Latin America and the world with interventions and invasions, which today manifests itself in the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, US support for the genocidal actions of the state of Israel and the presence of U.S. troops in Haiti.

We also raise the alert and condemn the attacks of the puppet and fascist government of Alvaro Uribe Velez [in Colombia], [back]ed by the United States, against out president, [and Uribe's] permanent boycott of the humanitarian exchange [of prisoners from the Colombian guerilla war] and against Latin American integration, and the plan of paramilitary infiltration into Venezuelan territory.

We denounce and reject the perverse and cynical media campaign, at the national and international level, that aims to tie our Commandante and the Bolivarian government with narco-trafficking and the arms race, where just like CNN and the media channels of imperialism, the owners of the anti-patriotic television stations such as Globovision, offer themselves up to be spokespeople and instruments of imperialism against our people and against the Bolivarian homeland.

In the face of all this, the Caracas bloc of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela manifests its categorical support to the Bolivarian government and the leadership of Comandante Chavez, within the Bolivarian and socialist revolution, and its firm determination to defend our national sovereignty and the rights of our people in all spheres. We are disposed to mobilise actively and forcefully, with our battalions, with the workers, peasants, students and popular movements, with all political revolutionary forces and with the parties of the Patriotic Pole [parties that support the revolution], in support of the application of the revolutionary measures that are necessary to confront this new global escalation of the conspiracy.

We call on all these social and political forces of the revolution, in all of Venezuela, to remain alert and activated in the face of all acts of destabilisation, which are nothing more than the continuation of the coup on April 11, 2002 and the petroleum coup of 2002-2003. We issue the same call to all the social and political movements of Latin America and the world that sympathise and are in solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution. In view of all that has been said and considering other aspects of the national situation, we agree to:

1. Give our most determined support to President Chavez in his humanitarian work in regards to the armed conflict in Colombia and against the international imperialist offensive unleashed against Venezuela. Participate in the march against para-militarism that will be held on March 6, simultaneously in the city of Caracas and other countries.

2. Forcefully reject the attack by the transnational Exxon against PDVSA and the imperialist intentions to carry out a financial coup against our country. Initiate protest mobilisations with all political and social forces with a presence in Caracas. Support the energy and integration policies undertaken by President Chavez.

3. Initiate actions against the guarimbas of the hoarding of food, medicine and domestic gas, as well as against speculation. Support the adoption of forceful government measures against the capitalist sectors that have causes shortages and the speculation of prices, including the possible expropriation of companies and monopolies that sabotage. Support and participate in the PSUV in plans and days of action of social control with social organisations, and of popular power, with workers involved in production, distribution and commercialisation of food and with peasants, as well as with the institutions of the state. Confront in an articulated manner all the manifestations of sabotage, together with all the social organisations of the revolutionary process.

4. Solidarity with the victims of the coup and against the coup plotting impunity. No to the intentions of those found guilty of assassination during the days of 11, 12, 13 and 14 of April (police and commissionaires of the service of ex-mayor Alfredo Pena) to benefit from the amnesty decree or dropping of charges, that does not correspond to them given we are dealing with crimes against humanity and grave violations of human rights. Support for the victims during the days of the trial.

5. Retake up the struggle for the social and democratic conquests contained in the project of the constitutional reform, through social mobilisation and popular legislative initiative. Support and impulse in the same way the necessary changes to make possible the re-election of President Hugo Chavez, leader of the revolutionary process.

6. Solidarity with the struggle of the SIDOR workers, in line with the united mobilisation in which SIDOR workers and PSUV delegates participated in the framework of the 3rd Assembly of the Founding Congress held in Guayana, principal territory of the workers movement who work in basic industries and bastion of our working class.

7. Incorporation of the PSUV in the campaign of social movements and popular organisation of the revolution against the pro-imperialist, coup-plotting and anti-patriotic Globovision (alias "Globoterror"), the Political Command of the Coup Operation and the Right. Support to the appeal introduced by social organisations against the owners of Globovision and admitted to the Supreme Tribunal of Justice (for violations of human rights). We pronounce ourselves in favour of the construction of a national public system of communication of transition to socialism, in the hands of the communities, the social organisations, workers, peasants, popular movements and the organisms of popular power.

8. Support and participate in the popular events to commemorate February 27 and 28, converting them into part of the revolutionary and popular response to the current counterrevolutionary offensive by imperialism and the guarimbas of the oligarchy (protest against hoarding and speculation, rejection of Exxon's demands, etc).

We announce that the 4th Assembly of the Founding Congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) will be held this weekend, with delegates from all the regions of the country, which will be preceded by mobilisations in defence of the revolution and national sovereignty.

We invite everyone to participate with all the delegates of the PSUV and the popular movement in the vigil that will be held this Thursday, starting from 6pm at PDVSA La Campiña in defence of our petroleum industry and the interests of our nation.

[Translated by Federico Fuentes and Kiraz Janicke for Links -- International Journal of Socialist Renewal (http://www.links.org.au).]

[Background articles are available at http://www.greenleft.org.au/2008/739/38270 and http://www.greenleft.org.au/2008/739/38264 and http://www.greenleft.org.au/2008/738/38209 ]

 

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Petition: Stop ExxonMobil’s theft from the poor!

 * Please sign on and
circulate widely *

 
Stop ExxonMobil’s theft from the
poor!
Support
Venezuela’s right to
sovereignty!
 
Sign-on
statement
Please show your support by clicking
http://venezuelasolidarity.org/?q=node/2397
  
United
States oil giant ExxonMobil Corporation has launched a
major attack on the Venezuelan people’s right to independence and
self-determination.
 
In January and February, ExxonMobil used the courts
in Britain, the
US and the
Netherlands to get injunctions that freeze up to $12
billion in assets of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, Petróleos de
Venezuela (PDVSA), in those countries. The British injunction, granted on
January 24 without any prior notice to PDVSA, will be heard again on February
22. The US injunction was upheld by a February 13
ruling of the US Federal Court.
 
ExxonMobil’s economic thuggery is an attempt to
undermine and reverse the Venezuelan government’s decision last May to
nationalise ExxonMobil’s 41.7% stake in the Cerro Negro project in the
Orinoco oilfield. The nationalisation was part of the
revolutionary government’s efforts to recover
Venezuela’s sovereignty over its natural resources.
ExxonMobil rejected the Venezuelan government’s offer of compensation, instead
using the legal system in various First World countries to punish the country. In contrast,
France’s Total and
Norway’s Statoil have agreed to accept from
Venezuela close to $1 billion compensation for part
of their holdings in the oil project.
 
ExxonMobil is the world’s largest oil company, and
was a key “stakeholder” in the US’s bloody invasion and occupation of
Iraq. The corporation’s attack on
Venezuela is a continuation of its aggressive
response to any government daring to assert its nation’s right to own and
control their natural resources. More fundamentally, the attack also aims to
destabilise Venezuela and undermine the socialist revolution
being constructed by the Venezuelan people.
 
PDVSA accounts for some 90% of
Venezuela's foreign exchange and half of its
federal tax revenue, and it is the crucial source of funds for the Venezuelan
government's programs that provide free education and health care to the poor.
In 2006, the state-owned oil company spent $13.3 billion on such programs, up
from $6.9 billion in 2005 and more than double the $5.8 billion it invested in
new domestic gas and oil projects.

ExxonMobil’s actions have angered poor Venezuelans,
who have held protests around the country. As oil workers’ union leader Luis
Carvajal said: “This transnational has exploited our wealth, has exploited our
workers and violated our rights. All the workers in the Orinoco oil belt support the
nationalisation.”
 
Venezuela supplies about 10% of the
US’s oil. On February 14, PDVSA halted oil
supplies to ExxonMobil and the government is now considering suspending oil
supplies to the US. As
Venezuela's energy minister, Rafael Ramirez, has
emphasised, the interests of the Venezuelan nation are more important than any
corporation, and Venezuela will not back down from its policy of
full oil sovereignty.
 
In light of these events, we the
undersigned:
 
·       
Support the Venezuelan government’s efforts to defend
and extend the Venezuelan people’s common ownership and control over
Venezuela’s natural resources, and defend the
Bolivarian Republic of
Venezuela’s right to assert its social, political
and economic sovereignty.
 
·       
Condemn ExxonMobil’s economic blackmail against
Venezuela and call for it to immediately withdraw
its legal campaign against PDVSA.
 
·       
Reject as illegitimate and immoral the British, US
and Dutch courts’ order to freeze PDVSA’s assets. Only
Venezuela, through its own courts and in accordance
with its own Constitution, has the right to decide the ownership and control of
the resources in its territory. So-called “international arbitration” on
Venezuela’s resources via courts in the
First
World countries
is colonialism.
       
                               
·       
Stand in solidarity with the protest actions of Venezuela’s people, trade
unions and social organisations against ExxonMobil and the US government’s
economic and political thuggery, and commend the words of Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez: “They will never rob us again, those bandits of
ExxonMobil”.
 
Please show your support by clicking
http://venezuelasolidarity.org/?q=node/2397
 
For information about protest
actions against ExxonMobile in your city, contact the Australia-Venezuela
Solidarity Network at info@venezuelasolidarity.org

Prominent British Call on ExxonMobil to Respect Venezuelan Sover

Prominent British Figures Call on ExxonMobil to Respect Venezuelan Sovereignty

Over 50 prominent figures representing a wide section of British society have signed a statement raising concern over legal action taken by oil giant ExxonMobil to prevent the Venezuelan government from exercising its right to control its natural resources. They have urged ExxonMobil to work for "the amicable settlement" of its dispute with the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA through international arbitration.

The statement is published as Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA goes to the High Court to appeal an English court's decision to freeze its assets in England and Wales.

The statement points out that "The action by ExxonMobil was in response to the policy of the Venezuelan government to take back majority control of their own oil resources. Unlike other international oil companies, where some 30 out of 32 contracts have been successfully renegotiated and amicable agreements and compensation terms reached with the Venezuelan government, ExxonMobil refused the terms offered."

The statement concludes "We further restate our support for Venezuela's national sovereignty, including the right to determine its own policy in relation to its oil and natural resources in favour of the people of that country, rather than in the interests of multinational companies."

Signatories to the letter included writer and film-maker John Pilger, veteran political activist Tony Benn, Bruce Kent, Vice President of CND, Ann Pettifor, founder of Jubilee 2000, Brian Wilson, Chair of the Scottish Venezuela Society, an MEP and many MPs from 5 parties, a number of leading writers, artists and academics and many senior national trade union leaders.

Colin Burgon MP, Chair of Labour Friends of Venezuela group of parliamentarians said: "Millions of Venezuelans are now benefiting from free healthcare and education thanks to the Chavez government's greater control over that country's oil resources. Government's must have the right to be able to put the interest of people ahead of company's profits".

UNISON Deputy General Secretary Keith Sonnet, added that, "This sends a clear message internationally, including to the Bush administration, that Venezuela's right to self-determination must be respected, rather than the wishes of multinational companies to make profits."

Gordon Hutchison, Secretary of the Venezuela Information Centre, said "There are many voices in Britain who strongly oppose ExxonMobil's attempts to undermine the right of Venezuela's democratically elected government to control its own resources."

The full text of the statement and full list of signatures is as follows:

STATEMENT RE EXONNMOBIL AND PDVSA

We note with deep concern that on 7 February an English court granted an injunction to US multinational oil company ExxonMobil freezing the assets of the Venezuelan oil company PDVSA in England and Wales. The order covered assets to the value of US$12 billion.

The Venezuelan Government was given no notice of the case and was not afforded any opportunity to be represented at the hearing.

This week PDVSA will appeal the decision in the High Court and seek to revoke the injunction.

The action by ExxonMobil was in response to the policy of the Venezuelan government to take back majority control of their own oil resources. Unlike other international oil companies, where some 30 out of 32 contracts have been successfully renegotiated and amicable agreements and compensation terms reached with the Venezuelan government, ExxonMobil refused the terms offered.

We believe that the action by ExxonMobil, and the ruling by the court, contravenes the right of the democratically elected government of Venezuela to exercise sovereignty over its natural resources. The nationalisation of Venezuela's state oil company, holder of some of the world's largest oil reserves, under the government of President Hugo Chavez has allowed Venezuela to tackle a range of social inequalities, by taking back the oil wealth and redistributing it to benefit the Venezuelan people.

We urge the amicable settlement of this dispute through arbitration under the auspices of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, a body of the World Bank, as sought by the Venezuelan government in compliance with the terms of the contract signed between PDVSA and ExxonMobil in 1995.

We further restate our support for Venezuela's national sovereignty, including the right to determine its own policy in relation to its oil and natural resources in favour of the people of that country, rather than in the interests of multinational companies.

SIGNATURES

Diane Abbott M.P (Labour)

Tony Benn

John Pilger

Bruce Kent

Prunella Scales

Caroline Lucas MEP

Gordon Hutchison, Secretary, Venezuela Information Centre (VIC)

Brian Wilson, Chair, Scottish Venezuela Society

Ann Pettifor, Fellow, New Economics Foundation

Neal Lawson, Compass

Graeme Smith, General Secretary. STUC

Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary, UNISON

Ken Loach

Colin Burgon M.P (Chair, Labour Friends of Venezuela)

Jon Cruddas M.P (Treasurer, Labour Friends of Venezuela)

Mike Hancock M.P (Liberal Democrat)

Adam Price M.P. (Plaid Cymru)

Angus MacNeil M.P. (Scottish National Party)

Richard Harvey

David Hillman

Jon Trickett M.P (Secretary, Labour Friends of Venezuela)

Jeremy Corbyn M.P

Victoria Brittain

Graham Goddard, Deputy General Secretary, UNITE

Billy Hayes, General Secretary CWU

Owen Tudor, Head of European Union and International Relations, TUC

Rodney Bickerstaffe

Sue Branford, Chair, War on Want

Richard Gott

Doug Nicholls, National Secretary CYWU/UNITE

Derek Wall, Green Party

Cllr. Salma Yaqoob

Hazel Marsh, University of East Anglia

Andy Bain, President TSSA

Maggie Bowden, General Secretary, Liberation

Ruqayyah Collector, Black Students Officer, NUS

Marie Daley, UCU National Executive Committee

Michael Derham, Northumbria University

Bill Greenshields, Vice-President NUT

Chris Kitchen, General Secretary NUM

Matt Wrack, General Secretary FBU

Dr Mandy Turner, University of Bradford

Dr Kaveh Moussavi, University of Oxford

Paul Laverty

Gerry Doherty, General Secretary TSSA

Baljeet Ghale, President NUT (personal capacity)

Joe Marino, General Secretary, BFAWU

Dr. Francisco Dominguez, University of Middlesex

Doreen Massey, Open University

Martin McIvor, Editor, Renewal

Gerry Morrissey, General Secreary, BECTU

Linda Newman, President UCU

Diana Raby, University of Liverpool

Mick Shaw, President, FBU

Notes to Editors: 1) In the past, ExxonMobil has received criticism from NGOs such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth for its poor record in terms of corporate and environmental responsibility. Examples can be found at www.exxonsecrets.org <http://www.exxonsecrets.org/> and www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/exxons_climate_footprint.pdf <http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/exxons_climate_footprint.pdf>

2) For more information or media comment from signatory's to the letter, please contact Gordon Hutchison, Secretary, Venezuela Information Centre on info@vicuk.org, 0207 272 2654 or 077 109 56332.

Venezuela: the spectre of Big Oil

Venezuela: the spectre of Big Oil

"Never again will they rob us – the ExxonMobil bandits. They are imperial, American bandits, white-collared thieves. They turn governments corrupt, they oust governments. They supported the invasion of Iraq."[1] This was the response from Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez to the successful lawsuit by the world's biggest corporation (ExxonMobil), freezing $12 billion in assets of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PDVSA – a serious escalation in Big Oil's long running dispute with Chávez and the movement he represents.

ExxonMobil isn't suing PDVSA because it needs the money. The world's largest publicly traded corporation recorded profits of $40.6-billion (U.S.) in 2007, up three per cent from 2006's record of $39.6-billion. "If Exxon were a country, its 2007 profit would exceed output of two-thirds of the world's nations. Its 2007 revenue of $404-billion (U.S.) would place it among the 30 largest countries, ahead of such middle powers as Sweden and Venezuela."[2]

ExxonMobil claims it is suing PDVSA because of a June 2007 deadline given by Chávez to Exxon and other Big Oil corporations operating in Venezuela, demanding they cede majority control in their heavy-crude upgrading projects in the country. ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips filed arbitration requests with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, and ExxonMobil simultaneously took legal action in courts in the U.S. and Britain, which on February 7 agreed with their claim, and ordered the freeze of PDVSA assets.[3]

But there is much more at stake than a simple legal disagreement. First – many other Big Oil companies have agreed to Chávez' terms and not gone to court – among them, Chevron Corp., Norway's Statoil ASA, Britain's BP PLC and France's Total SA.[4] Second, Venezuela is not the only country to confront Big Oil and demand that old contracts be renegotiated. Here in Canada, Newfoundland's Danny Williams demanded and won an ownership share in the multi-billion-dollar Hebron offshore oil deal.[5] Even the Tories in Alberta are forcing Big Oil to pay higher royalties.[6] And in Russia, "both BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC have ceded control in big, lucrative Siberian projects to Russian gas monopoly OAO Gazprom."[7]

The truth is, ExxonMobil's ultimatum has more to do with politics than economics. Russia's ruler Vladimir Putin holds office because of his ties to the secret service, his crackdown on public debate, and his commitment to pushing Russia back into the world of Big Power politics. That world of corruption and repression is comforting and familiar to the owners of ExxonMobil. Chávez, by contrast, holds office because millions have again and again been willing to put their bodies on the line against multinational corporations and their local allies. That revolutionary movement is terrifying to ExxonMobil.

So – working with courts in the U.S. and Britain (the two biggest western imperialist powers) – ExxonMobil is testing the water, seeing just how strong the revolutionary movement in Venezuela is. This is especially critical, given the setback faced by Chávez in the recent constitutional referendum.

And we shouldn't doubt the capacity of multinational corporations to use a legal fig leaf to pursue their "right" to pull exorbitant profits out of the Global South. "BP won an arbitration case against Libya in the 1970s ... and chased tankers of Libyan crude around the world to seize them as payment." In 2006 and 2007, "Western companies that purchased debt for unpaid construction work in the Congo have tried to seize tankers of Congolese oil to satisfy arbitration awards."[8]

The ExxonMobil attacks have been met with defiance in Venezuela. PDVSA denies that any significant assets have been affected by the court action. "PDVSA is operating at 100 percent and is exporting oil all over the world," said Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez.[9] February 11, Chávez said that if ExxonMobil does succeed in freezing PDVSA assets, he would halt oil exports to the United States.[10] This is a threat the U.S. has to take seriously. As well as being the fourth largest exporter of oil to the U.S., if Venezuela succeeds in certifying an additional 200 billion barrels of oil reserves to the 100 billion already certified, it will officially have the most proved reserves of oil, in the world.[11]

With so much at stake, U.S. imperialism and its corporate allies are not at the moment in a position to launch a sequel to the failed coup of 2002. Venezuela's movement is too big, and Venezuela's oil is too important for that to happen – for now. But we know from the bitter history of Big Oil and the Global South that this is not the last confrontation between corporate and popular power in Venezuela.

© 2008 Paul Kellogg

References


[1] Cited in Saul Hudson, "Chávez warns he'll stop oil shipments to U.S.," The Globe and Mail, Feb. 11, 2008, p. B.3
[2] Shawn McCarthy, "Exxon profit hits $40.6-billion," The Globe and Mail, Feb. 2, 2008, p. B.7
[3] Peter Wilson, "Big Oil's Victory in Venezuela," BusinessWeek, Feb. 7, 2008, www.businessweek.com
[4] Brian Ellsworth, "Exxon, ConocoPhillips won't bow to Chávez," The Globe and Mail, June 26, 2007, p. B.12
[5] Colin Campbell, "How to win, in a fight with Big Oil," Maclean's, September 10, 2007, p. 62
[6] Guy Chazan, "Oil Sands Are Shifting in Alberta," Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2008, p. A8
[7] Russell Gold, "Big Oil looks for Plan B after Venezuela," The Globe and Mail, June 27, 2007, p. B.13
[8] Russell Gold, "Big Oil," p. B.13
[9] "Venezuela denies PDVSA asset freeze," www.chinaview.cn, February 9, 2008
[10] Simon Romero, "Chávez threatens to end oil exports to U.S.," International Herald Tribune, February 11, 2008, www.iht.com
[11] Steven Bodzin, "Exxon Gives Chávez Biggest Fight Over Nationalization," Bloomberg.com, February 13, 2008

Londoners Protest Exxon's Bid to Grab Venezuelan Resources

Londoners Protest Exxon's Bid to Grab Venezuelan Resources

Solidarity activists and UK Members of Parliament protest against ExxonMobil (Venezuela Information Centre)
Solidarity campaigners rallied on Tuesday March 4th to defend Venezuela's oil resources from greedy transnational ExxonMobil at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London.

Scores of protesters waved placards and chanted slogans behind barriers decorated with the Venezuelan flag at the demonstration, which was organised by the Venezuela Information Centre (VIC). Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA is fighting a court order to freeze its assets in England and Wales at the behest of ExxonMobil.

The rapacious oil giant has waged a worldwide campaign against Venezuela since the nation's socialist government took a majority stake in its massive oil reserves last year in order to fund extensive social welfare and development programmes.

PDVSA successfully negotiated new contracts and compensation deals with 30 of the 32 transnationals extracting oil from Venezuela.

Venezuela has proposed arbitration of the row with ExxonMobil by the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

But the petroleum giant chose legal channels over diplomacy in seeking to maintain its grip on the South American nation's natural wealth.

A delegation of MPs and trade unionists led by Labour Friends of Venezuela chairman Colin Burgon and secretary Jon Cruddas presented a statement in support of PDVSA and the Venezuelan government to Venezuelan diplomat Felix Plasencia.

VIC secretary Gordon Hutchinson said: "This event indicates the strong feeling in many different sections of British society that ExxonMobil's hostile action must be opposed."

Protesters were puzzled as to why Exxon would attempt to seize the limited PDVSA assets in Britain. But UNISON national chairman Keith Sonnet pointed out: "Other companies have reached an amicable settlement. ExxonMobil have a political motivation in this. "It's disgraceful that PDVSA's assets are being frozen on behalf of a global corporation like ExxonMobil, trying to prevent Venezuela using its resources for the benefit of its people."

Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price said: "This is a very provocative move by ExxonMobil. It strikes me as ironic that the neocons who claimed they were bringing democracy to the Middle East are undermining it in Latin America. The common thread here is oil."

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn stressed: "Venezuela has an elected government and a chosen path of public ownership of its oil and extractive industries. It's not up to the British courts to take money from the Venezuelan people and hand it to ExxonMobil."

TSSA president Andy Bain said: "This is an example of one of the world's largest transnational companies holding to ransom a democratically elected government acting on the wishes of its people."

Green Party international co-ordinator Dr Joseph Healy added: "I'm here to see that Venezuela's resources remain in the hands of the Venezuelan people and are not exploited by international corporations."

London Court Rules in Favour of Venezuela in Dispute with Exxon

March 18, 2008

By James Suggett
http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/3283

Mérida, March 18, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)- British Judge Paul Walker
declared in a London courtroom today that the freezing of $12 billion in
assets of the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA shall be revoked. The
decision is a major defeat for the world's largest oil company, ExxonMobil,
which had won the temporary asset freeze on February 7th in a dispute with
PDVSA over the nationalization of Exxon's stake in a Venezuelan Orinoco
River Belt project, known as Cerro Negro.

"We can say that we have won another battle, another victory for our people,
for our government, and the most important is that it is another victory for
our country," declared Venezuelan Oil and Petroleum Minister Rafael Ramírez
regarding the decision.

The Venezuelan Ambassador in London, Samuel Moncada, called the decision
"the beginning of the end of ExxonMobil's harassment of Venezuela." Moncada
also said his country is "pleased" that the British court "refused to be
utilized as an instrument of Exxon to impose itself in the international
scene against Venezuela."

"The important thing for our country is that the campaign, the assault of
lies and chaos [with which] they tried to install anxiety in our country and
they tried to say that our national industry was broken, this was all
discounted, because it was all a lie... it was part of, once again, this
manipulation that they have forged against our people," Ramírez said in an
interview with the Venezuelan government television station VTV.

Exxon lawyer Catherine Otton-Goulder, declined to comment on the decision.

Judge Walker, who postponed the decision twice since the week-long case
began February 28th, will give a full explanation of his decision in coming
days.

PDVSA had argued that the London court does not have legal jurisdiction over
the assets of a nationally owned foreign company that does not operate in
the U.K. Exxon argued the contrary, and had already won a court order in New
York freezing $315 million in PDVSA assets in February.

As a result of the case, Exxon is required to pay for PDVSA's legal fees,
which it says amounted to about $766,000. Also, PDVSA will pursue
compensation for other damages, such as the devaluation of its bonds,
increases in borrowing costs, and its inability to invest in refineries
during the freeze, according to PDVSA lawyer George Pollack.

Meanwhile, PDVSA will regain full control over its assets in the U.K., but
the asset freezes Exxon obtained in the Dutch Antilles, Holland, and New
York will remain for now.

"I think all Venezuelans can feel proud," proclaimed Ramírez, vowing that
the government will continue defending the "principles and sovereignty" of
the nation against foreign aggression.

He also assured that PDVSA would do all it can to clean up the image of
Venezuela in the wake of Exxon's actions. Ramírez had called Exxon's efforts
"judicial terrorism" in February because they went outside of the
arbitration underway in the International Center for the Settlement of
Investment Disputes (ICSID) and sought to damage PDVSA's reputation and
credibility even though Exxon was offered indemnity.

"We have defeated ExxonMobil," Ramírez elatedly announced, adding that "the
decision is 100% in favor of Venezuela, the allegations of Exxon were
discounted," but said he would wait until the judge fully explains his
decision before making any further comments, according to ABN news reports.

Now, ExxonMobil and PDVSA will return to the process of ICSID arbitration
where they had left off, Ramírez explained.

Following the nationalization of the Orinoco River Belt oil reserves in May
2007, the Venezuelan government required that the state hold at least a 60%
stake in oil projects. It nationalized the stakes of several companies,
including the Italian ENI, with which it reached an agreement for $700
million in compensation last month.

Exxon, however, rejected Venezuela's compensation offer of $750 million for
a 41.6% stake in the "Cerro Negro" project. The offer was based on the value
of Exxon's stake according to PDVSA records at the time of nationalization,
PDVSA claimed, but Exxon sought projected profits from the project and
demanded arbitration.

The maximum indemnity Exxon had attempted to negotiate was $5 billion before
pursuing the $12 billion asset freeze, according to an announcement by
Ramírez to the Venezuelan National Assembly in February. The disparity in
compensation claims prompted accusations that Exxon's efforts were part of
an "economic war" against Venezuela.

Since the nationalizations, state participation in the Orinoco River Belt
has increased from 39% to 78%, and Venezuela remains Latin America's largest
producer of crude, with nearly half of its oil exported to the United
States.

There is no sign that Venezuela's termination of its business relationship
with Exxon Mobil on February 12 will be reversed, although PDVSA will honor
its contract with the Chalmette refinery it co-owns with Exxon.

PDVSA and Mobil became business partners in 1997, before Mobil was acquired
by Exxon. During this time period of the 1990s, known as the "Petroleum
Opening" era, the 1976 nationalization of Venezuelan oil was gradually
weakened and PDVSA was granted autonomy, converting the company into what
Ramírez called a "Trojan Horse" for international capital.

In contrast, the administration of President Hugo Chávez has promoted what
it calls "petroleum sovereignty." In addition to nationalizing foreign
controlled oil production projects, this policy has included channeling over
$30 billion of PDVSA's oil profits into Venezuela's National Development
Fund (FONDEN) between 2004 and 2007. The funds were invested in
infrastructure projects, expansion of the Barrio Adentro health care system,
environmental cleanup, and education, among other programs.

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