CANTV, surrendering the Sovereignty
One of the most dangerous elements of the Maduro administration is the gradual but constant surrendering of our sovereignty, our natural resources, and State companies.
The government announces that a Chinese transnational company will take over Cantv and Movilnet, Venezuela’s publicly owned telecommunications operators, and restructure them for their “rescue”. As if it was not a big deal, only with the snap of his fingers, maduro decided to give away, behind the backs of the people, two strategic companies that were nationalized by president Chávez in 2007.
Nobody knows anything about what it really entails, or the reasons or the terms and conditions of this deal. Nobody knows anything, neither the company workers, nor the former executive board, nor the National Constituent Assembly, and not even the National Assembly.
There is talk about the creation of a new “holding”, a supposedly new company wrapped in confusing schematics and semantic ploys to entangle and conceal the truth behind it, that the companies’ operations have been given away to a foreign company. The government does as it pleases, without the slightest respect or regard not only for the trampled legacy of the government of President Chávez but also of the laws and mechanisms in place to publicly control the administration according to the Constitution.
With this move, the government would be surrendering operations of two emblematic companies for the country: Cantv and Movilnet, to a Chinese transnational, which is of least importance, since it could be from any nationality, Turkish, Russian, or American; what matters is that it is surrendering our national companies under the disguise of intervening to recuperate. Thus, another surrendering, another setback in the exercise of our sovereignty is taking place, in other words, surrendering our capabilities to control strategic matters for the functioning of the country in favor of its independence. In this case, the entire telecommunication sector is involved.
Who will control the new Chinese partners, specialists in surveillance, wiretapping, and control? Who will control the servers and databases of the country companies, including PDVSA, the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, the Public Registry, the Taxation Institution (SENIAT), the National Electoral Authority (CNE) and other automated systems of the country? Is it possible that we are now repeating with maduro the old drama of Intesa in PDVSA (when the electronic brain of the company was given to a private US company), only that now the electronic brain of the entire country is at stake with its privatization? These are all questions we must ask ourselves, especially because if at this time, you try to access the 6th floor upwards of the Cantv Tower located at the Libertador Avenue in Caracas, you will not be able to do so without a badge issued directly by the said Chinese company.
We can all remember when, back in 1991, the government of Carlos Andrés Pérez privatized Cantv in favor of a consortium led by the US company GTE, in the midst of a neo-liberal campaign and privatization rampage advance by the same people who now propose the so called “Plan País” or “Country Plan”. The only difference with the current situation is that, at the time, at least the then Congress discussed it. I remember the fierce opposition of the parliamentary representatives of Causa R, an absolute minority, and particularly professor Aristóbulo Istúriz, then a combative legislator, trying to prevent the act of selling the company, in a desperate but dignified gesture, arguing against privatization before the Supreme Tribunal of Justice and the Prosecutor General’s Office. The revolutionary sectors of the time spoke against privatization or surrendering State companies to the private sector. What happened to that rhetoric? Or is it that there are good transnationals and bad transnational, good surrendering and bad surrendering?
Has the government surrendered Cantv and Movilnet? Who discussed this decision? Where was this decided? Why? Which are the terms and conditions of this surrendering, of this absolute cessation of operations by the Venezuelan State, of this intervention? What is its scope? But the most serious aspect is that there is nobody where to turn to, no one dares to say anything, de facto there is no longer Contentious Administrative control, constitutional order, not even the action of protection. Resorting to the STJ or the Prosecutor Office is out of the question. Whoever says anything is at risk of being accused of being a conspirator thrown to jail, whether is a worker, a unionist or politician. This person will be “judged” on national television and on twitter directly by maduro, with the support of his inner circle and a demonstration will be called to defend our anti-imperialist “sovereign decisions”. Then, the person would be imprisoned at the dreaded La Tumba or El Helicoide, while he waits for a court hearing that gets deferred dozens of times and his name signaled as “corrupt” “ad perpetuam”.
Now, in the midst of the worst crisis in our republican history, with a government with no kind of control, not accountable to anyone; where “whatever maduro says” is done law, a privatization process far more serious from that of those years of neoliberal campaign is underway. Now, without any kind of respect for the law, without State institutions to control the government’s doings, in secrecy, amid the destabilization and devastating effects of the disastrous package, between the incompetence and fear, the country is being surrendered.
Just as privatization was an integral part of the neoliberal package advanced by the then president Carlos Andrés Pérez, today’s surrendering of our strategic national corporations is part of “maduro’s package”. This one announced exactly ago today, another complete failure, were a group of economic measures that only served to snatch the benefits and labor conquers achieved by the Venezuelan workers, while at the same time delivering the final blow to the value of our currency and purchasing power.
Of course, this surrendering of our strategic National assets has been preceded by terrible governmental management. Although Cantv has been led by a cadre with enough technical qualifications, the government strangled the company by restricting resources, delaying investments and decisions, so the service deteriorated, creating a perfect and appropriate climate to “justify” its privatization. The general public is fed up with Cantv’s and Movilnet’s lousy service and the constant internet service failures. They want anything that can replace it since “it will never be as bad as what we have now”. The madurismo continues to provide arguments to promote the liquidation of the country; the madurismo is precisely the main promoter of the opposition’s “Country Plan”.
We are facing a logic of denationalization: the maduro government destroys the State-run companies by its lack of management capabilities and careless attention, thus paving the road for “third party” to take charge of them. This has happened all throughout the public sector, from PDVSA to CVG, Sidor (Iron), cement companies, Pequiven (Petrochemicals); aluminum, agricultural, food, transport, electricity, water, and telecommunications companies. This without mentioning its failures in education, health and, in general, with the provision of essential services for the population.
The entire State economy sector has suffered the ineptitude and bungling of the madurismo, from “sacudones” to interventions, including the persecution and discrediting of its workers deemed “corrupts”, “conspirators”, “false positives”, and all sort of epithets and accusations that have preceded the violent intervention and seizing of public companies. The attacks and annihilation of the company do not stop until the madurista officer on duty does not conquer by destruction and finally sits on its little throne. No company or State institution, including ministries, Supreme Tribunal, Central Bank of Venezuela, Prosecutor’s Office, nothing has escaped this destructive logic. A government ruled by incompetents and unprepared managers has turned our country into a tragedy and our public system into a mass of paralyzed and unproductive assets, ready to be privatized by either maduro or guaidó.
maduro does the dirty work that an extreme-right wing government would do if it came to power: dismantle the State, reverse the economic sovereignty achieved during the government of President Chávez, and create the subjective conditions, in the minds of Venezuelans, to privatize the public companies, surrender our natural resources, and cause a tremendous slowdown and setback in the progress of our country’s possibilities to achieve economic and social development, sovereignty, and the good living of our citizens.
What it is most paradoxical and outrageous is that they have done everything in the name of Chávez and socialism, but they have plagued our homeland with misery, injustices, and sadness, betraying the legacy given to them in 2013, which they swore to defend. They are certainly phonies.
It is not only Cantv and Movilnet
This behind-the-scenes surrendering has been preceded by an accelerated and equally illegal and secret process of privatization of the oil and gas sectors of the country. PDVSA gets privatized in favor of Russian and Chinese transnationals, of Shell, of Sargent Marine, and in favor of the economic “allies” surrounding maduro’s inner circle.
Every oil field that was part of the old “Operational Agreements” that was subject to the migration to Joint Ventures, in the framework of the Organic Hydrocarbon Law and the Full Oil Sovereignty policy between 2004 and 2006, is now being handed over to private companies, auctioned off in secrecy. The equipment, drills, infrastructure, and even the engineers and qualified workers are being ceded. Who gets favored by all this? The madurismo, its frontmen, private partners, bolichicos and a whole array of opportunists and adventurers.
The areas of the Orinoco Oil Belt that were nationalized in 2007, within the framework of the Full Oil Sovereignty policy, which we managed to recover from the control of ExxonMobil, Conoco Phillips, and the Orimulsion, have now been handed over to Russian and Chinese companies. Thus, simply like that, without being held accountable, violating the law and the Constitution that reserves this activities to the State, maduro and quevedo sign and do whatever they want with the oil, selling, transferring assets of the country, conducting shady business without being accountable to anyone while production continues to plummet and PDVSA gets diluted as a State operating company.
The country only learned through Russian news reports that the government had surrendered the country’s gas reserves, the Gas for our Homeland, located north of the state of Sucre, to the same Russian company exploiting the Orinoco Belt Basin, that which nowadays controls our exports and does not pay taxes, due to granted tax exemptions. They are taking the gas that was thought for the Mariscal Sucre project, the one supposed to support the development of the Güiria Gas Pole and the Industrial Complex Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho (CIGMA). The people of Güiria and the state of Sucre will be left waiting for Chávez gas, that of the “Cruz de Mayo”. That gas, fellow compatriots, will not reach our eastern lands, it will leave the homeland.
And so, the gas needed for the industrialization, petrochemicals, domestic gas, and the electric sector is taken for export. Just as it happened before with the gas in the Venezuelan Gulf, surrendered to European companies to be exported through the Antonio Ricaurte Gas Pipeline; just as it happened with the eastern gas, surrendered to Shell; and as it happened with the gas of the Deltana Platform, surrendered to gas corporations from Trinidad and Tobago. They are taking away our natural resources; maduro auctions them off without being accountable to the people, without saying a word, in secrecy. In the meantime, our people cannot find gas, gasoline and they do not even have electricity.
The same thing has happened with the Mining Arc, the surrendering of gold and strategic minerals, as well as with the food companies, now turned into dollarized bodegones in a country where the minimum wage is 5 dollars a month.
This relationship of dispossession, in addition to demonstrating the real surrendering and anti-national nature of this government, of discovering and continuing to unmask the madurismo and their real intentions, intends to warn those who may still be confused, particularly those from the nationalist, progressive, or leftist field, that the madurismo, beyond their improvisation and incompetence, advances intentionally, taking clear steps towards dismantling and surrendering our economic sovereignty to reinstate a deeply extractive and dependent mining model, but with new actors and interests.
We are facing the actions of a government that, by using fear and the control they have over the country, the media and social networks, and the hunger, act outside the law and the Constitution to remain in power. They sell the homeland and hand over the State assets to new international actors in a massive act of corruption that takes place in secrecy, without anyone daring to hold them accountable because otherwise they will be pointed out as “traitors”, and whose sole purpose is to buy support and time.
But this relationship of dispossession also helps us develop the agenda of what we must reverse and repair when we get rid of this disastrous government. If we were capable of doing it with the dire oil opening of the neoliberal times, taking advantage of known legal loopholes with in our laws; it will be far easier to dismantle this criminal surrendering, carried out outside the law and violating the minimum transparency mechanisms and any ethical vestige in the exercise of government. All acts of maduro are void, vitiated by absolute nullity, unconstitutional and have no legal effect either in the past or in the future.
Let the workers and the entire country take note, these are the things that need to be amended, reversed, when the people regain control of its destiny; reestablishing the country’s sovereignty will be part of the urgent work agenda of the Patriotic Government Junta.