Release the workers, military and political prisoners

Liberen a los trabajadores, militares y presos políticos

This must be a demand from all political and social sectors in the country of Venezuela. Currently, in our country, there are hundreds of workers, military, and politicians imprisoned for political reasons without any trial, procedure or their right to defense.

All of them have been denied of their constitutional rights, their right to due process, the presumption of innocence, the inviolability of the home violated, all of which constitutes a violation of their human rights, as has been expressly denounced by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, after being working for a long period with her team in the country and also, by the few family members who dare to do so.

These workers, military, and politicians belong to the entire spectrum of the country’s social life, from “Chavistas” (those who follow former President of Venezuela Hugo Chávez)  to right-wing opponents, including workers, popular leaders, and writers, who have only made use of their constitutional right to express their opinions and political positions.

Most have been subjected to humiliating and vexatious detention. Kidnapped by masked, heavily armed people who are supposed to be members of the security forces, who act in an abusive manner and violate all the guarantees and rights of the detainee. In many cases, they are exposed to public scorn, using the State’s media, in which, from the president, vice-president, minister or attorney general himself, these people are unilaterally accused, sentenced, and condemned brandishing the most unusual accusations, from corruption, terrorism, treason, to any other hoax.

In no case have the accusers shown any proof of their accusations. They are only «false positives», set up with the prosecution and the judiciary, to bury a citizen alive, without anything, or anyone, being able to restore their rights, their name, their reputation, their freedom.

I know directly the drama of the oil workers and managers. I have denounced it both publicly and before the United Nations Human Rights bodies. I will continue to do so because I know that the motivation behind the government’s attack on these comrades has been to sweep away the technical-political leadership that accompanied me in the management of PDVSA for 12 years, to open the way for the privatization of the company in their favor. If I had returned to the country, they would have arrested me, without the right to a defense or a trial, as they did with the former president of PDVSA in function Eulogio Del Pino, and others very high managers and wellknown for their respective capacities as Pedro León, Orlando Chacín, Jesús Luongo, Pavel Rodríguez, Gustavo Malavé, and 100 other PDVSA workers, or they would have kidnapped me to let me die in prison, as they did with the in function Minister and President of PDVSA and former President of CITGO Nelson Martínez. The cruelty and viciousness of the government are very similar to the violence of the Fourth Republic of Venezuela.

“Madurismo”(as we called the followers of the actual president of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro),  had to take away the leaders of the teams that worked at the head of PDVSA during the government of President Chávez, in order to remove the obstacle to the privatization of the company and the surrendering of the oil. They knew that I would not allow it, as we did not allow it during our administration.

In the end, it is about the violence of “Madurismo” to end “Chavismo” and eliminate the political, economic and social conquests achieved to impose a backward, dependent model that only favors, in a scandalous way, the transnationals and the economic groups that came to power with maturity.

In addition to direct, physical violence, there is the use of justice for political persecution, lawfare, moral lynching, incitement to hatred and the moral destruction of institutions and trajectories, of entire lives. What they have sown has been the seed of fascism, and from there, nothing new will emerge.

But it’s not just about PDVSA workers. At the beginning of this «razzia», some political sectors, especially those affiliated with the government, the “Maduristas”, “Chavistas”, and opposition leaders, kept a cowardly silence. For them it was «only» about those from PDVSA, it was «Maduro against Ramírez», or in the case of the opposition, «it is only about “Chavistas.»

Well, they were wrong, and history will judge the silence and cowardice of the leaders of the PSUV (the socialist party that is actually represented by Nicolás Maduro), parties of the extinct Polo Patriótico, ministers, human rights defenders, former guerrillas, politicians, lawmakers, authorities, members of the National Constituent Assembly called and direct by Maduro, ANC, thinkers, journalists, and opinion-makers, who have kept an immoral silence in the face of what was only the first violent episode of the government, which would later become the open and unbridled facet of a criminal, police government, capable of doing anything to stay in power.

The violence against PDVSA and its workers has been followed by violence against political leaders, former ministers of Chávez, the military, workers and public officials of all companies and sectors of the State: workers in the iron and steel industry, Corpoelec (company for electricity), peasants, mayors, popular leaders, writers. Many names have been added to the more than 100 detained in PDVSA: the very High Level militars, General Miguel Rodríguez Torres, General Raúl Isaías Baduel, Rubén González, Rodney Álvarez, among several others of whom nothing is known.

The last ones to end up in prison, under the government’s authoritarian action, are the young workers of PDVSA, Aryenis Torrealba and Alfredo Chirinos; and, recently, the professor and columnist Vivas Santana, as well as, journalists, medical and health personnel, who have dared to say something contrary to the official version of Jthe Minister of Informationof Maduro, Jorge Rodríguez about the coronavirus.

Similar abuses and humiliations have occurred against traditional opposition leaders and political activists. Hundreds of prisoners have been accused in a generic way of conspiracy and of being terrorists; some of them, like Councillor Albán, have already had a tragic and unclear end.

In the military, nothing is known. Officers are abducted, taken to prisons without any information or right to defense. The most emblematic cases are those of Lieutenant Colonel Martin Chaparro and Lieutenant Colonel Ovidio Carrasco. At the moment, there are 152 military prisoners, generally accused of participating in any of the alleged conspiracies to which the government has gotten us used to, «terrorist plots», «attacks», etc., the most tragic case being the death by torture of Lieutenant Commander Rafael Arévalo.

The position of the political sectors in this situation is at the same time pathetic and sad. Most of the time, it is one of indifference, others of convenient silence and, in the worst case, complicity, in both of its aspects: either «they deserve it because they are right-wingers» or «they deserve it because they are “Chavistas.» In this last group, they always debate in the contradiction of what to do when repression touches one of their close relatives or comrades.

From a revolutionary position, from a progressive and advanced position, our condemnation of political violence and the violation of human rights cannot leave room for doubt or political calculation. There cannot be «good prisoners» and «bad prisoners,» «good tortured» and «bad tortured,» and much less «good torturers» and «bad torturers.» Perhaps those of us who have closely seen and experienced the violence of the State, and not only of this government but also of the governments of the Fourth Republic of Venezuela, should have, as I have, a greater awareness of the duty to denounce and stop the government’s criminal behavior, which cannot be justified under any circumstances.

Silence cannot be an option in the face of government repression and violence against citizens; human rights violations cannot go unpunished.

April 19th and the lost independence.

Today is the 210th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of our country, a bold action of the Venezuelan patriots, followed by the signing and adoption of the Declaration of Independence and then by 10 years of bloody war against the Spanish Empire, where our Liberator Heroes, Bolívar, Sucre, Urdaneta, Ribas, Mariño, among many others, fought with courage and strategic clarity until they defeated it and brought independence to what today are six independent Republics of our South America. In that war, the genius of Simón Bolívar knew how to lead the Venezuelan people and the Liberating Army to eternal glory.

But today, plunged into the most serious crisis of our contemporary history by the devastating action of an incompetent government, with a president who confesses that he has time to watch entire seasons of TV series while the country is collapsing, or whose ministers make a broadcast to reopen one elevator while they make sure to tweet and build «trends» about this patriotic date.

The truth is that today, our independence has vanished among so many things that we have lost, something that cannot be hidden, despite the government’s capacity to manipulate the media, creating a world of fantasy and «victory after victory», of «still life», which our people look upon with astonishment and resignation.

An example of this is the oil issue. In my latest Weekly Oil Bulletin, which I invite you to read and review in its entirety, I explain with numbers and graphics how the government’s action against PDVSA has not only caused the operational collapse of the company, which is the reason why there is no gasoline, no gas, no oil production, but that the company has been «de facto» privatized.

The latest OPEC report, dated April 15th, states that oil production in Venezuela continues to fall and stands today at 660 thousand barrels of oil per day, a drop of 2.4 million barrels of oil per day, from the production levels we had in 2013 of 3,011 million barrels of oil per day, that is, a 78% collapse in our oil production, in 7 years of Maduro’s management at the head of PDVSA.



This graph shows the constant fall in our oil production from 2015 onwards when the company was intervened and the «razzia» against its workers and managers began. This situation worsened even more after 2017 when the company was militarized with the appointment of General Manuel Quevedo as President of Petróleos de Venezuela. At the time of the US sanctions against PDVSA, in January 2019, the damage caused by Quevedo’s mismanagement at the head of the industry was already profound. Let’s take a look at the current oil production.

Graph of Venezuela’s production 2014-2020.

In the Orinoco Oil Belt, production has fallen from 1,274 million barrels per day at the end of 2013 to 352 MBD in 2020, representing a drop of 922 MBD or 71% in the period.

Of this production, the mixed companies PetroSinovensa (CNPC), Petromonagas (Rosneft) and Petropiar (Chevron), contribute 250 MBD, which represents 69,4 % of the FPO production.

In the East of the country, production has fallen from 825 MBD at the end of 2013 to 170 MBD in 2020, a loss of 655 MBD, or 79.4%, although production has been delivered there to the private sector of the Service Contracts.

The Oil Service Contracts have fallen by 100 MBD between January and March 2020, from 201 MBD to 106 MBD, a fall of 50% in the production delivered by PDVSA. The Oil Service Contract model is not only contrary to the Constitution, to the law and extremely costly, but it also means a worse operational performance for PDVSA.

In the West, the drop has been from 776 MBD at the end of 2013 to 138 MBD in 2020, a drop of 638 MBD, equivalent to 82.2 %. This is even though the production of “PetroBoscán” (Chevron) and “PetroZamora” (Gazprombank, Russia) are located there. These produce 68 MBD and 60 MBD respectively, which represents 128 MBD, equivalent to 92.75% of the production in the West.

Who produces in Venezuela?

In the period of management between 2015-2020, from the intervention of the government in 2015, a shift in the production of oil in the country has taken place. Now it is in the hands of the private sector.

PDVSA has undergone “de facto” privatization, a process that is illegal and contrary to the interests of the Republic, as established by the Constitution in article 202 and the Organic Law on Hydrocarbons and decree 5,200 on the nationalization of the Orinoco Oil Belt.

While in 2013, oil production was 100% under PDVSA’s operational control, through its Production Units, 100% participation of PDVSA, called “Esfuerzo Propio” (“own effort”), as well as with the Joint Venture Companies, where PDVSA had a majority share of at least 60%-70% and control of operations.

In 2013, the country’s production closed at 3,011 million barrels of oil per day, of which 1,881 million were from Own Effort (100% PDVSA) and 1,130 million from Joint Venture companies (60-70% PDVSA).

Nowadays, as of March 2020, the country’s production closed at 660,000 barrels per day, a drop of 2.4 million barrels compared to 2013, which represents a 78% decrease.

Of the current production, 105 MBD are Own Effort (100% PDVSA), 106.8 MBD Oil Service Contracts (100% privately operated) and 448 MBD with Joint Venture Companies (operated by the private partner).

quien produce en venezuela
Who produces in Venezuela?
Production PDVSA 2013
Production PDVSA 2020

From an objective analysis of the data on production in the country, it can be seen that today, PDVSA’s own production represents only 16% of the country’s production, the remaining 84% is in private hands.

It is clear that behind all the «hype» and the scandal of Maduro and the prosecutor against PDVSA and its workers, what existed was the deliberate purpose of diminishing our own national capacities in the oil industry, that is, demolishing piece by piece the strengths of our national oil company, the most important in the country, the bastion of our SOVEREIGNTY, and then doing something that was IMPOSSIBLE BACK IN 2013: to advance in the privatization of PDVSA, with the excuse that the company «doesn’t work.»

After 12 years at the head of the oil industry as President of PDVSA and President Chávez’s Minister of Petroleum, through which we maintained all our operational capacities to the maximum and were able to supply the country with fuel and provide all the income required to sustain the national economy, it is my duty to denounce before the whole country, that the devastating rush of Maduro against PDVSA has culminated in the surrender of our oil industry to private control, transnationals and briefcase companies, an action that is against the laws and the Constitution. A surrendering that has been the indispensable condition for taking away our sovereignty and independence.