The ruin of PDVSA
The ruin and destruction of PDVSA has been one of the greatest crimes of Maduro’s government against the country. The collapse of the company has been followed by the surrender of the “Full Oil Sovereignty Plan” and the subsequent collapse of the national economy, as well as the provision of essential services such as gasoline, diesel, and gas.
What we have today is nothing but the ruins of what, until 2014, was the fifth most important oil company in the world, a powerful national oil corporation, unique in the world for its technical and human capabilities and for its commitment with the social and national development of the country.
It is easy to say, and now everything seems to be part of a distant past, but it was more than twelve years of uninterrupted work, between 2002 and 2014, of thousands of Venezuelan men and women, including myself, who rescued the company from the absurd oil sabotage of 2002–2003 and that, after reestablishing it full operational capacities, were able not only to exploit and develop our natural resources, oil and gas, for the benefit of the whole nation, but the New PDVSA became a real instrument of liberation of our people and an effective tool for the exercise of our Full Oil Sovereignty.
As President Chávez well said from Amuay, in August 2012, in the heat of the battle of our workers in defense of the industry, PDVSA “breathed Homeland”.
Whenever I have talked and continue to talk about PDVSA, whenever I have defended it alone, whenever I have alerted about the dangers of its mismanagement and denounced what they have done with it, I have done so based on my deep knowledge of the industry and its workers, knowledge acquired over 12 years at the head of the Ministry of Oil and 10 years as president of the company, thanks to the confidence entrusted in me by President Chávez.
Those were years of tireless work, struggles, victories, of revolutionary momentum, of profound political, economic and social transformations in the country, ones where PDVSA had a primary role; it was the flagship of the Homeland, with the endorsement and recognition of Commander Chávez and the people as a whole.
I have always stated, even back then when I was President of the National Gas Entity and member of the Executive Board of PDVSA during the difficult times of the 2002 coup, and as I always told Commander Chávez since my inception as Minister of Oil and as I have been able to verify throughout the years: everything that has happened in the country since the beginning of the XX century, what is happening now, and what is yet to happen in the XXI century, is and will be marked by oil, by our national and sovereign capabilities to handle a natural resource of such paramount importance for the world’s economy and so definitive for the development of our country, for its independence and the possibilities of overcoming the dependent economic model imposed by the transnational interests set in the country with the advent of oil.
That is the reason why every aspect related to oil and PDVSA has been the subject of political diatribe, the focus of confrontation for power in the country, the fundamental and defining factor of the kind of country and society we will have.
I defend, and always will, our work at the forefront of the oil sector and PDVSA during the government of President Chávez. He always did, he declared it, recognized it and endorsed it. On the other hand, the country and moreover the Venezuelan people lived it, through a period of economic growth, inclusion, and social justice.
It was the country where the extraordinary became an everyday experience. The figures and results are there for the scrutiny and awareness of the whole country. We worked tirelessly to have transparent management, we opened the once “black box” so all citizens, and especially the future generations, could value the work done during this extraordinary period.
I have said it once and again, we only have to give an account of our work to the people. Not in the bonfire of the inquisition of the madurismo or the extreme right. Not in the pillory where President Chávez himself was taken, where, like Herod, they have killed the dreams of an entire people.
We were able not only to defeat the 2002–2003 oil sabotage, recover the company from the destruction; PDVSA suffered terrible operational consequences and thousand million losses as a result of the criminal actions carried out by “oil people” to sabotage the company, paralyze it, and force the ousting of the government of President Chávez; but we refounded it to create the New PDVSA, the PDVSA of the People, the roja rojita (redder than red)
In those days at the beginnings of January 2003, with a sabotaged PDVSA, we only produced 23 thousand barrels of oil per day and the refineries were paralyzed, their equipment and systems were damaged, there was no gasoline or gas, we did not export oil, and suffered a direct loss of 17 billion dollars.
But it was not an incompetent person who took charge of the rescue operations, it was Chávez. It was not a team of improvisers those who heard the call of the homeland, it was us, the members of the Colina group, professionals, experts in the sector, with mettle, skills, and, above all, a profound patriotic commitment, those who took up the patriotic task of designing and executing the rescue operations.
No one was forming groups or doing business, there were no other plans. Our only plan was to stand on the side of the people and the country, stand alongside Commander Chávez. By April 2003, we were already producing 3 million barrels of oil per day, the gas production was reactivated, we restarted the refineries, and we supplied the country with gasoline, diesel, and LPG, in other words, the fuel necessary for its functioning. Throughout that same year, we reestablished our automated operational control systems, our exports, and reconsidered PDVSA’s relationship with the Venezuelan State, the people, and the country.
It would no longer be an oil company above the Venezuelan State, with its back turned to the country and the people, with an anti-national thinking; an instrument of the transnational interests in the country, with arrogant and corrupt elite that had handed over our oil to others through the nefarious oil opening from the 90s.
It was the time then, in 2004, to move forward with the Bolivarian drive. The Venezuelan State and the Bolivarian Revolution led by President Chávez would undertake the most important and dramatic battle for conquering our Full Oil Sovereignty, with the primary goal of putting, for the first time in our history, the oil at the service of the people.
It was up to us and our team to carry out the complex process of adjusting the entire sector and the transnationals in the country to the framework of our Constitution and laws. Extraordinary and successful battles took place to retake control and the operations that had been scamped from PDVSA during the process of surrendering at the Opening, during its privatization. At the same time, the joint ventures were created, the Orinoco Oil Belt was nationalized, the Oil Opening was completely reversed. The company faced international trials and constant campaigns against it and its workers, including sanctions. Nothing stopped us.
The results were overwhelming and in favor of the people: it was possible to re-establish the control of the strategic sector of the country, of all the oil operations, our economic sovereignty, our oil income; we recovered more than 487 billion dollars for the National Treasury, for its development, for the economy, for its infrastructure, for the Misiones, for the social development, to restore balance and social justice.
The most important thing is that an entity was created, a powerful human group, the workers of the New PDVSA, who became potters of a new country, builders, educators, professionals, revolutionaries, better human beings, who stood alongside the people to solve their problems and needs, make a revolution, helping the Venezuelan State to reestablish its authority in the conduct of our affairs.
That was the PDVSA we handed over to Maduro in August 2014. A thriving, enthusiastic company, the fifth worldwide, with a strong commitment with the country, capable and hardworking; a company that produced at the time 3 million barrels of oil per day while serving all the needs of the domestic market: gasoline, diesel, gas; it was a company that exported 2.5 million barrels of oil and products to the whole world; a leading corporation capable of handling such complex business and meeting all of its responsibilities with the Venezuelan State, a national company with 181 billion dollars of assets, 85 billion dollar of equity, and more than 130 thousand men and women, workers, patriotic enthusiasts.
PDVSA gave the Venezuelan State, for the first time in its history, an international, belligerent, independent and sovereign presence. Venezuela was a country to be respected, a good example for the peoples of the world.
This was the case until maduro and the madurismo insisted on taking control of the company to put it at the service of their petty group interests, of their own plan, which as always under suspicion, known as Chavismo without Chávez, the madurismo, the disaster we currently live in.
They destroyed the company, and it needs to be said, all of those that today accompany maduro in leading this disastrous government, that power group that has destroyed the country, engulfed PDVSA. Those figures that awaited the death of Commander Chávez to finally gain access to the company and divided it among themselves, stepping over workers and the interests of an entire nation: Nicolás Maduro, Tareck El Aisamí, Jorge Rodríguez, Delcy Rodríguez, Asdrúbal Chávez, Tarek William Saab, Simón Zerpa, Erik Malpica, Manuel Quevedo, among the visible faces that bear the greatest responsibility for the disaster in PDVSA.
These figures turned PDVSA’s Executive Board into an archipelago of personal, group, economic interests. They included, more than ever before, economic operators, real gangsters, to take part in the decisions and operations of the company. They persecuted the workers, removed the technical and political cadres that have been responsible for over 12 years of the company’s operations from its conduction, they used some former directors, then former presidents and former ministers for their subordinate purposes, to divide the workers and then, they humiliated them, paying them with imprisonment, kidnapping, discredit, and death. They filled the company with the military, National Guards, inexperienced people, police officers, workers of Caracas Mayor’s Office, all kinds of opportunists. They dedicated themselves to destroy all the process and operational, financial and managerial procedures with profound contempt and disregard.
People who until the arrival of mature to power were those who loaded the bags or administered the Foreign Ministry building began to decide payments, to block operations, to divert money for other purposes, for massive acts of corruption. They used the company to consolidate their power, satisfy their needs and appetites, and establish power networks with private factors; those called Bolichicos, old and new entrepreneurs, media owners, contractors, illegal business operators and all types of businessmen, including opposition factors, we can call it the burundanga opposition.
The performance of the madurismo in PDVSA has been illegal, irresponsible, improvised, contrary to national interests, and detrimental for the interests of the people. Sooner or later they will have to be held accountable for their outrages.
They blocked, due to their ignorance, economic interests and, due to pure indolence, essential processes of operational activities that cannot be halted. The continuous operation of our oil industry requires at least an average of 100 thousand contracts each year, contracts that maduro decided to review “himself” in Miraflores, as he absurdly announced in one of his razzias against the industry.
The persecution and displacement of the technical and political cadres, managers and workers, were accompanied by a campaign of hatred against them, generalized and biased accusations of “corruption”, double standards, double discourse. With this argument, a true state of terror within the industry was unleashed, fear, surveillance, mistreatments, dismissals, abuses, violations of labor rights, presence of intelligence agencies, armed men within the company became an everyday recurrence, including the proto-fascist surveillance and persecution groups that took over the spaces that were once used for discussion and work, always democratic and participatory, turning them into spaces of silence, mistrust and fear.
The oil workers and the Futpv, which were once vibrant organizations, are still kidnapped by the pro-maduro elite that has nothing to envy to the pro-AD elite of the times of Carlos Ortega. Over 30 thousand workers have left the company, but these masters of the madurismo simply do not care, as they do not care about the nearly 4 million Venezuelans who have left the homeland, an irreversible damage.
The collapse of the company also came with the dismantling of our oil policy, the handing over of the Full Oil Sovereignty. We have permanently denounced it and we will continue to do so, no matter what, the Decree 3368, the “Contracts for Oil Services”, deals and transfers of assets, operations, and competencies of the Ministry of Oil and PDVSA to private, national and foreign, entities have been an illegal and barbaric act.
They handed over the Oil Belt, the homeland gas, they privatized PDVSA, slaughtered the goose that lays the golden eggs, and the major beneficiaries are maduro’s friends, the madurismo and his circle of power, his international friends. There are no exceptions, they all take part in the pillage. The figures are impossible to hide and so are the effects: between 2014 and 2019 the production of oil has dropped from 3 million barrels per day to only 700 thousand barrels per day, according to the latest OPEC report of May this year. They have lost more than 2 million barrels of production per day, which, at current market prices, means a loss of 117 million dollars every day, that is, more than 40 billion dollars a year, only because of the incompetence of the madurismo in charge of PDVSA.
Emblematic areas, such as the Orinoco Oil Belt, which produced 1,250 million barrels of oil per day in December 2013, nowadays only produces 240,000 barrels per day, while the workers of the Belt have been imprisoned-kidnapped for two years, and our Joint Ventures were handed over to Chinese and Russians.
In the West of the country, Lake Maracaibo and Costa Oriental, which in December 2013 produced 864 thousand barrels of oil per day, today only produces 270 thousand barrels of oil. In the meantime, they took prisoners-kidnapped all the management of the West and handed the operations to the Bolichicos in Petrozamora. In the East, they gave all the areas of PDVSA to private companies as part of the so-called “service contracts” made by Quevedo; they have ceded the emblematic fields that we recovered with Chávez; those in which, back in 2013, we produced more than one million barrels of oil per day. At present, privatized and all, these do not reach 234 thousand barrels of oil per day. They have surrendered the natural gas, given up equipment, drills, PDVSA areas so that the private companies take charge of the looting. The facilities are dismantled, abandoned. That is that it is really happening in PDVSA.
The commercial activities and oil sales are carried out by private friends of maduro, and the rodríguez, those who pay the bills of the nephews, do so according to their own interests. They dismantled the Office in Vienna and with it the oil sales with price formulas, the audits. We are back to the times of the crass discounts of 30%, 40%, to the times of the surrendering. Commingled and out-of-specification oil are the only products being sold because the Jose upgraders are out of service. It is known as DCO and it is sold with discounts of up to 40%, sold by private “traders” because PDVSA does no longer sell oil, their vessels are stalled, abandoned in any port for lack of payment and negligence.
The refineries are no longer working, or work at minimum operational capacity. El Palito halted operations three years ago, Puerto La Cruz since March of last year, Cardón closed its doors this year, and Amuay does not reach 30% of operations. They do not receive oil and not produce fuel. The patriotic managers, with knowledge and experience, are imprisoned as if they were mere criminals. Jesús Luongo, for instance, is still kidnapped. That is why there is no gasoline.
The chaotic situation of the gasoline supply is the sole responsibility of maduro. Nothing like this happened during our administration. Today’s chaos is unprecedented. Something like this did not even happen during the 2002–2003 sabotage, because at the time, even when there was no fuel,
Chávez government recognized it, we explained to the people the situation and how we would fix it, the supply was administered to important sectors throughout the country, guaranteeing mobility and not only in Caracas. There was no such thing as twitter politics. Now PDVSA declares that the gasoline shortage is “fake news”. Hypocrites, indolents! Assume your responsibility! They have destroyed the national refining sector; the fuel that only a couple of years ago was produced in the country, is now being imported.
It is the same reason why there is no gas for the people. The country is no longer producing LPG. They handed over the gas from the homeland and abandoned the people with their canister on their backs. When maduro announced his sacudón back in 2014, he decreed with theatrical excitement the “intervention” of PDVSA Gas Comunal, and now it no longer exists. Everything that maduro touches dries up.
This situation of chaos and destruction of PDVSA, by the way, was already visible before any US sanction. We could have avoided these situations even with sanctions, as we did in 2010. But we did it with Chávez, not with this incompetent government.
While the madurismo continues to seek excuses, although being responsible and conspirators, it keeps persecuting and repressing, each time with more zeal and evil, especially the Chavistas. They are now targeting Major General Rodríguez Torres and his close circle, his loved ones. Such is the case of Rocío Ramírez, detained-kidnapped by intelligence agencies, subjected to all kinds of abuses and violence. Nobody responds for her, in the same way as every dictatorship.
While the destruction of PDVSA is already evident to us all and the violence of the desperate madurismo moves forward, the factors of the extreme right, the adventurers of April 30, are lurking to give the final blow to our oil sovereignty. They now have the perfect excuse, maduro himself gave it to them; they blame Chávez of maduro’s disaster in PDVSA and the country. Oh, the ironies of politics, such an injustice to the memory and work of President Chávez; maduro’s government, the self-proclaimed “son of Chávez” serves the extreme right the country on a silver platter.
That is why we insist, Maduro’s time is up. The patriotic and progressive sectors must act decisively to stop the disaster and avoid the advent of fascism. While maduro is still in power, the queues will go on, the chaos will worsen. The extreme right merely offers handing over and violence.
Only a Patriotic Government Junta, the civic-military union, the patriots, the workers, will be able to rescue PDVSA, to reestablish our Full Oil Sovereignty to reuse oil as an instrument of liberation of our people, and now of the reconstruction of the Homeland.