#International Affairs

US Economic Aggression Against Venezuela
Article from www.vicuk.org

On 7 February legal rulings in the US, UK, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles froze US$12bn of assets of the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA following a case brought by ExxonMobil, the world's largest company.

This aggressive move was in response to the Venezuelan government policy which last year led to them taking majority control of the country's oil resources. Increased economic sovereignty over its oil resources has allowed Venezuela to tackle a range of social inequalities.

ExxonMobil, unlike other foreign firms which reached agreements with the Venezuelan government, refused the terms that were offered, withdrew its assets, and is now demanding a higher rate of compensation. In total 30 out of 32 contracts with international oil companies were successfully renegotiated.

Responding to the move, Venezuela’s Minister of Energy and Oil, Rafael Ramirez, affirmed that “the interests of the nation are over any company's.” Ramirez added that the courts’ decisions were temporary injunctions and not definitive decisions; all the court orders were subject to appeal and the Venezuelan government would be challenging the injunctions.

President Hugo Chavez said that the actions were part of a US government backed "economic war" and destabilisation campaign against Venezuela.

Additionally, oil workers’ representatives have rejected the actions of ExxonMobil. Oil 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."

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.

Initial prominent signatories to the petition (in alphabetical order) include:

Diane Abbott MP (Labour Party)
Andy Bain, President, TSSA
Tony Benn
Rodney Bickerstaffe
Maggie Bowden, General Secretary, Liberation
Sue Branford, Chair, War on Want
Victoria Brittain
Colin Burgon MP, Chair, Labour Friends of Venezuela
Ruqayyah Collector, Black Students Officer, National Union of Students
Jeremy Corbyn MP (Labour Party)
Jon Cruddas MP, Treasurer, Labour Friends of Venezuela
Maire Daley, National Executive, UCU
Michael Derham, Northumbria University
Gerry Doherty, General Secretary, TSSA
Francisco Dominguez, Head of Latin American and Brazilian Studies, Middlesex University
Baljeet Ghale (personal capacity), President, National Union of Teachers
Graham Goddard, Deputy General Secretary, Unite the Union
Richard Gott
Bill Greenshields, Vice-President, National Union of Teachers
Mike Hancock MP, Liberal Democrat
Richard Harvey, Barrister, Tooks Chambers
Billy Hayes, General Secretary, CWU
David Hillman
Gordon Hutchison, Secretary, Venezuela Information Centre
Bruce Kent, Prominent peace campaigner
Chris Kitchen, General Secretary, National Union of Mineworkers
Jean Lambert, MEP (Green Party)
Paul Laverty, Writer
Neal Lawson, Compass
Ken Loach
Caroline Lucas MEP (Green Party)
Angus Macneil MP (Scottish National Party)
Joe Marino, General Secretary, BFAWU
Hazel Marsh, University of East Anglia
Doreen Massey, Open University
Martin McIvor, Editor, Renewal
Gerry Morrissey, General Secretary, BECTU
Dr Kaveh Moussavi, University of Oxford’s Centre for Socio-Legal Studies
Linda Newman, President, UCU
Doug Nicholls, National Secretary, CYWU/Unite
Ann Pettifor, Fellow, New Economics Foundation
John Pilger
Adam Price MP, Plaid Cymru
Diana Raby, Senior Research Fellow in Latin American Studies, Liverpool University
Prunella Scales
Mick Shaw, President Fire Brigades Union
Elaine Smith, MSP (Labour Party)
Grahame Smith, General Secretary, Scottish Trades Union Congress
Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary, UNISON
Jon Trickett MP, Secretary, Labour Friends of Venezuela
Owen Tudor, Head of European Union and International Relations, TUC
Mandy Turner, Lecturer in Conflict Resolution, Department of Peace Studies, Bradford University
Derek Wall, Principal Speaker, Green Party
Brian Wilson, Chair, Scottish Venezuela Society
Matt Wrack, General Secretary, FBU
Cllr Salma Yaqoob

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The Oppose ExxonMobil Hostile Action Against Venezuela petition to ExxonMobil was written by Venezuela Information Centre and is in the category International Affairs at GoPetition.