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quinta-feira, 26 de julho de 2018

A Destruição da Venezuela por Chavez, Maduro e os cubanos - Foreign Affairs

A Venezuela foi completamente destruída pela total incompetência econômica, pelo roubo deliberado, e pelo socialismo anacrônico dos bolivarianos, controlados pelos comunistas cubanos.
A economia brasileira também foi destruída, embora não completamente, pela incompetência econômica, pelo estatismo idiota, pela corrupção gigantesca dos lulopetistas, interessados tanto no enriquecimento pessoal quanto em sustentar seus mestres cubanos.
Ambos países sofrem de inépcia e corrupção, embora no caso do Brasil também exista o patrimonialismo dos mandarins do Estado.
Vai ser duro reconstruir, mas pelo menos não chegamos perto da tragédia venezuelana.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida

Foreign Policy, Washington DC – 26.7.2018
How Venezuela Struck It Poor
The tragic — and totally avoidable — self-destruction of one of the world’s richest oil economies.
Keith Johnson

In the spring of 1959, at a secretive meeting at a yacht club in Cairo, Venezuela’s then-minister of mines and hydrocarbons, Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonso, hatched a plan to give big oil-producing countries more control over their black gold — and a greater share of the wealth it promised to createA year later, his scheme would be formally christened the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, or OPEC. Venezuela, which sits atop what are arguably the biggest petroleum reserves in the world, was the only non-Middle Eastern country to be included — a testament to its importance to the global oil business.
Venezuela was considered rich in the early 1960s: It produced more than 10 percent of the world’s crude and had a per capita GDP many times bigger than that of its neighbors Brazil and Colombia — and not far behind that of the United States. At the time, Venezuela was eager to diversify beyond just oil and avoid the so-called resource curse, a common phenomenon in which easy money from commodities such as oil and gold leads governments to neglect other productive parts of their economies. But by the 1970s, Venezuela was riding a spike in oil prices to what looked like a never-ending economic bonanza. Complemented by years of stable democracy, it seemed a model country in an otherwise often troubled region.
Such success makes the sorry state of Venezuela’s oil industry today, not to mention that of the country at large, all the more surprising — and tragic. The same state that, six decades ago, dreamed up the idea of a cartel of oil exporters now must import petroleum to meet its needs. Crude production has tanked, hitting a 28-year low last fall when it dipped under 2 million barrels a day. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen a collapse of that magnitude [anywhere] without a war, without sanctions,” said Francisco Monaldi, a Latin America expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.
Venezuela has not, of course, fought a war in recent years. But the combination of plummeting oil revenues and years of government mismanagement has virtually killed off the country’s economy, sparking a humanitarian crisis that threatens to engulf the region. Caracas refuses to track inflation (or at least publish its findings), but the National Assembly calculates the annual rate to be more than 4,000 percent, and the International Monetary Fund predicts it could hit 13,000 percent this year. Given how much prices have already risen since January, the real number could be 10 times higher.
Venezuela’s murder rate, meanwhile, now surpasses that of Honduras and El Salvador, which formerly had the world’s highest levels, according to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory. Blackouts are a near-daily occurrence, and many people live without running water. According to media reports, schoolchildren and oil workers have begun passing out from hunger, and sick Venezuelans have scoured veterinary offices for medicine. Malaria, measles, and diphtheria have returned with a vengeance, and the millions of Venezuelans fleeing the country — more than 4 million, according to the International Crisis Group — are spreading the diseases across the region, as well as straining resources and goodwill.
What explains the country’s precipitous decline from being one of Latin America’s richest and most stable states? Mark Green, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, blames President Nicolás Maduro — who, in May, won another six-year term in elections widely denounced as fraudulent — and his “delusional” policies. But while there’s no question Maduro is partially culpable, to fully understand how a country blessed with the world’s biggest oil endowment could end up so crushingly poor requires going much further back. The fuse for the bomb that is now blowing up Venezuela’s oil industry — and the country along with it — was deliberately lit and fanned by Maduro’s predecessor and mentor, the strongman Hugo Chávez, not long after he swept into power in the late 1990s.
The decline and fall of Venezuela’s oil industry essentially begins with its nationalization in 1976, a time of booming crude prices and rising resource nationalism. President Carlos Andrés Pérez sought a much greater role for the state over the economy and especially wanted to use the country’s fast-growing oil wealth to turbocharge development. That year, to gain full national control over the oil fields, Caracas banished foreign oil firms and created a new, state-run oil monopoly called Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). The moves marked the capstone to Pérez Alfonso’s decades-long dream of Venezuela grabbing full control of its destiny. It was also the logical outcome of the widely held belief that the country’s oil, discovered in 1922 on the shores of Lake Maracaibo, was national patrimony.
At first, Venezuela’s state-owned oil company stood out from peers such as Petróleos Mexicanos in many ways. A large number of its executives, for example, had previously worked for foreign companies in the country and imbued the new firm with a business-oriented outlook and a high degree of professionalism. PDVSA had a lean workforce, an efficient cost structure, and a global outlook: A decade after its creation, the company acquired half of Citgo, the big U.S. refiner, and stakes in a pair of European refineries.
Yet none of these assets proved much help when a global oil glut in the mid-1980s depressed prices and hammered the national economy. OPEC members struggled to prop up prices by cutting back output. By the middle of the decade, Venezuelan production had fallen below 2 million barrels a day, or about 50 percent less than during the heyday right before nationalization.
When oil is cheap, it becomes very tempting for countries to pump more crude — even if that extra production ends up keeping prices low. And so, to right the reeling Venezuelan economy in the early 1990s, the government sought to reopen the oil industry to international companies. The outsiders would be especially useful in accessing Venezuela’s mother lode, the Orinoco heavy oil belt, which holds more than a trillion barrels of tarlike bitumen. Unlike regular light crude oil, which can be pumped straight out of the ground and sold as is, heavy oil is more difficult to extract and then needs to be upgraded to something resembling liquid oil before sale. Doing all that takes the kind of cash and sophisticated know-how PDVSA lacked at the time.
By the mid-1990s, international firms, including Chevron and ConocoPhillips, had moved back into the country and were hard at work unlocking Venezuela’s massive heavy oil deposits. But in 1998, the price of oil collapsed again, dipping to $10 a barrel. The impact on Venezuela — which, like many oil-rich countries, had never managed to diversify its economy despite a bout of reform efforts in the 1970s — was severe, given that petroleum exports then represented about one-third of the state’s revenues. Then along came Chávez, a former army lieutenant colonel who’d served time in prison for an abortive coup attempt in 1992. He won the 1998 presidential election on the promise to reshape and restore Venezuela’s reeling economy.
Among his first targets: the technocrats at PDVSA, especially the company’s deeply knowledgeable then-chairman and CEO, Luis Giusti, who’d led the drive to reopen the country’s oil sector. “Chávez saw Giusti as a potential rival. In fact, Chávez used the slogan ‘PDVSA is part of a state within a state,’” said Juan Fernández, a former PDVSA manager who would also fall afoul of the strongman. Giusti, alarmed by Chávez’s plans for the oil company, resigned just as he took office in early 1999; he was then replaced by a revolving cast of political appointees. The departure of Giusti, who’d spent three decades in the Venezuelan oil business and had won international plaudits for overhauling and modernizing the state-run firm since taking over in 1994, would prove to be bad news for PDVSA’s fortunes.
Chávez’s goal was to exert control of PDVSA and maximize its revenue, which he needed to fund his socialist agenda. But achieving the latter required cooperating with the rest of OPEC, which, as in the 1980s, wanted to cut production in order to raise prices. The problem for Chávez was that many of the PDVSA’s then-managers wanted to increaseproduction, by continuing the development of Venezuela’s technically challenging heavy oil fields. To do so, they needed to reinvest more of the company’s earnings rather than hand them all over to the government. So the managers had to go.
Unfortunately for Venezuela, Chávez — like many of the people he appointed to run PDVSA — knew nothing about the business that was so central to the country’s prosperity. “He was ignorant about everything to do with oil, everything to do with geology, engineering, the economics of oil,” said Pedro Burelli, a former PDVSA board member who left the company when Chávez took power. “His was a completely encyclopedic ignorance.”
But Chávez wasn’t the type to let that stop him. In 2001, the former paratrooper pushed through a new energy law that jacked up the royalties foreign oil firms would have to pay the government. It also mandated that PDVSA would lead all new oil exploration and production; foreign firms could only hold minority stakes in whatever partnerships they struck with the national company.

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This article originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Foreign Policy magazine.

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