– Chavez Opens Venezuela’s Oil and Gas Reserves to Kremlin Exploitation as Russian Consortium Ties Knot with PDVSA, Ramps up for Early 2012 Production
– Costa Rica’s President and Foreign Minister Label Nicaragua as “Enemy,” Ortega’s Second Regime as “Xenophobic”
– Obrador Favors Termination of Mexican Government’s War against Drug Cartels, Dismantling of Border Wall, Conferred with Russian Communist Party Boss in Barely Reported 2007 Meeting
Pictured above: Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, left, talks with past and current presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at the closing campaign rally of Alejandro Encinas, candidate for governor of the State of Mexico for the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), in Nezahualcoyotl, on June 26, 2011.
Since this past summer, Venezuela’s self-avowed Marxist president, who is still ruling by decree—which means Hugo Chavez may be accurately referred to as a “communist dictator” —has made four trips to Cuba to participate in chemotherapy treatments for a still publicly unrevealed form of cancer. Lately, South America’s champion of “21st century socialism” has sported a bald pate, indicative of chemotherapy patients. Chavez’s familial links with the red regime in Havana, however, go much deeper still.
Between January 2007 and May 2010, reveals a document from the Economic Social Development Bank of Venezuela (BANDES), Venezuela disbursed more than US$1.5 billion to finance dozens of projects in Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and other states in the eight-member socialist bloc known as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
The veracity of the document was confirmed by Julio Montoya, an opposition member of the Venezuelan Congress, who accused President Hugo Chavez of sinking his own country deep in debt while simultaneously financing leftist allies. Montoya, who represents the New Time Party, protested:
It is not possible for Venezuela to continue increasing its external debt to the point of already surpassing $124 billion, while the president continues to finance the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia.
While Venezuela is going through serious problems with its infrastructure and its communications systems are falling apart, President Chávez is financing the repairs of Cuban airports and railroad systems.
We have to learn about these things only when officials denounce them […]. It’s totally confidential. He [Chávez] doesn’t inform anybody in this country about the manner in which he uses resources.
According to the 58-page report, BANDES, through its Autonomous and International Cooperation Fund (FICA), granted “solidarity credits” for more than US$980 million to 100 Cuban companies participating in a “twin enterprises” program. The document does not identify the companies nor their activities, simply indicating that they operate within “five industrial sectors” and that the financing is part of “strengthening” ALBA.
Cuban projects financed by Venezuela involve numerous credits disbursed by FICA to finance the railroad sector and other loans for more than US$45 million to finance the international airports at Varadero-Matanzas (Juan G. Gómez) and Havana (José Martí).
Ultimately, Venezuela, which is making the painful transition to communism, is propping up its sister regime in Cuba by way of its domestic oil revenue and loans from Moscow. Not so coincidentally, Chavez, who expects to shortly make his annual pilgrimage to the Kremlin, has enticed Russia, Belarus, and Red China into exploiting its proven petroleum and natural gas reserves in the Caribbean Basin.
Russia, Bloomberg reports, has agreed to lend Venezuela US$4 billion through 2013 for defense spending in return for gaining access to heavy crude and offshore gas fields in Venezuela’s Junin 6 block. Russia’s OAO Rosneft and OAO Gazprom signed a cooperation accord with Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA on October 6 at a ceremony in Caracas led by Chavez and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin, who in the 1980s served as Soviet military intelligence’s pointman in Latin America. The Junin 6 block is a joint venture between PDVSA and a Russian consortium that includes OAO Lukoil, TNK-BP, and OAO Gazprom Neft. It is expected that production in the block will begin in May 2012.
Chavez, who has led the OPEC-member nation since 1999, has strengthened ties with Russia during his 12-year rule in a bid to re-equip his military after a US arms embargo in 2006 and to attract investment in the energy industry. The US$4 billion defense loan will be disbursed in two equal parts in 2012 and 2013. In the last five years, Chavez has purchased more than US$4.4 billion of fighter jets, air defense systems, helicopters, and small arms from Russia, while denying that he was fuelling an arms race in South America, especially against the center-right government in neighboring Colombia.
“We’re working on large-dimension projects from oil, gas and petrochemicals to finance, banking and trade,” Chavez, who has troubling relations with Colombia’s Marxist guerrillas, soothed on state television. “We’re not a threat to anyone. We’re modernizing our armed forces that were totally defenseless.”
In a separate agreement, the two countries agreed to commit US$2 billion each to boost the capital of a bi-national bank, Evrofinance Mosnarbank SA, which will provide lending for housing projects and a joint-venture oil project in the Junin 6 block. In February, Venezuela paid US$400 million to buy a 49 percent stake in the Moscow-based Evrofinance, which opened an office in Caracas July 25. Evrofinance is 49.9 percent owned by Venezuelan state development bank Fonden, with the rest controlled by Russian banks VTB Group and Gazprombank Group.
Now that Chavez has opened Venezuela’s natural resources to Kremlin exploitation, Moscow’s Rosneft will develop the Carabobo 2 heavy-crude block in the Orinoco as a minority partner with PDVSA. At the same time, Gazprom will explore for natural gas in the Gulf of Venezuela, close to the Perla field where Eni SpA and Repsol have 15 trillion cubic feet of certified gas reserves. Gazprom and PDVSA agreed to consider a joint venture to develop the Robalo gas deposit.
Incidentally, Chavez, who like comrade Daniel Ortega invokes “Christianity” as a basis for his socialism, said that he received a religious icon from Sechin to help with his recovery.
Meanwhile, on September 15 five countries in Central America simultaneously celebrated their independence from the First Mexican Empire in 1821. Nicaragua was one of them. In Managua, Ortega, who returned to the presidency in early 2007, after a 17-year stint in the political wilderness, has openly allied himself with his old red buds in Havana, pocketed more than a billion dollars from Chavez by way of ALBA front companies, and rehabilitated the never-used Soviet-built runway at Punta Huete, replete with special military brigade to man the control tower (possibly to welcome Russian strategic bombers in the not-too-distant future).
In a September 15 letter conveyed by Russia’s ambassador to Nicaragua, Igor Kondrashev, Medvedev expresses these wishes to Ortega:
Please receive our warmest and sincere congratulations on the occasion of the National Celebration of the Republic of Nicaragua, the Day of Independence.
I celebrate with satisfaction the fact that the economic-commercial, cultural and humanitarian relations between the Federation of Russia and the Republic of Nicaragua have extended successfully into the political field. This relationship is highly valuable because of our interaction in the international arena, based on our adherence to the principles of the supremacy of law and to the task of constructing a multi-polar world.
I am convinced that the recent development of constructive and fruitful dialogue will continue contributing to the deepening of Russian-Nicaraguan cooperation in the interests of our States, and to the consolidation of stability and security in the region of Central America.
My desire for you, Most Excellent Gentleman President, is good health and success to the Nicaraguan people, well being and prosperity.
The arrival of this missive from Moscow, less than two months before an election that Ortega is expected to win, but only by flouting Nicaragua’s constitutional ban on consecutive presidential terms, is obviously an expression of solidarity between the neo-Soviet leadership and the neo-Sandinista regime. Ortega made his first post-Cold War journey to Moscow in December 2008 and has received promises of upgrades for the Soviet-equipped Nicaraguan military, known as the Sandinista Popular Army until 1995. During a tete-a-tete with this long-time KGB asset, Soviet Komsomol grad Medvedev referred to Ortega as “comrade.” For commie watchers, ‘nuff said.
Last year, relations between Nicaragua and Costa Rica soured when Nicaraguan troops occupied a disputed island in the San Juan River, which forms part of the boundary between the two “brother” countries. Former Sandinista revolutionary Eden Pastora and a contingent of Sandinista Youth are currently overseeing a government dredging operation in the San Juan that will eventually transform the river into a trans-oceanic link that will rival the Panama Canal. Moscow has expressed an interest in using both Punta Huete and financing the long-dreamed-of “Nicaragua Canal,” but so far US policy makers are untroubled by these revelations of a revived Russian presence in Central America.
Costa Rica’s center-left government is not allied with the Western Hemisphere’s Havana/Caracas-led Red Axis and so takes a dim view of Ortega’s “xenophobia.” Six months since the International Court of Justice ruled that Nicaragua must remove its troops from Isla Calero, Costa Rica’s new foreign minister insisted that Ortega’s government remains an “enemy” of Costa Rica. “I think that we have to consider Nicaragua as an enemy while they continue to usurp [our territory],” said Enrique Castillo, in an interview with San Jose’s La Nación daily. He continued:
There is a vengeful motivation that is based in the xenophobia that the government of Ortega feeds the Nicaragua people and is practiced by the Nicaraguan government. It is a xenophobic government against Costa Rica.
I think Nicaragua planned this in bad faith (and) with much anticipation. The execution occurred when it was thought to be a favorable moment during the transition period from one government to another. It was going to happen sooner or later.
Castillo served previously as Costa Rica’s ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington DC, where he argued the case against Nicaragua in November 2010. He assumed the role of foreign minister when René Castro stepped down to become the minister of energy, environment and telecommunications. In December of last year, Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla also said she considered Nicaragua to be an enemy (Tico Times, December 6, 2010).
In Mexico, still in the grip of a ferocious five-year-old narco-insurgency that has left dozens of corpses lately in the Gulf Coast city of Veracruz, leftists are organizing a common front to once again try to place their candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, in the presidency. The leader of the Dialogue for the Reconstruction of Mexico (DIA in Spanish), Manuel Camacho Solis, has revealed that the first poll to elect DIA’s common presidential candidate is scheduled to take place in November and, if a run-off poll is necessary, in February. The DIA consists of the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD), formed in 1989 from the Mexican Communist Party and other leftist groupings; the Labour Party; and the Citizens’ Movement. Obrador’s main rival for the DIA candidacy is Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard.
Obrador is not in favor of continuing the federal government’s war against the drug cartels but, rather, intends to shift the focus of the Mexican state toward economic development. “Cooperation for development is more effective and humane than the emphasis on military assistance, intelligence services and armaments,” the former Mexico City mayor said in a speech at Washington’s Woodrow Wilson Center last week. Obrador added: “Development and job creation should come first. It is not with military assistance … nor with more weapons that those problems will be resolved. It is not with a wall that the border will be secured.”
How job creation programs can be implemented in Mexico when a major insurgency is taking place, however, remains to be explained.
In 2006, Obrador made a previous bid for the presidency, refusing to this day to recognize Felipe Calderon’s victory. Last year, Obrador lauded Fidel Castro and, in April 2007, following his failure at the ballot box, quietly received Russian Communist Party boss Gennady Zyuganov in Mexico City. Zyuganov, who is also taking a stab at the Russian Federation presidency in March 2012, was then making a regional tour that included pit stops in Havana and Caracas. Needless to say, important incidents of communist power networking such as the Zyuganov-Obrador pow-wow were totally ignored in the MSM, which still holds to the unbelievable “communism is dead” line, a mantra invented by the communists themselves.
Elections for the Mexican presidency and Congress will take place in July 2012. According to public opinion polls, the candidate of the once long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, Enrique Pena Nieto, appears poised to restore Mexico’s “perfect dictatorship.” The centrist PRI belongs to the Socialist International, but the PDR and its allies are even further to the left, transforming a potential Obrador victory into a national security issue for the USA.