It is well known that Hugo Chávez is the one that takes the all big decisions in Venezuela, and quite a lot of the smaller ones too.
Indeed, the policy paralysis as he battles cancer from his hospital bed in Havana is becoming all too evident. But there is growing evidence that other important decisions for the nation outside of the government’s control are also being postponed because of Chávez’s absence – in particular regarding investment by foreign companies interested in developing oilfields in the Orinoco Belt. Continue reading »
Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA’s ubiquitous propaganda constantly trumpets the fact that it now belongs to “everyone”, since control of the oil giant was wrested from opponents of Hugo Chávez ten years ago.
But to paraphrase George Orwell, one could say that its wealth belongs to some people more than others – take the example of Sun Weijie, the Chinese businessman who has just become a billionaire on the back of a juicy supply contract with PDVSA. Continue reading »
Although the exact level of Venezuela’s oil production has been shrouded in mystery for almost a decade now, there is no doubt about the OPEC nation’s intentions to increase exports to China.
Whether they will equal exports to the US within three years, however, as energy minister Rafael Ramirez (pictured) on Thursday said they would, is of course another matter – if state oil company PDVSA’s consistent failure to meet production targets in the past is anything to go by. Continue reading »
While Hugo Chávez may be rubbing his hands together with glee as he officially confirms on Wednesday plans to borrow $4bn from China, now by far Venezuela’s biggest foreign source of financing, state oil company PDVSA has less to celebrate.
For needless to say, the fact that China has lent more (now $32bn) to Venezuela than any other country in Latin America comes at a cost – and PDVSA is bearing the brunt of the burden. Continue reading »
When a jovial Hugo Chavez received a delegation of Chinese bankers and diplomats in the Miraflores presidential palace this week, his visitors at times looked bemused as he expounded effusively on the wisdom of Chairman Mao, dragons and steel tigers.
But what Venezuela and China may lack in mutual cultural understanding is more than made up for in a burgeoning economic relationship, with a $4bn loan from the Chinese Development Bank confirmed on Thursday adding to existing lending from China of some $32bn. Continue reading »
What would Hugo Chávez do without China? From cheap fridges for the poor to life-saving state-to-state loans, help with building essential housing to massive investments in major oil projects, there’s scarcely an area of Venezuela’s economy where China doesn’t play a key role.
However, while there’s no question that China’s help is of great importance for Chávez – not least given a deterioration in relations with the private sector and countries that have more traditionally been keen to invest in Venezuela, like the US – some doubt whether he is always cutting the best deal. Continue reading »