Here is update on PDVSA ships for Crude to Aisan market & news on some Japanese companies MOU’s for Venezuelan JV’s. <Another set of assets for Chavez to nationalize in future & some loans finance ideological oil investments>
Perhaps Japanese should read this article on Chavez’s foreign policy?
Article Link @ http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/02/08/2057935/analyzing-chavezs-foreign-policy.html
Analyzing Chvez’s foreign policy
By Anthony P. Maingot Friday 02/11/2011
How to determine what the “real” Venezuelan foreign policy is?
Certainly understanding what drives the mercurial architect of that policy, Venezuelan President Hugo Chvez, is one way of unraveling the nature of his foreign policies. Beware, however, of excessively psychologistic conclusions, such as diagnoses of “narcissism” or “megalomania.”
Most politicians are driven by some inner urge for power. This has been particularly true of those Latin American leaders we call caudillos. English historian S. E. Finer called them “men on horseback” in order to indicate their origins in Catholic Spain’s centuries of war against the Moors. More than a socialist or any other political label, Chvez is pure caudillo and shows the propensity of the caudillo: continuismo, the urge to perpetuate his power. Beyond caudillismo, how else to explain his foreign policy? We suggest three fundamental approaches.
-First, analyze those areas where there are continuities with past Venezuelan foreign policies. The assumption has to be that if there is substantial continuity between the pre-Chvez and Chvez eras, there probably will be some of the same in the post-Chvez one. And, indeed there has been continuity; from Bolvar’s belief that Venezuela’s revolution would liberate the whole of Latin America to the post-WWII generation of nationalist-internationalist reformers gathered in the Accin Democrtica (AD) party.
Venezuelan’s are not told that it was the rise to power of Rmulo Gallegos and Rmulo Betancourt in the 1940s that initiated petro-diplomacy. Nor are they told that it was an AD founding member, Juan Pablo Prez Alfonzo, who established the oil cartel, OPEC. And while he is the real nemesis of the Chvez regime, it was AD president Carlos Andrs Prez who first defied the pressure of the US government and oil companies by nationalizing the industry. He pursued the AD petro-diplomacy with even greater vigor.
-Second, we can attempt to discern where the differences lie. While Prez expanded Venezuelan foreign policy he made sure that the level of confidence of potential investors (sovereign risk) remained high. The fundamental instrument in guaranteeing this was insuring that the beating heart of the Venezuelan economy, its oil company (PDVSA), remained managerially independent and financially solvent. Chvez now calls Prez’s policy of internationalizing its investments by buying refineries in the United States and Europe, “capitalist neo-colonialism”.
However, Chvez has also internationalized PDVSA’s profits, with a fundamental difference: the pursuit of ideology rather than markets. Clearly, investing in modern refineries abroad is not the same as the costly refurbishing of an old Soviet-era refinery in Matanzas, Cuba. As soon as Chvez was granted extraordinary executive powers he took control of PDVSA and increased the state’s take of the royalties from 18 percent to 50 percent to bankroll his domestic and foreign agendas. With that, he converted Venezuela into a pure rentier state. This, plus a set of mindless nationalizations, led to the collapse of Venezuela’s sovereign risk, i.e., its reputation as a dependable country for investments.
-Third, while Prez made Venezuela a key player in an international alliance of political parties, that alliance (the Social Democratic International) was composed of successful democracies anchored largely in German, British, and Scandinavian parties. Chvez has abandoned that path as, again, neo-colonialist. replacing it with alliances of various types, none of which promise to enhance his country’s reputation, much less its treasury.
In fact, he has added new geopolitical risks to the already dismal sovereign one by his ambitious petro-diplomacy, evident in initiatives such as Petroamrica, Petrocaribe, Petroandina which will probably never be repaid. The only one of these grandiose initiatives which appears to make business sense is Petrosur, the collaborative effort with Brazil.
Even there, however, Brazil’s monumental plans for exploiting oil offshore and the passing of the Brazilian baton from the amiable Luiz Incio Lula da Silva to the technocratic, and cost-cutting, Dilma Rousseff, means that it is best to hedge on the future of that relationship. Finally, consider the geopolitical risks involved in his frequent visits, ceremonial exchanges and big-ticket purchases of military hardware from the likes of Russia, China, and Belarus.
In some twist of authoritarian logic Chvez must believe that these “strange bedfellow” alliances help legitimize his rule. In fact, they can only increase both his sovereign and geopolitical risks, leaving Venezuela increasingly more impoverished.
Ralph Clem and Anthony P. Maingot co-edited Venezuela’s Petro-Diplomacy: Hugo Chvez’s Foreign Policy , which has just been published by the University Press of Florida.