Hugo Chavez Threatens to Cut Off Oil to U.S. — If He Loses in Court

Leave it to Hugo Chavez to make people actually feel sympathetic for Exxon Mobil. Cementing his reputation as an enemy to the rule of law, Chavez is threatening the United States with an oil cutoff if the company wins in a court of law over Chavez’s effort to seize billions of dollars in assets. Since taking over as Venezuelan president, Chavez has tried to model himself after Fidel Castro, including the latter’s contempt for checks on his power and the independence of the court system.

Whatever the merits of the Exxon Mobil action (and there are obvious merits), the company has a right to seek relief in court and to have any ruling enforced under international law. The company is seeking the assets of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA in U.S., British and Dutch courts after Chavez nationalized the industry assets. A British court froze $12 billion in assets.

Chavez is not simply fighting the legal process, but he is showing (again) a moronic element. The worst thing for the country is to tell a court that it will not yield to the law. Yet, Chavez was again pounding his chest in response to the filing:”If you end up freezing (Venezuelan assets) and it harms us, we’re going to harm you, . . Hello, President.” “Do you know how? We aren’t going to send oil to the United States. Take note, Mr. Bush, Mr. Danger. . . . I speak to the U.S. empire, because that’s the master: continue and you will see that we won’t sent one drop of oil to the empire of the United States . . . The outlaws of Exxon Mobil will never again rob us.”

Besides making a strong case for therapy, Chavez is threatening to go to war not with Bush but a host of international principles. It is rather strange to call anyone an outlaw when you are saying that you will go to war rather than yield to the law.

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4 thoughts on “Hugo Chavez Threatens to Cut Off Oil to U.S. — If He Loses in Court”

  1. Mr. Turley:

    While you are exceedingly well informed on the matters of US constitutional law you treat, you show no nuance or detail or, in fact, knowledge of constitutional law and history of Latin American countries, or the structure and functioning of the Venezuelan government. Your pieces on this subject are simply (– admit it — )light weight rants. You may have read a little about the Venezuelan judiciary produced by the oposition that backed the kidnapping of a democratically elected president. That story of the judiciary, while often repeated never includes critical elements of its context: the inoperative judiciary the Chavez administration inherited -internationally recognized as such in the years immediately preceeding his election, and the fact that memebers of the supreme court supported the kidnap-coup of 2002. There were no mass arrests, no round ups, no raids following the coup, no disbanding of the supreme court — only disciplined legal proceedings following the letter of a constitution you apparently know little about. You also display no specific knowledge with respect to the content of Venezuela’s press law and how it compares to analogues in other democratic countries, etc. etc. etc. Don’t use stereo types as substitutes for expertise. As for “stupid” presidents, don’t you think our recent experience makes us a glass house ? Besides, on that point, well, look at Venezuela’s current literacy, nutritional, housing, health, economic, and jobs trajectories as reported by sources such as the UN, and other multilateral organizations. The rant free economic reporting. Look at outside polls rating citizen satisfaction with their democracy there, despite a loud, and as stated, violent and sometimes seditious opposition. It’s too bad that Chaves called Bush the devil — but if you knew your Latin American history — sadly the United States has bankrolled, instigated or otherwise supported truly horrific assaults on human rights and democratic processes with consequences that brutalized peoples for many years in many countries– that is not rhetoric, but a commonplace on the historical record. We have created enemies there too. The United States really needs to look critically at itself — to see the world through what is now a myopic, arrogant blindness. Maybe we will get there. But do Latin America the favor of developing true expertise — that takes time — and a balanced approach before you rant on some “fashionable” topic in the insulated Washington scene. You are too good for that on the topics you have really worked on.

  2. Heh, he’s still using the “Mr. Danger.” For anyone wanting a chuckle, the YouTube video Hugo Chavez: “You are a donkey Mr. Danger” got me laughing, “…tu eres un burro, Mr. Danger…”

    From the comments on the caracaschronicles blog (which I recommend as more proof Hugo needs therapy), I note an AP article reporting that Venezuela’s state oil company announced today that it already “has stopped selling crude to Exxon Mobil Corp.”

  3. Hello Mr Turley,

    I can also say that only a company like Exxon can make someone like me feel forced to defend Chavez!

    Speaking as a European on the other side of the atlantic – I can appreciate your criticism of Chavez’s ‘legal strategy’. But, reading the article about this is today’s Le Monde, France, I think the previous writer had some good points. According to the article, Venez. is not ‘nationalising’ the oil. The state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), demanded renegotiation to achieve a majority share (51 percent) in the country’s oil. Any country, including the USA would see this as a strategic security necessity. Many oil companies are involved, and all have negotiated, with the exception of Connoco Phillips, and Exxon.

    For example, in the refinary Sinco, accoding Le Monde and Le Matin, The french company Total, had 47 percent share, and settled for 30 percent share, with an indemnisation of 834 million dollars. Rumour has it, Exxon was offered 1.5 Billion dollars.

    The reason I think the previous writer was right in the argument is more a geo-political issue than legal is because, with changes of government, it is considered normal to change contracts.

    As is well known, Clinton signed on to the International Justice agreement, only to have it repudiated by Bush. Putin simply ousted the the foreign oil companies in Russia to take 100 percent- and where was the outcry of the state department there? Netanyahu repudaites parts of the implematation of the Oslo accords the previous government has signed. Peru has just done the same in their country.

    So I don’t believe in the end it is a legal issue in the end, as Russia has proved. But simply a matter of might.

    Also, true that Chavez is, as we say in France, ‘special’, but then so is your President Bush with his crazy statements about good and evil and seeing into dictators souls. As you Americans say, Whatever.

    I must also thank you for defending Al Tamimi! This is how I found your blog- I was telling friends about this case in the USA that I could not believe – and no one seems to act as if it exists!

    Firstly, that a man can be condemned to life in prison who has never had a gun for something he allegedly said in private, by people given a reduced sentence, thus interested testimony – that he denies…he said/he said….

    That someone can be sentenced to life imprisonment for words allegedly said in private is extroadinary in any civilized society in the world! I doubt even a in a court of Sharia a man would be sentenced for an alledged blashemy said in private! But to think in America, this is breath-takingly shocking to a society that claims to be free. And on secret testimony! When Marx preached violent revolution, surely a more dangerous threat to the world at that point than a handful of marginals, he was expelled from France, and accepted in England to spend his life in the British Library. And he had been credited not for a simple terrorist attack but for the Paris Commune!

    Thank you so much for standing up for the basic principles of Human civilisation, when so few people are.

  4. There is so much more to this story than the news reports. It is highly likely that Chavez is genetically predisposed to lunacy. Then again … apparently so are most world leaders. The deals with the oil giants were not deals made in good-faith. The anger, is because the US, through commercial and diplomatic channels has continually boxed Venezuela’s ears and ate their lunch.

    Not that it’s any official litmus test to determine mindset, but let’s not forget:

    1. He was kidnapped in 2002 by the Venezuela Chamber of Commerce and in a Coup, the leader of the Chamber (a petroleum industry lawyer) declared himself President in order to insure that the bad deals were paid – so the Venezuela’s back would be broken like Ecuador’s by the World Bank and its ‘foreclosure’ tactics. The Coup was endorsed by the NYT and expected by Chavez … it was over quickly. In 2 days the NYT was apologizing.

    2. In 2006, Pat Robertson, best known for being God’s ‘little Buddy’ and least known for his huge oil investments … announced that we should assassinate Chavez.

    3. White House issues statements that Chavez is democratically elected, but that doesn’t make him legitimate.

    This list isn’t even warmed up. Chavez is no moron. The Courts, do not represent the reality of the situation, but rather the reality of the contracts that a large number of corrupt officials – before Chavez – agreed to in mutual bad faith and corrupt deals.

    His actions are an International Geo-political Chess game with a Nation that is run by Oil Barons, or families thereof, or former industry operatives weaved throughout the executive branch of our government. The Venezuelan counterpart were the members of the short lived coup.

    Chavez has tipped the balance and the strangle hold on more than one occasion of the IMF – The flow of Petro-dollars out of the country and eased the grip of Occidental and Chevron.

    There is so much more to this story – the laws have been the tools of the oppressors so naturally Chavez is going to sound lawless.

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