Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mr. Danger

Even if you are firmly in the free market camp in the whole capitalism/socialism "debate", you've got to love Hugo Chavez. He seems like such a fun-lovin' guy. A free spirit, you know?

I'm only partly kidding. Last week Exxon Mobil won an order from a UK court to freeze certain Venezuelan assets held in international banks. Exxon Mobil is apparently upset that Chavez decided to go ahead and nationalize one of their Venezuelan joint venture projects without appropriate compensation (as socialist despots will sometimes do).

In response to the freezing of assets, Hugo went on his weekly radio show and did a comedy routine unleashed a withering diatribe against his various enemies:

"One court orders that Venezuela be frozen," he said on his weekly television and radio program "Hello, President." "If you wind up freezing and hurt us, we will hurt you. Do you know how? We are not going to send oil to the United States."

He continued, "Bandits from Exxon Mobil, you will never again rob from us ... world-wide mafia ... that is Exxon Mobil. It is one of the companies at the tip of imperialism's lance."

Another paper had the quote this way:
"If you freeze us, if you really manage to freeze us, if you damage us, then we will hurt you. Do you know how? We are not going to send oil to the United States. Take note Mr Bush, Mr Danger."
You've got to applaud the guy's rhetorical style; it is fiery populism, liberally dosed with comedic touches. The name of his radio show is even funny.

I like how he talks about the court order as if it is actually going to freeze Hugo Chavez and envelope the entire country of Venezuela in a big sheet of ice. And check the "Mr. Danger" nickname. I don't know what it is supposed to mean, but it's pretty damn funny.

But Exxon Mobil are "bandits" who are "robbing" him? Clever use of irony here.

And let us note that, although the U.S. government is a known meddler, I think it probably had fuck-all to do with Exxon Mobil trying to get its money back. Modern day Bush/Cheney-style U.S. policies don't tend to be quite this subtle or indirect. If the U.S. government wishes to destabilize your government, or nationalize your country's assets for itsownself, it doesn't engage in petty legal chicanery, using lawyers and courts and the like. Rather, it usually parks a couple of carrier groups off your coast and rains laser guided bombs down onto your cities. When these fuckers are really and truly out to get you, Hugo, believe me, you'll know it.

But to a knowledgeable observer of world oil markets, the funniest part of this is probably Hugo's threat to cut off oil exports to the U.S. The U.S. just happens to be -- far and away -- his biggest customer. Yes, the U.S. buys 12% of its oil imports from Venezuela (when it comes to buying oil, we don't discriminate: capitalist, communist, democrats, dictators, Christians, Jews, Muslims, or devil-worshipers; if you've got oil, we'll buy that shit). But it ain't like Venezuelan oil is special in some way. It's oil. There's a mature, sophisticated market for it. Lots of countries sell it. Demand is relatively static. And presumably Venezuela won't stop producing it, thus supply will also remain static. In other words, after a very short hiccup, if any at all, we'll increase our orders from other suppliers, they'll increase their deliveries to other customers, and we'll keep filling up our Hummers just the same, thanks.

1 comment:

Gleemonex said...

I've loved this guy ever since he made fun of Bush for being such a fake-o cowboy (I can't recall the exact quote, but I tell you, it was awesome). I mean sure, he's off the fuckin rails, but at least he's entertaining!