United States oil giant ExxonMobil Corporation has launched a major attack on the Venezuelan people's right to independence and self-determination.
In January and February, ExxonMobil used the courts in Britain, the US and the Netherlands to get injunctions that freeze up to $12 billion in assets of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), in those countries. The British injunction, granted on January 24 without any prior notice to PDVSA, will be heard again on February 22. The US injunction was upheld by a February 13 ruling of the US Federal Court.
ExxonMobil's economic thuggery is an attempt to undermine and reverse the Venezuelan government's decision last May to nationalise ExxonMobil's 41.7% stake in the Cerro Negro project in the Orinoco oilfield. The nationalisation was part of the revolutionary government's efforts to recover Venezuela's sovereignty over its natural resources. ExxonMobil rejected the Venezuelan government's offer of compensation, instead using the legal system in various First World countries to punish the country. In contrast, France's Total and Norway's Statoil have agreed to accept from Venezuela close to $1 billion compensation for part of their holdings in the oil project.
ExxonMobil is the world's largest oil company, and was a key "stakeholder" in the US's bloody invasion and occupation of Iraq. The corporation's attack on Venezuela is a continuation of its aggressive response to any government daring to assert its nation's right to own and control their natural resources. More fundamentally, the attack also aims to destabilise Venezuela and undermine the socialist revolution being constructed by the Venezuelan people.
PDVSA accounts for some 90% of Venezuela's foreign exchange and half of its federal tax revenue, and it is the crucial source of funds for the Venezuelan government's programs that provide free education and health care to the poor. In 2006, the state-owned oil company spent $13.3 billion on such programs, up from $6.9 billion in 2005 and more than double the $5.8 billion it invested in new domestic gas and oil projects.
ExxonMobil's actions have angered poor Venezuelans, who have held protests around the country. As oil workers' union leader Luis Carvajal said: "This transnational has exploited our wealth, has exploited our workers and violated our rights. All the workers in the Orinoco oil belt support the nationalisation."
Venezuela supplies about 10% of the US's oil. On February 14, PDVSA halted oil supplies to ExxonMobil and the government is now considering suspending oil supplies to the US. As Venezuela's energy minister, Rafael Ramirez, has emphasised, the interests of the Venezuelan nation are more important than any corporation, and Venezuela will not back down from its policy of full oil sovereignty.
In light of these events, we the undersigned:
· Support the Venezuelan government's efforts to defend and extend the Venezuelan people's common ownership and control over Venezuela's natural resources, and defend the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela's right to assert its social, political and economic sovereignty.
· Condemn ExxonMobil's economic blackmail against Venezuela and call for it to immediately withdraw its legal campaign against PDVSA.
· Reject as illegitimate and immoral the British, US and Dutch courts' order to freeze PDVSA's assets. Only Venezuela, through its own courts and in accordance with its own Constitution, has the right to decide the ownership and control of the resources in its territory. So-called "international arbitration" on Venezuela's resources via courts in the First World countries is colonialism.
· Stand in solidarity with the protest actions of Venezuela's people, trade unions and social organisations against ExxonMobil and the US government's economic and political thuggery, and commend the words of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: "They will never rob us again, those bandits of ExxonMobil".
To sign, visit <http://www.venezuelasolidarity.org/?q=node/2397>.