Sep 25, 2020 Editorial
May this never be the fate of Guyana! May our leaders and citizens all look, listen, and learn from what is happening in Venezuela! We call upon fellow Guyanese to pay attention to an article in Bloomberg dated September 11, which was titled, “Venezuela is tearing apart oil pipelines to sell as scrap metal.”
This is how bad things have gone with our oil rich neighbour, now reeling from US sanctions that bite with expanding strength and consequences.
The desperate Nicolas Maduro regime is forced to “cannibalize the country’s crumbling energy infrastructure to pay contractors with scrap metal.” Sanctions have hit hard, and once helpful and cooperative partners have retreated from the risks of angering the mighty United States, through assisting Venezuela and, in so doing, violate tough US-implemented sanctions. Because of this, Venezuela, a founding member of OPEC, is now humbled and its prospects “hinges on a single oil play”, according to Bloomberg.
Unlike the oil fields in the sprawling Orinoco Basin, where the crude is tarlike thick, the output from the Monagas fields is light, which allows it to be more easily refined in the country’s aging and dilapidated supporting oil infrastructure.
The “scrap metal and parts from idled oil facilities” help “to pay for major repairs at pumping stations and compression plants in Monagas.”
This is what once-proud, once rich, and once powerful Venezuela is reduced to in the sum of its woes from its oil gifts, now transformed into the worst of curses, a yoke on the necks of the peoples of that besieged society.
We hope that Guyanese watch and get some wisdom, whether leaders or citizens. Oil wisdom takes a long time to come to men made haughty by its discoveries and the related cascades of riches that flow lavishly. But it does come to the corrupt and the unheeding. For there is Venezuela that cannot obtain “$800 million in financing from suppliers payable with crude and fuel”, which could give it some temporary relief. No partner seeks to incur the wrath of the US, so they pass on sound business opportunities presented by Venezuela. It is just not worth the risk.
The present in Venezuela sets the stage for a future that looks more blighted and still grimmer. Among the prospects are “worsening shortages…and growing social unrest” among many other concerns. At one time, the world was at the feet of Venezuela, nowadays nobody dares to reach out and shake its hand, other than for the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians. And those are not enough to help it manage its many tough challenges and circumstances.
Guyanese leaders do well to look at Nigeria and Angola and, right next door, at Venezuela and vow to themselves that they will not go down the roads traveled by those countries. Not with the harrowing prices that must be paid for the misjudgments made and the mismanagements that must be lived within humiliation and regret. Guyanese citizens, be they unmoving loyal supporter or critical political competitor or diligent independent observer, must also be energized to hold leaders accountable, if only for their own prospects and those of future generations.
Citizens must insist on the right choices being made. They must be alert to skullduggery (like the controversial and criminally appearing disposition of the Canje and Kaieteur oil blocks) and scream bloody murder in objection. There must be all out rejection of those political practices that hurt and help to get to those dismally unwanted places, which is where Venezuela and hapless Venezuelan citizens are trapped currently.
For Venezuela was, at one time, a country that raked in “almost US$100 billion from oil and now only gets $1 billion.”
It is a 99% drop in revenues from its oil assets, which once stood as the country’s major export, source of employment, and basis of its economy. Now it is scrambling to make ends meet, while its frightened and hungry people scramble across borders to survive.
Guyanese had their own taste of such circumstances from decades ago. Now that we have oil, the ferocious resolve of every citizen must be final: not again! Not with so much involved. And not with the memories of leaders who misled and failed miserably.
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