STATEMENT FROM MINREX- Lies about Cuba-Venezuela Oil Agreement
WITH a sick obsessiveness, certain media channels in Venezuela in open conspiracy with imperialism and its servile lackeys, frequently complement their everyday counterrevolutionary dealings with campaigns against the relations between Cuba and Venezuela.
Their gross lies and slander concerning virtually all issues have become a normal occurrence, however noble and selfless these might seem to impartial observers.
However, some of them are recurrent, as is the case with the existing oil contract between the Cuban Oil Union (CUPET) and the PDVSA Oil and Gas Corporation of Venezuela which, as part of the Integral Cooperation Agreement between our two nations and signed by their presidents on October 30, 2000, establishes contractual terms and conditions for the sale and purchase of oil and its derivatives to a total of 53,000 barrels per day over five years.
Two days ago, on June 5, El Nacional newspaper – one of the press organs to most frequently engage in such defamatory exercises in the service of who knows what shady interests – ostentatiously published an extensive and vile article on the Cuban-Venezuelan oil agreement.
This new – or reiterated – perfidious campaign is aimed at suspending oil sales to Cuba, discrediting our country and colluding with imperialism in its objective of undermining our homeland. That obliges us, once again, to publicly expound our position.
• The terms and conditions binding on Cuba in the above-mentioned sale and purchase contract are equal to or less advantageous than those relating to the rest of the countries in Central America and the Caribbean that are beneficiaries of the Caracas Agreement.
• Shipments began in December 2000 and continued without interruption until April 11, 2002 – the date of the frustrated fascist coup.
• Up until that date, in accordance with the agreement, some $439.7 million USD was paid in cash and at world market prices.
• Supplies were suspended last April, responsibility for which lies solely with the coup faction that was part of the PDVSA management. Of the four tankers destined to transport fuel to Cuba on April 11, 2002 – three of them ready to sail out of port on April 9 – only one was able to leave on the morning of the April 11. The other two, whose cargo was already the property of the Cuban CUPET company, were sold to a third party on the basis of a unilateral decision by the management – including some of the coup conspirators – who were acting owners of PDVSA; the fourth was never loaded.
• Given that situation, Cuba had no other alternative but to immediately go out to buy the oil and derivatives that the country required through intermediaries and at far higher prices. Those prices were aggravated by urgency and the high freight costs imposed by distance (some of the cargoes could only be contracted from Europe and Asia) and even then, there were consignments that could not be transported because of a lack of tankers, due to the well-known limitations that the U.S. blockade imposes on vessels arriving in Cuban ports.
• As a consequence of this interruption in the supply of Venezuelan crude oil, activities at the Santiago de Cuba refinery – the second most important in the country – had be to be halted from April through September 2002, causing additional imports of derivatives at a higher cost. The country had to resort to using national reserves held back for exceptional situations and imposing heavy restrictions on internal consumption.
• The additional outlay in dollars for this alone was close to $100 million USD, without taking into account the effect of that on the economy and the population.
• Last July, an agreement was renegotiated with PDVSA aimed at renewing shipments in August (in fact they materialized in September), which included the unjust payment of $13 million USD for arrears, imposed on Cuba by the coup conspiracy management and which our country accepted on the basis of a position of total comprehension of the problems facing the Bolivarian government of Venezuela, in spite of the fact that the responsibility for those arrears had nothing whatsoever to do with the Cuban party to the agreement.
• From September to November 2002, oil supplies were received as normal, with the due payment of $96.4 million USD, the exact sum that Cuba was committed to paying in that period of time and which was made without a single moment of delay.
One example to illustrate the situation that the country was forced into:
On April 28, 2002 it had to purchase the Four Six tanker with 415,225 barrels of crude from the Trasfigura company at a cost of $11,653, 981 USD. A similar cargo through the Venezuelan accord would have cost $8,809,414 USD; in other words we paid 24.4% more for the same volume of oil ($2,844,567 USD more on a single tanker). Less than one month later, on May 12, in a similar operation with the same company and with the same tanker, we acquired 449,449 barrels at a price of $13,071,475 USD; if the supplies agreed with PDVSA had not been interrupted, their value would have amounted to $9,925,182 USD, representing for us a further payment of $3,146,292 USD, equivalent to a 24% increase, again, just for one tanker. And bear in mind that this situation lasted for several months.
Little or none of these facts were referred to in El Nacional or any other Venezuelan counterrevolutionary libels, nor those of the anti-Cuban mafia in Miami which, as one would logically suppose, second these fabrications every time they lack “raw material” for their lies.
Nor were the new effects on Venezuelan crude supplies that occurred afterwards, and which were announced in a January 9 note from our Foreign Ministry. On December 2, barely three months after supplies were reestablished and in the midst of a new coup attempt, the cargoes specified in the Caracas Agreement were once again interrupted with similar consequences to those of the April-August period. The Santiago de Cuba refinery came to a standstill and the country was forced to turn to intermediaries, thus incurring high costs etc at a time when there was a drop in PDVSA production and the imminent danger of an unjust and unnecessary war that the United States subsequently unleashed on Iraq. This caused an exorbitant rise in the already high oil prices on the international market and a lack of production in the Caribbean area.
As the old saying says “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” And the speculators gained such a hold that they even auctioned the fuel tankers in order to sell them to the highest bidder and thus increase their profits.
One further fact is enough to illustrate those consequences for Cuba.
The non-existence of oil in nearby areas forced us to acquire 100,000 tons of diesel from the Far East, which took close to six weeks to arrive.
To resume cargo shipments after the paralyzation and sabotaging of the Venezuelan oil industry, we had to wait until mid-January 2002. This meant that for over one month Cuba did not receive one single barrel of oil out of the 1.5 million that it should have received during that lapse in the current agreement. PDVSA did not fulfill its agreement, causing us hundreds of millions of dollars worth of economic damage from April 2002 to that date.
Only the oil importing countries, certainly the immense majority, are capable of understanding the economic dangers attached to the paralyzation of agreed shipments and, having scant resources, being forced into hasty pacts at the mercy of intermediaries. However, perhaps no other country is forced to do so in a manner so disadvantageous as in the case of Cuba. It has the same financial difficulties arising from the world economic crisis that other nations are experiencing, while facing a ferocious and criminal U.S. blockade in place for more than 40 years, and, we should point out, those factors have been compounded by the numerous problems arising from the three hurricanes that caused losses of more than $2.5 billion USD.
Of course, none of that has been published in any newspaper, nor has one minute of television space been dedicated to it by the Venezuelan media in the service of the coup plotters and their masters. What could be expected when the empire orders and commands? For that media, the priority news lies in denigrating Cuba on all sides, in the hope of confusing the Venezuelan people and above all, sullying the leadership of President Chávez with lying arguments such as: “He is giving away or endangering the public heritage,” by selling oil to Cuba. Or like those published yesterday in El Nacional, out of the mouth of that insubstantial individual whose name does not even merit a mention.
But what can we expect from an “independent press that is the defender of democracy” and that incited the toppling of a constitutionally elected president in April 2002 from its columns and networks? The independent media that seconded strike calls by neo-coup plotters in the business and trade union sectors as a way of economically sinking the country through paralyzing its main source of income?
What can we expect from a press that in no way calls to task PDVSA managers and other officials who were not the least concerned at causing losses of over $10 billion USD to their own country by sabotaging oil, without even evaluating other effects such as losing established markets, a key aspect of any company’s efficiency.
And this, yes, in large capitals, IS about damaging national interests. Or a media that even makes superficial references to the multimillion losses that such actions, certainly directed at the heart of Venezuela’s national heritage, have brought to the nations of Central America and the Caribbean by failing to meet fuel supply commitments to them as well?
Can they be expected to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars paid to PDVSA by Cuba? Or the incommensurate effort and sacrifice that the cent-by-cent commitments represent for the country? Or that it should acknowledge that accords like the Caracas Agreement constitute an international trading practice?
Or that it should even mention that the Integral Cooperation Agreement with Cuba does not only cover the buying and selling of oil, and nor is it one-way?
The perverse charges fabricated against Cuba by a servile press and a few puppets aligned to a base and repugnant fascism that has nothing to do with the Venezuelan people’s interests, are an irritant but, above all, hurt, because those attacks are directed at President Chávez, of whom our country has only received evidence of nobleness, friendship and solidarity.
PDVSA has not stopped claiming pending payments from CUPET, as is its duty but, having analyzed the damage caused to our country in the wake of the fascist coup of April 2002 and the equally fascist stoppage of last December, has renegotiated the debts, reaching a new agreement that has facilitated a renewal of the promised payments.
Once again Cuba reiterates that it will honor its obligations to PDVSA that it will pay up to the last cent.
Given its high concept of honor, Cuba’s attitude to Venezuela has been totally different. For our country this commitment has absolute priority. Our cooperative relations are not measured by money.
For Cuba its links of cooperation with Venezuela have one sole objective: to make a modest contribution to the well being of our sister Venezuelan people. We will never, under any circumstances, interrupt our programs to which we also give high priority.
Cuba is not in the habit of talking about what it has done, is doing and will do for the benefit of other peoples. It is enough that the peoples and governments know it.
In the case of the sister Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, our services are the genuine fruit of the Integral Cooperation Agreement signed two years and seven months ago by Fidel and Chávez, the major part of which is being offered free of charge and the rest at a cost well below the international price value.
But we do not evaluate those services by the hundreds of millions of dollars of their monetary total. Their value cannot be measured because they are based on the solidarity and generosity of the Cuban people, demonstrated so many times and in so many places throughout their history, and because it is engraved in our heritage with the Martí maxim: “Give me Venezuela that I may serve her, she has in me a son.” For that we have more than enough reason to reiterate why we are for Venezuela and will always be ready to give our lives to that nation if necessary.
Counterrevolutionaries, fascists and coup plotters can never say that and their lies will be shattered against the wall of our truths expressed and defended by millions of Venezuelans.