Some time ago, in an address to the UN General Assembly, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez warned of the “destructive capacity” of rising oil usage. The “unstoppable” use of this resource, he said, would soon mean hotter temperatures and harsher natural disasters.
Chavez was the leader of a country sitting on the world’s greatest oil-reserves, larger than Saudi Arabia’s, larger than Iran’s. This was 2005.
Now, in 2019, oil production may soon be rising in Venezuela, despite old hopes for ecological alternatives.
It’s been a matter of weeks since Juan Guaido, the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, emerged from near anonymity, when, with US backing, he declared himself president of Venezuela.
A faithful reading of Article 233 in the Venezuelan constitution reveals Guaido’s claims to power to be empty against those of elected president Nicolas Maduro (a president flawed in his own rights). Nonetheless, Guaido has been gaining support with a little help from his friends, the US and Canada.
“It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela,” the US National Security Advisor, John Bolton, told Fox News in his justification for US support.
These ambitions were echoed by Juan Guaido’s representative in Washington. “We want to go to an open economy, we want to increase oil production” he said. Of course, this will include opening the country up to “private investment” from the US.
Considering these admissions, it is not surprising that Guaido chose to celebrate his advances on the presidency by moving to nominate new board members to Venezuela’s state oil company. While illegal, it sends a clear message on priorities.
On our end, Canadian concerns for a change in presidency may involve aiding our major mining corporations in the area. These interests should not be mistaken as being any more agreeable to the environment than oil.
Honduras, just northwest of Venezuela, offers a provocative example. There, Canadian mines have led massive deforestation campaigns. Careless cyanide runoffs have poisoned drinking waters and nearby agricultural grounds have been eroded.
Farmers, having lost their fertile land, are being forced into mining jobs for survival.
There is an alternative to such an unbecoming rape of foreign resources. Rather than Western powers involving themselves in inciting tensions, we should use our position to help and encourage foreign countries to push through energy transition. Likewise, it is time that criticism of foreign policy considers growing environmental concerns.
Again, these are in no way novel concepts. They came in 2005, for instance, from a president with the most to lose from an ecological future.
Written by: Samuel “No Blood For Oil, Especially Bloody Oil” Helguero