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Offensive Against Venezuela’s Orinoco Mining Arc: The Propaganda of Chaos Printer friendly page Print This
By Eder Peña | Translated by Internationalist 360°
Internationalist 360°
Tuesday, Sep 26, 2017

A year and a half since the decree announcing the creation of the Orinoco Mining Arc, media financed by the US State Department coordinate an offensive with US-financed politicians disseminating propaganda of chaos and unfulfilled promises.

The subject of the Orinoco Mining Arc was controversial in 2016. This initiative was proposed by President Hugo Chávez in 2011 to diversify the Venezuelan economy and break its historic dependence on oil.  The National Strategic Development Zone of the Orinoco Mining Arc, an area of ​​111,886.86 km² , occupies the north of the state of Bolivar,  the northeast of the Amazon state and part of the Delta Amacuro . It contains 7 thousand tons of reserves of gold, copper, diamond, coltan, iron, bauxite and other minerals crucial for the electronics and arms industries.

Much of the funding from the US State Department is aimed at allegedly creating  “independent, professional, enhanced media.”  Their financing is robust (more than 1 million 300 thousand dollars), which has enhanced the proliferation and reach of these  outlets, but with their anti-Chávez propaganda, has  also restricted freedom of expression.

Media reports published by the opposition in Efecto Cocuyo and Occrp attacked the government of Nicolás Maduro for alleged “unfulfilled promises”regarding the project. Their work is funded by George Soros, Google, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), USAID, the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the US State Department and the Swiss Confederation. The US and Switzerland  have been the main buyers of gold from Venezuela between 2010 and 2015.

Recycling the Propaganda of Corruption
The US State Department,  in collaboration with multinational corporations,  published “Gold and Chaos in the Orinoco” and “Orinoco Mining Arc: Crime, Corruption and Cyanide“, to promote the false narrative of Venezuela as ungovernable, ripe for intervention, peddling propaganda disguised as investigative journalism,  recycling the “corruption” and “failed state” slogans inside their carousel of media matrices.

The challenges of extractive industries in the developing world are inseparable from the threats from developed nations  who exploit cheap labor,  colonize and loot raw materials from peripheral countries (Third World).  Venezuela is not excluded from this and although efforts against the rentier economy have been many, there remains the need to solve socioeconomic aspects vital to the daily life of the citizens, including measures that guarantee the foreign exchange that finances social programs and the payment of international debts, among other expenses.

Problems in Guayana with respect to mining have necessitated  policies that not only organize the territory for extraction,  but also the socioeconomic dynamics hardest hit by the economic siege exerted by the bourgeoisie against the government. The social impact of mining activity is historical, but when a power establishes war as a mechanism  that maximizes its benefits, combining mining, trafficking of minerals and weapons, the consequences are displacement, hunger, disease and massacres, as has happened in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.

Gold out of control
According to the vice president of the Bolivarian legislative council, Aldrin Torres, the use of armed violence with the support of criminal gangs began in 2011, after President Chávez revoked concessions to transnational corporations.

So far this year there have been clashes between the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) and criminal gangs attempting to exert control over the extraction of gold and other valuable metals. While the Venezuelan scenario is far from the deplorable reality of some African nations because criminal paramilitaries have been effectively  confronted by the state,  the reality is that a part of the gold economy remains outside the sovereign control of the state, resulting  in  illegal gold trafficking and loss to the national heritage.

Venezuela holds the region’s main gold reserve
Regarding the 2011  legislative reforms, the opposition media attacked  the nationalization of resource wealth because in any  joint ventures the Venezuelan State would always have a majority shareholding. Violence then became the mechanism through which the opposition would seek to maintain control over the commercialization of minerals. While they do not work in the extraction industry, they are its link with the global market.

Some data:
  • According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), between 2010 and 2015, Venezuela exported 1,770 billion dollars in gold , 900 of which were exported in 2015 to Switzerland, but in previous years to the US.
  • Curacao has exported 2.3 billion dollars of the same mineral in the same period of time. 539 million (more than half of what was exported by Venezuela) were exported to Switzerland (67%), to the United States (33%) in 2015, which made up 33% of its export revenue that year.
  • Curazao states that it has imported 2.28 million dollars in gold (one thousandth of that which was exported) .
This data forces us to ask where the rest of the gold exports from Curazao are and what exactly is the commercial interest of Switzerland and the US who  fund journalists who publish  stories of blood and chaos in the mining area.

Order in the area
Today, more than ever, it is clear that the goal of the United States is to destroy every nation-state that seeks to manage its natural resources free from its hegemonic plans for exploitation and control. This is not the first time that Venezuela has attempted to bring order to its extractive industry, as it has with the Orinoco Oil Belt (FPO), an area rich in heavy and extra heavy oil located north of the Orinoco River and the Minero Arch.

The organization of more than 20 joint ventures of different countries, as well as the execution of the Magna Reserva Project certification plan, was described as the most organized practice in the states of Guárico, Anzoátegui and Monagas, a region in which the world’s highest oil reserves lie: 296.5 billion barrels of oil (with a recovery factor of 20%). There are few violent events that are linked to oil activity.  Chávez’s intention was to propose the same style of extraction for the southern Orinoco.

In spite of the FPO’s political and sovereign vision, there have been mafia structures formed by senior public prosecutors, oil executives and entrepreneurs, in schemes to sabotage the oil industry, worse than in the Guayanés Shield, where illegal mining, criminal bands and opposition members of the Democratic Union (MUD) like Américo de Grazia persist, while propagandists like Patricia Poleo deny personal ties to the racket as  illegal exploitation continues.

The geopolitical data is unavoidable: massive purchases of gold by Russia and China in recent years go hand in hand with the construction of a global financial architecture based on reserve and exchange currencies other than the US dollar that are backed by the international gold standard.  This is an affront to the petrodollar empire that has, until now, sustained the United States as the world’s leading economy, printing greenbacks to influence oil and other commodities exchange globally.

Venezuela holds the region’s main gold reserve. This not only gives the Venezuelan state a source of foreign exchange not linked to oil, necessary to stabilize the national economy in the face of US sanctions, but provides an asset to delay or give more weight, depending on the geopolitical perspective, to the plan of global de-dollarization that threatens Washington’s hegemony.

In this light, the propaganda against the Orinoco Mining Arc, and who  finances  it, exposes how serious that threat is.

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