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Venezuela’s Chavez Returns to Alo Presidente, Will Not Accept World Bank Verdict on Exxon

Caracas, January 9th 2012 ( – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned to his weekly talk show programme last night, after his cancer diagnosis in June last year caused it to be cancelled for over seven months.

The Sunday programme Alo Presidente (Hello President), in which Chavez responds to citizens’ phone calls and discusses topical issues, was aired yesterday for the first time since June 5th 2011. Broadcast from Anzoátegui in the North East of Venezuela, the programme was presented by a visibly stronger and healthier looking Chavez.

During the show, the president took the opportunity to publically review the most recent claim filed against Venezuela by oil giant Exxon. The company has brought various legal cases against the government since the nationalisation of its Cerro Negro project in the Orinoco Oil Belt in 2007.

“Who or what is this about? It’s about imperialism and its tentacles...they (Exxon) didn’t pay dividends, they didn’t pay taxes, they paid what they want...That’s imperialism, and that’s how they robbed from us here, with the consent of the bourgeoisie,” said Chavez.

Despite a ruling last week from the Paris-based International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) stating that the Chavez administration should pay just US$907 million for the case, Exxon is pursuing another claim that it had made at the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) for the same nationalisation. The oil corporation had originally sought to gain US$12 billion from the dispute. 

“Despite the decision taken in Paris, which was that, yes, PDVSA owes us, but not US$12 billion...they are now threatening us with the ICSID,” said Chavez.

The Venezuelan mandate went on to state that the government would “not recognise any decision from any ICSID” and indicated that Venezuela would pull out from the Washington- based institution entirely.

“We will not give in to imperialism and its tentacles, may they comprehend that!” he said.

In other statements the head of state said it would be necessary to create an alternative body to the ICSID through regional organisations such as UNASUR in order to settle legal disputes between governments or Latin American companies.

“Why do we have to go there? To the United States? The World Bank! What is that!” he said.

There are currently over a dozen claims pending against the Venezuelan government for various nationalisations undertaken in the last decade. The Chavez administration has maintained that it is its sovereign right to assert control over the national economy and has stated that it will adequately compensate companies for their assets. 

Published on Jan 10th 2012 at 10.09am