Those in the U.S. who decry the power of "big oil" ought to realize that the world's largest privately held corporation, EXXON MOBIL is a dwarf when compared to the government owned and operated oil enterprises. Among the most egregiously inefficient and corrupted such state enterprises is Petroleos De Venezuela S.A. When Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999, he started squeezing even more money out of PDVSA than the previous socialist administrations. He ended its relative autonomy and appointed a number of hostile bosses to impose his authority. In order to purchase political alliances, Chavez' brother, Adan, was appointed to coordinate the company's subsidized oil sales (Venezuelan opponents refer to these transactions as "regaladeras" giveaways) around the Caribbean as ambassador to Cuba. At the strong man's behest CITGO, (the wholly owned subsidiary of PDVSA in the U.S.) allied with such leftist political figures as Robert Kennedy has been engaged in selling heating oil to the "disadvantaged" in the northeast of the United States at a rate well below the cost of production and distribution. This at a time when the "disadvantaged" 35% of the population living in poverty in his own country are suffering from an annual inflation rate of 16 to 34 per cent. Chavez doubtless sees that he can keep his own population under control by intimidation while diverting resources toward advancing socialist and anti yanqui attitudes in the hemisphere. He just this month (Dec 2006) won re election to a third term in an "election" process that could only be approved by Jimmy Carter who never met a collectivist dictator he didn't like. Clearly, Venezuela's oil company no longer operates at arm's length from the government and is becoming more secretive. It has de-registered its refining subsidiary, CITGO, at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and so no longer files any public reports to the organization. PDVSA ceo, Rafael Ramírez, is also the Venezuelan Minister of Energy and Oil.
With Congress routinely placing our own petroleum reserves in Alaska, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific offshore off limits, energy consumers can look forward to being placed further at the mercies of the world's Cleptators.