Sunday, January 29, 2006

Coronel does some arithmatic 

A little while back it was pointed out how absurd some of the numbers are that the opposition gives for how much money Venezuela has supposedly given away. One point of contention was that if the opposition is going to give specific numbers about what has been given away then it should at least give some detail as to how these numbers are arrived at. Now it appears Gustavo Coronel has taken up the challenge and done just that. Before delving into the specifics of his numbers and whether or not I agree with them I would like to congratulate him on at least making the effort to do this. It is interesting that a few individuals in front of computers can do what the Venezuelan media and political parties, with all their resources, can't be bothered to do.

The amount of money Mr. Coronel comes up with that Venezuela has "given away" is $17 billion. Much less than what Julio Borges came up with and never substantiated. So right there we have a significant backing away from the oppositions original claims. But lets go through Mr. Coronels numbers line by line. I will then put them into one of three buckets; 1) Definitely not a give away, 2) possibly a give away, or 3) definitely a give away. So lets start:

1) Argentina was given 3.9 billion by Venezuela buying its bonds, $100 milion to build a refinery at Campanas, and the swap of 4 million barrels of oil for agricultural machinery.

The $3.9 in bond purchases does not in any way constitute a give away. All Venezuela is doing is loaning Argentina money which it will one day get back, with interest. To say this is a give away means I am giving money away to a bank when I deposit my money or that Venezuela is "giving" the US money when they bought US Treasury bonds. So this is clearly not a give away.

On the oil refinery it is a little less clear. What is the purpose of the refinery? Wil it be used to process only Venezuelan oil? Will Venezuela derive profits from it? Is this like when previous Venezuelan governments purchased Citgo, which certainly no-one in the opposition would call a give away? Those things would need to be known to correctly categorize this. So I'll call this a possible give away. lastly he complains about a swap of oil for agricultural machinery. Rather than a give away isn't that just barter. Venezuela isn't giving away oil, it is getting something, presumabley of equal value in return.

2) Bolivia; $60 million in unspecified donations and another $30 million agreed to by Chavez on TV.

Ok, lets accept this $90 million as give aways.

3) Brazil: $4.6 billion for a refinery in Pernambuco, the purchase of 20 Tucanos airplanes, 28 tankers for PDVSA and a polipropeline plant.

Again, the factories may or may not be give aways depending on their use. So that $4.6 billion falls in the category of maybe. The purchase of aircraft and tankers are, well, purchases and therefore do not at all fall in the category of give aways.

4) Andean Community: $50 million in humanitarian aid.

Ok, we'll count that $50 million as a give away.

5) The Carribean; $540 million in oil subsidies which are compensated with bananas.

So is this a give away or just more barter. Can't tell so this just goes into the maybe category.

6) Colombia; nothing is apparently being given to the Colombians

So, not much to talk about here.

7) Cuba; $2.1 billion in oil subsidies, $20 million for electrical work in Havana, $480 million to open a Venezuelan bank there, $50 million for housing there, $65 million for the Cienfuegos refinery, and others items worth $8 million.

I have never seen any substantiation of the the accusation of Venezuela giving away oil for free to Cuba. Further, even if it does give oil to Cuba it is certainly getting a lot of things of value, like doctors and teachers, in return. So this would seen to go into the not a give away category. On the others let me be generous to Mr. Coronel and assume they are all true give aways.

8)Ecuador; $25 million in bonds.

Again, buying bonds is in no way giving away money so this definitely goes in the not a giveaway category.

9) U.S.A. $16 million made up of lobbying expenses
and subsidized fuel.

Lets assume this is all a give away

10) Spain, $2 billion for the purchase of planes and ships

Jeepers, amazing he keeps screwing this up. So when I walk into the local Target store to and spend $10 to buy soap am I "giving away" money to Target ?!?!? A deinite no.

11) Guyana; $12 million in pardoned debts.

ok, this is a give away.

13) Jamaica; $300 million for a refinery and $300 million to build a highway.

As discussed before, the refinery goes into the maybe category while the highway I'll count as a give away.

14) Paraguay; $625 million for a refinery

Again, a maybe.

15) Dominican Republic; $156 million for infrastructure projects.

Sounds like a give away to me.

16) Russia; $175 million to purchase guns and helicopters.

Remembering the Target example this is deinitely a no.

17) Uruguay; 1.143 billion for a refinery, an airline, food, a hospital, and workers cooperatives.

Ok, lets say half of this is a give away and half maybe a give away. Adding this all up in an excell spreadsheet I get the following.

$1.7 billion in definite give aways

$6.75 billion in possible give aways

$8.2 billion in items that are definitely not give aways.

So after all this we have the sum of $1.7 billion in money given away to foriegn countries. Certianly not an insignificant amount but quite a reduction from either the $17 billion mentioned by Coronel or the $16 billion in three months mentioned by Borges. So what we have from the opposition, again, are wild accusations that evaporate in the light of quantification and evaluation.


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