Saturday, August 26, 2006

Paying for the Airbus 

The Venezuelan opposition likes to make fun of the amount of time that President Chavez spends traveling abroad. Never mind that those trips did things like revitalize OPEC and help thwart U.S. efforts to try to isolate Venezuela. And just this week Chavez has been in China doing great work for Venezuela. Even if the opposition likes to ignore this sort of thing the international business press like the Wall Street Journal take note (from Thursday's edition of the WSJ):

Mr. Chavez is in the middle of a six-day trip to Beijing, his fourth visit since taking over as president in 1999. During the trip he has signed deals for housing, mining, telecommunications and oil with Chinese companies.

One of those deals was between the state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PdVSA, and China National Petroleum Corp.'s service and engineering unit, involving sales of oil-drilling rigs, a person familiar with the plans said.

The deal will consist of the purchase of 12 Chinese- manufactured oil-drilling rigs, which are expected to be produced by Baoji Oil Machinery Co, CNPC's largest oil-equipment maker by capacity, the person said. The two companies also will set up a joint-venture factory in Venezuela for the production of more drilling rigs, the person familiar with the plans added.

"Chinese-made drilling rigs are competative in terms of technology and price, although China is still weak in key control software," the person knowledgeable about the signing added.

Now when a country whose many industry is oil production takes steps to be able to manufacture drilling rigs that sure sounds like a good idea to me - and time well spent by its leader making that deal happen.

The reality is that President Chavez's working travel is often quite productive and rewarding for Venezuela despite the opposition alternately ignoring or ridiculing it. And he is not the only one that travels. Maria Machado, Teodoro Petkoff, Leopoldo Lopez and other opposition luminaries have also done lots of globe trotting. But what does Venezuela have to show for any of their travels? Nothing that I can think of.

The fact is Chavez produces for Venezuela. Until the opposition learns to produce something besides coups, strikes and street riots they would do well to simply shut up, observe Chavez, and try to learn from him.


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