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OPEC Secretary General Declines Offer As PdVSA Head - Official ^ | Apr 17, 2002 8:33 AM ET | DowJones

Posted on 04/17/2002 9:00:50 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' Secretary General Ali Rodriguez has declined an offer to be the next President of Venezuela 's state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (E.PVZ), an OPEC official said Wednesday.

According to the official, Ali Rodriguez was "offered the job last night," by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez but declined because of his commitments to OPEC.

Rodriguez has extended his stay in Venezuela by another week, OPEC's official said, a move which one OPEC source said could suggest that he is reconsidering the offer.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, after a meeting with Chavez at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas , Rodriguez said he hadn't been offered the post as president of PdVSA.

But he did say that his presence as company president could solve current labor and management problems within the company.

"It's a problem you need to study very cautiously and because it would mean an early break from OPEC," Rodriguez said referring to his possible appointment as PdVSA's head.

Rodriguez has served just 16 months of his three year term of office as OPEC Secretary General.

So far Rodriguez isn't believed to have discussed the possibility of resigning from his current post with OPEC ministers.

Sources say if Rodriguez were to resign as Secretary General this would create problems in finding a replacement.

The appointment has to be unanimous and sources say Iraq would certainly block the appointment of Rodriguez's current deputy, Adnan Shihab-Eldin, who is a Kuwaiti.

Rodriguez left OPEC's Vienna headquarters for Venezuela Monday morning following a failed military coup against Chavez. Rodriguez was Chavez's first minister of energy and mines in 1999.

Chavez said that he accepted PdVSA's current president Gaston Parra's and the other company directors' resignations last week but hasn't yet formalized them.

-By Sally Jones, Dow Jones Newswires; 4 4-20-7842 -9347; sally.jones@ dowjones.comm.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: chavez; communism; oil; venezuela
More from today:

Relations between Colombia and Venezuela tense after Colombia failed to condemn coup attempt *** BOGOTA, Colombia - The United States isn't the only government facing tough questions about its seemingly pleased response when it appeared Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had been ousted from office last week. Neighboring Colombia also has some explaining to do. Relations between the two countries, already rocky over allegations that the left-leaning Chavez is supporting Colombian rebels, may be difficult to mend.***

El Salvador afraid president's support of interim Venezuelan govt will bring Chavez's wrath.*** Prominent members of the right-wing National Conciliation Party said that Venezuela, El Salvador's principal oil supplier, could seek retribution for Flores' seeming support for the coup attempt by disrupting the flow of oil here. "Hopefully, Venezuela will not take reprisals against an entire people because of the mistake of one person," retired army Col. Jose Almendariz said.***

U. S. Secretary Otto Juan Reich, Chavez Successor Spoke on Coup Day *** NEW YORK (Reuters) - A senior Bush administration official contacted Pedro Carmona the day the business leader took over as Venezuela's president after Hugo Chavez was temporarily ousted, The New York Times reported in its online edition Wednesday.

Otto Reich, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, phoned Carmona Friday and pleaded with him not to dissolve the National Assembly, the newspaper reported.

Reich, a Cuban American known for his opposition to Cuban President Fidel Castro told Carmona that such a move would be a "stupid thing to do," and provoke an outcry, the Times reported, citing a State Department official.

Earlier Tuesday, the Bush administration, which appeared to tacitly endorse the Chavez's short-lived ouster, said it met with the Chavez's opposition in recent months but denied encouraging a coup.

Chavez returned to office Sunday. He was deposed by military officers Friday after 17 people were killed during huge protests against his rule.

Despite Reich's prodding, the interim government led by Carmona attempted to fire all members of the Supreme Court and the National Assembly. It called for new congressional elections to be held by December.

President Bush appointed Reich during a congressional recess in January to bypass the legislative body's nomination approval process. Democrats had blocked Reich's nomination because of his staunch anti-Castro views and his role in the Reagan administration's controversial strategy against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas in the 1980s.

U.S. Cautioned Leader of Plot Against Chávez***On Capitol Hill, Democrats voiced concern that the administration meetings with anti-Chávez leaders might undercut Washington's credibility as the region's main advocate for democracy.

"I'm very concerned about what message it sends about our support for democracy there and around the world," said Senator Tom Daschle, the Democratic majority leader. "I think that we've got to be supportive of democratic principles even when they choose to elect people we don't like."

In some ways, the back-and-forth between administration officials and Democrats recalled the suspicion and bitter policy battles over Central America and Cuba during the Reagan administration. The administration's foreign policy team is dominated by anti-Castro hard-liners, who fought those policy battles, and they are running afoul of familiar antagonists including Senator Christopher Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat who has long specialized in Latin American affairs.

Mr. Dodd expressed dismay that the administration had been slow to criticize Mr. Chávez's ouster. Administration officials erroneously reported on Friday that Mr. Chávez had resigned and said his antidemocratic behavior was responsible for his undoing. Only after Mr. Chávez had been restored on Saturday did the administration support a resolution at the Organization of American States condemning the interruption of democratic rule.

"While all the details of the attempted coup in Venezuela are not yet known, what is clear is that the vast majority of governments in the hemisphere lived up to their responsibilities under the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and denounced the unconstitutional efforts to take power from a government which had been freely elected," Mr. Dodd said.

Mr. Reich, who is a Cuban exile, warned Congressional aides that there was more at stake in Venezuela than the success or failure of Mr. Chávez. American officials accuse Mr. Chávez of meddling with the historically independent state oil company, providing haven to Colombian guerrillas and bailing out Cuba with preferential rates on oil.

In the closed door briefing, Mr. Reich said the administration had received reports that "foreign paramilitary forces" suspected to be Cubans were involved in the bloody suppression of anti-Chávez demonstrators, in which at least 14 people were killed, a Congressional official said today.

Mr. Reich, who declined to be interviewed today, offered no evidence for his assertion, the official said. ***

Astros' Venezuelans keeping an eye on country's political unrest - Castro likes baseball too*** The political unrest in Venezuela has touched baseball on many fronts, especially the Astros, whose Venezuelan baseball academy is considered the model. The Astros' academy is in Guacara, 2 1/2 hours away from the turmoil in Caracas. Ironically, though, it is on land owned by the chemical company Venoco. Pedro Carmona, the man who served as leader of the interim government after temporarily overthrowing Chavez, is the president of Venoco. Carmona was released from jail Monday.

Chavez surely hasn't forgotten, though, that Carmona dismantled the National Assembly, fired the ministers of the Supreme Court and arrested high-level government officials during the nearly 48 hours Chavez was out of power and under military control. …… "I've said for a long time that this guy might try to be the next Fidel Castro," said Peter Greenberg, who represents Hidalgo, Hernandez, Bobby Abreu, Edgardo Alfonzo, Roger Cedeño and most of the top Venezuelans in the majors. "My players say, `Don't worry. He loves baseball. He won't mess with the baseball players.' Then I remind them that Fidel loves baseball, too."***

Foes determined to oust Chavez***Sixty-eight people were killed and 527 wounded by gunfire and other violence during the political upheaval and widespread looting from Thursday to Sunday, said Guillermo Garróz, head of the National Civil Defense. Cabello said 80 armed forces members were in custody, suspected of involvement in the coup.

Caracas appeared almost normal Tuesday, although a number of looted supermarkets remained closed.

Chávez lost much of his popularity in the past year with his acidic attacks on virtually everyone who opposes him since his election by a landslide in 1998, six years after he launched a failed coup attempt. But in a sign of the continuing political bitterness, the million member Venezuelan Confederation of Workers said it will still push for a referendum on shortening Chávez's presidential term, due to end in 2006.

….. Most opposition lawmakers boycotted the first meeting of the Assembly since the coup attempt and a lawmaker from Chávez's party, the Fifth Republic Movement, Ernesto Alvarenga, announced he had defected to the opposition. …….''This is a government that has been violating the constitution for three years,'' he said, accusing the Chávez-controlled Supreme Court of repeatedly issuing politically-biased rulings. Defense Minister José Vicente Rangel dismissed the calls. 'Those who continue asking for Chávez' exit did not learn the lesson of the counter-coup,'' he said.

''In fact, until now the only one I have hear talking about rectifying is Chávez,'' Rangel added. ……'He said the events were a lesson that God has given us all . . . and said that for the good of the country he was going to straighten out many things,'' Velazco added. ``I believe at that moment he was sincere.''***

AP***Also Tuesday, the State Department authorized the voluntary departure from Venezuela of all embassy personnel in non-emergency positions and family members of U.S. government personnel. It also reiterated a warning to Americans against travel to Venezuela, citing the deterioration and continuing volatility of Venezuela's political and security situation.***

1 posted on 04/17/2002 9:00:50 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Hmmm... I wonder if this Rodriguez is for Venezuela's campaign to increase market share, or is he for sticking to OPEC quotas. Anyone know?
2 posted on 04/17/2002 10:57:50 AM PDT by Shermy
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To: Shermy
He's for holding to the quota. He's Chavez's man at OPEC.
3 posted on 04/17/2002 11:48:47 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
Yep. Perhaps the Iranian/Cuban "influence" is pushing for quota maintenance.

Of course, Iran would be opening the spigot and back stabbing its partners for market share...but I doubt Chavez would understand that. Probably a lot of bribery making the rounds too.

4 posted on 04/17/2002 11:57:30 AM PDT by Shermy
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To: Shermy
Castro's been pretty tight with Iran. It will be interesting to see if they'll flex their oil muscle to see us squirm and watch the economy stall in fear of higher oil prices.
5 posted on 04/17/2002 12:02:18 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Shermy; All
Chavez courts OPEC chief for job The Associated Press - April 18, 2002 [Full Text] LONDON -- OPEC's secretary-general has, at least for now, turned down an offer from Venezuela's newly reinstated President Hugo Chavez to lead that country's state-run oil monopoly.

But Ali Rodriguez, who also is Venezuela's former energy minister, left open the possibility that he might reconsider. Rodriguez said although he wasn't inclined to accept the job he would put his country's interests above his own, an OPEC source said Wednesday.

Rodriguez has extended a visit to Caracas, Venezuela, by several days, suggesting that Chavez might be putting pressure on him to accept the position at Petroleos de Venezuela SA, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity from OPEC headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

Venezuela is the third-largest supplier of oil to the United States and a leading member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Rodriguez became OPEC's secretary-general in January 2001. A former leftist guerrilla, he has a long record of service in Venezuelan politics but has no obvious experience in running a commercial enterprise.

Rodriguez is seen as a politically neutral candidate for the top job at PDVSA, the company at the center of a dispute that sparked last week's botched coup against Chavez.

If Rodriguez were to reconsider and accept Chavez's offer, OPEC would likely face a prolonged struggle to replace him. All 11 OPEC members must agree on the choice of secretary-general. The official next in line to succeed Rodriguez is the head of OPEC's research division, Adnan Shihab-Eldin, a Kuwaiti whose candidacy would almost certainly be blocked by Iraq.

Chavez has rallied for greater unity among OPEC's 11 member nations. Under his leadership, Venezuela has evolved into one of the group's most hawkish members, advocating restraint in crude output with the aim of keeping oil prices high.

Chavez has exploited Venezuela's membership in OPEC to try to enhance his own image as statesman, hosting a meeting of the group's heads of state in Caracas in September 2000. [End]

6 posted on 04/18/2002 2:39:11 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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