A radio interview for 'La Voz de Guayana' (The Voice of Guayana) was most probably aimed at a very local audience in the remote southeastern State of Venezuela, but was picked up by rabid newshounds from Reuters and Bloomberg in Caracas with all the frailties of provincial communications that the wide open expanses of under-developed Venezuela inevitably brings with it.
While Minister Sanz told his regional radio audience that (as everyone already knows!) it is the Venezuelan government's decided ambition to assert its sovereignty over its own resources and to remove any hint of neo-colonial foreign "ownership" from the map of Venezuela, he could scarcely reckon ... perhaps he should have reckoned ... with the fact that "walls have ears" and that "the enemy" will distort reality very much to its own benefit, no matter how much he tries to keep a gag order in place.
First: It is already known that Venezuela's resources are owned by the sovereign nation of Venezuela!
Second: It is already known (or at least it should be!) that the Venezuelan government has the sovereign right to decide what it will or will not do with the resources over which it governs!
Third: It should already be known that foreign investors are welcome in Venezula as long as their presence in the country is beneficial to the Venezuelan people and as long as they abide by the law and whatever rules and regulations are considered
applicable by the duly elected government of the day!
So ... getting back to the 'infamous' local radio broadcast: Minister Sanz said that the nation's gold industry, in particular the massive Las Cristinas goldfields, had been recovered to State ownership. YES! That was several years ago when the Canadian gold mining corporation, Crystallex International (KRY) yielded to the inevitable i.e. that Venezuela does indeed OWN the disputed resource! They dropped their legal claim on neo-colonial foreign ownership Las Cristinas and signed a contract with the Venezuelan state-owned heavy industry complex, the Venezuelan Guayana Corporation (CVG) to search for and dig a gold resource estimated successively at 9, 11, 16 and probably 24 million troy ounces over an estimated mine life of 40 years!
In parallel, we have USA-Spokane-based Gold Reserve (GRZ), hanging on to a theory that they actually own the gold reserve at nearby Las Brisas del Cuyuni ... lock, stock and barre. "We have a mining concessions," they holler from the rooftops (for all the good it will do them since the Venezuelan law asserts full sovereignty over the gold resource buried under the topsoil) ... and that ain't going nowhere! At least while Gold Reserve keeps on harping that they own it, period!
From a Venezuelan perspective seen: the gold-rich southern part of Bolivar State is a territory that is comprised of a number of artificially delineated sections which were carved up and sold off to anyone who was willing to pay the "Geld" to under-hand intermediaries and corrupt government officials. It's a very sore point in Venezuela's history that gets rubbed into the open wounds each time neo-colonialists from the North want to tell Venezuela what it should or shouldn't do with its own sovereign resources.
So, factually, Minister Sanz told his regional radio audience that Venezuela's sovereign resources were in the process of being recuperated / recovered from the 'bad old days' system ... and he named Las Cristinas in the process as a sweeping point of reference, rather than take each little plot by name in a long and boring list of mine names ... meaningless to all but those who actually work(ed) there!
Wham, bang, wallop! The international news agencies get a whiff of blood and shoot off half-cocked in massively headlined reports that "Crystallex is toast" ... "Las Cristinas being taken over"! Wishful thinking? How many times, previously, have they claimed the same?
Reuters, Bloomberg etc., said that it "appeared" that Minister Sanz was "nationalizing" Las Cristinas, although they already know (or at least they should know) that Venezuela's resource industry was indeed nationalized way back in 1976 under USA-friendly President Carlos Andres Perez, who ended his presidency in prison in 1993 after being impeached on multi-$ million corruption charges...
That was Wednesday...
Roll on Thursday, and, in association with a high-profile visit to Venezuela by Russian Prime Minister Igor Sechin and a largish group of Russian businessmen ahead of a State Visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedeva later this month, the international news agency "wallies" got themselves into a tizzy all over again, by claiming that Basic Industries & Mining (Mibam) Minister Rodolfo Sanz was now going to give the whole shop to the Russians (shades of Cold War propaganda here?) and that an offer was being made to the Russian Agapov Group's Rusoro Mining, which is already working on the abandoned Hecla mine at La Camorra in El Callao. with none of the "Las Cristinas" groupie hysteria that seems to follow in the wake of every public or private utterance about South America's -- possibly the world's -- largest gold mine.
- Reuters committed to the lie and was quickest off the starting block sending news-screens blinking like mad around the globe as if Barack Obama was about to commit hari-kiri or launch a nuke strike on Mockba before George W. Bush gets his finger off the Armagheddon button.
- Bloomberg -- whew! -- scotches the Reuters report with a hastily clarifying headline that Sanz was now denying that he was offering Las Cristinas and they keys to Venezuela's Central Bank gold bullion vault (presumably) to the Ruskies!