The developing situation in which Las Brisas del Cuyuni in southeastern Bolivar State will in all likelihood be bought out by Vancouver-based Rusoro Mining is seen as a plus for Venezuela, bringing to an end a situation where foreign interests have tended to dictate to the Venezuelan government what it should or should not do.
High-ranking officials are prepared to sit-out any debacle between Rusoro and Gold Reserve (GRZ) which claims ownership of Las Brisas, but key investment groups in the United States and Canada are debating whether or not to accept the Rusoro buy-out offer which most market analysts say is both attractive to individual investors and, de facto, the only way to go, apart from possibly years of expensive litigation with an uncertain end, quite possibly in bankruptcy for the Spokane (Washington-USA) based Gold Reserve.
Whichever way -- on the ground -- it is quite clear that Gold Reserve is NOT going to get any permit to mine gold at Las Brisas.
As for Crystallex International, the "tranca" (roadblock) of the final EIS permit is equally a no-no. For whatever reason, Venezuelan government officials want a consolidation of gold mining in Venezuela and see the socialist 50/50 joint venture model, already introduced by Rusoro at the former Hecla mines at La Camorra, as the only way to go.
Understanding the Venezuelan mentality, a "tranca" is an outward expression of an unwillingness on the part of the government to discuss the matter further and it is an unofficial way of telling both Gold Reserve and Crystallex International that it's "our way ... or NO way!"
Crystallex' problem is that the legions of voracious groupies that make up much of its investor profile, are the Toronto-based gold miner's own worst enemy. From a Venezuelan perspective they are a clear and present illustration of what President Hugo Chavez Frias describes as "savage capitalism" with lunatic fringes prepared to cannibalize each other ... and any innocent by-standers ... at the drop of a hat.
The constraints of normal civilized behavior are clearly set aside in cowardly abusive attacks on a plethora of investment gossip boards which would make any housewife-over-the-garden-fence shredding of neighborly reputations pale by comparison.
- Under the protection of pseudonyms and anonymity, it is supposedly free rein for any despicable Tom, Dick or Harriet to vent spleen without regard for the ultimate damage s/he is doing to his/her own investments. Whatever!
Whether or not Gold Reserve and/or Crystallex International are willing to become aware of it, the plusses of socialist 50/50 joint ventures with the government are evident inasmuch as the socio-economic structure is the template by which the Venezuelan state is guaranteed insight and participation in its own country's sovereign resources (a requisite under any administration!) as well as the foreign investors' own investment security as part of a combined positivity rather than a confrontational approach where ministerial reputations and souls are ripped out by voracious vultures whose only quest is to "grab the gold and screw the natives."
Ultimately, all parties concerned should have the exploitation of gold on a rising world market uppermost in their minds but, with the gold already in the ground, gaining market value as the weeks/months/years go by, it is the foreign interests that are conceited enough to believe that they can force the Venezuelan government to "stand and deliver" who will eventually be the losers.
Venezuela is a country "under re-construction" after more than half a century of unbridled political malfeasance and corruption. It is not yet Valhalla by any means and there are thousands of problems still to be resolved -- many of them well outside the capacity of the current administration to resolved through indolence and seer incompetence -- but the pathway to progress will be made all the more difficult by those who do not see that the Venezuelan government is the final arbiter of its own destiny and that -- willy-nilly -- cooperation is more productive than confrontation.
Of course, one of the more serious problems that Venezuela faces presently is that there are too many people shouting -- rhetoric and abuse, misconceptions and dark-side propaganda -- while what's missing a people talking calmly, seeking consensus which can in most cases most probably be reached without the plethora of theatrics currently attendant on each move by the administration although, at times, it appears to be just as surefooted as a drunk turned out of a brothel at way past midnight.
The major obstacles that Venezuela faces today are indolence and incompetence at every level of administration but, rather than to poke the finger and concern, the international community could benefit largely from climbing down from their white horses and walking a while alongside the Venezuelan administration to see commonalities of purpose where both sides ultimately benefit through progress.
2009 beings Venezuela to another threshold where, with the best wills in the world, progress can be made but equally Venezuela can allow itself to slide further down the slippery slope. While some may disagree, many already recognize that co-responsibility in Venezuela's mining sector is definitely superior to allowing gringo mining interests carte blanche to play "cowboys & indians" with the locals in southeastern Bolivar State.
Will the international community see sense and understand that what is Venezuela's belongs to Venezuela and that guests in the country should not steal the soap, the towels and the bed linen for the sheer hell of getting away with it...
Roy S. Carson