Take "Simon B" firstname.lastname@example.org for example ... without the slightest justification he makes the claim that I have chosen to sell my soul to the devil, adding that now I will have to dance with him, forever!
Simon simply takes reporting out of context and makes the astonishing claim that from my first article after arriving in Venezuela "it was clear that you had been bought and paid for. No sense of objectivity, which would require that you complete your 'investigation' before glorifying Rusoro and slamming Crystallex and Gold Reserve."
Whoa ... hold up a cotton-picking second, bud!
That first article: Not a cat in hell's chance that Crystallex will get the final approval! was published on Tuesday, December 16 (2008) and factually quoted former Crystallex general manager at Las Cristinas, Guillermo Adrian, who added that "Yes, Crystallex has complied with all the requisite demanded by the environment ministry, by Mibam and the CVG, but President Chavez is simply NOT going to sign off on Las Cristinas while there is Tejera Paris family involvement in Crystallex' subsidiary and that of Luis Cottin."
MOI? Scarcely! Simon insists on putting words into my mouth ... hell, I am only a reporter, NOT a financial adviser (just in case that fact escaped him also) and VHeadline's dire financial circumstances is sufficient evidence in itself that a financial manager, I am NOT!Yes! During my short Christmas visit to family and friends in Venezuela, I had the opportunity to visit the gold-mining district of southern Bolivar State and to renew acquaintances with local residents, native indian tribesmen and women, as well as the few remaining mining people who had not taken off for Christmas and New Year already.
Crystallex vice-president Richard Marshall was already leaving on a Christmas/New Year vacation from his Atlanta HQ; Crystallex de Venezuela executives in Caracas had already exited the city and their local PR guy was already enjoying the sun and the sand at Higuerote and was (understandably!) reluctant to trek all the way back to Caracas from the beach to meet up.
My friend and colleague of some 20-years, Venezuela's former United Nations (UN) Ambassador, Dr. Milos Alcalay, did, however, manage to haul himself out of bed early on a pre-Christmas Sunday morning to spend more than an hour in conversation about this-and-that over a few breakfast (soft) drinks at the Flor de Castillo eatery on the south side of Plaza Altamira and I did get to speak, briefly, with Guyana's Ambassador to Venezuela, Dr. Odeen Ishmael.
...and, while I got very close indeed (perhaps a couple of meters) to Basic Industries & Mining (Mibam) Minister, Rodolfo Sanz, there was little or no opportunity in the Christmas rush to sit down for an extended interview. Perhaps another time!
With some surprising (allegedly) insider knowledge, Simple Simon claims that (President) Chavez has given (the Russian-owned, Vancouver-based) Rusoro "some short time to pull off the deal for Gold Reserve ... but that time will pass. He (Chavez, presumably!) will never take Las Cristinas away from Crystallex or Las Brisas from Gold Reserve ... he (Chavez, presumably!) is subject to arbitration and the award would be in the many billions and any assets of Venezuela anywhere in the world can be seized to satisy those awards!"
Simon continues: "Crystallex and Gold Reserve have more than enough assets to sit this out. Crystallex' equipment alone, sitting on the docks in the United States, is worth over $100 million and the value of it goes up every day because it is in so much demand ... but that is unimportant because Chavez desires to get a stream of income going desperately!"
Well, admittedly, President Chavez has said that he wants to see the gold mining sector up and running before the end of 2009!
Simon, however, says that "moreover, the idea that Rusoro's 50/50 with the governemnt is fair, while Crystallex' deal is not, is pathetic. (Editor's note: Objectivity?) It is true that Crystallex' deal involves giving about 40% versus 50% but Crystallex' arrangement does not require Venezuela to come up with half of the expenses, roughly $200 million. Now you tell me which is the better deal for Venezuela?"
In conclusion, Simon says "In any event, I am getting way off topic. I merely wanted to let you know that you chose the wrong dancing partner and that it will come back to haunt you, in pitchforks!"
In reality, I sincerely hope that Simon B feels a trifle better having got that particular load of subjective venom off his chest! However, as far as dancing partners are concerned, we at VHeadline remain faithful to our only love: VENEZUELA! Funnily enough, we were accused of exactly the same sort of soul-selling ten or so years ago when we first took up the Las Cristinas Saga. At that time our accusers were entrenched in fanaticism for Placer Dome while what interested us was the way in which PDG had (allegedly) mistreated their local management etc. Some time later, we had met with Marc Oppenheimer and Robert Fung.
As regards Gold Reserve ... well ... Doug Belanger soiled his copybook right from the start in a 40-minute foul-mouthed telephone tirade when we dared to question one of his spurious press releases way back when ... and his offer of employment cleaning the toilets at GRZ' Spokane (Washington State/USA) HQ did not endear his personality (?) to us much either!
- As stated: our allegiance is and always has been to Venezuela and the Venezuelan people. We do NOT owe any allegiance to any foreign agency or corporate interest and our editorial policy is in support of Venezuela's democracy, constitutionality and the rule of law.
We see the futility of foreign interests making raucous threats to take sovereign Venezuela or individual Ministers or officials to international tribunals as retrograde where some newer interests -- in this case the Russians -- seem more prepared to be conciliatory and to work with the Venezuelan government rather than against it!