VHeadline editor & publisher Roy S. Carson writes:
When I first became embroiled in reporting Venezuela's mining industry in 1996, I already understood that there was a plethora of shady individuals involved in an accumulation of political and economic corruption and political favors given over more than a half century of pseudo-democratic misrule since the fall of the the Marcos Perez Jimenez dictatorship in January 1958.
Certainly, there was more than an urgent need for President Hugo Chavez Frias to deal firmly with the worst excesses in the area of mining for gold and precious stones as soon as he became President in February 1999 ... but it is now more than nine long years since then and the surface has only just been scratched!
The complete nationalization of Venezuela's industrial and financial sector and its mineral and natural resources took place way back in 1976 under the quasi-dictatorship of corrupt President Carlos Andres Perez (CAP), though his patriotic (?) allegiances appear more to have been to Washington D.C. rather than Caracas. After his impeachment in May 1993 and imprisonment for two years in 1994 on $250 million corruption charges, he is now 'suffering' in financially richer retirement in Florida with luxury pads close to Central Park, New York, and in the Dominican Republic ... who says crime doesn't pay?
Corrupt presidential mandates since CAP's Supreme Court demise have sought to profit from a pseudo-privatization of key industries ... mostly oil ... but the massive gold fields in the Guayana region of southeastern Venezuela were largely abandoned or fought-over through the Venezuelan courts, or hauled off to international arbitration procedures that serve mostly to keep a legion of lawyers on the lucrative food-chain for the longest possible delays.
Enduring a 40-minute international telephone diatribe of obscenities from a "GRZ spokesperson" I was told that a journalist has NO right to question the veracity of Gold Reserve's PR. ??? Quite frankly, the overall tone of the "conversation" only served to heighten my instinctive misgivings of Gold Reserve's then "representations" and, as the years piled by, the opinion was further enforced by what I can only opine as deliberately misleading statements by GRZ president A. Douglas Belanger and CEO Rockne J. Timm. Sufficient to say that any GRZ news was treated with the usual suspicions and mostly at the end of a very long barge pole.
NOW, of course, we are treated to the "news" that the Agapov Group's Rusoro Mining is alleged by Bellanger to have offered about US$90 million for Gold Reserve's alleged "rights" at the 10 million ounce Las Brisas gold project. Belleanger claims to have been trying to put an operation "into production for more than 15 years!"
Reportedly, Gold Reserve's stock is 71% down this year after Venezuela's Environment Ministry (MinAmb) rescinded a permit at Las Brisas in May this year. THEN comes the 'out of the blue' news (like the 'news' of the Las Brisas/Las Cristinas joint venture) that the Russians have outlined "a potential takeover offer" which Belanger alleges to be "worth about $90 million."
In a press release, yesterday, Belanger emphatically states that "Gold Reserve is not for sale" ... which is rather amusing, and quite rich, coming from a North American executive who has been running around for at least the past couple of years with a giant billboard pinned to the back of his jacket proclaiming that it's a "sell" if the exorbitant price is right!
At this stage Rusoro president George Salamis has quite rightly declined to comment... And a best bet is that there are no prizes for guessing why!
Like so many other points in time during the Belanger/Timm combo's luckless careers in the jungles of Venezuela, it looks like the PR fest is about to run out of steam. Without much prospect of EVER getting Las Brisas off the starting block and with Venezuela's gold (and let's NOT forget the copper!) mining sector finally coming under government regulation for, and on behalf of, the true owners of Las Brisas del Cuyuni (i.e. the Venezuelan people!) it's a sure bet that, sooner or later, the stock exchange punters across North America and Europe will wake up to the fact that Gold Reserve (GRZ) doesn't OWN a centimeter of dirt on the land where it's outdated and untenable "concession" lies.
Since they're NOT (apparently) prepared to go into a joint venture with the Venezuelan government; and since they're NOT prepared to take Rusoro's allegedly proffered $90 million (what for?) and scurry away, what's left?
Which is why I'm NOT taking them up on their emailed offer, some months back, of a job at their Spokane HQ, cleaning up the mess they've created all by themselves...
Venezuela is facing the most difficult period of its history with honest reporters crippled by sectarianism on top of rampant corruption within the administration and beyond, aided and abetted by criminal forces in the US and Spanish governments which cannot accept the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people to decide over their own future.
HELP US TO KEEP BRINGING YOU THE TRUTH