Or was it a calculated play to con impoverished and unemployed mine workers into thinking that the central government is actually doing SOMETHING to relieve their plight?
God alone knows! For the Russians have packed their bags and gone home...
And on home base, Venezuela's Basic Industries & Mining (Mibam) Minister appears to have taken a powder, disappearaing off the face of the earth rather than give responsible answers to the questions he left hanging in the air last week over the future of Venezuela's mining industry and the giant Las Cristinas gold mine in particular.
Half-baked statements made to a local radio station in the Guayana region of southeastern Venezuela were picked up by the irresponsible international news and financial agencies and purveyed to the world as 'The Gospel according to Rodolfo Sanz,' claiming that -- although he didn't specifically name the companies involved -- he and Chavez were going to "nationalize" the already-nationalized mining industry and turn it over lock, stock and barrel to the Russians to exploit, apparently at break-neck speed to pour gold bullion already next year.
FIVE WHOLE DAYS LATER: Nothing!
Crystallex International (which has an exclusive contract to mine gold for the Venezuelan Guayana Corporation-CVG) at Las Cristinas fired off a question to the Ministry last Friday on the backs of wild international speculation by Crystallex shareholders that "we woz robbed" ... but nary a peep has been heard from Minister Sanz since then, although one would have thought he would have been eager to push the agenda if, in reality, it was a done deal to turf the whole caboodle over to multi-millionaire Russian oligarchs, or even a minority-Russian-owned Canadian mining company that is already operating a so-called 50/50 "socialist" partnership with the CVG's gold mining subsidiary CVG-Minerven.
The Agapov Group's Russoro Mining's president George Salamis is returning to his Vancouver (Canada) headquarters after attending a Venezuela-Russia Mining Forum, but all ears are on Caracas for an OFFICIAL statement since, basically, nobody wants to believe anything unless it is written in granite, etched with Chavez' blood ... and even then, endemic disbelief in anything Chavez or his minions say will inevitably set in.
What then is to be made of the current "wandering in the wilderness" with which Venezuela's foreign investors are undoubtedly faced?
Basic Industries & Mining
Minister Rodolfo Sanz
What -- other than foot-in-mouth embarrassment -- is preventing Mibam Minister Rodolfo Sanz from coming clean? Either he can substantiate the facts as he claims them to be or he can't! Frankly, I believe it to be yet another foot-in-mouth only enhanced by Sanz' own edict muzzling his subordinates from themselves, collectively, putting their feet in their mouths as they are traditionally wont to do!
Other than that. it is a clear illustration of the state of extreme chaos that the Venezuelan government, under President Chavez, finds itself to be in today with only 12 days to go before the local and regional elections that will undoubtedly set multiple cats among flocks of pigeons as the President's red-shirted armies seek to prolong the agony of left-right divisions in Venezuela's political and economic future.
It's written on the walls that Chavez will face his political career's biggest setback when grassroots Venezuelans speak their rightful minds at the ballot box come Sunday week.
Do we then wait until after Monday, November 24, to get wind of the reality that nothing's changed in Venezuela's mining industry and that a "new order" at the Mining Ministry must inevitably countermand Sanz' incredible overtures to ex-Soviet high financiers?
Certainly there's nothing "socialist" or even "communist" in the Russian oligarchy's new-found friendship ... perhaps this is a lesson that's just being realized in Caracas and down in southeastern Bolivar State where political pounds of flesh are being weighed and bartered in an anti-socialist free-for-all that could indenture Venezuela's precious mining resources for many years to come.
Meanwhile, Crystallex executives have gone to ground ... as zip-lipped as Sanz' serfs muzzled by his gag order ... so all that's left is to "watch this space" ... the "fun" is yet to come!
Roy S. Carson
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.