Guyana My First Love

LESSONS FROM VENEZUELAN OIL SECTOR – PART 1

Paul Nehru Tennassee

INTRODUCTION

This Blog focuses on multiple issues related to Guyana with a view to familiarizing Guyanese, at home and abroad, with my perspectives. I hope that the information, analysis and recommendations can enhance in a wholesome manner the debates and dialogues regarding the challenges we face.

THE NATION STATE AND THE TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS (TNCs)

The nation-state and the transnational corporation are two of the most important phenomena of our time. In the last four decades both have interacted intensely, and in the process, influenced the nature and role of each other in society. State and company relations are quite complex as the extensive research done by many distinguished scholars have demonstrated. Thanks to them we have a more informed understanding of the nature of both the state and the transnational and the effects of interaction between the two. Regardless of the society, transnationals and states have had a love/hate relationship. On the one hand, states need the capital, technology, managerial know-how, markets, marketing skills, transport facilities, and access to research and information. And on the other hand, the companies need access to raw materials, markets and the best incentives for profit making. Put together in a given society, they accuse each other of selfishness, and “nag” each other constantly. At times, they seem to be on the verge of divorce or do divorce, only to return to some kind of understanding and remodeled relationship. The power each wields in its own sphere, or the potential they have working together are widely recognized in the world today. Though this BLOG will deal with the relationship between the oil companies and the Venezuelan state during the 1970s, it would be accurate to state that the transnational is not only a subject of research and controversy in the Global South, but the world over.

The enormous literature which exists on dependency and underdevelopment point to a general understanding in which Global South countries have been, both a victim and an incompetent, in dealing with the size, knowledge and power of the corporations. The anti-corrupt and patriotic, political elites of the Global South are caught in a dilemma. Those who seriously aspire to effectively end backwardness and dependency in their nation-states, find that they are forced by necessity to conceive development strategies and programs with the transnational corporations ascribed a major role. At the same time, they raise their voices in the world forums that transnational corporations undermine their efforts to advance the development of their countries. They are aware that if they were to abandon the corporations that their societies run the risk of either retrocession or stagnation. Many in civil society advocate frontal attacks on the transnationals; but are yet to design and articulate an alternative effective plan. The partnership of China with TNCs contributed to catapulting China to

virtually, over four decades, to a super power status. It is a unique communist party governance model, side by side, with TNCs. In the Latin America-Caribbean the nationalization approach was adopted. Among the countries are Cuba, Mexico, Guyana and Venezuela.

I will discuss the Venezuelan Nationalization in 1976 in my follow up BLOGS.

  • Paul Nehru Tennassee currently teaches US Foreign Policy and Research in Justice Systems. Among his publications are:
  • Venezuela: Oil Nationalization? Who Benefits?
  • Venezuela: The Oil Workers and the Struggle for Democracy (In Spanish).
  • He also conducted a workshop on Oil and Gas for officials of the Nigerian National Oil Company in Dubai.
September 2020. Paul can be reached by email: paul@roraima.org