6 Mitos de Venezuela y su Petróleo

Tina Rosenberg publica esta semana un reportaje muy revelador sobre la maldición del petróleo en Venezuela. Su artículo entierra varios mitos acerca de Venezuela bajo Chávez y del mercado del crudo en general. Algunos:

Mito 1: El petróleo lo controlan las grandes multinacionales que explotan países del tercer mundo para apropiarse de él.

In fact, 77 percent of the world’s oil reserves are held by national oil companies with no private equity, and there are 13 state-owned oil companies with more reserves than ExxonMobil, the largest multinational oil company.

Mito 2: La independencia energética es lo más deseable. Depender del petróleo de otros no.

Between 1965 and 1998, the economies of OPEC members contracted by 1.3 percent a year. Oil-dependent nations do especially badly by their poor: infant survival, nutrition, life expectancy, literacy, schooling — all are worse in oil-producing countries.

Mito 3: El petróleo va sacar al país del subdesarrollo.

Venezuela’s poor have become much less so under Chávez. The population living in extreme poverty, measured by cash income, dropped from 20.3 percent in the last half of 1998 to 11.1 percent in the last half of 2006, according to official statistics. The real question is whether the gains will be sustainable. But so far there is no sign of them: the percentage of those living without running water and living in inadequate housing, as well as the number of young children not attending school, has scarcely budged in the last 10 years. The percentage of babies born with low birth weights actually rose from 1999 to 2006. And this is according to government statistics.

Mito 4: Chávez protege las clases bajas y solo la burgesía americanizada tiene algo que perder
The disparity between the official exchange rate (2,150 bolívars to the dollar) and the black-market rate (6,200 bolívars at press time) has created a new class known as the Boliburgesía. Bankers, traders, anyone who works in finance or commerce, can get very rich manipulating the exchange rates. Buy all the imported whiskey and Hummers you want, is the message. Live a life of wild excess. Just don’t try to produce anything.

Mito 5: La nacionalización del petróleo va democratizar los recursos y ponerle un alto a la corrupción.

Oil concentrates a country’s wealth in the state, creating a culture where money is made by soliciting politicians and bureaucrats rather than by making things and selling them. Oil states also ask their citizens for little in taxes, and where citizens pay little in taxes, they demand little in accountability. Those in power distribute oil money to stay in power. Thus oil states tend to be highly corrupt.

Mito 6: El sector energético es la espina dorsal de una economía y apoya el crecimiento en otros sectores.

Oil not only creates very few jobs, it also destroys jobs in other sectors. By pushing up a country’s exchange rate, the export of oil distorts the economy. “Oil rents drive out any other productive activity,” Karl says. “Why would you bother to produce your own food if you could buy it? Why would you bother to develop any kind of export industry if oil makes your money worth more and that hurts all your other exports?” The most successful societies develop a middle class through manufacturing; oil makes this extremely difficult.