by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In a purge as dramatic as that of Saudi Arabia or the Hollywood-media industrial complex, Venezuela has booted the most powerful names in its oil industry, with 65 officials arrested for corruption. Unlike the other purges, this one isn’t about change or lawbreaking – just gang warfare to consolidate President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist grip on power.
Powerful names in Venezuela’s oil industry, people who’ve been in and out of the picture for years, went down like bowling pins in Venezuela this week. …
… It’s tempting to see this move as a bold measure by the government of Nicolás Maduro to be doing something to improve things, given the parlous state of Venezuela’s oil industry, whose inability to pump its OPEC quota has been described as a “gift to OPEC” (most of the other OPEC members cheat and pump more than they are allowed) and whose bonds are in default. Venezuelan oil output has dropped precipitously, falling below the 2-million barrel-a-day mark for the first time in 29 years.
An[d] for sure, it’s an oil industry plagued with corruption. But Maduro’s men, the people doing the busting, are, if anything, more corrupt than the miscreants under arrest. Maduro’s guys are the ones under U.S. sanctions for activities such as drug-dealing. The oil officials, rich and corpulent as they are, haven’t been accused of that.