June 14, 2018

By William Neuman and Clifford Krauss, New York Times

A note from Pastor Kevin Lea follows this article.

EL TIGRE, Venezuela — Thousands of workers are fleeing Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, abandoning once-coveted jobs made worthless by the worst inflation in the world. And now the hemorrhaging is threatening the nation’s chances of overcoming its long economic collapse, union leaders, oil executives and workers say.

Desperate oil workers and criminals are also stripping the oil company of vital equipment, vehicles, pumps and copper wiring, carrying off whatever they can to make money. The double drain — of people and hardware — is further crippling a company that has been teetering for years yet remains the country’s most important source of income.

The timing could not be worse for Venezuela’s increasingly authoritarian president, Nicolás Maduro, who was re-elected last month in a vote that has been widely condemned by leaders across the hemisphere. Prominent opposition politicians were either barred from competing in the election, imprisoned or in exile.

But while Maduro has firm control over the country, Venezuela is on its knees economically, buckled by hyperinflation and a history of mismanagement. Widespread hunger, political strife, devastating shortages of medicine and an exodus of well over 1 million people in recent years have turned this country, once the economic envy of many of its neighbors, into a crisis that is spilling over international borders.

If Maduro is going to find a way out of the mess, the key will be oil: virtually the only source of hard currency for a nation with the world’s largest estimated petroleum reserves. But each month Venezuela produces less of it.

Offices at the state oil company are emptying out, crews in the field are at half strength, pickup trucks are stolen and vital materials vanish. All of this is adding to the severe problems at the company that were already acute because of corruption, poor maintenance, crippling debts, the loss of professionals and even a lack of spare parts. Now workers at all levels are walking away in large numbers, sometimes literally taking pieces of the company with them.

A job with Petróleos de Venezuela, known as PDVSA, used to be a ticket to the Venezuelan Dream.

No more. Carlos Navas, 37, worked on a drilling crew outside of this oil city, El Tigre. He had a house here, with air-conditioning, and a car. He never imagined he might not make enough money to buy food for his wife and three children.

But he quit his job late last year, he said, because he couldn’t live on what had become starvation wages.

On a recent evening, with the sun slanting low over the plains, Navas prepared to leave. He was boarding a bus to the malaria-infested gold mines to the east, where he hoped to scrape out enough money to buy food for his family and, eventually, finance an even longer journey: to Ecuador or Peru, where he would follow a stampede of his fellow Venezuelans fleeing the country’s economic cataclysm.

“Before, you worked and you were rich,” Navas said of his oil company job. “Your salary bought anything you needed. Now you can’t buy anything, not even food.”

Inflation in Venezuela is projected to reach an astounding 13,000 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. When The New York Times interviewed Navas in May, the monthly salary for a worker like him was barely enough to buy a whole chicken or 2 pounds of beef. But with prices going up so quickly, it buys even less now.

The state oil company is not faring much better. Output is at its lowest level in 30 years, and there is no sign that the sustained descent is over.

The company and the Venezuelan government are in default on more than $50 billion in bonds after failing to make interest payments since late last year. China has refused to continue lending Venezuela money in return for future payments in oil.

Venezuela’s oil exports are being interrupted by legal action as well. In recent weeks, courts have ruled that ConocoPhillips, a U.S. oil company, could seize Venezuelan shipments at refineries and export terminals in several Dutch Caribbean islands. The action stemmed from Venezuela’s decision to nationalize foreign oil assets a decade ago.

And at home, Venezuela has had so many troubles with refineries and other oil installations that it has had to import gasoline for the domestic market, spending dollars it can hardly afford.

Maduro has ordered the arrest of dozens of the state oil company’s managers, including the company’s former president, in what he describes as a corruption crackdown.

But the effort has the hallmarks of a battle for control and access to oil revenue. In November, Maduro installed a National Guard general, Manuel Quevedo, with no oil experience to lead the company.

All of that adds up to a company in a free fall.

In a speech last month after his re-election, Maduro said that oil production this year must increase by

To read this article in its entirety, go to: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/14/world/americas/venezuela-oil-economy.html

Note from Pastor Kevin Lea:  This kind of financial collapse could come to America too if the people are deceived into voting for socialists to rule the country, as they did in Venezuela. 

Socialistic/Communistic governments and economies spring from a godless mindset of the rulers and people.  Some say that Jesus would be a socialist because of His teachings about the rich giving to the poor, but there is a big difference between what Jesus taught and government mandated socialism.

Those who believe in the biblical Jesus and trust in Him as their savior have a giving heart to minister to people as the Lord leads them.  This is why trillions of dollars (over the centuries) in time and money have been given by Christians to the spiritually and physically needy of the world. 

But when socialists get in power they forcibly take from the wealthy (thou shall not covet, thou shall not steal) and give the stolen assets to whom they choose (especially themselves).  This is not biblical and has always resulted in the complete financial collapse of those nations that practice it, bringing poverty and misery to all.  The Bible predicts that in the last days there will be global government run by a godless dictator resulting in war and financial collapse and suffering.

When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand.  And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius [day’s wage], and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:5-6) NKJV