Monthly Archives: March 2013

Harvard U company prosecuted & fined for illegal logging in Chile

CIPER, Chile’s top-notch investigative reporting specialist, put out this report three weeks ago and for some reason it has made zero impact in the English press. The only version was a full translation on I Love Chile, a nice enough website, but still. A local holding of Harvard University being prosecuted for environmental crimes in lovely southern Chile? WTF? Do you have any idea how precious southern Chile’s native forests are? And how rare? There is a reason why it is always forbidden to cut native forest in this country. It’s cause during the dictatorship, hundreds of thousands of hectares were turned into tree farms. There is no reason an educational institution should be boosting its endowment at the expense of the little remaining forest we’ve got. Here’s how I Love Chile’s version starts out:

Harvard University Companies Accused of Illegal Logging in Chiloé

Harvard University currently owns 5,475 acres of land in Ancud alone. In Argentina, it owns 208,210 acres.

By Paulette Desormeaux and Josefina Court

Since 2004, Harvard University has created at least eleven companies to exploit the forest industry in Chile. One of these is Agrícola Brinzal, which faces two lawsuits in Ancud. The National Forest Corporation (CONAF) pressed charges against the company for the illegal clearfelling of 189 acres of native forest, and also for breaching the forest management plan – they reforested 181 acres of land with eucalyptus instead of native plant species. The same company received reforestation subsidies from the Chilean government of about CL$114 million between 2007 and 2010.

In December 2011, a small group of farm owners showed up at the Agrupación de Ingenieros Forestales por el Bosque Nativo (AIFBN) in Ancud to share their concerns: a company bought adjoining lands to their properties and was cutting down native forest to plant eucalyptus. Javier Sanzana, one of the forest engineers from AIFBN who works in the tech support program for farming communities, decided to check the lands located in Aguas Buenas, Choroihué and Belben, all in Ancud’s central zone. What he saw left no doubt.

“There were the remains of recently cut trees,” he recalled. Sanzana also confirmed that in some of the zones, there were eucalyptus trees planted less than one meter from streams, and the remnants from the cut trees were blocking some of those streams. (MUCH MORE FOLLOWS.)

Yes, you know what I’m going to say: Click and read the whole thing. And for those of you at Harvard, please ask your admins WTF. The only response they gave to CIPER was “HMC has a policy of not discussing specific investments or investment strategies.” CIPER calls that a “weak” response. I agree.

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Venezuela fuel imports update: the derroche continues

Venezuela is buying ever more finished motor fuel from the USA. In January, it bought a record 113,000 barrels a day of the stuff. Meanwhile, it halted purchases of MTBE and special naphthas, which I previously referred to as the “good” imports. It’s grim.

Source: US EIA

Source: US EIA

Continue reading

Look who is doing online reputation management: Arevenca!

My favorite long con, Arevenca, has made a Youtube channel and a blog and is now taking me on in the Search Engine Optimization wars. But hey, I like to help, so here’s a link to the con-men. Also, here’s their lying sack of shit Google+ account and their bogus Youtube channel.

Oh sorry did I forget their pack of lies on Slideshare? And as usual a bligoo account. For some reason the only time I ever end up at a Bligoo account is when I’m googling liars. And they have Pinterest, if you want to see the smiling faces of one-time friends. And what reputation management campaign would be complete without LinkedIn? (Note the address, here is the Google Street View image of the now global HQ of this 3.5 million barrel a day refiner.)

By the way, Don Francisco Javier Gonzalez has gotten some interesting plastic surgery. You can see his real face on the Pinterest site, he’s the white-haired guy. The Google+ face is rather different.

OLD: Univision links Rafael Ramírez to possible money laundering, coverup

I tried to dig into this story a couple years ago, but nobody would tell me who was the high-level Venezuelan official who had supposedly supplied the funds. Without that info, it wasn’t so interesting. With that info, well, it is interesting. If you speak Spanish, watch the following.

Obviously, Ramírez himself hasn’t had a chance to comment on this story, so please withhold judgment. You never know, maybe he was buying a house in Switzerland, and needed to transfer the money via a lawyer through the USA…oh screw it, never mind. He’s going to have to come up with his own explanations.

(I’m losing my touch. This story was from 2011, and I just saw it retweeted from these black market dollar traders. Sorry. Leaving it here cause it’s interesting, but it’s not new.)

Power, copper, coca: Chile commodities triple-play

Chile Mining Minister Hernán de Solminihac and Tarapacá Governor Luz Ebensperger lead the groundbreaking of the Minera Doña Inés de Collahuasi photovoltaic plant, to be built in the  Pozo Almonte municipality.

Chile Mining Minister Hernán de Solminihac and Tarapacá Governor Luz Ebensperger lead the groundbreaking of the Minera Doña Inés de Collahuasi photovoltaic plant, to be built in the Pozo Almonte municipality. Credit: Ministerio de Minería

I think it’s great that the copper industry is increasing its use of solar power. I think it’s great that political leaders bless the power plant site in the local tradition, including the use of what appears to be coca leaf. I also think it sucks that Chile arrests and sentences people to as much as three years in prison for carrying coca leaves. Make up your mind, people.

Decent Latin America climate change news in English.

I’ve been posting little here this year, in case you haven’t noticed. You can follow me on Tweeter, where I write a fair bit more, at @guacamayan. And if you want some decent analysis about Latin America energy and environment, click here for Intercambio Climático, where the writers like to post provocative little tidbits about climate change and Latin America. They’ve been going since 2009, so it’s a bit embarrassing that I’m just now noticing them. It’s great to see this being covered anywhere, especially in my native language. Here’s a bit from last week’s article, which also showed up on the Guardian website:

At the climate negotiations, Venezuela has clung to arguments that developing countries have the right to emit to ensure their development. Undermining Venezuela’s position at the negotiations has been their often vociferous rhetoric, while exhibiting a lack of action at home. Meanwhile, a number of poorer countries have shown a willingness to take on far more ambitious emissions cuts.

Venezuela releases only 0.56% of the global total of greenhouse gas emissions, but its per capita emissions (at approximately six tonnes per person) are much higher than the world’s poorest nations. Venezuela’s current emissions, however, pale in significance compared to what is at stake if it does fully develop its oil reserves. Former UK special representative for climate change John Ashton has said that a country’s ability to contribute to global efforts to tackle climate change depends on the credibility of its domestic policies.

Venezuela’s national development plan (2013-19) includes measures to limit emissions, which include the oil industry and would create a world movement to confront climate change. The Venezuelan government has invested $500m in windfarms and distributed 155menergy-saving lightbulbs.

However, critics suggest that Venezuela has little interest and commitment in tackling climate change, and that the plan’s objectives are unlikely to be implemented. According to ClimateScope, which ranks a country’s ability to attract capital for low-carbon energy sources and efforts to build a green economy, Venezuela is currently 24th out of 26 countries.

Go read, bookmark, add to RSS, put on your twitfeed, put on your googleglass, or whatever you kids do nowadays. It’s a useful website. Here’s the link once more.

No, no connection at all (CVX)

Update I hear from the El Universal reporter, Ernesto Tovar, that the interview actually took place before Maduro spoke. That just shows that Chevron wasn’t responding to Maduro, nor Maduro to Chevron. The differences in their discourses is enlightening.

March 1:

Nicolás Maduro: La agresión de Chevron a Ecuador es también contra Venezuela

(Nicolas Maduro, de facto president of Venezuela, says Chevron Corp. is attacking Venezuela by, I guess, defending itself against what’s likely the biggest environmental law verdict ever. His phrasing was reminiscent of the NATO treaty, which declares that an attack on one is an attack on all.)

March 4:

Estamos abiertos a ampliar el financiamiento a Petropiar

(Ali Moshiri, president of the Chevron Corp. division responsible for oil production in Africa and Latin America, gives a rare lengthy interview in the Venezuelan press and says “The collaboration between Chevron and PDVSA is one of the best.”)

As is so often the case, strong words from the Bolivarian government against a multinational oil company coincide with the government’s opening to increased investment from a multinational oil company. Continue reading