Monthly Archives: October 2013

Sources for yesterday’s chart

Someone requested sources for yesterday’s chart of changing Venezuela oil output goals, so here you go. As you’ll see, it was a bit of a rush job, with a motley bunch of sources. Someone might do better with different sources and better graphing software (I was just sketching in Illustrator). But I think it’s fair all the same. The change over time has been clear — ever more ambitious goals with nothing to show for them.

PDVSA output goals (Excel file)

One thing not included in every article, book or report is the baseline figure. I tried to find Ramírez quotes from the same time period giving the baseline.

Rafael Ramírez definitively departs the reality-based community

It was nice while it lasted, but Venezuela’s minister of people’s power for oil and mining, Rafael Ramírez, has left us. He used to be considered a pragmatist and would offer plans that, while, ambitious, were often within the range of the human imagination. No more. Check out what’s happened to the oil output plans for state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA over the past eight years. The vertical axis is barrels per day. The lower left corner of each line is where the company says its starting out. The upper right end of the line is where it plans to end up, months or years later.

PDVSA oil output plans 2005-2013

First, there’s the obvious: That the dude has been making and failing to fulfill unrealistic plans for a long, long time. Continue reading

Chavista Freddy Bernal calls for investigation of Derwick Associates

Original, with full context, here. Short version: TV host Vladimir Villegas is pressing Venezuelan pro-government deputy Freddy Bernal for specific examples of companies or people who may have stolen from the country.


Freddy Bernal: En esta concierto para delinquir, hay empresas por ejemplo una empresa denominada Derwick. No sé quien será el dueño. Derwick. Esa empresa contratada con el estado.

Vladimir Villegas: Empresa venezolana.

Bernal: Sí, empresa venezolana. Y esa empresa compro, nada más y nada menos, que en Nueva York, el apartamento de Aristóteles Onassis. Bueno, yo creo que, creo que vale la pena investigar un caso de esas características.


Freddy Bernal: In this symphony of crime, there are companies like, for example, a company called Derwick. I don’t know who would be the owner. Derwick. A company with state contracts.

Vladimir Villegas: A Venezuelan company.

Bernal: Yeah, a Venezuelan company. And this company bought, in New York, nothing less than the apartment of Aristotle Onassis. Well I think, I think it’s worth the trouble to investigate a case with these characteristics.

Next time that Derwick Associates deigns to accuse me and other reporters of being “agents” in a “defamation campaign,” I hope they also include Mr. Bernal. Just for consistency.

The irony here is really thick. Bernal is citing information first posted on Alek Boyd’s Infodio website. In case you haven’t noticed, Boyd is a passionate anti-Chavista, while Bernal — one-time head of the Caracas police, mayor of Caracas, defense minister of Venezuela, and resident of the US’s drug kingpin list — is one of the most recognized Chavistas. Strange bedfellows. (Corrected: I had the guy confused with a different alleged drug kingpin. Bernal wasn’t defense minister.)

Derwick says Reich’s racketeering case is garbage (UPDATED)

Derwick Associates, which was sued by former ambassador Otto Reich for alleged defamation and racketeering, finally comes to its own defense. As I said at the start, the case doesn’t look like a slam dunk. And Derwick is mounting a vigorous defense. Here’s a letter the Venezuelan electricity contractor’s principals, Pedro Trebbau and Leopoldo Betancourt, filed last week in US court. A few excerpts:

We and Tew Cardenas LLP, on behalf of defendants Leopoldo Alejandro Betancourt Lopez and Pedro Jose Trebbau Lopez (the “Derwick Defendants”), write … to request a pre-motion conference to seek permission to move to dismiss the complaint…

This case is nothing more than an effort by plaintiffs to transform legally insufficient state law tort claims, primarily sounding in defamation, into a claim under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”). Plaintiffs’ claims fail because: Continue reading

Who else abuses Wikipedia? You won’t be surprised

Vice and the Daily Dot have reported on a big network of “sock puppets,” or undisclosed related parties on the Internet, who have been manipulating Wikipedia to boost the profile and reputation of companies on behalf of a PR firm. Ars Technica reports today that Wikipedia has now disabled 250 user accounts as part of its investigation.

However, as Daily Dot mentions, there are still many paid editors and sock puppets on Wikipedia. One company that has aggressively used paid editors and socks to first seek to eliminate its page entirely, and later to edit the page to be as positive as possible, is Derwick Associates.

I wrote about Derwick Associates benefits from aggressive reputation management efforts a couple months ago. At the time, a long-time Wikipedia editor wrote me to tell me how Derwick also benefits from someone apparently hiring people to cleanse the company’s Wikipedia page. The person requested anonymity so as to continue monitoring the site unmolested. According to our correspondent, the saga of Derwick’s page went like this:

Continue reading

What really matters: Quit polluting please

This, based on the State of the Oceans Report.

“The health of the ocean is spiralling downwards far more rapidly than we had thought. We are seeing greater change, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated.  The situation should be of the gravest concern to everyone since everyone will be affected by changes in the ability of the ocean to support life on Earth,” says Professor Alex Rogers of Somerville College, Oxford, and Scientific Director of the IPSO.

The “what you can do” part of that article, however, is weak. Step one: Drive less, fly less, eat less meat.

Here’s the state of the oceans. Cheery stuff.