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Asunto:[LEA-Venezuela] En Ingles: 3ra. carta al Presidente de PDVSA
Fecha:Jueves, 12 de Diciembre, 2002  09:08:48 (-0400)
Autor:interfaz <interfaz>

External link to this page at URL: 
editorial commentary © by Gustavo Coronel :  Wednesday,  December 11, 2002 --

Dear Sir: 

As I write you this letter the activities of PDVSA have stopped completely.
Wells are not pumping, refineries are dormant, pipelines are empty, tankers
idle and offices deserted or taken over by persons who are not familiar
with the documents they find in the desks. Close to $60 million per day are
being lost, essentially forever, as the production lost goes to the end of
the line.

This is a disaster of enormous proportions for the country, not only
economically but, worse, from the viewpoint of the international reputation
and credibility of PDVSA.
I have just seen you on national TV referring to the managers and
technicians and skilled labor of PDVSA as "criminals" and "saboteurs" and
asking the revolutionary people to "take over" the company.

Before resorting to your language of old, when you were a member of the
armed guerrilla which produced death and unrest during
democratically-elected presidencies in the 1960s, you should have paused to
reflect on the reasons for this tragedy.

You are not a guerrilla fighter anymore, but the president of a world rank
corporation from which the welfare of our country depends. You were
entrusted with a mission (or so I would think) to promote high levels of
motivation among your organization and to make sure that the main
objectives of the corporation were attained ... this is, optimum income,
expansion of markets, technical and organizational excellence, a high
degree of credibility among international clients and competitors.
What you have done has little to do with these main objectives. You
accepted the presence of political spies in your organization, you accepted
the use of PDVSA's facilities for political events, you have tried
(unsuccess-fully) to use PDVSA for the benefit of an ideological project
bound to fail.

What we needed at the helm of PDVSA was a professional manager ... instead
we got a professional politician. We needed a long distance runner but we
got a sprinter. We needed someone who could work for the public benefit ...
instead we got someone who was working for the benefit of a tribe. We
needed a leader and we got a puppet.

When you arrived at PDVSA, I must say, much of the harm had already been
done. No corporation can take six presidents in less than four years and
hope to live to tell the tale ... especially if one of those presidents was
mentally unbalanced. When you arrived, the organization had hopes that you
would revert its deterioration. After all, you had done a creditable job at
the Ministry of Energy and a discreet job at OPEC. The managers and
technicians that you called "criminals" gave you a vote of confidence, but
soon they realized that you were not "the suave gentleman returning home
from Vienna" but the old guerrilla member, full of original resentment and
harboring the same old inferiority complex.
As they lost hope of seeing their corporation ... our corporation ...
return to the levels of excellence of the past, they decided to act. And
they have. The losses of today, they believe, will prevent bigger and more
definitive losses in the future.

Professional managers have some qualities which make them different from
professional politicians. They take a long time to be formed, while
politicians might gain notoriety in 30 seconds on television ("Por Ahora").
They do not make up their own rules. They follow the established rules of
the corporation, which assures coherence and continuity in their actions.
They do not invent or improvise like politicians do.

Professional managers have the strength of their convictions. They are not,
like politicians, "mobile qual piuma al vento"... in the words of Verdi.
This is why they resent and oppose outside, unprofessional intervention ...
like the attempted and grotesque naming of Gaston Parra as President of
The fact that professional managers do not own material shares of the
company allows them to concentrate on good management, without thinking
"what is their gain" ... a solid professional manager has five main
ingredients in his personality: knowledge, judgment, loyalty to the
institution, self control and the need for the approval of society. How
many of those qualities do you think you have?

The "battle for PDVSA" is being fought by a large group of high-quality men
and women who are faithful to their beliefs and principles, on the one
side, and on the other, by a group of political gangsters which would like
to control PDVSA and convert it in a tool of a "revolution" that has
already has brought much death and ruin and frustration to Venezuelan

The outcome of this "battle" is no longer in doubt. Even if brute force
prevails, you will never be able to capture the spirit of PDVSA.
Gustavo Coronel is the founder and president of Agrupacion Pro Calidad de
Vida (The Pro-Quality of Life Alliance), a Caracas-based organization
devoted to fighting corruption and the promotion of civic education in
Latin America, primarily Venezuela. A member of the first board of
directors (1975-1979) of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), following
nationalization of Venezuela's oil industry, Coronel has worked in the oil
industry for 28 years in the United States, Holland, Indonesia, Algiers and
in Venezuela. He is a Distinguished alumnus of the University of Tulsa
(USA) where he was a Trustee from 1987 to 1999. Coronel led the
Hydrocarbons Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) in
Washington DC for 5 years. The author of three books and many articles on
Venezuela ("Curbing Corruption in Venezuela." Journal of Democracy, Vol. 7,
No. 3, July, 1996, pp. 157-163), he is a fellow of Harvard University and a
member of the Harvard faculty from 1981 to 1983.  In 1998, he was
presidential election campaign manager for Henrique Salas Romer and now
lives in retirement on the Caribbean island of Margarita where he runs a
leading Hotel-Resort.  You may contact Gustavo Coronel at email

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