Venezuela's Valdez: Oil spill covers a national park beach black, and where are the global environmentalists?
How's this for a repressed story?
Venezuela is in the midst of a massive oil spill covering a pristine national park, in what's the world's second biggest oil spill of 2020, and nobody's saying a thing. The Morrocoy national park in western Venezuela will likely take 50 years to recover.
Here's what the news was last August 12, from a Canadian news agency, and there's been little said since:
An oil spill in Venezuela has coated a stretch of the crisis-wracked nation's Caribbean coastline, treasured for its white sand beaches, clusters of small islands and wildlife.
Fisherman and locals living around Morrocoy National Park began reporting oil washing ashore last week and it has coated roughly 15 kilometres of beaches. The area popular with tourists is located 300 kilometres from the capital of Caracas.
Venezuelan authorities acknowledged the spill, saying they're containing and cleaning it up, but so they far haven't said what caused it.
The area is near El Palito refinery operated by the struggling state-owned PDVSA oil company, but Environmental Minister Oswaldo Barbera tweeted late Tuesday that a flyover confirmed that the spill did not come from the refinery. He didn't identify the source, however.
It's hard to prove a negative, but based on what I've searched, global environmental groups are saying nothing. Local environmental groups are repressed, so they get a pass. But as for the well heeled others, I've checked — not a one is saying a thing. And day by day, the pictures get more and more horrible.
Here are a few screen grabs and a video from a little Spanish-language news agency called El Estimulo:
This most recent photo, from the Associated Press, run only by an obscure Slavic news outfit, which we don't have the rights to, is a shocker. Breitbart reports that oil in a nearby town has gotten into the water pipes and flooded the local houses.
But it still isn't good enough for some environmental outrage of the same kind that came out during the Alaska Valdez spill or the 2009 Deepwater Horizon oil spill off Louisiana. Where are the denunciations of oil itself and the cries about oiled birds? Where is the outrage? This is a good one to get outraged about, given the pristine nature that has been destroyed.
And the Chavistas running Venezuela say they have no idea where the oil came from.
And elsewhere, nobody seems to understand that environmental degradation, of the most horrendous kind, is not the earmark of Western progress, but a signature disaster of socialism. Javier Caceres, a Venezuela scholar I respect, but who nevertheless gets the analysis he wrote for the New York Times just a little wrong, points out that lots of oil cash makes socialists repressive, but a lack of oil cash makes them repressive, too:
These catastrophes are two sides of the same coin. Rising authoritarianism in Venezuela has led to oil mismanagement, which in turn has led to environmental degradation. And oil mismanagement is now turning the regime even more autocratic, which in turn is leading to opposition debasement.
Pundits often debate whether rising oil fortunes contribute to the rise of authoritarianism. Large oil windfalls, the argument goes, allow states to offer consumption booms to the public in lieu of political rights and to fund repressive forces. But the Venezuelan case seems to be showing that declining oil fortunes can be both a cause and a consequence of hardening authoritarianism.
Maybe that's because the root of this isn't cash; it's socialism. The socialists ran things with money and created an environmental hellhole, and then they ran things without money and achieved the same. But it was all the same socialism. Caceres calls them "incompetent." But they're not incompetent; they're experts, of socialism, that is, and the environmental disaster they are creating is cut out of the same piece of cloth as the black rivers of China; the horrendous nuclear wastelands of the old USSR, chiefly in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Russia itself; and the environmental wastelands of Cuba. Take away all property rights, and nothing is going to be kept up. Put the state in charge of resources, and nobody's going to take responsibility. Nationalize or repress the environmental groups, which is what happened in Venezuela, and watch them grow powerless.
This doesn't excuse the large international greenie groups from making a stink, and they should. What are they saying? Nothing. Somehow, being socialist gives you a pass on the environmental degradation front according to this bunch, which raises questions about their sincerity on the environment.
Images credit: El Estimulo, via shareble YouTube, screen shots.