A victory for Venezuela, via the English legal system

Good news from Hands Off Venezuela! on events in the bourgeois courts:

A London High Court judge on Tuesday suspended a court order which froze 12 billion dollars (7.6 billion euros) of assets owned by Venezuela state oil firm PDVSA in a dispute with US energy giant ExxonMobil.

“The judge hasn’t allowed his court or his country to be an instrument” of Exxon, Samuel Moncada, Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.K., said in an interview. “This decision should have an effect on any reasonable court in the world.”

Addressing a group of solidarity activists gathered to hear the ruling, Moncada added: “Over 2 weeks it has been argued, and an English judge has decided not to support the Exxon case, but to support the Venezuelan case. Your slogan, Hands off Venezuela, is more relevant than ever, today.”

Hands Off Venezuela has mobilised , together with other solidarity activists, outside the High Court in London and outside the ExxonMobil offices to protest against this move to freeze PDVSA assets.

ExxonMobil started a number of judicial cases against PDVSA, after the Venezuelan government decided, in March 2007, to nationalise the massive oil reserves of the Orinoco Belt, in which the US multinational was operation as part of a “strategic association” with PDVSA.

The overwhelming majority of the companies operating in that field accepted the new proposed agreements, in which the Venezuelan PDVSA has a majority stake with a minimum of 60% of the shares, but US based ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, refused and went to international arbitration.

At the beginning of February, ExxonMobil obtained cautionary rulings from courts in the United States, Britain, the Netherlands and the Dutch Antilles to freeze 12 billion dollars of PDVSA’s global assets.

The London High Court judge, Paul Walker, will issue a detailed explanation of his ruling on Thursday.

Exxon was ordered to make an interim payment of 380,000 pounds to cover legal costs within 21 days, although the final bill is expected to be much higher.

PDVSA lawyer George Pollock said damages the state oil company could claim included increases in the cost of corporate borrowing for its projects.

Exxonmobil’s lawyer, Catharine Otton-Goulder, said she had no comments to make.

Hands Off Venezuela activists present in London expressed their joy at the ruling. “This was part of a campaign of intimidation and threats by imperialism against the Venezuelan revolution”.

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