I usually like to tackle an issue, say my piece, and move on, for fear of you getting bored with me. I don’t want you to say “she always harps on the same subject,” so I rarely visit the same topic twice but here I have to make an exception. The winning issue with multiple entries is the questionable reopening of our refinery. That issue is not just “relevant” today; it’s pivotal, critical and central. I love my thesaurus.

So you heard of course, that the Aruba government, spearheaded by the MinEngergy has been “negotiating” with CITGO Petroleum Corporation, an American refiner owned by the national PDVSA oil company of Venezuela. I have to place “negotiating” in parenthesis because oil contracts are very complex, imagine, a few pounds of paper, describing the so called takeover of an oil refinery on third party soil, that’s a heavy-duty legal document. And I can only conclude that there is no real deal in the making otherwise our government would have placed some experienced people on this, some heavy-hitting Dutch lawyers with solid expertise on the subject. So the fact that the ‘deal’ in being ‘negotiated’ by a person without professional or specialized knowledge in that particular field, our MinEnergy, already tells me that this is not serious. It’s an election ploy. Designed to placate us that the 50 million missing to balance the country’s 2016 budget will be paid for by the company running the refinery, and thus Parliament should get the voters’ blessing and ratify the proposed budget without any additional taxation, because the money will be coming…

Just for the record: CAFT or CFT, a Dutch financial watchdog organization, imposed on Aruba by the kingdom, insists that the government must introduce the new ABB tax, to fill the 50 million gap. So the frantic search for that money begot the ‘refinery reopening’ story. I commend our leaders on their stubborn refusal to raise our taxes even higher, but that future refinery income falls into the category of wishful thinking.

Got it? Secondly, they are ‘negotiating with a company and a country that are as good as dead,, over an area on the island that can be likened to a nuclear wasteland, the defunct Valero Oil Refinery in San Nicholas.

Why is the county, Venezuela, as good as dead? Because oil prices slipped below $30 for the barrel, and Venezuela’s budget was based upon black-gold fetching three times as much. Also the head of state for our tragic southern neighbor, President Nicolas Maduro, is a poor copy of his mentor president Hugo Chavez. Both have been driving Venezuela into ruin with their misguided policies/politics, for the past two decades.

So why am I telling you all that. Because I see the government-generated press releases in the local newspapers with headlines such as: A special CITGO desk is planned by MinLabor to encourage and support workers signing up for work at the refinery; And: The MinEnergy meeting with Repsol in Houston was positive, the parties will meet again in three month. While in Houston the MinEnergy also visited CITGO for a fruitful meeting. (Repsol is the company granted the gas exploration contract, that’s another story.) Another one said: Aruba will not have to pay anything to modernize the 100 year old refinery, if CITGO reaches an agreement then all costs are on them. And just the day before yesterday: CITGO is taking the refinery in Aruba over, investing $700 million in renovations. The press release went on to explain that the refinery will use natural gas to operate the plant, and that it may run a pipe from Venezuela to Aruba.

Are you listening? Really? Just like that, run a pipe. Where is the money for pipe laying coming from? The article continues stating that the refinery will be leased for $20 million, plus $10 million in taxes, take out your calculator, that is exactly the 50 million missing florins. Magical thinking works every time.

In view of what I told you, it is beyond me that the legend persists. It’s a disgrace.  Instead of reducing government overhead and making real changes our beloved amateurs go to bed, so to speak, with crooks*, signing an MOU, memorandum of understanding with them, just so they can say to CAFT or CFT: Here is your 50 millions. We got it. We have a balanced budget.

Regarding crooks*: The engineer of that refinery deal, Roberto Rincon, a bona fide crook, is in the slammer, in the US, and on trial. But that you know already.