Tillerson, Militarization and oil I

A demonstration in support of President Nicolas Maduro.

[Admin: This is the first of two articles (so far) about US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s Latin American tour.]

By: Carlos Fazio

In the context of a geopolitical dispute with extra-continental capitalist competitors (China, Russia, the European Union) that challenge the hegemony of the US empire in its traditional zone of influence, the recent tour of Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, through Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica [1] had a clear expansionist projection based on two principal axes: security and energy.

As a member of the transnational capitalist class, Tillerson, a former executive director of the United States private oil company Exxon-Mobil, the fourth largest oil company in the world behind the state-owned Aramco (Saudi Arabia), NIOC (Iran) and CNPC (China), wielded a “primitive mercantilist” approach (Jorge Eduardo Navarrete said it), as anachronistic as the Monroe Doctrine in which he based his speech at the University of Texas, in Austin, one day before his arrival in Mexico.

The “Tillerson model” of hemispheric relations embodies the traditional war diplomacy of Washington, now accentuated due to the structural crisis and crisis of legitimacy of the world capitalist system, characterized by William I. Robinson as the fusion of reactionary political power in the State, ultra-rightist, authoritarian and new fascist forces in civil society, and transnational corporate capital. A triangulation of interests that, under the Trump administration, is shaping a “global police State” of a new fascist cut.

In that context, the factions of big capital most prone to 21st century fascism are located in the speculative financial sector, the military-industrial-security-media complex and in the extractive industries, interlaced with high tech/digital capital.

Given the magnitude of the crisis of capitalism, its global reach, the social deterioration and the degree of ecological degradation that it generates, in order to contain the real or potential protests and/or rebellions, the dominant plutocracy has been promoting diverse systems of mass social control, repression and wars (open or clandestine), which are also used as tools for obtaining profits and to continue accumulating capital in the face of stagnation. Robinson calls it “militarized accumulation” or “accumulation by repression.”

Such categorization alludes to the Achilles heel of capitalism: over-accumulation, the growing gap between what is produced and what the market can absorb. If the capitalists cannot sell their products, they don’t make a profit. Given the enormous concentration of wealth –with its correlative levels of social polarization and unprecedented global inequality−, the transnational capitalist class needs to find profitable productive outlets for discharging enormous quantities of accumulated surpluses.

That’s why the energy and extractive complexes resort to the intensification and deepening of neoliberalism via the privatization of highway, seaport, airport and railroad infrastructure, and of oil pipelines, gas pipelines and electricity (for example, Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commission in the case of Mexico); as well as the super-exploitation of labor and lack of job security (subcontracting, outsourcing), and policies of total deregulation and greater subsidies to transnational capital.

Said policies of relocation of capital, re-industrialization and accumulation by dispossession or the plunder of territories and raw materials in dependent economies, have been occurring in Mexico, Central and South America through soft coups, the de facto imposition of a permanent state of emergency and the establishment of police states, whose supports are the militarization of civil society and different modalities of endless tactical wars, camouflaged as anti-drug wars or wars against “internal enemies” −the Mapuches under the (dis) government of Mauricio Macri−, with advanced armaments systems driven by artificial intelligence, including sophisticated monitoring, tracking, security and surveillance systemeIn that context it should be noted that in his speech at the University of Texas, Tillerson placed energy, particularly hydrocarbons (oil, gas and unconventional oils), as a nodal point of the renewed hemispheric strategy of the Trump administration. He put as the “model” the energy strength of North America; the opening (privatization) of the energy markets in Mexico, and the role of the United States as the provider of natural gas for new generators of electricity in the region.

In fact, Mexico –which since 2007 with the Merida Initiative heads the list of covert aid for military intelligence from the Pentagon and the CIA, after Afghanistan− is on the way to becoming an export platform for oil, natural gas and gasoline produced in the Permian Basin and Louisiana, towards the Asian market (Japan, China, India, South Korea and Taiwan), via the ports of Manzanillo and the Coatzacoalcos/Salina Cruz axis on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which will take advantage of the infrastructure installed by Pemex, which will give the energy corporations the advantages of less time and lower transportation costs than if they did it through the Panama Canal.

Given that hydrocarbons are a central component of the militarized neocolonial and “energy security” strategy of Donald Trump and the corporations of that sector –in key with the conservative restoration and the defense of its hegemony−, Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA, the fifth largest oil company in the world) was another central objective of Tillerson’s tour. That is why he instructed the collaborationist henchmen governments of Enrique Peña Nieto, Mauricio Macri, Pedro Kuczynski and Juan Manuel Santos about the new modalities that they will have to undertake faced with the intensification of the military, economic and financial circle against the constitutional government of Nicolas Maduro, including an eventual oil embargo as the new precipitator of a “humanitarian crisis” that would justify a multilateral military intervention.

[1] The Tillerson tour took place during the first week of February 2018.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Monday, February 12, 2018


Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee



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