The waters 60 miles off the coast of Florida are stirring these days. It’s not so much the fury of hurricanes and shuttling of pleasure liners and tourist boats. It’s the heavier-duty traffic churning through the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea surrounding the island nation of Cuba.
Stimulated by recent discoveries of oil in the North Cuba Basin, within almost eye-shot of the Florida Keys, nations that do not necessarily all have the best of intentions toward the United States are vying for a stake in exploitation of these reserves that border U.S. territory.
Vessels hailing from China, Spain and Canada already dot the swells surrounding rigs that are busy setting up to operate in the Gulf or are already drilling to extract the black gold that lies beneath the deep.
Cuban oil is cementing some interesting alliances among a handful of nations already getting the jump on the U.S. in the race to exploit this oil field at America’s back door.
Remember December 2005, where in a matter of hours Hurricane Katrina destroyed one fifth of U.S. domestic petroleum output? While a good portion has come back online since that catastrophe, the U.S is currently missing out on a golden opportunity to bolster access to a much-needed pool of oil strategically located adjacent to its southern coast.
Like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, domestic squabbling in Washington hog-ties America’s access to oil while competing nations charge ahead to fill the gap. Congress remains bogged down arguing with opposition stemming from the environmental and tourism lobbies against U.S. involvement not only in this promising oil field estimated to contain 4.6 billion to 9.3 billion barrels lying beneath the Cuban basin. Even as Cuba parcels out contracts in this region to a motley group of foreign powers, 4 billion to 10 billion barrels go begging beneath the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, with drilling held up in Congress due to the objections of environmental groups warning of oilmen endangering caribou among other things.
Meanwhile, the nations currently bent on developing the Cuban basin oilfields have nowhere near the interest in preserving the environment as the U.S. Nor, in some instances, do they have the technological sophistication to clean up spillage when it occurs. Thus we can foresee a future with foreign nations exploiting off the Florida Keys, leaving the clean-up of any mess to the good ol’ U.S. of A.
The typically Oriental long-term view of China is worthy of note here. China snapped up the ports of Panama and Freeport in the Bahamas some years ago. It immediately set about developing Freeport into the largest container port in the world, also developing an international airport in direct association with that massive port facility. Through the front company Hutchison Whampoa, China is now upgrading the Panama Canal to handle modern bulk carriers and tankers. It is also working together with Venezuela to reopen Cuba’s Cienfuego oil refinery abandoned by Russia following collapse of the Soviet Union.
In Cuba, the Chinese have already reopened an abandoned Russian oil refinery. Much of the oil refined there is believed to be destined for Bahamas’ Freeport. Although at present China lacks the deep-sea penetration technology of U.S. and European companies to enable it to draw oil from beyond the continental shelf, it may readily partner with companies possessing that expertise. With the linkage between resource development in the North Cuba Basin, refining capacity on mainland Cuba, and shipping facilities currently consolidating in the region, China is now well placed to draw, refine and ship oil to slake the thirst for energy of its rapidly developing economy.
However, there are two other key players that are not only intent on grabbing a slice of the action in the Cuban basin, but upon which the Cuban economy is, at present, far more dependent than on China for its viability: Venezuela and the European Union.
The Venezuela-Cuba Deal
Take Venezuela for starters. Three years ago, Cuban News exposed that Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez had become the leading single financier for the moribund Cuban economy. Cuba’s deeply entrenched economic sickness, a leftover from the island dictatorship’s almost absolute dependence on Soviet Russia, made it easy pickings for circling vultures interested in taking over where Russia left off following the Soviet Union’s demise. Enter Chavez.
The Venezuelan leader plied Cuba with a much-needed resource: oil. Within two years of his election to the presidency, Chavez concluded a pact with Cuba’s President Fidel Castro, termed the Integral Cooperation Accord. This allows Cuba preferential terms on acquiring up to 53,000 barrels of oil, both crude and refined, daily, which total a third of the island’s estimated energy needs. This has led to Cuba accumulating a hugely inflated debt, due to its clearly apparent inability to pay. Although it is difficult to ascertain the current figure outstanding, these oil shipments from Venezuela, which have become a crucial subsidy to the Cuban economy, totaled $752 million just three years ago. In addition, Chavez, who controls the largest oil reserves in the Western Hemisphere, is making deals to reroute to China oil that his country is currently selling to the U.S.
Whether by design or circumstance, this huge indebtedness of Cuba to Venezuela has placed Chavez in a strong position to heavily influence the political outcome in Havana when the ailing dictator Castro finally yields his diseased body up to death.
There is one other powerful competitor in the race for controlling the U.S. southern gateway and the oil that lies below the seas in the region of the Cuban and Caribbean basins. Consider the relatively unobtrusive penetration into this region of the EU.
In 2004, Spain rejected its former conservative government and, stimulated by the terror attack at the Madrid rail station, voted in the socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to lead the nation. Zapatero immediately set about normalizing Spain’s relations with Cuba. Although, on the surface, relations between Cuba and the EU remain cool, it is a different story when it comes to EU investors and entrepreneurs.
In 2004 alone, European entities, attracted by the high-risk, high-return opportunities that Cuba uniquely offered, had invested over $1.6 billion in loans. One of the prime attractions was Cuba’s nickel deposits, thanks to nickel prices going through the roof because of China’s aggressively expanding economy. EU bankers also finance much of Cuba’s short-term debt in its foreign trade equation.
This flow of capital from the EU has served greatly to plug the hole left by the cessation of Soviet aid in 1991. In fact, although the alliances that Castro has developed with China and Venezuela have done much to haul him out of his fall into a self-inflicted economic abyss, it has been the EU financiers and investors who, by far, have underpinned the aging dictator’s regime since Russian withdrawal.
This support by EU capitalists has also paved the way for the involvement of Spain’s two huge petrochemical corporations, repsol and cepsa. Just last year, British Petroleum sold shares in the prized Campo Shenzi oil field, which lies in U.S. waters within the Gulf of Mexico. Spanish-Argentine energy giant repsol paid $2.17 billion for access to the field, which has proven reserves of near 400 million petroleum barrels. This EU-based company plans to increase production in U.S. waters in the Gulf to around 35,000 barrels per day. It is the largest private energy company in Latin America. The other Spain-based EU giant active in Latin America and now in the Cuban basin, cepsa, is 49 percent owned by France’s total. This petrochemical conglomerate, which was awarded a new exploration permit in Egypt last year, also boasts a strong presence worldwide with operations in Britain, Europe, North Africa and Central America.
The May 1962 edition of the Plain Truth magazine, edited by Herbert W. Armstrong, declared that “the United States is going to be left out in the cold as two gigantic trade blocs, Europe and Latin America, mesh together and begin calling the shots in world commerce.” Fully 45 years on from that prediction, expansion by European-owned oil companies continues to steadily increase linkage with Latin America.
This partnership is blossoming the more so in reaction to perverse pressure from the petro-terrorist patriarch, Iran. As Iranian-led Islamist expansionism, coupled with rising Russian imperialism, places Europe’s Northern Hemisphere energy supplies at risk, the EU responds by strengthening its ties with the Catholic south, especially within Latin America and the Caribbean.
With close ties to Venezuela, Cuba and China, Iran is progressively gaining influence on America’s southern doorstep. In May 2001, Cuba’s Castro and Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei agreed that Iran and Cuba would join “hand in hand” to work to defeat America, according to the official Iranian news agency irna. During Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s visit to Venezuela last September, he signed a joint deal with Hugo Chavez to explore the Orinoco Basin, estimated to contain 230 billion barrels of extra-heavy crude oil. On that occasion, commenting on the increasing ties between Iran and Venezuela, Chavez declared that the two countries are “united now and forever with the Iranian revolution, which has proved to the world that it has become the fuel for revolution.”
It is this connection between the revolutionaries involved in the spread of Islamist terrorism that is pushing the EU harder and harder toward a powerful reaction in the not-too-distant future against the Islamic crescent. While this is destined to work to the destruction of much of Iran’s efforts at Islamic expansionism, what is lost to most commentators is the rising danger that it poses to the continuing security of America.
Yet even as the U.S.’s enemies entrench themselves at America’s southern gateway, those charged with the responsibility of keeping the nation informed are guilty of a great denial of reality.
Recently, a major television network refused to air one of our television programs unless we edited out key statements made by presenter Gerald Flurry about this very threat. Our editor in chief had the temerity to mention the possibility that Hugo Chavez might play a role in aiding the entry of nuclear terrorists into the U.S. With Venezuela already established as a prime transit point for illegal aliens seeking entrance to the U.S., this is a conclusion that any objective reporter, cognizant of the facts, could have drawn. To quote Mr. Flurry’s reaction from his Dec. 18, 2006, co-worker letter: “But people don’t want to face such unpleasant facts! Facing facts means we have to face reality, which this world doesn’t like to do.”
That reality is about to slam the English-speaking nations fair in the face! What is building, increasingly rapidly, at America’s back door is not only destined to rob it of an increasingly scarce source of readily available energy, it’s simply about to rob that nation of its birthright. For the full story as to how the U.S. and English-speaking peoples reached this impasse, obtain your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy. You would be well advised to closely watch events surrounding the Cuban and Caribbean basins from here on. ▪