The swiftboating of CITGO

Oil Wars and Juan Gonzalez have both got the goods on Joe Barton, the Texas Repug oil profiteer-cum-congresscritter squatting in the House of Representatives, who’s coming down hard on CITGO for reasons that can only be described as blatantly political. Wikipedia, likewise, has some interesting poopy on him (pay special attention to his bat-squeeze views on global warming, which it’s clear he doesn’t understand–but hey, there must be “debate”, lest people be distracted by the terrible, irrefutable facts that cause them to spend less money on the oil peddled by Joe’s Texas pals. Just like there needs to be “debate” on the mere “theory” of evolution.)

But what disturbs me most is this post on, in which Mary McElveen (a regular contributor) lays bare what’s happened to that gutsy little news site as a result of what can only be called the Swiftboating of CITGO:

On December 20th, 2005, was notified that a major US oil company would cut off all advertising to our site. No explanation was given although an agreement had been reached earlier that month for the long-term advertising to be continued through 2006.

In fact the payment had already been confirmed by a senior executive just before he went on Christmas vacation to Venezuela and arrangements had been made on the strength of it to send Christmas bonuses to a team of editorial and technical volunteers who make VHeadline possible.

It was an obvious setback to our unique efforts to combat the seawall of disinformation that has been spread about the good things that are happening in Venezuela but, very much to the editor’s astonishment, just two days before Christmas he received another missive ordering VHeadline immediately to remove all pictorial representations of the company’s logo from the website, including the company’s logo on a leading Venezuelan racing driver’s competition uniform…

The unexplained decision to kill VHeadline’s advertising contract just hours before payment was to be made, and the additional cease and desist order smack very much of being the vindictive actions of a rogue element within the US oil company and could, of course, been seen as a mechanism by which to make’s continued publication an impracticality … in other words, an effort to shut us up!

McElveen doesn’t name the company (that’s libel chill for you!), but anyone who’s been reading Vheadline over the past year or so knows it’s CITGO, PDVSA’s wholly owned US subsidiary, whose cheap-oil-for-the-poor program is winning hearts and minds all over the US. Their ads were prominently featured on Vheadline until recently. The CITGO Racing ad in particular sticks in my mind…

McElveen then goes on to name a company contact, Raphael Gomez, in Houston, TX (you can find his phone number at the Vheadline link; whether you’ll get through to him is another story. I suspect he’s well on his way to being chronically “out of the office at the moment”.) Apparently, Gomez is the spokesperson for what McElveen terms the “rogue element” in CITGO–which is currently being “investigated”, frivolously, by Joe Barton–for no reason other than that they’re spoiling the game for the rich profiteers of Texas.

McElveen wisely recommends that you take out your anger not on CITGO, but the “rogue element”–bombard them with phone calls expressing outrage at how they’re knuckling under and working against the will of their own leaders. And since the main boycott of CITGO is by the Religious Right–the useful idiots who keep bad Texas oilmen in power–it seems advisable that you buycott CITGO, and boycott these Venezuela-hating US right-wing nuts instead.

BTW, here’s where you can get in touch with Congresscritter Barton.

Oh, and get a load of his photo here–does it scream “Doofus!” or what?

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