Exxon vs. Chavez
By David Holcberg (Houston Chronicle, February 15, 2008; Los Angeles Times, February 17, 2008)
Exxon is to be congratulated for standing up for its property rights against Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.
When Chavez broke Venezuela's contract with foreign oil companies last year and demanded they cede control over their facilities to his government, Exxon abandoned its projects in Venezuela and sought arbitration in international courts, rather than accept the expropriation of its assets.
Exxon's legal victory in British and Dutch courts, which froze $12 billion in assets of Venezuela's state-run oil company, should serve as a warning to any government around the world that might consider nationalizing the property and looting the wealth of multinational companies. Exxon's fight for its rights will hopefully embolden all other companies that have been--or might be--looted by dictatorships to take appropriate legal action.