Venezuela’s legal battle against imperialism took another great step forward with a new ruling by a World Bank arbitration panel. In 1999 when Hugo Chavez was elected he nationalised some of Exxon Mobil’s major projects in the country. The legal battle over the seizure has been going on for more than ten years.
In 2014 an order was made to force Venezuela to pay out $1.4 billion for the seized Cerro Negro project. This has now been overturned. Initially, Exxon Mobil had asked for $10 billion in compensation, but the 2014 ruling reduced it to the current figure of $1.4 billion.
The ICSID ruled that the original 2014 tribunal decision “exceeded its powers by failing to apply the proper law” by awarding a judgement that was too large. Venezuela is still obligated to pay US$179.3 million for the La Ceiba project.
Exxon Mobil said that it is investigating new avenues and approaching a different World Bank Panel.
This struggle reminds us why a legislative battle to build socialism within the bourgeois legal system is no real avenue of approach. If socialism is to take the position that capitalism is an unjust system, then it should not respect its laws and moral imperatives. Revolution cannot be a legal process; it is the authoritarian act of one class overthrowing another.