To date, there is no doubt that the spill of crude oil on the immense Brazilian coastline was a criminal act. In summary, this conclusion is based on the following lines of thought:
1. If a loaded oil tanker possibly sank, its owner would have already appeared in order to report the unfortunate accident and claim compensation on the part of the insurer of the vessel. Being an accident, there would be nothing to be ashamed of.
2. Even if the oil tanker were a “ghost ship”, with no insurance, its crew, prior to the vessel becoming totally wrecked, would have sent some kind of request for assistance to other ships by radio, but there is no news regarding such a plea for help. Human tragedies of this nature soon appear in the international media. According to information published, if I am not mistaken, in the “Estadão” newspaper, around 2,000 vessels pass through the region on a daily basis. Why would the crew of the hypothetical, illegal ghost ship prefer to die by drowning, in silence, in order to avoid harming the reputation of the vessel owner? It is strange that there is not a single shipwreck in this story.
3. Considering the extent of the damage – there are nine affected states: Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe – it is difficult to believe that this spill originated from a single stationary vessel, either on the surface or the bottom of the sea. If the oil came from a single tanker, it would have affected a very much smaller area, which suggests that it was discharged from more than one vessel. If this occurred from a single tanker (of monstrous size), the disastrous cargo was released little by little, in a calculated manner – a certain amount here, more further on – in order to harm Brazil’s beaches to the greatest possible extent, affecting tourism, fishing and the reputation of the country in terms of the inoperative nature of environmental control measures.
4. Finally, the most convincing argument: already accepted by investigations – technically demonstrating that the oil is Venezuelan, presumably loaded in Venezuela – why would the oil tanker be headed for the southern hemisphere and not the northern hemisphere, where there are many more countries interested in purchasing this oil? Would Brazil buy crude oil from Venezuela? It seems not. As a result, it only remains to discover whether the only two countries further south, namely Uruguay and Argentina, purchase this oil. If Uruguay and Argentina do buy it, it can be presumed that there would be no political interest on their part in hindering the investigation by their silence, as each country purchases what it needs where it is most convenient. Reader: look at the position of Venezuela in South America on a world map. Its oil is only of interest to countries in the northern hemisphere, its nearest clientele. For example, if the oil were destined for China, there would be no sense in navigating to a point near the South Pole and then continuing, via the Pacific Ocean to the distant second largest economy in the world which, one must agree, has no need to resort to dirty tricks in order to obtain what it needs. Rationally, Venezuelan oil could reach China taking a short-cut through the Panama Canal. Mere geography demonstrates that the passage, via the southern route, of the tanker carrying Venezuelan oil had the objective of causing damage to Brazil.
5. It is to be hoped that the Brazilian government gets in touch with the governments of Uruguay and Argentina, solely to ascertain whether or not these countries have recently purchased Venezuelan oil. If they have not made a purchase, the most likely explanation of this strange north-south route taken by tankers is retaliation on the part of a head of state with a sick and very stupid mentality, or terrorist organization taking revenge on the Brazilian policy of supporting Donald Trump. If this is the case, such action should be punished, but not by war. What our country, so unfortunate in recent times, with successive environmental catastrophes, least needs is a declaration of war. Internal wars, solely verbal, are already enough.
Once again, this terrible environmental accident shows that International Law, with unlimited sovereignty – tempered with unpunished madness – needs to be urgently perfected, including an international maritime “police force” that is able to impede the repetition of further outpourings of stupidity, or should I say, oil.
By Francisco Pinheiro Rodrigues (26/10/2019)