By Stephen Millies
Aug 30, 2009
Gulf Oil Corp. became the biggest gusher of money for the Mellon family empire. By 1956 it was taking $160 million annually in profits out of Kuwait alone.
Violence was a vital ingredient of this stolen wealth. President Barack Obama admitted in his June 4th Cairo speech that “the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government.”
The CIA’s “Operation Ajax” overthrew Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953. It was masterminded by CIA executive Kermit Roosevelt, a grandson of President Teddy Roosevelt. Mossadegh’s “crime” was nationalizing his country’s oil.
Iran was plunged into 26 years of dictatorship under the U.S.-imposed Shah. Thousands were tortured to death by the SAVAK secret police, which was modeled on the Nazi Gestapo. SAVAK agents were trained by Herman Norman Schwarzkopf, whose son, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., led the 1991 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
This was wonderful for the Mellons, since Gulf Oil got a slice of Iranian oil. Kermit Roosevelt left the CIA and became a Gulf Oil vice president.
As in 1953, the U.S. is once again trying to overthrow a “democratically elected Iranian government.” Congress has approved $400 million for a new CIA destabilization campaign.
U.S. billionaires want to overthrow Iranian President Ahmadinejad, just like they got rid of Prime Minister Mossadegh.
It started in Texas
Croatian immigrant Anthony Lucas was convinced there was oil under an East Texas salt dome. Native people had known this for centuries.
Vindication came on Jan. 10, 1901, when the Spindletop gusher began throwing 100,000 barrels of oil into the sky every day. Nearby Beaumont became a boomtown.
The prospector—whose original name was Luchich—was forced to sell seven-eighths of his stake to Pittsburgh oilmen J.M. Guffey and John H. Galey. These oilmen needed more financing from the biggest Pittsburgh moneylenders—the Mellons.
The J.M. Guffey Petroleum Co. was born with a $15 million capitalization. Lucas—who was a classmate of Serbian electrical genius Nikola Tesla—got $400,000. Galey got something. The workers who risked their lives to put out a huge oil fire at Spindletop got nothing.
Guffey was kicked out by the Mellons in 1907 when Gulf Oil was incorporated. Andrew Mellon’s nephew, William Larimer Mellon, was installed as Gulf’s president.
He had organized the Crescent pipeline, which stretched across Pennsylvania. The Mellons sold it to the Rockefellers’ National Transit pipeline in 1895 for $4 million.
W.L. Mellon then organized a Pittsburgh streetcar monopoly in 1901 valued at $110 million. The Mellons were big into trolleys at that time, since it served their real estate interests.
Big Oil later spent decades destroying trolley systems in the interests of promoting the use of gas-guzzling automobiles. The 700-mile-long Pacific Electric system that once served the Los Angeles area shut down its last line to Long Beach in 1961.
Killing people around the world
Gulf Oil’s pipelines extended into Sapulpa, Okla., where oil was stolen from Native people. The prosperous Greenwood neighborhood in nearby Tulsa—called “Black Wall Street”—was destroyed by white racist mobs in 1921, with hundreds of African Americans killed.
The Gulf Oil refinery at Port Arthur, Texas, became the largest in the world in the 1920s. Black and Mexican workers did the dirtiest work there and got only 25 cents per hour.
Twenty-five sailors burned to death when the company’s tanker “Gulf of Venezuela” blew up in Port Arthur in 1926.
By this time Gulf had plenty of oil wells in Venezuela. The Mellons and Rockefellers backed Juan Vicente Gómez, who was the country’s dictator from 1908 until his death in 1935.
Gómez crushed unions and threw student protesters into chain gangs. Presently, democratically elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías, with Cuban assistance, has brought health care to millions. Yet the corporate media that today attack President Chávez never even mentioned the dictator Gómez.
Gulf Oil was exploiting Mexico before it began ripping off Venezuela. But the Mellons didn’t like one important anti-imperialist result of the Mexican Revolution. In 1938 all the U.S. and British oil companies were thrown out of that country.
Colombia’s congress rejected concessions to Gulf and Standard Oil in 1928. Mellon lawyer Allen Dulles—who later was to be the CIA head during Mossadegh’s overthrow—was outraged. Colombia was forced to back down when its credit was shut off by Wall Street.
Gen. René Barrientos Ortuño staged a phony 1966 election in Bolivia with $800,000 in Gulf Oil bribes. The next year he and the CIA assassinated the heroic revolutionary, Che Guevara.
But Big Oil has now been kicked out of Bolivia.
Next the Mellons went to the Middle East and Africa. U.S. Ambassador to Britain Andrew Mellon demanded and got half of Kuwait’s oil deposits from its colonial overlords in London.
Gulf Oil was the paymaster for the Portuguese fascist regime’s war against the African people of Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique.
But African liberation fighters won independence for these countries and their victories also aided the successful struggle against fascism by the Portuguese workers, who overthrew dictator Marcelo Caetano in 1974.
What did working people in Pittsburgh get out of Gulf Oil’s crimes?
When Gulf Oil was taken over by Chevron in 1984, thousands of jobs were lost at its skyscraper headquarters in Pittsburgh. Mellon foundation grants to Carnegie-Mellon University didn’t stop 500 Gulf Oil scientists from being fired.
Sources: “Mellon’s Millions” by Harvey O’Connor and “Paul Mellon: Portrait of an Oil Baron” by William S. Hoffman.
Next: Mellon’s aluminum monopoly