This picture was released yesterday before Chavez’ Sunday program in which he announced a factory will be built with the Iranians to build bicycles in Venezuela. Immediately afterwards, Chavez talked about using Iranian solar technology and “starting” a Venezuelan nuclear program.
What does one thing have to do with the other? Easy, this is the third time Chavez announces a joint venture to build bicycles in Venezuela; the other two were with the Chinese and the Cubans. The point being that it is easy to make bicycles, but you need human resources and know how to make nuclear technology, but we have not been able to get going a single one of the earlier two bicycle factories.
Speaking of nuclear technology, Venezuela even has a nuclear reactor, which Chavez appears not to know about, but it is not in use it is GE technology from the 1950’s, the control room was tubes and there was never money available to upgrade it. Thus, it has been converted into an irradiation plant.
There have also been groups that made solar panels and even sold some for remote applications. I believe there is still some work going on at the University of the Andes. But apparently Chavez knows more about Iran than about Venezuela. In any case, unless you go into the materials aspects of it, this is really about engineering and not research.
But as a scientist, I think there are other areas where money would be better spent. Particularly because the toughest part is always human resources and there are lots of areas in which the country has strengths like tropical diseases and biotechnology, so why not invest in it, rather than having many mediocre groups with no budget, maybe we can have one or two which are good and have good funding. But I guess excellence is not this Government’s forte. Or starting or finishing projects.