Archive for August 13th, 2008

Robolutionary Housing under Hugo Chavez

August 13, 2008

In the last few days, El Universal has had a series of
articles beginning
with this one
, on the abuses by high Chavista officials of the system which
gives and finances homes to Venezuelans. The reporter cleverly used the website of the Ministry
of Housing to discover that a number of high Government officials of Chavismo
have benefitted from the Government’s housing program. Essentially he used the ID numbers of high Government officials to see which benefits they may have received and where. In fact, the reporter
found out that some of them like multiple-Minister Eliezer Otaiaza benefitted
beyond what the law allows, receiving the housing benefit more than the one
time allowed by law.

Otaiaza’s case is the most emblematic; as he was given a
mortgage two months after he purchased a fairly fancy home from the Government. A similar
case occurred with the Minster of Feeding who benefited from a mortgage in 2000
and now received a townhouse in the same complex as Otaiza in the Tazon
entrance to Caracas. Other high ranking military and former Ministers have also
benefited from the Government’s largesse.

As usual, those that benefited seem to find nothing wrong
with it, with one Minister saying that he is entitled to it, while Otayza says
that the mortgage was not for a residential property, but for “an apartment
where I have a library and a sort of office where I prepare talks and

Wow! In a country with a two million home shortage Mr.
Otayza clearly shows and displays his revolutionary spirit and sensibility as well as his concern for
the poor.

Which is nothing new, as Mr. Otayza jumped from one
Government position to the other, building himself a luxurious gym next to his
office at each new position  in a clear show of his absolute disregard for ethics
or care for the people of Venezuela.

But what the reporter has not noted in his articles is the
fact that it was absurd for the Government to be involved in the building if
this housing complex in the entrance to Caracas. The complex is actually a
fairly luxurious complex of apartments and townhouses named “Bosque Valle” which
had no place in the priorities of the Government’s housing projects.

Because it makes no sense for the Government to be
subsiding, financing and building these homes for the benefit of its high
officials, while millions of Venezuelans live in shacks due to the incompetence
and inefficiency of the Chavez administration.

Because while the Government twists, distorts and fakes
poverty and literacy numbers, there is no place to hide when it comes to the
dismal record of the Chavez Government in building and providing housing for
the people of Venezuela. The numbers released by the Chavez Government
numerically prove the abysmal results of his administration: Despite the oil
windfall, the Chavez Government in its BEST year, has
not been able to build
as many housing units as the Caldera Government in
its WORST year. (And that Government was terrible!)

And despite Chavez’ pressure, promises and dozens of
Ministers of Housing, the Chavez administration has been unable to build
100,000 units in any of its ten years in power (almost eleven now!), something
that Caldera almost did in 1997 and much-maligned Carlos Andres Perez
practically achieved in 1992. In fact, Chavez has never even reached the
50,000-unit level in any year, the average during the “terrible” years of the
IVth. Republic, when oil prices barely touched US$ 15 per barrel.

But of course today we get a new promise form the former
Minister of Culture Francisco Sesto, now Minister of Housing. that in eight years
he will solve the country’s housing problem by building 200,000 units a year.

Sesto is actually an architect who has never cared about the
subject of Housing or Urbanism, but after destroying the country’s culture now
plans to use his incompetence and destructive powers on housing.

And we are supposed to believe him.

Because it was Chavez that said ten years ago that he would
solve the country’s housing problem in the next ten years. But despite much
higher oil prices that he ever dreamed of, during Chavez’ tenure the deficit in
housing has actually increased and he has managed to destroy the capability of
the Government building housing through mismanagement, political clientilism and inefficiency.

But there is efficiency by the robolution in building
luxurious complexes like “Bosque Valle”, assigning the units to Chavez’ closest
collaborators and even allowing them to move and expand the units even before
they obtain the permit to occupy the units.

It is robolutionary housing at its best.