Chavez’ management style (oxymoronic!) and his recent moves

May 15, 2009


There is really no mystery to Chavez’ management style, he clearly has very little understanding of management and has total disregard for a person’s capability, knowledge or continuity in a position. Case in point is the naming of Jacqueline Farias as the new President of telephone company CANTV. Farias thus becomes the very brief Gauleiter of Caracas, spending about a month in the position to take capabilities away from Antonio Ledezma.

Clearly, Farias was barely moving into her management position, not only because she was learning the ropes, but because she had not even had the time to define it. Moreover, she is guilty of accepting a position which clearly violates the Constitution and represents her personal backing of a dictatorial and illegal decision. She should one day have to pay for it.

But even worse, Farias moves into the highly complex Presidency of CANTV, a job which requires lots of learning and management capabilities. The decisions are tough and require knowledge and experience in the area, for which Farias has none. Neither did outgoing President Socorro Hernandez, but at least she had spent some time in the position and had learned some of the ropes, if not at least some strings. Anywhere else in the world, reaching the top position at a telecom company would require either years of experience in the area or being a superb manager. Farias is neither of the two. If she retains both positions as some are suggesting then the decision is simply absurd.

But to top it all off, Chavez splits the Minister of Telecommunications and blends most of it into the Minister of Science and Technology. Of course, in Venezuela telecommunications and technology have little to do with each other, CANTV and the Government buy turnkey equipment, a la the worthless Chinese satellite or the “Vergatario” cell phone (only assembled in the country), while little is done locally to promote local engineering and/or technology.

Add to this that Chavez named a person ignorant on affairs of science and technology, Lt. Jesse Chacon, who will likely devote now his time to non-science and non-technology matters, insuring that the sector will be diminished in its importance. I always believed that Science and Technology was better off as an independent office of the Secretary of the President than a Ministry, now it has been diluted within a non-related Ministry.

We have no clue, of course, as to why Chavez made these moves. But what is clear is that the subject of illegally taking away powers from Antonio Ledezma was passe in Chavez’ mind. His political objective has been achieved, loyal Farias could be moved to a new one of his interests.

Which only indicates that Chavez has now turned his attention politically to CANTV and telecommunications. As to why, I have no idea, but it may be that he will now unleash an offensive on those companies competing with CANTV, mainly Digitel and Spain’s Movistar, which are probably making CANTV either lose market share or invest lots of money in order to stay competitive. It should not surprise anyone if Chavez decided, for example, to nationalize both in the next few weeks and he needed his two loyal, radical, political Commissars in the right place to do it.

Separately, Chavez moved CONATEL, the telecom regulator, out of the telecommunications Ministry, so that the political Commissar, Diosdado Cabello, can take over the offensive to shut down Globovision in the next few weeks.

Thus, Chavez’ management style (an oxymoronic term in the end) does not include any real world variables in it, other than moving pieces according to his political objectives. Results, efficiency, know-how, competence are irrelevant. Loyalty, radicalism, obedience and being servile are what he looks for in those that will carry his orders for each of his little whims and pet projects.

His recent moves simply show where he will be heading politically in the next few days.

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