Archive for June 15th, 2009

Venezuelan Government blocks private constructions and public elections, just because…

June 15, 2009

Because of the uncertainty, investment in construction has been down for practically all of the ten years that Chavez has been in power in Venezuela. To top it all off, Government housing programs have also suffered of the mismanagement and corruption such that Chavez with his windfall of oil income has been incapable of matching even the achievements in building housing of the Caldera years, when oil income was low and inflation was rampant.

The result is that housing prices have shot through the roof due to scarcity. Try to buy an office or an apartment and prices are really high, they average US$ 2,000 per square meters for housing in Caracas and US$ 3,500  a square meter for office space in the East of Caracas.

With inflation nearing 40%, builders have resorted to selling housing projects with the initial offering price adjusted with inflation, according to the Government’s CPI which clearly underestimates the real CPI through the use of regulated items. This has been a good solution for young couples, as they can not come up with the full amount to move in into a new place and in this way they can contribute to their project and later, when the building is finished they can get a mortgage for the final amount.

In the last year, I have heard more and more people appealing to this mode of financing as the only way for them to have access to their dream home.

But now the Government wants to make sure than fewer homes are built as it forbid this mode of selling and building housing and issued a decree banning the methodology. Even more remarkably, the decree makes it illegal retroactively, something which is simply illegal.

But illegal is for Venezuelans these days just a word in the dictionary. Diosdado Cabello, who was a failure as Governor of Miranda in building practically anything, and the voters punished him for it, suggested that this be approved and Chavez resoundly backed it in his Sunday Alo Presidente program, threatening to “intervene” companies that charge the IPC. It is once more a case, of the Government “ni lava, ni presta la batea” (Does not do the wash, nor does it lend the tray to wash with)

But there is no recourse. If you go to the Courts you will be defeated, witness the recent decision to suspend all elections because the National Assembly is contemplating a new Electoral Bill. This Bill is in the works, but what if it is not approved? Or it is postponed like dozens of Bills regularly are at the committee level?A law is just a project, a Bill, until it is finally approved, no? Do the leaders of other independent powers have “special” knowledge that this Electoral Bill will be approved in speedy fashion? Curious, no?

But for the Electoral Board and even the Supreme Court it does not matter, we can not have elections until the new Bill is in place. Imagine if it is never approved, no more voting, democracy in a state of suspended animation. This does not seem to be the case, but they could do it, which only proves how absurd the whole thing is. In fact, no elections may be better than farcical ones in the end.

It really does not matter, this ceased to be a democracy long ago, I just wished we had half the guts that Iranians seem to have.