Archive for January 17th, 2011

How much is Chavez’ show worth?

January 17, 2011

Last Saturday we saw another episode of Chavez’ show, the long running and best selling program in Venezuela’s TV, now in its thirteenth year. And the title of this post follows another long running program in Venezuela: ¿Cuanto vale el show?

Because in the end that is all we have had in those thirteen years: a show run very well by the President, in which he makes believe that he is running the country, helping the poor, caring for the poor, but in the end it is all fake, just another show.

A very costly one at that, as billion of dollars have been wasted in allowing loyal incompetents to run the country. While in the early stages Chavez had some people who knew what they were doing, they are fewer and far between these days. He is surrounded by the loyal and chosen few, most of which have no management experience or very poor one at that.

The Saturday show proved that Chavez has had no plan for housing or crime for thirteen years.  Chavez sounded more like a recently arrived President than one with so many years in power. As usual, he refuses to accept responsibility saying the crime problem is not his fault, it is everyone’s fault! Sure, who replaced all professional police heads around the country by loyal military friends who could be trusted? It was Hugo himself.

He did admit that he had failed in housing, promising 150,000 housing units in 2011, because now he is in charge. Mercy! How many housing programs has Chavez announced of a much smaller scale only to be met with failure?

And he lied through his teeth, talking about the inflation at Caldera’s time, without realizing that world inflation was not only high at the time, but the country saw its banking system decimated by a crisis of Caldera’s own doing as oil prices hovered around $12. Had Caldera had Chavez’ oil prices he could have bailed out the system as easily as Hugo was able to hide it a year or so ago. But Hugo’s inflation has actually been comparable to Caldera’s

The same thing when Hugo talked about agriculture. He only talked about the rice crop being bad in 2010, but it was across the board, and the 2% plus he mentioned for rice is fifteen times smaller than what experts say happened in 2010.

But who cares about the truth, this is just another show!

Unfortunately, Chavez did not get any smile from opposition Deputies, who held back as much as they could even when the jokes were really bad.

But it is all a show. The other day, I posted about the electric crisis. Chavez claimed to have solved it last Saturday, it has been taken care of by Hugo himself, but fails to explain today’s black out in six states and in parts of Caracas. (Radar de Los Barrios reports lights went out at 10 AM in El Valle in Western Caracas and at 7 PM the electricity was still down)

The problem is that Hugo has gotten away with this for quite a while and high oil prices are likely to allow him to continue for a while. A commenter in the electricity post a few days ago, CarlosElio, proved this very eloquently. He reminded us that in 2005, Chavez had “Gabinetes Moviles” a new form of his variety show in which he held Cabinet meetings in different parts of the country and made it look like he was solving and attacking the country’s problems. There are three such posts, here, here and here, but just looking at the first one should be enough. (All three are worth reading if you know Spanish, Anna Black makes some very witty comments about what people are saying)

In this first Gabinete Movil, which took place of all places in Anzoategui State, one of the states that suffered the most last year’s electric crisis, you can see the style. It was all show, you can read the details there but it went something like this, Here is the link to the full video:

The Mayor: Wel,l lights go out seven eight times (a day) and when lights go out, pumps go out (no water) and I would like help…because here in Anzoategui we have lots of water problems





Please Jackeline (Farias) don’t leave without talking to the Mayors, just there in a small meeting and we can get a small working plan (plancito…)

Why do lights go out so much there?

The Mayor: Its grave , Mr President it’s grave

President: Which Electric system do you have there? What is happening with Eleoriente (The electric company there)

The Governor: I would say 70% of the State has been affected by a very grave energy crisis that has been going on for years (Blame the fourth, of course!). I was talking to the Minister of Energy and we agreed to make a working plan and a technical meeting to truly get rid of this problem….It is humble people that are being affected…this a a State problem Mr. President…

President of Eleoriente: I have been in my position since December (five months). The situation is critical due to the lack of investment and growth…

Chavez (looking Presidential) And what is your proposal? Answer: To invest. On what? says Chavez…then you should talk to the Minister of Energy and the Minister of the Environment on water.

So, it all looked very efficient, except, NOTHING was ever done. Anzoategui was one of the states that had the worst and longest blackouts in all of the country in 2010. (Remember this is circa May 2005, almost six years ago!)


Because once the Producers, the cameras, the teams, the Cabinet came back to Caracas, there was no meeting, no “plancito” no investment. Nothing.

It was all about the show, having Chavez look like he is giving orders and solving problems, but in the end, nothing was done.

But the show was a huge success. Chavez did these mobile Cabinets for a while until he got tired of that variety of a show and came up with a new version.

The problem is that it works! Show after show convinces people that he is working hard, getting stuff done, but nothing is being done. These incompetent fools (not the President of Eleoriente, he is long gone and has been replaced by four or five nobodies) came back to Caracas, tired and ready for another show, a weekend with the family and by the time they thought about the “plancito” or the meeting, off they went to a new Gabinete Movil in Altagracia de Orituco. And there they went through the charade again of meetings and plans and technical solutions.

But the show must go on. And that is all the revolution knows how to do.

But it is a very expensive, very destructive show. New announcements every weekend which translate into mini-shows like expropriations that don’t work. Invasions that yield noise. Scares that make people emigrate. Crazy ideas that make no sense but have to be implemented because Chavez asked for them. And a year from now, nobody remembers any of it.

Not even Chavez, because the show must go on, no matter how much it costs. It is the Hugo Chavez show!