Chavez ready to spend the house and create illusions to get reelected

May 8, 2011

After visiting Venezuela for a few days, there was a very clear message: Chavez is ready to pull all of the stops in order to win the 2012 Presidential race. If you thought the last twelve years were filled with cheap populism and undelivered promises, you ain’t seen anything yet. For the next eighteen months, Chavez will borrow, promise, give away and spend like there is no future. But he will not spend on anything productive, he will not build roads, or houses, or infrastructure. That is not the priority, the priority is to increase salaries, increase benefits, give away money, import food so that shelves are stocked, hold prices back as much as possible and promise and then over promise, just in case. The prioriti ys to convince people to vote for him.

There are two possibilities, that the strategy will work and he will be reelected, or that it will not and the opposition will be left holding the bag of a distorted economy, a Pdvsa without resources and in need of billions for investments and a gloomy future, that Chavismo will blame on the newly elected administration. If reelected, Chavez will then resolve some of the distortions and hope that things will somehow improve, pray for higher oil prices, so that he can then pull it off once again. Other than getting reelected Chavez, has never been very good on long term planning. He lives for the promise and the announcement, not the delivery. He lives for his whims and ideas, not for execution.

Nothing exemplifies this better than anything that the new “Mision Vivienda” Chavez’ promise that he will build 1.5 million homes for the poor in the next six years after being unable to build one third of that in his first twelve years. Everyone knows this will be impossible, that essentially nothing can even be accomplished before the 2012 election, but we are about to witness the Greatest Housing Promise Show on Earth.

To begin with, everyone in Venezuela with a cell phone (recall cell phone penetration exceeds 100% in Venezuela) received on May 6th. the following SMS from the Popular Ministry for Housing and Habitat:

“Bring your crib sheet with all of the data of your family group to register in the “Gran Mision Vivienda”. And go live enjoying life. Visit http://www.mvh.gob.ve”

There you have it, massive advertising, massive populism, massive illusion with a single SMS. Everyone that registers will think that there is a house at the of the Chavista rainbow. Never mind that, optimistically, only maybe 10-15% of those registering is likely to receive a housing unit in the next seven years. It is too tantalizing, too appealing to ignore, it works. It is the hope to get out of your personal hell with crime, unhealthy conditions and monthly rent in the barrio where you live.

Because in talking to experts you learn that it takes six to seven years to finish a housing project from the day it begins. Not from the day you think about it, but from the day you start, i.e. You have the land, you have a design, you now need to get the permits, get electricity, get water. Oh yeah! Now comes the tough part, getting the houses built. The best Chavez year in housing is worse than any of Caldera’s, one of the worst Presidents of the IVth. At least Caldera could have used the excuse that oil was near ten dollars a barrel.

As part of the show, The Chavez administration issued this week a decree exonerating builders from the VAT, from import duties and from income taxes. (Recall these same people were the enemies three months ago). It also placed a cap on who may get a mortgage from the mandatory credit portfolio of banks. If your family group makes more than five minimum salaries a month, it will come out of the bank’s portfolio, not the 12% obligatory obligatory mortgages.This will, of course, not generate any housing units soon, but it will generate interest, will generate activity, will generate investment, it will provide fire for the great housing illusion.

And it will work, like so many of the revolutionary illusions of the las twelve years. In four or five years, maybe a couple of hundred thousand houses will have been built, slightly more than without the Mision Vivienda and if there is a new election, Chavez will talk about something else, ignoring the failure of the housing illusion.

Maybe by then, it will be time for a real revolution in Venezuela.

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30 Responses to “Chavez ready to spend the house and create illusions to get reelected”

  1. moctavio Says:

    I dont understand your question.

    First of all, I have been saying here that I think Chavez will win.

    Second, we are opposition, because anyone that is not with Chavez is opposition, but personally, I dont consider myself represented by anyone in the “opposition” leadership.

    This leadership is trying to see who can outdo Chavez in offering things, not in solving the country’s problems. They want to be elected and each of them has his personal project.

    There are enough proposals for solutions in this blog alone and in CC to write that book, but politicians are worried with getting elected. These solutions will only be proposed the day it is urgent to do so, as long as oil is at $100 or going to $200, nobody seems to care about free gas, crappy education, decaying infrastructure, lower oil production and the like.

    My only reason for supporting any opposition candidate is that they will be more rational, respect human rights, use experts and try to solve some of the problems, but not because they have a vision for a better Venezuela.

    That’s why I left the country.

  2. Daniel Says:

    I have a suggestion that none of you will respond to and the opposition will not respond to it either. Chavez will be re-elected for two reasons. He has the majority of the voters with him now and while the opposition has made it clear they are against Chavez they have not offered an alternative, a proposition, a plan, a platform and they refuse to offer such a thing. Look at their literature. Everyday they write denuncias and analisis but NEVER an alternative. Some will say “We have an alternative in a cabinet or in a website” but it does not exist politically if people on the street don’t know what it is.
    Ask any venezolano. “What are the problems in the country?” They will reply, “Crime, health, education, unemployment…”
    Ask any venezolano, “What are Chavez’s solutions for these problems?” Any venezolano will tell you, “Barrio Adentro, Policia Nacional, Mission Robinson, Pedeval, …”
    Ask any venezolano, “What alternatives does the opposition offer?”, and they will say, “I don’t know.”
    An opposition politician cannot offer a platform because caudillo politics determine that it will be torn apart by every the other envious politician. The same goes for any political party or any other select group.
    In order to create a platform that can unite the opposition and win the support of the Nini and the Chavista-lite one has to create a platform with ten planks and include ten proposals in each. Each plank should be written by several leading authortities (not politicians!) well recognized in civil society: experts in economics, armed forces, international relations, human rights, PDVSA, education, health care, etc. The experts should not try to dominate each other but rather find consensus on ten points and then get other experts in their field to sign off on the plank as well. Frame each proposal in terms of a current policy of the Chavez government that is rejected and a different concrete alternative that is desired,
    Then present it as an elaborate book, as a short article, as an abreviated poster and as a political button. Then present it in a mega march, talk about it every time people make their denouncements and analises on television on the radio and in the newspaper, sell it, teach it, sing it, draw it, dance it. Give it a life in the street. Everyone knows what a denmocrat stands for, what a republican stands for, what a chavista stands for but no one knows what an oposicionista stands for because the oposicion only stands against Chavez and not FOR Venezuela.
    The nini at 55% are waiting for this alternative. The Chavista-lite at 10% are waiting for something better than what Chavez offers. The opposition at 20% is in the wings and ready to be galvanized with a proposal to unite it. Venezuela needs a STRONG IDEA not another STRONG MAN. Yes, it needs a strong leader but not one that says “I am the alfa macho to take down the other alfa macho.” No, Venezuela needs a strong leader to say, “The people have spoken. A proposal written by civil society is in our hands and we are here to give that power to the people, to impliment that platform and restore Venezuela.”
    BUT, even though offering an alternative is the obvious next step of any democratic country in this situation, no one in Venezuela will do it. They will say there isn’t enough time, money, interest, it is radical, it is anglosajon, it is too logical, its what Chavez wants us to do and on and on and on. And so it won’t be done and Chavez will win the election or steal it because its so close and everyone will complain about Chavez instead of seeing that they didn’t do a damn thing – didn’t offer anything. They had marchas, guarimbas, manifestaciones, paros, huelgas de habre, huelgas de sangre and sewed their lips shut but never offered a coherent well recognized alternative. And the band played on. And I’m sure it wouldn’t interest anybody outside of this small circle of friends. And the only thing it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing. And if not now, When? and if not you “Who?” . . . . . . .

  3. Petra Sturm Says:

    I forgot to mention the insecurity which exsists in the whole country and the goverment is unable to cope with it.

  4. Petra Sturm Says:

    I don´t know how Chavez is going to build all these houses, it has been raining like crazy. The government also has serioius problems with the electricity and also a food shortage. We also have the highest inflation in Latin America. I do hope that people will wake up if not the U.S.A. is going to have a communist goverment right on their doorstep. The Americans will have to wake up and look at their neighbours more closely!

  5. NicaCat56 Says:

    Um…wait just a minute. m_astera: are you the m_astera who has this website: http://churchofnobody.blogspot.com/? If you are, then how can you make the response to Ira that you made? I mean, talk about “conspiracy theories” anonymous! You rank right up there with all of them!!!

  6. Ira Says:

    M’astera, if I could understand what exactly it is you’re trying to say, I would respond. Your post to me is twisted in its intent and lacking in comprehension of what I wrote:

    The vast majority of Americans do not believe their votes are cross-checked and don’t believe that Bush blew up the Towers. But there is a small group of whackos who do believe that Bush blew up the Towers, and following this conspiracy-directed mentality, another such group can believe their votes are cross-checked.

    What exactly are you arguing about, because I think it’s YOUR reasoning ability that needs examination.

  7. m_astera Says:

    Ira wrote-

    “That being said, the point is, only whackos in the U.S. believe that their votes are cross-checked by the powers-that-be in regards to government jobs and programs–the same people who believe Bush blew up the Towers.”

    I’m from the US and have been politically aware for some decades. I have never heard or read of anyone in the US who thinks their votes are cross-checked in regards to government jobs or anything else. Perhaps you could find one of these whackos for an example?

    Nor have I ever heard of anyone who believes that Bush blew up the towers.

    Is this the extent of your reasoning ability, or are you just trying to show everyone how utterly conventional and conformist you are? I’m sure everyone is impressed that you fully support anything the government says and question nothing. That’s a good boy.

  8. Gordo Says:

    Why doesn’t the opposition propose twice as many houses, appliances, etc. than Chavez? Let the bidding war begin!

  9. firepigette Says:

    Kepler the point is not if a technology is possible or not.The point I was referring to is that the FEAR of it, as well as the fear induced by superstitious beliefs are extremely determining factors in Ven polling and elections.I think foreign journalists would have a hard to picking up on this.Journalists usually have only a superficial impression and interpretation to offer us that is based on and filtered through their personal yet also ‘alien’ experience.

    I would suggest sapitosetty to listen to the following video and rethink:

  10. Kepler Says:

    Firepigette,
    I am moved by your strong faith. Anyway: what I meant was that even average people in Western Europe, not particularly superstitious, would have concern about their finger prints in Venezuela when they hear what I said about Venezuela. I explain to them the finger print checkers are NOT connected to the voting computers and yet they say:
    “well…you tell me that, you are into IT, but I can understand people in Venezuela don’t believe you”.

    It is like this: it is technically NOT done, but it is technically possible
    and we talk about a country where there is no rule of law. So it is understandable people -everywhere- distrust such a system. Don’t tell me. I know there is no connection between the captahuellas and the rest, but then I am a software developer and I know exactly what can happen and what cannot.

    The Force Be With You.

  11. firepigette Says:

    Kepler, I live here.I KNOW people are less superstitious here than in Venezuela or Belarus.It is not a matter of thinking. IT IS a matter of KNOWING.

  12. Alexander Says:

    Chavez has been, allow me to say, very clever, and lucky in making people believe that he has plenty of money; opposition parties have helped Chavez in this “mission fantasia”. Opposition leaders repeat day by day that Chavez is swimming in a pool of money (we use in Spanish this expression to refer to someone with plenty money). Chavez very opportunistically has surfed in this opposition “critique” of Chavez behavior as the boss and manager of oil fiscal revenues.
    On the other hand, and perhaps for that reason, it has been difficult to make people and political leaders, to understand that the government runs an enormous fiscal deficit, let’s say cash deficit, and that all the oil revenues, even counted at the current oil price, does no accomplish with the whole government expenditures demand.
    This last aspect comes from the fact of a rapid growth of Estate-government payroll expenditure for nearly 3 million of employees, growing in 10 years from 1.4 million in 2000, and for thousands of firms created and expropriated in the period, most of them require today budget transfers in order to keep them precarious running; let alone the well-known corruption propensity of the nomenclature in charge of the Estate-government.
    Linked to this aspect, there is the fact that oil revenues are not what the government publicizes it has, since oil production is merely in 2.4 million barrels a day, and not 3.2 million B/d, and that the effective price to which oil is sell differs by far from what the government quoted price of the “cesta petrolera venezolana”.
    Interesting, Chavez has succeed to keep the illusion and hope of millions (this has to be electorally tested), that now, after losing 12 years in building homes for lower income people, he insist that he is going to build millions of “casas” offering the Mision Vivienda. We all know that to get a rabbit from the hat, we have to put them on it well before we draw out them, off course the contrary only happens in a circus, it remains to be seen if we really live in something like that.

  13. A_Antonio Says:

    One and haft million houses in six years means construct 685 houses per day.

    Did some body see the 685 houses construct today?

  14. Gene Says:

    If he gets reelected on illusions, let the voters live on illusions as long as they want. Our family voted with their feet and went elsewhere where they can and do live a decent life on their own abilities and work. Unfortunately many have few marketable abilities, so I guess they need to live on illusions.

  15. loroferoz Says:

    Miguel:

    I have the (grim) feeling that it is too early for the opposition to govern.

    Precisely because of the situation you outline. Venezuelans have not learned yet anything. About why the petrostate is unsustainable and why their expectations are unrealistic. And again, you put it admirably. A new administration will have to face the consequences of the natural catastrophe that is chavismo and afford Chavez an easy way out.

    It is possible if not very probable that a new global economic crisis anywhere in the mid 10s (2015-2017) will blow Venezuela’s oil (and non oil) economy out of the water. This time for lasting effect.

    The currency wars, complete with unconscionable emission of U.S. dollars, the U.S.A. own exploding foreign debt, and other factors will be sure to haunt the U.S.A., which is Venezuela’s main oil buyer, if ever the serious commodity producers decide to be paid in something less devalued. Of course, most commodity (and industrial) producers own huge amounts of U.S. debt. This might be a mitigating factor… or worsen the situation infinitely.

    Quite ironic it is. Politically motivated idiots like Hugo have always had the pretense of ending the supremacy of the U.S. dollar; but none of them is so vulnerable to a crisis in the U.S. economy as Huguito.


  16. If I were “Opposition” I would build upon Chavez’ promises, play along and not question his idea nor destroy dreams and hopes of the most nnedy. Opposition needs to say that they will take these lists and carry out what Chávez hasn’t been able to do and promise to do what Chavez has promised but has not done.

  17. Kepler Says:

    Ira,

    It’s more than Chavistas. In Europe as it is right now most people believe there is rule of law. There is e-voting in many countries and people usually don’t think the state will cheat on that (some reject e-voting as it is now, but that is for other reasons and they are right to be weary and they are usually computer scientists, but that is another topic, about paper trail).

    But if they started to see their country does not respect the rule of law anymore they would feel afraid to use finger print detectors. That is what I mean.

    Regarding creationism: creationism is not quite the same as superstition, but in this century you really need to be at that level.

  18. Ira Says:

    Kepler, although I don’t believe in it, I would hardly categorize Creationism as superstition, nor lump all non mainstream religions as “esoteric.” (As a matter of fact, the mainstream religions could probably be more adequately described as having superstition at its core.)

    That being said, the point is, only whackos in the U.S. believe that their votes are cross-checked by the powers-that-be in regards to government jobs and programs–the same people who believe Bush blew up the Towers.

    They’re out there, but it’s a minuscule minority and you can usually spot them by their aluminum foil hats. In VZ, you have a lot more–and they wear red ones.

  19. Pygmalion Says:

    How can you be some negative? The situation is not good but according to JVR Chavez has 52.2% vote intention. The MUD needs to do some solid work and stop squabbling. http://www.noticias24.com/actualidad/noticia/249867/confidenciales-522-de-los-venezolanos-votarian-por-hugo-chavez-si-las-elecciones-fueran-hoy/

  20. Kepler Says:

    Firepigette,

    You really think superstitious is less widespread in the States? In a country where half the population is creationist and loads of others belong to a zillion esoteric religions? OK.
    If it makes you feel better, that’s fine.

  21. Kepler Says:

    Setty,

    Firepigette no quería referirse a ti cuando dijo “journalistic “experts, por supuesto. Vas a ver cómo va a decir ahora: “I don’t know if he is…”

  22. firepigette Says:

    Sapito Setty

    I doubt that here in the US people would be that fearful about voting but I cannot speak for Europe or Canada.However in Venezuela, many people are ultra- superstitious.This is true in Belarus as well.

    I personally know thousands of people in small towns and barrios who believe that Chavez is evil and has super esoteric powers and can know their votes.Those who don’t believe in that believe in the omniscience of technology.When you don’t know much about technology it is logical to assume there are ways that one does not know about.

    The problem with many journalistic ” experts” is that they do not realize that it takes quite some time to get to know a country well and even if you know some parts of it well, there are other parts that might escape their perception.

  23. Kepler Says:

    They will deliver 3 million Chinese appliances, as I wrote. That gives hope for hundreds of thousands that houses will come now, definitely.

    Setty,
    I have relatives who have university degrees and who really usually are NOT stupid and yet they told me they did not vote in 2004 and 2006 against Chávez because of fear of their finger prints.
    I told them very mad: how could you be so silly? And they replied: I know, I know…Now those are guys who are much more informed than the average Venezuelan and they don’t believe in the Evil Eye or similar things.

    I have discussed the issue with quite some Europeans and they have said they would also be afraid, no matter what people told them.

  24. sapitosetty Says:

    What makes you think they are promoting Mision Vivienda? Look at the top stories last night on VTV.gob.ve:

    Vicepresidente Jaua: El pueblo venezolano se ha volcado confiadamente al registro nacional

    Min. El Aissami: Alta concurrencia en el registro demuestra confianza del pueblo en el presidente Chávez

    Min. Garcés sobre Misión Vivienda Venezuela: No es requisito estar inscrito en algún partido político

    Presidente Chávez insta al pueblo a participar en el Registro Nacional de Vivienda

    Viceministro Arreaza: Familias venezolanas tienen todo un mes para registrarse en la Gran Misión ViviendaVenezuela

    Aló Presidente cede su espacio para cobertura del Registro Nacional de Vivienda

    Aseguró Jacqueline Farías: 32 puntos de registro de Misión Vivienda Venezuela activados en Caracas

  25. Carlos Says:

    Miguel, you forgot a detail. THE FINGERPRINT. All people registering in VIVIENDA is requested a fingerprint scan. This is a key point to blackmail MISION VIVIENDA individuals on record. We have your fingerprint, now you have to register as PSUV member or you will not receive the house. Next step: you have to vote for Chavez and pals. We have your fingerprint, we may check against CNE fingerprinting machines as you vote..you vote PSUV or no house for you.. GOT IT??
    OPPOSITION MUST WORK HARD TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THEIR FINGERPRINTS CANNOT BE CROSSCHECKED WHILE VOTING

  26. A_Antonio Says:

    Populism, elevated to the infinitum and beyond.

    The toys in this history is the Venezuelan people.

  27. bobthebuilder Says:

    It looks like his spending spree will pay off against a disorganised opposition in next year’s election. But this all leads to the obvious question – exactly when will el pueblo get tired of the empty promises? I.e. at what point will the economic mismanagement and woeful bureacracy, cancel out bumper oil revenues?

  28. Humberto Says:

    Here are pictures.

    http://www.noticias24.com/actualidad/noticia/249810/en-imagenes-largas-colas-para-registarse-en-la-mision-vivienda/

    Since Venezuelans have demonstrated that they can live on illusions, i am certain the ploy will get him reelected. Chavez need not find homes but for a small minority for success to be assured.

    This being Venezuela, it is also guaranteed corruption will control who gets a home and who doesn’t and that kickbacks on home-building contracts will be the norm.

    Like you, I would like to think this can be another wake-up call for us. Yet the experience of the past suggest it will not.

    Sorry.

  29. CARLOS CHACON Says:

    can make a bet. That mission will not fulfill its purpose, primarily because the government has no ability to execute. 10 years have shown.


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