Electric Crisis And The Chavez Government: From “Who Me?” To “It’s All Your Fault”

June 13, 2011

Maracaibo En La Noche last weekend and it has nothing to do with the song

The Venezuelan Government continued its attitude of not accepting responsibility for any of the problems of the country, but this time it went from the “Who me?” attitude of most problems to simply saying “It’s your fault!”, blaming the electric crisis on excess consumption and not on the inability and incapacity of the Chavez administration to tackle the problems.

The electric problem is not new. Last year the Government blamed El Niño for the crisis, but it quickly became clear that there was more to it, as it became evident that between the lack of maintenance, improvisation and bad decisions, what was a well run electrical network when Chavez took over as President, was run into the ground by the ignorant revoution. Despite this, the Government declared victory many times over the electrical crisis and blamed problems on sabotage and the weather. I still keep my time daily on announcements from Government officials and the flip-flopping continues. Clueless is the best way to describe them.

Then, after this weekend’s Zulia and neighboring states blackout, it was time to shift the blame and put it on “the people”

How irresponsible can you get?

The reality is different. The Chavez administration put a bunch of incompetent loyal military in front of the electric companies, slowly removing those that knew how to run the system and decide what to invest in and how to do it. Investment and maintenance was postponed, including that of the Guri dam that provides 70% of the electricity in the country.

But the crisis goes back to Minister Giordani deciding in 1999 to cancel five hydroelectric projects, a perfectly valid decision, but one that was not followed up by creating an alternate plan. This was followed by requesting the help from Cuban “experts” who went to a distributed system, like that of Cuba, from the interconnected one that Venezuela had (has?). They built power plants but forgot the transmission lines. Back to the 1930’s you all!

And while the Government blames consumption, which has definitely gone up, it is its actions that have created the current situation. Zulia’s consumption was not particularly high when the blackout took place last week. The five transformers that exploded did not explode because of demand. They exploded at night, when offices are closed, AC’s are off in these buildings and also many stores, it was not “peak” demand. Not even close to it.

But what can you expect from a Government that builds power plants that produces more electricity than nearby consumption but fails to build the required power lines to take power elsewhere? Or how about buying power plants for Sidor last year at the heart of Venezuela’s power consumption,  but failing to build power lines to take all of Guri’s power elsewhere?

So now the show is to make the people believe that it is not the Government’s fault. Blame the “companies” or the “big consumers”. Impose a penalty on anyone that does not reduce consumption by 10% and give discounts to those that do by more than 20%.

Funny, these are capitalistic solutions from a Government that froze rates 10 years ago, encouraging consumption and wants to give away a few million appliances to the “people” that it imported from China. As far as I know they don’t run on solar energy. Yes, making a consumer out of the last Venezuelan is a very desirable goal. But if you do it, you are going to have to generate all of the power required for them.And you better start charging for it.

But none of these connections exist in the Chavista mind. It is the giveaway that matters. The paternalistic, let’s give something for free to the masses so they vote for Hugo, the country be damned.

Let’s also screw the big corporation on the way, let’s force them to buy Diesel plants, which use … Diesel, that way we not only give gasoline away for free, but increase cheap Diesel use, so as to reduce exports at the same time. It’s called criollo Hara Kiri: Include PDVSA in the companies to be screwed. Tell it to buy all the power plants ready to be sold in the Western or Eastern world, overpay, but don’t solve the problem. Imagine the commissions in the middle!

I mean. Can these guys be this ignorant?

Seriously Ali (on the left, above), did you learn nothing in the guerrillas, Congress, Ministry of Foreign Relations, PDVSA, Ministry of Finance and now of Electricity?

Guess not, you also go to Cuba to get your medical treatment.

30 Responses to “Electric Crisis And The Chavez Government: From “Who Me?” To “It’s All Your Fault””

  1. Ira Says:

    Their logic is incomprehensible, as always. What, precisely, are they defining as “excess consumption?”

    As far as I know, most families (the world over) turn their air conditioning on when it’s hot and they need it. And when using electric stoves/ovens, they turn those units on when they need to cook. Not to mention the fact that probably 75% of the people don’t have AC in the first place?

    Does Chavez think the opposition is turning their ovens on 24/7, just to screw/sabotage him? And has anyone made the connect to Chavez’s declaration a while ago for 3-minute showers? Or was it one-minute-showers?

    With this dope, who the hell knows. Everything he says and does comes right out of the Joseph Goebbels playbook:

    It all means nothing.

  2. GeorgeS Says:

    I wonder where that guy Pygmallion is, wasn’t he the genius that was saying there were no blackouts in Venezuela? Funny how these jerks disappear when these things happen.

  3. loroferoz Says:

    The simpler solution is for democracy to be what it was really intended to be. A way to elect a small fraction of public officials to be representatives of people in the administration of PUBLIC institutions and in the drafting off guidelines for the rules governing safety and other matters of PUBLIC interest.

    However you might make a decision that affects ALL people’s lives, be sure you are neither smart enough to do it well, wise enough to foresee every consequence or agile enough to adapt to changing conditions, or selfless enough, even then, to insure you will not take advantage, short or long run.

    No subset of the people is smart enough, or can make the enormous amount of decisions required, and they are certainly not selfless enough.

    The problems of centrally planned (and micromanaged) economics, to some extent, are the same as those of centralized rule-making. Positive and negative feedback is built into society as it is, under a reasonable framework, without forcing anyone to any kind of behavior.

    If the whole of the people are not smart enough, count on a subset not being smart enough also.

  4. syd Says:

    Bravo, Miguel, on your byline in the Xtian Science Monitor!

  5. JWM Says:

    I was particularly interested in this because I have a fair amount of experience working in the power industry in Venezuela as well as many other Latin countries. Nationalization of the power industry is not uncommon in many Latin countries, or at least to a degree. Since Chavez though, working in it has become more of a political appointment than a skills based endeavor in VZ (and Venezuela boasts some very good engineers but many of them work elsewhere now). Chavez was at a plant I was at some few years ago and all non-hispanics were told to hide while he was there. The plant operators were not skilled enough to operate the plant properly yet. the plant was left running but making no electricity while he was there wasting 10s of thousands of dollars worth of fuel. Chavez didn’t have a clue. The week after he left, any Venezuelans working for the state who did not vote for him (and they were some of the better ones) were fired. That is not democracy, no matter how you slice it and it’s a damn poor way to run a power company. My driver had been a professional but was forced out of business because he didn’t care for Chavez and relegated to driving a Remisse instead. I’d rather not divulge where this was to prevent retribution to others that don’t deserve it. I love the people there, though and they deserve better.

  6. extorres Says:

    Roy, you allude to getting people to vote in their long-term interest. That, I see as something that should not be addressed through elections but rather through education and incentive. For example, those who play chess learn very quickly that short term move strategies lose games. Another example, politicians’ salaries could be indexed to long-term results.

    “There is room for improvement” agreed, but I can’t see doing away with principles of fairness, such as equality of citizen voice, as a valid path towards improvement.

  7. moctavio Says:

    That’s fine with me

  8. extorres Says:

    “one vote is the only workable system” agreed, but there are variations in systems dedicated to that principle, variations that change the outcome considerably. An improvement, for instance, is having more than one round. Another is allowing people to vote, in addition to who they want most, against whom they want least. Another is to allow people to vote for their preference between each possible pair of candidates.

    All of the above are based on equal voice per citizen, but produce varying degrees of total representativeness/ hapiness. There is room for improvement…

  9. Roy Says:

    Miguel and Firepigette,

    I agree that “perfect” doesn’t exist. However, I think it is possible to devise a system that uses objective criteria.

    As I see it, the modern democracies have two overwhelming forces in competition with each other. One is the need for personal freedom and economic efficiency, the other being the need to maintain a cohesive society with enforced norms of behavior and safety nets for those unable to compete. Actually, that model maybe too simplistic. I happen to like the Pournelle Chart:

    or the Nolan Chart:


    But, regardless of the modeling, the history of modern democratic politics is lurches from one extreme to the next. There is not enough negative feedback (as a shock absorber for a car) built into the system to prevent this. In part, the entrenched bureaucracy of modern democracies does have a dampening effect, but bureaucracies are inherently inefficient and the general trend is always toward larger and more intrusive government, since that is what is in the self-interest of the bureaucracy. If that statement is doubted, please reference “The Peter Principle”.

    Another of the problems that exist in participatory democracy in the modern world is that policies enacted today have consequences that do not become apparent until long after the politicians who enacted them have retired to the lecture circuit. When we have an electorate that is inclined to to vote for what is good for them right now, the long-term effects tend to get ignored. Note, the U.S. housing debt crisis and the current U.S. debt crisis as evidence of that. Again, there is not sufficient negative feedback built into the system.

    So, how can you get sound, long-term decision making from a government that must respond to the clamor of all the people, all the time? Well, as Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst possible form of government… except for all the others.” In saying so, he was very cognizant of the inherent structural flaws in the concept, while being painfully aware that we don’t have anything better.

    I am saying that we can do better. I don’t claim to have the perfect solution. What I am saying is that for any system to function, the levels of authority and responsibility vested in any individual must be equivalent. This is a truism that is logically self-evident as applied to a corporate environment. I say it is applicable on a broader scale as well. With the computer modeling tools available and with over two hundred years of historical data to work with, I think it is time to apply them to the development of more stable and humane system of democratic governance.

  10. firepigette Says:

    Roy, and the rest, Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.

    If we do not have that, then you cannot call it democracy.

    While flawed anything else at this point would be some form of authoritarianism,or total anarchy and really quite dangerous.

    I think we need to change the ways in which people are elected which , in my opinion contribute greatly to the irresponsibility of voters.However even if this were changed, the system will not be perfect.Perfect doesn’t exist.

  11. moctavio Says:

    Sorru, one man, one vote is the only workable system. If you created criteria, they would be abused all over the place.

  12. Roy Says:

    Jak and M_astera,

    “Unfortunately until democracy’s limit the right to vote to those that understand what they are voting for the end result will always be the same.”

    You touched on one of my pet political theories that, in order create a truly stable democratic political system, we need to craft some sort of system that distributes authority amongst the electorate more proportionally to proven responsibility.

    I have previously floated some of my ideas about this, but they run contrary to the sacred, “one man; one vote” principle and I tend to get dismissed as a crank for even bringing it up. But, I still haven’t given up on it, and just wanted you to know that I think your point is on the right track.

  13. island canuck Says:

    Well nobody worry – Diputado Dugarte has proof that the opposition is behind all the electrical cuts and will provide proof…..next week.

    Now that they know why there have been cuts I guess they will stop. ja,ja,ja,ja……


  14. loroferoz Says:

    In reality, jak and m_astera, what should be limited is the powers of the government to screw around with persons.

    You limit the vote to the people who understand what is at stake and these smart, socially conscientious persons, humans before anything else, will eventually choose (unconsciously or not) what is most advantageous for themselves.

    Remember that democracy is, in reality, about voting in a small fraction of government officials (read elected) that are supposed to represent segments of the population. Being people, these officials, elected or not, very rapidly learn what side their bread is buttered, in every conceivable system. Then they tend to answer more readily to the ones with the butter knife, be they campaign contributors, corporations, military, other, more powerful bureaucrats or Party (yes, that ONE) officials.

    Cutting persons out of the loop because they don’t “understand” will only accentuate the problems with democracy. It’s best to limit democracy by limiting the government elected by democracy, along with making government decisions more transparent and horizontal.

  15. LD Says:

    Argenis is going with a good speed, guess who will be the next minister?
    Argenis Chávez designado comisionado de Corpoelec ‎19/05/2011‎
    Least than2 months to viceministro, not bad!

  16. m_astera Says:

    “Unfortunately until democracy’s limit the right to vote to those that understand what they are voting for the end result will always be the same.”

    Well said, Jak.

    (n.b. on sp: democracies)

  17. Bill near Slidell Says:

    I don’t guess Hugo will be an early adopter of the electric car or bullet trains.

  18. jak Says:

    “the people” will pay though, today or in the future. I hope they remember who they voted for. Unfortunately until democracy’s limit the right to vote to those that understand what they are voting for the end result will always be the same. Right about now the Chinese system is looking pretty good.

  19. LD Says:

    Wait, the government has a “silver bullet” for this problem:
    Argenis Chávez Frías fue designado como viceministro de Desarrollo Eléctrico del Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Energía Eléctrica

  20. loroferoz Says:

    Is it religious fanaticism/fundamentalism? Of the kind that can see an apparition where cooler heads see nothing? To deny even things that happen right on their faces?

    Incredible, unearthly ignorance of human nature? At nonhuman alien levels, to make even Futurama’s Doctor Zoidberg blush?

    Infinite cynicism? Trying to obfuscate the issue by uttering nonsense?

    Irretrievable Stupidity?

    Blaming “the people” for the shortages is so completely wrong, that it is actually a part of the right answer. And also proves that the guys making the accusation are subject to one of the aforementioned conditions.

    Anyone faced with an available and desirable resource, being charged next to nothing for it, will help themselves to the maximum amount they can consume. It’s all you can eat, free, forever. Duh!

    Trying to analyze these guys’ thinking is painful, either you crack up, or you crack up laughing.

  21. moctavio Says:

    Pretty cool, google does not place blogs in the news….

  22. Douglas Says:

    Only the people are more ignorant because they don’t rise up and get it over with……I’m sorry to have to say this but short of killing hundreds of people in short order I don’t know what can this government do to get itself fired immediately…
    It speaks more of the country and society than of a mediocre government thus “….people deserve the government they have….”

  23. Anonymous Says:

    Oh yeah, here’s the link. Cool.


    Good for short time

  24. Anonymous Says:

    MO Congrats. Google Venezuela news and number one at the top is the Christian Science Article containing your post. A lot of people are reading it (that’s how it gets to the top at Google!).

  25. island canuck Says:

    Good point Roy.
    In the last few months you added an A/C, freezer, etc.

    Are you now going to be penalized?

  26. Roy Says:

    Have there been any details released about how they will calculate the decrease or increase in energy usage? Compare each month to the previous month? Compare it to the same month from the previous year? The devil is in the details…

    I can just see the Corpolec execs sitting around boardroom tables, scratching their heads, and trying to figure out exactly how to administrate this.

  27. LD Says:

    It has a good side too, go to aporrea and you will see a lot if not 100% angry comments about the blame on the people. Maybe they stretched this too much.
    I am see the problems of fuel distribution coming. If the generators are not designed for a continous use, there will be a lot of repairs to do. There could be also a couple of fires due to overheated generators too.
    Next time they would force the people to use the car batteries for the home appliances… charge by day on cheap gas…

  28. firepigette Says:

    Bottom line is always good to remember else we tangle up our minds in superfluous details:

    Any kind of socialism, and in Chavez’s case it is the Fascist kind, requires making people dependent on material nonsense, not in creating wealth and or conditions of social mobility.Then when you get people sufficiently useless, they riot, whine, cry and demonstrate preschool anger when you take away their promises, entitlements, their freebees, and their dependence.This insures more of the same kind of government unless the critical mass see thru the game( rarely).

  29. captainccs Says:

    XXIst Century Socialism blames the problem on excess consumption. Keynesian Socialism blames the problem on lack of sufficient consumption. I think you should put these two Socialisms in the boxing ring and let them duke it out.

    Now, if we had Capitalism, we would welcome excess consumption because we would be making excess profits. Then the socialist boss-man could blame the electric company for price gouging but at least people would see the light — literally.

    I figure Chavez went to Cuba for his operation because he feared a blackout while in the OR if he had it done here. Barrio Adentro for the poor and País Afuera for the Rojo Rojito Mayor.

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