While Hugo Chavez has patted himself on the back for working through Christmas, I am not sure he has really worked. The problem is that he calls talking, work. One of the dangers of talking too much is, however, that you may say absurd things as you try to entertain and distract the country from its problems. Many things he says are things that would make you laugh anywhere, but in Venezuela we have practically heard it all, from Chavez saying that men never walked on the moon, to inventing the number of housing units that have been built in the last year.
But Hugo clearly wants to close the year with a new bang in entertainment prowess. First, in a ceremony (see picture above) that looked taken out of a communist country in the 50’s, Chavez thanked his Russian friends for allowing Venezuela to have the strongest military power in its history, as if this was some sort of achievement or due to hard work and not thanks to all of the oil billions misspent in weapons, rather than on people. And the Russians, of course, have laughed all the way to the bank, with all of the stuff Hugo has purchased.
And to insure that we are all awed with is intellect, Hugo then begins speculating about the strange coincidence that four Presidents in Latin America contracted cancer roughly at the same time. Never mind that Lula was no longer President when he got his. Or that each of the cancers is different and in a different part of the body. Chavez’ perceptive mind has noted the coincidence and like everything, he wants to pin it down on the old USA, the source of all our problems, including, I guess, his terrible and ineffective Government.
And after saying he has learned to administer the resources of the country better, not bad after being thirteen years on the job, we learn that after more than 1,000 expropriations and nationalizations and eighteen cases in arbitration at the World bank’s ICSID, the Government has now issued two decrees creating advisory councils to deal with both. These advisory councils have, as their main goals, such things as “respecting the constitutional rights of people”, which have been violated right and left since Chavez began expropriations eight years ago. They would also establish mechanisms to determine the fair price to pay for expropriated properties. They would also advise on new expropriations that they feel like doing. It would also create, don’t laugh, a registry of all expropriations, because clearly the Government has no clue as to what it has taken over on the orders of the man who “has learned to admiisiter the country’s resources better”
And the Advisory Council on Arbitration is even funnier, more so given the fact that the Government itself has been saying some of these processes are close to being decided upon. But this new body will determine “strategies for the planning and coordination that State institutions have to follow to defend the country in front of foreign institutions, particularly those of arbitration”
Of course, this is all the work of the new Attorney General, Carlos Escarra, who is no dummy and realizes, a bit late, how illegal and arbitrary most expropriations have been and how the defense of the country’s position in arbitration panels has been carried out on a case by case basis and managed by various institutions. This could all be turned back, were PSUV to lose the next Presidential election, due to the myriad violations of the Venezuelan Constitution involved.
But maybe, just maybe, one day Chavez will learn that administering those resources better, should have involved appointing people who know that they are doing and not the mad whirlwind rotation of 180 Ministers (134 different people) that have “helped” him run the country in the last thirteen years.
And maybe, just maybe, if he stopped talking all the time, he could accomplish something.