Another Terrible Tragedy Due To Chavista Mismanagement

August 26, 2012

During the last two weeks, there have been three events in Venezuela which demonstrate the basic incompetence of the Chavez Government. First, the Cupira bridge fell down, despite earlier warnings that it needed maintenance. Then, there was yet another tragedy at a Venezuelan jail, this time the Yare prison, which left 20 people dead. Finally, in the early hours of Saturday, an explosion rocked the Amuay refinery in Falcon State, leaving at least 39 dead and 89 injured.

The Government has tried to evade responsibility in all three cases. Without an investigation, the Head of the refinery complex was already saying that deferred maintenance had nothing to do with the worst accident in PDVSA’s history. A temerary statement to say the least. There may be no record of maintenance for Cupira, there is not even an annual report for the newly created Ministry of Prisons, but PDVSA’s Memoria y Cuenta, which you can find here, tells the full story of delayed maintenance and increased accidents and shut downs.

As an example, the Paraguana Refinery Complex is composed of Amuay and Cardon. According to the Memoir, Amuay was supposed to be shutdown nine times in 2011 (page 371):

But seven of them were postponed until 2012 for lack of parts. Thus, not only there was no maintenance, but there was no planning for it either, as the parts and materials necessary were not purchased ahead of time.

Cardon is even worse, there were thirteen scheduled stops for maintenance:

ALL OF THEM were postponed for 2012. That is not what maintenance is supposed to be about. It is the tragedy of Chavista mismanagement.

In fact, if we go back to Amuay and look at the ten plants it is composed of, these are the days of programmed (42 days) and un-programmed (639 days or 64 per plant on average)

What this shows is the failure of the Chavista model. You can’t fire 20,000 people because you disagree with them. You can’t hire people on the basis of loyalty. You can’t have someone be The Minister of Energy and Oil and the President of PDVSA and Head political honcho at PSUV and have him be at all of Chavez’ speeches and rallies and hope that PDVSA and/or the Ministry will run well. You can’t give away ambulances to Bolivia and not have any near one of biggest industrial complexes where they may be needed. You cant’ have all your Ministers involved with the day to day of the Presidential campaign. And so on.

In fact, you can’t put politics and ideology above all. The sad truth is that all of the political leaders of Chavsimo have been involved in the last two months with the campaign and nothing else. The Ministers are all at political meetings and get involved with he most detailed planning. Nothing is being done to run the country. Announcements are made that are only meant to gain votes, but decisions are being postponed until after the election. A campaign they can fund, micro-manage and over manage. A country? Sorry, that is not the priority.

Meanwhile the strategy is deny and minimize, while the outgoing-Presidente-saliente either can’t appear on camera live or has been advised not to do so.

It would seem irrational for the voters not to react to all this. A horrible tragedy has developed in front of their eyes and the same man who claims to “love” the people and appears on TV for the most trivial events is still in hiding. The country is falling apart, piece by piece due to Chavista mismanagement, but it is nobody’s responsibility. Even medical supplies for the injured are limited, they are probably sitting on a ship outside the Puerto Cabello port now under Cuban management.

It’s all part of the same tragedy.

84 Responses to “Another Terrible Tragedy Due To Chavista Mismanagement”

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  16. concerned Says:

    There is a report from friends in the area that the death toll is up to 152 including mostly families outside of the fence. Is it possible for the government to suppress information of that magnitude?

  17. CharlesC Says:

    The underlying cause of the leak may well have been a lack of maintenance-
    and this should be clearly documented. For example- if a pump has a leak- it should be shut down and repaired.Regardless-even a minor problem is always notated. Inspections are part of daily life at a refinery.
    Point is- IF PDVSA management are operating in an unsafe manner- they should be punished and made to immediately bring their operation up to standard without exception.
    I saw a report that showed worsening maintenance and esp. sulfur leaks.
    (Easy to smell)-anyway- Chavez used the excuse of “it’s impossible- it’s all
    automated.” Regardless- there are always people on the ground and I am sure
    they are trained in safety. This tragedy is inexcusable and avoidable.
    People should be punished.

  18. Vender Says:

    I’ve visited Amuay and Cardon refineries many times over many years. I am very sorry for this event and the loss of lives. I still can’t contact friends and colleagues in the business.

    Many young engineers struggle in these facilities trying to make sense of the arbitrariness and inefficiency of the management. The procurement channels alone condemn them to danger. Delayed payment to venders has resulted in increased maintenance risk. I remember a time when PDVSA was a proud and professional organization. It was a sincere, technocratic company promoting from within and contracting from international professionals when required.

    The degradation of the Venezuelan infrastructure is de facto.

    • CharlesC Says:

      You know-I’m thinking. There should be a report in the office somewhere of a leak-and the action taken. They have to know who was in charge of that area of the facility- and who was on the ground in that area. I am getting
      a sick feeling that is all being covered up…
      What I cannot believe is that anyone -any engineer of boss would order someone NOT to fix a leak. And- I find it impossible that nobody on the ground in that area -reported the leak -since we have reports of smelling odors rather far away…
      I -cannot believe the picture we have – just can’t accept the story line here…

  19. The Old Coach Says:

    Just finished a new book which among many other things describes how the Muslim invasions of the 7th century destroyed civilization in North Africa by disrupting the highly developed Roman agricultural technology (irrigation, soil management), that fed the cities. Are we witnessing the same thing here? How long before Venezuela is a third world country again?

    • moctavio Says:

      We are a third world country in my mind. Most people have terrible services, we produce mostly oil, we import most our food.

      • CharlesC Says:

        Cuba certainly is and VZ is definitely on the same path-full speed.
        Chavez always say “We need to speed up the revolution…”

  20. Pablo Moncada Says:

    The blast leveled 20 square kilometers. Only nuclear weapons pack more punch. Fuel-Air or thermobaric weapons only begin to mimic Amuay blast. Limbs where torn from bodies leaving just torsos. Many blown to bits.

    Chavez gives new meaning to WMD.

  21. Roger Says:

    While non of us doubt that this disaster is sad for the people that died it was the result of gross mismanagement of the Venezuelan peoples source of free gasoline for much of the country. It is important to note that something similar happened in California only a few weeks ago. . In other reports they state that the cost of gas could go up as much as 30 cents a gallon due to this.
    Regardless of how well the US regulators and the Bolivarian regulators (oh, thats PdVSA the operator) work at finding the cause of these disasters, the end result is: In Alta California the cost of gasoline will go up due to demand for low emission fuel and cost of the fire will be paid for by the California people and the stock holders. In La Venezuela the price of gasoline is FREE and the stock holders are the Venezuelan people 70% of them who might get a few centavos back on the buses they ride due to free gas.
    Question is how do you cover the cost of repairing the refinery without raising the cost of gasoline? You could raise the cost of gas to not free or you could take money out of the election treasure chest to cover it. The first is a no go, as we all know, as is choice number three (more?) rationing! The second sounds better than “Yes we have no bananas, we have no bananas today!” Any shortage won’t be seen in Caracas unless its gets real bad and of course the bridge to PLC being out makes it all the more interesting.

  22. Isa Says:

    Hey Miguelito! (I liked that!):

    Kudos, you get quoted in The Guardian:

    and now in investors:

    don’t know if it makes you famous, but it makes you my favorite blogger (which you already were)

    Owe you two beers, or two tequilas, or two glasses of wine. And my gratitude, which is worth a lot more.

    I figure by now I should send you a kiss, but I am not sure its is proper blogging etiquette.

  23. Ira Says:

    Can someone explain the significance of Chavez’s declaration of 3 days of like him?

    All senseless loss of life is always regrettable, but at what point does an event merit such a decree, and of course the real question is, for what political reason?

    Were there any such decrees issued after The Vargas Tragedy in 1999, or any other events with significant loss of human life?

    Just trying to figure out whether this mourning period has anything to do with upcoming October elections (DUHHH!!!!!), and what exactly is the Chavista government doing to MAKE it a mourning period, aside from just announcing it as such.

    Do you guys all have to wear black? A ban on liquor sales? No oral sex for anyone under 40? Or ABOVE 40?

    Believe me, there are U.S. pols just as disgusting and opportunistic as Hugo, but this is a VZ blog, and first things first. I’m just trying to figure the stupid thing out.

    First man on the moon Neil Armstrong just died, and aside from flags flying at half-staff (although I always call it half-mast), we sure ain’t going through a period of “mourning” as a nation.

    In fact, the Twitter jokes have never been funnier.

    • Ira Says:

      We got an edit problem here. Here’s my first paragraph:

      “Can someone explain the significance of Chavez’s declaration of 3 days of mourning as it relates to a narcissistic, power-hungry dictator like him?”

    • Pablo Moncada Says:

      Ira, mainstream media caught unprepared by passing of Mr Armstrong who was very private. You answer your question by calling HCF “narcissistic.” Everything is about HCF. Some things are designed to throw you off, others make no sense at all. Welcome to Narcissism 101 – Venezuela.

  24. Roy Says:

    Oh, this keeps looking worse and worse for Chavismo:

    Instead of being “out in a couple more hours”, the fire has now spread to a third tank. Better call in some professionals, Ramirez.

  25. […] Another Terrible Tragedy Due To Chavista Mismanagement […]

  26. Solange Says:

    You have to add the beakdown of all basic industries of the country (aluminum, iron, electricity and also food), this is the only revolution without laborer, all the major unionist worker are in protest, more than 5000 protest during this government include hunger protest with fatal result, in the last tragedy in Amuy die childs burned and the president the only thing he said: function must continue while he took pics smiling with indolent young chavistas, apart of this delinquency take 20.000 lifes by year, Venezuela is a country is in mourning every day!

  27. moctavio Says:

    I think he is really gone:

    Los muertos resucitan con la victoria de la Patria
    La funcion debe continuar
    Solo un irresponsable le echa la culpa al mantenimiento

    The death will resucitate with the victory of the Fatheeland
    The show must go on
    Only someone irresponsible would blame maitenance

    • CharlesC Says:

      As mentioned- it is not only a case of non-maintenance. It is a case of not
      following safety procedures that are well- known by all, I believe.

    • Pablo Moncada Says:

      I think he’s at his craziest. Does this jive with the behavior in Dr Post’s book about terminally ill dictators?

  28. Paul Says:

    Oh yea, let’s get the nuclear plants up and running as soon as possible. Can you say Chernobyl?

  29. Ira Says:

    How come my new posts aren’t appearing at the end of the thread in time-based chronological order, but go in the middle?

    I didn’t change any of my settings.

    • island canuck Says:

      I think it happened when Miguel deleted Rudy’s posts after I had answered them. For some reason those posts are being put on the bottom of the thread. Look at the time stamp.

  30. Ira Says:

    Any idea on the total # of accidental deaths in the industry since Hugo? My wife was talking with someone in VZ yesterday with some familiarity on this, and he said that sure, you hear about this accident, but you don’t hear about the dozens of others where “just” one or two guys get killed.

    Also, read a Miami Herald article, which I know is never a good idea because that’s hardly a real newspaper. Regardless, they reported that VZ refines 1 million barrels a day.

    Is that possible, when they only drill around 2.5?

    • Pablo Moncada Says:

      agree local hometown paper leaves lots to be desired but they fearlessly report Venezuela in Spanish and English. moving to Doral and shrinking circulation must suck for them

  31. John Barnard Says:

    How long before the government displays a bazooka and blames the CIA or MUD for sabotage? I think Eva already has.

  32. megaescualidus Says:


    Do you know anything about Hugo Rafael’s current health state?

    • Pablo Moncada Says:

      he does not know. They where feeding us a load of crap for a while. Everyone bought it. It was the same source (double agent).

  33. Rene Says:

    Miguel, Chavez is a genius turning defeats like this into victories. Let’s hope Capriles plays this well.

  34. Alex Says:

    The other day a good friend of mine and I were speaking about the every-day drinking habits of many Venezuelans. No such thing as lunch wiithout a “frasco” of whisky.

    After that conversation I can picture the so-called over-weight, rojo-rojito technicians at Amuay discussing on how to fix the gas leak and concluding: “let us weigh on this issue over lunch at the town churrasqueria” and coming back all drunk to work after each guzzling 5 or 6 drinks of good ol’ 18-year aged scotch.- “Oh might as well leave it like that til next Monday. Little propane wont harm no one, besides, it’ll probably be blown onto the sea.”

    • CharlesC Says:

      “Little propane wont harm no one,”-I worked at a refinery for over a year and saw some small leaks and how they were handled. They would clear everyone out of area and that was first priority.
      This sounds like a huge leak and if people smelled it far away, then it was large. Therefore- steps should have been taken immediately by PDVSA- no such thing as taking a lunch break and “waiting until Monday” -even with a small leak…

      • CharlesC Says:

        By the way- once there was a “pop-off valve” that blew and it was a large explosion and immediatly big flame shooting out-everyone ran like hell-but all was OK – they shut down that line and fire went out…

  35. francisco Says:

    Olá,. sou um seu leitor há imensos anos, sou um anti-chavista militante, mas pedia-lhe alguma “contenção” nesta área. A não ser quer tenha provas evidentes de má manuntenção, acidentes graves podem acontecer em qualquer lado, e o aproveitamento de tragédias é mais o comportamtento habitual de extremas esquerdas do que de gente ponderada.

    • Kepler Says:

      La cantidad de accidentes que han ocurrido en Venezuela en la última década es mucho mayor que antes de que Chávez llegara al poder. Tengo amigos médicos que tienen que ver todo el tiempo empleados de PDVSA que vienen de todo tipo de accidentes. Esos accidentes no aparecen en la prensa.
      Ellos me confirman: no era así antes.

  36. Marie Says:

    I was born in the Oil Camp next to the refinery and them lived from 1976 to 1980. My father work for the Venezuelan Oil Industry for 38 years until 1995. The people running the refinery know are not engineers and trained professionals they are Chavez appointees. Before Chavez the refinery was run by engineers who had graduated from top universities from around the world. My father traveled recruiting personnel and was himself a graduate of the school of IR from Cornell. Amuay used to be a paradise.

    • Ur Says:

      I was also borned in the Oil camp next to the refinery of Amuay, lived there until 2002… i feel a deep sadness to see what 14 years “Socialism” did to the company owr grandfathers and fathers built.. the chavistas say “we will never go back” but i guess now they wont either.

      • CharlesC Says:

        I worked in a refinery and even small leaks are taken seriously by
        everyone. EVERYONE- not just some engineer.(Everyone almost calls
        themselves an engineer these days.. or technician, etc..)
        For example-there is a strict no-smoking policy- and if someone were so stupid as to smoke except in designated areas -they will be fired on the spot.
        Listen people- all refineries I have ever seen or heard of -don’t play around
        with safety. I don’t care if everyone is new and had only one safety class- they know what to do if they find a leak even the smallest.

    • CharlesC Says:

      Pedro I am glad you posted that link. It shows the absolute insanity of ]
      Chavez (and his brainwashed chavistas) “at it’s best.
      I ,frankly, am embarassed for Chavez- what a stupid display-going on and
      on- intimidating the reporter-I fully expected him to break into a song
      as he usually does. This BS is the way he plays and intimidates everyone…

  37. Ira Says:

    I’m not an engineer or refinery or oil expert.

    But how the FUCK can residents report heavy and strange smells at 7PM, and an explosion occurs 6 hours later?

    For God’s fucking sake–this sounds as simple as turning off a fucking valve or two!!!

    Sorry for the cursing…I know it’s allowed here in certain contexts…but if this needless tragedy doesn’t fall into that category, I don’t know what the fuck DOES!


    • NicaCat56 Says:

      Easy answer, Ira. Chávez is a FUCKING LIAR. Period. OK, I apologize in advance for the cursing; however, facts are facts here. We all (well, at least those of us who aren’t Thugo’s apologists) that he/PdVSA/Ramirez/Golinger, etc.,etc., are all full of SHIT! The Chavernment is going to, once again, try and pull a fast one on the public. Hopefully, this will be the last time for this POS.

  38. moctavio Says:

    I see all three posts posted by you in this story.

  39. Pedrop Says:

    I suspect already the survivors have been interviewed, Managers spoken to and an acceptable version of events concluded – all before the investigation.

    The unfortunate bottom line here is no one will be any wiser as to what happened.

    Terribly sad to think that the men at the scene were doing what they thought was correct or at least investigating an existing event which gave rise to the explosion. Ramirez’s response is downtime will only be two days and Chavez cast doubt on the maintenance issue. These men are beyond redemption.

  40. Paul Esqueda Says:

    The tragedy of Amuay is evidence that PDVSA is “roja, rojita” with blood from innocent Venezuelan victims of the ignorance and incompetence from the current Government leadership. The Punto Fijo Pact was erased and now so is the city with the same name. Very sad times for Venezuelan, we are all consumed by pain and anger. This could have been prevented.

  41. Leonard Says:

    I have been in the oil & gas industry for over thirty years in the United States.
    I have a BBA Accounting degree and have many experiences ( a worker durning the summers going to college working for Halliburton to earn money to go back to college in the Fall & Spring, investor, deal maker, and just as a person to get it done) as a individual to get the job done. The same principal applies worldwide in the oil & gas business worldwide.

    Safety, Safety, and Safety on the job in the oil field patch. This business will kill someone in a heratbeat! It is alot like driving a race car. It better work right or the driver will died in a heartbeat!

    I have been reading your blog since that trouble that Exxon had with the current leader of your blessed country that is rich with natural resources. I saluted you for the message that you try to get across to people. It has been a very long battle for your people but in the end I thing the light is at the end of the tunnel.

    Nothing is easy in life and you will soon have the victory that your country deserve.

    Have A Nice Day!

    • Suzan Pease Says:

      My family lived in both Eastern and Western Venezuela in the 50’s. Mom and Dad returned in the 70’s. We loved the people and the country. It is heartbreaking what is happening there. My husband retired Exxon and our kids are in the oilfield. Safety, safety always most important! Our prayers for the victims of Amuay, and for all Venezuelanos

      • Leonard Says:

        It people like you and this blog that will get this country back on the right road. God Bless!

        Have a Nice Day!

  42. syd Says:

    As always, great topical insights well backed up. Congratulations, Miguel.

  43. concerned Says:

    The most telling sign of the current PDVSA mis-management was Ramirez’s complete lack of remorse for the victims, and his idiotic statement claiming that operations would be restored in a maximum of two days. He displayed a total lack of compassion for the dead or injured, and total incompetence in assessing the situation while putting production first and foremost. That sums up the management philosophy of PDVSA in one interview. Ramirez and many below him should be held accountable. Meanwhile the fires still burn and the death toll grows.

    Everyone knows who is really to blame for Venezuela’s decay. PDVSA is just the example in the press today. Oct. 7th can’t come soon enough.

  44. maria gonzalez Says:

    Miguel, this is a great post, but I got a little bit lost trying to understand the graph of the paradas, could you please explain what are the different bars and the numbers on top of them ?

  45. megaescualidus Says:

    And yet, despite all the corruption, mismanagement and incompetence in my mind it is still far from a slam dunk for Capriles to win in the upcoming October elections, as it should be in a “more normal” place. The Robolucionario Goverment will, no doubt, pull all the nasty tricks for that election, including those that are already expected (foreigners voting with newly minted “cedulas”, vote manipulation on those rural voting places with no opposition staff (just as Miguel mentioned in his last blog), and brand new tricks (“curb balls” not yet anticipated by the opposition, which the Goverment always seems to pull off outsmarting everyone else).

    Miguel, do you have any update on the health (or rather lack of it) of HCF?

  46. Jeffry house Says:

    Somebody tells me it is like Chernobyl, but with oil.

  47. island canuck Says:

    PSUV denuncia que 13 años de Chávez son plan de la oposición para acabar con el país

    The poster probably doesn’t read Spanish or have any humour but what the heck.
    Answering his comments is a complete waste of time.

    • island canuck Says:

      I would like to point out that the post that I referred to was deleted by Miguel after I posted.

      Miguel if you think the post abiove is inappropriate please delete it.

  48. moctavio Says:

    Ad we used high tech and lots of money to prove that Bolivar was murdered and he wasn’t…

  49. ErneX Says:

    But we have a venezuelan racing on the F1 thanks to PDVSA!

    /irony off

  50. island canuck Says:

    Excellent review Miguel.

    You could also add the collapse of the electrical system, the airlines that don’t fly on time, the ferries that are broken down, the roads that are full of holes, garbage that isn’t picked up, etc., etc.

    What ever happened to the Caracas – Margarita ferry? Oh yeah, at last report is was being used by the GN to ferry black market gasoline to the ABC islands.

    This country will not survive another 6 years of Chavismo – with or without Chavez.

    There will be a change on 7O.

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