Archive for November 17th, 2012

Of Virtual Ice Cream Plants And Ministers In The Chávez Revolution

November 17, 2012

By now everyone knows the story, On October 21st. Hugo Chávez remotely inaugurated an ice cream factory in Falcón State, which was supposed to sell about 600,000 units a month under the name Coppelia. The project is one of those hairbrained hodgepodge projects that Chávez likes to waste money on: It is supposed to be a Cuban brand, but the whole thing was built and put together by an Argentinean company. It was hailed as another triumph of the revolution by the President, will all supplies being Venezuelan, except that three weeks after the opening, Chávez learned that the plant was not operating.

What happened? Chavez’ Government happened. First of all, there was a blackout (the plant is in Falcón, one of the worst states in terms of blackouts) and one of the processing machines was damaged. As usual, the turnkey plant was purchased without parts (or surge protectors!) and they now have to wait for them to come from Argentina (If there is  money!). (I wonder how much they paid for the plant?) But to make matters worse, they also ran out of supplies to make the ice creams.

This is wholly expected. While the manager of the plant was hailed as someone who used to work at Lacteos Los Andes, that company was fully operational when the Chávez Government purchased it from its owner at an outrageous price. Thus, this guy had experience running an existing operation, but had never built one himself. Moreover, this was an order straight from the top, so he probably just figure he would just made do with what he had, so he built something, even if it was somewhat virtual, as an ice cream producing plant.

But to me the most interesting part of the story is that in part it was discovered by Chavez’ Secretary for the Presidency who now also has the pompous and silly  title of “Minister for the follow up of the management of the Government”

Isn’t that what Ministers are supposed to do anyway? But most of Chavez’ Ministers are simply virtual Ministers anyway.

So, after fourteen years of naming incompetent managers and removing all of the checks and balances within the Venezuelan Government, Chávez has just realized that he has to somehow bring them back. But rather than give power to the office of the Comptroller, which remains under a temporary head since the last one died (and Chávez needs opposition input for naming the position) Chávez assigns the job to someone else who already is likely overloaded with work.

Chávez is likely to start a management school if things continue this way, once he realizes that the problem is the people that surround him (If he lives that long), because besides the fact that there are no checks and balances, the management team that surrounds him is simply atrocious, full of other virtual managers and Ministers. Witness the case of Hector Navarro, who has been a Minister of everything for the last fourteen years and whose only known accomplishment was to make the stupid suggestion to move Venezuela half and hour back from its proper time zone. To reward him for his incompetence in all his positions, Chávez named him as Minister of Electricity and President of the electric company Corpoelec, a position he has held for about a year. And Navarro holds a press conference to make the announcement that he has initiated an investigation of the same institution  that he is head of, because…

They shut off his electricity and his bills are “irregular”!

Read this simply: Minister Navarro has no clue what is or not going on within he company he runs. Because he evens suggests that there are mafias that may be over or double billing him within Corpoelec. But apparently this genius of Chavista management would not have learned of the disaster that he presides over, if it were not for the accidental (was it?) shut off of his electricity.

The worst part is that the Minister tries to make a big deal of his outrage which all it does is prove how irresponsible and incompetent he really is. He is simply another virtual Minister and a terrible manager, as virtual as the Coppelia ice cream plant.

Maybe he should switch jobs with the Minister for the follow up of the management of the Government, at least she did her job with Coppelia!