Archive for January 28th, 2013

Guayana: The Upside Down Miracle By Damian Prat

January 28, 2013


While in Caracas, I bought a copy of Damian Prat’s book : Guayana: The Upside Down Miracle, Editorial Alfa, Colección Hogueras, Caracas, 2012, and all I can say that it is one of the best records of how the Chávez Government has destroyed this country, by selling its sovereignty, its assets and its principles for the sake of the preservation of Chávez’ power. Unfortunately for Hugo, there were other plans for him that interrupted his plans and have made the whole thing a whole waste of Venezuela’s money, for nothing.

And Prat does a magnificent job of documenting everything, step by step, he tells us how Chávez destroyed Guayana and its industries and continues to do so. In fact, the Government has announced now that it is giving the exploration of all our minerals to China’s CITIC, despite the fact that most of the work on prospecting what Venezuela has or not has been determined by Venezuela’s University  Professors long ago.

But going back to Prat’s book, it condenses his program “Publico & Confidencial” in newspaper Correo del Caroni, where he chronicled the whole thing in over 2,000 articles, which together with 370 Tal Cual articles represents an amazing document that documents the destruction of Venezuela’s Guayana industrial complex. How Chávez used corruption to tie up loyalties, while making dozens of announcements that never materialized, How Chávez nationalized working industries, only to shut them down or reduce them to a fraction of their potential, so that we could import the same material’s via graft and corruption, involving the top leaders of Guayana’s industrial complex.

I will try to write separate articles about the many complex cases involving Guayana’s companies, so that each individual story can be told and remain here for the record in English.

Each of the companies has an incredible story of inefficiency and neglect. I will try to write an article about each. For now, here are some glimpses:

Tavsa: The seamless pipe company used to provide PDVSA with 90% of the pipes it needed. Today, the plant does not produce a single pipe. It was stopped by orders from the highest levels of Government and today PDVSA’s needs are supplied by China and Mexico, while 400 workers go everyday to work and do absolutely nothing.

Bauxilum: The company used to provide all of the bauxite needed in Venezuela, with up to 6 million Tons of production a year. Today, it produces two and a half million Tons a year, with the remainder being imported. Why? It is not clear, there has been no investments in the company, trucks don’t work, much promised Chinese loans never arrive. Someone is making a lot of money with these imports.

Sidor: Sidor now produces 11 million fewer steel beams that it used to before it was nationalized. These tubes are being imported mostly from Mexico, from Ternium, the same company that used to run Sidor before it was privatized.

Ferrominera del Orinoco: China via Wisco, is buying 40 million Tons of iron ore, while Venezuela’s use of this ore to produce higher grade products has fallen, and we have gone from using 60% of our iron ore to only 30%.

Alcasa: Under orders from Chávez, 140 reduction cells were shut down, damaging the cells irreversibly, so that energy could be saved there and not in Caracas, which would have generated protests. The aluminum plant used to produce 200,000 tons of aluminum a year, now it barely manages 70,000.

And there is much more: Venezuela’s aluminun production was given to Glencore for money in advance, such that until 2018, the country will not receive one dollar from 30% of its aluminum production. We import oil coke for aluminum electrodes, even if Carbonorca accumulates the same material, because the Government has not had the US$ 400 million (Fonden, where are you when you are needed?) to pay for the plant that produces it. The dredging of the Orinoco river is now done by a Chinese company. And the importing of parts by Ferrominera has been outsourced to a Chinese company. Chávez has made eleven announcements with respect to Alcasa and not ONE has occurred.

Oh yes, meanwhile, union leaders of Guayana have been jailed, mysteriously killed or persecuted, all in the name of the revolution and socialism, while there are memos signed by Chavez not to sign any collective bargaining agreements with the workers.

But perhaps, nothing nails it like the fact that in fourteen tragic years, the Government has announced six new projects and not ONE of them was ever started, forgotten in Chavez’ over-promising and Sunday’s variety show Alo Presidente.

If you are in Venezuela, please go buy the book, so Mr. Prat can write others, for the rest, I will write individual chapters on this upside down miracle, so that the record is here to be seen in English.

BTW, Mr. Prat’s radio program in Union Radio also called “Publico y Confidencial” was recently cancelled under pressure from the Government, following the steps of reporter Marta Colomina and others, victims of Venezuela´s strange version of “free speech”