Institutionality. Such an easy word. But so easy to destroy, so difficult to build up. And therein lies the biggest conundrum facing Venezuelans in the future, whether in a year (not likely), or five (probable) or even later (Can God be so mean to us?), we can attempt to rebuild what has been destroyed by Chavismo. Because it is easy to think anything will be better than this, but when you face an avalanche of crime or economic distortions, you need more than change, you need the required institutionality to create the appropriate culture at each institution, whether part of the Government or of the decentralized Government.
And that is the problem. The sad thing about the loss of institutionality at the Venezuelan Central Bank, is not the clowns at the top, it is the technical professionals that will be hardest to find when (and if!) things change. Because while the exodus at the monetary authority may just be beginning, it has had a long run elsewhere in the country under Chavismo. How do you convince a former Intevep researcher working in Canada to come back?. Where do you find a Venezuelan Professional policeman (with a capital P) willing to come back from abroad and face the myriad of problems our cities face? Or medical doctors? Or Judges?
That is the problem. Chavismo has managed to destroy institutionality at all levels. From the Electoral Board, to Cantv, to PDVSA, to the Comptrollers office, to the Judiciary, those still inside have given up, left or sold their souls to the revolution in exchange for money.
The tough part will not be changing the Government, it will be rebuilding it. Like the picture above, it will take many bricks and many guarantees for people to want to help. As the saying goes: Once burned, twice shy. While some will be willing to come back and help rebuild, many will think they already paid their dues and are not wiling to come back at low salaries and with few guarantees to build an uncertain future.
And uncertain it will be, because unless Chavismo steps over the line badly, once out, they will try to claim they are democrats and they will fight you every day. They will blame crime, low scientific production and even PDVSA’s failure, on the opposition, the economic war, the US or whatever.
Which leads me to the origin of this post. While the murder of a former Miss Venezuela last night, her husband next to her killed in the robbery and their four year old girl surviving the episode is terrorific, this has become daily life for most Venezuelans. By now, a couple of dozen more similar homicides have taken place since this incident last night. Except you don’t know about their lives, whether they were valedictorian, or studying for their Ph.D. or simply completing high school or university, all useful for a country like Venezuela. Or winners of the Miss Joropo contest…
Except that the destruction of institutionality is such, that the successful ones, the ones that can come up with a plan to fight crime, develop technology or fixed the complex problems associated with health care, are all abroad, developing the same dreams they had, but paid in foreign currency and with their kids going to wonderful schools.
Do you really think many will come back?
And that is the tragedy. Chavsimo thought that the most incompetent, undereducated, corrupt group of Venezuelans, the military, could do everything. And in the process the military got rid of those that had the know-how, the experience and the ability to fix the problems. And unless you get rid of the same military, it will be an uphill battle to get rid of these former, current and active military officers, that have no clue as to how to run anything. And they will try to keep their positions.
The reality is that the sharper Chavismo’s drop, the better the chances at change and institutionality being restored and rebuilt. Unfortunately, the country’s down fall, unless oil prices drop precipitously, is likely to be just a muddle through, with the usual suspects surviving and managing to live another day.
The only positive note I can give you, is that the radical wing of Chavismo is trying to push everyone out, guaranteeing that little is done to fix economic distortions and accelerating the so called collapse of the economy, increasing the chances for a change for the better.
But if Venezuela continues its slow motion downfall, it any not be until at least five years from now, that some form of institutionality can be rebuilt, except the country will not count with the brightest and the best, but with whatever is left. A different picture form what was available before Chavismo came to power.
A long road ahead for recovery. Likely too long for someone my age. Restoring institutionality may take the same thirty or forty years that it took to sort of build it up. Meanwhile the world moves forward, thinking about technology, ideas, know how, globalization and the like. Which Chavismo barely even thinks about.
And on that note, I end this post for the New Year, apologizing for the somber tone, but somehow hopeful that I am completely wrong.