Archive for January 12th, 2014

Nicolas Maduro: Clueless in Miraflores

January 12, 2014


In the traditional structure of a Government, the Vice-Minister or Under Secretary plays a key role in that he or she runs the Ministry or Department, while the Minister or Secretary, a more political appointment, takes care of the political side, going to public functions and the like. In Venezuela, it used to be the same, the Vice-Minister was a more managerial, less political person, who would run the day to day administrative aspects, while the Minister attended functions, Cabinet meetings and the like. The Vice-Minister also took the place of the Minister when the Minister was away. Under the Vice Minister, there were the “Directores”, who ran each area of the Ministry. Obviously, Vice-Ministers have more perks than “Directores”, higher salaries, cars, body guards and the like.

When Chávez came to power, he began “inventing” Vice-Ministries, mostly to reward buddies who had done something for him, but could not be named Ministers or Vice-Ministers at the moment. I clearly remember when Merentes lost the race for President (Rector) of Universidad Central de Venezuela His grand ambition) and I heard he had been named Vice-Minister of Finance, which made me wonder who would run the Ministry in the absence of the fairly competent person who was Vice-Minister. But there was no problem, Merentes was actually appointed to a new Vice-Ministry, created by Chávez just to thank him for services rendered. Later, when Maduro became Minister of Foreign Affairs, he created three Vice-Ministries, each in charge of different regions of the world. The funny things is, in time, his close friend and confidant Temir Porras, now disappeared from the Government, began covering two of the three, as Maduro trusted him and could not find someone else to fill the third Vice-Ministry.

And now, in a clear sign of how clueless Maduro is about management and how to run a Government, he creates 111 new Vice-Ministers to accompany the thirty Ministers that accompany in his Cabinet. The hilarious thing is that the decree creating these new positions (Decree 730) actually says that this “optimizes” the structure of Government, not once, but twice.

Just imagine, now some Ministries will have as many as six Vice-Ministers, who will have to be coordinated by the Minister, the same guy who will have to spend half his day listening to Maduro, attending formal occasions and going to other meetings and functions outside the Ministry. The Vice-Ministers will be fighting for territory and budget and none of them will be in charge of administration, legal department and many others. Just not very efficient or “optimizing”

Even worse, each of these guys will spend the first month finding an office, getting bodyguards, cars and support staff for the new position. But hey! Everything is working so well in Venezuela that there is really no urgency to do things. Like there is a two month backlog at the Puerto Cabello dock, but there is now no wheat flower, so bread rationing has begun.

Wonder which Vice-Ministers (it overlaps many) are in charge of solving those two problems.

You can have fun reading the list of Vice-Ministers. You will be happy to know that the Vice-Ministry for the Supreme Social Happiness of the People (1.3) survives this restructuring. Or you may wonder why we need a Vice-Minister for Economic Cooperation in Foreign Relations (3.1), if we have one for each region of the world. Or how the four Vice-Ministries in Planning separate their responsibilities (5.1-5,4). Or what Socialist Industries (8.1) are all about. And what exactly does a Vice-Minister for International Tourism (9.2) do? Travel? And really, the Postal Service (20.3) is part of Science and Technology?

But nothing, absolutely nothing, will prepare you for the new Vice-Ministry for Social Networks (21.5). What does this person do? Create more failed “socialist” social networks?  Surf all day? Tweet all day? Monitor and spy on the “people” who use social networks? Block us?

We will soon find out.

But the message is clear: Maduro is so clueless, that he thinks somehow things will work better if each Minister has more and more Vice-Ministers under him or her, as if the number of people at high level can help solve problems, instead of people with the required knowledge. Or if they are chosen not for the loyalty but for their abilities.

But I am sure many of these new positions will be filled with current or former military officers, insuring that nothing will be done better or “optimized”, so the record of Chavismo remains unblemished in its inability to run and manage the country. They wll do exactly the oppite.

Maduro is simply, Clueless in Miraflores.