Tales Of Bolivarian Inefficiency III: Chávez’ Frozen Cuban Dream

April 30, 2014

Despite all of the problems at Ultimas Noticias, the reporters there keep turning out some of the best investigative pieces in Venezuela. This time, it was the turn of Lisseth Boon in her excellent piece about Helados Coppelia, which can also be entitled Chávez frozen Cuban dream.

To put it in perspective, Chávez was such a Cubanologist that despite the long tradition of ice cream in Venezuela (Tio Rico, Efe, Castellino, Crema Paraiso, 4D, Versalles), rather than promote local brands, Chávez did the opposite, trying to promote and bring to Venezuela the Coppelia brand, his hero’s Fidel Castro’s creation. Castro created Coppelia in 1966, much like Chávez, it was his idea, nothing was done in Cuba that was not Fidel’s idea. Well, Efe and Tio Rico and Castellino (which made killer frozen lemonade) were around in Venezuela well before then. I can prove that Efe was here before 1966, in the only picture you will ever see of The Devil in this blog, here is the Devil eating Efe ice cream circa 1951 or 1952 (Vanilla, of course!):

efe(Saintly, no?)

Yes! I am proud of my ice cream heritage and taste!

Chavez was not…

Instead, Hugo went to Cuba and brought the Copellia brand to Venezuela. In 2012 Chávez inaugurated the Copellia plant and called them “the best in the world”, which clearly showed he was not much of an ice cream eater.

And because every project in Venezuela since 1999, was Chávez’ project, despite his  keen interest in it, Coppelia, much like the rest of the projects, did not work out well. In fact, barely three weeks after the inauguration, the plant was closed. Somebody told Chávez something was wrong, he even suggests that Fidel called to complain. Then, on nationwide TV Chávez complained to everyone:

and the then Minister of “Efficiency” (today Minister of Defense, clearly a justified promotion) Carmen Melendez, told Chávez then, that the plant was closed because a machine broke down, there were not enough supplies and they did not have a sufficient number of containers to put the ice cream in.

Chavista planning at its best! We are talking only three weeks.

Long term in their attention span.

Well, as Ms. Boon reports in Ultimas Noticias (kudos to her!), things have not really improved much. There is only one Coppelia ice cream parlor (Gradillas a San Jacinto) in Caracas and some 72 spots where you can supposedly buy the stuff.

Except sometimes you can’t

Compare that with thousands of places you can buy Efe or Tio Rico or Crema Paraiso and I know at least five 4D ice cream parlors, with even one in Miami Beach.

But much like anything else, Chávez preferred to promoted foreign ideological stuff, even if it was ice cream, than successful Venezuelan ones and enterprises.

Chávez initially promised that Coppelia ice cream would be made with Venezuelan products and supplies. Milk products from Lacteos Los Andes (now practically bankrupt), sugar from CVA Azucar (now shut down, see first post) and orange, guava, mango, peach and coconut.

Well, 18 months later and now Chávez is dead, Coppelia produces ice cream, mostly creamy flavors, in irregular and limited fashion. Raw materials and supplies are all imported. Forget about all those fruit flavors, but its manager says raw materials come from Lacteos Los Andes, which is practically shut down.

Go figure!

But, a different raw material, money, is not in short supply for Coppelia. In March the plant received an additional Bs. 12.1 million in Venezuela. This adds to the funding in 2012 and to the US$ 4 million given to the Cuban Coppelia in 2013 to “increase its production”

But, in 2013, the milk came from Nicaragua, while powdered milk was imported in 2013 to the tune of 187 thousand Tons. But ask the manager, and it is all Venezuelan. As for the fruit juices, the same manager of the plant said almost a year ago that “in a few weeks fruit flavors will be on the street”

But we are still waiting.

So, much like the Bolivarian revolution, Chávez’ frozen Cuban dream is just that, an ill-conceived dream, a Presidential and Bolivarian whim, with little to show for it.

I wonder who the Minister for Efficiency is today? Just asking…

Next:  Tales Of Bolivarian Inefficiency IV: Puerto Cabello’s Bermuda-like Triangle

31 Responses to “Tales Of Bolivarian Inefficiency III: Chávez’ Frozen Cuban Dream”

  1. Reblogged this on manuelcarbajal and commented:

  2. Bruni Says:

    The best EFE is Chocolate’s Miss EFE.

    And the best fruit icecreams are Frapé…nobody can beat them.

    And the best part of the story should have been the little EFE or TIO RICO car with the bell, announcing itself.

    I don’t know about the Coppelia’s ice creams…I have never been in la Havana…but I agree that the worst thing about Chavez was that he was a vendepatria.

  3. Losalpes Says:

    4D, the best! Miss that place 😦

  4. Dr. Faustus Says:

    Inefficiency you say? The Bolivarians? C’mon. There are thousands of wealthy Venezuelan bond holders/investors all over the world. The sumbitches pay! …and pay! …what?… 12% + interest rates year after year,… and, and (!) … they’ve helped a number of struggling Formula 1 owners facing imminent bankruptcy and closure. How very decent of them. Give em a break, huh.


    “LONDON: Formula One team Williams returned to profit last year, despite a poor season on the track for the former world champions, helped by a one-off payment from outgoing sponsor PDVSA. State-owned Venezuelan oil company PDVSA paid out for an early termination of its sponsorship deal when driver Pastor Maldonado left Williams for Lotus at the end of last season. That payment helped Williams, the only Formula One team with a stock market listing, to increase revenues to 132 million pounds (Rs. 1,341 crore) in 2013, from 106 million (Rs.1,074 crore) the previous year. “

  5. César Says:

    That video was painful to watch. But to her very slight credit, she did say what was happening in a matter-of-fact, though rather sheepish, way.

  6. Ronaldo Says:

    That 1950’s style chromed baby buggy behind the cute little Devil would be worth some dollars (and bolivars) today.

    I am relieved that Chavez corpse is on display. We can be sure he is dead. However if Chavez is reincarnated, I hope it is to live as a repressed poor uneducated black farmer in rural Cuba. Chavez loved everything Cuban but he never experienced it all.

  7. Iguana_Master_7000 Says:

    Hasta chiquitico tenia cara e’ diablo!!!

  8. firepigette Says:

    love the baby pic

  9. Ira Says:

    Do you still have that medal?

    • moctavio Says:

      No, it was my baptism medal, stoilen when I was a kid…

      • Ira Says:

        Don’t feel bad. True story…I swear:

        Was forced to go to Hebrew School every day after regular school, for like FIVE years prior to my Bar Mitzvah. When I was around 9, I gave the rabbi/teacher money to purchase a Tallis, and several months later, Tsefillen.

        Rabbi kept stalling me…my mom accused me of spending the dough on toys and candy…when in reality, he just ripped me off. She wouldn’t even THINK to question the rabbi about it, because of course, it couldn’t be HIM.

        This, and a severe beating by a Rabbi when I was 7, kind of soured me on organized religion.

        • syd Says:

          I hear you, Ira. Sometimes those who cloak themselves in robes of moral authority are the worst offenders of the morality that they demand others uphold. Over many years I’ve become a cynic, not towards people’s spirituality and their need for same, but towards all in$titutional element$ that foster and promote it.

  10. Caracas Gringo Says:

    I’ve had Copellia ice cream in Havana. On a 1-10 scale with 10 being best it rates about 4 at best

  11. What a gorgeous little devil!
    Efe vainilla por siempre sera mi favorito… y eso que he probado muchos! Te acuerdas Frape de COCO…
    y los que venian en sus conchas?
    Entre los que he probado a lo ancho y largo de este glorioso planeta… los “Copelia” NO los disfrute, justo los probe en La Habana donde me encontraba de vacaciones con compañeros de la FAU-UCV el 20 de diciembre de 1989… remember what happened that day??? well, I was trying copelias that very afternoon! Incluso los de tupiro en Pto. Ayacucho son mejores!

    TRULY enjoyed this one @moctavio, thnx!

    (por ahi anda rodando un twt que dice entre otras cosas, feliz DIA DE LOS INOCENTES pa lo q creen q el aumento alcanza para algo!) jejeje… happy day anyway!

  12. HalfEmpty Says:

    Yawl see a Cute Little Devil, I see a future Capitalist Oppressor.

    (How’s that Arty me boy?)

  13. Let’s not forget FRAPE, nispero was my favorite all time flavor…

  14. moctavio Says:

    The picture has been a success, maybe I will have to post more.

    Not really, it distracts from the subject…

    • Carolina Says:

      It’s a great photo Devil. Maybe post some more without saying is you. The point if the photo was the tinita! Right? 😉

  15. syd Says:

    Ay la tinita de mantecado de Helados Efe! Cuánto no me recuerdo de esa época (te llevo 6 meses de diferencia)!

    Good post, better photo — I’m referring to the one in B&W, por supuesto!

  16. myladydha Says:

    Capitalism is based on private ownership of means of production, in which labour specialisation is not only allowed but expected. Socialism is based on government ownership of means of production, and labour specialisation is a sacrilege. This example of Coppelia only proves, ONCE MORE, how inefficient a government can become when in power of means of production.

    The photo of the devil is lovely. 


    PS: In my monologues with Karl Marx I include a lot of concepts from Marxism (with irony and humour). The third monologue will be published soon.

  17. CarlosElio Says:

    This is a good portrait of the stupidity of socialism. At the end, the demagogue says “Hay mucho contrarevolucionario enquistado” The truth is that socialism produces revolutionary ones and counterrevolutionaries ones that become enchufados. The only merit to secure a post in a dictatorial regime is to kiss ass. People with innate ability to kiss ass do not have any significant managerial skill.
    (I agree with the comments made regarding the cute little devil)

  18. Alek Boyd Says:

    I’ve tried helados in Copelia, in Havana. That sort of joint would last about a week in a free market society. Quality is just not there.

    • Roy Says:

      Done the same. The ice cream is not awful, but the wait to get it is intolerable. And the ambiance? “Drab” and “depressing” are the first adjectives that spring to mind.

  19. Dr. Faustus Says:

    And the very next photo, withheld for political considerations, was vanilla ice cream dribbling down that brown, corduroy jumper….

  20. Roy Says:

    Extreme narcissists are easily manipulated: “Hey Boss, remember that idea you had about…. (insert your idea here)…?”

  21. Mercedes Atencio Says:

    Qué belleza de diablito!

  22. BB Cuiba Says:

    You were a cute little devil, to be sure. ; )

  23. captaincs Says:

    La marca efe fue fundada en Caracas el 8 de mayo de 1926 por Alberto Espinoza y su esposa Mila Fernández de Espinoza, de la fusión de las íniciales de sus apellidos surge la marca EFE, quienes producían unos helados caseros en la Parroquia La Candelaria, Caracas.


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