While everyone was watching one “God” in Venezuela, Dios-dado, a different one seemed to ascend to power, Padrino (Godfather), as Maduro designated his Minister of Defense Vladimir Padrino, as his all power Czar of food supply and distribution. In Maduro´s words: “All the Ministers, all of the Institutions of Government will be under orders and in absolute subordination to the Great Supply Mission under the orders of the President and General Padrino Lopez”
I have been pondering over this ever since it happened, trying to understand what it really means. Not only did Maduro make the General his equal, but the General did not waste much time in making the statement that his objective was “To govern…”
A strange statement from a man that has been deeply involved with a “Government” that has ruled Venezuela for sixteen years, with the tight involvement of the Venezuelan military of which he has been a leader. Or did Padrino mean “To Govern well”, something which has definitely not happened since Chávez took power in 1999.
But while many saw this as a resolution of the power struggle between civilians and the Venezuelan military, one has to see it first as a victory of General Padrino Lopez over General Marco Torres, a more subtle Cszar over Venezuela’s Food distribution and Supply for quite a while, who also presided over the finances of the country during the same time.In fact, Maduro did not say what the naming of Padrino Lopez implies for Torres’ Ministry for Feeding, as well as his total, albeit remote control, over both the Ministry of Finance and the Venezuelan Central Bank.
But Padrino may have moved too soon for his own good. He clearly believes in the “model” that the Government can buy and distribute all of the food for the country and eliminate shortages while holding inflation back. Which means that he has no clue, like his predecessors, that it is not the distribution model, but the economic model that needs to be changed. And since there seems to be no economists in the Cabinet, nor in Padrino’s team, Padrino’s effort will meet the same failure that Marco Torres’ did. And there is plenty of time before the end of the year for the same infighting to point out that Padrino’s all-powerful mission has been a total total and complete failure: Shortages will increase and inflation will not abate.
Because as was reported today, from the same Government that took the the Simadi/Dicom rate to close to Bs. 700 per dollar, somebody has now realized that this was a mistake and the plan now, without telling or consulting the Cabinet, is to now lower that rate.
This may simply be General Torres trying to show he still has some power.
What’s next? Changing the exchange rate’s name again? How about Godmadi or Godcom? (In Spansih: Diosmadi or Dioscom)
As I noted two posts ago, this rate is irrelevant to the scheme of things, as it is the Bs. 10 per US$ rate that needs to be urgently modified. Someone should ask these “Supply-Side-experts”, including Torres and Padrino, why not simply give away the food for free and eliminate shortages, after all, the difference between Bs. and Bs. 600 (Or Bs. 1000) is so large, that making it zero for distribution purposes will make no difference.
Meanwhile Maduro wants to extend his Emergency Economic Powers, despite the fact that under the previous two, both not approved by the National Assembly, shortages grew, international reserves went down, inflation increased sharply and the country’s oil production dropped by more than 10%.
Thus, this battle of the multiple Gods in Venezuela, seems more like a brawl among empty headed buddies at a bar, to decide who will play better billiards when they are no longer drunk.
And the winner may be somebody else…