Enlace Venezuela: Getting Serious About The Day After

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In this special guest post for 23 de enero, Jose Ramón Morales Arilla announces an exciting initiative to start in on some serious planning for What Comes Next:

Today, we’re announcing the launch of Enlace Venezuela, a web-based initiative to generate serious, innovative, viable policy ideas for the period bridging the Venezuela we have to the one Venezuelans need.

Our country is living under a generalized state of insecurity. Our economy is increasingly volatile, and each passing year we depend more on oil exports for our survival. The decentralization of the federal government, and the governance successes it has bred, have been reversed and abandoned.

Ineffective social policies are leveraged as instruments for political domination. The unprecedented concentration of power in the hands of a single person has increased polariztion, and the non‐recognition of the other side has become the cornerstone of our public sphere. Armed violent groups are spreading throughout the country, breaching our sovereignty and threatening our safety.

As Venezuela approaches the 2012 presidential elections, the nation needs to take a long, hard look at its current predicament and set out clear-cut policy alternatives to address its most pressing issues. Any hypothetic post-Chávez government is likely to set advancing peace, progress, democracy and reconciliation as priorities, but: what will it be able to do in the short run given its multiple constraints? And what compromises will it be forced to reach?

One thing must be clear – if we manage to unseat Hugo Chávez in 2012, the future of the nation will depend on the opposition’s ability to deliver quality of life. Enhancing governability must be a priority.

The next government will inherit fierce opposition from within all public powers and the military. Armed terror groups will sieze any chance they get to destabilize. Crushing debt levels, combined with pent-up demand for unsustainable levels of spending, and a diminished capacity to generate income, will create enromous pressure on the next government. The country we inherit will be one without a viable private sector.

The new government will have limited administrative capacity to implement transparent, forward-looking public policies. Thinking through how to survive and move forward under such circumstances demands that we look past “magical formulas” and empty enumerations of pious principles, and move instead to establish clear priorities and realistic criteria for working through the inevitable tradeoffs any post-Chávez leader will face.

We need ideas to sustain the period bridging the end of the Chávez years and the start of a prosperous Venezuela.

To that end, a group of graduate students and young professionals formed the “Enlace Venezuela” Initiative. We will be posting articles diagnosing Venezuela’s problems, and how to best advance their solution, while handling all the budgetary, political, and bureaucratic restrictions and threats that Venezuela’s next government will face.

Of course, proposals to write a “Proyecto País” have been dime in a dozen in Venezuela since the early 90s. Actually, most of us have participated and witnessed first-hand how such well-intended initiatives have ended up piling dust.

Enlace Venezuela is different. It will generate contextualized, immediately applicable ideas for a transition government, not a generalist effort to set guiding principles. Timing is also on our side, since such narrowed ideas will be increasingly in demand as the elections approach.

Finally, many of us are members of political parties and are closely linked to political players on the ground. Part of our effort will be to take advantage of such links, so that the debate held at Enlace Venezuela transcends and influences actual decisions and proposals in the context of the 2012 Elections.

If we want to come up with the best ideas, we need the best criticism possible. Leveraging the Internet, and its ability to sustain spirited debate is critical in this regard. We hope to replicate the kind of critical discussion we see at Caracas Chronicles when it’s at its best, so we want to invite you all to join us in this effort.

Our initial approach is to develop ideas to address Venezuela’s generalized state of Insecurity, in the context of the restrictions and threats mentioned above. We disentangle this insecurity into 5 components:

  • Personal insecurity;
  • Territorial insecurity;
  • Economic insecurity;
  • Social insecurity; and
  • Legal insecurity.

Each blogger (or set of bloggers) agrees to lead sustained discussions regarding specific issues within each component. Everyone interested in collaborating with the debate held in “Enlace Venezuela” can do so as a commentator to the articles written, as a Guest Blogger to complement the debate on a given issue, or as an Official Blogger as long as he or she commits to sustain a debate about a certain issue.

Our Kick-off post by Jordy Moncada regarding Transitional Justice is already posted!

We wait for your support in www.enlacevenezuela.com. Feel free to contact us at anytime through enlacevenezuela@gmail.com.

We invite you to participate as guest bloggers, commentators, or by simply helping disseminate ideas. None of us has the right answers on our own – only together will we thrive.

I plan to use Caracas Chronicles to track this initiative closely and sound off continously. Hope you’ll join us.

1 COMMENT

  1. I welcome this initiative. Time to start generating viable policy platforms to strengthen/restore Venezuela’s democracy, economy and society. The task will be daunting. This is precisely what some Brazilians (like Fernando H. Cardoso) and Chileans (several examples) did back in authoritarian times, waiting for the right time to launch their policies into reality and, in the mean time, working hard with an intellectual cadre to prevent an eventual new regime from falling apart. Probably Juan can find out more about the Chilean experience with think tanks, for example.

    • I also welcome this initiative. Chavismo, even if it is a fake socialist movement, will do what other less extreme left movements have done since the late XIX century: try to cause riots, violence, block anything. The answer to this is to create awareness of the danger and to convince as many as possible about the need to work now for a better Venezuela – in spite of what Chavismo will try to do.

      Below a translation into Spanish from a KGB original document. It was written in 1983. This was a response to a group of Venezuelans, from the PCV, who are now colluding with Chavismo. These were some of those who prepared the 1989 Caracazo. Since then they have been replaced mostly by the military – who are now but a golem of what Douglas Bravo and similar guys were trying to create for deaces. These have received training from Cuba’s Intelligence Services and in Belarus in such places as the Belarussian Academy of War.

      On one side we need programmes for violence prevention and on the other side we need plans for creating economic stability, social cohesion, progress.

      Venezuela is full of time bombs and we need to dismantle them.

      “Secreto máximo
      Acta Especial

      DECRETO del Secretariado del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de la Unión Soviética Sobre la petición del secretario general del Partido Comunista de Venezuela T. J. Faría

      1. Aprobar la petición del secretario general del Partido Comunista de Venezuela (PCV) T. J. Faría y ejecutar apoyo en la organización del curso de entrenamiento especial para el activista del PCV T.J Lenin Moreno.

      2. Aceptación y apoyo de T.J. Lenin Moreno para pasar al Departamento Internacional y Administración de Asuntos del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de la Unión Soviética, y organización del curso de entrenamiento especial por el Comité para la Seguridad del Estado de la URSS.
      Duración del curso – hasta 3 meses. Gastos por la manutención de T.J. Lenin Moreno van a cuenta del presupuesto del partido.

      Resultados de la votación: (firmas ilegibles)

      Sobre la petición del Secretario general del Partido Comunista de Venezuela, T. J. Faría

      El Secretario general del Partido Comunista de Venezuela (PCV) T. J. Faría se dirigió al Comité Central del Partido Comunista de la URSS con la petición (OP N° 2954 del 10.X.1980) para la organización del curso de entrenamiento especial en el área de trabajo general y conspiración para el activista del PCV T. J. Lenin Moreno.

      La petición de T. J. Faría se produce por la necesidad de fortalecimiento del grupo especial de la dirección del PCV con el personal de entrenamiento. Se consideró la posibilidad de satisfacer la petición del secretario general del PCV T. J. Faría.”

      La petición fue aprobada con el visto bueno del presidente del KGB de la URSS, T. Tsinevym. El proyecto de resolución del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de la Unión Soviética se aprueba.

      Departamento Internacional del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de la URSS (K. Brutents)

      30 de octubre de 1980

      ——————————————————
      Traducción del español

      Comité Central del Partido Comunista de la Unión Soviética

      ¡Queridos camaradas!

      Mi sobrino Lenin José Moreno Faría x), que cuenta con mi confianza, llegará en octubre de 1980 a Moscú. En calidad de profesor de la universidad se encuentra en año sabático. Va a estar en Moscú por una estadía de su especialidad, pero en realidad querríamos que siga un curso de entrenamiento en el área de Inteligencia para que en el futuro pueda ayudar a la Secretaría General del Partido Comunista de Venezuela. De antemano les agradezco por la ayuda en esta cuestión

      JESÚS FARÍA Secretario General del Partido Comunista de Venezuela

      x) en el país es conocido oficialmente como José Lenin Moreno”

  2. OFF TOPIC

    I did some facebook stalking and I found out most of these people come from UCAB, I wonder how they are paying for their masters at Harvard. Is it some kind of program between the 2 universities?

  3. Dear Quico:

    It sounds wonderful to me. Too bad us Anglos can’t contribute. We have a strong US constitution, but I’d like to see you do better.

    I just hope these guys give plenty of attention, beyond today’s specific policy needs, to the rules – the process – by which policy is made, changed and implemented – presumably by the people (if you really want democracy). “The People” is what I’d call “The Fifth Estate”. It gets crazy sometimes. Each part of it needs strong consideration, but you have to prevent hysterias and the madness of crowds from killing the nation overnight over some dumb policy issue like banning alcohol or spanking the kids. If the basic ground-rules can be legally changed overnight by a bare majority, you’re right back in caudillo trouble. This may smell of “broad principle”, but rules (not policies – rules!) have to spell out clear limits on government and rights for the people – such as an INALIENABLE and unabridged right to presumption of innocence that we US Americans DO NOT have. Our US constitution is still strong, but it’s been seriously eroded by our over-increasing horde of lawyers (our Sixth Estate). Watch out for them. If they redefine your language, you’ll all be in jail.

    I’m a bit dismayed by their knee-jerk leftish suspicion of the military. Government doesn’t exist without enforcement, so you have to include the army and police as legitimate functions. Armies protect the nation. Be fair to them and they will help you. Yours even defied Chavez’s orders to shoot you in 2002. Why else would they have jailed their own Fuehrer?

    I could rant all day about this, but I’m SO glad someone has picked up the cudgel for tomorrow’s Venezuela. I’d like to visit your beautiful country – and walk out alive.

    Hopefully,

    Deedle

  4. Isn’t it all kind of mute.

    Even if the opposition wins in 2012 they will be faced with a minority in the AN and will be unable to pass any new laws or change the old ones.

    Chavez will continue to rule through the AN & Supreme Court.

    • Island,

      I think this group gets that a peaceful democratic transition is not possible since the institutions of democracy are broken and corrupted. I think they are trying to prepare a general plan for the reestablishment of democracy after a necessary period of martial law to reestablish order after the predictable eruption of violence and looting following a… eh hmm… change in command authority.

      Perhaps, Sr. Morales would willing to clarify his intention… For the purposes of the exercise, the starting point conditions should be defined.

    • Oh, I’m not entirely sure of that. If the tides turn and the opposition were to win a majority, the TSJ, AN, and the rest of the powers that be would have to think twice before continuing the revolutionary charade.

    • Juan,

      Con todo respeto, pana… I think you have grossly underestimated the width and depth of the political division. If the divisions were geographical as well, we would have already had a civil war.

      There are times in history when the depth of antipathy between two groups humans is so profound that the only ultimate solution is some degree of blood letting before a respectful peace can be reestablished. I believe this to be one of those times. The only question is how much and for how long.

    • I think I made this comment here in another post, but here it goes. IF we win in 2012 and the power is handed over to a new government, even with minority in congress and courts, the new president will have enough power to make executive decisions, and that’s where any transition plan should focus on.

      What are those key short term decisions the president can make that could change the game and create breathing space for this new government to show early good results?
      I participated in a similar effort sponsored by Cedice, just before Chavez was elected and the resulting document contained 100 key executive decisions that the president was legally entitled to make for the first 100 days of his government. The document wasn’t far to the right, even though the sponsoring institution was Cedice. They gathered experts from various fields and consolidated their advice into a single document. That was 12 years ago, I am sure nothing was done and the president now has even more powers than before. It would be hard, but is doable.

      I also would like to know the premise for the “day after” these people are looking at.

  5. so reading the gist of the coalition’s website, this seems just another wonderful take on what to do with the bounty that is venezuela. however chavismo started out pretty much in the same vein, but who is to say that ignorants and learned people are not going to betray the people of venezuela once they are in power surrounded by all that wealth?

    make no mistake about, thinking grandiose schemes about what to do with the funds of the nation once anyone is in power, pales in comparison to fighting the greed of wanting it all!!!!

    we need to put a framework that addresses the fact that in 12 years one party and one leader with access to tons of money has been able to corrupt every single insitution in the country and the fact that venezuelans are easily bought out including those in the judicial system.

    nothing is sacred anymore therefore i wish enlace godspeed but realistically we need to address our morals and how to have a country that follows its own laws and not be a piggy bank for the caudillo in power.

  6. Hi!

    Roy: The only way for a peaceful transition to occur is to prepare for it. There are many aspects of that preparation that we cannot be a direct part of in our current condition as graduate students abroad. But where we can put our efforts on is in thinking what a hypothetical transition government should do to enhance governability while showing accomplishments that allow the country to pass the socialism page for good. History shows not only that a peaceful transition and reconciliation is feasible in the midst of hatred and polarization, but shows that the type of violent processes you seem to advocate for tend to produce further violence in the foreseeable future (as Collier puts it, Conflict is a trap in which oil producing countries are consistently immersed at). We intend to prepare ideas to make a peaceful transition viable. We could not emphasize more on that.

    Moraimag: That seems to be an excellent precedent for what we want to develop. Is there by any chance a way we can access to that document or those conclusions? Is it on digital format? If not, I used to work in Transparencia Venezuela, so I could have someone get a physical copy from the office.

    dc: I could not agree more on that. As I say in my first post, “despojarse” of the resource curse in Venezuela is not a technical issue, but a matter of political will and political viability. But there must be a solution, right? I will be blogging on this issue in the following weeks. I wait for your input in the blog.

    Once again, thanks Quico and Juan for the opportunity to present our initiative on the most incisive and hard-minded blog on Venezuelan politics.

    Best,

    JR

    • I did not keep a copy, but I will reach out to the people in Cedice and Liderazgo y Vision and see if they have an electronic version. I know it was printed as Proyecto Fulcro, a title a little difficult to get, refering to Fulcrum as the point of support about which a lever pivots. So, those points that would have maximum impact to “move” the situation. I’ll see what I can find and send you an email.

  7. Enlace Venezuela,

    There is a difference between thinking that something is virtually inevitable and promoting it. I do not promote violence of any sort. When two trains are approaching each other on the same track at high velocity, predicting a train wreck does not mean that you want to see it happen.

    In the case of Venezuela, I can envision scenarios in which violence is avoided, but all of those scenarios involve the introduction of a Black Swan event or factor. If you want to avoid violence, you will need to invent or create a Black Swan event (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory). I truly hope you can.

    The essential problem is that there exists in Venezuela somewhere between five and ten percent of the population who believe in Chavismo with religious-like faith. It is a small fraction of the population, but that fraction of the population has sufficient numbers to wreak havoc on the country. The only reason Chavez is still in power and has not been removed is because he controls that particular WMD with a dead man’s switch. If you truly want to avoid violence, you must figure out how to defuse that bomb. And if you can’t defuse it, will it really matter who wins the election in 2012?

    Since, I have not been able to solve that puzzle myself, I tend look beyond that part and think about how the country will be put back together after fighting dies out. But, if you and your colleagues think you can find the solution, far be it from me to dissuade you from the effort. I look forward to seeing more of your results and will support you if I can.

  8. The main problem I see is we are still far from really wanting to change status quo in our country. Very few call things by their name. How come after 10+ years of saqueo y destruccion institucional, lost of the biggest $ income in generations and the worst capital lost a nation can suffer-its people- we are not calling for no impunity to these crimes?
    The catch is that everyone wishes a pacific transition, something only posible if you negotiate impunity with the incumbent revolucionarios. They (chavistas) basically hold the nation hostage with the following blackmail: “you allow me to pasar agachado and enjoy our spoils, or you would never have anything to govern”.

    Every succesive goverment in the recent democratic period, and also before, has more or less, laid golden bridges to the one before, to have a chance at the coroto.

    Nothing really changes, only who runs the show.

    Accountability and responsability for the goverment actions is barely discussed.
    Fundamental changes to petro-state estructure, repatriation of talent, privatization of non escencials, and meritocracia are not in the agenda.

    The good thing- in the large scheme of things- is that the saqueo has been so massive, that there will be no money to carry on the circus this way. I am sorry to side with Roy’s views of the oncoming trains, the perfect strom is inevitable-unless a black swawn event ocurrs.

    BTW, the caos that is to-follow, is not by-chance, its the best way chavistas have to run away with their spoils and attemt to live their golden years “at peace”. Who is going to look for them to bring them to justice when the country is in civil war?….

    So, instead of nice planning for what is next, assuming a peacefull democratic transition, the emphasis should be in realizing the risk of the induced conflagration, and caos, and raising the consious and discursive level of who really is the problem and how its efectivelly dividing the nation to rule and spoil.

    Hopefully we are successfull in avoiding civil war or total sumision with a learning for the future.

  9. I posted this on the enlacevenezuela site. I hope it isn’t misdirected regarding what is being desired. I just posted it in the comments. It went to moderation so I’ll let the site owner decide if its apropriate or if it needs to be moved.

    Many of you may be already familiar with the process that Brazil went through to fight inflation. They started by stopping the printing presses. There process which followed was effective. I only heard the story recently. I am including the link, (in English). The audio link gives the more complete story.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2010/10/04/130329523/how-fake-money-saved-brazil

    Hopefully incorporating sensible working plans which succeed will help future administrations. I’m sure it would work for Venezuela as well. One of the commenters in the devilsexcrement responding to Isaland Canucks inflation post mention that their foodbasket has only gone up from $100.00 to $125.00 in American dollars over x number of years. I don’t remember the number of years. However compared to Bolivars it was insignificant.

  10. First of all, figure out what the goals are. Second, figure out how to make it happen.

    Two important goals: (1) get the flight of capital to come back . (2) get the flight of people to come back. How do you do that?

    Another important goal: Secure the constitution. How do you do that?

    Another important goal: Depolarize the political process. How do you do that?

  11. I do not envy anyone who will endeavor to undertake this burden, not in the slightest. But anyone who, when this is past the thinking and planning stage, actually makes the effort will certainly have my respect.

    One thing that you must consider is the economic aspect. The economy right now is a ticking time bomb, which must be defused or it will explode. Problem is, with economic distortions, you can’t really defuse them. Equilibirium must be reached, and it will not be painless. But that’s the only place to begin building for the long-term.

    So how do you alleviate the pain? One way is with jobs. But given that Venezuelan currency is overvalued, anyone with Bolivars (no matter how fuertes) will see their purchasing power seriously eroded, which will not put them in a position to invest. So it will have to be foreigners, thought that could certainly include Venezuelans who went abroad and those who sent there money there, too. But many of those same investors already have money tied up in Venezuela, and their investments are worth much less than when they made them. Plus you have those who saw their assets expropriated. (And anyone who doesn’t, but could invest, is certainly aware of this.) What do you do with them? Because that pending debt is fuel to the coming explosion. The more debt there is, the bigger the bomb will blow. Look to post-WWI Germany for an example of what crippling debt can do to a country. It won’t automatically bring a Hitler, but it would boost the pressure to bring back Chavez, or at least someone like him, which puts that investment at risk anew.

    So how do you bring the investors around? You’re essentially going to need a sales team. They’re going to have to convince people that Venezuela really is a good place to invest, and in areas other than petroleum. To do that, they will need to persuade people that Chavez, or at least chavismo, is not coming back. But for that they will need to reduce debt. They will need to convince the people with IOUs that taking less money will be a good thing. I think the IOU-holders will see that, but the challenge will be to negotiate the best possible deal. That won’t be easy, in no small part because they will be walking a tightrope, with disaster on one side, and unacceptable losses on the other.

    • We should be clear: by any traditional benchmark, Venezuela’s debt-burden is not excessive. Whether it’s debt-to-GDP, debt-to-exports, or maturity date profile, Venezuela is well positioned to meet all of its international obligations. Even Primero Justicia’s key financial advisors – wearing their other hat as money-grubbing capitalists – accept that: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-02/barclays-recommends-more-exposure-to-venezuela-on-fiscal-changes.html

      ALL of the uncertainty surrounding Venezuelan debt is political.

      The next government need not and must not freak out bond holders by talking about haircuts. That would be deeply counterproductive.

      We’ll have to pay off Chávez’s debts. It sucks, but it’s like that.

    • AIO,

      Serious large-scale investment will not come back until Venezuela demonstrates a track record of reform and stability for five years or more. Venezuela currently has a such a poor reputation in the international community right now, that we are beginning to see a virtual embargo of the country simply because no reputable businesses want to do business with Venezuelans. This type of reputation can only be repaired with time and hard work. There are no easy fixes and Venezuela and Venezuelans will suffer the consequences.

      I predict that the first investors will be the Colombians, who know Venezuelan better than anyone else. In fact, the the first wave of investors will resemble the “Carpetbaggers” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpetbagger) who came to the Southern States of the USA after the Civil War to pray on the plight of the defeated Southerners. If Venezuela is not careful, it will end up being annexed to Colombia, feeding resources from the east to Colombian industry in the west.

      Actually, thinking about it, being annexed by Colombia may not be the worst thing that could happen to Venezuela.

    • Kepler, I don’t have the answer, but it’s a question that must be asked. And people have to work on an answer. Do you disagree with what I suggest will happen if they don’t?

      Quico, you are absolutely right, but remember that’s current sovereign debt, while I’m talking about debts that have yet to be tabulated. Like what it will take to rebuild PDVSA, for example. But when I talk about anything even resembling a haircut, I’m referring specifically to expropriations, and other things which aren’t (yet) part of that debt figure. What I mean is, sitting down with company leadership and saying, “You could go to ICSID and sue us, and it will be a long, drawn-out process, where you will some day get a judgment in your favor. We’re asking you to skip that route and settle now for a smaller amount, preferably one that doesn’t require massive cash upfront from us.” Especially if they return those assets, we’re talking mostly about lost profits, which isn’t as painful. I agree on sending good messages. If they can allay those fears even partially, it would give room to renegotiate sovereign debt and get even more breathing room. But the scenario I just outlined, IMHO, is a real effort to take debt seriously, and would at least be a start in restoring Venezuela’s reputation.

      Roy, a five-year prediction makes sense, which is why I’m advocating a serious push rather than waiting around. It’s impossible to be certain what will motivate these folks – though I think the ones with stuff committed to Venezuela already will come around first – and a few agreements could snowball, speeding the whole process. Your point on Colombia is valid. Being a “junior partner” with Colombia could imply eating humble pie, but there’s no reason to think it would be permanent.

    • FT, I agree that size of debt is not unmanageable. I did some back of the envelope calculations recently and got some 36.4% debt to GDP. However, there’s one article in the dictator’s blue book (25) that gives the coming administration the right to renege on, basically, every deal made to date. Paying Chavez’s debt? Depends with whom was that debt contracted. The Russians, for instance, we can send packing, though every case will have to be judged on individual basis IMO, for Venezuela shouldn’t be carrying the burden of this irresponsible mofo for ever, especially when many of his actions weren’t properly consulted and approved.

    • Quico,

      “We’ll have to pay off Chávez’s debts. It sucks, but it’s like that.”

      We had this discussion before, and I have since had time to think about it. I think that if the Opposition collectively, using their quasi legitimacy of having gained 52% of the popular vote, announced that when Chavez is out of office, all debt incurred up to the date of the announcement is secure and would paid off, BUT that they would refuse to recognize any FURTHER debt beyond that currently in existence.

      It gives the investors fair warning: Invest further at your own risk.

    • About those who were expropriated, and those who want to invest further, and those holding IOU:

      How about SERIOUS tax exemptions for any investment they care to make. And absolutely no interference from Venezuelan bureaucracy.

      Plus an ironclad guarantee that their property will be respected, including, of course, exchange of profit and repatriation. That would include dismantling of every agency the chavistas have created for the contrary, including CADIVI and the INTI.

    • Bingo, loroferoz! That would work. It’s promising them something of value which doesn’t cost cash upfront, and will get something in return.

      That last paragraph, though, shouldn’t apply to just the expropriated. That needs to go for everybody.

  12. AIO, “because no reputable businesses want to do business with Venezuelans”. This reads better “because no reputable businesses want to do business with Chavistas”, it is not the same, not all Venezuelans are chavistas.

    Remember the reactions after April 11? I know of many people who were already planning to come back, the stocks were high, the sovereing debt was sought by investors, a lot of people thought that only removing Chavez was going to put Venezuela in a different path. Yes, more was needed to sustain that, but the markets wanted to see a change and I think they still do.

    If whatever new goverment that comes is able to create a strong alliance and bring in all the people who have been ignored, attacked and laugh at by Chavismo, and commit them to work to bring Venezuela back from hell, I think we have a chance and the investment opportunities will be there for those who bet on us.

    I choose to believe there are still options, or I will simply forget about Venezuela and read blogs about gun control in the US, a topic as depressing as Chavismo!

    • Moraimag,

      Outsiders don’t appreciate the difference between Venezuelans and Chavistas. All they know is that when they do business with Venezuelans, they run into problems, delays, requests for bribes, delayed payments, shady business, requests for false invoices, etc., etc…

      There is a saying in business, “You can’t play in a mud puddle, without getting yourself dirty.”

  13. Moiramag, those were Roy’s words, not mine. But I do think I understand what he’s saying. Let me put it a different way from how Roy did. Investors are afraid to deal with Venezuelans, because even the ones who know certain Venezuelans aren’t chavistas are afraid that the chavistas – or more likely, Chavez – will screw things up for them.

    Thanks for the point on April 11. I think there would be people willing to come back right away, not wait 5 years as Roy suggests. It’s definitely a tougher environment now than in 2002, but the market opportunities are certainly still there.

    • AIO,

      I know people who say the investors will won’t come back until Venezuela demonstrates 20 years of stability. I might have been too generous. However, I was referring to large-scale investment. There will always be small investors willing to take some risks early. In addition, many companies will spend a little to get their foot in the door and position themselves for the future. That isn’t the same as putting in the tens of billions of dollars that are really needed. Do you think Cemex is going to jump back in soon? I doubt it.

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