Marquise de Sader


Now that chavista Health Minister Eugenia Sader has shown the nation that sewing your lips, bleeding on the flag, going without food for 38 days, and crucifying yourself can land you a pay raise of upwards of 150%, the question we ask ourselves is: who is next?

What grotesque spectacle will result from the government’s next collective bargaining negotiation? Cops playing Russian Roulette? Cement workers swallowing nails? Electricity workers walking on hot coals? Court employees swimming with sharks?

The nation has a fiscal deficit even with oil at sky high levels, and the government spends like a drunken sailor. Perhaps the taxpayers should sew their mouths until the government shows some fiscal restraint.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


      • Taxpayer? ¿Cómo se dice eso en venezolano?
        55% of Venezuelans are street vendors, taxi drivers and the like, they have no legal job. They pay no taxes. Do you know the percentage of Venezuelans who do pay taxes in a direct way? You know what I mean. All Venezuelans in theory “pay taxes”. What happens in Venezuela is different. Some drill, Daddy State gives us what it has bought with petrodollars.
        Do 20% of Venezuelans fill in tax forms? 10%?
        I sincerely don’t know. Social contributions? It’s not felt in the same way. VAT? On what?
        On Mercal stuff? Most people do buy in Mercal…and Mercal is seen as a present…from Him Who Is In the Palace.
        Juan, you don’t have to convince me of your point. I beg you to imagine what Juan Pacheco in Guanare sees and knows.

        • You’d be surprised, Kepler, at how efficient the SENIAT is nowadays.

          Not too long ago, my cousins’ boss at P&G sold his apartment in order to buy a house in CCS. He deposited the money from the sale in his checking account while he waited for the new house to become available.

          10 days later SENIAT was in his office asking why he had 160,000 Bsf in his account that he didn’t have before. When he showed them that he intended to buy a house with it, they left him alone.

          During my last trip there, I couldn’t buy a pack of gum in a store without the “Cedula o RIF?” question being asked “para la factura”.

          Venezuela es otra, Kepler. In so many ways……

          • Roberto: I am talking about income tax.
            Just try to think about this: that boss is probably part of class A or B.
            An average Venezuelan does not pay taxes because he doesn’t reach that level.

          • And so am I, Kepler, in addition to VAT.

            Or do you think SENIAT went to this guys office just to chat him up?

          • Roberto,

            I asked a couple of persons how many people pay income tax in Venezuela. I honestly don’t know but I would say a minority. It doesn’t matter if we know a lot of them. Don’t you see we, whether we belong to a minority?
            Easy to see: I bet most of your friends have been abroad and have Internet access at home.
            Most Venezuelans don’t.
            So: let’s try to see how much those Venzuelans see…we need to explain them why this is going to affect them and we need to do that in an easy way.

        • People pay VAT on a lot of stuff. And ultimately, oil revenues are a tax on a resource that belongs to the people. I agree that people don’t see a link in Venezuela between what the government spends and where the money comes from, but that doesn’t mean the link isn’t there. It’s coming from your pocket – actually, from your kids’ pockets, given that we’re borrowing money from the Chinese to pay for these hikes.

          • Juan, I KNOW. And I have voted for the opposition every time and I took part in the Firmazo and I blog against Chávez .
            Don’t tell me. Tell that to Juan Pacheco…but mind: he , like 70% of Venezuelans, doesn’t have Internet access, so you hav to tell him that next time you go to Guanare or Calabozo.

          • Not to mention inflation tax, which is pretty steep in Venezuela, especially for the poor who is not able to protect from it very well by holding other assets.

        • This is a truly Latin American phenomenon and it explains why no one seems to hold governments accountable even as they bleed money. I’ve always figured that people that actually pay income taxes are very few in Central and South America. The rich find creative ways to pay as few taxes as possible, the poor (which constitute the vast majority in most countries) are exempt, and the middle class just gets screwed.

          It also explains why people view government as a source of benefits and nothing else. The notion that you’re somehow paying into those benefits is just not clearly understood. The idea that the more giveaways the government dispenses is detrimental to the taxpayer is also a completely alien concept. Money is there to be handed out to the vast majority that doesn’t pay into the system, ergo the instinct to hold a government’s fiscally accountable just isn’t there.

          • One caveat: income taxes are just one piece of the puzzle. Many people don’t pay income taxes, but they pay VAT. It’s the same thing, for all intents and purposes: they are taxpayers, and they’re getting screwed.

      • Pero esta gente ganaba una miseria, me parece un justo aumento… ¿Cuál otra solución estaba disponible? Es imposible vivir en este país con un sueldo de 1.394 Bs.F.

        • Nobody doubts it, but we can’t afford these hike rises (and the ones that will inevitably follow) without cutting other things.

          Muchos se merecen muchas cosas. Pero las podemos pagar?

          • Exactly, Juan. And giving out too much now hampers the ability to provide better – or even as well – in the future. Just look at Argentina for a fine example of how government handouts and authorized raises have not only helped limit upward potential, but arguably pushed the country into a generally downward spiral from which it is nowhere close to escaping.

          • Adry,
            No hay excedentes. Hay deficit fiscal. Eso de los excedentes es pura contabilidad – son excedentes sobre lo presupuestado, pero ya se los han gastado.

  1. High inflation, deficit spending, a wasteful government, government monopolies, no relation between tax intake ( oil included), services provided and voters’ attitudes, giveaways galore (included gasoline), exchange controls. Unsustainable.

    I really wonder how anyone with half a brain can bear to keep living in Venezuela. Put two and two together and unless you are earning more than you can spend or can exchange it all into a real currency real fast, you are royally screwed. If you don’t feel like that right now, wait a couple of years.

    My conclusion is that the system is headed towards a catastrophic failure. Tragically; warning about it, let alone suggesting actions to correct a bit of it are likely to result in all the other Venezuelans booing you into silence and your becoming hopelessly unpopular. Thanks for all the education in “papa de los helados” State social-silliness and sense of entitlement.

    Think of a crumbling building. Think there is people in it. That’s how Venezuelans will feel…

  2. “Los profesionales de nivel 1, nutricionistas, farmaceutas, microbiólogos, odontólogos, trabajadores sociales e inspectores de salud, con la prima de asistencia, transporte, profesionalización y antigüedad pasa de 1.484 a 3.681 bolívares mas la cesta tickets de 950 para un total de 4.280 bolívares mensuales”

    So, we are talking about raising the compensation of professional health care workers from an equivalent of about $180 a month to about $500 a month (I am using the approximate real market value of the Bolivar). What is amazing is that it took such desperate measures to convince the Government that such an increase was just and needed. And even at that rate, these workers will be hard pressed to support a small family on such a salary.

  3. Well, I am with you on the question who will be next? This again proved that only the most inhumane situations that threaten the goverment will force them to act. But my problem with it is not fiscal responsibility, because that is a term impossible to debate under this goverment, what makes me mad is the hyprocrisy of it all. That woman really couldn’t care less about the people that work for her.
    I see this things as positive becase it keeps putting the goverment in a corner and at one point they won’t be able to get more debt to pay these increases and keep giving money to rusia or any other country. So they will either not pay the workers or stop buying arms. They are trying to buy the votes for next year, let’s see if people really fall for it. At least it shows what that the goverment caves when things get tough.

  4. Los excedentes se van a Cuba, Petrocaribe, China oil discount, Chavez’ trips (three jets to Argentina), Ciudad Guayana companies, Covering EDC’s Bs. 1 billion loss.

    It is a shame that nurses make what they do or did.

  5. Juan

    I am green with envy that I did not think of a like minded title when I introduced that creep…..

    You are right, the more extreme the measures people take to protest, the less effective they will become. The only one that would work is to say “votamos pro usted presidente, pero ahora si no nos da lo nuestro empezamos la campaña para sacarlo en el 2012”. It is not that difficult, is it not? And yet go and find a union leader willing to say that loud and clear….

    Another example of the unspeakable inability of the MUD to lead….

    • Yeah, Daniel, how could you miss that? The title wrote itself…

      What gets me most is that the MUD has only opened their mouths – to demand the government spend even more money! That might make sense politically, but it just shows they are irresponsible hacks as well.

  6. Juan, I get your point. There’s not enough money for everybody and the government is deeply indebted. I agree: the government shouldn’t be all happy-go-lucky with the money. On the other hand, to complain about nurses, police officers or teachers getting a very needed raise is missing the point entirely.

    How can you say no to them when there’s a lot money spent on stupid or unfinished projects, subventions for the upper/middle classes and supporting political allies in other countries? That’s the kind of superfluous and stupid expenses that we should stop immediately.

    If we want to reduce the spending of the government, we shouldn’t penny-pinch the guys that DO actual work. We should be talking about letting go the useless bench-warming bureaucrats and paper-pushers that crowd PDVSA and all the ministries.

    In my opinion, given how awful our hospitals are, that 150% raise sounds about right…

    We can talk some other day about the perks public servants get and whether they are fair or not, but that’s something entirely different…

      • Of course I’m happy for the nurses, and of course I think they deserve it. What makes me unhappy is the sad state of fiscal affairs in our country. What can a responsible government do? Say, OK, we’re going to give the nurses a raise, but we’re going to cut somewhere else. That would have made me happy. But that’s not what happened, Instead, the country’s nurses (some of whom are deserving, but are we really going to vouch for all of them?) got a HUGE raise, without any visible concessions that I can see (other than the stuff they went through in the past forty days), and no cuts elsewhere. And who pays for it? Well, the Chinese now, and your kids later.

        How is this a good thing?

        • Sorry Juan but you sometimes speak like a true Republican and I don’t mean that as a compliment: “some of whom are deserving, but are we really going to vouch for all of them?”
          Really? With this goverment (and please think about what we really have and not how it should be) you want them to make the raise conditional to those who deserve it? You know how they are going to meansure that? Surely not by patient care quality, tenure or things like that, they would measure if you went to the rally and you have proved your revolutionary pedigry.
          So, no, in the current situation, it is good that they got that and, formally at least, they won’t be asked to “deserve” the raise. And with the meager salary they were making only showing up would make them deserving.

          • Well, excuse me for wondering how many of these nurses actually show up to go to work. I guess it’s easy to throw money around when it’s not your money. That’s not speaking like a Republican, that’s simply common sense.

            The rule of negotiating is that, in the end, it’s OK to give in, as long as you get something in return. What did the government (the public) get in return? Is there a commitment to better train and evaluate performance? Was there a commitment to look at our hospitals’ padded payrolls and see where cuts could be made? Did the union concede anything at all?

            La Venezuela Saudita pues, donde hay pa’ todo.

          • … and what’s wrong with being a Republican? sigh…labels, labels!
            Anyway, let’s raise everybody’s salary by 100%…no, wait, 200%…well why not a zillion percent? We’ll worry later about where do we get the money from. No, wait, we can print money. So, go ahead!

          • Juan, these guys have been working for 4 years without a raise. What else do you want?

            Something else: I listened an interview of a nurse man on the radio show of César M. Rondón and one of the things they were asking for was a salary scale that takes in consideration degrees, performance and time of service, because thee was no difference between a nurse with 20 years of experience or a newcomer.

            It’s true that we shouldn’t be spending money like it was 1978, but like I said before, there are probably half a million guys out there getting paid without doing a single useful thing. Those are the guys you should be ranting about.

          • Well Manuel, forgive me for the label if you find it offensive, I’ll try not to use it. But after having to see Obama yesterday releasing his long form birht certificate because f$%^ing 45% of republicans believed he wasn’t born in America, I am even less understanding of that lot than usual, and I usually don’t understand them very much.

          • So, just because of Donald Trump, anyone wishing for government to spend within its means is somehow labelled as unintelligible?

            MSNBC los tiene locos…

          • Yeah…only defence spending seems to be sacred for the Republicans…not for nothing Lockheed Martin contributes with 61% for the Republicans (and the rest for the Democrats, just in case)

  7. Since I do not have anything to measure the value added by these workers to their clients, nor the time they have gone without increases while costs increase, it is hard to know whether this particular raise is merited, or unmerited.

    In Canada where I live, though, there is a common idea that the government should provide a “best model” for labour negotiations; civilized, fair, peaceful.

    Crucifying oneself or sewing together of the lips depart from that model, I think.

    • “Crucifying oneself or sewing together of the lips depart from that model, I think”
      Well what would you have them do? Their labor contract expired 4 years ago or so and the government (their employer) ignored repeated requests for negotiating a new contract, like it has done to many different workers. The fact that they got larger raises than others is due to having their wages frozen to 2006-2007 levels!

  8. Guys and gals, I think you have fallen into a Chavista trap. Both sides are right. If there is no money, you should not spend more, but at the same time you have to pay a reasonable salary to those that deserve it. I think nurses in a public hospital deserve it, all of them, they have endured for too long working hard hours, without getting paid even close to a reasonable salary for their training.

    The problem is the allocation of resources, which is what economics is all about. Chavismo allocates under political and ideological principles, not economic ones.

    Thus, military spending, helping Cuba and give away programs are more important than keeping salaried workers happy, because these workers do not largely work for Hugo. Hugo’s constituency is the unemployed, the informal worker, the rural worker. These guys could care less about minimum salary, union contracts and the like.

    There is a third class, Venezuela’s nomenclature, the Government workers in Ministries, the military and the party hacks, those guys make more than university professors, who we know where they stand.

    It is simply priorities, no more than that. Chavismo is using a different set of priorities. Oh yeah, they will use the money from now until Dec. 2012 (or whenever) to give money even to the hopeless sectors, but they have low expectations that they will vote their way.

    Chavez destroyed the union movement and collective bargaining, it has been years since the Government has negotiated a contract, it is a strategy. You are all discussing a rational Government, a Government with rational policies.

    Venezuela does not have that. Ask PDVSA.

    • Whatever salary they might get that sounds reasonable enough, with the crazy system you outline, it’s sure that down the road it will not be that.

      Bottom line: Everyone who is not filthy rich (in hard, fungible currency) or getting a huge salary, is royally screwed. Untenable, and leading to some or other catastrophic and/or violent conclusion.

      Of course nobody can say that a full time employee who actually works should not get a salary to live on. Of course. the State should not impoverish everyone by both holding their money and acting irresponsibly.

      But the Venezuelan population still don’t get it and cannot imagine something better, and probably the MUD does not want to go into the electoral wastebasket, or else agrees with the system. Anyhow, excuse me for seeing no way out but a huge shock.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here