Apostate chavista document gets a lot right

0
Someone's not following the herd
Someone’s not following the herd

Spanish journal ABC leaked a fun little chavista document that paints a true portrait of the dire state of the economy. From reading it carefully, I have an idea of who wrote it. I was also told from a trustworthy source that it is a legitimate proposal currently making the rounds inside chavismo.

ABC focused its story on the most alarming aspects: warnings of scarcity, inflation, and a real danger of social unrest. However, I think what’s most interesting is what it proposes.

The document has a bunch of crazy stuff in there. It idealizes the Communal Councils’ ability to provide public services in a productive manner, and it thinks Venezuela has a chance to get right what the USSR, with its massive amounts of human capital, couldn’t. It also thinks the tax burden on Venezuela’s private sector is low, which it is not.

But there is also a genuine concern over the roadblocks currently hampering Venezuela’s productivity, along with some proposals that I (man bites dog!) wouldn’t necessarily disagree with.

Among other things, it proposes:

  1. Raising the price of gas, decreasing the subsidy … which it curently values at US$ 24 billion, or 6% of GDP.
  2. Reconciling with the private sector, and even (gasp!) forgiving them.
  3. Investing heavily in public transportation.
  4. Macroeconomic policies that foster public and private investment.
  5. Providing state-owned companies with the incentives to become productive, a la Chinese or Spanish cooperatives.
  6. A floating exchange rate.

Oh , the heresy. I wonder what radical chavistas will think of it …

1 COMMENT

  1. Is Maduro going to be Cuba’s Raul? With a more pragmatic approach towards the economy-knowing that he doesn’t have the charismatic power Chavez had to do whatever the hell he wanted with the country and more importantly, having people blindly following him regardless.

    OT: I wonder what you guys typed in google images to find that picture hehe

  2. I think this bit was dedicated to Caracas Chronicles:
    “Desde luego que el nuevo sistema cambiario implica que PDVSA debe volver al esquema anteriorde proveer al BCV de los dólares para el mercado cambiario. FONDEN debe trabajar en bolívares,otorgados desde el Ministerio de Economía y Finanzas, para clarificar la acción de la política económica del Estado, tanto en sus gastos redistributivos como en su endeudamiento. Estos dólares son imprescindibles para el funcionamiento de la economía productiva privada, social ycooperativa, que representa en la actualidad alrededor del 70% de la economía productiva del país. Una medida de este tipo, en este contexto, va a bajar el nivel general precios (tasados la mayoríahoy a dólar libre), de hecho, paradójicamente, pues va a implicar una importante provisión de productos e insumos importados, aumentando la oferta interna, muy represada hasta ahora, y sobre todo, que provee de insumos ridículamente limitados por cálculos y procedimientos burocráticos totalmente innecesarios, que ponen, por ejemplo, a miles de ascensores a pararse por falta de un tornillo importado especial no incluido en las provisiones burocráticas”
    I lovehow they tiptoe or complete ignore around the fact that most of the economic policies denounced as crazy in the document were created, cheered or supported by Chávez.
    And the evangelical Christian rhetoric about forgiveness is hilarious:
    Jesús de Nazaret vino a curar a los enfermos y los desvalidos. Fue criticado porque frecuentaba publicanosy pecadores. La revolución, como lo decía el Comandante Chávez, vino para atender y empoderar a los menos favorecidos. Pero también debe ocuparse de los enfermos, que lo son no solo físicamente, sino también mentalmente. Es claro que el querer acumular riqueza sin límite es una enfermedad, producida en gran parte por el miedo y la esclavitud de la ostentación, en un contexto del imperio de un mercado inclemente, como parte de la ideología superestructural. Parte importante del sector privado productivo también tiene mucho miedo por concepciones equivocadas sobre lo que la revolución bolivariana significa. Todo esto hay que comprenderlo sinceramente, y propiciar las condiciones para que esa enfermedad pueda ser sanada, en particular, la parte del miedo que tiene que ver con lo que queremos hacer en el país desde el gobierno. Nosotros también hemos tenido miedo, esto hay que reconocerlo, pues la agresión a personas, y a grupos, aunque sea reactivo, también refleja ese sentimiento, que produce inseguridad de sí mismo. Eso podemos
    mejorarlo sentándonos a conversar, y derrumbar mitos y mentiras sobre lo que realmente quiere cada quien. En esto nos daremos cuenta de que hay mucho lo que podemos hacer en común por el mutuo respeto y provecho, en favor del país como un todo inclusivo.
    Pero lo primero que necesita la sanación, pues, no es agresión, ataque e incomprensión, sino
    comprensión, inclusión, tolerancia, paciencia, persistencia. Esto ha hecho mucha falta, y es el
    momento de hacerlo, no solo por interés, sino por convicción. Y es imprescindible que cambiemos la política mediática para no descalificar, ofender, burlarse o irrespetar a las personas que no opinan de la misma manera, sino entrar al debate de ideas, pues si no, se cae en las espirales de odio personal en que hemos caído, comiendo casquillo por cada ofensa, incluso personal, que recibimos de gente a la que llamamos enferma, sin comprenderla y sin ir más allá, cayendo con ello, básicamente, en la misma enfermedad de pagar con la misma moneda, ojo por ojo, diente por diente. Curar a un enfermo requiere un esfuerzo de paciencia, tolerancia y, sobre todo, amor, al que estamos obligados. Esa es la consigna principal de los revolucionarios.

      • If you take out the crazy bits, the part about the comunas being part of the solution, it would read as a major denunciation of the craziness of the economy in the last few years and the failure of the government This bit in the part about raising taxes is a gem:
        “Lo que ha hecho el gobierno del Comandante Chávez ha sido simplemente usar la renta petrolera para saldar algunas deudas sociales impostergables y explosivas. ”
        Not really revolutionary

      • Communals are not necessarily crazy. At one time, they were the main source for agricultural products in Israel. However, they should compete with private business, and not be protected. They either produce or they fail!

  3. As the economy worsens hitting peoples daily lives more a more , and the regime starts fearing the dissatisfaction which follows there will be two kind of Chavista responses , one which calls for a radicalization of the states intrusive and coercive intervention of the economy and peoples lives and the other a call for a change in governments handling of the economy to make it efficient and competent including in some cases the opening of the economy to both increased private and international participation and some backtracking on those policies which have backfired in their intended results : Maduro is much more likely to follow this second route than Chavez ever was, because Chavez was so narcicistically full of his omnipotence and his hability to manipulate things with his core constituency that he would have seen any ‘correction’ as an humiliating loss of face .
    I bet we’ll start seeing more of this kind of revisionist view as time passes . Maduro has already announced a mission to make the revolution more efficient which is a clear recognition that things arent going well with their handling of the economy or government services

    • Didn´t Chávez create a new ministry for efficiency? Now the solution is to create a Mission (Ironically one of the most inefficient and unaccountable programs created by chavismo to supervise … efficiency and accountability)? Chavismo call itself Bolivarian, but sometimes I think its really dadaist.

        • Actually looking back at some press clippings the Ministry was not in charge of improving the efficienty of governamental agencies but of monitoring their activity in order to check whether they were faithfully following Chavez orders , thats why the job was given to the official running the presidents office. If any efficiency was involved it was efficiency in obeying Chavez . What Maduro’s Mision purports to do goes a bit further , to it seeks to intervene from the outside those government agencies or programs that have efficiency problems .

          • Bill,
            You cant create a ministry mission or anything to make an extremely incompetent and disastrous government more efficient, if you want efficiency you need to hire efficient and capable people to run the state and fire the incompetent ones. And it’s not like that this is incompetent people poorly executing a brilliant government plan. In fact, most Venezuelans have to thank that they are so incompetent in implementing many of the craziest chavista policies. First you would have to fire the whole cabinet and implement new non-crazy policies and hire competent people to run the state.

          • Maduro will likely name a new Ministry to monitor the Ministry charged with monitering the efficiency of the other Ministries. You must remember that this Government/idological system is a lost cause, currently run by a nincompoop even more incompetent than the incompetent Chavez, and that Venezuela already has a low-ball official 2.5 MM Government employees, whereas Chile only needs 100M to run its government..

    • And somebody over at DE already explained the metadata indicates the user “felipe” and usage of LibreOffice as the office suite used to create the document.

      • I found a video on youtube of a speech given by mr Pérez-Marti, very similar to this document. I had no background on him, but is seems to be a very able economist, educated in Chicago, leaning old communist ideals to the new open-source environment.

        Was he kicked out of the Chávez government? He seems to know his stuff very well and as a liberal I find many of his remarks about the Venezuelan economy spot on.

        He seems to be an interesting character. I’d be glad if he would give some advice to our leftist government in Brazil, which has adopted the failed protectionist/developmentist course of action and has a general scarcity of intelligence on its ranks.

  4. I have not read the thing, Juan, but your pointers are pretty good.

    It is about time that someone do something about the state of affairs in Venezuela!

  5. Many Chavistas must know what is not working. Maybe, there is a “third road” developing, where a more pragmatic form of Chavism may break away? Interesting!

  6. If Venezuela had comprehensive, decent quality, affordable, public transportation, it seems to me that raising the price of gas would be a politically viable option. It seems incredibly obvious. What a missed opportunity.Maybe if they travelled less by plane and helicopter, the chavernment higher ups would have had some time in traffic to reflect on this issue.

  7. Guys, did you read the document?
    The guy refered something that came to my mind as soon as I read Juan’s description of it:

    NEP

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Economic_Policy

    Not that Chavismo is nearly anything like Soviet socialism but this is the mindset this guy has.
    He and some others will be trying to have at least something similar to what they nebulously think is what Lenin had in mind.
    “Forgiveness” for the burgeoisie is only for consolidating power.

    While there was a temporary liberation, it was done so in order to avoid scarcity and let key industrial sectors recover. At the same time – I am not saying they will manage to do anything of this – the Soviet government carried out an extensive campaign to portray the private sector as thieves, leeches…and yes: at the same as thousands of Russians were becoming rich, they were getting quite some reputation…which helped the Communist party (primarily Stalin) to create the right climate to expropriate those “capitalists” completely and get rid of them by 1928-29.
    I am not saying anyone of them will see themselves as trying to be a new Stalin, but they somehow do manage to produce a botched, caricature attempt at Soviets’ ways.

    In any case: don’t ever trust these guys. They will ultimately only want the total power for themselves.

  8. I find the following excerpt hilarious: “Para tener un gobierno sostenible, pues, hay que revisar las leyes y regulaciones sobre los ingresos fiscales no petroleros, y ponerlos a los niveles, por lo menos, y en forma progresiva, en un contexto político y macroeconómico que favorezca la inversión privada, de los países más atrasados en términos de revolución socialista, como lo son Colombia y Chile”. So… the way for a more sustainable government means having to follow the route of “backward” countries like Colombia and Chile?

    • Makes sense if you believe socialism is the evolution of the economic order. Mr Marti seems to believe that open-software and the new economy where workers have their interests aligned with their companies is socialism. I don’t care how he calls it and I am all for it.

Leave a Reply