Priorities, Priorities


A version of this chart has been making the rounds on Facebook. I did the inflation adjustment.

Prof vs. Militar
In real term, a Venezuelan college prof makes less than a quarter of the money he made when this whole sad caper started. A milico makes over four times as much as he did in 1999.
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  1. Yes, but if officers made 1/16 of university professors in 1999, they’d be making the same salary today, according to this very chart. More data! We need more data!

      • Kind of an unfair comparison. After all, a new recruit requires minimal educational capital, whereas a professor has had several years of post-graduate studies and therefore is significantly invested.

        To make it apples to apples, it should be, at the very least, adjunct vs. new officer. If you want to target tenured professors, then a more realistic comparison should be career officers several years in.

        • To make it apples to apples, you should give a scholarship to secondary education graduates (bachilleres) studying sciences and following with post-graduate studies…

        • I agree, this chart is a very inaccurate and unfair, BTW there is more stuff out there to make a reasonable case, like how much money is being throw out with Maldonado, where he practically needed to have a new engine in every race!

      • A new army recruit makes a bit more than minimum wage (about 2700-2800bs per month) for doing essentially no work, except for the ones sitting beside power stations.

        A starting full-time college professor doesn’t make mpre than 4000 bs/month, and is required from him to. have a phd, teach at least one full-time course plus reseaech

        • How much makes a high ranked military?
          At that stage, they still do very little work, except stirring the ice of their whiskey at their over the top parties at the military club (circulo militar).

          • What, you think itś easy work lighting big cigars? Don’t forget that, coño, they’re not cadets!

          • I guess you’re right.
            It ain’t easy either to keep up with the high maintenance wives, all the fake blondes with fake nails and their blings and sparkles and their maids cleaning their sparkling marble floors and bronze railings.
            Oh, the military cast of Venezuela…….

          • Some assumptions of my fellow bloggers may need to be corrected . 1.- This has never been a military government , there are no military governments , just former military men who become politicians on taking over a government , true professional self respecting military men , with an institutional vision of their role stay in their barracks and dont meddle in politics . These military men turned politicians play on the prestige caudillos or strong men have in our culture . Sometimes military men take up public duties to serve their country like Gnral George Marshall in the US , like Gnral Guaicaipuro Lameda before being ousted from Pdvsa. 2.- Its been decades since Venezuela had anything resembling an authentic military caste , professional politicians dont want a military caste so they corrupt or collymodlle military men to make them bland career bureaucrats that toe the government line and have no genuinely military sprit d corp. If we still had a true Military Caste this blog would not exist !! Maduro would probably be living in Cuba and maybe we would have other problems, but definitely on a diffferent scale from those we have now !! Capriles has made it clear that there are true professiona military men who can be counted on to play their institutional role on the return of democracy to our country!!. I acccompany him in that belief.

          • Bill, in my experience, the military caste in Venezuela is a joke, a useless corrupted institution that’s good for nothing.
            Maybe in yours, you have had the opportunity to see some good inside of it and that maybe leads to to idealize the caste. That unfortunately is not my case.
            Just look at the “great” work they do in our borders…smugglers, drugs, garimpeiros, doing as they please with the National Guard blessing.
            Venezuela is a peaceful country that hasn’t been in a war with another country since the independence – hey, 200 years – and in my opinion, it will never be. If the “evil empire” would have wanted to invade us, it would have done it already. So honestly do you really think we need an army? Specially one like the one we have?
            How do you think our soldiers would do as part of the blue helmets of the UN?
            Let me also add that a big part of my ex-political family were in the military. I’ve seen first hand the over the top display of their “privileges”, nuveaurich at its best. They use the poor “reclutas” as servers at their parties, just because they can. As chofeurs, as butlers, as gardeners. Why? Who do you think pays for this?
            In my deepest thoughts I sometimes wonder if the only way to get this caste to learn something about really serving their country would be to go to war. To a real war, not the madeup ideological war of the chavistas in power.
            Your take on the venezuelan military is way too idealistic.

          • I agree with you Bill 100%.

            Real military understands the role the should be playing in a democratic society.

          • “Venezuela is a peaceful country that hasn’t been in a war with another country since the independence”

            I beg to differ, Cuban Army at the head of Fidel Castro, was successfully expelled by our professional armed forces back in the 70’s, Betancourt successfully crushed the invasion and asked to expel Cuba from the OAS. So yeah we were at war, it just so happens that the war end up pretty quickly. But the people were not properly educated about this.

  2. My dad did his MBA in the USA, as a starting University Professor, barely 800$ was his Beca-Sueldo; I had to do my Doctorate in my own University, currently I ‘m an Associate Professor (only left to be Titular, the highest position) and I make 938$ (6,30 per $) which really is 227$ (26 per $). Of course, I couldn‘t pay for my Tuition, being exonerated. You wonder why there are so few Doctor‘s and PhD‘s in our Universities? You need a considerable budget for books, software, among other resources, that your pocket has to finance. In the last 2 year as a Faculty Counselor (Consejero de Facultad) I‘ve seen professors quit because they‘re leaving the country, not only the Faculty. And the ones that are showing up to teach, that‘s the worst part of this story. Our Universities are condemned, Salary is just one of the many issues we have, but it has come to the point of just not resisting.

  3. the graph begs the question “why choose those 2 professions?” while maybe the idea is to show the effects of inflation on 2 different classes of society, it also tends to play into a chavisitas’ concerns about income inequity. i would suggest separating the data into 2 graphs, otherwise your argument becomes their argument.

  4. Thanks, Francisco. It’s an eye popper. I was just discussing with my sister about why there are virtually no charts in Venezuelan newspapers to show this kind of trend (except very seldom for comparing votes for two dates and parties).

    Although I support the professors (my dad was one and several of my best friends), I would rather compare the military caste with primary school teachers.

    The opposition should be talking about this in the bus terminals of every secondary city in Venezuela. With some comments on this (cars for the Casta de los Guerreritos)

  5. One should also the note irony that many of those same university professors provided the intellectual foundation for the Chavista Revolution (not all, of course, see above). Spread the wealth! Take from those who have, the corporations and the rich, and give to those who have none. Noble thoughts. Socially redeeming thoughts. However, history shows that in previous “revolutions” of the 20th century the very first to feel the repercussions of a newly installed socialistic government, promising social justice for all, were the very same people who conceived it in the first place, the intellectuals at the universities. Mao sent them to the farms/collectives and made them all read the ‘little red book’ for inspiration. Hitler threatened them with his thugs. Stalin simply killed em by the thousands. So, I guess having to take a pay cut might not be such a bad thing. But a little navel gazing might be in order…..

  6. Not mentioned but important is how many veteran university lecturers retire and keep on teaching just because they love teaching and believe strongly in the University’s contribution to Society even if their income barely allows them a living . Know from young relatives in the university now or in recent times how much the University depends on these ‘unpaid’ lecturers to keep going !! Many of them are among the best lecturers, Goes to show that not everyone in this country is motivated by greed or by selfish motives !! university professors not only must survive on miserly wages but they must work with minimal resources because the regime wants to financially starve the Universities into submission and convert them into propaganda vehicles for their brand of ideology and the fabrication of fake but loyal graduates. I have kin who are in this situation !!

    • bill bass, not that my opinion is so important, but it’s nice to be reminded that our separate ideologies say nothing about your accute sense of analysis.

  7. Please stop using the expression “begs the question” as if it were a synonym of “raises the question”. To beg the question is to assume as a premise in an argument the very thing you were supposed to prove. In other words, it is to make the fallacy of circular reasoning. Sorry for the interruption. Nathan

  8. Add to the chart that the average score on the IUPFAN multiple-choice entrance exam –of four choices per question– was less than 25%.

    • Lol! Oh man… tragicomic.

      I had a guy in my class once who got all of the 10 true or false questions in an exam wrong…

  9. Then y’all should see what the officers in the US make compared to the average worker and they get a very good pension and very good healthcare for life. Capitalism is corruption, some never learn and remain clueless.

    • Except, only 30% of the US population has 4 year degrees and those who do generally make more than the median pay of the average worker. And….well, a four year degree is required to become an officer (barring being co-opted through OCS, which means you have to be a pretty outstanding soldier, or more typically NCO, to get in this way…99% of the enlisted never see OCS without further education.)

      Your first year in, as an Lt? You make a bit under $40,000. Yeah, your healthcare is covered, and you do get a stipend towards housing (as you’ll be deployed someplace and have to find quarters somewhere in the world). Offset that with the possibility of being deployed someplace nasty like Afghanistan, Iraq, or the 38th parallel and you might think you are being a tad underpaid when there’s the possiblity of being killed or dismembered, and far from family, friends, and some semblance of normal life along with being constantly on call and having duty at odd hours.

      A few years later, if you reenlist after, say four years, you’ll likely have jumped a couple of paygrades and make it out of your “training” tours. Your pay will be closer to $60,000-$70,000. In all likelihood, you’ll be at or close to Captain. A close friend retired after 10 years as an O-4, a Major. He made just over $100,000/yr. True, he gets health and dental covered for life and some great deals through USAA, but he makes far more at 40 now through what he learned in the military (they also paid for him to get a masters in CS and EE) than he ever did while in service. For him, however, he is much more satisifed with the quality of life by not being sent somewhere overseas for months on end; instead he comes home at night and plays with his kids.

      People can elect to bash on the American military…even Americans. All things considered, though, given the penchant for the government’s liking of foreign wars on countries and (sigh) concepts, they make some pretty big sacrifices. I don’t grudge them at all. Comparing it to Venezuela which has mostly imaginary foreign foes and hasn’t fought a foreign war (and correct me if I’m wrong here) in a hundred years or so since they last picked a fight with the Dutch, of all people, is kind of silly. The comparison to capitalism doesn’t really stick, either, unless you really want to go on a rant about the military industrial complex, but how that pertains to the benefits and pay of officers is rather lost on me. I must be clueless.

    • What a stupid argument, University Professors in the US make good money, comparable to that of military officers, so your irrelevant comparison to the US is absolutely irrelevant, we are not talking about average workers here in this post. A tenured Professor in a sttae university in the US makes way over 100,000 dollars.

      • Wrong! According to the AAUP, an Associate Professor (tenured, in case that you are not aware of the US system of Assistant, Associate, and full professors) earns on average $84,275. I know some that earn less than that. I am not sure where you are getting “way over 100,000 dollars”.

      • Ah, how cute! He is trying to make a tu quoque argument, but doing a terrible job because the country he is pointing to pays educated people at a sane scalee, instead of paying fresh military recruits more than tenured professors. Nice try Cort, keep up the trolling I am sure you will get the hang of it some day buddy!

  10. As the wise chiguire said, university professors don’t overthrow governments. I find that the best lesson Venezuelan people will get out of these 14 years of nightmarish experience is that the fast track approach does not pay off. In other word words la “viveza criolla” of constantly cheating, lying and acting in connivance with others often fires back. I am somewhat optimistic after seeing political leaders from the opposition taking the high road against the advice of some dinosaurs (Arria and Ramos Allup, to mention two of the most conspicuous representatives of old “viveza criolla) and for the first time we are hearing a different message that does not sound either adecopeyano and much less like the thuggish chavista discourse. Better times are coming.

  11. I want to share this post of a colleague friend of mine in Facebook:

    “He aqui una anecdota mia, en el día de ayer me dirigía al Viñedo cuando en una alcabala de la policia municipal me detuvieron, el ciudadano policia comenzo su perorata con: sabe que hoy es 30, hay mucho loco suelto, tan secuestrando etc, etc, tengo que decir que por mi parte venía hablando por el celular sin cinturon de seguridad y aunque tenía mis papeles al día no cargaba la copia del seguro del carro, asi q el policía comenzó a enumerarme cuantas unidades tributaria deberían multarme 10 por esto 5 por aquello, etc, etc, justo cuando esperaba el sablazo… se le ocurrió preguntar que hacía yo, cuando le conteste PROFESOR UNIVERSITARIO, me devolvió los papeles y me dijo abróchese el cinturon, tenga mas cuidado y que tenga buenas tardes…… Así estamos señores, esto es 100% cierto no he exagerado en nada…“

    • He leido los comentarios anterioes, muy interesantes por cierto, pero el tuyo fue la guinda que faltaba para explicar la situaciòn de un profesor univesitario, si el fiscal pudiera te hubiese dado algo para el refresquito, porque hasta él tendrá mejores ingresos que tu, no es para reirse, es para reflexionar!!

  12. The university professors are just one of several groups of Venezuelans being persecuted by the regime , their academic credentials ,the importance of the job they do doesnt count , what matters is that they wont kowtow to the regimes ambitions to take over higher education , lower its standards and transform it into a machine for making mediocre but hopefully loyal youths into the recipients of a farcical education , ‘cereal box’ degrees and loads of purportedly revolutionary teachings. Because they hold on to their standards they get the same budget that they had from 6 years ago despite steadily climbing inflation . They are criminalized and punished because they wont allow their institution to be barbarized and colonized to serve the plans of Chavista clietelism . If you compare the history of the Universitys budget to that of any other government organization you can easily see the discrimination they suffer at the hands of the Regime . This is criminal, when a regime does criminal things it ceases to be legitimate , no matter if the electoral agency that they control says that their candidate has won a ‘free’ election

  13. We know that Chavismo places more value on loyalty than competence. They are all about keeping power, so of course, military officers are paid enough to maintain their loyalty to the revolution! As Daniel points out after seeing “Game of Thrones”, the problem with Chavismo is that nobody is taking care of the realm!

    • It’s actually worse, because not only is Chavismo undermining domestic production but they are depending more on foreign concerns to give them advice and perform tasks that domestic professionals already have or should have… and will lose as professional education deteriorates. It’s almost as bad as the “killing fields” of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, with the same effect but not murder (yet)!

  14. I had close connections to the Venezuela military from 1983 to 1998, my last visit to Venezuela. I stayed a few days at El Circulo and had toured many FAN bases with a now deceased Venezuela Colonel. My impression was that the military was underpaid and ignored. The bases were in bad condition. Chavez was right to raise salaries some but he overdid it.

    On the other hand, the military was very honorable back then. Soldiers had pride to be serving. Now there is a who gives a $hit attitude that starts at the top. This was Chavez doing also.

    • Well, then what does that mean? Do you think they are willing to shoot civilian demonstrators and opposition leaders?

    • There used to be a military ethos which prized values such as responsibility, order, discipline, honesty, comradeship, forceful leadership and an institutional respect for authority , . Remember a story a kin of mine ( a civilian) once told me . He sat with a group of retired, old school , formerly high ranking officers at a table in the Ipsfa cafeteria where they gathered to gossip banter and talk about old days , It caught the attention of my kin ( a civilian) that when a certain thin old man with the rank of liutenant colonel joined the table all would briskly rise up military style and welcome him with a great show of respect. My kin asked one of the old fellow how come the generals and rear admirals at the table showed such respect for someone they outranked , the response was that the man was a much respected officer whom ‘the politicians’ had never allowed to reach a higher rank , but that they knew his merits and felt honoured to recognized them . This was years ago . Doubt that the same spirit can be found in any military establishment today.

          • The ‘pure’ military model is hierarchical and places a high value on rules , discipline , organization, intra group loyalty and solidarity , task responsability and strict non questioning obedience of established authority . Its the predecessor to the modern corporate model which is the work horse of todays market economies . Its not a system that is meant to be used as a model of political life . In military life people are relentlessly trained in learning how to make decisions , how to organize and command , how to make things work before rising in rank, so authority is earned . Career progress is slow and subject to lots of control and constant evaluation . In a democracy politics are about being popular and charismatic , about being able to charm and inspire people and channel their disspointments , hopes and passions through speech making and theatrical gestures . about intrigue and backstabbing and the forging of helpful alliances. About the making of pacts and compromises The imposition of surface aspects of the military model to political life degrade and defame the core values of the model by having them applied in an enviroment which should work according to different rules . What the regime practices is a mongrel form of militarism , not the genuine article !! Caudillos and Dictators ape the ornamental side of the military ethos but radically betray its values . A true military man feels aboherrence at the chaos and corruption of traditional politics, that is the reason why sometimes military men have in Lat America taken over governments , because political life was so disorderly and ruinous that they felt something had to be done, but ultimately politics and power corrupted their ethos and they just became politicians who relied on force to sustain their rule . In turn because the passions of politics sometimes envelops all of society and political rulers want to take control of the military for their own partisan purposes, they intervene in military life with appointments and policies that corrupt the pure military model and transform it into a mirror of the corrupt and chaotic politics they practice . Our constitution with all its flaws recognizes an important institutional role for the military as do the constitutions and laws of most politically developed countries , the thing in Venezuela is that the military have become deliberately desinstitutionalized , transformed into party hacks with uniforms . Little known is how many german officers during the nazi period scorned and loathed hitler and nazism , but they lived under a system of totalitarian terrors where they were forced to become the stooges of something they hated. Also little known is how during the war the head of the italian occupying army in the balkans point blank refused the orders from Mussolini to round up the jews in their sector for delivery to the nazis with the words ” I cannot obey an order which brings dishonour upon our uniforms” ( this is reported by Hannah Arendt in her book on Eichman) .

          • Excellent points Bill Bass, and I would very much agree that these points are quite pertinent.

            However I do not agree with those who think we need to get rid of the military.We cannot compare Costa Rica with Venezuela.If the opposition wins it might need the military to assure that the “Chavistas” don’t stage a coup against a future opposition government.

            Costa Rica does not need a military up to this point because it has no need to defend itself against armed opponents of the government, nor does it have powerful neighbors that would require it to activate self defense.

          • Firepiggete : Quite agree with your comment , actually I was trying to argue ( in my own round about way) that the problem is not with having a professsional military corp per se, but with the corrupt politically disfigured form of militarism that the regime fosters . What we need to do is to reinstitutionalize the professional army and allow it to perform its true constitutional role.

          • Here’s an anarchist’s point of view: without a military corps, which use is debatable outside of expantionism, there can be no military corruption, arguably more harm than a non-corrupt military force is good.

  15. Apart from the problem of low wages to teaching staff. It is worth to consider the way the Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Educación Superior is conducting the conversations with Unions (Fenasinpres and others) that do not represent the majority because they were not elected. The president of Fenasinpres, Telémaco Figueroa, is also the President of the Consejo Legislativo del Estado Sucre They are discussing an agreement that would change universities into socialist entities. They are asking the traditional representative asociations of teaching staff to become a unique Union with administrative and general workers staff. You can read the proposed agreement in here

  16. The law as written would defenestrate the Universities as free independent institutions dedicated to Learning and the spread of knowldge and transform them into the subordinated tools of a sectarian government , bent on exercising absolute totalitarian political dominance over peoples mind and lives , a goal long cherished by our insatiable power hungry regime . They are in fact fascist following Mussolinis dictum ” every thing for the State, every thing within the State, nothing outside the State ” I expect that normalizing of budgetary funding to the universitites and the wages paid to teaching staff would follow upon the Universities acceptance of this agreement , so that ultimately its just a form of blackmail !! Its like their saying put on these shackles , renounce all free thought and speech and we will give you the funds you need !!

  17. Maybe we should kill two birds with one stone and train the military with the education of a professor. If they are soooo badass, they should be able to force themselves to squeze intelligent academic study into their time.

  18. Carolina : Sorry my response to you is so distant from your own comment but the mechanics of blog exchanges dictates the need for this discourtesy. first let me tell you I totally agree with your take on the current military establishment,, they are a sorry loathsome bunch , although I am more confident than you that there are some few among them which have not been contaminated by the awful rot that you describe. My own take is that there are even now military men that are honourable and professsional and who are just as incensed by the abuses and corruption that you describe as you might be, even more so because they see that as a betrayal of their core professional principles!! Second I repeat what I wrote previously that if there ever was a united military caste with a sense of their own separate identity, it ceased to exist decades ago..There is not now a military caste worthy of the name , all you have are isolated groups , bound by some past temporary sharing of common experiences or by some sinister sharing of venal or delinquent interests , largely unable to do anything but fend for their own interests in a very chaotic situation . In the old days the officer corp was much smaller , much more homogeneous in origin (andinos) , bound together by having followed a long career which had them work together in task teams many different times , more isolated from the outside influence of partisan politics or crooked gangsters, more professional . If they were still arround they would have put a stop to the nightmare we now live in . About the need for an army in a time in which there are no wars although I agree that the need for a large army is probably not there I am less optimistic than you about there being no need to have a small professional army to deal with such things as incursions from colombian or local guerrillas or groups of violent civilians wanting to create civil disorder. Also I think that its useful to have an organization which sometimes can deal on a non commercial basis with natural disasters , with engineering projects of national interests and the like and to have a reservoir of professionally trained managers who are not beholden on any partisan political views to take up certain sensitive public tasks. I dont have the space here to list all the things that an institutional army can do and which can be of use to any society . I understand and share your revulsion at the kind of military people that now appear in the news and to their connivance in corrupt and criminal activities .

    • Bill,

      We do not need any military caste, that’s for the Hindus with the Kshatriya. In fact: we do not need any caste at all.

      The military should not be more important than the people who take away the garbage or the farmers, the nurses, the biologists, the bakers, the construction workers, the electronic engineers or the cooks.
      And we cannot have 20000 castes anyway.

      • Kepler : Castes are a thing of the past and have no place in modern societies , be they military , religious , racial or occupational . Still people like bonding into subcultural groups and organizations that give them a badge of tribal identity which they can proudly identify with , Modern life is full of them !! Some of them quite frivolous or silly !! Thats just part of the human condition and it will never go away !! Even worse they love forming Belligerent Sectarian Movements that make them feel different and special and scornful of other men. If youre interested in the topic try reading Roger Caillois Le esprit des Sectes , wonderful read. .

    • Bill Blass. I thoroughly agree with you.Thankyou for your patient attention to detail.In Latin Americaa and in some African countries democracy has been in a stage of primitive development, and the military has refected this by not respecting election results.

    • Thank you Bill.
      After I wrote my answer, I read your other comment and realize that we actually agree in our views of the current military in Venezuela.
      Where we disagree is that you beleive in the need of the military as an institution and I don’t. What we need is a strong police force able to guard the borders and a strong, mature and educated civil society, and the only way to achieve this is through universal education.

    • There is nothing the military does in Venezuela that civilian institutions cannot do, and do better. The military as far as I am concerned is an overpriced insurance policy for rogues.

      • Canucklehead : Not sure civilian institutions would be as good in fighting guerrillas or armed uprisings or terrorism or violent mobs. Also an institutional well organized army can be really good at helping deal with mass emergency situations or supporting civilian authority in facing some special social challenges. Understand however that a long history of abuses by military men have made many skeptical about the lawful uses of an institutional decently motivated military organization in a free society . Cant blame them for that !! There is the added factor that very popular Enlighment/Romantic views of mankind postulate the possibility of rational education being able to transform all men into good dutiful peaceful citizens which is an Ideal which emotional appeal is universal and strong. Still for most of history and in most countries ( Venezuela among others) sectarian and criminal violence are an ever present reality which cannot be easily dispensed with, and , when least expected even in countries with admirable educational systems (Sweden , Great Brittain) the old ugly human penchant for irrational violence rears its ugly head. In old times some men wise to the ways of mankind coined the phrase “homo lupus hominem” , ( man the wolf of men) to explain that very human inclination to resort to irrational violence for even the flimsiest of reasons or even to indulge a certain thuggish pleasure in creating havoc and destroying things. I share your view that in a more perfect society the need for armies can and should dissapear , until we get there however the insurance cost of maintaining an well organized well trained institutional army is well worth the price . Please think of a recently installed president Capriles deciding to dissolve the army and rely on dialogue to appease the violent discontent of the Tupamaros and other such like Cchavista groups!! , . .

    • Bill, man you are on fire! I agree 100% with your comment.

      We need the army and for many reasons. I don’t need to explain because you already laid out the reasons very well.

      Even though I support the idea, that Venezuela should never give up having an army, for me the Venezuelan Army had become a corrupt entity, with so many pro cubans agents, and foreign agents from Cuba, Iran, Russia and the sort, that I wonder if we should take the drastic measure to abolish the army, while we rebuild the country, and create a new professional, apolitical army from the ground up.

      I think that is what we should be doing once a democratic government takes control of the country.

      • It might be my family has been completely adverse to the military for many generations.
        Only a cousin went to do the service because he didn’t see it other way. All the rest avoided it by any way except money or influences (which we didn’t have): we were studying, having a family to maintain, or like my grandfather, who escaped to the mountains for weeks until the Gómez troops had passed.

        The Army in Venezuela has been rubbish not since 2004, not since 1992, not since 1830, but since colonial times. And they have made us believe that without them we wouldn’t have had the independence. That’s completely rubbish. And those who suffered the most all the time were not the military.

        Now, I know it is very unlikely we can be without army. There is simply too much money and power involved.

        If we need an army, we do need to make it clear, as I said, that a soldier or a general are not a single atom more important, in any sense, absolutely in any sense, than
        a farmer, the garbage man, the engineer, the hairdresser, the teacher or the cook.

        I am sick and tired to hear about those “who risk their lives” and “los verdaderos hijos los próceres”.
        In reality the soldiers are not the most likely to suffer. And they are the ones who, together with a few other professions, deliver the least use for the country. Of course, they wouldn’t like to hear that but we need to make sure they know they are not more “special” than anyone else.

        And don’t come with “oh, but they are also professions who get excellent education” and “we can get the best education in the army, the do that”.
        People can do that exactly without any army.

        • Agreed, there should not be any privileges, or at least the state, the government should not prioritize the army over any other profession.

  19. I am a full Professor at the UCV ag school in Maracay. This particular Facultad seems to have been particularly kicked hard in comparison with the rest of the UCV, or at least the Caracas campus. There are serious divisions amongst the whole community, partly because of politics, and partly because of self interest. Amongst all there is a pro-government vs non government abyss, but it is complicated by poor management, corruption, and simply fatigue. For years we have been repeating to ourselves “soon we will grind to a halt”, we have trudged on giving classes notwithstanding ever dwindling pay, crumbling infrastructure and services, frequent blackouts and water shortages, painfully slow internet internet (when available), zero mail services, libraries turned into repositories of old literature, no or little access to current journals and databases. There is total impunity for maintenance staff, I mean total. They can do, or not do, what they want and simply nothing will come of it. There are dozens of dossiers on low-life workers gathering dust and cobwebs in the local Labour Ministry Inspectorate. Orders from above and staff knows it. Gardens turned into weed nurseries, rubbish of all sorts and sizes accumulating everywhere, paint peeling from the walls, mildew and mould growing in the classrooms, the stench from the restrooms can be assessed some 10m from the entrance. We do our own cleaning in office, labs, and neighbouring hallways. Corruption is rife in some areas with fleet services and the cafeteria being true black holes. UCV vehicles are progressively stripped until little is left in one area, and in the other the food that enters is not all served to the students, plus other materials and equipment also disappear or there is even sabotage of infrastructure. The same happens with Maintenance services ….. equipment that is painstakingly repaired breaks down suddenly. Goodness, someone replaced brake fluid with water in a tractor! A wall of silence. A wall of impunity.

    Printing services are now reduced to one ailing machine, just reserved for printing exams, nothing else. All bus routes are not working. Lack of lighting and crime make students (and everyone else) leave before night fall, trashing evening activities. Field trips, lab specimens, and lab regents are a thing of the past. The use of textbooks is nil, most students use their class notes or copy the ppt to study with. We were forced to take on more students but without the required infrastructure nor sufficient human resources. Quality of education has fallen significantly. But we have more students! The deficiencies of secondary schooling are so dismal that we had to create an extra semester of remedial courses that does not even count towards the degree. Unfortunately not even this is a guarantee of leveling their skills since students know that just by attending the remedial course they are “in”.

    Our student centre is pro-gov and they are setting up professors as the cause for their woes, even though our sporadic strikes started a couple of years ago approx. Others claim we practice burgeosie science, not at the service of the people. Etc, etc.

    The general atmosphere amongst colleagues is gloomy. Many are just counting the days for retirement, others changing their dedication so they may work outside campus, some trying to keep a low profile in hope they will not be noticed by any change of admin, some preparing to leave for good, pro-govs plotting and waiting for their reward. There are those that are dedicated to the current struggle but it is with a certain soberness … of no castles in the air, of whatever the outcome we are in for a hard time. My wife is a PhD, professor also, well versed in her area with publications in international refereed journals, but she is thinking of offering her services in repairing garments since enjoys sewing and embroidery in her spare time. Others sell fantasy jewels, cakes, etc., you name it … just to help ends meet. The situation even leads some professors into the darkside: accepting tips and gifts from students in return for “favours”, setting up undergraduate thesis production lines that look mighty suspicious, faking academic trips abroad for vacations, use of UCV symbols (and the little left of our materials and equipment) for private gain, and other misdeeds. Sure there still shining areas of academia in the alma mater but it is becoming an ever difficult and daunting task, and morale is not particularly abundant these days.

    In short the current situation is complicated. Certainly the larger chunk of the morass is due to the government´s policies against the universities, but for some things we must accept our share of responsibility. Unfortunately in the midst of this struggle for survival, self criticism as a community (meaning all members) is not to be expected.

    • Nebelwald, can I translate this into German and send it to the German newspapers and politicians interested in Venezuela?

      • Vorwaerts! It was not my intention to make it heart rending, but it seem the violins are wailing in the background. Thing is …. one’s perception of “normal” morphs in time. So this collapse has been years in the making, but now most of us are fed up. Hasta aqui nos trajo el rio.

    • Very moving. It’s hard to know how to react when one reads the words written above. A terrible situation.

    • These institutions have been the drivers of what little social mobility exists in Venezuela, and the so called ‘revolution’ is destroying them. It is tragedy.

  20. I dont know about the rest but I am very touched by Nebelwalds heart rending testimony of what s happening in the UCV agricultural Section in Maracay . Its an indictment not only of the regime but of how a whole people can become corrupted by the conditions it creates. I feel a sense of impotent rage on learning what they are going through and having to suffer the regime bigwigs haughty arrogant self sattisfaction in touting the merits of their fake and stupid revolution !!


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