Willie Neuman’s piece in the New York Times today on Maduro’s sabotage-obsession is a pretty good primer for people who haven’t been following the story. It bothers me a bit, though, that he barely mentions, in passing, the government’s obvious political rationale for making up outlandish tales that have no evidence to back them: deflecting blame for its own appalling record of neglect over the nation’s infrastructure.
To Venezuelans with dos dedos de frente, this is obvious, but perhaps it is less so for Willie’s readers stateside: the maintenance culture inside PDVSA and CORPOELEC has frayed badly over the last 15 years, leaving a brittle infrastructure that’s given rise to an appalling industrial safety record.
At CORPOELEC in particular, efforts to face up to the crisis have taken the form of a loosening of safeguards against corruption, leading to the Bolichicos scandals we’re all too familiar with. So not only does the National Grid suck, the billions spent to fix it are being looted.
In that context, it’s easy to see the role the Sabotage canard plays in deflecting blame, at the same time it short-circuits any chance that the government will use major accidents as a prod to beef up its prevention efforts. But if you don’t put that argument to readers, what are they supposed to just guess?