Ipostel-cation Breakdown


ipostel635-630x300Isolation has become the keyword in Venezuela: the heavy debt owed by the government to foreign companies, from airlines to credit card companies and any number of service providers are causing serious problems to both the country’s economy and its reputation.

The telecom sector is no different, as national postal service Ipostel has put on hold all deliveries abroad until further notice. The thing is that those deliveries were limited only to major markets like the U.S., Colombia or Spain in the first place. Sources quoted by El Universal said that all deliveries to 29 other countries have been suspended since February 7th.

The official excuse is that an “excess of dispatches” has collapsed Ipostel’s distribution centers and the service will be resumed soon. It might take some time to clear out the undelivered backlog that has built up since last December. All 25 tons of it. Other versions put the blame on the large ongoing debt with international airlines.

But this brief announcement was just the breaking point for Ipostel’s workers, who have now declared themselves on strike. They want the postal service to be “intervened” and the full removal of the current board. They also demand the discussion of their collective bargaining agreement, which expired 22 years ago. Or isn’t that twenty-three?

A basketcase in the best of time, Maduro-era Ipostel is a proper disaster. It has no offices at all operating in at least fifteen of Venezuela’s 24 states. Ipostel staff denounce deplorable working conditions, the decline of basic services, financial mismanagement and the loss of major clients. Both active and retired workers complain that the current president Carlos Joa Vásquez is “destroying the postal service”, but the government has refused to sack him or the board.

Perhaps they should try what a group of Corpoelec’s workers did  and personally surprise Nicolás Maduro himself. It kinda worked. Sort of. For a time.

Almost two years ago, I wrote about Ipostel’s alleged “relaunch” and how the agency needed to reevaluate its purpose. Now we know than that effort went nowhere and the overall situation is worse. Ipostel’s fate is tied up more than ever with the actual state of the economy, so any chance of starting over or a serious reorganization is likely on stand-by.







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  1. An anecdote from my past job: I was working as head (In Charge) of a small meteorology research department in the most recognized and older research institute in my country, we purchased two satellite image receivers (for direct readout of weather satellite pictures), we arrange the paperwork, payment in advance to the provider and after that the receivers were on way…but for some unknown reason for us, the parcel was never delivered to our institute (despite the address was exact and clearly marked by the sender), so the parcel spend a unknown time resting in the mail service and later was mailed back to the provider…in Germany…

    The provider send to us a email asking why the receivers were not delivered (the parcel was labeled [in Spanish] by our mail service stating undeliverable because was a “unknown address”, so the German provider was unable to understand the reason…), we arrange (and pay!) another shipping, this time using FedEx or something like that..

    Finally, the equipments reached our lab…9 months later…after crossing the Atlantic three times….

    • Am reminded of an anecdote from many years ago , An acquaintance was made head of some post office position and decided to improve the level of the mail deliveries by hiring young people with a high school degree , the result was a marked improvement in the number of deliveries and in the timing of those deliveries .

      Unexpectedly older mail employees rose furious to complain that ‘those young people’ where ruining the lives of ordinary mail employees by imposing on them a level of performance which wasnt ‘natural’ . Some time later the experiment came to an end .!!

      Indolence and irresponsability are very common in our country so that jobs never get done or are done with inordate delay or neglect . The culture is one which teaches people to feel that working is an imposition and an humiliation that people must fight passively- aggresively every step of the way.

      • “The culture is one which teaches people to feel that working is an imposition and an humiliation that people must fight passively- aggresively every step of the way.”

        That is the “cultura de la viveza”, or as El Chigüire Bipolar said once, the gen of “viveza” is really the gen of being an asshole -> http://www.elchiguirebipolar.net/22-10-2013/descubren-que-el-gen-de-la-viveza-criolla-en-realidad-es-el-gen-de-ser-un-mamaguevo/

        That’s the culture gutter that has sunk this country to where it’s now, the thought that “working is only for the stupid faggots” (“el trabajo es para los maricos pendejos”) while the “vivos” go and just step on the others to get what they want.

        The chavismo is the government of the “vivos”, who won’t hesitate to do anything to keep their power and fortunes.

  2. at least they weren’t stolen. I stopped my national geographic subscription we had in the family for 30 years, because they just simply stole them when they arrived…

    • “…at least they weren’t stolen. I stopped my national geographic subscription we had in the family for 30 years, because they just simply stole them when they arrived…”, Well, at least they not were stolen *at that moment*…my former unit was complete dismantled and everybody fired in December 2012 without a single official explanation from the Chairman or any other Board member ….but we *know* the real reasons….weird…

    • I remember once receiving a letter from abroad, and the stamps had been carefully cut from the envelope. In that postal worker’s mind, it was apparently OK to violate another person’s private mail to add to their personal stamp collection. But rather than just discarding the violated letter, they let it continue to its destination…

  3. The suspension of letter deliveries abroad has been happening for several years now. Only that now the time was even longer than usual.

    Bill Bass’ anecdote is very descriptive of what happens.

    I have written in previous posts about this: when I was a child I followed the whole end of the East Block through letters from friends in several Eastern European countries. I also had a little post from Canada and my parents from Canada and the USA and Colombia. From letters of friends in other countries around the globe I could see how IPOSTEL crumbled down. It started to degrade during the Chiripero time (no surprising) but Chavismo simply destroyed IPOSTEL, Chavismo took it to a terrible condition already after a couple of years of Chávez being in power.

    This very fuzzy, low quality picture I took at the end of December 2006:
    It was from an Ipostel office. One poster is about a letter of Bolívar from Jamaica and the other about a letter from Chávez. The personality cult was already full blown.

    Certified packages to Europe would only arrive if you called the service after several months…it seems they then would check the package (which was in Maiquetía) and decided to send it. This happened time after time.

    A friend traveling with me in Venezuela in 2006 wanted to send postcards to Europe. There were three people in charge at the office but they had to attend only us. All three were dealing with my friends’ postcards. One woman went to fetch the stamp book. Another woman was giving orders to her and went to look for the book of fees, which she gave to the guy at the counter, who started to open it, then started to move the pages ever so slowly. My friend, a Flemish girl, was completely enthralled by the motions. She whispered to me: “oh, my-God! It’s really like a slow motion film! This can’t be true!”

    The guy in charge of trying to find the fee was having trouble. I asked him if I could check it out for him. He became annoyed by my suggestion but, fortunately, he saw that one of the postcards my beautiful friend was sending was from Cumaná and he was from Cumaná. He told her he was from there. She said it was a beautiful country and he was so happy and he gave me the book to challenge me to find the price. I opened the book and after a few seconds I found the page and pointed with my fingers to the price.

    I don’t know how many months passed until our postcards arrived.

    My sister sent me a postcard in 2011 that took 6.5 months. Others have been taking 3 months only when they used to take 2 weeks at most in 1982-1992. Last time my sister went to the office at the start of 2014 they told her already there was already a backlog in Maiquetía. Fees were extremely low but then those are items that don’t get adapted to our obnoxious inflation.

      • I honestly hope no member of the Gastropoda class is reading this post. Any snail would feel terribly offended by your statement. I hope you understand Homo sapiens are much bigger, they should be doing it faster than snails. In Venezuela that is not the case.

    • Not only that if you do get the package, it doesn’t arrive to your address, you have to go and pick up at their central in a sketchy part of Caracas, after paying a fee at the Bank. It’s ridiculous. Ipostel ceased to be a working mail service years ago. Now employees who are paid not to deliver mail, who do not provide a service to anyone and cost a million to the state want to make more money. I´d shut down the thing completely or sell it to someone who actually knows how to deliver mail.

  4. From a collector’s perspective, I guess this turns on its head the general notion that a stamp with a postmark is less valuable than mint condition.

  5. A friend of mine reorganized the post office in the early 90’s because back in the 70’s and 80’s it was unbearably slow.For a while it improved a bit only to fall again with Chavez.

    Just another example of general problems.When people in Venezuela obtain a post through contacts, they do not have to be qualified for the job, not are they made accountable.

    Does anyone care that people who are not qualified and who are not accountable are running things?

    Not much….few people seem to care enough as long as THEY themselves are doing okay.

  6. The whole state of affairs is beyond belief. Utter incompetence plus corruption plus lack of accountability. Sums up a lot.

  7. I went to school in the US in the 70’s, before the internet era. My parents didn’t have a phone at home so we always communicated via regular mail. We exchanged letters, pictures, presents by mail. Service was always acceptable. After I graduated I tried to keep in in touch with my US friends, but the mail services kept, slowly but surely, getting less efficient. Years later I moved back to the US and thank God for internet because by then the postal service could not longer be trusted. After the Vargas floods NONE of the letter I sent ever made it to their final destination in Venezuela.

    Another thing that has always fascinated me, and which I wrote about a while ago is the address system in Venezuela. How can a postal office worker efficiently mail a letter when the address reads eg Av. Fc de Miranda Res Carmen, Chacao. Would this be at this or the other end of Chacao? Would it be on this or the other side of the street? Why can’t street addresses have numbers like most everywhere on this planet?

    Because the mail system doesn’t work, companies rely on motorizados to deliver their correspondence. This adds to the already collapsed roads/highways., increase air/noise pollution, etc.

    • In Costa Rica, addresses are even worst than Venezuela, they are not formal, addresses are something like 500 meters east of Taco Bell, and the post service works very well. So what’s to blame is the terrible mismanagement, not the address system.

      • Not to say a word about Japan, whose addressing system is a wholesales medieval nightmare dating back to the Meiji era, yet has one of the most efficient and reliable post system in the world.

        • That’s because they hire people who actually KNOW where the adresses are located.
          It’s the same thing with cab drivers, you call for one, and god forbids the guy that’s gonna pick you is from the neighbor city (Cabudare & Barquisimeto for example) because the guy’s gonna take like two hours doing a 30-minute trip to where you are, because the only skill they considered to hire him was “having a car”.

          Note that “actually know how to properly drive” doesn’t seem to be a requirement for these folks, as one time I saw how a cab driver literally pushed the poor car until its engine burnt out.

          The ignorance in addresses happens even with private companies, MRW for example did that to me a couple of times, until I basically had to go their agency and shout the courier that he was a fucking moron for not wanting to go two blocks more and do his job. Strangely, all the stuff that I got sent to my address arrived with zero problems later, meaning that somehow a lot of people in this country not only thinks that their work is some sort of punishment / humiliation torture, but that customers have to actually put their jobs in risk so they can finally move and do the job.

  8. Sometimes slow mail is good 🙂

    While I was in USB 1988 I was dumped by my girlfriend. From the pain, I had the need to write a ‘de profundis’ letter to unburden myself from the breakup. But I was also aware that immediate contact would just inflame the situation. Being a frequent customer of Ipostel due to my family living abroad, I f dropped the letter in their office at Plaza de las Americas. It arrived in Alto Prado 5 weeks later!

    And this was just perfect timing for my emotional rebound.

    Thanks Ipostel!

  9. My school in the US sent my diploma by mistake to my address in in Venezuela. After 1 month I just called back saying it did not make it and was sent again but this time to a PO Box in the US. It took 2 weeks.
    After 7 months I got it through IPOSTEL, in perfect shape I would say.
    I read once that country development potential is proportionally related to the post service efficiency. Lets be honest, IPOSTEL was not good back in the 80s and it is not a Chavista era problem. It is something that got worst as every simple aspect of life, revolution my ass, this is just La Cuarta in steroids.
    I have a friend that always push me to move from here and his main argument is “how can you do better in a country where a simple letter just can’t be delivered from Altamira to La Trinidad without hiring a private company” I just can’t argue against that.

    • But let’s put things in perspective. I for one used the post hundreds of times in those years – mostly to Europe and then North America. The average letter from Valencia (upon Cabriales) to Caracas would take one month but

      1) a normal letter from the post office in Venezuela to Moscow, to Prag, to a village in Bulgaria, to London (Ontario, Canada) or
      2) a normal letter from the same places to a mail box at the Valencia mail office
      would both take about most 2 weeks.

      From 2 weeks to 3 months in average and, as I mentioned, up to 6 months plus…well, there is some difference.

      Try to send a normal letter from Western Europe to California or the other way around and it always tends to take more than one week.

      So: back then it was pointless to send letters in Venezuela but it was not that bad if you happened to send letters abroad or you had a mail box at the post office from where you would pick up your correspondence.

        • Compared to Venezuela under Chávez-Maduro, services were working much better.
          We could even drink tap water in Valencia and not drop sick! Can you imagine that?

      • Until some 4 years ago, I was sending a postcard from the US to Venezuela once/year just to see how long it’d take to get here. I did that for a few years. I’m still waiting for the first card to arrive.

        • You are actually sending it to a normal address?
          Funny thing: two years ago I sent two postcards from Alicante, Spain, to a place in Belgium and to a friend in Eastern Caracas. The one for Eastern Caracas didn’t arrive. On the other side I sent a card to Los Guayos, a poor city next to Valencia, and it got there.

      • Try to send a normal letter from Western Europe to California or the other way around and it always tends to take more than one week.

        Nope. It takes two to three days. And mail forwarding, that I’ve had to use quite a few times, moving back and forth between Europe and the West Coast, typically takes a week for bulk mail to make it through North America and the Atlantic.

        One of the main problems of Venezuela is very low expectations.

  10. In 2010 I offered to send to Juan’s father in Maracaibo a photo-CD of an old family album pertaining to the Germans in Maracaibo around 1910. Despite multiple admonitions to the contrary, I figured a $5 gamble/experiment on Ipostel would be worthwhile. It took two months, but the CD successfully made it from Washington, DC to Maracaibo in the regular mail!

  11. Mail service tends to improve in december as time comes to collect aguinaldos , the friendly smiling postman appears with a bunch of letters leaving a card with his name on it, so you are reminded of his friendly existence !!


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