The Opposite of Credibility

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Once every great while – it really doesn’t happen often – the Venezuelan government will have a decent policy idea. During his State-of-the-Union style Memoria y Cuenta speech, for instance, Nicolás Maduro actually announced his government would raise gasoline prices from the current, batshit crazy level of basically-zero.

It wasn’t much of a bone thrown to the dogs of sanity, but hey, when you have to sit through three hours of crazy, any gesture in the direction of basic rationality is welcome.

So what’s happened with that since? Exactly nothing. At all. The topic was talked about once then quickly forgotten.

Nor is it the first time. According to Efecto Cocuyo’s tally, Maduro has made similar noises at least five times in the past, stretching all the way back to December 2013. At this point, no es que si me vas a subir la gasolina, es que si quieres que te cuente el cuento del gallo pelón.

In retrospect, though, the signs were all there. There was no detail in the original announcement: no timeline, no figures, no revenue projections, no new price levels, no communication strategy, no plan.

Right after his electoral drubbing on December 6th, Maduro said he would ask military officers to return to military duties, reserving the civilian posts in the government to, um, civilians. Again, not exactly earthshaking, but, y’know, a move in the right direction. Then…nothing.

One month later, Maduro announces a new cabinet strewn active duty military officers in charge of agriculture, lands, fishing, food, borders, the interior, justice, housing, electricity and – of course – defense.

It’s genuinely hard to figure out why this happens. At times Maduro seems to be knee-capping his own credibility purely for sport. How else do you explain this pattern?

Maybe I’m missing it, but I just don’t see in what imaginable world announcing you’re going to do these things and then not doing them holds any kind of political advantage for him.

Is this a question of indecision? Does he just fail to think through the consequences of these decisions? Or is it that he lacks the power to actually carry out things he’s announced? But then how can he have the power to announce them in the first place? I’m genuinely mystified.

One thing I know: this sets him apart from Chávez. Say what you will about that guy, but one thing you can’t deny: when he announced a policy, he pretty much always carried it out.

29 COMMENTS

  1. You say: “One thing I know: this sets him apart from Chávez. Say what you will about that guy, but one thing you can’t deny: when he announced a policy, he pretty much always carried it out”
    Right. However, this could be a blessing in disguise. Chavez announced his crazy ideas and went ahead and put them in practice.
    This clown doesn’t do anything he announces, the good or the bad.
    There is no decent alternative to his resignation. A National Front should be put together to ask formally for his resignation, for a government of transition and for new presidential elections by the end of this year. In parallel to the work of the National Assembly, obtaining the support of the international Community this could become a formidable pressuring tool.
    As CAP used to say:
    Manos a la Obra
    .

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  2. I think it’s a sign that Maduro is not in control of his own government.

    Having said that, I read to day that Del Pino is offering a “plan” to Maduro related to raising the price of gas.

  3. Notice the Forbes article was written exactly 1 year ago, January 26, 2015. Those good old days when DollarToday had the exchange rate pegged at Bs 184/$, and today it is at Bs 965.

    (or did Forbes post the wrong date?)

  4. My recollection is that Chavez said on a few occasions something to the effect that he was thinking about raising prices. I had the same thought back then: why say it at all if you are never going to do it? It is something to take to a creditors meeting?

  5. “Is this a question of indecision?”

    Not necessarily. The do-nothing stance could be tied to the current prices of oil. After all, raising the price of gasoline when national revenues are tanking is not the smartest move. It’s socially explosive.

    Knowing that the price of oil will start to rise, as per the norm where cycles are concerned, and by the end of this year/early next as per the pundits, is what those behind puppet Maduro are counting on.

    Therefore, if their puppet can hold things at bay for the next 12 months, while periodically appearing in an olive guayabera with simple epaulets, and a backdrop with feel-empowered keywords, then there is more chance of hanging onto an already faltering power base.

  6. ” no es que si me vas a subir la gasolina, es que si quieres que te cuente el cuento del gallo pelón.” – lol!

    Others have tried raising the price of gas in the past. This questions usually arises during times of crisis. The question is, why not raise the price gradually? If we’d done this back in the 80’s, we would’ve closed the gap by now.

    • Because psycho-lefties (aka commies) drilled in people’s minds that gasoline prices = caracazo (aka “social explosion”, when it was actually a carefully crafted and planned strike against CAP’s government orchestrated by castro)

  7. I’ve come to believe that Maduro’s indecision is pathological. He just keeps waiting, thinking, unable to make a choice. Call it scared, nervous, or unstable, he just can’t choose a path and stick to it.

    Also, there’s probably a good dose of whisful thinking. Maybe he’s hoping the price of oil will shoot up and he won’t have to devalue, increase the price of gasoline, etc?

  8. Consequences? …..wait..what?…go ahead…rub your hands together and fret……because that’s all you can do……if a member of the “opposition ” was doing and saying…organizing ” by the way,always two steps ahead”..the way Cabello is….they would be offering them a jail cell……but the MUD has no power…Zerroooooo……accountability? …..they had a plan all along ..subversion. .and they are sticking to that plan…aren’t they?

  9. One thing I know: this sets him apart from Chávez. Say what you will about that guy, but one thing you can’t deny: when he announced a policy, he pretty much always carried it out.

    Granted that Chávez. did announce changes in policy that were later followed up on. However, when you take into account that Chávez. spoke for thousands of hours in front of a camera, there were going to be times when what El Comandante announced was not done as he said it would be done. When in response to the killing of Raúl Reyes in Ecuador, Chávez said that batallions were going to the frontier with Colombia.

    Mr Chavez addressed his defence minister, asking him to “move 10 battalions to the border with Colombia for me, immediately” – a deployment likely to involve several thousand soldiers.

    From what I recall, all that troop and/or tank movement got caught in traffic jams and never reached the frontier.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7274038.stm

    • In this case the fact they fell short of their objective is not relevant. Chavez ordered lots of things that never amounted anything and were eventually forgotten. But, when he gave orders, people jumped and started doing things, even if it was only running in circles to look busy (often). Maduro’s style is indecisive. His orders or proclamations aren’t phrased as direct orders, merely as suggestions that someone else should consider.

      • That was because the corpse was the clear hegemon within chavizmo (though the mastermind is castro), so everybody was trying to kiss his butt as much as possible because that was the standard way to climb within chavizmo’s ranks, by “caerle bien” to the corpse, even though you had seething hatred for the douchebag, you knew your only way to improve your position was to be in good graces with him.

        Today, maburro’s just a poor imbecile who’s basically hated by almost everybody, and most importantly, lacks the propaganda support the corpse had, so now the jackals are just ripping easch other’s throats desperately trying to become the fattest fish in the pond.

  10. If your read Genesis youll remember how God said ‘let there be light’ and light would magically appear in the horizon and so on , ‘In the beginning…’goes another biblical phrase ‘there was logos (the word)’ and of course the word of God by itself has demiurgical properties , it makes things automatically and magically happen.

    Attributing to certain words the power to make things automatically happen was very common in antiquity and still is among very primitive minds ……the name modern anthropologist give this mental practice is ,magical thinking’ and it allows people to scape into wonderful delusions when they really lack the practical or effective capacity to do anything , when people live in world of wall to wall futility .

    It also happens to people who are obssesed with seeing themselves as Godly or Omnipotent or all Powerful ( for example our dear departed cosmic commander :Chavez ) .

    Maduro is Chavez child and he has inherited some of his deranged mental habits.

    This explains the many times he announces something grand or magnificent and then nothing happens ….
    his mind is taken by magical thinking in a way that modern rational humans cannot understand !!

  11. I think there is a pattern here. Any ”good” measure he has announced has not taken place or has been stalled into oblivion.

    But there is also another kind of measures, which have been carried even tho anyone thinks he is bullshiting at first. i.e. captahuellas, cedula requirements for buying food, emprisonments.

    If he says something which is considered good, he wont do it. If he says something you dont like, prepare yourself.

  12. The real truth it’s that they can only use the verbs in future tense, that’s the reason for really getting nothing done! How many times, including the multiple “habilitantes”, have they promised to solve the economic problems?

  13. I think the issue is the political capital, the political currency. He’s afraid of taking an unpopular choice and burn his political currency, while a nebulous better moment might arrive. One of the reasons he’s a bad executive is because he can’t see that one of the reasons we’re in this cesspool is because of his inaction. Thus, “madurismo”, for me, is announcing a policy and then having second thoughts a never execute it.

    I think it was Rómulo who once said “A government can’t be afraid. When it has to decide, it decides”.

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