Imagine Venezuela but with 30,000 fewer police officers and maybe an extra point of GDP in deficit. It sounds absurd, but some new legislation is trying hard to get us there.

Recently, the National Assembly held the first reading of a Social Security for Police Officers Bill aiming to improve police living standards and to make the profession more attractive. The bill would allow police officers to retire after 15 years of service and create a special Fondo Régimen Prestacional de los Servicios y Beneficios Sociales to be managed by a certain-to-become-a-corruption-cesspool Instituto Nacional de Seguridad Social del Policía, modeled on IPASME or IVSS.

The new institute would provide things like medical services, scholarships for policemen and their children, funeral expenses, and other benefits. One clause establishes the right to access health-insurance services, although it is unclear if it so as a complement or alternative to the services mentioned above

The bill envisages the creation health care centers specially for policemen and special benefits that the government must abide with such as bonuses for marriage, birth of a son or daughter, standardized uniforms endowments and travel allowances, among others.

First things first: do cops need better conditions? Definitely. According to some estimates, the country needs about twice as many police officers as it now has. Recruiting enough qualified new people into such a high risk profession is impossible unless you offer them a proper deal.

But the bill put forward by UNT’s Delsa Solorzano in the Interior Policy Committee of the National Assembly is very much not the way to get there.


A whiff of Armed Forces envy hangs over the bill.

Unlike economics, law and order policy is dimly understood even by the experts. Politicians go out of their way to avoid dealing with the problem and leave it in the hands of the military and the government. This is true on both sides of the aisle: just think how seldom you hear an opposition mayor or governor discuss law enforcement in any kind of depth.  

But with the public more aware than ever over the cruel reality police officers face as they try to fight armed gangs, dying by the hundreds each year, the time is ripe for a debate.

A whiff of Armed Forces envy hangs over the bill. If the FANB have their own Social Security Institute, Bank, Television, Oil-Company, Hospitals, Universities, and they don’t even have to go fight choros on the street, but just prepare for war in a country that has never gone to war. So it seemed only fair that finally Police Officers would get some of the same perks.

So, why not start by dealing with the terrible, borderline-subhuman conditions policemen work in?


The bill now making its way through the A.N. is absurd economic terms: just parallel health structure it would require would break the bank.

The bill now making its way through the A.N. is absurd economic terms: just parallel health structure it would require would break the bank. What’s worrying is that our politicians have learned nothing from the chaos, disorder and disappointment that the traditional Social Security System (IVSS) leaves in its wake.

Neither have they learned the lessons from a similar law implemented by the Education Ministry: the sadly infamous IPASME. The new project for the police copies the same failed structures and features of IPASME and the IVSS and imposes a heavy budgetary burden not only on the national government but also on the states and municipalities that are already in the verge of bankruptcy. Are we really sure that a new public health organization can do the job that IVSS has failed at?

We know the public health-care system has completely collapsed nothing new here yet a major feature of the law is the creation of more state-owned health centers.

The sad reality is that nobody trusts public hospitals in Venezuela. When public sector unions go to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement, the first thing on the agenda is the HCM — the private health insurance component. It makes sense. Why get a gunshot or appendicitis treated in at the hideously under-resourced public hospital at El Llanito if you can do so at the gleaming private Centro Médico Docente La Trinidad?

Worse yet, the bill does nothing to address the biggest problem cops face: housing. Is Fuerte Tiuna just for military officers? Come on! That has been one of the major benefits of the military in the Chavez-era. If you are making the similar laws as chavistas, you might as well get right the few things it got right. Policemen and their families are logically scared living in the same barrios as the malandros they have to fight. Just recall the 17-year old son of a Policaracas Police Officer that was killed in El Cementerio purely because his dad was a cop.

But where the bill really fails the test of common sense is where it sets the retirement age after only 15 years of service. Amazingly, time spent training at the police academy counts towards that total. This means that someone who went into police academy at the age of 18 could retire with full benefits at the ripe old age of…33.

WTF?

If the bill becomes law, according to MP Franklin Duarte’s estimate, between 20 and 30 thousand officers would be entitled to retire early. At a recent debate on the law he argued, lamely, that they would not leave service because “they know things are going to change in Venezuela”.

Te damos CADIVI a 6,30 Bs para que vendas en bolos a 6,30. #AhOk

Financially, just assume that person lives up to, say, 75 years of age. This means that for 13 years of service (the first two are spent at the Academy) the state has to pay wages for 42 years. The State will be maintaining the person more than three times the time he served. Seems a difficult promise to keep up with. And the police service would be perpetually deprived of experienced cops.

When asked in a public consultation about the financial viability of the proposal, Solórzano told the audience that “if the government has money to buy tanks and 400K go to Cuba, then it should have for this law. That’s not my problem.”

Chamo, Tomás Guanipa and Solorzano must be sharing economic advisors.

This bill shows dramatically that our political leaders have yet to learn from our mistakes. Proposals are put forward with a view to political gain, totally divorced from any serious feasibility or medium-to-long term impact study.

Public safety is in everyone’s mouth but in nobody’s hands. I wanted to believe the opposition would be different, but I can’t. After five years without being able to pass any legislation, one would expect professional, innovative and sound proposals, not improvised bodrios. We cops were expecting Nutella and we got Choconut.

18 COMMENTS

  1. I’m still not sure where the police stop and the Guardia start or what the many factions of the security forces actually are doing. I wondered this today whilst in a supermarket that had just finished selling out of rice…..why are there military heavily armed, some even equipped with grenades hanging from their combat webbing here in a supermarket ? Surely this is a police issue, and an issue that does not seem to require grenades? ……So more police….sounds logical but the reality is water flows from the top and until the top is cleaned up there is little hope for this. The police are essential, but the military seem to run a parallel police force and they seem better equipped .

    • Effectively there is a great confusion and misconceptions on the role of the GNB which belongs to the armed forces (defense) and is trained for defense porpuses but has great responsabilities in citizen security; overlaping with local and national police.

      The role of the GNB is a discussion that needs to be had

  2. Economic advisers to Guanipa and Solórzano, no, they do not need them, they belong to the same populist vintage of the old Venezuelan political class who created the democracy in 1960, a history which seems is ending with Chavistas closing down the store since there it will not be oil to pay for it. What they need is an abacus to calculate oil rent -if any- to divide oil production by population, and will get the depressive figures of per capita oil rent falling without stopping year by year from the seventies.
    Why that? Well, it is a long and short history which I do not intend to write down now. Facts demand from politicians to change the way the do politics in Venezuela since there is no more oil rent to pay for their promises, no way to finance politicians’ fantasies. From now on, and for at least 10 years will not be oil rent to redistribute downstream budget, via fiscal expenditure, -indeed 2014, 2015 and 2016, no oil money feed the budget- BCV decided to monetize the huge fiscal deficit, including a big chunk of budget to be cut because it was not more paper to print money.
    Today, the oil rent belongs to negative numbers, so, if government decide to recover the oil industry it will find itself in a middle of a big drought, there will not be a lot of it, but at the same time it won’t be easy that the oil market buys extra heavy oil from Faja, because there is a surplus of oil which will be there for some time, there is a lot of oil -at $50 barrel- to satisfy demand which growth less than world economic activity. $50 barrel.
    Apart of that Venezuela looks very risky in the cliff on a continuous default, an empowering human capital, a many others facts which I invite readers to have a look at the Venezuela numbers in the Prosperity Index from Legatum Institute.
    What are going to do politicians from the whole spectrum, communists, and socialists, military, etc.? Are going to have a look for income and sale taxes for the people? Maybe, however, this is trickier since taxes are economic depression. What have they to do? Just one word, privatize everything is in government and State portfolio.
    My feeling is that politicians what to keep themselves ignoring all these facts, thinking that someday the financial and economic conditions the oil will come again as a windfall to finance every promise the bring to the political arena. Just to mention that to keep oil production at the same level of today 2 MBD and stopping the “natural” decline in the following 5 years, government has to invest 75,000 MM -including foreign oil companies in the mix ventures in the Faja, the main resource reserves of the country, 90% of all oil reserves.
    So, the budget will not get what politicians -even for the opposition- want to pay their populism, Chavista’s type wishes converted into laws. Taxes will not help economic growth, new debt, will not be for some time an alternative, new investor, Accordingly, for what happened in the last 17 years, I think there will not be lots of enthusiasm for it. How will politicians learn it? Will be hard, they are “testarudos”.
    Well, part of what is happening in this country these years from 2000 until now is just the same history, as the imaginary father of such ideology K Marx one day wrote, “… history repeat twice, one as tragedy and the other one, as comedy….”

      • It should be, Venezuela isn’t struggling to get rid of chavismo just because they “don’t like the guy in charge”, it’s because the model of the mammothian smothering hyper-centralist state itself is what brought us here to this situation today.

        • Populism is engrained. Romulo Betancourt founded it and it has been that way ever since (different colors, different people but populism nevertheless).

          Combine populism and raw pragmatism and you got Venezuela.

          We have always being a centralized state with the exception of the decentralization efforts of the 90’s.

          We took the worst of democracy, capitalism and socialism:

          Democracy with the allowance of representation hence the multi-party system with every tiny tendency somehow represented (ask María Bolivar)

          Capitalism, with unchecked greed, corruption and the omni present client/rentism economy (PDVSA for all)

          Socialism, with a huge and absolutely unmanageable nanny state compounded with direct and indirect handouts without asking anything in return. Social mobility remain frozen for most of the population. (Cuanto hay pa’ eso camarada)

          Kill populism and get everyone to pay the real price for what they get. Re-install the check and balances of the economy, the justice system and the integrity of the state. That is the real revolution, perhaps even a cultural revolution.

          Get the rancho out of the individual’s mind.

          • “Democracy with the allowance of representation hence the multi-party system with every tiny tendency somehow represented (ask María Bolivar)”

            I don’t see why that’s necessarily bad, in fact, it should be considered bad because it allowed communism to be represented instead of putting María Bolívar as that example.

            “Capitalism, with unchecked greed, corruption and the omni present client/rentism economy (PDVSA for all)”

            That’s not capitalism at all, one thing that Venezuelans should do is to learn what capitalism is about, and drop the commie propaganda strawman.

            The rancho within is the first instrument communists used to control and dominate the society, and yes, that’s what should be abolished as soon as the chavista regime is toppled.

  3. Economy is not rocket science but economists in Venezuela, like virtually most university people, try to make their subject something that only the “elite” can grasp. That is bad for everyone.

    I compare this with Germany, where you see all the time economic analysis on the daily news..not simply someone reading out shares or GDPs but analysis of things like “how are we going to pay the retirement in 10, 20, 30 years from now.

    You watch on German public TV discussions among top politicians in talkshows about how much money people have to contribute in order to pay how many years, how things become more complicated as the life expectancy increases and so on.

    Politicians are a reflection of our society. We are part of that society. Our attitude towards knowledge and the dissemination of ideas is key. We can influence public opinion and politicians.

    • Indeed. This has also happened with multiple laws and proposals that have no economic basis or viability yet they are widely uncontested or debated

  4. I think the problem is revenue. Social Security in many countries are as far reaching and inclusive as this one (for everyone, not just policemen). Are we as venezuelans willing to pay for shit? taxes anyone? It is ABSURD how this, a country of 30 mil. people can’t give the people who expose their neck in the streets a fair deal. And health care (improving the general sistem along with all the alternatives) are fundamental.

    I know, some of you are scared of social security because sounds like socialISM. But get your thinking cap on people. A system of goverment is how it’s treat it’s people, the people who risk everything at a life of service. Don’t let your fears keep you away from creating a more fair and equal society.

    Remember: This goverment is a cleptocracy and it’s ideology is “PLATA” Wanting a fair deal for everyone is not being chavista.

    Having said that, the law is in first reading. I honestly doubt the 15 years of service cap will be kept in the final bill. I recomend Daniel you go to the public “consulta” and expose your point of view. As a police officer (hate that term “cop”) you will be heard and your opinion will be valued.

    Cheers, nice article!

    • Hi, my name is Ernesto Herrera, I went to the public consultation and the level of discussion was horrible. Pure demagoguery.
      Moreover, the “instrument” provided by the Comisión de Política Interior to evaluate the project was an insult that only asked positive and general questions that did not touch any of the polemic points of the law in detail.

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