Communications Breakdown

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One year ago, Alejandro Machado wrote this post about the government’ sudden move to suspend the scheduled hike in telecom fees. Now, it’s deja vu all over again: Telecoms regulator CONATEL ordered private mobile service providers Digitel and Movistar to freeze their price hikes, because customers were livid about the “arbitrary” increase in their services. With inflation in triple digits, and service providers not being allowed to keep up, already scarce data will surely be in even shorter supply soon.

This couldn’t have come at a worse time, after State-owned CANTV had service failures in five states. Even though the government version of events alleged “sabotage,” some people were arrested in Zulia State for plain old thievery.

Robbery of wires isn’t a recent trend, but it’s getting a surge as the economic crisis takes its toll. Take a look at this report by Movistar about robbery of equipments in Carabobo.

The company made a large effort to replace the stolen equipment, and it got taken again. The next day. The icing on the cake? It’s the fourth time this year in that specific location.

Last March, PCWorld en Español published a piece on how the theft of wires in Venezuela is leaving the telecom sector in a tough place, given the scarcity of dollars for importing new supplies.

But the government shifts the blame, using the reliable  “foreign intervention card.” After a series of cyber-attacks to official websites this week, CANTV Chairman Manuel Fernandez said this was an “attack from overseas,” linking it to the wire-cutting “sabotages” he considers “unprecedented.”

Excuses aside, the sad state of our infrastructure only adds to the ferocious informational uncertainty that Venezuelans are mired in, especially when the messaging apps and social networks have all but come to replace traditional news outlets destroyed by the hegemony. What alternatives do we have left, a “Ghost Dog” and courier pigeons? I can think of many reasons why this wouldn’t work in today’s Venezuela.

14 COMMENTS

  1. The fees were only lowered back for residential customers.

    Commercial customers are being hit with full force with the 250 and 400% in the constant hikes.

    The same goes for all other services, electricity, water and cable, increasing the prices for goods and services even more.

  2. Well, it works perfectly for the dictatorship, blame it on whoever they want, the truth is that if they don’t allow price hikes, infrastructure will collapse and it will only add to the hegemoncorp agenda.

    They profit twice from it, it’s restricts access to free information and they also score points with the always present “…pero es que los empresarios también abusan…” segment of the population.

  3. “It’s the fourth time this year in that specific location.”

    So how much do a couple of GNB or private guards with loaded machine guns charge? 35 Million Bs. x 4 ?

    It’s probably another Mega-Guiso:

    The Movistar chavista crooks themselves might be stealing their own cables and equipment, for resale. Then get US$ for the 2nd part of the guiso, a double-whammy, pocketing most of those $$ and replacing the cables to be stolen again. Rinse, wash, repeat.

    You see, maintenance and/or surveillance in Kleptozuela doesn’t pay-off, “no paga”, “ahi no queda nada pa’los’panas, ni ‘pal fresco”..

  4. This is nothing new. It has been going on for a long time. I have relatives living in an area where the cables for both phone and internet were robbed more than a year ago and never replaced.

    • My girlfirend has intercable and was without internet and tv for 4 months because shit was stolen and not replaced. It is finally back now, but goes out all the time. Her ex husband also worked for the electric company, Corpolec (formerly Seneca), and left the country because Corpolec was becoming an absolute basket case. No investment in infrastructure, no professional training for employees as before (when it was Seneca), and an invasion of rojo rojitos into management (when it became Corpolec). Same story we heard from Quico on PDVSA. He left Venezuela a year ago and now literally washes dishes in el Imperio rather than being forced to go to government protests and work for a company that is demoralized and falling apart.

      As far as divisas to invest in infrastructure: MEGA MEGA GUISO as Poeta Criollo noted above. I would not doubt if they do the same as everybody else and just write off a big portion as creative accounting, import a fraction and sell the rest of the Dicom dolars on black market.

      As far as dollar back to 10,000, I think that goes hand and hand with people swiping their Dicom card in Cucuta now. I read an article about that yesterday in El Nacional. Old wine in new bottles and the are just speeding up their downfall by continuing programs like Dicom–that only fuel corruption and larger and larger deficits will no investment in infrastructure or productive industries. The only productive business in Venzuela for the last decade, sorry to say, is corruption.

      If there is an economic war, it is not because of the gringos, it is because of a corrupt government that wants to control the people by controlling the petrodollars. And a corrupt population who thrive of of this corruption. The real key to understanding the so called “economic war” is that Venezuelans plundered Venezuela far more than than gringos could in 100 years.

      Nevertheless, we are in the eye of the hurricane now. It is calm, but things will come back with a vengeance in September/October will be a mofo when 5 billion in debt is due and the resistance is better organized. We go on.

  5. For a long time theft and vandalization of unguarded field equipment or installations is a common feature of doing business in Venezuela , of course now its turned much worse , economically people are much worse off, and the policing of these installation has ceased to exist so we can only expect the wrecking of the infrastructure to continue unabated….., its a cultural thing , by and large common people have little respect for public property ……except when they own it , then it become sacred…..

  6. Oh goody! Wire Theft!!! My favourite subject and it’s something we all suffer for. This should be a crime that’s punishable by death for all the damage it does to a community. When the power goes out around here everyone is responsible for the powerlines in front of their homes, those who can’t sleep because of the heat will sit in a shadow on their porch with a loaded shot gun and wait for those bastards to dare climb the post. We all know what its like to live with out electricity for possibly weeks when a line gets stolen, not being able to keep food, the freezer, no fan at night or air-conditioning (if you can still afford it.) Fucking malandros are even stealing the cantv wire because if its copper content. Cantv, those poor bastards, so sad what they did to that company, I had relatives (married into the family) and watched how they picked that company apart. I’ve been “collaborating” with the cantv guys that are stationed around my town so they will prioritise my maintenance but even that is wearing thin. In the mean time I’ve been depending on them for internet now for more then 15 years and its gotten to the point where we just can’t keep up. I’ve been without Cantv for a couple of months now and the Cantv guys run and hide when they see me coming because the lines between my house and central are such a rat’s nest that they don’t know where to start…fix it one day and the next it’s down again. They simply do not have the materials necessary to keep up with the theft let alone the long overdue maintenance on the infrastructure! There is at least an essay that should be written about what expropriation did to that company. In the mean time I’ve been depending on cell service which was surprisingly quick and reliable. When they raised their rates I said GOOD! Those poor buggers deserve a raise! When anyone bitched to me about it I’d ask them if they wanted to venture a guess how much a similar plan in Canada would cost. And leave them awed at how in Canada the service provider charges you for incoming AND outgoing calls. Then next day they had to drop them again and my first thought was oh great now we’re going to lose cell service too. I would have happily footed the raise and then some, it was a fair raise. Totally absurd to freeze that rate. I noticed Intercable did something similar and raised their price 7540Bsf. I wonder if they are going to get smacked down too?
    Big business around here with chatarreros buying up all kinds of copper, aluminium, glass, of course gold, and exporting it to the islands where its sold in us dollars. Hell, even the fish are all going to the islands, there are boats out there that sell direct to the islands and Venezuelan fisherman don’t come home with their catch. And the boys in camouflage know it and facilitate it. Very big business right now all the shit flying out of Venezuela to be sold at truer to real market value just off coast. Anything subsidised, anything worth more off shore then here, especially fuel. Just squeezing every last drop out of everyone and everything. It has a lot to do with cocaine which enters freely from Columbia here, paying thieves directly in drugs for what ever they can steal from the pueblo. All of this very well known by everyone around here, Even the Guarda Parques, which used to be THE major power here in Morrocoy National Park, have been hushed and meeked down to purely menial tasks.
    It’s gotten to the point where I am tired, so very tired of even talking…about anything, especially politics, just seem to keep getting worse, that inner voice saying: “Wake up bro! You know where your beloved Venezuela is headed! Are you going to take the necessary steps to get out while you can or are you gonna keep your fingers crossed and hope Venezuela grows some balls and fight this narco communistic parasite of a government off?” I hate when that voice starts talking to me cause the bastard is usually right. “Er pueblo” has been subdued, they don’t really even know how to work anymore. There is no birth control so every female over 11 is pregnant. There is no morals anymore, kids aren’t even going to school, schools are collapsed anyway. Everything is “we’re going to need a collaboration.” Hell Thats it! Socialism turned everyone in to beggars. Even police officers and low ranking military have become experts at going and getting a bunch of free shit. Everyone is still finding a way to eat and suck back a couple of polar lights. Its all being done so gradually that no one notices.

    • Mark, I hear ya bro. Key to that is 1. Venezuela needs to grow a pair of nuts and 2. it needs to stop being a country of beggers.

      A submissive populace leads to tyrany. Socialism (it has always been communism) always leads to misery and mediocrity.

      • Stop right now! You just posted a truth that socialists hate.

        There is no longer any market economy to speak of in VZ and only degrees of corruption.

        VZ got the gubmint they deserve, wether they like it or not. Too many thought only of themselves and allowed for a dictator to take power.

        You got what you deserve.

  7. Off Topic : Just heard an explanation from Ricardo Haussman about why the regime should not expect any further lending from the Russians (actually Rosnef) , last May Rosnef published its financials for review by its many international creditors , they were aghast at the amounts spent on Venezuela which they consider offers a big risk of never getting recovered , they warned Rosnef about how these Venezuelan loans posed a risk to the financials of the company and Rosnef answered that these loans had ceased and would not be continued ……..the route the regime has taken may look fine from their political perspective but its eroding any chance they may have of maintaining the funds flowing ……..at least to cover the essentials …, as a friend of mine quite close to Pdvsa said to me recently ‘Never has Pdvsa been in a worse operational and financial situation than now’……….

  8. I have a contractor which serves both Digitel and Movistar stations. We do electric and refrigeration maintenance. Theft is a daily basis issue. AC stoled, cable stoled, equipments (which they have no use for, no resale value) stolen. When they cannot steal or dim it of little value they vandalized. My crews have even seen equipment vandalized with human feces. This is every day and have been going on for at least 3 years (we were not contractors before).

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