Development agencies then, parallel governorships now

Los Reyes de Corpolara

Remember how, until 1989, State Governors were hand-picked by the president? These days, in Lara, it’s starting to feel like descentralization never happened and Venezuelan states are ruled directly from Caracas once again.

Back in the day, the nation was divided into administrative regions, tasked with territorial development; a responsibility that was placed in the hands of regional “development agencies”. These were separate from state governments, and had broad powers to plan, promote and coordinate projects in the regions. As the years went by, their objectives were slowly abandoned.

The best known example is the Venezuelan Corporation of Guayana (CVG), which grew to become a conglomerate of mining and metallurgical companies, now in critical condition. Another case is Corpozulia, acting in the largest state in the country. In effect a parallel State government, it now dedicates itself to pushing projects which go nowhere and to hindering the work of the elected government.

The latest victim of the policitization of these institutions is the Foundation for the Development of the Central-West Region (FUDECO). For now on, it will be known as Corpolara. Given the fact that its head is Chavez’s strong man in the region, it’s obvious who is the real target behind this action. Much as Chávez dreamt up a parallel government agency for Caracas to nullify Antonio Ledezma’s election to the post of Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas, he’s now retreading an old development agency to nullify Governor Falcon’s win.

States are facing a permanent siege from the central power, both in terms of their responsibilities and of their coffers. This new power structure shows how far Miraflores is willing to go to expand its control.

13 thoughts on “Development agencies then, parallel governorships now

  1. Excellent post CC. With this regime it is usually how they keep the democratic fachade and actually run the show behind closed doors! It’s systematic, thus my frustration when anyones questions the REP and the ” el mejorsistemaelectoraldelMundo” and it’s crushed down by out kind hosts! Time to wear long pants guys, students are in chains at the CNE in plaza Venezuela, and venezuelians

    • Sorry- continued here:
      …abroad are, timidly, beginning to demand REP registration centers, playing into the governments trap. If the voter’s franchise, a very smelly databases that has never been audited to satisfaction, it’s not revised, the charade of actualizarse o registrarse por primers vez, actually allows the goverment to claim the growth of the number of registered voters! Pilas. A poner el ojo y concentrar la presión en auditar el registro!

  2. This is really interesting. The “division of powers” between state and federal governments is hard for an outsider to understand. Article 164 of the constitution does not assist. Police, roads and… acronyms.

    • The idea of Venezuela as a federation is almost a saludo a la bandera. The Constitution is almost schizophrenic in establishing a federal system, it says is founded by the doctrine of Bolívar, who said that Federation is organized anarchy, then says in a federation but only in the terms established in the Constitution to avoid any application by analogy of rules of an actual federation. Then it copies the gringo model of enumerated powers where any power not delegated to the national government belongs to the states, and then proceed to enumerate 33 powers of the national government, leaving pretty much nothing to the states.

      • So I guess nobody is going to be mounting a constitutional challenge to these patronage vehicles. (por ahora).

        • Sadly the concentration of powers in the central government was not a Chavista idea, Betancourt also believed that it was better to concentrate most of the power in the central government and that’s why the 1961 Constitution was pretty similar to the Bolivarian one. And yes, constitutionally Venezuela federalism is really weak, but the Constitution does have an article saying that decentralization is a state policy and that the Assembly can transfer its power to states to promote it, but the reality is that most of the really important powers are assigned to the central goverment. Actually one of the few things that I believed would have been a change for the political model in 1999 was introducing real decentralization and federalism in the Constitution. Look at article 156 there is almost nothing of importance left to the States

          • Looks to me like your thinking makes very good sense. Gustavo’s article as exhibit “A”.

            • At the end the Constitution leaves at the will of the Central government the promotion of decentralization through laws transferring powers to the state. And we all know that the Chavismo is not going to do that. It even took the Cuarta República 28 years to pass the law establishing the elections of governments and mayors, even when the 1961 Constitution mandated the passing of the law and the elections of governors. At the end, a reform is necessary, but also political without political will of the central power to actually cede power and money to states, nothing can be achieved. Venezuela Politicians, even before Chavez, seem to have centralism in their DNA.

            • CACR: “Venezuela Politicians, even before Chavez, seem to have centralism in their DNA.”

              Worse, even the readers and authors of this blog won’t let go of the regressive Ring that rules all other Rings that is Petro money… It’s just too tempting to wield its power.

            • CACR,

              It was well before Chávez, it was well before even our first national caudillo, Bolívar.
              Like Chávez, Bolívar hated to concede to regional governments. But even before him, Alexander von Humboldt (again) tells us, the elites of the country would hate to give power to the regional councils less they would lose themselves more power.

  3. Saddest of all? (File under the “degenerate autosabotaje” archive”) Opposition Councilman Javier Alirio Peña paying hitmen to kill ( yes, KILL) Mayor Tomás Bello. Even worse? The state he “serves” is MIRANDA: Not a distant interior province, but the home turf of the opposition Presidential Candidate. Even under these critical, polarized circumstances, descentralization and its benefits are eclipsed by egotistical, self-serving whims. Maybe Chavez´ despotic political school is a new accepted modus operandi for all politicians in Venezuela?

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