The other side of Communicational Hegemony

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Poor, powerless State media just wants to keep us informed!

A favorite source for those who still insist that freedom of speech in Venezuela is as thriving as ever is this BBC report (quoting the Communication Ministry), which states that only 5% of media outlets are owned by the State. The rest are in private hands, the argument goes,  implying they’re therefore free to criticize the government.

Even if we disregard the well-founded fear of retaliation that causes private TV stations like Venevisión and Televén to sanitize their newscasts and keep critical political content to a minimum, this is unconvincing, because the government has an ace in the hole: it can force all radio and TV outlets to transmit a cadena, a compulsory simultaneous broadcast of government propaganda through all private and public media, of indefinite duration.

Yesterday, for example, Venezuelans tuning into TV or radio were forced to sit through a several-hour long cadena covering Maduro’s street rallies, his politically charged rhetoric and slanderous accusations. Never mind that huge opposition protests were taking place all around the country. These were invisible to viewers. Us Venezuelans are used to this kind of lopsided coverage of opposition events, to the point that Henrique Capriles, who got 7,3 million votes in last year’s presidential elections, has been relegated to broadcasting his messages and press conferences through a puny web portal, capriles.tv.

This is the  fine-print government apologists inevitably overlook. This hugely lopsided communication imbalance means State resources are used extensively for propaganda purpose, vilifying opposition voices, and imposing a biased, distorted versions of current events as undisputed truth.

In my experience, foreign observers have a hard time grasping how aggressively defamatory government propaganda can be. This seven minute clip, broadcast yesterday during Maduro’s cadena, should be a reality check for anyone doubting the lunatic extreme this abuse has taken.

It’s a seven-minute gusher of genuinely demented accusations against Leopoldo López and the “fascist” opposition that defends him. Anywhere else in the world, this kind of thing would be easy pickings for a defamation lawyer. In Venezuela, it’s forced onto every TV channel and radio station and nothing happens. And its in this context that Maduro makes his heartfelt invitations for “dialogue” and “peace.”

Just remember, guys, it’s the opposition who practice “media terrorism.” And Eurasia has always been at war with Oceania.

60 thoughts on “The other side of Communicational Hegemony

  1. So that’s what “revolutionary filmmakers” do in Venezuela: poor fascist propaganda for the government, to denounce “compiraciones”.

    • I buy almost everything except food and clothing from online auctions most people aren’t aware of the almost unbelievable deals that they can get from online auction sites the site that has the best deals is http://goo.gl/Pt036z
      I checked with the BBB and was told that it is all legit. How they can sell gift cards, laptops, cameras, and all kinds of goodies that we all want for 50-90% off, I don’t know
      I do know that I bought my son an ipad there for less than $100 and my husband a $250 Low gift
      cards for 48Why would I even think about shopping anyþlace else?

  2. As I understand it ,one of the reasons the BBC is so nefasta is because they get Tax money directly from Television consumers to their pockets and this gives them an unfair subsidy. Because of this they have developed into a very ideological and partisan media which by not being beholden to the consumer it can insist on its own biased vision without any feedback..Where the broadcasters are dependent on the ratings, they have to take into account the opinion of the consumers views, or they might go to other networks….

    The BBC has practically a semi Monopoly !!

    I pay no attention whatsoever to the opinion of the BBC

    • Good of the host to pick up on Emiliana’s non-verbal cue.
      Here’s an idea for your next chestnut roast, Emiliana: the elastic qualities of the word “fascist”.
      It’s very much in vogue these days, among disgruntled leftists, who can no longer justify using “oligarch”, while their “mantuano” is so passé.

  3. Emiliana… just wanted to say that you were AMAZING in the huff post debate… way to tell “la madrina de la revolucion” and the rest of the world how it really is. Thanks for this post, it’s important for non-Venezuelan readers to get what’s truly going on when we mean lack of free press. Let me know if you ever run for office… I will vote for you!! Saludos de una compatriota en la lejania.

  4. I really would like to know how they calculate that 5%.

    On open spectrum TV they have ANTV, VTV, TVES, Fuerzas Armadas TV (or whatever it’s called) & indirectly they control Canal I and Globovision. Then there are a myriad of regional channels.

    I guess we can do a similar exercise for radio. I have not quantified it but, when I drive across the county, I can go on and on scanning radio stations and most betray clear government affinity.

    Maybe if we include all stations broadcast in cable or direct tv we get that 5% but then NatGeo is not broadcasting Venezuela specific information.

  5. Greetings from Portugal,
    I have been following the conflicts in Venezuela and am trying to really understand what’s currently happening in there. I’ve seen you on huffTV and Al-Jazeera and also have read tens of articles too; in sum, it’s past 1am and here writing to you so you can see I’m trying hard to arrive to any conclusion. So here it goes a long question:
    It’s obvious that this regime has done lots of wrong things, including the cadenas. But from the perspective of an outsider, it’s hard to believe that a party that has been in power for so long, with several elections taking place meanwhile, has done everything absolutely wrong. And here is my problem in understanding both chavistas and opposition – and let me tell you that it’s pretty sad that there seems to be only this 2 options. Why is it that there’s absolutely no back and fourth discussion but just each side throwing crap at each other ?
    I’ve read a couple of posts from caracaschronicles, no mention to anything positive on the other side, is it possible ? It seems that the supporters of both sides are totally sold, no independent thought at all – you’re all playing their game. The only individual that I heard so far admitting that good things have been done by this regime was Julio Jiménez Gédler https://twitter.com/Juliococo on the CNN, at a debate a couple of days ago: he said we would keep 70-80% of what currently exists. I even doubled-checked to make sure I’d heard correctly – first and only person sounding like he’s not a cheerleader.

    Specifically about the video you posted above (independently of the fact that cadenas are a bad idea, I agree): could you deconstruct “slanderous accusations” and “lunatic extreme” content of the video ? Do you fully approve of López and Capriles, are they the answer to Venezuela’s problems ?

    I will be very thankful if you’ll reply to me.
    I wish the best for Venezuelans.

    • “[...]it’s hard to believe that a party that has been in power for so long, with several elections taking place meanwhile, has done everything absolutely wrong.”
      The have done many things wrong, but many people would also argue that they’ve done some good things.

      “And here is my problem in understanding both chavistas and opposition – and let me tell you that it’s pretty sad that there seems to be only this 2 options.”
      Many people also find it sad, but the GPP (the chavistas’ main electoral coalition) is a truly formidable electoral machinery, and thus it would do no good if the opposition were to be divided, at least from an electoral perspective.

      “Why is it that there’s absolutely no back and fourth discussion but just each side throwing crap at each other ?”
      This is a controversial aspect. Many people want them to dialogue, not throw crap at each other every day; but it’s kinda hard to argue with a government that has its military shooting at its people. It doesn’t help that chavismo itself is radical at its core.

      “The only individual that I heard so far admitting that good things have been done by this regime was Julio Jiménez Gédler https://twitter.com/Juliococo
      Well, there are many people who admit the government has done good things, though some of them are disillusioned chavistas.

      “[...]could you deconstruct “slanderous accusations” and “lunatic extreme” content of the video ?”
      Well, the video accuses López of basically being a CIA picked puppet, when it has no proof of that, it’s only rhetoric.

      “Do you fully approve of López and Capriles, are they the answer to Venezuela’s problems ?”
      Trust me when I tell you, while they commander a large base, they don’t have the full approval of everyone in the opposition.

      Hope it helps something.

      • De José para José, ya que yo me llamo así también:

        Yes, you did you did help with something, but let’s continue if you allow me.

        # You responded with “The have done many things wrong, but many people would also argue that they’ve done some good things.”

        Well, that is easy to see because chavistas are in power and just defeated the opposition in December for municipal elections. I expected a more elaborated answer.

        # You responded with “[...] Many people want them to dialogue, not throw crap at each other every day; but it’s kinda hard to argue with a government that has its military shooting at its people. It doesn’t help that chavismo itself is radical at its core.”

        By dialogue here I meant it between citizens, not political parties. I haven’t been able to find a blog/forum where I see Venezuelan citizens discussing and weighing pros and cons. Can you point me to one ? The argument of the military is hard for me to consider because it’s clear to me now that both sides use armed thugs.

        # You responded with “[...] many people who admit the government has done good things, though some of them are disillusioned chavistas.”

        I’m sorry but saying this or saying nothing is the same. Can we start with yourself: would you personally suggest any improvements to the current state of things other then a golpe de estado ?

        # You responded with “[...] while they commander a large base, they don’t have the full approval of everyone in the opposition.”

        Who’s engaged in the part of the opposition that isn’t with Capriles/López ? Where can I read about it ?

        José, muchas gracias por tu tiempo.

    • “Why is it that there’s absolutely no back and fourth discussion but just each side throwing crap at each other?”

      I just think in formulating this question you show you haven’t actually understood the basis of the regime’s governing strategy at all.

      Try to wrap your head around this: we’re trying to deal with a regime that has made it a priority to systematically humiliate EVERYONE who thinks differently. It’s put this at the center of its communicational agenda. It aggressively attacks, insults, berates, delegitimizes, and demonizes everyone who thinks independently every day, all-day, on 6 TV channels, dozens of radio stations, online and on official press, incessantly, and has done so FOR FIFTEEN YEARS.

      How the fuck are we suppose to have a dialogue with people who call EVERYONE who doesn’t slavishly follow their line a fascist?

      The aggressive delegitimation of independent thought isn’t one aspect of chavismo’s political strategy, IT’S ITS CORNERSTONE. They start from there and build on up.

    • The best proof that the Chavistas have utterly failed governing Venezuela is the lack of press freedom. If they were truly proud of their record then they wouldn’t fear independent media sources. Those cadenas are an outrage not only for their paranoid content but more so because the government has the power to tell the radio and TV stations that they must air that propaganda. Press freedom in Venezuela died the moment the government granted itself the power to force the media to air the cadenas.

    • The Venezuelan government, as much as it was initially elected democratically and won several elections rather “democratically” (the misuse of state resources, cajoling, threats, false registries has been massive ever since) is an autocratic government, arguably more autocratic than the Russian one.

      The popularity it has for “things it got that the previous did” is based on the world price of oil between 1999 and now, which has been A LOT higher than in the 14 years before.

      • Thank you for your reply Kepler.

        I followed your lead and got these graphs that show the price of oil throughout the years http://bit.ly/1pji5ph & http://bit.ly/1fxpDAE and compared it to a few indicators of the Venezuela economy/society http://bit.ly/1k5ldo0. And some indicators show a different thing: for example, school enrollment and social security budget started increasing before the the price of oil started climbing.
        Can you point me to some references that can back your idea ?

        Thanks

        • The Zesantos,
          I don’t have the time to do research for you. If you pay me 150 euros per hour I might consider otherwise. What I say stands still. This government, any government in Venezuela has more money when oil prices go up. That has been a rule for decades.
          The thing is: this government is so incredibly corrupt that it cannot even keep up with this.

          Another exception to this is, for instance, actual construction of social houses. During Caldera II there were more houses built than for most of the time of Chávez.
          But people did feel more money pouring in during Chavez than during the previous 10 years. Where? Out of the top of my head: salaries for public servants were paid more efficiently during Chávez than in the previous 10 years. Why? Well: because Chávez had several times more money. When oil prices were going below $20 the government was having trouble paying teachers and many more.

          So: that is one of the reasons why Chávez became popular.
          Another one: in the nineties the programmes for school food, which were very present when I was a child, almost dried out. And when petrodollars started to pour in after 1999, Chávez could recommence them. But most people only remembered the previous
          ten years or so.

          But corruption and simply mismanagement is so badly that even now, even now that we still have roughly speaking record oil prices (on yearly basis the top was two years ago but we are still high, very high compared to anything between 1988 and 1999)
          the system for providing food for poor schools is starting to have serious problems.

          So: Chavismo did manage to pour more money in general in social programmes than in the CAP II/Caldera II period in total numbers but as “value for petrodollar” it has been incredibly bad.
          And that is why we can’t praise Chavismo. It has done generally less for each petrodollar it has got and oil prices are not due to Chávez’s influence on OPEC, unlike what some think.
          But I have no more time to explain you all Venezuela.

          • Thank you for your reply Kepler.

            Well, even with your limited time, you just made it clearer to me.
            You just totally ignored my question/request and instead of admitting you can’t back your idea with data, you say your time is expensive. A couple of links would have made it – and my own research was done with a couple of google searches. Simultaneously, you showed that your English-written blog, which is supposedly for foreigners to know what’s going on in your country, is not so interested in helping people who actually want to know stuff told first-hand and not through made-up mainstream media.

            • Regarding Chavismo compared to pre-Chavismo and to the rest of Latin America, here are some stats.
              Housing from my previous CC comment. See link for documentation.

              When this is translated into Housing Units constructed per year per 100,000 population, we get:

              1979-1998 346
              1999-2012 200 [using pop average 1999-2012]
              1999-2012 201 [using pop average 1999-2011]

              When comparing public health progress compared to Latin America, we will use Life Expectancy and Infant Mortality.

              Life Expectancy 1998 2011
              Latin America 71.0 74.4
              Venezuela 72.2 74.3

              Increase, Life Expectancy 1998 2011
              Latin America 3.4
              Venezuela 2.1

              Infant Mortality per 1000 births 1998 2011
              Latin America 29.9 16
              Venezuela 19.6 13.1

              Infant Mortality % Reduction 1998-2011
              Latin America 46%
              Venezuela 33%

              Progress in Public Health under Chavismo is not exceptional by Latin American standards. While improvement is below the average for Latin America, this may be at least partially explained by Venezuela already having a better than average public health by Latin American standards- other countries were catching up to Venezuela- which does away with the Chavista myth that things were SO HORRIBLE before 1999. In any event, the Chavista claims of exceptional progress in health coverage and health care do not stand up.

              Health data from World Development Indicators Databank (World Bank).

              • Thanks a million for engaging in this discussion.
                Regarding the “Housing Units constructed per year per 100.000 population” metric, I will for now skip it because I need to entirely understand its meaningfulness before doing anything with it.

                So, about the other two indicators you brought up, I pulled the datasets from the WorldBank http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/world-development-indicators but considered only South America, not Latin America (http://data.worldbank.org/region/LAC). I think that countries like Jamaica or Haiti shouldn’t be accounted for, in this analysis.

                * Life Expectancy

                I don’t think that the average increase within the set of countries is a good comparison measure against another country’s individual increase exactly for the reason you stated: “this may be at least partially explained by Venezuela already having a better than average public health by Latin American standards”. In any case, I conclude the same: Venezuela’s progress in terms of life-expectancy is not very impressive, 2.12 years up. Ecuador, which was the closest to Venezuela in 1998, has done a better job. Graph here: http://bit.ly/1hPUfkb.

                * Infant Mortality

                In this case, it becomes even clearer that one can’t assess progress the way you proposed. As a reference, Chile has the 2nd best record for infant mortality in South America but improved only 22% in the period of 1998-2011, while the average was 42.3%. Although better than life-expectancy, performance for infant mortality was just regular; as a term of comparison: it went hand-in-hand with Argentina. Graph here http://bit.ly/1hchG4p.

                In sum, I don’t agree with the way you present the results, it’s misleading. But my final conclusion is the same: nothing amazing happened in this area.

                Thank you for your promptness.
                (I will take a look at your other replies now)

              • Still regarding health indicators, I have a couple of points I would like to bring up.

                * Life-expectancy data (we’ve seen Venezuela hasn’t improved it much during 1998-2011) has something more to say. I looked at the 13 years before (1986-1998) and the 13 years with Chávez (1999-2011, no data available yet since then) and analyzed the yearly gains ie. I looked at how much life-expectancy increased year by year.
                The numbers for Venezuela in the period between 1993-1998 not only keep the negative tendency of the years prior to that, but they stabilize at a rate of 0.11 years increase in life-expectancy per year. Worse than that, only Suriname. Not pretty. Things change in 2000 and the rate increases to levels similar to those of Argentina or Uruguay. Data and graph here http://bit.ly/1gFa6g3.
                The point I am making with this is the fact that Venezuela had the worst legacy up to 1999 amongst its peers but managed to counter it.

                * Something new: health expenditure per capita. In the period of time 1998-2010 Venezuela was the country with the highest growth in health expenditure of South America. Taking into account 2011 (which is the last year for which there’s data) the records are less shiny but still good. Data and graph here http://bit.ly/1hWDh3w.

                1998 2010 2011
                Venezuela 176$ 720$ (309% inc) 555$ (215% inc)
                S. America 267$ 530$ (151% inc) 577$ (170% inc)

                So, I think that these two pieces of information are useful in the context of healthcare in the Chávez era. The impressive increase in health expenditure is certainly associated with the increase in oil revenues, no doubt about it. Unfortunately there’s not enough available data from before 1999, otherwise I could try to assess how big a priority healthcare was before Chávez: my previous point about life-expectancy suggests that it wasn’t at the top.

            • Regarding GDP per capita, PPP (constant 2005 international $) from my previous CC comment

              Raw data:
              Latin America Venezuela
              1999 8,083 9,360
              2009 9,701 11,315
              2011 10,520 11,258

              1999-2011 % increase in GDP per capita, PPP
              Latin America 29.30%
              Venezuela 19.80%

              2009-2011 per capita increase
              Latin America 8.40%
              Venezuela -0.50%
              In spite of a huge increase in the price of oil, Venezuela has not performed as well as Latin America has during this time.

              For per capita income in constant currency units, you get a wide variation for Venezuela depending on which pair of years you use: 1998-2011, 1998-2012, 1999-2011, 1999-2012. GNI and GDP also give different values. By contrast, the per capita change figures for Latin America for these years are relatively the same, regardless of which pair of years you choose. In any event, whatever metric you use, Venezuela has underperformed Latin America during this time, in spite of a Vast increase in petroleum revenues during this time.

              Data from World Bank Development Indicators

            • Simultaneously, you showed that your English-written blog, which is supposedly for foreigners to know what’s going on in your country, is not so interested in helping people who actually want to know stuff told first-hand and not through made-up mainstream media.

              It is rather that it is late at night for Kepler, who like you is located in Europe, and he doesn’t have the energy to do he has already done a hundred times. Please note that I am referring you to comments I already made at this website- with the documentation for same.

        • zesantos

          And some indicators show a different thing: for example, school enrollment and social security budget started increasing before the the price of oil started climbing.

          You are not correct. The price of oil went as low as $10/bbl in 1998, the year before Chavez took office , which was the lowest oil had been in about 20 years. The price of oil bounced back up to $20 or so in 1999, when Chavez became President. From PDVSA Annual Report 2001, Export Sales: [current dollars]
          1997 32,502
          1998 23,289
          1999 30,369
          2000 49,780
          2001 42,682

          Oil Export revenues hit a low in 1998, the year before Chavez became President. Oil Export revenues were never as low under Chavismo as they were in 1998, the year before he became President. So Chavez had MORE oil money EVERY YEAR to dole out than did the 4th Republic in its last year. Even with the dip in 2001, he still had nearly twice as much in oil revenue to dole out as the 4th Republic had in 1998. So to claim that school enrollment and social security budget started increasing before the oil revenue/price of oil started climbing is simply not correct. For example, from World Bank Development Indicators- you already have the link- we find that from School enrollment, secondary (% net) went from 47.8% in 1999 to 50.7% in 2000. This increase in secondary school enrollment occurred in tandem with oil revenues increasing form $32.5 billion in 1998 to $30.4 billion in 1998 to $49.0 billion in 2000.

          zesantos to Kepler

          Can you point me to some references that can back your idea ?

          Kepler

          The popularity it has for “things it got that the previous did” is based on the world price of oil between 1999 and now, which has been A LOT higher than in the 14 years before.

          That is actually a pretty succinct summary of what has been going on,as was his reply to your requesting references . I strongly suggest that you go to the Beginner’s Guide at the top of the website. Once there, I highly recommend that you read The Petrostate that was and the petrostate that is , which will give a good historical perspective. Well before Chavez became President, Venezuela was a petrostate that doled out petroleum revenues. And as Kepler correctly points out, Chavez has had a LOT more petroleum revenue to dole out than there was before.

        • zesantos:
          Here are more references for you. Not only has annual housing construction per 100,000 under Chavismo 42% below what it was under the last 20 years of the Fourth Republic [1979-1988] – see my previous post [201 versus 346 per year per 100,000], much of the housing construction under Chavismo has been of abysmal quality. I refer you to Worst. GMVV House. Ever!

          Regarding Chavista economic policies, I refer you Devil’s Excrement- graph on cost of filling up a tank of gasoline and graph on export oil price.

          In 1998, right before Chávez came to power a tank of 80 liters of gasoline, or about 21 gallons, cost about 13.5 US$ in Bolivars. Chávez decided to freeze the price of gas to preserve his popularity. By now, that same tank of gas costs 11 cents of a US$. (NOT A TYPO) Asymptotically, this is simply zero, gas is free in Venezuela, and is one of the many ways in which Chavismo is trapped. ….
          When Chávez came to power. the average price of oil the previous year was 8.08 dollars per barrel. Between that time and 2006, that average grew by a factor of ten, something somehow lost when Chavismo looks at its lack of accomplishments.

          A government which claims to be for the poor is providing an enormous gasoline subsidy for the better off. After all, the poor don’t own cars. The better off own cars, and benefit from the gasoline subsidy.
          I refer you to Google “exchange rate” at Devil’s Excrement . As Miguel Octavio’s specialty is economics- he is a physics professor turned bond trader- I refer to his blog for succinct presentations of economis

        • Zesantos: You want references, you got references.
          A picture is worth a thousand words: An all-out physical assault on opposition MP’s inside the National Assembly.

          Statistical Studies on Fraud in the 2004 Recall Referendum.

          There have been a lot of posts on gerrymandering with respect to the 2010 legislative elections, where Chavismo’s 48% of the legislative vote resulted in 64% of the legislative seats. They are perhaps too geeky for me. What I did was to look at some egregious examples of Gerrymnandring in Venezuela, also with reference to the 1999 Constitution. [look for my comments]

  6. Emiliana,

    I will write a registered letter to the BBC. It’s easy to do from the Continent, it doesn’t cost me much (the post office is close) and it will arrive in 2, 3 days at their BBC office. If you want, I can pass you the draft before, in case you want to add something. I know one can write to their world service BBC address, but not this time. We need to register this.

  7. I’m caught between two perspectives: is the BBC deliberately under-reporting or is Venezuela just not high enough up their agenda? If pushed I’d say the second as a direct consequence of their frenzy-like approach to news stories these days. But it is a close call. The Chavistas have repeatedly complained about BBC reporting in the past. Maybe it isn’t just Venezuelan outlets that are self-censuring.

  8. One particularly uninformed ass from Mexico I had the displeasure of talking to was actually angry that the government here was not doing enough to exclude the oligarchs from the media.
    More posts like this one need to be published on foreign outlets.

  9. Emiliana, Daniel and Girish, well done for keeping it civil.

    As per Eva’s “I’m an independent journalist… there’s thriving media in Venezuela… Sukhoi’s overflying because of Colombian paramilitaries… 50% reduction of poverty… no scarcity of food… those figures aren’t verified… I’m also Venezuelan…” Oh man. Next time any of you are invited to debate Eva, do drop me a line, I’ll gladly put you au courant.

    • My blood was boiling.

      At least anyone who looks her up will find immediately that she is not an “Independent journalist” and will thus give the rest of her lies the weight they deserve.

  10. zesantos @February 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm , February 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    In sum, I don’t agree with the way you present the results [Infant Mortality], it’s misleading. But my final conclusion is the same
    If my data presentation is so misleading, why did you come to the same conclusion that I did? Comparison of one country with the region average which I did- is by and large a good way to go, because data outliers, such as Chile or small Caribbean countries, get smoothed out. Large numbers and all that. If you want to be more precise and more closely compare like to like such as low Infant Mortality countries, ok, but you got the same results I did: not exceptional. Quick and dirty does the job.

    Another point in favor of comparing Venezuela with all Latin America is that Chavismo sees itself as a model for all of Latin America, not just South America. Just ask Mel Zelaya.

    The point I am making with this is the fact that Venezuela had the worst legacy up to 1999 amongst its peers… [life expectancy, improvement in life expectancy]

    Closer examination of the data leads to different conclusions.
    From the 12 countries [South America] you selected:

    1998: [LE: Word Bank World Development Index. Expenditures: your graph @ Feb 27 comment at 1:26 pm.]
    Venezuela 7th in Health Expenditure P/C
    Venezuela 5th in Life Expectancy.

    Those figures say that when it came to translating Health Expenditures into actual results, Venezuela in the last year of the Fourth Republic did relatively better than the other 11 countries you chose.

    The primary reason for Venezuela’s stagnation in increasing life expectancy from 1986-1993-1998 is that the oil boom stopped in 1986- oil went from near $40 in 1983 to as low as $9 in 1986 – and thus the amount of oil revenues the 4th Republic could dole out were reduced.

    Recall what Kepler wrote: When oil prices were going below $20 the government was having trouble paying teachers and many more. In addition, Venezuela’s population kept increasing, so the amount of oil export revenues per capita went down even more. Even so, in terms of relative rankings for the 12 countries you selected, Venezuela didn’t do THAT badly during the 4th Republic’s oil bust: 4th in Life expectancy in 1986 and 1993, and 5th in 1998. And with all the increased oil revenues, Chavismo hasn’t done any better.

    In the period of time 1998-2010 Venezuela was the country with the highest growth in health expenditure of South America.
    My response is- so what? Here are the reasons for my response.
    Look at the rankings:

    Venezuela highest growth in health expenditure 1998-2010
    Venezuela 5th in Health Expenditure P/C 2010
    Venezuela 5th in Life Expectancy. 2010

    Chavismo spent more money on health, improving its ranking in expenditures [7th to 5th], but not improving its ranking in results[5th to 5th]. Chavismo spent more money, because it had more oil revenues to spend than did the Fourth Republic in its final years, but didn’t achieve better results compared to other countries.

    Spending money without achieving improved results is hardly a virtue- though those on the receiving end of the money might beg to differ. Misión Gasta Plata and all that. Chavismo has an exceptional record in wasting money.

    Regarding housing stats:

    housing units constructed
    per year
    per unit of population

    Pretty straightforward.
    Here are some corroborating links re data, in addition to the ones I already provided:
    Web Archive: El Déficit y la Producción Formal de Viviendas Fecha: 2006-08-05

    Web Archive: El Universal_2009

    BTW, Sarah Hoyt, a Portuguese immigrant, has an interesting blog: http://accordingtohoyt.com/

    • [Infant Mortality] If my data presentation is so misleading, why did you come to the same conclusion that I did?
      It is misleading because putting things in such terms as “Infant Mortality % decrease: Latin America 46%, Venezuela 33%” is doing a disservice to readers in general. I agree that it wasn’t extraordinary, yes, but I wouldn’t present it in the way you do.

      [Life Expectancy] The point I am making with this is the fact that Venezuela had the worst legacy up to 1999 amongst its peers but managed to counter it.
      Here, I referred to year-by-year increase, not to absolute value. And year-by-year, yes, Venezuela had the worst legacy.
      Rank positions in this context aren’t helpful: according to your logic, the best performer as of 1998 is Suriname which ranks last for health expenditure but manages an respectful 10th place in life-expectancy: excellent return on investment. Also, in my analysis I didn’t try to directly co-relate health expenditure with life-expectancy; there should be a tangible correspondence but, in my opinion, not in such a short period. I simply pointed out that a big investment was made and while not being a specialist in medical care, I believe it’s possible to increase the quality of life of a patient without increasing their lifespan.

      [Highest growth in health expenditure] My response is- so what?
      Again you co-relate life-expectancy and health expenditure, it’s not the point. Brazil as of 2011 is the highest spender (it went 4th to 1st) but ranks only 8th (moved down from 7th to 8th) in life-expectancy.

      I will look into housing some time later.
      Thank you for this discussion, it’s very valuable at least to me.

  11. zesantos
    In the period of time 1998-2010 Venezuela was the country with the highest growth in health expenditure of South America.
    I don’t think that is something that Chavistas would like advertised, as Venezuela also had the lowest increase in life expectancy during this time. Greatest growth in health expenditure, lowest increase in life expectancy: wouldn’t make a great campaign slogan for Maduro, would it?

    country LE_1998
    Peru 69.5
    Bolivia 62.2
    Brazil 69.6
    Ecuador 72.6
    Chile 76.0
    Colombia 70.4
    Suriname 67.9
    Guyana 63.2
    Paraguay 69.6
    Uruguay 74.2
    Argentina 73.3
    Venezuela, RB 72.2

    country LE_2010
    Peru 73.9
    Bolivia 66.3
    Brazil 73.1
    Ecuador 75.6
    Chile 79.1
    Colombia 73.4
    Suriname 70.3
    Guyana 65.7
    Paraguay 72.0
    Uruguay 76.6
    Argentina 75.7
    Venezuela, RB 74.2

  12. Boludo Tejano,

    I wasn’t here to create slogans for anyone. I am not sold to any side, so I don’t need to twist/exacerbate/ignore tendencies shown by the data.
    You are radicalizing this discussion and that kind of behavior is indeed consistent with what I see happening in your country: supporters of the regime and supporters of the opposition that can’t discuss in a civilized way and prefer to go violent. You guys appear to not like facts because, if you did, the ‘pogrom’ lie hadn’t happened and you would have avoided putting your tails between your legs https://twitter.com/BoringDev/status/437974589931397120

  13. zesantos’s comments in boldface:

    The point I am making with this is the fact that Venezuela had the worst legacy up to 1999 amongst its peers but managed to counter it…In the period of time 1998-2010 Venezuela was the country with the highest growth in health expenditure of South America.

    “Worst legacy up to 1999″- not at all. As far as I can tell, your 0.11 figure, from which you conclude “Venezuela had the worst legacy up to 1999 amongst its peers,” is based on ONLY ONE YEAR’S ANNUAL INCREASE in Life Expectancy -or a couple of years as there is more than one year with 0.11 increase. If instead of Life Expectancy you are going to use increases in Life Expectancy -which is a valid approach- you should choose increase in Life Expectancy for a number of years instead of just a year or two.

    I am using average annual increase from 1986-1998 for the Fourth Republic, and from 1999-2010 for Chavismo. 1986 is a good year to choose, because that is when the oil boom really went bust, as the price of oil went down to $9/bbl for a while in 1986. It took about 20 years for oil to rebound back to the 1981 peak of nearly $40/bbl. (Using 2011 for LE wouldn’t change the rankings- I used 2010 because you used 2010 for health expenditure.)

    Average Annual increase in Life Expectancy for Venezuela, w rank in South America.
    1986-98 Fourth Republic Oil Bust 0.184- 9th
    1999-2010 Chavista Oil Boom 0.168 -12th

    My response is still “so what? “- but modified. Here are the reasons for my response.
    Look at the rankings for South America:

    Venezuela highest growth in Health Expenditure P/C 1998-2010.
    Venezuela 5th in Health Expenditure P/C 2010, from 7th in 1998.
    Venezuela 5th in Life Expectancy in 2010, from 5th in 1998.
    Venezuela 9th in average annual increase in Life Expectancy 1986-1998.
    Venezuela 12th- last- in average annual increase in Life Expectancy 1999-2010.

    “Worst legacy up to 1999″- not at all. “Managed to counter it”- only if you look at spending. If you look at RESULTS- not at all. As they say in Venezuela, “Decime/dime otro de vaqueros.” Tell me another tall tale.

    It would also appear that “increase in health expenditure,” even when uncoupled from results, is not something for Chavismo to crow about. Look at the following table.
    From World Bank WDI:
    Health expenditure, public (% of GDP)

    1995 1.80
    1998 1.47
    1999 2.09
    2006 2.39
    2007 2.66
    2008 2.39
    2009 2.50
    2010 2.05
    2011 1.89

    For all the brouhaha about “increase in health expenditure,” it appears that public health expenditure as a % of GDP is now approaching Fourth Republic levels- even as oil export income continues to be much higher than in the final years of the Fourth Republic: $23 Billion in 1998 versus around $120 Billion for both 2011 and 2012. (Recall that under Chavismo, no year has had oil export income as low as it was in 1998.) The odds are pretty good that public health expenditure as a % of GDP for 2013 and 2014 will be even lower than for 2011, as the economy hasn’t done well.

    Again you co-relate life-expectancy and health expenditure, it’s not the point.

    Merely spending for the sake of spending is not the point, either. Results trump intentions- at least when you are dealing with the public’s money.

    Life Expectancy and Infant Mortality are generally considered to be the gold standards in measuring the effectiveness of public health systems- especially in the Third World. Therefore Life Expectancy and Infant Mortality are good rough measures of the effectiveness of spending in public health. They are by no means the only measures of the effectiveness of spending in public health, but they are most likely the best “quick and dirty” measures.

    If you are informing me that “it’s not the point” to co-relate life expectancy and health expenditure, then you are informing me that “it’s not the point” to attempt to measure the effectiveness of government health expenditure.

    While the citizens of a country which has seen oil export revenues increase from $23 Billion in 1998 to around $120 Billion in both 2011 and 2012, may once have believed that there was no need to try to spend money effectively as there was plenty of money available – those days are gone. Venezuela is running out of easy to spend money: the difficulty in procuring dollars and the empty shelves show this very well. In these times of troubles for Venezuela, effectiveness of government spending is a very relevant issue.

    Also, in my analysis I didn’t try to directly co-relate health expenditure with life-expectancy..
    As far as I can tell you didn’t attempt to co-relate health expenditure with anything, except perhaps as a talking point in support of Chavismo’s alleged accomplishments. It would appear to me that effectiveness of government spending is not your concern.

    You are radicalizing this discussion and that kind of behavior is indeed consistent with what I see happening in your country:supporters of the regime and supporters of the opposition that can’t discuss in a civilized way and prefer to go violent.
    “Your” country? I am born, raised, and residing in Gringaterra, the good old US of A. Pray tell, what do you think “Tejano” means? I have worked in Venezuela, and have also worked with Venezuelans in the US , which explains why I have more interest in Venezuela than the average US citizen. My interest in and knowledge of Venezuela apparently caused you to mistake me for a citizen of Venezuela.

    “Radicalizing the discussion?” My point is that the “increased health expenditures” narrative, when coupled with looking at results of this increased expenditure, does not support Chavismo. As this does not support Chavismo, it wouldn’t make a good campaign slogan for Chavismo. Apparently you have a problem with that point.

    In addition, I fail to see how making that point is, as you put it, “consistent with ..can’t discuss in a civilized way..go violent.” What is “uncivilized” with pointing out that “highest growth in health expenditures with lowest increase in life expectancy” is NOT a good Chavista talking point/campaign slogan? Is it “uncivilized” to point out the truth?

    You guys appear to not like facts because, if you did, the ‘pogrom’ lie hadn’t happened and you would have avoided putting your tails between your legs.

    I refer you to CC’s A Word on Blogs and Pogroms (UPDATED). I quote from syd’s comment @ February 26, 2014 at 7:18 pm. Syd provides ample links to dictionaries.

    Merriam-Webster has this to say on the word: “Mob attack, condoned by authorities, against persons and property of a religious, racial, or national minority. The term is usually applied to attacks on Jews in Russia in the late 19th and early 20th centuries…” (boldface mine).
    The free dictionary is even more liberal in its stance: Russian term, originally meaning “riot….”
    Just because the etymology of the word is Russian or Yiddish, does not mean it can’t be used in similar scenarios of persecution elsewhere around the world, of those who may or may not be Jews. Unless Jews have a peculiar trademark on certain words, which of course, they don’t.

    ” ‘pogrom’ lie?” A fair number of the definitions of “pogrom” in the online dictionaries accurately describe the motorizados’ actions against oppo demonstrators, such as Mob attack, condoned by authorities, against persons and property. Say no more.
    As YOU do not have a very good command of the facts in the above example, it would appear that it is YOU who do not like facts. Physician, heal thyself.

    I would also point out that while in the above you criticize what oppo people have said, I do not see where you have criticized what Chavistas have said. As a recent CC post ["The Quotable Revolution"] points out, from Presidents Maduro and Chávez on down, Chavistas have said some crazy things. After all, you state “I am not sold to any side.” Just sayin’…

    You guys appear to not like facts…
    OK, let’s take a look at one of YOUR statements.

    Rank positions in this context aren’t helpful: according to your logic, the best performer as of 1998 is Suriname which ranks last for health expenditure but manages an respectful 10th place in life-expectancy: excellent return on investment.

    I don’t know which is worse here, your command of the facts or your assumptions regarding my logic. Contrary to what you claim, in 1998, Suriname ranked 6th out of 12 in Health Expenditure (P/C) and 10th in Life Expectancy.

    I would label the most cost effective countries in health expenditures- or as you put it return on investment- as those countries which ranked relatively higher in Life Expectancy and relatively lower in Health Expenditures P/C. I devised a Health Expenditure Effectiveness Score by subtracting Life Expectancy rank from Health Expenditure P/C rank. For example, in 1998 Ecuador ranked 4th in Life Expectancy and 10th in Health Expenditure P/C , giving it a score of +6, which ranks it first in Health Expenditure Effectiveness. With a score of +2, Venezuela in 1998 ties for 2nd with Chile. Suriname, with a -4 rating, is dead last using this metric, which is the WORST “return on investment.” So much for your assumptions on my logic, AND your command of facts.

    Again: As YOU do not have a very good command of the facts in the above example, it would appear that it is YOU who do not like facts. Physician, heal thyself.

    Part of the problem is one of perspective. You appear to be a “newbie,” trying to figure out what is going on. I have been dealing with Venezuelan news and data here in the US for a decade, and yes, I AM partisan.
    The facts on Venezuela made me partisan. Example: a decade ago I mentioned to a Venezuelan work colleague that one reason that Chavez was elected was a response to the ingrained corruption of Venezuela- of which I have firsthand experience from paying solicited bribes to highway patrolmen. Her reply was that corruption was worse under Chavismo. My examination of the facts led me to the conclusion that yes, corruption was worse under Chavismo.

    Could I present things better? Undoubtedly, as I am not a word person, but a numbers person.

    Ciao.

    • The point I am making with this is the fact that Venezuela had the worst legacy up to 1999 amongst its peers but managed to counter it…In the period of time 1998-2010 Venezuela was the country with the highest growth in health expenditure of South America.
      Venezuela did manage to counter the negative trend that took place in 1992-1999 and which is shown in the graph http://bit.ly/1gFa6g3. I did not base my statement on the fact that the 0.11 gain happened once, I did base my statement in the following sequence: 0.15, 0.13, 0.13, 0.12, 0.11, 0.11, 0.11 ie. not only the numbers were low, but also the tendency was negative; that’s what I meant by “legacy”.

      Average Annual increase in Life Expectancy for Venezuela, w rank in South America.
      1986-98 Fourth Republic Oil Bust 0.184- 9th
      1999-2010 Chavista Oil Boom 0.168 -12th

      You insist in using rank positions for this, I don’t understand why. Countries that went up in the rank are the ones with the lowest life-expectancies and, therefore, the ones that more easily improve; Argentina and Uruguay lost positions too.

      As far as I can tell you didn’t attempt to co-relate health expenditure with anything
      You’re right, I didn’t make that effort. I simply brought new information into the discussion given that we had both concluded that Venezuela’s progress in terms of life-expectancy and infant mortality wasn’t outstanding.
      Such a considerable increase in expenditure hinted that probably something was being done, perhaps the government was just throwing money out of window, perhaps it was positively affecting something that didn’t show on any other indicators that you or I knew of. As I reply to you, I found out the Prevalence of undernourishment (% of population) (http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SN.ITK.DEFC.ZS) indicator which the WorldBank places as well under “Health”. It shows that Venezuela was the top performer in South America for the period 1998-2011 with a decrease of 69.33%. You can look at it here http://bit.ly/1pKxYWe.

      As this does not support Chavismo, it wouldn’t make a good campaign slogan for Chavismo. Apparently you have a problem with that point.
      What is “uncivilized” with pointing out that “highest growth in health expenditures with lowest increase in life expectancy” is NOT a good Chavista talking point/campaign slogan? Is it “uncivilized” to point out the truth?
      It was never my intention to find slogans for Chavistas and I still don’t know why you thought it was relevant to bring that up. So, yes, I do have a problem with you suggesting that I am here for that.

      Contrary to what you claim, in 1998, Suriname ranked 6th out of 12 in Health Expenditure (P/C) and 10th in Life Expectancy.
      You are right. I made a mistake while checking the facts. Unfortunately I looked at the data row for Guyana (which stands just above) http://bit.ly/1hWDh3w and got the wrong information. In any case, the whole purpose of that remark was to try to show you that ranks here are not useful here. For example, as of 2011 there are 4 countries with only 5.00% of undernourished population: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Venezuela. How do you rank this ?

      There is no problem with perspective. Just curiosity. I would love to find a blog where I could as well confront Chavistas with data.

  14. . would love to find a blog where I could as well confront Chavistas with data.
    That perhaps, is the point. The Chavista idea of “data” is to have Dr. Weisbrot [Whitebread] or Greg Wilpert, the best-known foreign talking heads for Chavismo, throw in some “data” while proclaiming that all is fine with Chavista rule over the Land of Grace. Data from the Government of Venezuela is both difficult to find and not necessarily trustworthy. For example, 5 years ago it wasn’t difficult for me to find information on year to year per capita income in constant B’s from the BCV [Central Bank] website. Today, I can’t find it. I doubt that my web-searching capabilities have gone down. Murder stats – the GOV does not make this data readily available -or available at all. [Greg Wilpert's wife works for a Venezuelan consulate in the US, last I checked. Conflict of interest?]

    If you are not yet aware of them, the following English language blogs also deal with Venezuela.
    http://devilsexcrement.com Good on economics and also on general narratives, Run by a former Physics professor turned bond trader, now in exile. He left the university not to make more money, but because budget cuts made his profession less and less viable.
    http://daniel-venezuela.blogspot.com/ In-country, and very good on day to day narratives. Run by a Ph.D. biologist working in a small scale agribusiness in the “monte ye culebra” part of Venezuela, so he has good perspective on how Chavismo is strangling the economy.

    You have learned a lot about Venezuela in the recent weeks. Thanks for making the effort.

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