Boondoggles as non-traditional exports

From Sochi with love

Now that we are done with the introductions and the sappy posts, let us get down to business. I came across this viral article from the Washington Post that describes the hardships endured by sports journalists in their hotels while covering the Sochi Olympics. The tweets and pictures show unfinished facilities, incompetent personnel, pictures of Putin on…

Workplace bullying as public policy

In the last few days, mutiple press reports indicate that some public sector workers have been fired and others have suffered harassment because of their political stance after the presidential election. Audio clips of several heads of public bodies (like the Zulia Sports Director or the Director of Bolipuertos in Puerto Cabello) have been leaked…

G.M.V.V. Chronicles, ctd.

A fire broke out last week in the improvised shelter for displaced people located in La Rinconada, Caracas’s racetrack. After the fire was put out, the shelter spent two days without any electricity. Many families are still living in the racetrack’s main stands more than two years after they lost their homes by floodings in…

G.M.V.V. Chronicles

Last month, after two years of waiting in shelters, 96 displaced families were given the keys of their brand new apartments in a new tower built in Western Caracas, as part of the Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela program. What could possibly go wrong? Well… the 16-story building has no elevator, the electrical system is faulty,…

The Misiones have to go

The Misiones, Hugo Chávez’s trademark social programs, have become the proverbial third rail in Venezuelan politics – nobody dares touch them because they are so damn popular. But since we are unelectable, it’s about time we speak the truth and come out of the closet: “I’m Juan, and I hate the Misiones.”

Paquetazo en Gotas

And so it begins. The Chávez government started to cut back on unsustainable social spending in the construction sector not years after the election, or months, or weeks even, but three days after: En un recorrido realizado en edificios en construcción por El Universal, trabajadores señalaron que el nivel previo a las elecciones ha bajado desde el…

Caracas Chronicles Summit in Guaroristan

Finally had a chance to meet Gustavo Hernández Acevedo, our Barquisimeto Bureau Chief, in person. We went off on a bit of an appliance bargain hunt, looking for Mi Casa Bien Equipada washing machines. They’re still around, even with the election over, but we finally understood the catch. You can buy them cash, of course,…

Rightsizing the Bolivarian dream

Another fun tidbit from R.G.Aveledo’s N24 interview comes at 9:06 (in the video link), when he’s being asked about a “secret Capriles plan” to phase out the government’s misones (social programs.) As Aveledo notes, it’s Chávez’s program that explicitly calls for “redimensioning” the misiones. But that’s clearly a euphemism for “scaling down”, because if they…

Orwell-on-Guaire

That weird Orwellian vibe on State Media these days may be clear as day to Venezuelans, but it’s tough, very tough to get it across to a neutral. How do you put across, to somebody who hasn’t experienced it, the National System of Public Media’s knack for manufacturing Official Truths through sheer repetition, even in the…

Del apuro solo queda…

The Gran Mision Vivienda Venezuela, the Chavernment’s house-building program, is going into overdrive right before the election. Of course, unintended consequences come along any rushed process, like workplace accidents. Six workers were injured when a construction crane fell down in Ciudad Tiuna, a huge housing project located inside the Caracas’ military complex known as Fuerte…