Archive for August 8th, 2004

Some reasons for the “SI” by Alberto Barreda

August 8, 2004

I enjoyed a lot this article in today’s El Nacional by Alberto Barreda, thought I would share it with all of you by translating it:


 


Some reasons for the “SI” by Alberto Barreda


 


Because I want to live differently. Because I need to get back my street, my corner, my neighborhood, my city, because I want to walk distracted, without the risk of death. Because I reject a country where fear is an important part of the national identity. Because I want to live in a country without stray bullets, without Mondays with a bloody dawn.


 


Because I want to stop a Government that has wasted the largest windfall that has come into this country in its history. Because I want to know whatever happened with all that money, with the thousands of millions of dollars that do not belong to the Bolivarian revolution, but to all Venezuelans. Because I feel the same way as when we confronted any of the previous Governments. Because the fifth republic seems to want to prove that they are faster, that in almost six years they can achieve the same decadence that it took the other forty years. Because I yearn for a Government that the people can control.


 


Because I want to watch TV in peace, without all of a sudden the President appearing repeating the usual, as usual.


 


Because I am tired of those that think that I am confused, dizzy, cheated. Because if I am in the opposition it is because I have some sort of gas stuck in my brain. That I am dumb  if I can’t say why I believe in “Si”. Because it is a brainy and emotional “Si”. A “Si” that also rejects Bush and Carlos Andres Perez. A “Si” that is not manipulated, it’s totally mine. A “Si” that thinks, analyzes, discusses, that decides.


 


Because I want the military to go back to being the military and reporters to go back to being reporters.


 


Because I think it is boring to live glued to polls. As if polls were our new scriptures. Because, among other things, if what polls close to the opposition say its true, if what polls close to the Government say its true, if the picture those polls that are supposedly the most objective is reality…then, beyond the concrete result of August 15th. , there is a deeper and more evident result: neither of the two sides can govern without the other. Because I don’t believe a referendum is a closing, nor a form of elimination.


 


Because I get irritated with know it alls, the arrogance of all those that think that they are the only ones that know until when they will stay in power. Because I reject anyone that behaves as if they had already won, as if my vote does not count, as if my power was not needed. Because I want to teach the President that to say 2021 first he has to ask the permission of a majority of all Venezuelans.


 


Because we have to say yes to honesty, against blackmail. Which is the same as saying that you are going to sign and not lose your job, “Si”, you can elect and their will be no retaliation, “Si” you can be yourself and we are not going to screw you.  Because only the “Si” calls for hope and rejects exclusion. Because threats are irrelevant, the “Si” is within us.


 


Because I want to live with transparency and I have the illusion of living in a country where confidence is possible. Because I need to know that someone is guilty for the deaths all of these years. Because I don’t want my country to be an enclosure of impunity. Because I want to know what happens with the detained and improbable paramilitary force. Because I want some results to come out of all of the supposed attempts of assassination. Because I do not understand why a city Mayor is in jail without a clear reason and a corrupt person, with proofs denounced and published, goes around free. Because I find it intolerable that nothing is ever resolved, that we are a scandal without ending, always with events under development.


 


Because I am sick and tired of Simon Bolivar, of Ezequiel Zamora and of Maisanta. Because the song of Florentino and the devil always seemed to me to be very long and boring shit. Because I am tired of people that want to teach me about patriotism and where supposedly paradise is.


 


Because I don’t share that interpretation of the country that is also Chavismo. Because I feel that it is a political dynamic that can only exist in the midst of waste. Because Chavismo is a form of enjoying the wealth, but not producing the wealth. Because this Government only reinforces what is worst about our tragic relationship with abundance. Because, unfortunately, it is only an extension of the “ta barato dame dos” (That’s cheap, give me two), without controls and evaluations, illuminated now by the great ills of the revolution.


 


Because I want labels to be eliminated in Venezuela. Because I want more Pedros, Eliases, Marias and Williams than officialists or squalids. Because I like to add. Because we did not elect this Government to divide citizens, to confront neighbors, to turn friends into enemies, to divide families. Because I want a Government that understands that we don’t have patriots and anti patriots. That we are all people.


 


Because I agree with any immediate help to cover the emergencies of the poorest, like the Missions for example, but I prefer a Government that, instead of always inventing new activities out of its own programs, confronts its job and takes charge in a continuous and responsible manner, hospitals, public safety, elementary and high schools and jump starting the economy.  Because I want a state with plans and evaluations, in permanent combat against misery and not a sporadic producer of special effects.


 


Because, in reality, I am also tired of all these people that want to save the country, that want to save us all Venezuelans. I only want to be the savior of my private life, a martyr of my conflicts and anxieties, a hero of those I love, of what gives me pleasure and gets me close to that which is called happiness.

Nationalizing CANTV: Another stupid revolutionary idea

August 8, 2004

In 1991, the Venezuelan Government, whose President then was Carlos Andres Perez, privatized the telephone company CANTV. AT the time, CANTV was a fixed line company run by the Government in a very inefficient way. It would sometimes take three or four tries to get a dial tone and sometimes years to get a line. Today the company has almost 3 million fixed lines, almost 3 million cell phones and is an ISP and provider of data networks. You can get a phone in less that two weeks in all towns with less than 5,000 people and service is quite good.


CANTV was purchased by a GTE-led consortium in a bidding process in which qualified bidders handed in sealed bids. Everyone expected a consortium led by local Cisneros Group to win the bid as GTE and its partners kept a very low profile, learning from its experience in losing a similar process in the Dominican Republic. In the end GTE handsomely outbid the Cisneros bid, offering US$ 1.88 billion for 40% of the company. Today 40% of the company is worth in the open market about 900 million dollars.


 


In 1996, during the Caldera Government, the Government sold off roughly 44% of the shares of the company in an IPO with simultaneously listings in Caracas and New York. The price was $ 23.60 per ADR (the type of stock sold in the New York Stock Exchange), lower than the equivalent US$ US$ 29 paid by GTE.  Today the stock stands at US$ 20.31.


 


The deal as not as bad as it seems for the buyers. While the company is worth much less today, the company has paid some nice dividends, mostly in the last four years. Moreover, the control group, today led by Verizon since it acquired GTE, has probably sold equipment to CANTV at a profit. But it certainly was not a good deal.


 


For the Government it was a very good deal. It got US$ 1.88 billion in 1991 and another US$ 1.4 billion in 1996. It got rid of a company that was losing money, was inefficient and corrupt. Additionally, it imposed a tax of 5% on all revenues by the company, independent of whether it made money or not. In 2001, the Chavez Government opened the telecom sector completely to competition, approving a law that had been in the works since 1996.


 


The telecom opening has not been that succesful due to the political instability of the country. There are three large wireless companies, including CANTV’s Movilnet; there are competitors in data and very little competition in fixed line where CANTV is practically the sole player.


 


All of this comes to mind, because Chavez has been threatening with intervening the company if it participates in a fraud in the upcoming referendum, since it provides the data network over which all of the results would be transmitted. Chavez has even said that he has the decree ready without explaining what exactly an intervention means.


 


I have always believed that the sale of CANTV had been a good example of why the Government should not run for profit operations. The benefits of selling it are there for everyone to see in both service and financial terms. Thus, I was quite shocked when on Thursday MVR Deputy and former President of the National Assembly William Lara, said that the Government should “recover’ CANTV. Lara said that this is possible within the framework of Venezuelan laws, adding:” This is a company that is at the service of Venezuela and not associated to the interests of multinationals. What we are proposing is that it should be a strategic objective after August 15th”.


 


Lara explained that CANTV should have never been sold and the Government should, without harming shareholders, take the company back. Now, I would let our readers judge the merits of this proposal. However, to dedicate over US$ 2 billion to execute what sounds like a simple ideological point seems to me to be utterly irresponsible to say the least. Additionally, Lara did not clarify if the Government would buy the whole telecom sector. Given that CANTV was a monopoly in 1991 and there is so much competition today, if Lara’s plan was ever put into effect, my money would be on the competitors eventually taking over most of telecom activities in Venezuela and CANTV being reduced to a minimum in the hands of an inefficient, corrupt and overregulated Government. Another bad and stupid “revolutionary” idea proving these guys have no clue on how to run a country.


 


Hopefully the “Si” will win and stop this crazy idea.

Nationalizing CANTV: Another stupid revolutionary idea

August 8, 2004

In 1991, the Venezuelan Government, whose President then was Carlos Andres Perez, privatized the telephone company CANTV. AT the time, CANTV was a fixed line company run by the Government in a very inefficient way. It would sometimes take three or four tries to get a dial tone and sometimes years to get a line. Today the company has almost 3 million fixed lines, almost 3 million cell phones and is an ISP and provider of data networks. You can get a phone in less that two weeks in all towns with less than 5,000 people and service is quite good.


CANTV was purchased by a GTE-led consortium in a bidding process in which qualified bidders handed in sealed bids. Everyone expected a consortium led by local Cisneros Group to win the bid as GTE and its partners kept a very low profile, learning from its experience in losing a similar process in the Dominican Republic. In the end GTE handsomely outbid the Cisneros bid, offering US$ 1.88 billion for 40% of the company. Today 40% of the company is worth in the open market about 900 million dollars.


 


In 1996, during the Caldera Government, the Government sold off roughly 44% of the shares of the company in an IPO with simultaneously listings in Caracas and New York. The price was $ 23.60 per ADR (the type of stock sold in the New York Stock Exchange), lower than the equivalent US$ US$ 29 paid by GTE.  Today the stock stands at US$ 20.31.


 


The deal as not as bad as it seems for the buyers. While the company is worth much less today, the company has paid some nice dividends, mostly in the last four years. Moreover, the control group, today led by Verizon since it acquired GTE, has probably sold equipment to CANTV at a profit. But it certainly was not a good deal.


 


For the Government it was a very good deal. It got US$ 1.88 billion in 1991 and another US$ 1.4 billion in 1996. It got rid of a company that was losing money, was inefficient and corrupt. Additionally, it imposed a tax of 5% on all revenues by the company, independent of whether it made money or not. In 2001, the Chavez Government opened the telecom sector completely to competition, approving a law that had been in the works since 1996.


 


The telecom opening has not been that succesful due to the political instability of the country. There are three large wireless companies, including CANTV’s Movilnet; there are competitors in data and very little competition in fixed line where CANTV is practically the sole player.


 


All of this comes to mind, because Chavez has been threatening with intervening the company if it participates in a fraud in the upcoming referendum, since it provides the data network over which all of the results would be transmitted. Chavez has even said that he has the decree ready without explaining what exactly an intervention means.


 


I have always believed that the sale of CANTV had been a good example of why the Government should not run for profit operations. The benefits of selling it are there for everyone to see in both service and financial terms. Thus, I was quite shocked when on Thursday MVR Deputy and former President of the National Assembly William Lara, said that the Government should “recover’ CANTV. Lara said that this is possible within the framework of Venezuelan laws, adding:” This is a company that is at the service of Venezuela and not associated to the interests of multinationals. What we are proposing is that it should be a strategic objective after August 15th”.


 


Lara explained that CANTV should have never been sold and the Government should, without harming shareholders, take the company back. Now, I would let our readers judge the merits of this proposal. However, to dedicate over US$ 2 billion to execute what sounds like a simple ideological point seems to me to be utterly irresponsible to say the least. Additionally, Lara did not clarify if the Government would buy the whole telecom sector. Given that CANTV was a monopoly in 1991 and there is so much competition today, if Lara’s plan was ever put into effect, my money would be on the competitors eventually taking over most of telecom activities in Venezuela and CANTV being reduced to a minimum in the hands of an inefficient, corrupt and overregulated Government. Another bad and stupid “revolutionary” idea proving these guys have no clue on how to run a country.


 


Hopefully the “Si” will win and stop this crazy idea.

Nationalizing CANTV: Another stupid revolutionary idea

August 8, 2004

In 1991, the Venezuelan Government, whose President then was Carlos Andres Perez, privatized the telephone company CANTV. AT the time, CANTV was a fixed line company run by the Government in a very inefficient way. It would sometimes take three or four tries to get a dial tone and sometimes years to get a line. Today the company has almost 3 million fixed lines, almost 3 million cell phones and is an ISP and provider of data networks. You can get a phone in less that two weeks in all towns with less than 5,000 people and service is quite good.


CANTV was purchased by a GTE-led consortium in a bidding process in which qualified bidders handed in sealed bids. Everyone expected a consortium led by local Cisneros Group to win the bid as GTE and its partners kept a very low profile, learning from its experience in losing a similar process in the Dominican Republic. In the end GTE handsomely outbid the Cisneros bid, offering US$ 1.88 billion for 40% of the company. Today 40% of the company is worth in the open market about 900 million dollars.


 


In 1996, during the Caldera Government, the Government sold off roughly 44% of the shares of the company in an IPO with simultaneously listings in Caracas and New York. The price was $ 23.60 per ADR (the type of stock sold in the New York Stock Exchange), lower than the equivalent US$ US$ 29 paid by GTE.  Today the stock stands at US$ 20.31.


 


The deal as not as bad as it seems for the buyers. While the company is worth much less today, the company has paid some nice dividends, mostly in the last four years. Moreover, the control group, today led by Verizon since it acquired GTE, has probably sold equipment to CANTV at a profit. But it certainly was not a good deal.


 


For the Government it was a very good deal. It got US$ 1.88 billion in 1991 and another US$ 1.4 billion in 1996. It got rid of a company that was losing money, was inefficient and corrupt. Additionally, it imposed a tax of 5% on all revenues by the company, independent of whether it made money or not. In 2001, the Chavez Government opened the telecom sector completely to competition, approving a law that had been in the works since 1996.


 


The telecom opening has not been that succesful due to the political instability of the country. There are three large wireless companies, including CANTV’s Movilnet; there are competitors in data and very little competition in fixed line where CANTV is practically the sole player.


 


All of this comes to mind, because Chavez has been threatening with intervening the company if it participates in a fraud in the upcoming referendum, since it provides the data network over which all of the results would be transmitted. Chavez has even said that he has the decree ready without explaining what exactly an intervention means.


 


I have always believed that the sale of CANTV had been a good example of why the Government should not run for profit operations. The benefits of selling it are there for everyone to see in both service and financial terms. Thus, I was quite shocked when on Thursday MVR Deputy and former President of the National Assembly William Lara, said that the Government should “recover’ CANTV. Lara said that this is possible within the framework of Venezuelan laws, adding:” This is a company that is at the service of Venezuela and not associated to the interests of multinationals. What we are proposing is that it should be a strategic objective after August 15th”.


 


Lara explained that CANTV should have never been sold and the Government should, without harming shareholders, take the company back. Now, I would let our readers judge the merits of this proposal. However, to dedicate over US$ 2 billion to execute what sounds like a simple ideological point seems to me to be utterly irresponsible to say the least. Additionally, Lara did not clarify if the Government would buy the whole telecom sector. Given that CANTV was a monopoly in 1991 and there is so much competition today, if Lara’s plan was ever put into effect, my money would be on the competitors eventually taking over most of telecom activities in Venezuela and CANTV being reduced to a minimum in the hands of an inefficient, corrupt and overregulated Government. Another bad and stupid “revolutionary” idea proving these guys have no clue on how to run a country.


 


Hopefully the “Si” will win and stop this crazy idea.

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