Archive for September 5th, 2005

Seven stories that need to be mentioned but don’t stand on their own

September 5, 2005


Decentralization doublespeak: Last
week, President Chavez “ordered” the centralization of all health care services
in the country. Problem is, not only was it a mandate of the decentralization
law of 1989 to decentralize health services and having municipalities assume
the responsibility, but there are five articles of the 1999
Constitution
promoted by Chavez, written and approved by Chavez and his
party taht mandate too. Including articles 158 and 178:

Article
158: Decentralization, as national policy, must deepen democracy, approaching
power to the population and creating better conditions, for the exercise of
democracy as well as for providing efficient and effective services by the
states:

Article
178: It is the competence of municipalities…:

5) Health
and primary attention in health, protection….

But, true
to his revolutionary character, Deputy Dario Vivas has a every simple explanation
of how Chavez can do this: “The decentralization consecrated by the Constitution
is centralized decentralization”…Oh! Now I understand it!

When the law says 165 and it becomes 167:
And speaking of laws, that same Constitution establishes the number of Deputies
of the National Assembly in its Article 186, which clearly says there will be
one Deputy for every 1.1% of the population (That is 90 Deputies), there will be three
for each State (That is 72 Deputies) and there are three representing the
indigenous population (That is 3). Get your calculator out 90+72+3=165, no?.
Well, no, on August 31st. 2005 the Consejo Nacional Electoral approved
two new Deputies for a total of 167, arguing that “a great number of
inhabitants have insufficient representation

Why
not
389, or 1,467, or 25,677? Hell, if we are going to violate the
Constitution and they want representation let’s give it to them, after
all the law
and the Constitution are just nuisances…

Our countries drug enforcement (in)capabilities: When the Venezuelan Government broke its collaboration with
the US’s DEA, it argued that it had its own capability to fight drug trafficking.
Five days later they hailed the capture of 540 kilos of heroin, the largest
such stash in the country’s history, as well as the arrest of the six members of
the drug cartel sending it abroad. Well, what we were not told is that a week
later the heroin was determined to be Aloe paste, which is what the “cartel”
kept saying it was. Some capability!

How to make service worse, without really
trying
: The number of ATM’s per client ithat banks have in Venezuela, s much lower ithan in Europe or the US for a simple reason: The ATM’s are all
imported and the average amount accounts have in Venezuela
is about a quarter of what they have in the US. Well, the Venezuelan National
Assembly is considering a credit card Bill which among other pearls would
require each ATM to have a camera and get this, a fingerprinting grabbing
machine to prevent fraud! They haven’t asked how much it would cost or if it
makes sense, they just thought they were being very creative. And they were,
the banks say that if the law is approved as proposed, they will have to reduce
the number of ATM’s significantly. Guess who gets screwed?

Chavez on Katrina: It is truly cynical
for Chavez to begin accusing the US Government of not being prepared for Katrina, five years
after the Vargas
tragedy
, in which Chavez was not only not prepared, but was involved in
getting the vote out and not the disaster, Vargas is still as unprepared as
ever. Last February the tragedy almost repeated itself because all of the money
spent was simply
squandered
, but the weather limited the scope of a new tragedy. Chavez should be as ashamed of Vargas as Bush of the failure
to help the Katrina victims. Chavez should just shut up; he has no moral
authority to speak on the case.

–Two on corruption and Government
deposits
:
Yesterday both pro and anti Government media had articles on what I wrote the
other day of corruption in the banking system. Eliazar Diaz Rangel, the pro-Chávez
Editor of Ultimas Noticias (by subscription) gave the Government hell for so much money being
out there in the banks and not where it should be: spent in programs for the
people. Diaz Rangel asks why these deposits are invested in certificates of deposit where
the funds are frozen for months. Luis Penzini, who is not pro-Chávez,
is less direct (fear?), he calls for the President to issue a decree much like the
much maligned Carlos Andres Perez issued forbidding public deposits in private
banks. Penzini’s goal? To have the money use in the construction of homes. Penzini
challenges Chavez when he says: “if you don’t issue it (the decree) you become an
accomplice of the corruption”.
You read about the size of that corruption
here first
, about time others spoke up. I remind you that my estimate is low, my numbers only included official
deposits in the commercial banking system, as registered in their balance
sheets, it does not include “inversions cedidas” (transferred investments) by
which banks transfer the rights of an investment in a Government bond to the
institution with an agreement to buy it back at a future date. These should be
as much as 50% if not more than my estimates in the article and they do not appear in the balance sheet of banks.

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