Yesterday we saw one of those “robolutionary moments”, where you realize how those leading the revolution, particularly active or former military officers, have lost all perspective about what they are even supposed to stand for. None other than the retired burping General Acosta Carles, who retired so that he would become Governor of Carabobo state riding Chavez’ coattails, had the audacity to complain about those that criticize that Government officials are buying Hummers right and left. This is what he said:
“Are you telling me that us revolutionaries don’t have the right to have a Hummer or a car. If we make the dough, we can do it, or is that exclusive to only some?”
Well, let’s look at the issue. All of a sudden, in a few states around Venezuela, Hummers have sprouted around driven by Government officials. Barinas and Carabobo state have been particularly noted for being populated by an inordinate amount of privately owned Hummers, driven by Government officials.
The first problem is that Hummers are quite noticeable. They used to be uncommon in Venezuela as there is no formal distribution of them in the country and those that have them import them directly. The second problem is price. A Hummer sells for some Bs. 250 million delivered in Caracas, due to the 40% import duty and the 15% luxury tax and you have to add the VAT to all that. Bs. 250 million is US$ 116,000 at the official rate of exchange or US$ 66,000 at the parallel rate of exchange. Now, this represents 500 times the minimum monthly wage in Venezuela and 17 times the highest monthly salary that a Government worker can earn, according to the decree issued by Chavez in January. Thus, can Governor Acosta Carles explain to us how come one is beginning to see Hummers all over the place? Where are all these Government officials “making so much dough” to be able to afford them?
But more importantly, one would think that leadership by example should be of importance in a “revolution”. There seems to be something very cynical about preaching about the poor, XXIst. Century Socialism and solidarity and then driving around in a car that represents an “in your face” insult to the poor of Venezuela.
But once again, I would reiterate my question: How many Government officials can afford to buy a Hummer on their Government salaries? Moreover, a retired General like Acosta Carles gets a pension of about one third of the highest monthly salary allowed, which was set at Bs. 15 million. Thus, can Acosta Carles or his friends afford one? How?
This is part of the cynicism of the revolution, particularly the military, who are becoming very rich and flaunting it, without regards to ethics and morals, like it has never been flaunted in this country’s history, while they claim to hurt for the poor at the same time. Of course, in the absence of checks and balances and the rule of law, they get away with it daily.