Archive for September 18th, 2010

Left Behind in Venezuela to Piece Lives From Scraps in the NYT

September 18, 2010

It gives me chills that this happens in my country. Kudos Simon!

Conviasa tragedy not a surprise

September 18, 2010

The recent tragic plane crash of the Conviasa airplane in Puerto Ordaz is no surprise. In fact, many do not remember that this is not the first crash of this airline created by Chavez in 2004.

By now, there was another accident that has now forced the Government to ground all flights of the airline until “October”, but what is clear is that there had been plenty of warnings that could have avoided this tragedy.

The airline business is one of the most difficult ones to run both from the point of view of management and that of financing. In the end, Chavez made the same mistakes in Conviasa he made elsewhere, naming a string of buddy military officers with little managerial or airline experience.

There was no reason for the Venezuelan Government to enter a business which requires levels of efficiency never seen in Venezuela’s Government. There was no reason to subsidize Conviasa so that it could take people to Margarita Island, Syria and Teheran. Venezuela has too many problems to use scarce funds in an area that the private sector can fill. There are enough fools in the private sector that love airplanes to fill that role.

The problem is that innocent Venezuelans have died because of this. Reportedly it was the crews of the airplanes that forced the Government to shut down the airline. Even the authorities of Trinidad and Tobago have forbidden the airline from flying to that country.

Many years ago I wrote an article in a local newspaper saying the Government had no place in the airline business in Venezuela, I never got so much hate mail in my life! This confirms all of my thoughts at the time.

The problem is that, as usual, there will be total impunity in this case. The Government will not investigate who was responsible for this tragedy and much like so many other ones, it is the people of Venezuela who have to pay for this.

Venezuelans find black gold and respect in Colombia

September 18, 2010

I was away for three days in Colombia, a country that seems to be going in exactly the opposite direction of Venezuela. It is simply booming, with over US$ 10 billion in foreign investment this year alone in oil and mining. This boom creates problems, the currency has appreciated quite a bit, In February of 2009 it was as high as 2,590 pesos per US$, it is now around 1,800 pesos per US$. This creates problems for exporters, so the Government has to intervene to force the currency to devalue, exactly the opposite of what happens in Venezuela. Unemployment remains stubbornly high too, near 12% levels, so everything is not rosy, but things are really looking up.

Everywhere I went, people talked abut Pacific Rubiales, the Canadian oil company, created and run by Venezuelans fired from PDVSA, who have become the darlings of the local stock exchange in that country.  The company, which has taken the Rubiales oil field from 20,000 barrels a day to 130,000 barrels a day and expects to reach 225,000 barrels a day of total oil production by the end of the year, has become the second largest oil producer in Colombia after Ecopetrol and above all of the operating oil multinationals in the country

There was actually an article in today’s El Tiempo, which I can’t find online, about the company, describing how the company took first class workers from PDVSA and raised the money to make this very successful company. Yes, these were the same people who used to run PDVSA, whose production keeps dropping. There are two or three more Venezuelan-owned and run companies in Colombia working to increase that country’s oil productions.

More than once I heard Colombians say: “We have Chavez to thank for these people being in Colombia” .

Funny thing is, all these companies and their people are all banned from working in their own country, Venezuela, as they find black gold and get lots of respect in Colombia.

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