Hugo Chavez: Still Improvising On His Cabinet After All These Years

November 26, 2011

It would be funny, if it were not so tragic: Thirteen years after taking power, Hugo Chavez keeps improvising in how he manages the Government. The amazing thing is that he announced that he would merge the Ministry of Basic Industries with the Ministry of Intermediate Industries as if it was the result of a study or an amazing inspiration in order to achieve more efficiencies, when the truth is that he was the one that separated the two functions. No only that, but by a mysterious chain of thought, Chavez merged the Ministry of Intermediate Industries with that of Science and Technology in 2009, a whim that has yet to be explained or understood by anyone.

So now, Chavez reverts the whole thing in the name of efficiency, when his whims of creating and destroying Ministries represents one of the biggest inefficiencies of his rule. Every time Chavez improvises “creating” a new Ministry, millions of Bolivars have to be spent in reorganizing and restructuring the new and the old Ministries and its personnel and assets. Imagine now the Minister of Industries arguing with the Ministry of Science and Technology, which office space, which employees and which funding stays with whom. And if they disagree, they will have to wait until none other than Hugo Chavez decides on each issue. Which could take months or may never happen. Some efficiency!

Take the Ministry of Transport and Communications which Chavez received in 1998. He changed it into the Ministry for Infrastructure, then he divided it into two, then it became the Ministry of Transport And Communications again, then he divided it into two again recently. Just the cost in changing the paper and the envelopes is staggering. To say nothing of implementing the changes under Chavista “Managers”, as oxymoronic a concept as there ever was one.

The remarkable thing is that Hugo Chavez dramatically reduced the number of Ministries when he came to power in 1998, but by now, the number has more than doubled, as he thinks that creating new ones is some form of management technique. Chavez received 21 Ministries from Caldera, reduced it to 13 and if I count correctly and the web pages are up to date, there are now 31 of them. I wonder what it does to efficiency to have 31 people plus Chavez, plus the Procurador sitting at the same table discussing things…

For Science and Technology this is good. It now goes back to having its own Ministry, as it should be. The Minister seemed to be distracted with “Intermediate Industries” whatever that may be. Now he will at least focus on science and technology, which now that I think about it, may not be a good thing. After all, the Minister may start improvising himself and creating “efficiencies” and inventing new concepts in science and technology just like his boss. Maybe we were better off when he was distracted…

16 Responses to “Hugo Chavez: Still Improvising On His Cabinet After All These Years”

  1. Jaime Requena Says:

    988 lasted the forced political cohabitation of S&T with industry. Double that the time the law that forced industry to invest in S&T. In both cases, Minppcti&ii and LOCTI, there was not even the minimum necessary lapse to test the hypothesis underlying the policies, let alone to see results. In any case, both, S&T and industry are running fast downhill. No matter what they do, I am starting to think that our fate is sealed. It appears as if the damage, structural damage, created by the Bolivarian Revolution is too deep; perhaps irreversible.


  2. In a historical context nothing is really irreversible. But is going to take a long time to put Humpty Dumpty ack together

    • Roy Says:

      Sr. Coronel is correct, but to amplify on this, anytime one needs to correct past errors, it becomes necessary to back up and repair the structural foundations before we can begin rebuilding the structure (to use an engineering metaphor for political and institutional organizations).

      How far backward Venezuela will have to go, remains to be seen… though what I fear is that the new administration will take shortcuts and use the petroleum income to simply shore up the existing structures and plaster over the cracks.

    • deananash Says:

      The good Coronel is mistaken this time. Don’t trust me, ask the dinosaurs. Or the hundreds of other species that disappear each year, FOREVER. I do agree with the Coronel’s point – that Chavez’s leadership isn’t fatal – although the road back is going to be very long and hard.

      Chavez didn’t build the road the country is traveling upon, he merely took the wheel and sped up.

  3. bobthebuilder Says:

    In most countries this would be fairly major news. In Venezuela it barely gets mentioned. That’s Chavez’ plan: constant distraction away from evaluation of his performance.

  4. HalfEmpty Says:

    Every time Chavez improvises “creating” a new Ministry, millions of Bolivars have to be spent in reorganizing

    Johnson! Stop the press!

  5. Roy Says:

    For that matter, how many millions were spent on the administrative cost of:

    - Changing the name of the country.
    - Changing the flag.
    - Changing the time zone.
    - Entering and exiting Mercosur (how many times?)
    -

    Go ahead… add to the list.

  6. moses Says:

    Great ! Now all pending request of “Certificados de No produccion – CNP (Non Production Certificates) which last only 6 months and are required for importing * * any * * goods through Cadivi will be postponed until they figure who is to sign them ….

    • Oso Negro Says:

      That’s as absurd as “no new visas will be issued until a census of all the illegal residents in the country is conducted ‘sometime’ in 2012.” My wife (Venezuelan) and I (ex-pat) were told this at the SAIME building in CCS at the “office of extranjeros” last month…nuts!

  7. Deanna Says:

    To Oso Negro, that’s not new, I’ve been told the same thing every year for the past 5 years, and the last time I tried to get a “visa familiar” was this year in the NY consulate. This time, we had to re-register our marriage (which took place some 50 years ago and they didn’t seem to have a record of the first registration), and despite having a Venezuelan husband and 5 Venezuelan children, I still don’t have a visa familiar. I have given up and every year I go to Venezuela, I get a tourist card for 90 days which means I can only stay in Venezuela for 90 days; of course, with the situation there, who wants to stay longer than that???? However, has anyone every noticed how easy it is for a Bolivian, Colombian, Cuban, etc. to get a visa? But if one is American (del imperio), it really is almost impossible.

  8. HalfEmpty Says:

    Government function sounds like a cross between the worst aspects of the Ottoman Empire bureaucracy and the Mississippi State Police (circa 1950).


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