Jorge Giordani Leaves Cabinet: So Long, Farewell…, But…

June 24, 2014

giordani

Jorge Giordani (also known as The Monk) has been such a fixture in Chavez’ Cabinet and now under Maduro, that the last time he was removed from the Cabinet, this blog had yet to be born. And this blog is now almost twelve years old. And even if there is no written record of that departure in May 2002, I do recall a feeling of relief that Mr. Giordani had finally departed. Except his absence did not last much and Chavez brought him back to the Cabinet, more powerful than ever. At the time, Chavez’ intelligence police must have been subpar, as Mr. Giordani held meetings on Saturday at his home with his buddies, where he mostly blasted Chavez, his collaborators and their policies. Then last week, as I was on vacation, Mr. Giordani was fired once again, which gave me an immense satisfaction and almost pushed me into writing something on the fly, but I decided this deserved some thought, as Giordani’s now infamous document “Testimony and Responsibility in Front of History“, not only gives us an unusual glimpse at some of the dynamics of the last few years, but deserves careful reading. Careful not only to achieve accuracy, but also in order to interpret the true meaning of the impact , if any, of Giordani’s departure from the Government.

Simply, there are too many inaccuracies in both the contents of the document, as well as in some of its interpretations.

If anyone has read Giordani’s document, it is fairly dense and obtuse. His writing is not the most organized and clear in the world and sometimes thoughts and ideas are not properly structured. Thus, one has to read it carefully in order to understand what the former Minister is saying. I have tried to do that in detail. Punishing work.

To begin with, Giordani clearly admits that the Government and him personally, repeatedly violated the law, when he says “that in order to consolidate political power as an essential objective to strengthen the revolution..we managed with a huge sacrifice and with a financial and economic  effort which took us to have access and use resources at extreme levels…”

Nothing new there, Giordani has never been one to follow the laws of the Constitution. In fact, when he came to power he ignored the law of the Macroeconomic Stabilization Fund, first not contributing to the fund what the law stated, which was followed up with the use of the resources in that fund for objectives different than those established by law. But in that simple sentence, Giordani states that he and his buddies broke many Venezuelan laws. Because you can’t use public funds to finance electoral campaigns and you can’t use funds for a purpose different that what they were budgeted for, both of which are punished with jail. The anti-corruption law would say that Giordani and other Government officials committed fraud, misuse, embezzlement, corruption, abuse of the position for political purpose and influence peddling.

Giordani and those Government officials responsible for this would get at least 5 years in jail. Of course, the “new” left, the modern, populist, socialist left, non-democratic left only applies the laws to its enemies. So, the revolution forgives him.

But the “principled” Jorge Giordani goes even further, because he talks about corruption in Cadivi (later Cencoex) and his suggestion to President Maduro that he become Head of Cadivi to stop corruption. Well, by law, Giordani as Minister was supposed to denounce this corruption to the Prosecutor and he is directly accusing President Maduro of covering it up, when he says that Maduro did not accept his proposal on corruption, implying Maduro also failed to denounce it.

And I use the term “principled” Jorge Giordani on purpose, because I have seen the term used referring to him both in Chavista and opposition circles since he was fired. Suggesting Mr. Giordani has principles, when he is confessing to violating the laws, diverting public funds and using public funds for political purposes is like saying any criminal that sticks to his methods somehow has principles of any sort.

And this lack of ethics extends to Giordani somehow avoiding to note that many of the irresponsible policies implemented were his responsibility. That the same funds that he suggests are being managed in a corrupt way, were set up by Giordani in such a way as to avoid controls and that the excess expenditures and that loans to PDVSA and the growth in monetary liquidity approved by himself as Minister of Finance, member of the Boards of PDVSA and the Venezuelan Central Bank.

And I can not forget the Fonden funds that are still unaccounted for and took so much space in this blog and others as some US$ 30 billion are still missing from the ledgers.

And despite using the word responsibility in the title of his document, Mr, Giordani is absolutely irresponsible all over the place. For example, he says that President Maduro gave him “new” responsibilities when he was named Minister of Planning, but Mr. Giordani never ceased being Minister of Planning since 2002, he just somehow convinced President Chávez to merge Planning and Finance into a single Ministry. There was nothing new in 2013 for Giordani, he was simply removed from the control of the purse strings in Finance and moved to the less important Planning Ministry to think long term.

But his selective memory is amazing in not recognizing how the same system of exchange controls he helped implement, generated the corruption that he now wants to fight so badly. And by starting the timeline at the time of Chávez last days, Giordani evades talking about the secretive way in which bonds were allocated in the numerous Venezuela and PDVSA issues, or how the Argentinean bonds were used to feed in a very non-transparent and corrupt manner the swap system. To say nothing of the infamous structured notes or the buddies and even brothers of the revolution buying banks under Giordani’s not so watchful eyes.

And his testimony conveniently starts right after Giordani single handedly killed Venezuela’s capital markets when he tried to pass the blame of not being able to hold the parallel exchange rate in 2010, jailing innocent people and destroying some 5,000 jobs in a process which was controlled by Giordani’s trusted men, many of which made fortunes in the process.

To say nothing of the money spent trying to replace that capital markets system starting the foolish Bolsa Bolivariana (still around?) and now, four years later after getting mad at the brokers for a 30% devaluation of the currency, the all mighty Giordani-managed-controlled system has yielded a 1,000% devaluation in that parallel rate, now called the black market rate.

Way to go Monk!

But if there is one puzzle to me, is the excitement by the investment community over the departure of the Monk. Somehow, it would seem as if he was replaced by a Venezuelan that just won the John Bates Clark medal for Economics, instead of a talibanic Geographer responsible for the only default (Sidetur) of a Venezuelan bond in the last 20 years. Somehow we are expected to believe that Giordani’s departure opens the way for the magic adjustment that the Venezualn economy requires.

But wait! Haven’t you read the letter? Giordani says he has been out of the loop essentially since Chávez’ health deteriorated and certainly since Maduro became President. So, if I may ask, how has he been an obstacle to the implementation of this so called magic adjustment program?

I can go even further, read the letter again. The style is obtuse, but Giordani says that six things will require to be “revised” going forward,  including the price of gas and other subsidies, reduce debt issuance, devalue and reduce subsidies to public companies. (This has been also noted by Victor Salmeron) In fact, Giordani says he asked for a reduction of public expenditures, PDVSA’s increasing debt should be revised and so should internal indebtedness.

Sounds to me like Giordani was the pragmatist and not the other way around like markets seem to be suggesting.

In fact, what this all suggests is that the various factions within Chavismo can’t agree on policy going forward. The much needed adjustment, including raising the price of gas and at least removing the Bs. 6.3 per US$ rate is something that Giordani also wanted, and economic Czar Ramirez wants, but the military may not want at this time. What is clear is that the current Cabinet is as trapped in its own past and contradictions as Giordani is and was. The longer they wait the deeper in trouble they will be. The window to adjust, if you think politically, its short if you want inflation to go down way ahead of the 2015 Parliamentary election. But apparently they can’t agree on policy and Giordani’s departure may create more passionate stances, for and against.

Yes, it is good that Giordani is out because his thinking, as evidenced in his article, is retrograde and perverse. Giordani fails to recognize any of his errors. His radical pedigree going back to the Garibaldi unit is all he is proud about. He considers himself Caribeño, but seems to have more loyalty to his communist beliefs than to the idea of his own country, his Patria.

I am really not sure Giordani throws such an important monkey wrench into Chavismo. Unless he continues to speak up, his departure will quickly be forgotten, as those in control, many of which are in charge of the same corruption he denounces, will make sure his allies are silenced or else. Ironically, while he never publicly denounced corruption frontally, he was one of the few voices internally to speak up against corruption. However, in his mind the end justified the means. The survival of Chavez and the revolution was above all and thus he never spoke up publicly like he should have.

I continue to be very skeptical that a full adjustment is on the way. Giordani will not be missed, as the kids song goes: So Long, Farewell, Aufiderzein, Goodbye…Mr Giordani, you will not be missed, but your legacy of destruction and ideology will be really hard to erase.

 

28 Responses to “Jorge Giordani Leaves Cabinet: So Long, Farewell…, But…”

  1. car83bo@yahoo.es Says:

    I really believe that you’re wasting your valuable time on this Soviet-era dinosaur.
    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  2. moctavio Says:

    I disagree, events have to be recorded an interpreted correctly and people are interpreting it wrong in my opinion.

    • Gollum Says:

      I always tought some in Chavism were real Gramscian comunist. Their early success in grabing power was based on their clever strategic alliance with powerfull social forces in Venezuela petro rent society: Military caste, lumpen and oportunistic bolibourgeoisie.It will also be their undoing. Unfortunately it lasted 15 years and counting.

  3. Dr. Faustus Says:

    As per the reference to “Soviet-era” times, the Soviet leaders back then would have quietly airbrushed out any physical reminder of a now deposed inner circle Party participant. They get rid of all the evidence, quickly! For instance, there are few photographs to be found, even today, of Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin (and Stalin) being present in the same photo. It’s as if to say that “the Communist Party of Russia” could NEVER have made the decision to let this loon in. But, but, …last year there was a fascinating (but weird) photo of the inner circle of Chavismo standing around the grave site of one ‘Anton Gramsci,’ an early Italian communist party leader of the 1920’s. It was Giordani (!) who dragged Jaua, Ramirez, Celia and Maduro during a busy schedule in Rome out to the cemetery plot and the stone marking the burial spot of Giordani’s idol and mentor, Gramsci. Great photo. There’s also one of him (Giordani) standing with the same scoundrels (PSUV) next to the Pope Francis at the Vatican. There’s another one of him seated at the same table, same scoundrels, having a chat with Hollande in Paris. Point? We MUST preserve these photo’s before they are airbrushed out of existence……


  4. Just wondering how many millions of Euros and $$$ did this Scoundrel Steal in that many years, him, his family, plus related enchufados. 100 Million? A Billion or more, any guestimates?

  5. NET Says:

    The more things change in Venezuela, the more they stay the same….

  6. Gerry Says:

    It seems to me that now would be a good time for the ‘inclusive’ MUD to file a complaint with the AG denouncing Giordani. This could open up and lead to others being denounced. Perhaps the beginning of he end.
    Gerry.

    • moctavio Says:

      She would file it in the wastebasket.

      • Ronaldo Says:

        The AG would be the target of hundreds of complaints.

      • Guineo Verde Says:

        Miguel
        Great writing! I always look forward to your articles.
        I think Gerry has a good point. The Monk was such a huge part of chavismo and the crimes he admits to should draw the interest of international investigative reporters or an international court?
        I guess I’m dreaming though because here in Honduras they have film of central bank employees of Melito Zelaya hauling boxes of cash out of the Central Bank and no one was ever punished for that.

  7. PM Says:

    Miguel,

    I think Giordani was one of the radical chavistas in that he was one of the dumbest ones. In an infamous interview, he argued that Bs depreciation does not affect ‘el pueblo revolucionario':

    “Sí, porque hay una cultura, un imaginario popular respecto al dólar. Mi hermano siempre pregunta: ¿cuántos dólares hay que pagar para ir a un CDI, a una escuela o a recibir una casa de la Gran Misión Vivienda? No se necesita tener dólares, ni siquiera haber visto uno en la vida, pero allí funciona el elemento ideología.

    Todos vivimos de la insaciabilidad del dólar, de una especie de ninfomanía dolarizada. Es una enfermedad del sistema rentístico.”

    He is advocating a ‘rentista’ system where people are not affected by depreciation because they get everything from the government. Yet, the problem with the dollar ninfomania is because of this system he advocates.

    Giordani is a pseudo-intelectual in denial. His letter is nothing but a tantrum for not getting what he wants. He tries to blame the current crisis on minutiae so he can walk away with dignity.

    • moctavio Says:

      I agree, when he was first named Minister I was amazed at his articles on science, where he mixed science and technology with simplistic economics, reaching the point of praising North Korea’s economy. He was also arrogant when confronted with something that went counter to what he was saying, rather than arguing or answering he would say : Where does it say that? Show me a book that says that.

  8. Steven/Setty Says:

    I see this letter not as a real attempt to analyze politics, but rather as an attempt to launder G’s future reputation, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 years out. He wants to look like he had all the right ideas, but was held back by, um, something. If he really believed in cutting spending, reining in PDVSA, and the other moderate ideas outlined in his letter, he probably could have accomplished a few of them during his decade in the cabinet. Instead, he went along and got along, and now he wants to look like he was on the right side of history.

    Another audience for all of these ex-Chavistas and ex-government officials, is going to be the US state and treasury departments, who have almost certainly been collecting data on everyone’s overseas accounts for years, in preparation for clean sweep upon any regime change, just as we saw in Libya. Maybe that’s not the case in this particular letter, but this is the sort of analytical lens I use when reading these things. I rarely think a public letter by someone like this is a serious attempt to debate.

    • moctavio Says:

      Yeah, I think he just wants to deflect blame now that he is out. He has always been arrogant. For years his projects on moving the population failed to get any funding from multilaterals. Of course, it was imperialism or capitalism, but I was told the economic analysis in the proposals was rather amateurish.

    • Kepler Says:

      I don’t think Giordani might even consider the US institutions.
      He was not in for the dosh. He was in for the power and his desire to deal with what the French call the erotic-political fantasmes (+- fantasies, obsessions) of his childhood and teenager time.

      Pensar que esa mierda dio pie a la mayor fuente de corrupción que hayamos tenido en décadas.

      • colortordoc Says:

        Giordani should have had a psychologist proofread his paper but then you cannot tell (most) and they cannot accept they’re in the mental disorder camp. The signs and flags all there.

  9. Dean A Nash Says:

    “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Ronald Reagan called that one of the scariest sentences ever uttered. Giordani is its poster boy.

  10. Roy Says:

    Good post, but I get weary of people pointing out that Chavistas have broken the Law. There IS NO Law. Or, the Law is whatever the Chavistas say it is at any given moment, which is the same thing.


    • Yes, but in this case, it is a former Government Minister in writing, saying that the laws were broken by him, by the President and others. I think it is important to say it and leave it on the record. .

  11. xp Says:

    Venezuela can avoid both hyperinflation
    and a full-blown slump.
    The Economist

    And we will live happily ever after.
    Cheers to our future.

    http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21604557-how-much-worse-will-venezuelas-economy-get-devaluing-bolivarian-revolution

  12. xp Says:

    El presidente Nicolás Maduro acusó este miércoles
    a los ex ministros Jorge Giordani y Héctor Navarro
    de “malucos y mezquinos”
    que le metieron una puñalada
    por la espalda
    en plena batalla contra
    los “enemigos de la patria”.

    “The more you stir shit,
    the more it stinks.
    Maduro can stir it all day long,
    but this shit is never going
    to smell any better.


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