Veneconomy, November 16, 2006
Since President Hugo Chávez stopped his transatlantic jaunts to concentrate on his election campaign, he has been opening works right and left. He has put the subway into service in Los Teques, a railway in the Valles del Tuy, and a bridge over the Orinoco, and that’s not counting as many again that still have to be officially opened before December 3.
The President-candidate is very pleased because, after eight years in power, these works have finally been completed. Besides, it is understandable that he should want to show them off to a public he wants to enthrall again. There’s nothing strange in that. Former AD and COPEI presidents did the same thing every five years under the Fourth Republic to win votes for their respective political parties; and if they didn’t do it to benefit themselves personally, that was only because at that time re-election was not an option.
The President-candidate cannot be criticized for such behavior, much less for his determination to complete these important public works before the end of his presidential term. Nor can he be criticized for wanting to take all the merit for these works. Egoism and short memories are characteristics frequently found in politicians, and particularly in Venezuelan politicians.
What he should be criticized for, however, is the deception that has been practiced in almost all the works that have been put into service; in particular, because this deception could put the lives of hundreds of thousands of users at risk, all in the interests of a feverish electoral proselytism.
All the works opened are incomplete. The installation of the safety systems for Los Teques Subway has not been finished, for example; only 50% the Valles del Tuy-Caracas railway is complete - and that’s just the first phase; and as for the Bridge of the Orinoco, the “piles and towers have to be modified so that they are resistant to any natural event.”
Yet this show being put on by the President-candidate has uninvited guests: the works he is not opening quite simply because he hasn’t started them or doesn’t consider them a priority. These absent works are, for example, hundreds of kilometers of freeways and roads, viaducts and bridges destroyed by laxness and corruption, as well as those that never even got to the project stage. Other works that have been left in limbo are the restructuring of Caracas’ collapsed road system, the maintenance of drains and an effective garbage collection system in the country’s main cities. Also uninvited are the construction of housing and the maintenance of schools and hospitals.
Chávez’ term in office has been more of a show than a true government. Instead of governing, he put on an extravaganza for the benefit Venezuela and the world funded by the huge revenues from oil and the Seniat’s milking machine. Fortunately, like any show, it has to come to an end sometime.