Following the flack from Chavez telling Petare inhabitants to drop dead, I should post below the editorial in English of Veneconomy today.
The Perversity of exclusion
On Thursday, August 26, television viewers and some of those present, including the Minister for Health, were astonished to see how Chávez refused funding for Pérez de León Hospital in Petare, with the false argument that “I’m not going to approve funding for a mayoralty, much less an escuálida (belonging to the opposition) mayoralty…”
What happens is that this public hospital is located in territory governed by Enrique Capriles Radonski (governor for Miranda state) and Carlos Ocariz (the mayor of Sucre municipality), both members of the democratic alliance. As the President sees it, that makes it “enemy territory” that has to be strangled by any means, regardless of the consequences for the inhabitants, which in the case of Pérez de León Hospital is Petare, a large sector with scant resources.
It does not matter that, a few hours later, the President reconsidered this withdrawal of privileges and ordered that the funds that had been requested be allocated to the hospital. Nor does it matter if this backtracking was due to the negative repercussions generated at home and abroad by this clear demonstration of the political apartheid that the government is imposing on Venezuelans, in violation of their human rights. Or whether it was due to the fact that Chávez understood, belatedly, that the Pérez de León Hospital for which the funds had been requested is the “new” building that has been 10 years under construction and is the direct responsibility of the Executive.
The point here is that the President’s reaction makes it quite clear that what he is aiming for is to concentrate all the power in his hands and that his strategy to achieve that is to strangle the autonomy of the local and regional governments, as he did with Greater Caracas Mayoralty and the state governments of Miranda, Carabobo, and Táchira.
Unfortunately, this type of political discrimination in the regions will get worse with the approval of the National Budget for 2011, owing to the elimination of the Inter-government Decentralization Fund (FIDES) and the amendment to the Law of Special Economic Allocations for the States from Mining and Hydrocarbons (LAEE).
FIDES was an inter-government autonomous entity that allocated between 15% and 20% of revenues from VAT to the regions equitably, based on the size of their populations and their requirements. Now FIDES has been replaced by the Inter-territorial Compensation Fund, which comes under the Federal Council of Government, via which it will be the President who will award the funds directly and at his discretion to the communal councils at the expense of the states and municipalities. Meanwhile the amendment to the LAEE snatches from the states and municipalities 50% of the revenues from hydrocarbons to allocate them directly, and at discretion, to the People’s Power ground-root organizations.
Taking an optimistic view, one of the priority tasks for a plural National Assembly will be to restore regional decentralization and the system of allocating funds to the regions based on the criterion of equality and in proportion to the size and needs of their populations, with no political overtones that have adverse affects for the inhabitants.