Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Housing in Venezuela: empty promises becoming emptier

Tal Cual editorial today gives the numbers of public housing built by the last three administrations in Venezuela (1). The simplicity of the figures deserve an illustrative table. To the number of lodgings built in total and yearly, I have added the major problems faced by each administration, as well as any political advantage that they might have benefited during their tenure.


Carlos Andres

Rafael Caldera

Hugo Chavez






5 years

5 years

6 years

Governmental housing built

313 000

341 000

101 000

Yearly average

62 000

68 000

16 000

Political Problems faced

Popular upheaval February 27 1989; 2 coup attempts, 02 and 11 1992

Banking crisis and financial collapse during first half of term; collapse of oil prices second half of term

Coup attempt 2002, general strike 2002-2003

Political advantages

Weak majority earlier in term

None, minority government for 5 years

Taylor made constitution since 12/1999; majority government since 07/2000; high oil prices since 2002

The numbers are eloquent by themselves. Just as the 1999 Vargas disaster was followed by inefficiency and corruption, so is the public works program and, more essential, the public housing programs mired in at least inefficiency.

Interestingly chavismo does not even pretend to deny these numbers and instead launches in a campaign to make believe that housing is sprouting everywhere. The latest show was actually Chavez in Yaracuy yesterday doing his "Alo Presidente" Sunday talk show. This picture from the Bolivarian News Agency shows Chavez and the new Yaracuy governor Gimenez supposedly inaugurating just made buildings in Cocorote where, we were told, some of the refugees of Vargas 2 will find solace.

Well, it is all at least a semi lie. The pair of buildings have actually been built since the middle of last year, AND NOT even in the district, Independencia, of Gimenez, now the governor of Yaracuy. But that does not stop this one from taking all the credit and put hound-like the glory at the feet of his boss. How do I know that? Well, I drive in front of them occasionally. I was actually wondering if I could buy an apartment myself there but was told that all was "reserved".

And after that how can I believe that the government will build 200 000 homes in the next couple of years?

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Added later. Miguel did translate this editorial.

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