Saturday, January 07, 2006

Chavez and the “aquí_no_ha_pasado_nada” sindrome.

By the time you read this lines you all probably know that the Caracas-La Guaira Viaduct has been closed more than 24 hours, that there is the danger that is closed forever, and that rains seem to be a real menace for the alternative old route. So much so that traffic had to be stopped for three hours today because of the danger of slides.

We are talking, of course, of the most vital, most important traffic span in Venezuela: the one linking Caracas with its airport, port and major touristic attractions.

As Christmas travelers come back home, the situation is getting worse and worse. In the short term there is the question of how to move all that people back home safely. Should airplanes and ships be re-routed to other airports and ports? Do they have the required capabilities to sustain the level of reroute traffic? How about the people that live in La Guaira and have to commute to Caracas? How are they going to go to work? Is the old route really viable, despite the danger of mudslides, the lack of public lighting and the stiff curves? And, if the engineers decide that there is no way to fix the viaduct or build another one in the short term, what is the best strategy to be able to minimize the human discomfort and economic impact of the long transient situation?

These are just some of the questions that I have been asking myself since yesterday. There are no easy answers because we are facing a major emergency situation. An emergency that was announced and could have been prevented, but an emergency after all..

So, while scanning the official news I was appaled at what I read, or rather at what I did not read. Just in case the Minci guys change their page, I have taken a snapshot here.

If you have a look at it, you would thought that there is nothing going on in Venezuela except that there is a new directive in the National Assembly and that Harry Belafonte is visiting an endogenous center to report back in the US how things work in Venezuela!

Here are the pictures (in parenthesis) and the titles, given in order:

1.- (Chavez with Maduro and the TSJ president, that BTW are not cited in the article) “each obstacle that prevents the advances of the Revolution must be demolished by a law”

2.- (Chavez alone) “the producers of corn, coffee and sugar must respect the law”

3.- (Harry Belafonte with welcoming Chavista in red T shirt): “We came to visit to know the reality of the country”

4.- (far away small PDVSA gas station): “Food and fuel are guaranteed in Vargas

5.- (Big handsome Chavez face): “president Chavez proposes to celebrate Miranda’s 200 year swearing anniversary.

Note that the only news that is somehow related to the viaduct situation is the fourth one, that refers to the logistics of food and oil distribution, and Chavez did not even mentioned it.

So, the official response to this major crisis seems to be the “aquí no ha pasado nada” (nothing has happened here), after the initial attempt by Vicepresident Rangel to deny that the government had any knowledge of the seriousness of the situation, despite the fact that the deterioration of the viaduct had been well known for years, and even denounced by the College of Engineers of Venezuela.

Why is Chavez having that attitude? My guess is that, as usual, he wants to detach himself from the incompetence of his government, as if they were two different entities. I bet that in the next Alo Presidente he will talk about the catastrophe nd blame his ministers while asking them to put more effort into this task.

Amazingly, such an irresponsible behavior can be seen as an improvement! Last year during the second Vargas crisis, reported by yours truly, Chavez was actually in hiding for a few days. And on 1999 he even used the crisis to take over illegally the Supreme Court , while nobody was paying attention.

At least now he shows his face to talk about the preparation of Miranda’s swearing anniversary on March 24.

Quite a leader.

Jorge Arena

Favorite ghost blogger

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