Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Chavez permanent show: 170 hours of cadena

A little note of interest: Chavez this year has already spent 170 hours in cadenas. That is, Chavez has commandeered ALL TV, and ALL Radio stations of Venezuela to transmit simultaneously his speeches for 170 hours this year. Nobody else is allowed to do, and nobody can reply to his message on the state TV network, the largest one by far in the country (1).

Now I do not want to discuss the undemocratic nature of Chavez imposition (forgive the redundancy). What I want to consider is when does Chavez do real work.

The first thing to note is that these 170 hours represent 21,25 8 hour working days. Let's round it down to 20 working days becasue, you know, the president works more than 8 hours day. Besides a very small portion of these cadenas is not really from Chavez directly. Now let's take into account that if Chavez might spend 20 working days in cadena, he spends AT LEAST as much on political events as we can see from any cursory glance at VTV, the state network which is a 24/7 propaganda and government "information".

Before you may argue that it is really not that much, that Chavez works at least 12 hours a day anyway, let me point out that the cadenas are well prepared: Chavez comes all the time with plenty of books, paper clips, prepared statements, etc... That is, for a 2 hour cadena he works at least for one hour before hand to prepare himself, supervise the stage, make sure the crowd is big enough, etc...

So, we are up to 40 days of direct political activity, on cadena or not. Let's add to it the Alo Presidente shows, which admittedly are more work related since most ministers must be in audience and are publicly berated for any failings (see the Frontline fabulous documentary on that). Let's say for the sake of argument that the time spend in Alo Presidente in only chit chat and political anecdote represents 25 Sundays at an average of 3 hours. That represents 75 hours or 9 more days. Thus we are up to 49 days of show.

We can also add a large portion of what Chavez spends traveling for unnecessary matters. For example when Chavez hires a stadium in Argentina to make an anti Bush speech, how does that relate tot he real needs in Venezuela that Chavez is supposed to address? Crime, inflation, how are those helped through a speech in Santa Cruz, La Plata or Moscow? Chavez spends about a month a year outside of Venezuela. Let's be conservative and assume that 10 of these days can be added to our 49 days total.

We can also add a few days of show. Or does anyone think that receiving Sean Penn or Naomi Campbell is nothing else but a show promoting Chavez? There are also those "intellectual" gatherings taking place in Venezuela which Chavez attends and who do little if nothing to help crime and inflation and public work deficiencies and run down hospitals in Venezuela. How many hours spent in those events? Let's be conservative and put that at only 5 extra days of show.

Thus we are at 64 days spent on show for self promotion. 64 days. 13 weeks of 5 working days, a full 25% of the year work spent in hot air emissions. Not to mention the time wasted by ministers and other public servants away from their work stations as their presence is required to create the "cheering" public.

And of course the time spent at thinking about all of these events and planning them cannot be counted.....

The question of course is when does Chavez has time planning the projects that are really necessary to Venezuela; and more importantly, when does he have time to do the follow up that is required to make sure these projects do indeed take off and yield the expected results? Since it is a resident that is unable to trust and even less delegate, you can imagine the consequences that you read in the red pages of the papers of the inflation index.

The question that you do not need to ask yourself anymore is why the Venezuelan public administration is slowly becoming more and more anarchic: nobody higher up has time to care about things working.

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1) according to RCTV who is not subjected to cadenas anymore now that it can only be seen on cable.

-The end-

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