Empty promises

Veneconomia.com

In the perpetual electoral campaign he has been waging in his eight years in office, President Hugo Chávez has announced innumerable promises to all and sundry. Yet most of them, particularly those aimed at bringing development and prosperity to the country, have either fallen by the wayside before coming to anything or been a total failure.

Here are some of the most notable projects that, today, are paralyzed or succumbing to inefficiency, lack of planning or rampant corruption:

1) One of the most publicized was the Sow Oil Plan 2005-2030, which was to be implemented through six large development projects in two phases (phase one from 2005 to 2012 and phase two from 2012 and 2030). However, today, it is two years behind schedule, a situation they are attempting to correct with an injection of more than $10 billion in 2007. Even though the goal was to increase PDVSA’s production from the official figure of 3.3 million b/d in 2007 to more than 5.8 million b/d by the end of 2012, at the moment PDVSA is producing only 2.4 million b/d according to the International Energy Agency and OPEC. What is more, there is a deficit of some 100 drilling rigs.

2) Another project that Chávez launched with a tremendous fanfare was the Great Southern Gas Pipeline, which has now been shelved. Chávez’ plan consisted of laying, together with Brazil, a 9,000-km gas pipeline across the Amazon at a cost of $23 billion to connect the gas fields in Venezuela’s eastern region with consumers in Argentina and Brazil. The mammoth project, destined to failure from the start given the endless commercial, political, and environmental obstacles, turned out to be unviable.

3) A week ago, stepping up the campaign for the referendum on the constitutional reform, in Aló Presidente on September 16, Chávez announced a “socialist gas revolution,” which consists of 10 large gas projects that, in the space of five years, will supposedly transform Venezuela into a “great world energy power.” The only “revolutionary” thing about this announcement was its dose of populism to enchant the most economically depressed sector of the population. Most of the gas reform projects are revamped plans announced way back and not implemented.

And 4) the most recent project, “the petrochemical revolution,” was announced this Sunday during Aló Presidente. As part of this project, he promised to build petrochemical plants in Zulia, Carabobo, Anzoátegüi, Sucre, Falcón Táchira, Barinas, and Apure with a view to turning Venezuela into a world power. The plan includes 87 projects with an investment of $20 billion that are expected to produce billing of $1.7 billion and generate 700,000 jobs by 2013.

Yet the country is falling victim to crime, shortages, inflation, and political apartheid amidst so many empty promises. Meanwhile, Chávez is making strides in fulfilling his other promises: his promises to impose communist-style communism, do away with democracy, sever freedoms, and implement programs of ideologization in order to create his “new man.”

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