Sobremesa Chronicles

Vargas1Venezuela has fifteen official holidays, not counting the rest of Holy Week (only Thursday and Friday are official holidays). On top of this, Venezuelans spend countless hours outside of work – either in traffic, or standing in line waiting to buy stuff.

This is just too much. One of the things any sensible government will need to do once this nightmare is over is do away with some of these holidays.

Send Carnival to the chopping block. October 12th, the “Day of Indian Resistance”? Do away with it. And do we really need to have four or five patriotic holidays? July 5th should be enough.

Any government that comes in will have to take unpopular measures. Getting rid of a few holidays should be one of them. Prompt the Education Ministry to do away with some of their holidays, too. Shortening vacation time in August would be a nice move.

Our country needs to get back to work. Only then will we get out of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into.

Enjoy your holiday weekend, everyone … while you can.

169 thoughts on “Sobremesa Chronicles

  1. My first impression of Venezuela when I arrived umpteen years before Chavez was even a thought, was that everyone lived on a permanent vacation.How efficient can this be.When things don’t work those on so many vacations know where to place the blame….or do they?

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  2. That ain’t gonna happen overnight. Traditionally guess we are a bunch of SpOiled, lazy brats. .

    Too many vacations is the least of our problems. People have to spend while on vacation, probably more than normal, so it’s not as if the economy stops (as if we had one). In Europe and even the USA the tendency is to work less. No, the problem is incompetence and corruption, of course, not a few extra days off.

    What’s puzzling to me now is how many Venezuelans actually still do go out on Vacation, pack the beaches, in record numbers this year?!

    I thought we were in crisis, impoverished, afraid to leave home after dark. But the restaurants are full, Merida and la Colonia Tovar, full, Playas full?!

    Are the people left in our country so enchufados and corrupt that they actually have money to spend on Vacations? I thought they were too busy just trying to find un pollo y una arepa..

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  3. Baby steps first, if you can make people to work a good 40 hours a week and avoid wasting time in banks and other things I bet you could increase productivity by 40%.
    Once you have that you can start eliminating the holidays….

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  4. You have to change labor laws, it aint gonna happen. By law, any acquired right via union contract or tradition, can not be removed. That is why financial institutions still keep all religious holidays, it was in the union contracts. If one worker objects to the union giving up their holidays, you are hosed.

    Yes, another thing we have to thank Caldera for.

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    • Eventually, whatever new government takes over after the current one has fled or been removed is going to HAVE to have foreign investment. It is going to take huge injections of capital to repair the infrastructure and make this country productive once again. To obtain that capital, they will have to court the investors. When they do so, these investors will have a laundry list of demands. Amongst them will be major changes in the laws to protect their investment, and to improve the business climate. The new government will have very little choice in the matter, and the Venezuelan public will just have to accept it… no joda!

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    • Ese es un debate nacional que yo pienso que es necesario abrir: hay que reformar las leyes laborales en Venezuela. Por lo menos quitar la inamovilidad. Tenemos una fuerza laboral en extremo improductiva como producto de las leyes laborales que tenemos. Tenemos un movimiento sindical que en las negociaciones de contrato colectivo no cree que tengan que hacer compromiso alguno en productividad para tener mejores beneficios, gente que se molesta en empresas porque no le aumentaron los tickets de alimentación cuando las mismas están al borde de la quiebra por la falta de acceso a divisas. Si no abrimos estos debates cuando salgamos del chavismo, lo único que tendremos es un cambio de gobierno.

      Sobre el tema los feriados nacionales no son tantos en comparación, el problema son los feriados regionales y los de contratos colectivos.

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      • I tend to agree with you, but even since I saw Lorenzo Mendoza saying on TV that the LOTTT was “a very good law, by the way”, it made me think that I might be missing something. I am not a big businesswoman, I’m not in Venezuela, Mendoza is the biggest and most important there, so most likely, it is me not knowing.

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    • As a private company I suppose that you can have people working under a contract, and not as employees, correct? I also suppose those have no ties to unions.
      What if a bank contracts people exclusively to work on saturdays and a couple of days a week until 8 pm for more money than a regular employee? I mean, to do the hob that the unions won’t allow? Would that be illegal?

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  5. Sorry, but this a bit Calvinist of you Juan C. As if vacations were an evil concoction to keep man (and woman) away from useful productive mores. They are not. You also seem to point to the real culprit, there are plenty of every day obstacles that do worse to productivity than a national holiday, yet the post goes for the simple narrow-minded solution “away with vacations”.

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  6. Why do you think 15 holidays is too much? Are you basing that statement on some data that relates productivity to the number of official holidays during the year?

    Fifteen per year puts Venezuela on the same level with Japan and Sweden (http://www.businessinsider.com.au/here-are-the-countries-with-the-most-public-holidays-2015-1) which are usually regarded as examples of productivity and efficiency. China and Hong Kong have 17 per year and I doubt you’ll find more productive workers elsewhere. India has the most in the world (21), and they’re not exactly underperformers.

    I mean, today we have people like Carlos Slim making the case for LESS work days in the week, arguing it would actually increase productivity. There’s plenty of evidence that taking breaks actually helps education, provided those breaks are evenly distributed and intelligently timed. The long break in August, however, is terrible for student performance. Getting rid of it would indeed be a good move, but a similar amount of rest should be distributed over the year.

    Working by itself is nothing. Efficiency is what drives productivity. I could work for weeks on making a chair and at best do mediocre job, while a skilled carpenter could greatly outperform me in a single day.

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    • Sorry… Venezuela cannot afford it right now. Make the argument again in 10 years, after the country’s infrastructure has been restored.

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      • Your argument can be made about most anything, since Venezuela’s institutions are flimsy at hell. Does that mean attempting to change anything is useless? What could Venezuela afford to do then? Do you really think eliminating holidays will increase productivity or school performance?

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    • Labor costs in Sweden are among the highest in the world (if not the highest), definitely a disincentive for placing any sort of labor intensive operation there.

      The post points to a serious problem, laws are probably a little too much in favour of “labour” in Venezuela, to everyones loss. An inverted version of tragedy of the commons?

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      • And yet I’m not aware of any productivity problems in Sweden. In any case, China has the cheapest workers in the world and they also have more holidays than Venezuela. My point is that the number of holidays has little to do with productivity.

        Now, I agree that unions are out on control in Venezuela, particularly in public companies. But the insanity of unions is not so much on the holidays or number of work hours (workers at the CVG, for example, work at least 40 hours per week) but instead on the absurd benefits they demand and often get from their bosses.

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  7. I don’t think holidays are a problem right now. I think we should try to reduce everything that makes non-holidays unproductive first, and then evaluate if eliminating holidays is necessary. If any we should be looking into ways of making days off more enjoyable than they are.

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  8. To get people to work, you need to create jobs that pay them fairly. To create those jobs you need investments. To get investments, you need an environment that rewards risk-takers and doesn’t confiscate their profits or businesses when they succeed.

    But that would be Capitalism now, wouldn’t it?

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  9. Juan, I don’t think those are priorities. Most European countries have between 11 and 15 days of holidays and that does’t make them less productive than the country where you lived so long.
    In Germany Bavaria has 13 whereas poorer Bremen has 9.

    My impression while working with Anglos and with Germans: Germans talk less about non-related stuff at work, much less. But then they take their holidays, which are many more than in the Anglo world.
    There are many other ways in which we can save time and be more productive.
    Where I would cut immediately: extra regional holidays. In Anzoátegui it has been now customary to have holidays every time the local basketball team wins something.

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  10. I once participated in an exercise comparing the costs of contractors from different part of the worlds which included measuring the precise amount of days off they gave their workers during the year . To my surprise most asian and european countries had paid leave time similar or larger than Venezuela . The one outlier : the US , where you could expect each worker to work 2050 hours per year. This didnt mean that overall the contractors with the highest time off worked less , it just meant that they would work the same as others but they would pay more overtime to their workers which on a per hour fee basis made their costs higher.

    Some argue that productivity is increased if peoples work day or yearly work time is not the maximum . Maybe thats true but I havent studied the matter .

    I would guess that the rational thing would be to have a per industry rule for paid leaves so that were the industry is more productive than average they are allowed to give people more paid time off , and if the industry is less productive than average the time off is reduced. Thus productivity is allowed to define the time off workers can be granted.

    In Venezuela it is the custom in some activities to have more paid leaves but then the workers work longer hours to get the overtime pay they prize so much . In the US I understand that people as a matter of course work overtime fr the money even if they dont have many days off during the year.

    I agree with other bloggers that before we get to the number of holidays per year ( which maybe are to many for the poor productivity of most national industres) what must be ensured that the normal working hours are worked in full and with optimum effectiveness , disallowing the chaotic and dysfnctional system we have today were people miss work arbitrariy and cant be sanctioned or fired .

    One thing not mentioned is the intensity with which workers work in different places , in Brittain for example I noticed taht people spend their workhours working very intently whlle the tempo of work in Venezuela was more relaxed , even if the number of working hours and working days is the same if the tempo and intensity of the work effort is different the productivity will reflect the difference.

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  11. Eliminate stuff that people will be thankful to see going away instead.

    Lines and choros are stuff people want obliterated like leper, and that cause more loss at productivity than all the holydays combined.

    After finishing the lines cancer (By eliminating the whole bachaquero mafia by taking the prices to realistic levels), eliminate the idiocy that is the “inamobilidad laboral”, that was one of the most damaging things that chaburrismo has ever done to the productive apparatus in the country, by allowing all sorts of parasites to suck unimpeded with no chance to force them into work (As usual, that’s impunity applied to the workplace, chaburro workers can do as they please and get away with it)

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    • Also, giving incentives to workers to reward their work increases their productivity, because they’ll try to perform better in their job to get said rewards.

      Rewards that were eliminated by chaburrismo in its stupid attempt to eliminate any “capitalist vice”…

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  12. It would be interesting to measure productivity by…actual productivity.
    How many cars are produced by 100 assembly workers in Venezuela as opposed to Germany as opposed to the USA, all things being equal?
    I once was at a post office in Venezuela with a Flemish friend and she couldn’t believe her eyes when 3 employees slowly, oh, so very slowly tried to deal with our post cards to Europe. “Oh, dear, it’s like watching a film in very slow motion”. But then the whole system is so fucked up…those employees wouldn’t believe if we told them that an employee at a post office could perfectly rent a decent flat and with time and investment, even buy one in a middle class area.

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    • Long time ago I had access to a study which compared the productivity of venezuelan engineers vs US engineers , the productivity of US engineers was on average higher than that of Venezuelan engineers except in one field , the field of computer engineers which in Venezuela was higher . Cant say why.

      Japanese Engineering contractors did something baffling , they would use computer technicians to do what should have been done by computer engineers so that their productivity was good but less than optimal , it had something to do with their policy of guaranteeing their employees employment for life .!!

      US construction workers productivity was also much higher than that of Venezuelan construction workers , which meant for instance that building exactly the same industrial building in the US cost much less that one half of building it in Venezuela .

      Also very important , the way the contractor was paid . If he had the risk of covering cost overruns then he made his workers productive, if the risk was assummed by the owner , productivity would fall precipitously.

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    • Reminds me of the time I was taking Peli Express to Caracas. Entering the bus depot, there were two lines. One line was to check bags and the other was to purchase tickets. There were about 15 people in the line to purchase tickets and maybe 2 in the check bag line. In a normal developed country you would be able to buy your ticket and check your bag at the same time. Not in Venezuela. First wait in line for around 45 minutes to buy your ticket and another 45 to check your bag. Same kind of inefficiencies you see in all the banks. But who cares, time is not money there as in other cultures.

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  13. Any cool-minded observer could make the argument that Venezuelans — In General, of course — tend to be flojos y corruptos.

    In a huge country like ours, blessed with generous, fertile lands, full of oil and minerals, Oil galore, great weather, seas, rivers, low population… Everything.

    Where are we?

    An intricate combination of multiple factors would begin to explain this, but hey, it’s Friday, ‘pa la playa, chamo.

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    • Flojo indeed. Working in the energy sector there was a real eye opener for me. Even in this “professional” field,I was shocked at how inefficient and how lacking in knowledge of the business most of the engineers, geologists, etc. tended to be. Not all of course, but by far the majority. It’s no surprise that Venezuela desperately needs outside knowledge and investment to maintain oil production.

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  14. Boy, would I love to hear some Venezuelan leader telling the people, “Ok, folks… We have a lot of work to do. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to it.”

    Ok, fantasy over… Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

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  15. Sorry blogger, but your post is BS.

    Holidays are good for the economy, good for the country, good for the worker.

    In Western Europe workers enjoy more holidays than Venezuelans. Yet they produce more and better.

    Americans have no holidays. They are unhappy bastards.

    The problems with productivity and labour legislation in our country have nothing to do with holidays. You need to take another look.

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    • Well, I do have holidays, 11 to be specific. I don’t think I’m unhappy and definitely not a bastard. I just came back from a whole week vacation in California. One week every four months and few days here and there is more than enough for me.

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      • I have six weeks paid, plus national holidays.

        Plus free healthcare.

        Plus free education.

        Plus my child has a better chance of improving his social status than an American child.

        To be honest, it seems the American dream is well and alive here, and dying down there…

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        • Well, if you make enough money to afford six weeks of vacation (plus holidays) actually “vacationing” I will have to agree with you. If not and you stay at home while on vacation watching TV, then that’s a very poor definition of vacation.

          And as for “my child has a better chance of improving his social status than an American child” that’s a pretty general statement. Some kids will do better some kids will do worse. My daughter in particular goes to the best school system in TN, public BTW, so I’m pretty sure she will be fine.

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            • Your study is bogus because it uses percentages rather than absolute increments. Is the son making $200/yr with a father making $100/yr better off than a son making $1,500/yr and a father making $1,000/yr? Your study would say the second is less upwardly mobile than the first, even though his incremental increase is 5 times more than the first.

              “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics!”

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              • You do have an acute mind! you just exposed the OECD as a sloppy organisation using only your brainpower.

                You are totally right. The US is not an unequal country at all.

                Lorenzo, I am telling you: you are MIT material.

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              • Thanks. I didn’t graduate from MIT, but I was the thesis advisor for two students who got their MS degrees at MIT.

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              • OMG… Hopefully you weren’t helping them understand statistics and their meaning, because you are useless.

                Hey, apply your brain to Piketty’s book, I am sure you will totally debunk it… with a mind like yours… :p

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              • If you want to be taken seriously you should cut the sarcastic vitriol. You are not good at it, and it makes you sound like an adolescent with an inferiority complex.

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              • Being taken seriously by you is not a priority for anyone mate.

                I do, however, tell you this: inequality is the US is such a well studied subject, and such a big political problem, that even right-wing politicians acknowledge it.

                I chose to quote that OECD study because it highlights the fact that children in the US seem to have their social status decided beforehand.

                And then you come, with some sloppy math, and say it’s all lies, without linking the data to available bibliography… Man, you are full of shit. Whoever you are, I would never write a thesis with you.

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              • Ok, that was too much.

                Sorry for my violence, I do think you are not good analysing data, but that is not the way to say it.

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  16. I actually support keeping the number of holidays (which isn’t excessive, as Alejandro Gutierrez compared with Sweden, Japan, China and India), and making them more useful to take a break.

    I have heard some countries (maybe Germany is one of them) mandate holidays be celebrated on either Mondays or Fridays, regardless on which day they fall. This increases the number of long weekends people can use to rest, party or travel, as there are less holidays falling on a Sunday or Saturday. That would be a benefit to the people, and a boon to national tourism.

    On the other hand, it also eliminates the middle-of-the-week holidays (a wednesday being the worst case), and also decreases the number of “puentes” (bridges). A puente being a work/school day missed by students or workers in order to bridge a holiday and a weekend, for example when Thursday is a holiday and some might take Thursday (holiday), Friday (work/school day)as a bridge and then weekend. Bridges hurt productivity because they function as unsanctioned holidays, therefore doing away with bridges increases productivity. Already big industrial companies in Venezuela, like Polar, move middle-of-the-week holidays to Mondays, in order to avoid interrupting their industrial process mid-week, as that would result in waste of raw materials or lost productivity if they prefer to avoid the waste, they do have to pay double on that day because of labor law, though. Therefore this measure would also allow companies to avoid the decrease in productivity from workers taking a bridge, reduce the waste from interrupted processes, reduce the idle time from processes not started in order to avoid the waste and the wage cost of having to pay workers double on a holiday.

    I do agree wholeheartedly with restructuring the school calendar, specially the public school calendar. As I used to say back in high school: “How are they supposed to match the performance of private school students if the begin classes later, finish earlier and get more holidays (e.g: a whole week off because of an election on a Sunday)?”

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    • The U.S. is one of those countries that reposition most national holidays to occur on a Friday or Monday. It is practical and improves productivity. The most impractical holiday practice I have ever witnessed, was in some Muslim countries. According to the Quran, many religious holidays occur upon the sighting of the new moon. The actual announcement of the holiday is made some Imam. Many days, we left work at the end of the day not knowing if the upcoming holiday would be announced for the next day, or the day after.

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        • Most religions which use a lunar calendar or lunar-related dates (i.e. Christianity wrt Easter) define a holiday as the solar calendar date which follows the lunar event (new moon, usually)

          However, in Islamic practice certain religiously mandated observances (such as Ramadan fasting) start or end at the very moment of the new moon. The old moon is illuminated by the sun at its eastern edge; the new moon at its western edge. There is competition among Islamic religious institutions to see who catches first sight of light on the western edge of the moon.

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        • In fairness, most of the more modern Muslim countries do decide and publish the holidays in advance. However, if you live in one that does not, you can find yourself arriving at work only to discover that it is a holiday and think, “Hmmmm… So, THAT is why the traffic was so light coming in.” In case you are wondering, yes, this happened to me.

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  17. Maybe, given Venezuela’s massive and relatively productive informal economy, and underproductive formal economy, an additional 5 days on top of the existing law would not have a significant impact.

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  18. Alejandro, a slight exaggeration as we Americans have around 11 mostly observed holidays here. If we’re such unhappy bastards with our time off, try to explain why many employees actually “sell back” unused vacation time to their company. That’s right, many of us have such an attachment and sense of responsibility to our work that many of us do not use all our vacation time and in many instances the company will pay you for that time you did not use.

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    • Yeah, you are right, Americans aren’t unhappy bastards.

      You know, here there is this funny TV add. It’s in Minneapolis and this guy talks to people on the street, telling them we have six weeks paid vacations, one year maternity leave, free healthcare, free university…

      And the Americans in the add either laugh at their misfortune or get angry because they have nothing.

      sure, in the add they won’t show these super-responsible people you mention… :p

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      • Alejandro,

        If you take a camera out on the street and interview random people in the U.S. (or anywhere, for that matter), out of hundred interviews, you will inevitably get a few funny and/or ignorant responses. I recall that back when the the Olympics were held in Los Angeles, a news crew from New Zealand went around asking random people on the street, “Where is New Zealand?”. Predictably, they found enough geographically challenged Americans to assemble a very funny montage. Sometime after that, I visited New Zealand and was forced to repeatedly assure the Kiwis that not ALL Americans were such idiots.

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      • Alejandro

        I think you are over the top, again, like you were comparing Venezuela’s situation now with the Shoah.

        I was in England once and an Englishman at a university started talking to me. He mocked US Americans and said they were ignorant of so many things. Then he asked me how often I would go back to Spain.
        He thought I was a Spaniard. I said: Actually, I am not a Spaniard. I am Venezuelan. Do you know where Venezuela is?
        The bloke blushed. He stuttered. He thought Venezuela was in Oceania.
        I was in Quebec once and a gringo started to talk to me. When I told him I was Venezuelan he started to talk with enthusiasm about some regions of Zulia, among other Venezuelan regions. He had never been to Venezuela.

        Ask 10 Venezuelans (Ucevistas if you want) in what century – take or add one – Europeans first arrived in South America and from what main language Spanish derives. You will be surprised.

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    • Perhaps it is not so much sense of responsability but need for money to pay for university fees or health. Germans or Scandinavians are as productive, with many more holidays.

      By the way: Americans are people from Canada to Chile. You mean US Americans.

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      • That’s something that bothers me, actually, the use of the word “Americans”.

        Even Canadians use it for the US.

        If we can’t use it, how should we call them?

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      • “Americans are people from Canada to Chile.”

        Kepler… really? Haven’t we long since beaten that horse to death here?

        United Statesians…, USAians…, North Americans… (what about Mexicans and Canadians?), etc… There is no good alternative.

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        • USAians would do, thank you :-)
          I also use gringo, but some people misinterpret it. Nothing wrong with gringo, it is neutral in spite of what some say (but then the meaning of a word is in its use, as Wittgenstein said).

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          • Seriously? Gringo? In English? No me joda!

            Even in Spanish, when I used to try to avoid the word, “Americano” in deference to the Latinos, the conversation would usually go like this:

            “De donde esta?”

            “Soy estadounidense”

            “Que?”

            “De los estados undidos.”

            “Oh! Americano!”

            “Si, eso.”

            Well… I don’t argue with the weather.

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          • Kepler,

            The use of the word gringo is neutral depending….and you know it.It can be made offensive in a certain tone or with added words.

            When a person is not neutral, they are quite likely to use it in a subtly disrespectful way.So yes, the meaning is in its use.

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        • Roy, anyone can call himself anything he wants. That’s what you do and that’s what I do.
          El que se canse primero pierde.

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      • Well, I guess if making between $175-$250K a year is being underpaid, I must be in the wrong profession. The people I am referring to are professionals in the oil industry. Certainly not unusual in other well compensated industries.

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      • Alejandro,

        This blog is about Venezuela , not the US….NOBODY with half a brain and eyes to see can deny that Venezuelans have way too many days off.It is also incredibly easy to survive on little there.They live on Holiday…..if Venezuelans worked more they could produce more.The Sun shines and gives light.It’s that simple.

        Comparing Venezuela to the US or any other country is a diversionary tactic.

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        • Children in Venezuela do have too many holidays, and too few school days.

          Workers are different, they have normal holidays but are extremely unproductive.

          And comparing is not diversionary, on the contrary, it’s how you measure things, dear.

          The US used to be the biggest economy and invented universal education, as well as what we call “middle class”. So it’s a sort of standard.

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          • No it isn’t dear….different countries have too many variable to compare them easily.Demographics, cultures, population, history…a myriad of differentials

            What Venezuela needs is not what any other country needs.

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            • Well, you sound like a true chavista now. Venezuela doesn’t need what other countries have, like decent education and labour laws, according to what you think.

              Forget it, talking to you is boring.

              Bye.

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  19. Juan, interesting piece and valid comments, especially those offered by Miguel Octavio. If and when things get back on track, some Venezuelans might agree on getting rid of a few holidays, maybe….pero eso si, no te metas con mi “puente” :), Are you off Monday too? Enjoy!

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  20. In any discussion of worker productivity it should be understood that this is not just a measure of the effort and skill of the workers. The relative cost of labor determines how much a company will invest in labor saving tools and equipment. It doesn’t make sense to spend $100 to rent a forklift for the day, if I can move the same amount of materials with 10 workers who are paid $5 per day. If the same 10 workers are paid $20 per day, I will hire the forklift, so I can do the same work with one worker.

    Paradoxically, you can increase worker productivity by artificial economic measures, such as a minimum wage. The artificially high wages will force employers to invest in more labor saving tools and equipment, which in turn raises “worker productivity”. The negative unintended consequence is higher unemployment. Mandated “holidays” is another type of artificial economic measure that raises the cost of labor.

    A sound economy manages its artificial economic measures to achieve its social goals, while assuring that the damage it does to the economy does not exceed the benefits. I would argue that, until Venezuela gets itself back to work with an acceptable unemployment rate of about 5%, labor laws (including holiday benefits) should be eased to promote higher employment (in the formal sector).

    Just like a family must make an economic decision about what sort of luxuries they can or cannot afford, national economic and social policy must reflect what is affordable. A long time ago, most children had to work starting at a young age. It was an economic necessity. Today, we find it inexcusable to force children to work instead of attending school. Why? Because we can afford it, and the future benefits of educating our children make it worthwhile. Perhaps, one day, with even more technological advancement, it will be normal for us to work for even less of our time. Perhaps it will be normal to work for only a couple of months a year, or to take years-long sabbaticals. But, right now, we don’t. Why? Because we can’t afford it.

    Right now, Venezuela cannot afford 15 holidays per year.

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    • p.s.: Could someone please tell me how to translate the word “afford” into Spanish? I looked it up, but I can’t seem to express the exact same meaning, in the sense I am using it above, without excessive circumlocution.

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      • I can’t afford to tell you that because if I did, I’d have to kill you.
        Seriously: permitirse, even if some will say ‘it is not quite the same’.
        In the language of God we would say:

        “Venezuela no puede permitírselo”
        “Venezuela no puede darse el lujo”

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        • Thanks, Kepler. I guess that is close as I am going to get, though it doesn’t seem to nail it. Maybe we can introduce a new Spanglish word: “Afordar” “Venezuela no puede afordarlo.”

          It is a pretty important concept, especially if we want to talk about economics.

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            • That is one of the words in the reference I supplied. But a native speaker wouldn’t use costear in this case, Firepigette. You better stick to American English.
              He would prefer one of the words I mentioned. For very specific items he would use costear all right.
              Really: stick to North Carolina.

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              • A native speaker does use it….maybe not an undereducated one , but an educated native speaker would….stick to Belgium Kep

                In any case darse el lujo is a better translation from his phrase in English

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              • Firepigette,
                Again: you don’t speak enough Spanish and apparently, you don’t read English either.

                I mentioned to Roy the two possible translations: permitise and darse el lujo, the one you mentioned only, very probably, after you looked it up.

                But costearse is nothing a Spanish native speaker would use in THIS case, not an educated, not another one. Just get it. Your mother tongue is US English and stick to it.

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              • For you to understand: costearse is used with a very concrete item: no puede costearse ese viaje.
                A native speaker my foot! And even in the example you gave (which does not apply to this context), it is wrong because it needs to be reflexive. costearse, costearme, se costea, me costeo (but again, not for the sentence Roy meant).
                If I have a question about an English expression, I don’t ask Maduro. If an English person has a question about some Spanish expression, he does NOT ask Firepigette.

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  21. Disagree with everyone here. Venezuelans are hard at work. In Andorra, Switzerland and everywhere, lavando dolares 24/7/365.

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  22. Non sense, holidays are not the problem nor a solution for Venezuela productivity problems. What the country needs is to reduce the time people waste in many other things like doing errands, driving, etc. Fifteen official holidays is not above the average of many productive nations.

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  23. Sounds like a winning idea! Opposition takes power finally after 20 years and on top of raising gas prices, eliminating other subsidies and price controls, reducing misiones and givaways, and eliminating the exchange control regime potentially resulting in devaluation (all measures which I support), we say “hey pueblo, BTW, we are also getting rid of your holidays”. Maybe we can also limit supply of beer and ban reggeton! That’s a recipe for re-election right there…

    You need to pick your battles and, honestly, I don’t think too much holidays is a major problem for venezuela.

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  24. The problem underlying too many Holidays, is the deeper problem of feeling entitled to make a living without much effort.

    I worked for years in a private school in Caracas where I felt blessed by my salary and was working much harder than anyone else there…other teachers would get angry with me saying that I was working too hard and that I wasn’t paid enough for that.

    This feeling of automatic entitlement comes from easy money in an oil rich country.

    I thought the salary was good….the others thought it was way too low, and most did a pitiful job for it.Many teachers did just the minimum not to be fired.It was shocking !

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    • I don’t know when that was, but I’d be surprised if any teacher in Venezuela DIDN’T feel underpaid.

      I mean, the 2014 monthly wage scale for teachers goes from VEF 6386,95 for an entry level teacher, to VEF 9785,92 for a teacher with 25 years of experience. At current black market rates, that is USD 26 to USD 40.

      http://www.fvmaestros.org/tabla-salarial/tabla-salaria-2014-33-36x.pdf

      Meanwhile, the minimum wage in the poor countries of Central America is above USD 100 a month.

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  25. I have found that there are two basic attitudes towards work in the US , some work very hard because they feel that the rewards both monetary and in terms of personal sattisfaction are such that they dont care that much about free time , they can watch sports , socialize , drink , buy stuff without taking long holidays to do so . Some of them glory in their scorn of free time , they are supermen who work harder than anyone and thus show the world that they are really tough guys who deserve their success in life. In time it becomes an ingrained habit and they stop even thinking of what they can do with more free time.

    There are others who feel trapped by their personal and financial situation into working as hard as they can to meet obligations, and survive. i ve discovered this in people who have a kind of harried or sad look or who are friends and will confide in you how they have without understanding how become the prisioners of an undesirable but unescapable situation . Maybe is part of living in a consumer society !!

    Europeans I know are more laid back , they work hard during work hours , can be very dedicated but they also prize the enjoyments and rewards of free time. One common refrain if your are not efficient enough in your ordinary work time that you have to work extra hours or sacrifice vacations its because you are basically disorganized , a well organized competent person ought to be able to do his job during his normal work hours and have enough time to enjoy their free time . I worked with european big companies for some time and this last was the philosophy of the mayority of my colleages.

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      • Bill Bass,

        In Venezuelan schools teachers get by with cutting corners, and not living up to what they say they are doing.

        Where there is passion for one’s work, overtime is not always seen as unforgivable.Passion for one’s calling makes all the difference.Creativity comes from this passion.

        That doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy time off…time off is necessary…but in Venezuela both time off and work time are abused.

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        • “In Venezuelan schools teachers get by with cutting corners, and not living up to what they say they are doing.”

          They are earning less than 50 bucks a month, they are exposed to students who are thugs (or have thug relatives), they work in buildings with non-functioning bathrooms or leaking roofs (or other infrastructure deficiencies), they mostly lack job security as many teachers are temporary instead of permanent workers, etc.

          They do more than I would in those conditions.

          If you want “honest work” out of people, you have to give an “honest pay”.

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          • JN: Thank you for this small quantification to counter oversimplifications, whose lack of detail inspire no credibility, but serve as a personal rant on former colleagues. High-horse stepping can be so tiring.

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            • So true, Syd. My sister was a high school teacher in some of the worst barrios in San Felix, Bolivar State. She taught for close to 30 years. Her ex-pupils (grown men and women now) still keep in touch with her and thank her for being such resourceful and dedicated teacher.

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      • Fire : It doesnt , I was just referring to my personal experiences working or talking to people in different work settings both in Europe and in the US , mostly large companies . However there is a point which might be of interest . There is a book: Alberto Rials La Variable Independiente which contains studies on cultural motives (including work motives) in different countries conducted by US and Dutch scholars . According to them in the US the main work motive was the drive for Achievement which sort of tallies with my experience of workaholic driven workmen in big US companies . In Venezuela the main motive was the drive for Power , in fact we were the second ranked country in the world for the cult of Power .

        The study included the Venezuelan Oil Industry of the time vs certain US industries vs other Venezuelan Industries . The strongest showings of the drive for achievemet were in the US , the weakest in other Venezuelan industries, The venezuelan oil industry’s cult of achievement lay in between .!!

        You touched on the situation of Venezuelan teachers . In my books many of them are heroes working for very little , with very few resources and in a very rough environment . They deserve better . I have someone close who is a retired university lecturer in highly technical field who retired with a measly pension and who is still giving classes and working on the university laboratory despite receiving no monetary compensation for it, just from love of teaching and loyalty to the fianncially hamstrung university . To me this relative is a heroe . she isnt the only one , there are quite a few retired lecturers in UCV for instance who continue to work as regular teachers for nothing . Dont think this is something that exists in US universities.

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    • BB: I observed/experienced similar behaviours with regard to the attitudes towards work vs. leisure, US (plus Anglo/French Canada) vs Europe (Spain, France, Germany). But I would caution against generalizations, insofar as the type of industry or service, and whether it is regulated or not, unionized or non-. As well, one might specify whether the worker is white collar or blue, permanent staff or temporary, male or female, owner of or employee in the business, etc.

      To avoid ‘enredos’, I found the best indicator of those differences to be — ta-da — the index of outdoor cafés.

      In most of the US and anglo Canada, you won’t find many of these. And no, Starbucks does NOT cut it, what with its harried staff, confusing menu catering to multiple options (for neurotics), long line ups, and small number of cramped seating possibilities. If you go to French Canada, notably Montreal or Quebec City, you’ll find a café on every street corner. There’s generally plenty of outdoor seating at tables within reasonable distances to allow for relaxed conversation. I’ve known and worked with French Canadians; they work just as hard as their anglo counterparts. But they don’t take themselves so seriously. Cultural differences. Like in Montreal and QC, I’ve observed the same type of index, functioning in German, French and Spanish cities and large towns.

      In Venezuela you have many more options for outdoor seating/tbles and relaxed conversation than you do in anglo North America. You also have like in any place, gente (seria y) preparada who know their stuff and deliver it. Sole practitioners of a service know they won’t be in business for long if they take too many short cuts. Word travels fast. Just like it does in small towns of north America. However, in large, North American (anglophone) cities, where there is generally less socialization and much larger markets, these same practitioners can get away with a lot more. Again comparisons are not easy given the aforesaid variations.

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      • You are quite right Syd , generalizations usually miss the rich complexity of the reality they are supposed to represent , I suppose I got carried away and was really referring to personal experiences which of course cannot be assummed to reflect the whole array of work attitudes in any given society. The relevance of out door cafes in understanding the work ethos of each culture is something I had missed and which offers an interesting perspective from which to view this kind of social phenomena.

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  26. Juan: is the thumbnail image below the masthead part of your subliminal attempts to convert us, or is that your all-day Good Friday breakfast? Also, no cheese? Ni mostaza?

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  27. Everyone here should read up on “smart space” technology! Efficiency is going into a new age, and there will be fewer and fewer jobs… so vacations will be needed to spread the work around!

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  28. The core problem is not too many holidays but low productivity , if productivity is high enough a country can afford to allow more time off to its regular workers , and productivity is not just about the time spent by people working hard , there are other factors to consider , among them the work ethos which a culture instills in its people , their capacity to organize and integrate the work of many inside organizations which foster the maximum productivity of its workers , I specially feel that too often the importance of an organizations capacity to engage in optimally productive activity is not given sufficient attention . !!

    If you have very hard working people but the organizations they work in are not run on an optimally productive basis which can be taught to its workers then the problem remains basically unsolved. Creating this kind of organization however is not just about having great leaders but about the creation of corporate work rules and habits and cultures that make their workers work to their maximum potential and it is a very difficult thing to accomplish.

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    • Low productivity is to Venezuela like water is to fish. One of my first impressions while traveling through Venezuela were of soldiers siting and watch traffic passing by on highways filled with potholes. To me, it demonstrates the priorities!

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  29. I don’t think Venezuelans have too many holidays. They have too many coffee breaks, too many llegadas tarde por la cola, unlimited sick days, and the newly introduced day to make a cola to buy regulated products.
    What it has it too much, way too much viveza criolla.

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    • Viveza criolla that, as we know, is nothing else but estupidez criolla, as we know from Game theory and plain common sense. By shooting in others’ feet we end up shooting in our own foot while Canadians, Flemish, Germans, Swedes, Chinese prefer to build, sell, buy, develop.

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      • Viveza Criollla is first cousin to the mediterranean cult of the Picaro, the merry rogue and the cunning happy scamp. In pre modern literature they are always protrayed as people who being in the lowest rungs of society , basicaly devoid of that which affords a person dignity and reduced to living in the dirests, most precarious of conditions , use their wits and unscrupulous boldness to vengefullyy trick better off people of what they have . It says much of the mental mind set of the people who admire this type of character . of their feelings of bitter resentment at a society which they feel oppresses them and where they dont have a chance. One modern version of the Picaro might be the hacker who enjoys skimming ordinary users of the internet of whatever they have while destroying their equipment .

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    • Marc,

      The website you pulled that off of relies upon the air traffic control system radar data from all the countries in the world. My guess is that Venezuela has refused to share their data, and thus you see the blank spot where Venezuela is. There are several other areas in which the Venezuelan government simply does not “share”, including updated oceanographic charts, weather data, epidemiological data, etc…

      Venezuela just does not “work and play well with others.”

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      • Incredible!
        I have been trolling this website for only about three weeks and every time I log on I am astounded.
        I wonder if the Vz air traffic control system is staffed with qualified people or with chavista hacks?

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        • “I have been trolling this website for only about three weeks…”

          I am hoping that is not what you really wanted to say… Please do a Google search on the meaning of “internet troll” and get back to us.

          The skill and training of the air traffic controllers is not the issue. It is the sharing of data.

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          • Sorry, “perusing” would have been more appropriate. But, might I be permitted to expand on the discussion and wonder about the quality of the ATC system?

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            • I don’t really have any knowledge of the ATC system. However, in order for international airlines to land at Venezuelan airports, I am guessing that some minimum of international standards must be adhered to. Otherwise, the airlines and their insurers would not permit the traffic. Of all the things we have to be worried about in Venezuela, this is not one that is keeping me awake at nights.

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  30. Why not start by giving at least one million public employees 365/6 days vacation for a couple of years paying them what they earn now in Dollars calculated at the FX rate the rest of Venezuelan would have to pay to buy a dollar in the market. I guess, getting them out of the way would be a great way to increase productivity.
    The lousy side of the idea is that they might keep working those who most harm productivity in Venezuela.

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    • There are around 3 Million public employees, that’s more than 20% of the workforce. 32 Ministerios: We are proud World Record holders for those dens of Thieves. And that’s not counting Millions more who are nothing but Leeches, enchufaos, hooked-up one way or another to the Corrupt system.

      None of them, of course, do shyt, except steal as much as they can.

      It would be much better to give them all Permanent Paid Vacations, for the rest of their lives. They would steal less. That’s the solution.

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  31. Im quite sure that there are many public employees who are basically honest and hard working and dedicated even if not necessarily productive because the system itself destroys productivity and robs people of any incentive to be productive. Ive seen examples of that . Most of them are just survivors , people who need to make a living , to sustain themselves and their families . Many mean well but are hampered from doing a decent job and sometimes forced to allow others corruption by the environment in which they are forced to work . Not known is that quite a few times it is public officials themselves who denounce the corruption but who are then ignored and told to shut up by their higher ups. public officials who advise the decision makers on top that they are mistaken but who have no authority to change or stop their decisions . We are all angry at the public servants and of course there quite a few who are not only inept and corrupt but contaminated with Chavista delusions and hatreds , but by no means do they represent the total of the civil service population .

    There are certainly more public employees than needed in any rationally run public service system , and also many who are simply benefiting from the populist clientelar form of governance which is typical of this regime and others than preceded it .

    Deep changes need to be made to the bankrupt system of governance that now rules us , including developing a policy for the selection appointment , organization and promotion of public officials on a more productive and rational basis , using a meritocratic model that eschews partisan political considerations of any kind .!! But that does not have to imply an indiscriminate bureaucratic massacre of all public officials currently employed by the government .!!

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  32. ..there are many public employees who are basically honest and hard working and dedicated..”

    5%.

    Wild guess.

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    • Thanks Floyd for directing me to the latest Devilsexcrement article , this Blogs articles are always so informative and well written that they are a treat to read. No one can read that article ( and others like it) and not realize that Venezuela harbours one of the most corrupt government in the world and that a significant part of the bureaucracy is party to that corruption .

      And yet I sometimes have contact with that world and know that many inside it are not party to that corruption , that the decisions makers in this government are very few because power is so concentrated and that lots of people working as public employees are repelled by the corruption or are outside the areas of decision making where it ocurrs . Its not always their saying so but the look of embarrasment they show when they have to explain a decision which is evidently irrational or the way they tell the story of how a decision was taken which they emphasize they recommended not be taken yet the upper bosses decided to take anyway and so forth. Sometime you learn how even some higher ups in different govt bodies try to act to stop the corruption of others but have to do so very carefully and ultimately can do nothing to stop it .

      My own take is that people responsible for most of the corruption are a small but influential minority although there is a wider group of public emloyees whom they recruit to help them in their corruption schemes. Maybe 10% of the total .

      Also worrysome are the much bigger number of officials who are inept, ignorant or incompetent or incorrigible slackers and lazybones whose presence in the administration is a mistery to all , they are the relatives or friends of people with some influence with the bosses but their incapacity to do their job is often more an obstacle to sound performance than anything else . They can do as much damage to an organization as those who are most corrupt . Here the percentages rise very substantially , the thing about this group is that they are not corrupt because they lack either the will or means to be corrupt. but are an absolute burden on any govt organization that wants to do its job.

      Then you have the ambitious career minded who are smart and sharp , and can under the right conditions be very competent and useful in any organization but right now find it convenient to go along with the people who can help their careers the most .

      The thing to keep in mind is that you cant just fire 5 million people because the have worked under a corrupt and inept organization . that inevitably you have to research and make an inventory of the human resources you have and try to see what part of it you can salvage or turn around in a better run and led organization . The corrupt of course have to be led out the door and brought to trial under an honest institutional court system.

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      • You see to be way naive, and optimistic. Perhaps you have never worked in Vzla. A few friends and family of mine still work there. It’s almost impossible to be a straight shooter, and at best, you have to turn a blind eye to atrocities left and right everyday.

        Heck, even in the “good old days”, under the adecos/copeyanos in the 80’s I had my last job in CCS, as Procurement Manager for Edelca with French, honest multinational company, building a major electricity line, similar the the Metro people. It was already a mess, corruption everywhere. My bosses had to grease Union delegates crooks every week, plus the politicians at high/government levels, of course. I was offered bribes all the time by dozens of suppliers, lunches, cars, women, you name it. Just for being a little purchasing guy in a large company. Want something to be done fast and correctly? I had to talk to my boss, and in turn offer bribes to sub-contractors, etc, etc. Corruption Everywhere. In those days at least we were building something. Now it’s even worse, and nothing is built.

        I’d say 85% corruption, everywhere, different bite sizes, that’s all. It’s a viral, contagious disease, ask anyone who works or has worked in Corruptzuela. Every single contract, purchase order, public office, transportation, services, all corrupted to the bone. There’s no milk or Trigo to make bread, and the chickens are traded for drug favors with Bolivia now, etc, etc, even the Chinese, highly corrupt themselves, can’t keep up.. except for selling us more Military equipment soon, guess why? $$$$ of course.

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        • Floyd , perhaps Im overly naive and your right . Its been years since Ive had any involvement with the kind of day to day scale of operations you refer to. Still I think I know very well what your are talking about , heard the same thing from friends and colleagues , corruption is particularly rife in any activity which has to do with procurement , contracting activities and with the handling of labour unions . Specially when you are doing project work .

          Still if your are talking about 3 million govt employees most of them are people doing very low to middling manual clerical or technical jobs which have little exposure to that kind of activity and which are out of the circle of processes where temptation beckons .

          The 85% sounds high if you think of 3 million govt employees, but perhaps not surprising for any organization working within or for Edelca , specially on the procurement and contracting of projects !!

          My own guess is that generally most large corruption cases involve the decision makers and some people close to them . Thus my 10% guesstimate . Perhaps if you think of every kind of petty extortion which the public is exposed to the percentage is likely to rise higher .

          Im confident however that if you rid your self of the corrupt decision makers and their entourage you do away with at least 90% of the amounts which are now being lost to corruption.. I am under the impression that if you are thinking of the big ticket corruption items (mentioned in the media) the people profiting from the corruption are likely not to exceed a small percentage of the total civil service population . If you are talking of 10% that would amount to 300.000 gvt employees .

          Eventually you should create a civil service system where all forms of corruption are erradicated altogether, but that will require much more time. and as you suggest a veritable cultural change.

          Do not forget that aside from the corruption huge amount of public resources are wasted and lost to mismanagement and incompetence , so that this kind of loss has to be addressed also .

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          • I still think you are naive here, BB. The scope and Astronomical size of Vzlan corruption is GALACTIC. And on an expanding Universe.. at all levels, the secretary screwing the boss to get kickbacks while altering letters, , the obrero stealing and reselling materials, the venderdor de perros calientes, speculating and reselling, there’s a “Tigrito” or illegal Kickback everywhere!! For each breath,, cuanto hay ‘pa eso?! You don’t suppose people, even at the low levels live off the “canasta basica” or minimum slaries, do you?

            Look, and now, somehow, over 9 Million dirt-poor, oppressed people most with ridiculous salaries are travelling on Vacation, buying anything anywhere at any price.. How?

            Liked by 1 person

            • Being naive may be a reflection of the slice of Venezuela where I spend most of my life and where although corruption is widespread and deep there are also many people who dont partake of it . I was thinking of many people I know who work in govt and are not into any kind of corruption , or who work in business and are not corrupt even if they can be . Corruption may appear omnipresent but there is always a significant percentage of people who just never enter into the game . Its difficult for me to see myself as naive when Im aware of so many corruption cases which very few people know about , but if you look it form a societal perspective maybe thats the way it works. Youre wise to certain scale of corruption but less sensitive to other more common forms of corruption .

              We started phocusing on govt corruption but have gone on to look at corruption as a pervasive social reality , I now understand that looking at the whole of Venezuelan life corruption is endemic largely it appears because on top of the already sick tendencies of our culture and history ( the cult of the picaro, the culture of cronyisn and ‘roscas’) we have a total breakdown in the institutional systems that formerly, however imperfectly, attempted to keep it in check .

              I know of business people who have to engage in corruption simply in order to survive, that where institutional order has totally broken down the ensuing chaos makes corruption a necessary part of everyday life. But I also know lots and lots of people that even if victimized by corruption make an effort not to engage in it and who see it with distaste and loathing.

              Talking in percentages is always conjectural if there are no verifiable statistical studies to support them , every thing is based on ones personal reaction to anecdotal observation so you can only roughly estimates orders of magnitude , Maybe the 85% figure is the appropiate number , but I am loath to think that its so large , maybe Im wrong , It wouldnt be the first time .

              Thank you for posting the impresive expose of the sorry state Venezuelan gold industry contained in the Spanish documentary . It convincingly underscores all you are saying about the corruption of Venezuelan society..

              .

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          • Corruption in one form or another has become something normal and customary in Venezuela , so much so that people are inclined to engage in it with the well known argument ‘everybody is doing it , why not me’ , It affects not only the public sector but large swathes of the private sector as well , for example procurement done by private companies are often subject to the same inhouse corruption practices as exists in public bodies. also, not unheard of is the private business predatory swindling of its customers .

            Its not just the State which is corrupt but private business both when it does business with the government and when it does it with other private business.

            Ortega used to say that the real problem with a misdeed was not that it happened , because in any human society they where bound to ocurr almost inevitably , the problem arose when the misdeed stopped being an abuse , an exception and became a use or social custom , something very widespread and ordinary. In Venezuela corruption is not an abuse but part of normal life .

            When you adopt a cero tolerance policy , the so called ‘no broken window’ strategy’ you are in fact using methodical coercive policies to make corruption or any kind of social misdeed an abuse rather than something customary, which psychlogically makes misdeeds and corruption more susceptible of control , more restrained , reducing its ocurrence. Of course these strategies require a big effort and many resources besides a very solid organization.

            When you look at how people from consolidated middle class families (e.g. the bolichicos) went on to massively defraud the electric power public entities you realize that presumably good strict upbringing doesnt stop their ‘beneficiaries’ from engaging in gross forms of corruption because the system of corruption exists at all levels of society as part of normal life. its become functionally lawful even if according to the Laws its formally unlawful .

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            • I would expect that private companies would do a much better job of preventing the activities that are against the long-term health of their own organization. Can you provide examples of “procurement done by private companies are often subject to the same inhouse corruption practices as exists in public bodies”?

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              • Daveed : By way of example I know of specific cases in the formerly private Electricidad de Caracas and in the formerly private CANTV. I cant go into specifics , but you are right that the corruption in private companies isnt usually as gross and comprehensive as the one ocurring in many public corporations..

                Remember a case of a company in Guayana which was hired to do a certain job on materials produced by a transnational , to do the job well they had to purchase some rather expensive equipment which they didnt want to do, so they bribed the transnationals technical inspector to approve some very shoddy work which resulted in the material becoming corroded after a few months and causing huge losses to the transnational . The company doing the bribing was criollita criollita.!!

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            • B.B.,

              Elegantly explained.

              In the movie, “A Few Good Men”, in one of the trial scenes, Caffey (Tom Cruise) dismisses the argument that a Code Red doesn’t exist simply because it is not in the Marine Code of Regulations. He asks a private to show him where the Mess Hall is in the Marine Regulations. When the marine responds that it isn’t in the Regulations, he asks how did he manage to eat? The marine sheepishly tells him that when chow time came, he just followed the crowd.

              A large part of the “norms of society” is about just “following the crowd”.

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          • Yeah, the theory makes sense. Theft and corruption are contagious. In Corruptzuela, even at the lowest levels people are stealing because they see everyone around them getting rich doing the same. And getting away with it with impunity” Cuanto hay ‘pa eso? Como quedo yo ahi, resuelveme ahi una vainata, compai..” “ahi te tengo un tigrito” “t’a fino ese guiso, chamo, date ahi..”

            It becomes a mafia of sorts, a way of life, leeching from the government, then participating in the corruption themes, and stealing with everyone else: if you see everyone getting rich and doing the same around you.. “que se joda, pana, tampoco me voy a queda’ atra'”

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              • One part of the above spanish documentary deals with Las Cristinas Gold Mine now being worked by hundreds of small independent gold miners under the protection of armed criminal sindicatos and some national guard gangs . This gold mine is the same which has been the subject of international litigation resulting in an award ordering the Venezuelan Government to pay the Canadian company Golden Reserve the sum of 750 million USD . The govt has also promised the Chinese exploitation rights over the mine as part of a package deal which allowed the govt to recently recieve a 700 million USD loan.

                Its evident from the documentary that the govt has lost control over the mine and its environs, wont b able to recover it and that the handling of the mineral rights has caused it not only the loss of that mines revenue but having to pay some 750 million dollars to the Canadian company and later a 700 million dollar loan to the Chinese. The mine is an example how this regime has grossly mismanaged the country’s resources !!

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      • ” The corrupt of course have to be led out the door and brought to trial under an honest institutional court system.”

        But that would go against the spirit of forgivenes and unity needed to embrace everyone to rebuild a dreamy republic! D:

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  33. Whow… The country is on fire and the subject here is public holidays??? Well, it does explain why everything is status quo. “somos levantamanos..”

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  34. OT:

    The following article published through AFP by a Marina Koreneva provides the first solid evidence I have seen for organized and state-funded internet trolling as a propaganda tool.

    http://news.yahoo.com/trolling-putin-russias-information-war-explained-063716887.html

    I sure wish we could get a similar exposé of the same by the Venezuelan government. It is one of those things that we all know or strongly suspect, but it would be nice to get hard confirmation.

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    • Interesting, yet no surprise.

      Otherwise, if Hector_St_Clare is juggling more than one identity on this blog, then chapeau. It takes skill to portray a low IQ for that long, on a political blog about Venezuela. Then again, it may not be an act, and St_Clare can only charge the base, one-personality rate.

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  35. “Can you provide examples of “procurement done by private companies are often subject to the same inhouse corruption practices as exists in public bodies”?

    You’re kidding, right?

    After almost 30 years working in Procurement, private and public (often related) , in Vzla and/or the USA-Europe I can tell you that in-house, outside and around-the-house corruption often floats around “procurement”: RFP’s, service contracts, materials/parts/equipment acquisitions or rentals, etc. Simply because that’s where most private companies or public bodies end up spending the bulk of the cash.

    That and banking, of course, with money laundering and obscure currency exchange deals, as the Gigantic deal going on now with cambios preferenciales.. Procurement is usually one department of such private co’s, as you have HR, Admin,.. In countries like Corruptzuela you simply stand ZERO chance to win a public Bid for any project without huge kickbacks. Price/Quality/Delivery time/Warranties, etc are secondary, if that..
    Of course in large, public deals they steal even more, more easily and with impunity. But even in the USA or Europe, even small/medium private construction co’s, for instance, even there you have corruption in procurement, special favors, anything to get the contract.. Imagine in Vzla today, it’s flagrant, Galactic, grostesque Tigres expected for every deal. Not as big as when we buy Military equipment from China, but nothing works without “grease”, not even a freaking Panaderia or Ferreteria around the corner.

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    • Afraid that Floyd is right in saying that procurement is one área of corporate activity where paranoia is not only justified but mandatory . There are others which can be as bad but for the time being lets leave it at that .!! Certainly well organized corporations can adopt practices and policies which limit the amount of corruption which they are exposed to in their procurement activity . Youd be surprised however on how corruption exists even in the best run, most reputable companies. !!

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      • Yes, and even more surprised at how often it’s overlooked, even by the International General Managers, since it’s usually not in their interest to rock the boat during their relatively brief stint in a foreign country on their way up the international corporate ladder.

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      • Just ask any salesperson to large private companies what they have to do with the “Gerente de Compras” to “earn” their “business”.

        Kickback part of the commissions, inflate the price and pass on the “extra” and so many other forms of getting money out of the deal to pass on to the “Gerente”. Public or Private, it made no difference. Everyone has their hand out.

        What makes this especially lousy is that getting caught means not only losing the customer, but even losing the job itself. And yet, if you don’t play you risk getting nothing at all.

        I’ve seen it happen at the most reputable and “1st world” run companies as well as the basic “pulperia”.

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