Welcome Back

Ecowarrior Knee-on-Dirt

Ecowarrior Knee-on-Dirt

So, this flew under my radar, but  apparently Maduro backtracked on the the decision to fuse the Environmental Ministry and the Habitat Ministry, and now, we will once again have and environmental ministry.

It will be called the  Ecosocialism and Water Ministry (time to change the letterhead AGAIN guys) and the new minister is Guillermo Barreto. Barreto will have the daunting task of ensuring the well being of the planet and managing all the water in the country.

Good luck to you, Barreto.

The environmental situation in Venezuela is growing more precarious by the day. The good folks at Red Ara applaud this move, but still warn that there is much work to be done and that the government needs to stop politicizing the environment and needs to work with NGOs and other key players in society to take the necessary decisions and actions that our environment requires.

In these circumstances, more than political doctrines, we need common objectives that  will allow us to join forces and guide the country to a path of sustainability.

Barreto, my two cents, I’d start with Venezuela and leave the planet for later.

22 thoughts on “Welcome Back

  1. “…but still warn that there is much work to be done and that the government needs to stop politicizing the environment and needs to work with NGOs and other key players in society…”
    Good joke!
    They backtracked because their own militants quarrelled about the scrapping of the Ministry, and because internally, the fight among the vice ministers and the workers of the ministry was going to rip off the whole Torres del Silencio.
    After the failed Constitutional reform, they decided to go ahead with the Comunal State through new laws enacted by habilitante. That´s why they derogated the new LOPOT (Ley Organica para la Ordenacion del Territorio) so they could adapt a new version to their Nueva Geometria del Poder.
    Besides, the Ministry of Environment does not function as such since the mid 1990s. Scrapped or not, trust me, does not make any difference.


    • Mayke, you seem well versed in these issues so I will throw this out there in case you can answer…Which Latin countries do you think are doing a respectable job preserving the environment and nature as much as possible when economic growth is seen as the end all be all? Costa Rica is an obvious one, any others?


      • Hi Rory,
        I cannot speak in broad terms because legal systems in most Andean countries (to narrow the subject at least a bit) are vast and complicated. There is one worth mention though: Colombia.
        The Colombian environmental framework allows civil society to have a more protagonic role with the Private Reserves. Besides, the Protected Areas system is well distributed, and lacks the abstract nature of the Venezuelan. That is not to say that everything is rosy in Colombia. There are some problems to address, but they have an incredible amount of very well prepared people, particularly in the NGO sector, and most International NGOs are present in Colombia, so they know exactly what´s going on and what the solutions are.
        I don´t know much about Costa Rica, I think they are an overrated and extremely expensive country.
        In Venezuela, NGOs are sidelined, and on top, civil society groups have the same defficiencies of the government as a whole. You see the same faces in the same NGOs years and years, there are no generational changes. So these are the groups that would complain about the lack of democracy, but NGOs in general are either family business, or the appropriation of individuals. You come and say hey guys, why don´t we try this? and they look at you and say: Hold on kid, here we work this way… This is, at least, my impression on the environmental sector, I cannot speak about Human Rights and other groups. My first impression when I came back from England after 10 years was appaling: Scientists fighting for gossips and killing each other in every symposium or Congress, NGOs that cannot work with other NGOs because este me cae mal; NGOs that believe they have a rightful claim to a monopoly in conservation and/or certain geographic area, and a long etc…


        • Thanks, I appreciate your response. During my trips there (my spouse is Venezuelan) I am always blown away by the natural richness of Venezuela, the biodiversity, the various climates. A few other areas in latin america I have visited were also amazing, though I think Venezuela can hold its own with any of themin terms of natural beauty. Maybe it’s because the two places I have lived (Ireland and US) are generally low biodiversity areas (although they do a good jobs with the nature preserves they have) that I am so impressed and even awed by the variety and vibrancy of nature in parts Venezuela and similar environs. They are truly a treasure, and one that once lost, will not come back until humans no longer walk this earth.
          Obviously, even without corrupt officials, the pressures for economic growth are enormous in many of those same areas so the struggle to save what is left of those places is immense and , sadly, extremely difficult.

          I’ve been doing some reading about conservation efforts in various countries lately, which I was why I initially asked.


          • As a youth I did my bit walking in the tropical wilderness south of Maracaibo lake , Im always a bit amazed about how the jungle tropics are idilically depicted by US and European film makers , nothing like the experience I had walking those places . First of all true jungle growth doenst allow you to simply walk , you have to wield a machete like crazy in order to advance maybe 20 meters in half an hour , the vegetation is so thick that you feel your body trapped in a vegetable prison , clouds of large mosquitos eat you alive , every prick leaving a spot of blood in your skin , the ground is very irregular not smooth , full of mud filled holes and slippery hedges so that you have to be careful of each step you take to avoid falling , the heat is oppresive and very humid , making any movement uncomfortable and fatiguing , you see strange plants like one with large leaves which surface was studded with large thorns, the canopy of trees keeps every thing in semi darkness , you cant see the sun , if there is cattle around you are attacked by ticks which cover the whole of your body and cause an irritating itching all over your skin. one you cant just scratch away.getting rid of the ticks you have to strongly rub the place where they are buried with eau cologne to make them drunk and then dig them out of your skin using your nails. Nothing of these tropical conditions appear in those films !! Even a flat grass field when you try to walk accross it is filled with ‘zuros’ or small irregular holes which prevent you from walking straigh and fast. I remember taking off my blood drenched boots at the end of the day from all the hard walking.

            At the same time I remember the spectacle of the land north of the Panamericana , the vast flat expanse of grassy land enveloped in a soft gray haze , studded with isolated monumentally tall trees (5 or 6 stories high 4 meters wide ) , the long tall totally smooth gray trunks and then on top the vegetable canopy opening like a fan . The flying swarms of skreetching parakeets , also the Catatumbo thunder lighting up the sky every couple of seconds turning night into day and back . Watching from a tall building in San Cristobal the far away Catatumbo light up the whole of the northern sky.

            Remember Once driving the old costanera road following the contours of lake Maracaibo during a storm , the spectacle seemed like something out of this world , the water , the sky all bathed in shades of gray , the oil derricks as if made of shining silver set against the horizon , the lightning like a flash of blinding white light crossing the dark gray sky , the heavy rain that didnt prevent one from seeing the spectacle . almost a magical experience .!!

            Too many reminiscences maybe a sign of ones approaching old age .!!


            • Venezuela is such a natural marvel. All 5 ecosystems, even the deset in los Medanos de Coro, the beaches, the Llanos, the Andes, the Roraima with forests and auyantepuys.. spectacular.

              Fortunately, this regime is so Inept and corrupt that they don’t venture much into wild areas: too difficult at the start, takes some expertise even to creat a major Logging operation and new mining operations like they do in Brazil, destroying everything.

              If there’s a bright side to our lack of entrepreneurship, economic development and laziness, with such abundance of oil and minerals that are easy to pick, that’s it.

              With such a small population, large territory (twice the size of France), nature isn’t destroyed as fast as in other under-developed countries. Viva la Rebolucion Bolibanana!! (for that only)


  2. I very much fear that having the ministry back wont change things much , because there is a hierarchy of power among the ministries and their interests (either personal or political) and enviromental concerns are very low in their list of concerns and in case of conflict the reborn ministry will just get run over. just as happened so often in the past. So I would say that regretably bringing back this ministry is largely a symbolic gesture with few practical consequences.


    • Symbolic gesture? It’s just another tool for the Dictatorship’s Supersonic Embezzlement Machine. (DSEM)

      32 “Ministries”, World Record, most of them completely useless, including my favorite of “Felicidad Suprema”.. Three Million Public Leeches on the payroll.

      These “Ministries” simply allow for more control, and above all more enchufados, more bureacracy, more corruption, more theft. Very Simple. Why so naive, BB?!!


      • Sorry Floyd , my comment was addressed specifically to the vain hope the rebirth of this ministry might be construed as a right step in the direction of protecting the environment , which of course is sheer nonsense . Otherwise I agree with you that creating more controlls and more bureaucracy is simply a means for the enchufado elite to sate their unquenchable appetite for corrupt gains and patronage privileges .

        One change however is that they now have to contend with a new limitation , born of the fact that the companies which activities they have to control are either state owned or controlled by the friends and allies of people of influence within govt circles which makes them pretty near untouchable !! Bona fide private companies are now a disspearing species so the scope for the extortion of bribes is likely to be diminished.


  3. This thing is a complete joke. Not for nothing the name is “ecosocialismo”.
    That is so wrong.
    – the history of environmental disasters under socialist regimes is even worse than elsewhere
    – the head of the noun phrase after “ministry” should be environment, but Chavismo just could come up with socialismo and eco is just a modifier. This only shows Chavistas can’t speak Spanish. Even if you are a socialist idiot, you should put the actual topic in the centre: ministerio de ecología socialista (whatever that means).
    I wonder if there will be any journalist at this moment who can have access to these asses and ask what this thing is…if this means socialismo ecologista like the one the Soviets produced with the Aral sea or the Eastern Germans and commies in Czechoslovakia produced with all their rivers and much more


    • It’s not really a “joke”, unfortunately. Each bogus “ministry” is created to channel Billions of $$ to be Stolen.

      You hire thousands of leeches, they become your Chavista loyal slaves. Rich, corrupt slaves, of course. And then you use them to expand your totalitarian tentacles country-wide, with bogus offices, bureaucracy, bogus “environmental” laws, for what???!

      You guessed it! To extort money, left and right. “Permisos” del ambiente? LOL… A como los venden?! “Multas por violacion al ambiente”?? (if any..) Not a PENNY goes back to do anything for conservation. Ni una pulla. All stolen.

      The more “Ministerios”, or Corrupterios,,, the more ways to control, extort, bribe, threat, harass, veil, complicate, hide, violate, and disappear public monies!!

      When will people wake up.. When they Starve, Hambre. That’s when.


    • Kepler, this book from 1971, Beyond Repair: The Ecology of Capitalism, is an absolute riot when read while taking into consideration the environmental depredations of the Soviet Union- many or most of which were revealed to the rest of the world after its demise. And two decades after this book was published.


      • Had friends from the Venezuelan oil industry visit the oil installations of the recently broken up soviet union and what they saw appalled them , the soviet regime had been hell bent on making money as quickly as possible regardless of consequences and they seemed to have very little concern for doing anything to protect the environment . Many of their reservoirs were ruined from over exploitation.

        Other friends visited a US Gulf Coast Refinery operated by an independent arround the same time and they were also appalled by the lack of safety safeguards in the refineries installations and how they had some 100 harried people doing the job of a 200 people ( the surest way of having accidents) , evidently in an effort to maximize profit at the expense of safety.

        Then had yet another group of friends visitng Chinese Oil Installations before sending them some product which had to be handled in a certain way to avoid enviromental hazards, the chinese treated the venezuelans insistence that certain stringent international standards be met to handle the product as a kind of joke , they laughed and said ‘dont worry , our enviromental laws are the most advanced in the world´, they stopped laughing when told that if those standards were not met the product would not be made available to China. That of course was years ago.

        Then you had Venezuelan bureaucrats act as the purest defenders of nature to stall any new projects with miriad of changing and largely useless requiremens . They seemed to enjoy the power they had to deny all permits because it made them feel like the proud righteously paladins of the great cause of natural conservation , their chests would puff up, their eyes would haughtily see you as if your were miserable ants come to ask them the godly creatures for something they could capriciously deny you practically on a whim .

        I have a suspicion that maybe some of the problem with the companies that tried to start the exploitation of the KM 88 gold mines was that no matter what they did the mightly bureaucrats from the enviromental ministries ( or equivalent ) denied them every permit to begin proper exploitation . After years of trying to get the permits maybe everyone got fed up and the expropiation was decided.

        I know so many cases where companies greed or that of the bureaucrats or their asinine haughty irrational rrigour have caused untold damage to the environment . Dont know how you can educate people to take it seriously and treat the issues in a balanced rational way.


        • Epale Bill
          Don’t have to go that far, ask esos panas about the environmental mess in Maracaibo lake, the Petrochemical Center JOSE, or the Guarapiche river.


          • Michael , you are right , there are plenty of recent cases in Venezuela which demonstrate the govt basic indifference to enviromental issues , I mentioned the above cases to show that it wasnt always that way. that however imperfectly there was some level of concern in the past for these issues !!

            Just one example :

            A Pequiven joint venture built a plant at heavy expense to produce a gasoline component to replace MTBE which most of the world was already phasing out because of its health threatening properties , the plan was to phase out the use of MTBE in the production of Venezuelan Gasoline .

            Right after the plant was completed and was to start its first operational trials, Pdvsa decided that it wasnt going to phase out MTBE after all , so it made it impossible for the new plant to be put in operation. For whatever reason they decided to keep using MTBE despite the fact that its use was being abandoned all over the world because of its harmful consequences. I understand many states in the US are banning its use because of the way it can contaminate acquifers and other underground water sources.

            The new plant was left idle , the money spent in building it wasted , at the chagrin of the Pequiven partners who had contributed to its building , soon after the joint venture was taken over by the govt and the assets of the private partners expropiated. A large part of the MTBE used in the production of our gasoline has to be imported at a very high US$ price. Meantime the expropiated partners initiated litigation againsnt the govt asking to be idenmnified for the loss of their share in the assets .

            The harm to the health of all venezuelans from the continued use of MTBE is of no concern to the Regime , and yet they proudly stridently proclaim their defense of enviromental values !!


  4. Ecosocialism- yeah, that worked just great in the home of “scientific socialism,” the Soviet Union.


  5. Socialismo es too lo que es ‘pa nosotros la gente sensiya ‘e pueblo, todas las cosas guenas que nuestro Comandante Chavez nos regala.


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