0701weilVenezuela has always been corrupt – at least ever since I’ve been around. But it seems as if corruption has exploded in the last year, or two.

If we are to go by the outlandish stories one hears, then whatever you might have thought about corruption a few years ago is now peanuts.

One of the more amusing stories I heard had to do with Pudreval.

As you may recall, a few years ago, the press got a hold of the story that several containers full of food had been allowed to rot in the yards of our country’s ports. Of course, nothing came out of it, but the stench of Pudreval was hard to quell. (The name comes from the fact that some containers were apparently imports by PDVAL, the PDVSA affiliate in charge of distributing food … don’t ask).

I hadn’t given much thought to the Pudreval story until a buddy explained to me the dynamics of Pudreval.

Say you are a chavista bigwig in charge of PDVAL’s purchases abroad. You are allocated enough dollars at the preferential rate of BsF 6.3 to import ten containers worth of food.

The first container arrives in the port. You call the National Guard and all the other people who have to certify your shipment, i.e., charge a bribe. You pay them off, get your paperwork, and you’re done.

Next up, a crane comes and moves the container from one side of the yard … to the other.

You call the same people once more – National Guard, customs, etc., – and you tell them “épale, my second container of food is here.” You pay everyone off, get your paperwork, and they leave.

The crane comes and … you guess it … moves the container to another part of the yards. You call them again. “Compadre, the third container is here …” Bribe, bribe, bribe. Stamp, stamp, stamp. And then you call the crane again.

Magically, a single container of food has become ten containers! When does the process end? Why, when the stuff inside the container begins to stink. That’s when you just leave the stuff in a corner of the yard, and hope nobody notices.

Stories like that are dime-a-dozen in Venezuela. For example, some Caracas supermarkets have been known to sell you bundles of things you want … with things you don’t. Some friends have been forced to buy their shampoo (when they find it) bundled together with deodorant they don’t want. Turns out the deodorant is a stinky, abrasive brand that nobody in their right mind would want to buy, but they were imported by an enchufado with a connection to China, and the supermarket has to get rid of them somehow!

Another story involves a crime ring that kidnaps your university degree after you have had it legalized at the Foreign Ministry’s office in downtown Caracas. As in … you’ve finally gotten the darn thing stamped and signed, and you’re walking out with your tubo, and a couple of guys in a motorcycle come and kidnap your degree and hold it for ransom.

I heard stories of military men offering brand new cars to school admissions officers in order to obtain a hard-to-find spot for one of their kin in one of Caracas’ elite schools. I heard stories of Embassies being forced to pay bribes to men in uniform to get Embassy cars out of the nation’s ports, where they are being held up due to some “procedural” issue. And let’s not even go into the “express kidnapping” issue – apparently, there are restaurants in Venezuela’s main cities that are open all night and always have a wad of cash. If you get kidnapped, you can go there, cash a check, get the cash, and pay your ransom.

It’s easy to lose hope when hearing all of these stories, but one thing I kept coming back to was the fact that corruption feeds on wealth, and wealth is not as easy to find in Venezuela these days. Because, if you think about it, with the price of oil at a third of what it was a few months ago, someone in this gang of bucaneers is having a hard time making ends meet. There simply isn’t enough oil wealth to go around satisfying everyone’s basic needs.

Whether it’s the Pudreval guys or the people holding degrees for ransom, there simply isn’t enough wealth to sustain a country of thugs. Yes, there are bolívares, and there’s more of those every second … but wealth? Not quite as much.

And when thugs don’t find enough loot … well, bullets will probably start to fly.

61 thoughts on “Desmadre

  1. There’s enough “wealth” for the thugs/corruption, but not enough for the Pueblo to satisfy their basic needs (canasta basica now at Bs. 54m, sueldo minimo at Bs. 7.7m). Ultimately, the “Pueblo” tiene que bajar de los cerros para que la pesadilla termine.


  2. The rules around corruption are enforced through violence, and so when there is increased competition between the corrupt, there is an escalation in violence. I think large scale corruption also ultimately feeds a general perception that anything is justified. There are stories coming out of Venezuela that are just horrific, and hard to imagine even given all we know already about the levels of violence.


  3. wait till the bazuco starts to flow in a few months. It will snow in Caracas. I expect the body count to almost double by next summer.


  4. “Venezuela has always been corrupt – at least ever since I’ve been around.”

    This seems to precede you and go back a few generations. I remember studying history of Venezuela in cuarto ano (I did not enjoy it). Paez, blah-blah, corrupto. Monagas, blah-blah, the slaves, corrupto. Guzman Blanco, afrancesado, blah-blah, corrupto…


    • One thing is your average Latin American corruption, especially when you have Oil. It’s called the Oil curse.

      Oil + Under-educated populace + Populist pseudo-democratic governments = Disaster = Kleptozuela.

      That’s what they should be teaching in school.


      • What they should have been teaching at schools was the years of the governments from 20th century, counting the dictatorships and the invasion from cuba to Venezuela with all the grim details so the people would never forget that castro always wanted to destroy our country to seize our oil.


  5. There has been a lot of corruption in Venezuela since at the very least the time when the Welser were in charge of the country, if not from the times when pearls started to flow from Cubagua to Spain.

    And yet: things have gone completely out of control since Chavismo controls everything.
    I started to write the article Corrupción en Venezuela in Wikipedia last year. I just scratched the surface and very consciously tried to write a bit first about corruption BEFORE Chavismo.
    I only started to write some of the basic cases of Chavismo and yet you can see how the cancer of corruption has spread without control since 1999.

    A couple of weeks ago one of my relatives had to go to the only general hospital Valencia has…he had fallen from some stairs and broken several bones. There was no X ray.
    That was the same hospital where I was born during the IV Republic.

    There were no syringes there either.

    The very corrupt Adecos were Swedes compared to Chavistas.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Because the rotten beef bought criminals with impunity, giving them carte blanche to do as they pleased, doubling that as using the crime as an tool to control the society.


    • Around the time of the 2004 Recall Referendum I was working in a small company with some Venezuelan engineers, who were nearly all vehemently against Chavez. I was by that time several decades gone from Venezuela, so I hadn’t been closely following the events there. I said to one of the engineers that one of the reasons Chavez had been elected in 1998 was the corruption. The reply came back that the corruption was worse under Chavismo. This was in 2004, before the big oil boom, which multiplied the opportunities for corruption.

      Unfortunately for Venezuela that statement that corruption being worse under Chavismo was spot-on.


  6. Seniat officials are also incredibly corrupt. They arrive at some business and say things like “Damn, those are some nice goods you have in here! How about you give me 50% or else I close the store?”, and so.


  7. Venezuela has always been corrupt, of course, just like every other Latin American Third World country, perhaps a bit more for 2 basic reasons:

    1/ Less right-wing authoritarian governments to put the brakes on it. Governments like Perez Jimenez or Pinochet stole NOTHING, compared to what “democracies” as AD/Copey or even worse, Populist left-wing crap like Chavismo steal. Instead, they tend to build a lot more infrastructure and fix the economy.

    2/ More Oil and riches to steal. Corruption is a highly contagious Cancer, worse than Ebola. For many reasons, it’s called the Resource curse. The cancer has metastasized.

    “.. there simply isn’t enough wealth to sustain a country of thugs..”

    Because they were so greedy. Ad/Copey stole Trillions and trillions, like most L.A. Governments, like Nigeria or Mexico steal. But they didn’t steal every single penny, and there was a bit of democracy, some freedoms, some opportunity for the few honest people. Chavismo steals 15 barrels out of the 8 it actually produces, got in massive debt, after it killed the rest of the economy, and kicked out 1 Million of its best, educated professionals.

    There are huge differences between those 3 levels of corruption, and those 3 types of governments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry, but the myth Pérez Jiménez stole nothing or “less than the other, look how he built half of Venezuela” is rubbish.
      It was not just the 23 million dollars they found…he basically plundered Venezuela’s “FONDEN” of his time.
      This love for “right-winged” dictatorships is one of the reasons we keep having Chavismo. I hope few people read your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

      • MPJ built 3/4 of Venezuela’s entire infrastructure, at least, with oil at 2.5/barrel, leaving the country with Zero debt, best economy ever.

        How much, compared to Chavismo or AD/Copey could he have Posssibly stolen?!

        Simple math.


        • No, not 3/4, but 3333333/1, sure, math genius…puedes dar misa, pero si sacas tus cifras de la manga, mejor les cuentas eso a María Alejandra Lópe.

          En 1958 había 5 millones de personas. Sabes a qué equivalía un dólar de ese momento en 1983, 1998?

          El Fondo de Desarrollo desapareció durante su mandato. Sabías tú que había un fondo semejante, que había sido establecido antes de que el tipo ese llegase al poder y él lo dilapidó?

          Eso es algo que desconoces por completo…y estamos hablando de un gobierno que duró 6 (SEIS) años.
          Trata de averiguar algo sobre la economía de la época.


          • 82.5% of the infrastructure, 5% of the oil.

            Why do I waste time with Mediocre Kepler? Stepping stone between Copernicus and Galileo.


              • Name any infrastructure, building, highway, hospital, school; 80% Built by MPJ, or started by him.

                Name it:

                Any industry.

                With much less oil. At 2.5$, regardless of conversions, not $120 or 80 or whatever exchange rate. Comprende?


      • How can you say that!? Morality is tantamount in politics!


        Corruption is a function of structure. If economy is the maximizing of opportunities, artificial opportunities demand artificial maximization. If a burocratic rule works (my inner, colonist self goes eww at the thought), it’s because it clearly identifies the relationship between the real needs of the transaction with the real needs of the third party (government, and as opposed to government official, who has no real needs stemming from any given transaction).


        • Too much jibber jabber for something much simpler.

          Corruption like any other crime, explodes in an ambient filled with impunity, like the impunity gave by the corpse since 1998.


            • Burying the head between the cheeks has become a technique perfected by chavistas during the last 16 years.

              “No volverán aunque los nuestros sean los peores ladrones”


  8. There’s something fishy with the pudreval story. Shipping containers are individually numbered. Customs seals are individually numbered. Regarding the container in the story above, it would be blatantly obvious it’s the same container in different locations. If all the players involved are going to overlook the fact that there’s no mistaking it’s the same container, why would they even do the legwork of shuffling the contain around, following it around and then pretending like it’s a different container each time. They would skip the charade and just sit in the air conditioned office and fake the paperwork. I don’t dispute that there are endless ways to cook a guiso in a country where controls are poorly conceived, enforced, and corruption is systemic. Pudreval happened and there’s almost endless ways it could have happened. I just doubt the details of the story above.


    • I thought it was more like “The first, second, and all the other containers are half full with rotten stuff you bought for a couple of pennies with a bill that states they were bought at full overprice”


  9. I always thought the Pudreval story was simpler than this: in a deal where 98% of the profit is going to come via exchange rate arbitrage, what happens to the actual merchandise is always going to be an afterthought.

    In a normal business, where your profit hinges on selling the actual stuff you import, you can be sure people will be looking out for the freshness of the stuff brought in. But when virtually your whole margin comes from the currency deal, why bother?

    (Which doesn’t mean that there wasn’t *also* some hanky panky with cranes and bribes at the port, of course…)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. Unless you can resell it late, there was a case I recalled of people getting Cadivi dollars to import Colombian clothes and then smuggling the merchandise back to Colombia to resell it in pesos, its like with food but in this case it was the same person who brought it making a double profit, with schemes like that available and we still wonder if corruption is part of our “cultures” or if we just are a country with screwed-up incentives.


  10. JM,

    One of the politicians who has done most of the inquiries about PUDREVAL is local deputy and engineer @NeidyRosal. It is a pity she is not the main candidate of my region to the National Assembly. Instead of her, the MUD prefers to send the usual feudal lords like El Pollo.


  11. There is sometimes an invisible mental wall that separates good from criminal or violent behaviour that once breached starts crumbling until all that seemed inconceivable before becomes first tolerable and then commonplace . the guy who took a first stoke of marihuana and then a second one and before he knows it he cant live without it , Those invisible walls are very difficult to erect and actually quite fragile but they hold the framework of civilization together.

    Heard about a study done in the US to measure how people are induced into criminal behaviour , the researchers left a car abandoned in a very poor neighborhood , in a few days it was totally trashed , then they abandoned a car in a middle class neighborhood and nothing happened for days on end , then they broke one of the cars windows with a hammer , during the next days the car started getting vandalized same as in the poor neighborhood. Breaking the window made people see the car as something to be burglarized and broken apart.

    Maybe its the same principle involved when NY police decided on a policy of cero tolerance for violation of subway rules , where no window was allowed to remain broken and in time transformed the use of the subway into a civilized activity .

    Venezuela has always been corrupt , but somehow part of the wall separating corrupt from lawful behaviour remained standing and at least contained part of the lawless instincts that everyone has on hold deep in their atavic barbarous roots . Then a group of thugs and gangsters threw down what remained of the wall and now corruption and crime are not the exception but the default setting for any kind of social behaviour !!

    One despairs of ever rebuilding those invisible walls that once made living in Venezuela a much more happy experience than we know now. Thats probably why so many people hanker for those good old days of MPJ when at least a big part of the wall still held together (despite the corruption that marred the behaviour of so many of the highest officials of the land) !!


    • “Venezuela has always been corrupt , but somehow part of the wall separating corrupt from lawful behaviour remained standing and at least contained part of the lawless instincts that everyone has on hold deep in their atavic barbarous roots . Then a group of thugs and gangsters threw down what remained of the wall and now corruption and crime are not the exception but the default setting for any kind of social behaviour !!”

      Remember the “si yo tuviera hambre también robaría” phrase? Well, thousands of us remember it, that phrase is reason enough to go and plant a grenade at the corpse’s tomb.


      • That was his apology of crime on the grounds of just necessity , but the real crime and corruption now afflicting us is the result of something else , the dismantling of all controls , the sacralized empowerement of the ideologically annointed elect as being heroic supermen beyond the law . the deliberate impunitization of the crimes of those elect so as to protect the all sacred reputation of the revolution , the phocusing of all inculpatory attention on a vilified and satanized enemy (because of the need to justify oneself as the saviour of the goody victims of poverty, the impolute ‘people’ against the predatory wickedness of an emblematized political enemy ) , the lack of any capacity for the organized and controlled prosecution of public programs and plans . the essuing chaos in the conduct of all public functions and activities . the incentive of a state flooded with a shower of extraordinary resources from the oil price boom , the total scorn of existing laws as superflous formalities .


        • “That was his apology of crime on the grounds of just necessity…”

          That was actually the apology of crime on the grounds of gaining the criminals to his side, to become his weapons to control society, because he appealed to the core of criminal behavior, that one thing that’s called here VIVEZA CRIOLLA.


  12. There should be more accurate International Methods to measure Corruption.

    At ALL levels of Society.

    These are just estimations for the Public sector. I cannot believe Kleptzuela just #161 on the infamous list. There’s no way 13 countries like Somalia or South Sudan steal more, overall, than we do. Including the “private” sector, and every level of society, from the campesinos/obreros, to the sindicalistas y jefecitos, to the massive white-collar “private” crime, Derwickk. A. style, to the entire putrid government, at ALL of its levels too.

    How do they know, anyway, even at the “public” level how much they steal in Guisozuela? There are no “public” or “private” records, no justice or parliament on such dictatorships.

    Then you have

    Seems way too theoretic and incomplete, too. From the lousy, bureaucratic UN, after all..

    — On the next one Kleptozuela is closer to where it should be #176 out of 178 Although we Obviously steal much. much more than N. Korea and Cuba, if you look at Dollar amounts and include the “private” sectors”, at All levels.


    Note that Chile is “mostly free” from Corruption, as well as Singapore. And people still complain about Pinochet, while some still love Chavez or Carlos Andres Perez… (not to mention Violent Deaths/year for each type of regime)

    Any others, better measuring systems?


    1 Trillion Dollars/ year is another estimation for bribes in the Third World… who knows. That’s probably Chavismo’s Bribery by ITSELF.


    • You have problems with the use of logic.
      Chile is much more than Pinochet. Go read the article about corruption in Chile in Spanish.
      No one here is chear leading for socialism but you are for a murderer who was NOT responsible for the relatively low levels ofcorruption. And no, Chile’s history did not start with Allende and his mess, as you are likely to say.
      At the end of the day, so-called right winged dictators are similar to the others. If you want to compare Pinochet, compare his time to the whole of Chile’s history first. Corruption thrives where one group has all the power.

      Most importantly, you are trolling because you know nothing about Pudreval and you have no desire to talk about the post’s topic, just a fixation with praising “right-winged” dictators…caricatura de suramericano no mejor que la de los ñangaras comunistosos


        • Correct. Thanks to the Pinochet Regime Chile has the best economy, the lowest inflation of all of Latin America. It’s called hard work and education. Tough, yes, criminal, yes, but better than ending up with Murderzuela, THE worst country of Latin America, where 250,000 people have been killed only during Chavismo.


            • Because of Pinochet? What an idiot. I reckon Germany has such a level of development, according to you, because of the Nazis. You are a troll.


        • Geez, are you so completely incapable or dishonest to analyse what Chile was compared to Venezuela from 1810 to, say, the mid sixties? Are you so dishonest you don’t care to analyse what governments after Pinochet or before Allende did?


            • Con ese tipo de respuestas tan profundas y bien argumentadas, no me sorprende que te hayan confundido con un tarifado rojo que se dedica a jalarle bolas a los dictadores.


          • For one, the Chileans were known as the English of South America. A good reference through the end of the Pinochet era is Out of the ashes. Life, Death and Transfiguration of Democracy in Chile, 1833-1988., which is best read in PDF, as the other formats haven’t been corrected. The footnotes are as interesting as the text.

            The problem with wanting an authoritarian to fix things is that overall, authoritarians do not have a good track record for governance. For every Pinochet, there are twenty or more of Videla or Natusch Busch, or President-General Lucas Garcia. [I will never forget being introduced to relatives of President-General Lucas Garcia. Nor will I forget who introduced me to his relatives- the madam of a house of prostitution. Factoid: he died in Puerto La Cruz.]

            Recall that MPJ was a hero of sorts for Hugo Chavez, who invited MPJ to his 1999 inauguration. Get a strongman in there to fix things up- a lot of Venezuelans were thinking that in 1998. They knew full well they were voting for a milico coupster. The last 16 years of strongman rule haven’t worked too well for Venezuela, have they? Ask for a Pinochet or a Lee Kuan Yew, and you will probably end up with a Chavez, Videla, Natusch Busch, or Lucas Garcia. An honest General in Venezuela? After 16 years of Chavismo? Decime otro de vaqueros.

            At the same time, the economic model that Chile has followed for the last 25 years of democracy has pretty much been that laid down during the Pinochet regime.

            Liked by 1 person

  13. Here’s the deal: In Venezuela we’ve had 3 very different types of governments:

    1/ MUD “democracies” (Adecos Copeyanos)
    2/ Right-Wing Dictatorship (MPJ)
    3/ Left-Wing Neo-Dictatorship (Chavismo)

    1/ Very High Corruption, high Crime, very little was built in over 40 years; Economy in shambles, MUD mess. Basic freedoms preserved.

    2/ Very Low Corruption, compared to 1/ and 3/. Very low Crime. Most of what you see today was built in about 5 years; Top 5 Economy on the Planet. Few freedoms preserved.

    3/ Ultra-Mega High Corruption, World-Record Crime. Nothing was built in 16 years. Worst Economy on the Planet. Few freedoms preserved.

    If you had the choice: Would you prefer to have had Pinochet’s Chile, (thus today’s Chile), MPJ’s Venezuela a few more years, (thus today’s Singapore or Qatar), or more Corrupt MUD Venezuela or Nigeria?

    And many people still dream some soft, highly Corrupt, Chavista-light-MUD upcoming government can fix Venezuela’s Huge, Profound Disaster, even in several decades, as oil prices stay forever low?

    Dream on.


    • “If you had the choice: Would you prefer to have had Pinochet’s Chile, (thus today’s Chile), MPJ’s Venezuela a few more years, (thus today’s Singapore or Qatar), or more Corrupt MUD Venezuela or Nigeria?”

      Choice D. Immigrate.


      • Most people do not have that choice.

        And if you didn’t mess with Pinochet, MJP or Wee Kim Wee, you’d be in a great economy, doing very well.


        • Dictatorships are good, as long as you are on the good side of the dictatorship.

          chaburros consider themselves in the paradise now, because they aren’t the ones being stomped by the regime’s thugs on a daily basis, nor are the targets of their constant vitriol hate speech.


    • It’s hard to admit but the pendulum swing would have to go hard right in Venezuela; these are the tides of history, the damaged caused by the current regime requires harsh medicine to put our beloved country back on track. I am no fan of Pinochet/Franco/Whatever. Unless. of course, we get a Ghandi/Mandela, but I sincerely doubt that.


  14. As the booty dwindles, more and more folks who previously plundered with impunity will be denied their rightful share. There must be a tipping point, and when it’s reached, the outrageous funds skimmed to keep the military and “security’ forces in check will dry up and “bullets will probably start to fly.” At that point, and it is fast approaching, Venezuela will be “Beyond the Thunderdome,” and it might be that UN peacekeeping forces will have to be called in to get a lid back on a country gone totally mad.


  15. Corruption exploded way before than 2 years ago. Before bachaqueo and massive smugling of gas, ever since cadivi was created tens of billions of $$$ have dissapeared before our eyes every year, denounced by the very engineer of the policy.

    I remember a post one of you made some months ago saying that corruption wasn’t entirely terrible because the corrupted invested part of the stolen money in Venezuela, that would be nice for a change, instead we hear on the radio all those weird ads selling expensive apartments in Miami.


  16. That’s the precise gruesome outlook that lies ahead in our future.




  17. Some say Pinochet killed about 3000 people, incarcerated or tortured about as many? In 17 years, after he saved the country from another Communist disaster, and built what we now know as Chile, best country by far in Latin America.

    Sure, many freedoms were lost, terrible assassinations and repression. But when you compare that to Chavismo’s same 17 years, also with political prisoners, incarcerations, repression and torture, when Vzla was utterly destroyed at every level, and we have 250,000 Dead so far.

    3,000 or 250,000 dead..Huummm; Best Economy or worst nightmare afterwards, for decades to come. Hummm.. And how many were violently killed during Ad/Copey’s 40 years of so-called “democracy”? Another Quarter Million?

    How bad was Pinochet, really, even compared to af/copey which led to Chavismo. Especially when you add the Aftermath: Another 2 decades of either prosperity or miserable doom, as what will follow in Vzla.

    That’s what half of the world is wondering now, including the Chileans themselves.

    I’d go for the Pinochet/ MPJ/ Singapore option in a heartbeat.


    • “And how many were violently killed during Ad/Copey’s 40 years of so-called “democracy”? Another Quarter Million?”

      Actually, it was less than 100.000 murders due to crime, because the highest amount of murders as in 1998, with less than 4550, not bad for a regime that’s constantly called the worst in the history of humanity by today’s dictatorship.

      Because, before 1998, choros used to do the mugging barehanded or with a knife, today they do that with machine guns, assault automatic rifles or grenade launchers.

      Before 1998, inmates just rot in prisons, today, the inmates are organized in gargantuan gangs that perform all sorts of crimes everywhere in the country.


  18. I Wonder if Chavez and Maduro had handled the economy same as Correa´s and Evo Morales government , would we be facing this crisis or would be in a much better position (taking aside the attack on civil liberties) , i wager the latter. Maybe there are two different standards by which to judge a regime , by its defense of democratic values and rule of law and by its handliing of the economic life . Venezuelas has failed miserable on both counts . Not so much Correas and Evo Morales which are guilty of a lot of civic law violations but not of any gross mistakes in the handling of their economy , this is the same said that is said of MPJ , Pinochet etc except that the latter were right wing military forms of authoritarism while the former are Populist forms of authoritarism .

    Ultimately, we would all like our govts to do good judging them by both standards , but somehow if we compare our current regime with that of those authoritarian rulers mentioned above , the latter come out ahead . In fact there are some Venezuelans choosing Ecuador as a emigree destination , they are hired for instance as university lecturers to teach ecuadorean students at very handsome salaries ( which our regime will not pay them) .

    This reminds me of something Fukuyama said when interviewed by prodavinci recently on the Venezuelan situation , he said that while the chinese govt was gullty of despotic policies and human rights violations they had established a govt that had done a lot to improve the lot of the mass of their population (using market economy model and a budding govt meritocracy) , and that compared to the current Venezuelan regime it woud be a better option for Venezuela .


    • Bill,

      Let us indulge in the highly speculative pass-time of should-of, could-of, would-of :-)

      Could Chavez done things better, or be on par with Evo and Correa?

      I think not for the following reasons:

      1)-Venezuelan psyche is entrenched with entitlement. For generations Venezuelans have been fed the idea that they live in a country rich with oil and they have a claim to it. However we seem somewhat softer on the emphasis of the duties you have toward your country.

      Bolivians and Ecuadorians, historically think of themselves as poor. Managing aspirations is easier there than it is in Venezuela. Some food handouts seem like great improvements given their poverty. In Venezuela people expect a house!

      2)-Venezuelan relish emotions and they will respond with great passion when stirred by them, however short lived as they may be. Chavez was quintessentially Venezuelan so as he had the money in his treasury he would indulge on his people with great generosity and affection. It was inevitable that Chavez would fritter all the wealth away given that there was no institution to keep his power in check.


      • Renacuajo youre right an all counts , for the reasons you state it was easier for Ecuador and Bolivia’s regimes to follow a more prudent handling of their economy than it was for Venezuela . That however was not the point I was making , but rather that the importance of having a competent functional government is separate from the importance of having one which is a paragon of liberal democratic values and that people will sometimes be content if a govt is both functional and competent even if it is not very respectful of liberal democratic values . This notion applies regardless of whether the competent authoritarian govt is a right wing military dictatorship of the traditional (MPJ) sort or a radical populist type of regime (a la Morales or Correa..

        This was Fukuyama´s point in his interview.

        I have a somewhat different take on your number 2 , in that I think there was something in Chavez character , a hubristic overblown narcicism that made it easier for us to incurr in frightful mistakes and excesses in the handling of our economy than was the case in Bolivia and Correa , in short that additional to the oil income factor there was the Chavez personality factor which made our situation much worse .

        Ours was the perfect storm: (i) a huge amount of money coming from the boom in oil prices , (ii) the local custom of thinking our selves entitled to all the worlds gifts of fortune and (iii) the ultra hubristic and narcicistic personality of Chavez ( besides being also a very ignorant man) .


    • The word corruption should be used with care. It goes without saying that the lawless behavior summarized with the label “corruption” reflects to a great extent ethical shortcomings among many citizens, but it is even more significantly one result (others being poverty, unemployment, scarcity, inflation) of dysfunctional or simply absent institutions, in particular a failing criminal justice system, but also opaque bureaucratic procedures at all levels, both of which encourage corruption as people turn to unorthodox means (out of necessity) to get things done or see illegal options opened that are too sweet to ignore.

      Arguably weak institutions are the result of a vicious cycle at the heart of which lies a deep mistrust in institutions, but other important things are at play. If you believe Miguel Octavio (read his “Santero Economics” post on the devil’s excrement blog) Venezuela is in fact being led by a denialist in the quantity theory of money, essentially a madman comparable to other atrocious characters that have led their countries down dark paths. I can hardly believe that *any* sane person would have trouble understanding or believing in the quantity theory of money. Being governed by the insane thus sets the stage for people to take action in ways that are nominally illegal, but practically necessary. Calling such miserable people corrupt is unjust.


  19. Gro: loved your well expounded , richly articulated explanation on the exact meaning of corruption in the context of Venezuelas situation . Its causes are complex , its part culture , its part opportunity , its part inborn character, its part the lack of functioning institutions capable of controlling it or imposing a working social order on collective life . its part impunity . the causes are many , but one thing we can be sure of is that almost all human societies to a greater or lesser degree know corruption , moreover that where corruption exists but its spread is controlled it wont necessarily cause that much damage to an otherwise well functioning social order. History and current circumstances have made Venezuela become totally overun by corruption. !!

    Your point however goes a step further , sometimes its not just corruption causing the worse damage but the ignorance , incompetence and stupidity of people in power , besotted with fantasies and superstitions , with puerile destructive passions that blind them to the most obvious aspects of the reality which surrounds them .

    Sometimes more damage is caused by peoples self induced stupidity than by their venal propensity for corruption .


    • Is it self induced? Because some might say fostered, and not precicely self-fostered.

      A los conazos es mas el endurecimiento del miedo (ignorancia) que aprender que se logra.


      • I was a bit doubtful about using the expression ‘self induced’, what I was thinking of was that kind of stupidity that is not inborn or natural but which arises from a persons falling into certain forms of self delusions because of their fanaticism and devotion to some sectarian or despotic beliefs .

        I was thinking of Borges oft quoted phrase : Despotism foster oppression, despotism foster servitude, despotism foster cruelty; more abominable is the fact that it fosters idiocy.


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