El Nacional published a piece today in which it points out that there are more military personnel in charge of government ministries today than at any point during the Chavez presidency.
The article argues that the trend is worrying since it potentially means that some ministries are under the command of people with little to no experience in the field. For example, the article points out that there are more military personnel than civilians in control of the country’s economic ministries.
Out of the government’s 28 ministries, 32.1% are headed by current or retried military personnel. Included in the figure are high-profile ministries, including the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Public Banking, which is headed by General Rodolfo Marco Torres.
Military people end up with more power even though they’re not a total majority in the cabinet. This is because they occupy the posts with the most impact, so they have more influence in qualitative terms.
What we’re seeing today is the continuation of a project that had been taking place and was up to Maduro to advance. A civilian can act in a praetorian way if he favours the abusive participation of the military in politics, and this is what we’re living with Maduro.
Butto said that the fact Chavez was an army man made it unnecessary for him to surround himself with military officers in his cabinet. Since Maduro is a civilian, he does not count with the “automatic” support of the military that Chavez did.
Nicmer Evans, the head of the leftist Marea Socialista party, told the newspaper that he believes the reason why Maduro has been so willing to let the military seep into the government bureaucracy is that it provides him with a safety net:
The increases presence of the military in the state bureaucracy is due to the fact that the President feels safer and more comfortable that this way, these people will have no intention in involving themselves in any action that destabilizes the government.
Speaking specifically on the economic area, Luis Zambrano Sequin – a member of the Academia de Ciencias Economicas (Economic Sciences Academy) told El Nacional:
Unfortunately, these military personnel do not count on that [expert] knowledge, something that that civilians at other posts also lack. Over the past 10 years, the really low capacity for these people to oversee economic matters has been evident.
Gov’t Unwilling or Unable to Address Inflation
In an article published today, El Universal tersely points out a reality in Venezuela: “The national government does not currently have a plan to control inflation”. The article argues that none of the economic measures the government has taken recently have had any effect on the economic issues plaguing the country, which aside from inflation include re-selling and scarcity.
Pointing to the fact that the budget for 2016 is more than double that for 2015, economist Luis Oliveros said:
The fact that the government is approving a budget that is 109% larger than last year’s in nominal terms tells you that the inflation rate for this year will be really big.
Economist Oscar Torrealba points to obvious distortions in the Venezuelan economy as signs that the government has little control of the situation in the country:
The point lies with the [price] controls. Prices are not determined by cost; rather, they’re determined by supply, demand, and the amount of money in circulation. Scarcity will continue as long as [price] controls continue. The Venezuelan economy contracted 4% in 2014, and the amount of money in circulation increased 80%. How do you explain that we produced less, but there is more money in circulation? Did productivity go up? I don’t think so.
Former Justice Clarifies Rosales Accusations Were Faked
Eladio Aponte Aponte, the former head of the Penal Hall of the Supreme Court, was the justice responsible for the case against former Zulia governor Manuel Rosales. In 2008, Rosales was accused of corruption, and is currently in SEBIN custody in Caracas awaiting trial.
Today, La Patilla published legal documents that contain sworn testimony from Aponte Aponte in which he claims that the case against Rosales was entirely fabricated and has no basis in reality. Part of Aponte Aponte’s testimony reads:
The President of the Tribunal [the Supreme Court] ordered us to do this saying that it was an order from President Hugo Chavez, who had told her, “Manuel Rosales must go to prison. This scum must be in prison, not governing a state. He can’t be free, and you have to assume that responsibility”.
A climate of fear fell upon the Tribunal that constantly threatened the decision on whether or not action would be taken against former governor Rosales, and it was decided that if no case existed, one would have to be invented. The moment the case was archived, it was ordered re-opened immediately and that’s how it proceeded. The order was given sine die, indefinitely.
At the same time, I go on record saying that given the pressure placed [on the judiciary], the 19th Control Tribunal for the Caracas Metropolitan Area was forced to proceed with a case where no apparent evidence existed of corruption, which I reviewed. This is case 19C1202209.
This order was given for the first time on October 25 2008 (…)
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