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Hugo Chávez doubles Venezuela's debt in five years

By Gustavo Coronel, May 7, 2004

In 1998 total Venezuelan debt added up to some $30 billion, divided as follows: $21 billion external debt, $2 billion domestic debt and $7 billion owed by PDVSA, the State petroleum company. Only five years later the national debt is of the order of $50 billion, divided as follows: $23 billion external debt, $17 billion domestic debt and $10 billion owed by PDVSA. What is worse, the Chávez regime is now trying to borrow another $10 billion on the head of PDVSA. If successful, this new bout of indebtness would increase Venezuelan debt to some $60 billion, exactly twice as much as when Chávez started his “administration.” In other words, every Venezuelan, who owed $1,300 in 1998, now owes about $2,000 and might end up owing $2,500 before the year ends. This mounting debt sharply contrasts with an increasing legion of Venezuelan unemployed, which now includes almost 25% of the population able to work.

How could any one claim that this a “revolution” for the poor? How can any decent and reasonably intelligent member of the current Venezuelan government argue that they are leading a revolution to help the poor, when all available evidence tells the world that the exact opposite is true? Answer: There are no intelligent and decent members of the current Venezuelan government. Those who are decent are not very smart and those who are smart almost invariably happen to be very indecent. I have come to the conclusion that President Chávez is a very ignorant person in all that has to do with finance and management, the two basic ingredients of good government. He is fundamentally in charge of the “Information” Department. He is the one telling his fellow citizens all about the success of the “missions.” To illustrate his talks he is fed data by the smart but indecent Finance Minister that have little or no relation to reality. Venezuela has become a country without reliable official data. Numbers given by the government are taken as the gospel by their followers but are readily discarded by the growing opposition. No one but the government followers believes, for example, that the Cuban literacy “mission” has wiped out illiteracy in Venezuela. There is no way to validate the claim by Chávez that one million Venezuelans have learned to read during the few months of this campaign. Venezuelans know in their hearts that this is not true. They see with their own eyes that, beyond the numbers game played by the government, there is a pressing reality: hunger, crime, filth, urban and rural neglect, mounting debt. These horrors cannot be hidden. They are there for all of us to see. Only the paid mercenaries of the regime “see” a different country.

The money being used by Chávez to pay his immense propaganda campaign all over the world is the money that he should have utilized in the improvement of the quality of life of Venezuelans. Instead of giving these monies to the greedy hired guns from France, the US, Canada, England and Venezuela, he could have decided to make good on his promises to combat poverty and corruption. Instead, his regime has come to be the most corrupt Venezuelan government of the last decades. This is easy to surmise. Venezuela has received about $140 billion in oil income during the last five years. In addition, the regime has incurred in an additional national debt of some $30 billion. The question becomes: Where has this enormous amount of money gone? Nothing has been done in Venezuela that can explain the use of these great amounts of money. I challenge Chávez, Nobrega, Rangel or any other of the members of this regime to give us a reasonable explanation of what has been done with this immense amount of money received by the nation in only five years. The tragedy is that these men, who should be accounting to us for the honest use of this money, are the same men who are misusing it. In a country like the Venezuela of today, where there is no accountability or transparency in the use of public funds, where anything Chávez decides to do is immediately rubber stamped by a National Assembly or by a Supreme Tribunal of Justice made up by his followers, there is no way citizens can obtain the explanations they demand.

The Venezuelan financial disaster is already bad enough but the worst has been the moral breakdown within the government. This gives us little hope that the Venezuelan social and political situation will improve in the medium term, unless this group of corrupt and inept leaders is ousted from government.

The Chávez revolution is a criminal revolution. It has to go.

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