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Venezuela's Chavez unhappy with housing program

By Miguel Octavio | The Devil's Excrement

02.06.05 | For the second time in two weeks, President Chavez has become exasperated by the lack of execution on his projects. Two weeks ago, Chavez was handing out funding for projects and twice he had to correct himself because he was making announcements from the notes given to him which were incorrect. He praised the projects of a Governor who had no projects that day and he pointed out that they were giving funds to a Mayor from opposition party Acción Democrática, who took offense at being told that and publicly corrected the President. Chavez was visibly upset that day and publicly commented that those around him could not even give him the right information.

Today it was the turn for “Mision Vivienda” Chavez’ housing program, which Chavez said would build 120,000 housing units in 2005, , which would be four times more housing units that the Chavez Government has been able to build in any given year.

Unfortunately, housing units can not be invented and the Mision Vivienda is so far a failure, with only 10,000 units being built in the first five months of the year, less than 8% of the goal. Chavez said today that he was declaring this Mision in an emergency and he said he would accept no excuses.

This is not new; the infamous program to eliminate poverty has not even been presented. In contrast with many programs like the alphabetization or other misiones, the housing program can be measured. Those around Chavez made promises that are not materializing. The approval of the mortgage bill has not been the panacea that was promised as prices are high for those than can have access to the cheaper rates and there are too many rules to be eligible with some of them conflicting with each other.

I think that it is good that Chavez is noticing the problem and trying to do something about it. He surrounds himself with people who only suck up to him and have little managerial experience. But he is also to blame; he likes to invent too many new grandiose projects leaving many things aside and doing little follow up or without the competent managers around him to do the follow up.

In the case of the housing project, it was a newspaper reporter who took the time to find out how many exactly had been built and published the results. Other projects are more difficult to quantify or people forget the goals, but in this case, there may be a lesson for the Chavez administration going forward: They have been governing for seven years and Chavez popularity rides more on the back of expectations than accomplishments. These same polls also indicate that people are getting restless, realizing that Chavez has been in power long enough to stop blaming the past. It is time to deliver; Chavez seems to be getting that message now.

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