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Venezuela: Stories that just make you weep

By Veneconomy

The information that El Universal published on the boys of the national basketball team that was going to represent Venezuela in Canada in the elimination round for the World Championship is one of the recent sad stories that illustrate the inefficiency of Venezuela’s government services.

This first story is about when the National Sports Institute (IND) decided to send the players in a military aircraft to Cuba for them to make the connection there with a flight to Canada. On the way, they realized that the aircraft didn’t have enough gasoline; as a result they lost time and, when they reached Havana, they found that the flight to Canada had already taken off. The upshot was that they lost their first game with the United States by forfeit, which relegated them to fifth place in the classification and out of the championship. The official explanation was that the delay was due to the Canadian visas not arriving on time, but in that case, hadn’t someone done whatever was necessary? Did no one calculate how much gasoline they would need beforehand? Why didn’t they take a direct flight to Canada from Maiquetía?

Then, almost immediately, without there being time to get a fuller explanation about this fiasco, a photo of another group of boys appeared in the same newspaper. This time it was the Venezuelan juvenile baseball team that was to represent the country at the World Championships in Taiwan. The expressions of fury and frustration on their faces told their own story. They had been left stranded at Maiquetía and had then been given a check of Bs.2 million each by the Venezuelan Baseball Federation “to compensate” for the trip being cancelled. That was the price put on their commitment and all that hard training.

It was not clear from the official explanation who was responsible, but the fact of the matter is that the money didn’t reach the IND on time. Venezuela had to pay a $5,000 fine for failing to turn up at the World Championships and the distress caused the boys will cost much more. Some of them cried, quite understandably.

And there’s more. Before all the business of the basketball and baseball teams, imprudence and doing things slapdash fashion resulted in two secretaries being sent, with no escort of any kind, to collect $300,000 in per diem for the delegation that was to attend the Olympic Games in Athens. They were robbed on the IND’s own premises, and no sign of the money.

So, despite the revenues from the higher oil prices and from taxes, government services are still as cumbersome and inefficient as ever.

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