Congratulations to Bolivarian Socialism

The administration of late President Hugo Chávez awarded Odebrecht $11 billion in contracts to build communes like Diluvio in remote parts of the country and connect them to the heartland with grand bridges and railways, according to company employees and state documents.

But while the company completed roads, pipelines and railways elsewhere in Latin America and Africa, few of the dozens of projects contracted under Mr. Chávez came to fruition.

“They were throwing money by the billions into projects that were never going anywhere,” said a civil engineer who worked for Odebrecht at Diluvio.

What remains includes an unfinished, abandoned 8-mile bridge structure over the Orinoco River, four hours’ drive from the closest city in the southern Bolivar state. Further north, the skeleton of a soya processing plant put up by the company stands in the arid savanna of Anzoategui state; the fields there haven’t yielded one grain of soya.

Jesus, even with the damn oil money and contracting it out they still couldn’t even build the damn communes.

Have to go all the way back to the groundnut scheme to beat that.

28 comments on “Congratulations to Bolivarian Socialism

  1. “They were throwing money by the billions into projects that were never going anywhere,”

    Remind us of anything? [cough] HS2 [/cough]

  2. Nowt to do with socialism itself though, is it? Granted it’s a mindset which doesn’t lend itself to cost-benefit analysis, and has no concept of opportunity cost; but this is just an example of politicians making terrible decisions.

    The best antidote to this kind of silliness is open democratic debate.

  3. Are these the “essential infrastructure projects” Murphy and the other idiots are always going on about?

  4. Now you see why we need the Gulag, Comrade, to deal with the capitalist wreckers who always seek to destroy Socialism.

  5. What demand was there to live in the communes? Why not just leave it to the people who want to live in communes to build the communes? Most of these schemes seem predicated on expecting people to change the habits and wishes of a lifetime to go and live in these gulags.

    And if they don’t choose to go and live there I’m sure they can be persuaded.

  6. @AndrewM: Nowt to do with socialism itself though, is it?

    Funny that socialism seems to lead to these Potemkin village outcomes, though. But of course it’s never the fault of socialism. Indeed, democratic debate would help. But again, funnily enough, there isn’t a lot of that in socialist countries. But again, nothing to do with socialism, of course not.

  7. My late cousin was Chief Technical Officer on the groundnut scheme. He died embittered and angry that he had been so deeply criticized for the scheme’s failure. Basically, he was a plonker.

  8. @hedgehog.

    I think these sort of cock-ups are inevitable when politicians of both wings get involved. The more they are led by conviction rather than reality the worse it is. Trouble is that socialists are generally completely removed from reality.

    Worth repeating Reagan. – it’s not that socialists are ignorant just that they know so much that isn’t so.

  9. I’m just reading up on the Groundnut Scheme to remind myself of it. Particularly face-palming was: Government helps groundnut scheme workers set up a trade union, trade union promptly goes on strike.

  10. It would make a great film.

    “It sent a new leader, Major-General Desmond Harrison, to the site. He immediately tried to instill military discipline, which did not endear him to the workers. He eventually concentrated on copious paperwork. Late in the year, he was ordered back home on sick leave for advanced anaemia.”

  11. @AndrewC: Agree with you, that politicians of all stripes tend to muck things up. The trouble with socialism, however, is that it fetishizes the involvement of politicians in the first place since it explicitly calls for a state-directed economy.

  12. It would make a great film.

    There’s a little bit of it in films such as “The Bridge on the River Kwai” and “Fitzcarraldo,” isn’t there? The lunatic fight of a white man to bring civilization to the jungle.

    It would make a great film.

  13. Yes, I was also imaging Alec Guinness a la The Bridge on the River Kwai merged with Kind Hearts & Coronets.

  14. @Chris Miller, January 4, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    “They were throwing money by the billions into projects that were never going anywhere,”

    “Remind us of anything? [cough] HS2 [/cough]”

    Also reminded me of DFID, Hinckley C and Renewable-Energy

    Not so much cough, more like vomit & diarrhea as it goes down the toilet too.

  15. What demand was there to live in the communes?

    The President demanded that they live in the communes.

  16. Theophrastus – “My late cousin was Chief Technical Officer on the groundnut scheme. He died embittered and angry that he had been so deeply criticized for the scheme’s failure. Basically, he was a plonker.”

    It was a bit unfair. It could have worked. The Sudan Gezira scheme was and is a great success. It could have been great. The railway in Nigeria transformed the economy of the North through peanut growing.

    I sneeze in threes – “Yes, I was also imaging Alec Guinness a la The Bridge on the River Kwai merged with Kind Hearts & Coronets.”

    I would be thinking more Aguirre, the Wrath of God. It is Venezuela after all. Read Papillon talking about Venezuelan jails?

  17. They were throwing money by the billions into projects that were never going anywhere

    Thank God that doesn’t happen in the modern oil industry. Ahem.

  18. SMFS: I thought of Aguirre as well, for the scenic locations, among other things. But Fitzcarraldo fits better with the underlying theme of the Groundnut Scheme. I always thought that Werner Herzog made Fitzcarraldo as a cinematic illustration of the dictum that history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

    But Klaus Kinski is magnificent in both.

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