Military power also reached state companies
According to the information published in Vendata Of the 576 State-Owned Companies, at least 60 have a military as the highest authority.
Among the state-owned companies led by the military, the case of PDVSA, Corpoelec and Cuspal stands out, which manage strategic sectors for the country and whose negative performance has led the supply of food and the provision of basic services to an unprecedented crisis.
Transparency Venezuela, February 12, 2018. During the government of Hugo Chávez and with more emphasis in that of Nicolás Maduro, military power gained great relevance in the political and economic life of Venezuela by taking almost absolute control of key sectors for society.
In recent years, a group of active or retired military officers have assumed responsibilities ranging from the vice presidency and the secretariat of the Republic, to ministries, embassies, governorships, and mayors' offices. They have even become the top heads of state companies that have nothing to do with the military establishment.
According to the Phase II State-Owned Companies investigation presented by Transparency Venezuela at the end of 2018, of the 576 state companies, at least 60 have a military as the highest authority.
The data of each one of the soldiers can be consulted in Vendata, the largest open data platform in the country, promoted in partnership by the Venezuelan Press and Society Institute (IPYS Venezuela) and Transparencia Venezuela.
The information registered in Vendata It specifies that the companies led by the military belong to sectors of great importance for the Venezuelan economy and that, in addition, they have received significant sums of money via the Budget Law and through additional credits, without this being reflected in greater efficiency.
The companies that have military personnel in the highest positions are in the hydrocarbon, food, construction, mining and metallurgy, banking, transportation, communications, and public services sectors, among others.
Inefficiency as a result
Among the state-owned companies led by the military, the case of Petróleos de Venezuela stands out, the country's main company, which since November 2017 has been chaired by Major General Manuel Quevedo, who in turn holds the position of Minister of Energy.
The practice of appointing the same person as regulator and operator has been a constant in the management of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, which reveals a worrying lack of control and supervision.
Quevedo's appointment to head PDVSA and the ministry was strongly criticized by oil experts, who maintain that he does not have the required merit to hold those positions. They claim that he got there because of his ties of obedience and loyalty to the government.
Since he named him PDVSA president, Nicolás Maduro has asked Quevedo to reverse the fall in the country's oil production, but to date only the opposite has happened. While in November 2017 the state-owned company produced 1,8 million barrels of oil per day, in December 2018 (latest data available) it produced only 1,5 million barrels per day, according to data sent by the Ministry of Energy to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Another of the state companies that is chaired by a military man is the National Electric Corporation, Corpoelec, whose president is Major General Luis Motta Domínguez, who is also Minister of Electric Power, despite not having academic training in the area.
Corpoelec has a monopoly on electricity service in Venezuela and in recent years it has been the focus of many public complaints of corruption, since billions of resources were allocated to the sector and even so, it works worse every day. Venezuelans have died in hospital emergencies due to lack of electricity, and food and medicine have been lost as a result of constant blackouts.
The food sector is one of the sectors that has suffered the most from the presence of untrained soldiers in the area, as shown by the Phase II State-Owned Enterprises investigation. The uniformed officers participate from the distribution of inputs for planting to the distribution and marketing of food.
In the information registered in Vendata The case of the Single Corporation of Productive and Food Services (Cuspal) stands out, in charge of receiving and distributing food that is imported for the Local Supply and Production Committees, CLAP, the government program that consists of the sale of subsidized products and that It has fostered multiple corrupt practices with disastrous results for the safe and sovereign supply in the country.
Since November 2018, the president of Cuspal is Colonel Vianney Rojas García, who previously served as deputy to the general director of the National Telecommunications Commission and as alternate director of the board of directors of the Banco de la Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivarian, Banco Universal, CA Rojas replaced General Luis Medina Ramírez, current Minister of Food, in the Cuspal presidency.
The moment to evaluate
Sharing power with a group of soldiers has allowed the government of Nicolás Maduro to have the support of the establishment even in moments of great political and social conflict.
Every chance he gets, Maduro participates in events with the military and applauds their work. The Ministry of Defense has not hesitated to express loyalty to him, however, so far in 2019 it has become clear that not everyone in the military column thinks alike.
Between January and so far in February 2019, statements have been made by the military who say they do not recognize Maduro, who ask him to leave office in the face of the deep crisis and allow the constitutional order to be restored.