Monday, May 08, 2006

Does he not pay his phone bill either? 

On the bottom of page 2 in todays edition of Ultimas Noticias there was a little blurb that would have been very easy to overlook yet somehow caught my eye. It turns out that in a round about way it was about the upcoming presidential election.

The article itself was about 20,000 former and current university employees who are demanding that they get back pay and benefits that they are owed from the period 1994 to 1997. Three unions, Sintraucv, Fenasoesv, and Fenasinpres, are insisting that the 2.4 million dollars be paid now that the National Assembly has finally allocated it.

Doesn't sound like a big deal does it. In and of itself it's not. But it is part of a much larger problem. When Chavez took office in 1999 he inherited over $6 BILLION DOLLARS in back wages that were unpaid by the previous government. So this 2.4 million is just one remaining vestige of that enormous debt that the Chavez administration has had to spend the past 7 years paying down.

And who could have been so irresponsible as to not pay so many government workers their wages and benefits? Here's a hint; he has a very non-Venezuelan last name, a moustache, and his own newspaper. If you still haven't figure it out here is another hint; he is running for president.

By now you have certainly deduced that it is Teodoro Petkoff, the Planning Minister under Caldera, that I am talking about. Now that he is running for president over the next months I'm sure a great many people are going to review his extensive government record - first as a congressperson and later as a Minister. Needless to say this sad record of just not making good on government obligations and paying civil servants their salaries is not going to help him get out of the single digit support level he seems to be stuck in.

Just as importantly I hope someone else in his household is responsible for paying the bills. One would hate to think of him being responsible for that and then having his electricity, cable TV, telephone and other services cut off for non-payment.


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