|VENEZUELA'S SHRINKING INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION|
Aruba, November 17, 2014 - Venezuelan imports totaled USD 14.492 billion in 1999, while in 2012 they amounted to USD 59.339 billion
Data provided by the Venezuelan National Statistics Institute (INE) at the closure of 1998 -the year before Hugo Chávez first came to power- show that back then 11,117 industrial facilities were in full production, providing jobs for 449,636 workers.
By 2007 the number of private companies in industry had dropped to 7,093, employing 345,168 workers. The number of expropriated industries and businesses has increased since 2008, the last year INE published updated figures. The decline in industrial activity has continued to this day, while expropriated or nationalized businesses have such enormous costs and negligible revenue, if any, that they have to be subsidized by the government resulting in significant financial losses.
Such data are used in a recently published book, Del Pacto de Punto Fijo al pacto de la Habana (From the Punto Fijo Pact to the Havana Pact), as building blocks for a comparative analysis of two economic models that have coexisted in Venezuela across two different political periods. The book, released by publishing house La Hoja del Norte, was edited by former Public Works Minister José Curiel.
A chapter in the book devoted to the unfolding of the Venezuelan industry from 1958 to 2012 thoroughly describes how the sustained increase in manufacturing output between 1958 and 1998 went into a steady decline right after Hugo Chávez came to power. According to the study, the country's deindustrialization process is closely linked to the economic model advocated by Hugo Chávez in his twenty-first century brand of socialism. As the country sinks in deepened economic crisis, with widespread shortages of basic goods and soaring inflation (already the highest in the world), Venezuelans are starting to wonder whether the real cause of their woes lies in the "economic model."
The latest survey by local pollster Datanálisis found that 80.1% of the population think that the economic model must be changed, even if 45.3% of respondents identified themselves as pro-government.
Most Chavistas think that the government must "change the economic model, allow the market to open up, release controls, and strengthen private enterprise." The survey shows that 67% of respondents favor changing the economic model (42% of Chavistas, 64% of independents, and 81% of oppositionists).
This perception has become more widely held over the two years of President Maduro's government. His predecessor Hugo Chávez had managed to raise hopes of a better quality of life through his socialist platform. But after the significant negative economic impact of the so-called "Dakazo" [when Daka Appliance Store was forced to sell its goods in steeply discounted prices in November 2013] and the "economic war," any lingering hopes have been killed off, as shown by opinion surveys.