President Hugo Chavez has exempted Caracas from the four-hour rolling power blackouts being imposed every other day everywhere else in Venezuela.
Caracas was excluded from the plan because it was having “undesired effects and technical problems,” Chavez explained, adding however that the plan is working in the interior.
The 6 million-plus residents of greater Caracas will be spared any hardship. But the rest of the country gets screwed.
For good measure, Chavez also fired recently appointed Power Minister Angel Rodriguez for, essentially, obeying the president’s orders last October that power consumption must be reduced immediately and power conservation must be enforced.
But Chavez did not mention the Edelca report that forecasts “national collapse in 120 days.”
“Undesired effects and technical problems” is Chavez’s way of admitting that frustrated Caracas residents were infuriated – and this terrifies the president.
The public’s rage is palpable everywhere in the streets of Caracas, but particularly in the “barrios” where there is a huge reservoir of “pueblo” power capable of setting the capital city ablaze if a spark flares at the wrong moment.
President Chavez, a loudmouthed bully with raisin-sized “cojones” who blusters and threatens while hiding behind phalanxes of armed Cuban thugs, is genuinely terrified of the potential wrath of a betrayed “pueblo” fed up with his criminal ways and gangster cronies.
Remember how Chavez bunkered deep inside Miraflores palace on 11 April 2002, surrounding himself with some 1,500 National Guard troops and thousands of armed civilian followers? Remember how Chavez ordered a massive slaughter that day, and when his homicidal designs were foiled immediately went into flight mode, offering to resign provided that he was allowed to leave Venezuela with his family and $10 million in cash? Chavez has always been a coward when the going gets rough.
Predictably, fear drove Chavez to exempt Caracas from the rolling power cuts and fire Power Minister Rodriguez. “He took it like a good soldier,” Chavez said last night. In fact, Rodriguez was delighted by his abrupt dismissal, sources close to the former minister tell Caracas Gringo. Rodriguez privately thinks “El Comandante” is nuts, the sources add.
Caracas now is exempted from the programmed power outages. Perhaps Chavez thinks the political pressures have eased. But he’s wrong.
Edelca’s report was very clear: power consumption must be cut by 1,600 MW immediately or else Venezuela confronts “national collapse” – i.e. lights out – by end-April. The basic industries in Guayana consume 1,840 MW of Edelca’s power, Caracas consumes 1,600 MW and Zulia consumes 1,450 MW.
If Chavez intends to spare Caracas, where else can he make the needed cuts in power use?
The basic industries already cut power use by 559 MW – concentrated at Sidor, Venalum and Alcasa. But at least another 1,000 MW at these three state-owned companies could be reduced by shutting them down completely. Ciudad Guayana has a “residential load” of 540 MW spread between San Felix (200 MW) and Puerto Ordaz (340 MW). But power outages already are daily events in Ciudad Guayana. Still, Chavez is a leader who has no qualms about betraying his closest followers, and Ciudad Guayana is a long way from Caracas.
Chavez also could cut power supplies to Zulia, which consumes 1,450 MW of Edelca’s hydro-power. Chavez doesn’t like Zulia anyway. Of course, if Chavez trims power supplies to Zulia it’s certain that Pdvsa’s crude oil production operations will be affected too. A steep drop in Zulia’s crude oil production would hurt Pdvsa’s export revenues, thus reducing the regime’s fiscal income too. But Chavez probably isn’t thinking clearly right now. Fright always makes bullies freeze like a deer caught in the headlights of a speeding truck.