Thursday, 3 July 2014

Norway versus Venezuela, the Ministries

Norway and Venezuela have some things in common.

  • They both have oil and gas
  • They both have beautiful landscapes
  • They both have a minority of "First Nations" (Even if Sami and Native Americans had different interactions to the majority of the population, they also have many similar concerns)

Even so, as any visitor to both countries can tell you, these two countries couldn't be more apart. You can see wealth in Norway. It is, indeed a rich country. Venezuela is a poor country that insists it is rich because of its soil. Venezuela's population does not realise a country is only rich when the population has the productivity, the education and the organisation to use that soil or to generate wealth from other means, as Japan or Switzerland do. Norway's population reached many decades back levels of education - literacy and numeracy, for instance - that haven't been attained in Venezuela to this day.

The murder rate in Norway is about 1/60 of what Venezuela has now (1/19 of what Venezuela had in 1998). There are no shortages of electricity or other goods in Norway (unless you count the sun as a good). Tourism is well organised in Norway. In Venezuela tourist infrastructure is extremely bad.

Most importantly, Norway has a rule of law and separation of powers.

Here I try to compare bureaucracy in both countries. I try to compare ministries in Norway and in Venezuela. This is a hard task. Many things that a ministry does in one country are the tasks of other institutions in the other. In some case, there are ministries in Norway that do not exist in Venezuela but that is the case for a few only: Fisheries in Norway is something more or less carried out by 2) in Venezuela. The Ministry for Government Administration is something that is not quite available in Venezuela, although Planificación used to do a bit of that. The Ministry for Regions is not existent in Venezuela, although it is  something carried out by a couple of the 111 viceministries Venezuela has.

Chávez came to power promising to reduce the number of ministries. He increased them and no one dared to tell him what a liar he was. The number went from about 10 to 31. The number is now between 30 and 33 depending on how you count. Even ministers in Venezuela are not sure what is a ministry anymore.

Venezuelans have a ministry for Women, another for Youth and another one for the First Nations when those things are the matter of one ministry in Norway: the one for Children, Equality and Inclusion. Notice that Norwegians don't say "Ministry for Women" even if women in Venezuela and even many countries in Europe can envy the position women in Norway have.

Venezuela has a ministry for Sports even if it does so poorly in sports. Norway has that as part of the Ministry of Culture, but also of Health and Education.

Norway has a ministry of Education and Research, like Venezuela before Chavismo, but now Venezuela has a ministry for Education, one for University Education and another one for Research...even if research in Venezuela - very limited - has almost totally collapsed since the military and boligarchs are in power.

Venezuela under Chavismo has a ministry for Trade and a different one for Industries, even if industries have gone down the drain.

It also has a ministry for Tourism even if there are no decent public offices of tourism (the opposite of Norway and most other countries without such a ministry), a ministry for Housing even though the housing problem becomes worse and worse than it ever was, a ministry for Communication that is nothing but a Propaganda Ministry, a ministry for Communes and Social Protection, another one for Jails, one for the "Revolutionary Transformation of Caracas" and, last but not least, one for electricity.

My thanks go to S.H. for his input about Norway's bureaucracy. 

Office of Prime Minister  1) Despacho de la Presidencia y  Seguimiento de la Gestión del  Gobierno
Agriculture and food 2) Agricultura y tierras

3) Alimentacion
Fisheries and coastal affairs
Children, equality and inclusion 4) Mujeres, igualdad de género

5) Juventud

6) Pueblos indígenas
Culture 7) Cultura

8) Deporte
Defence 9) Defensa
Education and research 10) Educación universitaria

11) Educación

12) Ciencia, tecnología e innovación
Environment 13) Ambiente
Finance 14) Economía, finanzas y banca pública
Foreign affairs 15) Relaciones exteriores
Government administration, reform & church affairs $) Planificación
Local and regional government
Health and care services 16) Salud
Justice & police 17) Relaciones interiores, justicia y paz
Labour 18) Trabajo y seguridad social
Petroleum and energy 19) Petróleo y minería

Trade & industry 20) Comercio

21) Industrias
Transport and communications 22) Transporte terrestre

23) Transporte acuático y aéreo

24) Turismo

25) Vivienda y hábitat

26) Comunicación y la información

27) Comunas y protección social

28) Servicio penitenciario

29) Transformación Revolucionaria de la Gran Caracas
30) Electricidad

Here you see the GDP growth of both Norway and Venezuela across decades.

This year you will see the red line go under the zero level once more. Chavistas will say the cause is capitalism and the "Economic War". We know it is not. Norway's GDP will grow less than in previous year but Norway is not likely to enter into a major recession. Norway has always tried to develop policies for sustainable development. Venezuela is quite the opposite and this attitude has been at its worst since Chavismo is in power.


  1. You forgot Venezuela has a vice Ministry for People´s Happiness. I wrote Maduro and suggested he needed a Vice Ministry for Morgues and Cemeteries, the murder rate justifies it. Another possibility would be to have a Ministry of Antigossip. This could be run by a loyal venezuelan like Mario Silva.

  2. I am following your publications for some time now.
    I know you have reservations against "radical" opposition leaders like M.C. Machado and L.López. An opinion, with which I thoroughly disagree.
    However, what unites us is a thorough "disagreement" with Venezuela's current regime.

    It is criminal, corrupt and neglecting basic principles of humanism and democracy.

    Here, as a German resident in la Isla Margarita is my question:
    Did you ever come across the following amazing figures about Venezuela's population growth on the one hand and it's growth of registered voters on the other hand:

    1) Between years 2004 and 2013/2014 V's populaton grew from 26,26 million to 30,41 million. A difference of 4,14 million (Figures from UN's Departamento de Asuntos Económicos y Sociales).

    2) In that same time period, the number of registered voters grew by 7,78 million, according to Registro Electoral Público de Venezuela.

    We all know from the CNE, that the number of registered voters for Maduro's presidential election where about 18,9 million voters. A rate of about 62% of the overall population of 30,x million.
    BUT: according to these numbers, in 2004 we only had 11,1 million voters out of 26,26 million inhabitants - which is a rate of 42%.

    My statement is: there is no and there cannot be any demographic explanation for this phenomenon. Millions electoral frauds must have been committed to "achieve" Maduro's victors over Capriles!!!

    1. I have written before about the CNE data. I have found a lot of inconsistencies and many cases of vote manipulation.
      There are over 10% more voters over 40 years old than people of the same age according to INE numbers. There are weird distributions with birth dates that cannot be explained by anything but fraud.
      Still, we need to keep going to elections. There is one thing Chavismo has difficulty with: if we have several witnesses in the voting stations, they have more trouble cheating. We need to make it as hard as possible. In spite of all the cheating Maduro was hardly able to get slightly more votes than Capriles.
      Capriles has not acted as he should and we need to look for a replacement but I never thought López or Machado could do it either. López is more of an opposition leader now than before. Still, he didn't seem to have a plan with LaSalida. LaSalida how? It was more than obvious that Maduro would not go if half the population asked for it: the Boliarchs have too many skeletons in the closet and if the regime falls, a lot of things will follow outside Venezuela. We needed a full plan of action and we didn't have it. We still need one.

    2. Agree with you!
      We must not give up voting: the opposition's boykot in earlier days has led to an overwhelming PSUV parliament majority until end of 2010.
      So never again that!
      It is also clear that Capriles has made severe mistakes after 14A2013. E.g. chickening back from mass protests in response to those evident election frauds.
      That has had nothing to do with pacifism à la Gandhi!!! Gandhi never stepped back from peaceful actions, even when the power holders executed pysical power.
      So, Capriles: comparing yourself with Gandhi is close to a sacrilege.

      I do believe that Machado's and Lopez' personalities, spirit and example is closer to where the true Venezuela stands
      But finding a replacement for el flaco is not the problem now. We need to get rid of that criminal regime, finding the next leader would only lead to pseudo discussion ...


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