Sucre State, in north eastern Venezuela, is a blessed region and great potential for development, particularly in the tourism and fishing sectors. However, this seems a forlorn proposition when you know how depressed its economy is and the list of adversities faced by the men and women who decide to bet on this state’s progress.
Víctor Federico González // Correspondent lapatilla.com
Starting with the chronic shortage of gasoline, insecurity, the precariousness of public services, miserable salaries and government neglect, these are just some of the factors that affect the development of the different economic and social factors in this eastern state.
Businessmen, unions and even citizens themselves constantly put forward their claims and protest, even in scenarios where they have coincided with regional and national authorities. The productive sectors have addressed the multiple problems they face, but until now it has not been possible to solve them.
What is the business union asking for?
For the Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Production of Cumaná, Abelardo Kasabji, public services are “a big blow” for businessmen in the capital of Sucre. He stated that everything from fees to harassment by officials demanding payment are problems they currently face.
Furthermore, he pointed out that he does not know how the rates for these services are calculated. “There are no organized fees in the consumption cost structure of our companies,” he indicated.
“I receive multiple messages from businessmen who feel overwhelmed by this situation. Recently we have participated in meetings where economic zones have been enacted and promised. We congratulate this event, in truth, without leaving empty spaces, we have assisted and contributed our grain of sand, but there is a controversy, we note that Corpoelec has already come out to call for electrical self-generation caused by the problems and deficiencies that exist. Do they want to encourage industries without the capability to generate electricity? I don’t know what to think about this,” Kasabji said.
Likewise, he revealed that 90% of ‘Cumanese’ businessmen are working at 50% of their installed capacity. “We want deeds and that the Special Economic Zones materialize in Sucre. We don’t want more promises, we want to work,” he added.
In the opinion of the business leader, neither Cumaná nor the state of Sucre can be compared with the Capital District or municipalities that really have some economic activity. “They cannot think that the Sucre Municipality should be under the same guidelines as those areas of the country. Cumaná has been hit hard, look at the abandonment of its industrial zones and you will realize it,” he stated.
On the other hand, he demanded that officials from the National Electric Corporation (Corpoelec) or the Caribbean Hydrological Corporation (Hidrocaribe) come to the entity from Caracas or Anzoátegui and make decisions without knowing or studying well the reality of Cumaná.
Bankrupt shopping centers
The few shopping centers that exist in the capital of Sucre are also besieged by the precariousness and high costs of public services. This is coupled with the lack of purchasing power of citizens to consume or generate large enough volume of transactions in commercial establishments, as was revealed by representatives of the city’s main shopping centers.
According to Albertina Ferreira, member of the “C.C. Marina Plaza’s” board of directors. Shop owners have made a great effort to lift this venue that has been severely hit in recent years. “There have been experiences of harassment and threats by Hidrocaribe. The cost of the monthly charge for October last year was 5,000 bolivars and this month it was more than 52,000 bolivars,” she explained.
She stated that they have made different complaints to the authorities of the institutions, but the response they always receive is that: “it is not appropriate, because it is an order that comes from Caracas.” Ferreira highlighted that vacancy in the shopping center reaches 50%.
“The incredible thing about it all, besides the fact that they ignore it, is that we only have water three days a week and most of the places don’t have a bathroom,” she added.
On the other hand, Luis Landa, representative of the C.C. Cumaná Plaza, reports that they even threaten to cut off services. “It seems that these are selective charges, charging everyone more expensively. It seems utility representatives spend their time in the shopping centers to see where you went wrong to fine you (…) They do not have the appropriate criteria, it seems that there are no technical criteria, how they act seems more political. We are in a world in which politics prevails over criteria, and those of us who produce are the enemies, when that is not the case,” he said.
Position of the Chamber of Tourism
The President of the Chamber of Tourism of Sucre State (CTUR Sucre), Cecilia Sucre, pointed out that “enough of closing business doors due to the high costs of public services. Measure and compare our state, you will realize that we are not the same as the other regions of the country, despite our potential.”
“Take into account the 15 municipalities in the region, they cannot have the same collection rate for public services. The tourist part has had very low percentages of activity in recent months,” she added.
Likewise, she requested that Corpoelec apply the “Clean Slate” plan (debt forgiveness) in the eastern region.
Professional unions support
“Public services were dehumanized, the process of seeing what is behind each reality was dehumanized,” said the Vice President of the College of Economists of Sucre State, Reina Gedeón.
The economist considered that the business community and citizens are paying for the high levels of corruption that exist in Venezuela. “How does Corpoelec justify or who pays for the lights that spend 12 hours on during the day in the city? Who pays? We talk about high costs, but also about the inefficiency of services. It is difficult to raise our heads (above the water) with this reality that we have in Venezuela,” argued Gedeón.
For his part, the president of the entity’s College of Physicians, Rafael Peroza, expressed his support for the businessmen’s fight. “We are a non-profit institution that lives off the contributions of our members, who receive poverty wages, sometimes not even reaching $60 a month,” he said.
“What are the consequences? That what we receive as a monthly contribution is not enough to pay the excessive water rates. Paying $250 in an institution that does not even enjoy the service is unheard of,” explained the health professional. “It’s not that we don’t want to pay, it’s that we can’t pay,” he said