Mérida, 23rd July 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez oversaw the inauguration of a new petrochemical complex and a thermoelectric power plant yesterday, while responding to opposition criticisms that the broadcast of such events constitutes “campaigning”.
The new Butano-1 Ana Maria Campos Petrochemical Complex, in the western state of Zulia, is expected to produce 900,000 metric tonnes of the plastic polythene by 2017.
During its inauguration, Chavez argued that the greater industrialisation of Venezuela depends on consolidating national independence.
“The historic destiny of Venezuela is greatness,” he said. “We are inaugurating this brand new plant because the Bolivarian Revolution arrived here and, after 200 years, recovered Venezuela’s independence, and this must be cared for.”
He further stated that the Bolivarian Revolution benefits the industrial sector, small and medium companies, and the middle class. He mentioned that of the plastic produced by Butano-1, “A good part will go to the private sector which will then manufacture it into many items for national consumption and others for the international market.”
Promoting Renewable Energies
A new thermoelectric power plant, with the capacity to produce 100 megawatts, was also inaugurated in Zulia state yesterday.
Energy minster Hector Navarro, who oversaw the event, further confirmed that wind power projects with the capacity of 400 MW were to be incorporated into Zulia’s power grid.
Mentioning the range of hydroelectric, thermoelectric and wind power projects underway in the west of Venezuela, President Chavez said, “These projects have the aim of giving the west its own energy generation, which it needs so much for [quality of] life and its economic-industrial development.”
Developing energy self-sufficiency in regions like Zulia is part of the national energy strategy the government has developed following the energy crisis of 2009 – 2010, when a major drought, rising demand and structural problems in the energy sector caused shortages and electricity rationing across the country.
Although a major oil exporter, Venezuela’s domestic energy needs are overwhelmingly met by hydroelectric power, with 70% of Venezuela’s power generated by the Guri dam in Bolivar state to the east of the country.
To reduce dependence on the Guri dam, thermoelectric power plants have also been built in Merida and Tachira states in the Venezuelan Andes, with another in construction in Barinas state as part of a development agreement with China and Belarus.
Maximiliano Molino, a retired worker with the government’s development corporation CorpoAndes, told Venezuelanalysis.com that thermoelectric power is now benefitting communities in the western states of Zulia, Trujillo, Merida, Tachira, Barinas and Apure.
Using renewable forms of energy to diversify electricity generation is also part of Chavez’s second Socialist Plan of the Nation 2013 – 2019.
Debate over Presidential Transmissions
Yesterday’s inauguration events were broadcast in Venezuela as a presidential transmission, which all television and radio channels are legally required to broadcast.
In the context of Venezuela’s on-going presidential election campaign, with voting set for 7 October, the country’s conservative opposition has criticised Chavez for obligating private media to cover such events, calling them “self-promotion” and “campaigning.”
In response to a presidential transmission last Saturday 14 July, during which Chavez criticised opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski for having “forged” an armed forces document, Carlos Vecchino of the opposition Popular Will party lodged a complaint with the National Electoral Council (CNE).
He charged Chavez with having broken electoral rules by using the transmission to “refer to campaign issues and attack Henrique Capriles Radonski”.
Capriles himself has attacked presidential broadcasts, saying, “If the speeches in the transmissions were productive, we would have a better country”.
Chavez defended the transmissions yesterday as “part of the communication strategy of the government,” insisting that “a presidential campaign isn’t undertaken in a transmission”.
He said such broadcasts are necessary, arguing last week that the private media “deliberately hide the good work of the government”.
He further explained yesterday, “The private television channels don’t cover this [the inauguration]. The newspapers in the hands of the bourgeoisie don’t give coverage to these acts, and if they do, it’s a little square on the last page, and the [private] radios neither”.
State television in Venezuela accounts for 5.5% of the spectrum, and state radio 10%.