Sunday, December 07, 2003


Sunday 7, December 2003

The dust settled on yesterday’s silliness, with even more silliness.

Our ineffable vice president, Jose Vicente Rangel (JVR), more chavista even than Chavez, announced with his poker face that he has been honing since El Petarazo, that yesterday’s march was the biggest in our history. Always bigger the marches, it seems. He also added that any damage in Plaza Altamira was self-inflicted by the opposition. Of course, if he only watches the state TV he would have missed the images. Or is it that he misplaced his TV glasses?

The sad fact for the VP is that the attendance was counted at less than 100 000, still not a bad turnout. The other sad fact is that chavistas were filmed drawing graffiti and lifting the statues of the Virgin Mary. Too many were filmed to use the charge of double agents. Indeed if they can be conned within their own marches by so many double agents, they are quite incompetent. There is no elegant way out. Yesterday’s negations were just as his negations of last weekend lines at the opposition signature tables. He has to negate the fact that he is losing control of the situation at all levels.

But why is the VP taking such risks? Surely he cannot ignore that Gaviria for one will be well informed by his very own observers? Why are Chavez and JVR screaming a fraud that is technically impossible? Why are they denying what has become public knowledge? But more importantly why is JVR ruining his reputation forever inside and outside of Venezuela?

One obvious reason is that infighting for an eventual post Chavez leadership has already started among the chavistas. Fealty has to be demonstrated to be able to lead a future post Chavez chavismo. A side benefit is that whatever troops are left need this kind of “cara durismo” (stone face) from the top to remain faithful to the government in case this one wants to do some strong actions in the near future. Fascism has its own logic.

Another reason is that the moral (and financial?) corruption of the regime does not allow for any other option but hold the bunker until the very last possible minute. JVR knows that he has no future outside of Chavez. No serious politician within the opposition will negotiate with him anything more than the terms for a political transition. The best he can hope after Chavez is a golden exile in Chile where his wife holds citizenship.

Like any good poker player when cornered, JVR does the bluff of his life! If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then he seems to have quite a following among other ministers of the court.

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