Chavez is having a real bad week with that Libya thing. At home and abroad, for that matter.
At home I do not know if some of the bolibanana grandees are catching the drift from North Africa but for the past couple of weeks there have been a few dramatic pull backs that can result in even more trouble for chavismo. In short, the government has been backtracking big time on some key "policies" but it is doing so half heartedly and in fact unwillingly demonstrating that if you really stand firm to the regime that one is more likely to blink first. True, you need to be willing to die in a hunger strike or be able to start a general strike, but the novelty is there, the regime is now backpedaling more often than one would think, establishing very well that the coup d'etat of last December was a attempt at hiding how weak the regime is becoming.
Last week the regime freed two political prisoners and apparently two more are on the exit line. That way the student hunger strike was lifted (though another one is going on on a different matter). Today, after sentencing yesterday a Union guy to seven years just to be met with a groundswell of workers discontent on the measure, including the infamous Marcela Maspero, leader of the regime created and subservient union, the regime released him. That is, the regime sensed real fast that things were getting out of hand and that even its "own" bolivarian workers might joint a massive protest movement, and, gasp, a general strike as in 2002. A hint of Sirocco reached Caracas....
Of course, in all of these cases the regime tries to save its face in front of its radical wing by offering only a partial release: that is, the new freed political prisoners have to report every month to court, cannot travel, etc... Thus trying to save its basic policy of scaring opposition, while achieving the opposite.
But that unfortunately does not cover the real issue here, the plain, absolute demonstration that there is no separation of powers in Venezuela and even less the existence of an independent judicial system. We all knew that already, but the new element here is that how blatant it is, how careless the regime has become with that. Did anyone hear any protest from the judiciary? Did any of the sentencing judges came out to protest that their sentences were valid and those people should remain in jail? No. And thus they publicly acknowledged their subjection to the central power; While at the same time, as a bonus, the easy release is an implicit recognition by the regime that they are political prisoners.
Add these to the hearings in San Jose about the deliberate criminalization of politicians and you can gather that the regime is sensitive to world opinion and is certainly not willing to distract from the attention in the Middle East where the expose of the falling dictatorships make Chavez regime sound somewhat more palatable (though much younger and thus not having the chance to fully ape the fallen and falling potentates).
And now that we are talking world opinion, it did not go well there for Chavez either. Somebody gave him the bad idea to offer his services to form a group of "friends" of Libya to serve as mediator (you know, like the famous group of friends of Venezuela sponsored by Lula in 2003 that screwed Venezuela fully, take notice, Libyan opposition!). The timing could not have been worse as some UN vote found Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as the lone 3 losing side votes. But when a son of Gaddafi said he did not know about it and did not think it was such a great idea, well, what else can one add..... even the Arab league demanded to see the proposal first. Which proves to you that they know the man and that they knew the offer was an half assed spontaneous gesture with no preparation whatsoever, designed to make Chavez look good. Anyway, from France to the Arab League they all told Chavez thank you but no thanks.
I must admit that I am fascinated to see Chavez in such turmoil of his own making. Truly, whoever is advising him does not know what s/he is doing, does not have a sense of what are the real problems of the country which are not those of Cuba or the PSUV. Or maybe after so many years of a Chavez foreign policy (it was never a Venezuelan State policy since at least 2000, foreign service serving strictly Chavez interests since) the guy still thinks he is hot stuff and that he can get away with it.
Or even worse, like old faded divas, he does not realize he lost his touch. Oh! So sad....
BONUS: listen to the interview of Telesur correspondent in Libya contradicting 99% of what Chavez says about Libya. (hat tip Gustavo).