I am tempted to write the short answer: NO. But it is more complex than that and the historian in me knows that all such regimes eventually end, often with or shortly after their leaders.
I refuse to watch TV today. As seen on Tweeter there is quite a disgraceful scene going on in Caracas where Chavez is not sworn in but where you would think that he is in every corner and cannot be bothered to take the oath of office. There are also very worrying tweets form respectable people that worry about Venezuela's Independence while listening to many out of place declarations I will not seek to read them, just the idea of such words being pronounced revolts me. A Tweet from Milagros Socorro will suffice. "Two hundred years of independence. All dissolved in the sump that Chavez set up. There are the results".
Doscientos años de independencia. Sangre de patriotas. Todo disuelto en la letrina que armó Chávez. Ahí están los resultados.
So, what is next?
Certainly in the mind of many the new "government" is not legal and certainly not legitimate even in the mind of many chavistas. But we have to deal with it because they control the weapons, the laws, the police, the courts It is a dictatorship even if today people can still ridicule them in public. For how long?
We are in a sort of limbo, a Burma/Myanmar type of situation and Capriles is no Aung San Suu Kyi. He was on TV last night and the only thing he could find to tell us is that now the regime had no excuses not to solve the problems of the people. He is sticking to his October 7 motto, he is sticking to the December 16 motto and for Albert Einstein he should be now declared insane since he truly believes that repeating the same experiment will yield different results. But we are doing with politics here and there always the off side chance that Capriles strategy may work out someday. I suppose that the scientists that I am revolts at such lameness and certainly cannot get comforted by it.
Again, the oppositions options are in the hands of Chavez fate. True, the actions of the regime these last days are a reflection of their weakness not of their strength. When you are so divided that you need to scream unity like a mad cow, it is because you have precious little of it besides the desire not to go to jail.
Certainly a Chavez death is going to precipitate events and open wide chavismo in possibly more than one faction. But if chavismo manages things well enough (well enough for them, that is, since for us there is lots of repression on the way) it could retain office for a few more years, maybe as long as 2018 but I have my doubts as Maduro is not the type to manage difficult economic times whereas Cabello could do better there.
Thus there are two scenarios at this point.
Chavez is unplugged soon, before Easter week. Elections are held May at the latest. The regime may be able to hold back economic problems that late and Maduro may manage to win. But if he barely wins the country is going to be in chaos real soon as whatever chavista support he has will evaporate soon, helped along by the chavista faction that he pushes aside (in time of crisis you cannot pay off all of your allies and enemies).
Chavez cannot be unplugged yet and survives, say, until May. Thus there would be no election for president before July while there will be mayor elections in May. The first question here is whether chavismo think it can push that far in time the support of Chavez to gain over most major cities? I do not think they can because mayor elections cannot be controlled as easy as governor, too many local interests, too much understanding that the mayor office is the one that can fix your street if it ever gets fixed. But that does not mean that they may want to try and keep alive Chavez until then.
Then we have two sub scenarios. Chavismo loses the mayoral elections, losing meaning that the opposition retains what it has, which it can, and adds a half dozen trophy cities that it can add such as Barquisimeto, Valencia, or Maracay. The game changes and a presidential election at a later date is difficult for chavismo. The other sub scenario is like December 16, but I doubt it. There the opposition would lose, say, Maracaibo or Petare. In that case chavismo wins the presidential election and we have in Venezuela a cross between peronismo and the long running PRI system of Mexico, but with less glamour and less efficiency if possible.
As you may have gathered already, the opposition can only concentrate in not losing the municipal elections of May. Any election until May, from a possible referendum to a presidential one is almost certain to be lost and I wonder even if we should bother fighting it.....
In other words the opposition can only wait and let events unfold These are the eventual death of Chavez (after today's farce in Caracas we can rule out a return of Chavez for a long time) and the economic crisis looming over us. We have to wait and see how those play inside chavismo and hope for the best. Even if the star of Capriles is dimming fast we still need to stick behind him as the MUD is doing by sending him alone to speak, or having him accompanied by Falcon as a side kick. A new primary election would do us in, I can assure you that much. Besides, after December 16, a primary between Capriles and Falcon? Let's just be happy that now we can chose on the spur of the moment between either one, depending what happens in the country.
As for protest, we should leave the constitutional stuff to a bunch of lawyers and focus on something else. That is, we can always use "unconstitutional" in a sentence as long as we use also words such as "crime" "scarcity" "joblessness", etc... in the same sentence. Right now chavismo is like a mad dog, about to self destruct if pushed over slightly. We should let it happen. A tweet that I read a couple of days ago reminded us that Napoleon said "Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
By the way, Napoleon also said that "in Politics, stupidity is not a handicap".
Tonight Julio Borges was in Alo Ciudadano and he spoke like a true statesman, much, much better than Capriles has done since October 7.
He did not sugarcoat it, for us or for chavismo.
For chavismo he told them that they killed Chavez in their thirst for power and knowledge that without him they cannot win any election. For him to say in TV, prime time, under governmental threat to freedom of expression, that Chavez was considering not ti run, that his family did not want him to run but that the Cubans and Maduro et al. convinced him to do so was quite something. A promise for a very different campaign than in October (1)
For us that it was time to stop our internal bickering and idiotic plans. That only hard work would take us away from Chavez and that the politicians alone could not do it. In short, we need every and each one of them to go to a chavista and talk to them, over and over again. He implied that if the country did not react to what had happened these past days then the trouble ahead would be terrible.
What was remarkable in his presentation was his composure seriousness and almost lack of partisanship. Basically he told us that we had no other choice than Capriles and that we should all be aware that Capriles represent all of us, not PJ alone. I do not know how to explain this but I have a feeling that Borges has learned from the mistakes of October 7. We'll see.
1- Some are already thinking that the vote may be as early as the last Sunday in March which means that the death of Chavez or his resignation has to happen in the first half of February. It certainly would make sense for chavismo to schedule an election on Easter holidays that would cost a few hundred thousand votes to the opposition candidate, cf. December 16.