Saturday, February 22, 2014

22F: reality check meets inflection point

Let's start by what was good today.

Caracas held on of its biggest rallies ever. The pictures of the Francisco de Miranda avenue packed cannot lie. And cannot be ignored. See previous post.

There were also many marches/rallies around the country, some very well attended (Merida to name one), some in more obscure places but where there had never been anything in the past, so even 50 folks is a huge deal there.

In Tweeter, summary of the day!
Around the world Venezuelans held rallies too. And that was impressive, from a dozen folks in Athens to hundreds in New York (more than in some Venezuelan places) the media impact will be devastating for the regime. Foreign governments and journalists must suddenly wonder how come there are so many Venezuelans out of their country!  Not only that did not happen for Ukraine, to cite one, but is it not Venezuela supposed to be a leftist paradise? I mean, isn't Greece a basket case?

And in the late afternoon Maduro attended a lame counter march and launched himself into a rant, in cadena, that did not do him any good, proving that he is overwhelmed, to say it charitably.

Today was thus an inflection point in the rebellion since we must start calling this at the very least a pre rebellious situation, never mind that in Tachira this definition now applies as we wonder how long we need to wait for an assault on the local state house. Any objective observer, here or abroad, has to admit at the very least that there is a problem in Venezuela, that clearly the regime has lost its majority, and that Maduro cannot finish his term because he just cannot hold it all for another 5 years, even with a bloody repression.

But if there is clearly an inflection point in favor of the opposition to the regime, there is also a reality check. I would be remiss of my duties not to raise the point.

In San Felipe rally attendance was small, probably due in part by the attempt by Convergencia, the all but dead former local force, to vampirize it. So there were at most a hundred people. But that is not necessarily what worries me the most. Places like Yaracuy have become so backward, so dependent on the state subsidies, so mired in extensive lines for anything that it is difficult to expect a reaction form the people, whether they like Maduro being irrelevant. Yaracuy on week ends has a clear agenda: Saturday morning the weekly shopping, Saturday afternoon house chores. Saturday night party or visit relatives. Sunday hangover or visit relatives. Even on voting days it is difficult to pry them away of that ancestral schedule, unless it is a presidential election...

At the ATM line
To hint at how difficult it is going to have Yaracuy (and Cojedes, and Portuguesa, and Apure, and large sections of other states on board) I am putting next three pictures that I took from my car this morning. Yes, from my car, because when I saw the Convergencia flags and three dozen people I refused to go, sorry. I do not mind going and breathe tear gas with students but I refuse to go to a "support Biagio Pilieri" rally.

At Farmatodo line
The thing is that people have to stand in line, at the bank teller, or at the drug store Farmatodo because something just arrived there.  The lack of political education, or even education, the dependency of their lives, the "it has always been like that" culture makes them major skeptics that any political involvement may bring any change in their life. As a consequence 10 years ago they all were for Lapi and Convergencia and now, poof!, by magic they are all chavista. Just like that, and just like that they will be tomorrow all caprilista or lopecista or whomever comes in Yaracuy and hands personally for a few days a few goods.

I do not want to sound pessimistic at all, I am just warning readers that this is not over yet. Maduro may be ousted tonight or he may still be there for a few more month. What I am telling is that if it is true that now, unlike 2002-2003, it is a national protest, a protest driven by a general despair more than any particular hatred, it is still too early to dismiss outright the survival chances of the regime.  Whatever they do these days to hang in there will anyway be voided when economic collapse and hunger settles in 3-4 months.  But during these 3-4 months they can kill a few more people....

A better view of San Felipe rally, picked up from Twitter.
About 5 minutes after I drove by.


  1. Anonymous11:48 PM

    Great article Daniel as always! As you have pointed out many times, their are going to be painful months ahead.


  2. For some reason I am getting the

    calm before the storm feeling....not necessarily a storm but at least an unexpected trick.


  3. From what I understand, Chavez rigged the courts before he died and the electoral council is Chavista. How do things change? Will the Army turn on Maduro? Because if the Army defends Maduro and Chavez' glorious Boliviarian revolution, Maduro or some other friend of Fidel will remain in power. Not trying to be pessimistic here, just wondering if anyone can lay out a successful end game.

  4. Anonymous4:15 AM

    The political end game must be a return to the constitution of the 4th Republic as the starting point. The people of Ukraine did just that: it is worth watching what happens next there. It is no use tweaking the existing political structure: that will take forever. Then we can all start building a proper 5th Republic, without the help of the Cuban brothers.

    1. There is no such a thing a 4th republic. Technically we are in third republic, the third time we got independent from Spain. We did not get independent from Gran Colombia, it just fell apart.

      However we may start celebrating soon our independence from Cuba, hence a true 4th republic.

  5. Anonymous9:06 AM

    The Cubans are colonizers and exploiters, not brothers.

  6. Anonymous9:41 PM

    We're counting on you VE to do the right thing and divest yourselves of this regime. (And get some Pampero Annerversario back on the shelves.) Stay safe, but don't back down.

  7. Anonymous5:59 PM

    Way to go... Greece was a leftist paradise. Only in the minds of frothing neo-liberals and fascists. Shameless propaganda


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