Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Where are we at, right now? Headless Venezuela

It is hazardous to write a post with such a title: it passes its expiration date before I press "publish". But since Maduro canceled at the very last minute his trip to Chile Bachelet's swearing in, we might give it a shot.

First, about that trip. I am not going to echo wild rumors that he could not go because it would have been kind of a one way ticket for him...  I think that there are much more reasonable explanations to be found. See, Maduro had called for a UNASUR meeting following the swearing in of Bachelet, thinking that he could count on a favorable support from them. But I suspect that he realized this was not a sure thing. Why?

If UNASUR was unwilling at first to do anything to monitor the Venezuelan situation it was due to two factors: many South America countries have big business with Venezuela and other have internal situations that at the moment cannot allow them to risk a volley of insults from Maduro and co., like Panama just suffered. But in the last two weeks things must have been changing.  This is my speculation on that.

Big debtor countries are realizing that Maduro remaining in office is no guarantee that they will get paid someday. The way the economy is tanking is actually a deterrent to trust Maduro with Venezuelan debt. At this point, threatening him a little is not necessarily a bad idea, the more so if it is done behind closed doors at a UNASUR meeting. I have named of course Brazil.

Santos of Colombia was basically paralyzed because of the general elections coming and the FARC negotiations. The FARC are not helping and since they receive support from Venezuela, well, you get the point. But if last Sunday Santos lost some ground in the legislative elections he is not only able to still cobble together some kind of majority and he is basically now a shoo in for reelection. Since in addition Venezuela also owes big $$$ , there is no reason for Santos now to be more direct in his approach.

Peru government was fooled April 2013 when Maduro promised a real electoral audit that never happened. Since this was at a specially convoked UNASUR session by Peru, there is no reason why Peru would not decide now not to pass its bill.

The Venezuelan crisis has an effect in Chile. The large Venezuelan exile community was ready to protest on inauguration day! In addition, the idiocy of unreconstructed commies and socialists who blithely say that Caracas 2014 is like Santiago 1973 is creating a wedge in Bachelet's coalition before she is sworn in as the christian democrats in decline are still strong enough to cause her plenty of problems is they were to break from the concertacion turned into nueva mayoria. The woman does not need the aggravation and it will cost her little to side with the CD, score big trust points with business and remind the commies that if they are back close to power it is because she is willing to suffer it, not because they are imposing themselves.

Not to mention that Paraguay is a foe, that Uruguay is a maverick getting close to election time where it needs to convince moderate voters to remain in office and there you have: after promoting UNASUR as the only group to be invited to discuss Venezuela, the regime suddenly feels that not even UNASUR is safe anymore.

But Maduro is not helping his cause. First, he would have arrived today with yet one more student death and another one in coma. Clearly in now a month and a week, protests show no sign to go down though they are starting to change and style. No one in LatAm fails to notice how incompetent Maduro and his regime are at finding a way out, how they are unable to consider anything else but repression and insult. It is now impossible for the regime to hide that its only active "support" is Nazional Guards and, more importantly, paramilitaries. The chavista hoi polloi remains deadly quiet compared to the opposition one.

Second, today as he did not go to Chile, Maduro decided to start a radio program. So, what is the problem you say? I will start by telling you that this may be a sign that Maduro was already planning not to go to Chile and had already set up his alternative agenda. Nice touch for the Chilean ambassador, even if that one may be delighted by the absence of Maduro. But it gets worse when you hear some of the declarations of that radio show to get in touch with the needs of el pueblo.

The opposition cannot get to marching into Caracas. I suppose this means that Caracas is now the capital of only chavista Venezuelans.

The opposition are cowards that should sit down in front of him: he wants to see their face. Nice way to promote a dialogue to find peace.

The mayor of Chacao is wimp who directs the guarimabas. If he has evidence for it why has he not arrested him yet? After all Lopez is in jail for way less than what he accuses Muchacho of.

Guarimberos cash in two monthly minimum wages a week. OK, Maduro did not say that, but his interior minister. He shows no real proof for that. It is financially impossible. And it is ludicrous enough that only official propaganda media reports it. But I am putting it because all of these go so well together. That is just the excuse they are trying to make up to blame on Muchacho all the abuses committed by the regime in Chacao and Altamira.

I am sure that all of this will be duly reported to all the foreign ministers that may be inclined to help Maduro. It is not going to make their jobs any easier.

So let's leave a regime that is trapped in a vicious cycle of lies and repression and let's look where the opposition is at.  Not much in a way. Capriles or anyone else is able to direct the marches that are non stop. Lopez is in jail but his movement is directing a march tomorrow to demand the resignation of the ombudsman who had the temerity to throw into relativism torture, the first step to make it legal. Another good move for the regime international cause, by the way.

The fact of the matter is that the opposition leadership is following, not leading the protest and if by any chance someone had an IT moment that person could suddenly become the leader to overthrow the regime. That easy. That is why the regime is so nervous, so willing to say anything anywhere anytime as long as we do not talk about the real problem: since I have been in Caracas I have seen with my own eyes how food and medicine stocks are going down.


  1. Daniel, it's unfair that you make such good analysis,i rarely feel like i have to say something.

    "The fact of the matter is that the opposition leadership is following, not leading the protest and if by any chance someone had an IT moment that person could suddenly become the leader to overthrow the regime."

    I doubt Leopoldo will be released this year, they can't afford to look so weak. Nobody in the opposition,IMO, is presidential enough.Capriles showed some spark on both of last elections,but he disappointed many. Maybe a junta de gobierno but that's a bit scary,it might show the MUD's true colors...and cracks.

    I definitely want the PSUV to go, but I don't want a free-for-all to govern. And now that the word is out, we need a GOVERNMENT. Not charisma,not spark and definitely not a messiah,hopefully not a celebrity president. Given the state of the economy,and all sectors, it might be somewhat difficult to screw things up more (the revolution is good at that),but some short-and-long-term plans need to be put on paper and shown.

    There is a strange feeling i'm not quite used to have,but these days i definitely feel optimistic. Along with the anxiety.

  2. The students remind me of King Leonidas, who lead 300 Spartans into battle against the Persian "god-King" Xerxes and his invading army of more than 300,000 soldiers. They were Heroes.

    1. And they were ultimately betrayed by one of their own and crushed by the Persians. And even thought the Greeks eventually repelled the Persian invasion, they spent the following decades fighting and killing each other. Athens, the cradle of democracy, used their riches to create an empire under the excuse of protecting Greece against any future Persian aggression, and it was every bit as repressive as the "barbarians" they were trying to hold off. Anyone trying to leave the Delian League was, well, dissuaded.

      So all I'm trying to say is that this is probably not the best train of thought.

    2. And had the 300 Spartans not engaged the Persians?

    3. Look, I agree, the 300 were heroic. I'm just saying that, in terms of freedom and justice, the Greeks were not the best role models to begin with.
      The Spartans based their whole society around slavery. The only reason the Spartans were the fighting machines they were is because the slaves did all the actual work around town, and that freed the Spartans to concentrate on making themselves into warriors.

      The Spartans (and the rest of the Greeks) vs. the Persians is not so much about freedom vs. oppression, as it is about two bullies fighting for supremacy

    4. Ok, I get your point. My point is that the impossible odds are what stand out! The students are throwing rocks at well-armed thugs! They are still standing, and their spirit has not diminished! Meanwhile, it has stirred up international attention, and there are signs that the demonstrations are spreading to other socio-economic communities.

  3. Anonymous11:20 AM

    And Lula said this on the 9th.

    "The country is going through a period of turbulence: it is not easy to survive the loss of a leader like Chavez and I think that Maduro was wrong in not doing more to start the necessary dialogue with the opposition."


  4. Anonymous1:45 PM

    If the Chavismo we have come to know over the last fifteen years falls and if the "arecho" movement maintains momentum, at least with increasing support, maybe Capriles, Machado and Lopez have served their purpose.

    It could be that none of the three mentioned are to lead us in to a new phase. Maybe unbeknown to them they have only been the catalyst.

    Excluding the possibility of a military style government there may be a third way other than the Chavista/Opposition. No idea what that is but I'm sure most people 15 years ago had no inkling that we would be where we are today, democratically speaking that is.

  5. Anonymous1:53 PM

    Hi Daniel,

    Back on the 30th of December 2013 you made some remarks that, on first reading, appeared unfair about a new blog in English from a Norwegian who had just started living in Venezuela.

    You later clarified in the comments section - I am not criticizing the Norwegian girl. That is why I wrote "PSF in the good sense of the term", that is, bright eyes, new vision, high hopes. It lasts for a while and then crashes down with reality. I am waiting to read her blog in a couple of months :)

    Please read her last 3 entries to find out what has happened since!



    1. Charly4:09 PM

      Should be mandatory reading by Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, etc. etc.

    2. Yes, I had read them but I did not want to pile further muck on it. There are too many things to write about, too little time and as proven again, readers that do get what it is that I write about. ;-)

      Venezuela offers crash courses in reality. that is, for those who live here regularly, not who write from abroad with an occasional visit here and there.

    3. Boludo Tejano7:21 PM

      I am waiting to read her blog in a couple of months :)

      As the saying goes, looks like Daniel nailed it, because her tone definitely changed.

    4. Wow! Did she get a crash course Venezuelan reality! Too bad she didn't stick it out to see how the movie ends.

  6. Anonymous3:43 PM

    Can someone please comment on where the country is with respect to schools (university) being open and business operating. Are things in a bit of a stand still?

  7. Watching CNN en Español, things are heating up on the diplomatic front. The U.S. is making stronger statements, and the other LatAm countries are beginning to sound alarmed.

    Which does not mean that they will do anything substantive, but it reflects the solidly grounded belief that Venezuela is a politically burning bus careening off an economic cliff.


Comments policy:

1) Comments are moderated after the sixth day of publication. It may take up to a day or two for your note to appear then.

2) Your post will appear if you follow the basic rules. I will be ruthless in erasing, as well as those who replied to any off rule comment.

This is an anti Chavez/chavismo blog, Readers have made up their minds long ago. Trying to prove us wrong is considered a troll. Still, you are welcome as a chavista to post if you want to explain us coherently as to why chavismo does this or that. We are still waiting for that to happen.
Insults and put downs are frowned upon and I will be sole judge on whether to publish them.