Saturday, April 12, 2014

Dialogue, monologue or guarimbalogue? Venezuelan political discourse peculiarities


I am not only a little preoccupied about personal matters but to tell you the truth from the start I lost any possible interest in the "dialogue" attempt last night at Miraflores. See, the regime is so predictable, such a permanent rehash of old grievances that one could have easily guessed the discourse.

The monologue

Last night it was my turn to stay over at the health center that the S.O. has been staying these days. Yes, even in functional high level health centers of Venezuela it is advised that a relative spends the night on a cot in the sick room.  The S.O. having recovered somewhat from recent treatments asked me to put on the "debate" that was taking place in Miraflores. We caught it with Andres Velazquez intervention, which was passable. He was succeeded by Aristobulo Isturiz, Anzoategui current governor, and the travesty started. After a few minutes the S.O. found strength somewhere out of his apparent slumber to say "enough of this fucking idiot, turn it off".

Sponsored by UNASUR, last night was finally the first encounter on TV of spokespeople from the regime and the opposition. The regime must be feeling enough heat that it acceded to this highly dangerous show. After the absurd repression of these last two months, repression that has yielded no tangible result for the regime but  nasty brutish backlash overseas, it needed desperately a picture of all smiling as if this were a normal country.  With a lot of reticence the opposition agreed as long as a certain format would be respected and that could not be interpreted as the regime scoring a point.  Maybe they should not have worried that much, the regime did a fine job of ridiculing itself in front of the national audience (it was a cadena) and in front of UNASUR sympathetic ears that must be having more and more second thoughts about validating further Venezuela's regime style.

I only watched Aristobulo and it was pathetic. He is said to be one of the wiliest minds of chavismo, maybe to be a tad less autocratic than his brethren. Last night he proved those wrong. He has the same mental chip as any other chavista, cannot leave behind what happened 10 years ago and, basically, thinks that not only they are perfect but what they do today is amply validated, out of all proportions, with what happened in April 2002. His worst offense, for me, was when he said that chavismo DID respect electoral results whereas the opposition did not, conveniently forgetting how elected opposition officials are deprived of as many means as possible from exerting their role. For example, Ledezma election 5 years ago for Caracas at large mayor was followed by the immediate approval of a law that gutted his office, passing most of his responsibilities, and patronage, to an appointed official. For example, Capriles difficult reelection in December 2012 was followed by the immediate appointment of the losing chavista, Jaua, at the head of a para-governing organization which has for Miranda state a budget that compares favorably with the one Capriles receives. One can only be flabbergasted in front of such cynical lies.

Another good moment must have been when Rafael Ramirez stated that the economical model of the regime was successful. With 60% inflation, humongous foreign debts, importing maybe 75% of our food, having stopped the publication of verifiable statistics, a decrease in oil production, and what not, the guy has the chutzpah to declare victory.

All of this simply reveal in a dramatic way that chavismo is a cornered system, self-locked in an series of cliches and dead ideologies. I wonder even if their speech is a monologue, seems rather a litany. How can you reach with them a basic vocabulary and grammar to attempt a dialogue?

The dialogue

From what I read the presentation of the opposition envoys were over all much better than the regime's one, if anything by showing that apparently the opposition is more knowledgeable on dossiers and country's problem than the regime trapped in a frozen mind set. It is amazing that people that have been 15 years in office seem way outpaced in delivery by an opposition that is constantly harassed and denied access to real data.

But that is not really the point. The point is that the regime pretends to have a dialogue without conditions. Whereas the opposition offers very reasonable conditions, things that in normal countries are not considered "conditions". For example it wants political prisoners to be released. The opposition does not mind them being sent to trial but wants them to be judged in liberty until a sentence comes, like it happens to the very few corrupt and abusive chavistas that have to be sent to trial.  Another request is that the constitution is followed. That means in practical term that it is not possible that the high court of 32 members has never a dissent opinion. That means that the offices of comptroller of the nation is given to someone that actually will control the expenses of ALL elected officials, be them chavista or opposition.  And other such examples.

What does chavismo want? That opposition ceases all type of protests, recognize the primacy and mandatory line for Venezuela organization even if last April 2013 there was a an electoral fraud to hide that chavismo had lost a majority of the vote. The government has all and wants things to stay that way. Is dialogue, any type of dialogue and agreement a possibility?

The guarimbalogue

In the face of the stubbornness of the regime, of its inability to find solutions to the problems of Venezuela what is left to do?  Little but not hopeless.

We must participate in the discussion tables that the UNASUR wants to set but we should be firm as we have been in this first round. And the protest must continue non stop, even if violent barricades, guarimbas, are a nasty byproduct. After all, that the regime has been forced to accept such a pantomime is a success for guarimbas, no matter how these have been criticized, even by Capriles. In fact, if Capriles last night was able to present a reasonable survey of the situation in a cadena, it is because guarimbas allowed for it, with the inherent contradictions that not only he could not control them, but he criticized them.

Last night we had a guarimbalogue, we had a mandatory cadena where for the first time in a decade it was possible for some chavistas to discover that the opposition existed, that it was not a figment of their imagination, that it was more articulated than their own leaders, that it went beyond guarimbas and that it had forced the regime in that admission.  Just by itself it vindicated two months of protests and sufferings.

If you do not understand or agree with what I just wrote in the last paragraph let me give you the following image.  We are always told never to pull a thread from a hand knitted sweater because the whole thing may just fall apart. This is exactly what may have happened last night to chavismo. This one is a monstrous knitted coalition that includes narco traffickers, big time corrupts, incompetent people that have a job only because they are chavistas, resentful leftists, taliban ones, pro Cuba agents, ambitious military and what not. It is sort of a sweater with horrifying patterns. Last night may have been the thread that if pulled adequately, for long enough, may end up unraveling the whole thing.

But I am not holding my breath.



Reading the press this Saturday morning as to last Thursday night show I find a certain contentment within the opposition OpEdistia. I would not be so sanguine.

True, it was a major achievement for the opposition and that presentation maybe the beginning of something. But there is one thing that we should not forget: chavismo mind dose not work like hers and for them the "failure" may actually be a good thing. Let me explain.

Chavismo is that ugly sweater described above, and as such it is composed of mostly failures led by mediocrities. What allowed them so much power was a demagogic language, their willingness to waste the country's wealth instead of investing it, and a hateful leader who unfortunately knew how to reach for the heart and fears of an uneducated mass. It  is/was an historical accident made possible by self sufficiency of a decadent political class.

The failure Thursday night of the chavista representative to go out of the written script of resentment and ideology may actually be good for the regime.  You need to understand that dictatorship are by definition the rule of a minority over a majority through the use of brute force.  As such, the regime reminded the minority that supports them that they need to stick with them otherwise in a post chavista world that would value again education, skills, competence, effort, social restraint, rule of law, they will be relegated again to the bottom of the scale as long as they refuse to play by the rules of civilized society. The contrast between the representatives of the regime and those of the opposition crudely reminded them that only by supporting vile mediocrities like Diosdado Cabello will the chavismo core retain its privileges.

Through this comment I do not mean to state that dialogue is worthy or a waste of time, that the opposition will gain more or less than the regime,  just point out that sitting at a table for a few hours is only the beginning of a process of unpredictable consequences.....


  1. Charly3:04 PM

    To me the intervention that could make possible this unraveling of the thread was Ramos Allup. With a sarcastic tone (burlon. goguenard) he made quite a show in front of the whole nation telling just the truth, may be not the whole truth for lack of time, but nothing but the truth. Diosdado facial expression was priceless. I loved his last sentence, calling Maduro "Nicola", a total lack of respect in this setting.

  2. It seemed to me that the government representatives were lost in a fantasy world of there own making, and never once answered or responded to any charges against the government or the conditions existing in Venezuela.

  3. In war, there comes a time when the status quo is not acceptable for either side. The protests, guarimbas, and the resulting international pressure have pushed the government to the point of being forced to do something to break the deadlock. Even they understood that this "dialogue" was risky for them. However, I don't think they understood how risky it was to give the opposition a voice and a forum. I watched the whole thing, and it was a clear win for the Opposition. The Chavistas could do nothing better than repeat their tired old slogans and insults, whereas, the Opposition was able to say "en cadena" things that have been stifled for a long time. The Chavistas were very obviously uncomfortable and thrown off stride by being confronted in a situation they could not control. Overall, I think that this will be considered a game changer.

    One thing I would like to know is how many Venezuelans actually saw this.

  4. After watching the whole debate last night, it is obvious (to me) that the MUD and the Government are far apart to reach any kind of consensus to resolve the big problems confronting Venezuela. On one the hand (MUD) talks about the constitution , laws and democracy. The other (Gov.) defends their form of government,15 years of disaster, their actions, the destruction of a once prosperous country and its ideology.It is impossible to strike an agreement when there is no common ground or the will for things to change.

    You hear the discourse of the President and Gov. representatives portraying a country that does not exist. Despite a civil war outside of the Palace of Miraflores . It is mind bogging to hear them talk about a prosperous and happy revolution in Venezuela. Very Cynical posture.
    No respect for the law, no separation of powers, no freedom of press, no press, no food, repression, corrupt officials, Cuba's intro-mission on the Venezuela affairs, students brutal treatment, torture, political prisoners are just a few facts they chose to ignore.

    For me, the positive side of this first meeting is that the MUD was able to talk openly to the country and the gov. officials about the current problems and the crisis the Gov. is confronting today.

    Hopefully the will continue to meet and find some common ground that allows for a transition to a better Venezuela for all citizens. Very difficult objective considering the
    event of last night.

  5. I just listened part of the beginning. When i noticed that nicolas was going on a monologue i turned off the radio. I barely listened to Ramon Guillermo Aveledo and the next day the interventions of Capriles and Ramos Allup.
    I have to say that i hate Allup because he represents he dinosaurs of the old poltics that somehow were responsible for Chavez ascent. But to listen to him saying to Cabello to stay easy because this was not the Assembly and that he was not a subordinate was priceless

  6. Anonymous11:25 PM

    These days, I find myself listening to you and Caracas Chronicles, and unfortunately CC has lately has veered towards whining versus coverage. You're the only one left. Please don't stop writing.

  7. i doubt seriously that the problem with most Chavistas is lack of information....when they do have it, they continue in their ideas....thie problem is either emotional or criminality.I am seriously cocncerned that some peoplle in the opposition are quite a hurdle to jump in order to achieve some degree of clarity....firepigette

  8. Keep writing when you can Daniel. Your work is valued.

    Thanks and Best Wishes to your S.O.


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