This week end caught us with two pieces of good news. Well, sort of. Two political prisoners got better jail terms, that is, home arrest for a while. One is a police chief of 2002 that the regime has tried to scapegoat as the lone guilty party of the deaths of April 2002, Ivan Simonovis. The other one was an activist from the protest earlier this year, Sairam Rivas.
Should we read something into this? I am afraid not.
To begin with, those two cases had become a problem for the regime's international image. Not that it cares much at this point, but with an expected trip of Maduro at the UN in the coming days, a mere gesture could only help.
Because it is a mere gesture. The conditions for the release of these two are draconian. Basically they must stay at home mute, and one of them has been released because the regime simply does not want him to die in jail. The other political prisoners, those that truly matter for the regime political survival? They are locked away as harshly as possible (Lopez, Ceballos, etc..).
Then again, one should always try to figure out a silver lining in such "gestures", even at the risk of passing for an imbibed dreamer.
Perhaps the clue comes from Henry Falcon, Lara's governor, asking for the dialogue regime-opposition to restart. Whether such call is self serving or Falcon is being asked by the regime to try to become the mouth piece of the opposition is not the point. The point here is that the regime needs to do something about the economy if it wants to avert a massive bloodbath when everything falls apart, sooner than what many may be expecting.
If we factor in the inner divisions of the regime, as far as we know of them, there is a small window of opportunity for some form of negotiation, if anything to gain time. One of the chavismo factions, the pragmatic ideological left (oxymoron intended) has been somewhat sidelined when Rafael Ramirez was pushed to the foreign ministry. That leaves mainly two factions in office, the military with now full control of the purse and the radical left with a pro Cuba political agenda. We know from history that when such a dipole exists bloody confrontation is unavoidable. The chavismo radical left may not be coherent or rational enough to know that but I am sure the military is more aware of a possible bloodbath for which they shall bear full responsibility. Thus the time is right, again sort of, for some type of negotiation, pacific gesture, something, to see how that affects the inner balance of power inside chavismo. Remember, chavismo has long ceased to be about the betterment of the country, it is only about survival since 2007.
On the plus side, ANY concession to democracy made by these people, representing the least democratic elements of chavismo (and Venezuela), will have more credibility and thus may have a chance to lead somewhere. Were such a gesture made by the "pragmatists" it would have merely been taken bu the radicals as a free pas to trash them.
On the minus side the radicals want to exterminate the opposition and the military want it to submit so they can all do business happily on the military terms, Burma like.
You will forgive me if in the end the release of Simonovis and Rivas had no effect on my mood even though I am happy for them to escape, even if briefly, the Venezuela hell system of jails.