Let's dispatch first the bio of Cilia Flores, belated wife of Nicolas Maduro (Nicolae? Really?). She is a hack lawyer who managed to be in Chavez team after his failed 1992 bloody coup. From then on honors would fall on her. She is reputedly the one that brought Nicolas to Chavez attention. When this one inherited the throne, he finally married her (I have kept an eye on the power couple rise on this blog since 2008 at least). What has been noteworthy about Cilia Flores is her habit to place her relatives in all sorts of bureaucratic positions, almost two dozen we know of, not counting collateral appointments we do not know they are linked tot he clan. Nepotism is thy middle name.
Let's dispatch what could be directly compared to Elena. Not much really. While Elena went as far as inventing for herself PhD, Cilia is quite happy being the real power behind
The real point of this post, the real comparison I want to make, is between the immobility we could see in Romania before the Ceausescus downfall and the one we see today in Venezuela, auguring either a downfall or a dramatic change. And the apparent blindness of the respective leaderships.
In 1989 Romania was finally paying off its foreign debt at great suffering for the population. The deprivations included an allowance of meager light bulbs to save energy, and you's better not have many turned on. TV was a single channel a very few hours a day. And of course food shortages and medicine scarcity were the norm. That long winter of discontent erupted suddenly in an uncontrolled mass riot that lead promptly into the fake trial and quick execution of the Ceausescus late December 1989.
Times are different of course and Maduro/Florescu are not going to meet such fate. For them some golden exile somewhere, at worse a couple of years of jail as the price to be paid to avoid civil war, of going out peacefully. General corruption here and abroad, narco blackmailing everywhere, have done their job. Bringing them down with a crash is not good for a lot of people. The Ceausescus did not have such "friends" and safeguards.
However what is comparable is the extraordinary immobility of the regime today, avoiding any measure to get the economy running again while sacrificing a lot to service foreign state debt (service only, Nicolae at least was paying it). For the past two years the Maduro nominally presided regime has done nothing. Well, nothing that would see as an economic measure that could affect its electoral base. That the consequences of such policies are eroding it anyway does not seem to register much except in increasing repression. And talks of default have been banned, attacking any serious economist that suggests that default would be better for the people than what the regime is doing at keeping up the debt.
We may not be at the stage of one dim light bulb a home but we are heading that way. After all the frequent power outages make multiplicity of light bulbs irrelevant. What is more dramatic is that the regime itself takes credit as positive that there is still a couple of months of food in stock! Nobody even talks much about lack of medicine since food lines are by themselves already too time consuming, at least for those who live off the basic staples of Venezuelan diet.
Frustration in the populace grow and last Friday we had the first major rioting/looting reported (minor ones, and threats for bigger ones are now routine). Sure enough the Bolivar State governor said after the fact that there is no hunger and that the San Felix looting was for political interests. Just as chavismo blames all of its failures on alien stuff.
So did Nicolae blame the Timisoara revolt on foreign agents.