It seems that creating an unjustified "state of emergency" at the border with Colombia has accelerated talk of regime "change". We have Miguel, or a nice article at the FT (subscription) by Daniel Lansberg or a dire "self-coup" from Oppenheimer at the Miami Herald. Readers of this blog should not be surprised as I have expressed often my doubts at the elections on December 6 would be actually held, or when describing how the country was collapsing steadily.
Rather than going into the macro thing covered extensively elsewhere, let me go first into the micro stuff.
The fact of the matter is that shelves of non controlled products at grocery stores are getting empty. As for the controlled stuff when it arrives, it is in insufficient quantities, immediately sold, often among some trouble and even looting outside of Caracas as the situation there is much worse. But this you already knew, it's just that it's getting worse by the day.
But scarcity of food and medicine is just the apparent face. The reality is much worse as it is more and more difficult to produce food and medicine. It is not that raw materials are lesser and lesser amounts, it is that working with the limited amounts available is increasingly difficult. Not only spare parts deficiency stop production lines frequently, in addition to raw material erratic deliveries, but insecurity in transport and distribution make the few still producing reluctant to ship far away or to risky areas.
And that is not all. To the above problems you must add a renewed corruption drive where public "servants" now are asking straight to your face cash to perform the duties that they are required to perform by law. Not only inspectors now are blunt about asking you for money or they will close your facility on some dumb excuse that would carry at worst a small fine, but requesting permits for whatever has become an ordeal.
I am not going to give you references for the above: this all is my personal day to day experience. We are helpless in front of it all. There is nowhere to go for redress of any abuse, of any black market activity.
As expected this is having a deleterious effect on the political climate, explaining why the regime is grasping at any excuse to blame others for its failures. It was the "economic war" then it was the irridente Esequibo, today it is Colombia unable to control its borders and promoting paramilitaries even though we ALL KNOW that the huge contraband at the border can only happen because of the connivance or actual help from the Venezuelan military. Tomorrow? It will get worse as these political shows have a light traction, at best, for the regime's political aims. Polls this week seem to credit that if fair elections were held the opposition is above 20% the regime and up and up. Difficult to see how the regime could bridge the gap by December 6. Short of miraculously ending all food and medicine lines I do not see how the regime can reduce the spread to less than 10%, the maximum amount that it can compensate through electoral cheating.
This being said it is quite clear that the Tachira "emergency" and the abuses perpetrated against defenseless Colombian migrants are a clear step in the strategy to falsify the election. The hope is that cheap nationalism will be enough to reverse the regime's fortunes, or otherwise justify a national "emergency" that will allow a postponement of elections in the hope of better electoral days.
This all we can take as "fact". What is more worrisome is that the regime in full economic debacle IS NOT taking ANY MEASURE. ANY. Unless arresting a few assholes with an extra 10 pounds of corn flour or a few gallons of gas on their bike to Colombia count as an economic measure in a country with maybe 30 million folks. Why? Are we that broke that we cannot even buy basic staples overseas? Is the regime so politically helpless that we cannot even increase the price of gas to a dime a gallon? Are divisions and/or incompetence so entrenched in the regime that they cannot come up with or decide on a single measure to deal with the situation? Measures exist, simple, like a devaluation from 6.3 to 100 which, believe it or not, would have more beneficial effects on inflation than negative ones.
Or is it that the regime is so convinced of its own demise that it is playing the burnt earth card?
Which bring us to the title. My own opinion is that it is a distinct possibility that the regime will not hold until December 6. Either Maduro will be gone, or the regime will have morphed into your regular explicit proto-totalitarian dictatorship. Even if measures are taken TODAY they cannot have much effect by December 6. Even if the regime brings in a whole bunch of imports they are not here yet, they would be insufficient, they will not be spread efficiently and at best could only reach the hard core chavismo.
It is just too late to save the regime in December 6, even if electoral cheating is applied bluntly irregardless of world observation. It would be worse than when Ahmadinejad was fraudulently elected against Mousavi.
Thus the possibility of regime "change", from a Maduro resignation to a coup and bloody repression is becoming quite distinct. Whichever it is one thing is certain: it will not go away peacefully.