The annulation of the Amnesty Law was so predictable that I did not bother with a post. Twitter was enough. However, what is worth a post is a meditation on how long a kleptocracy cum drug trafficking regime can hold it together.
The first thing we must consider is that by now the regime makes no pretense whatsoever. Under Chavez, at least some minimal delay was held, when possible. Some lengthy presidential cadena "predicted" what a wished for action of other "powers of the state" should happen, and a few days later, voilá! X got to jail, Y was expelled, Z was annulled. Now progress has been made: Maduro asks for an opinion and within a couple of days the high court, TSJ, serves notice. Unanimously of course.
There is no pretense whatsoever, not even the occasional dissent vote in the bench. You know, they could take turns to say a nay out of 32 justices. Rulings are written even sloppier than they used to be. In fact we even wonder if the court takes the time to read the annulled law. I, for one, think that as soon as a given article is voted at the Assembly, some chavista sends it to the court to prepare the annulment before the final law is even voted. How else could the TSJ beat any speed ruling record observed in any democracy, or even dictatorship for all that I know?
It is not only the TSJ that is blunt about paying no attention to the Assembly or the opposition wishes. The illegal electoral board, CNE, is writing new rules as it goes to stop any electoral initiative from the opposition. That is, the Chavez regime who went from plebiscite to plebiscite is now in the no-election mode. See, Chavez made victory credible (albeit known cheating). Today everyone knows, even chavistas, that neither Maduro nor Cabello could get elected consejo comunal dog catcher.
There are two ways to understand what is going on. Of course, what I repeat all the time, the driving force here is that the regime cannot allow to hand in power to someone else because that would mean that scores of chavistas would soon find their way to jail. Thugs and criminals and narco-traffickers are not known to surrender peacefully to popular will, no matter how lopsided that one is.
Thus the question: is this a show of strength or a show of weakness?
The weakness is easy to demonstrate. The regime has its own polls, even if it refuses to acknowledge the real life poll of December 6 2015. Popular support is fading so fast that open air meetings are rarer, least someone would take a picture of the real attendance (not long until a drone is flown over a chavista real-rally?). Thus the regime is in survival mode, a mode where chutzpah is significantly enhanced along irresponsibility and all sorts of crazy. Yes, the regime is scared, but as in cornered dog scared, biting right and left.
But the show of strength is also easy to understand. This is a regime that is in it for the long run. It is a regime that has made peace with brute force. Already legal and psychological brute force is employed from holding political prisoners to annulling even a weather report voted at the Assembly. Physical force is not as well set yet but the training has been done as we can see from how 2014 protests were repressed, but also now how food riots are repressed these days.
In short, it is a regime that knows it has the weapons and that is the holder of its own truth, a truth of having the financial power to ensure the survival of a small elite which has robbed enough for it. Golden exile is not an option for many of them anymore, but they have stashed enough to pay all the mercenaries they will need to pay to stay in Venezuela and enjoy the riches of life even though the people that placed them into office are starving and dying of unspeakable diseases that normal countries have eradicated. In short, they have become such criminals that they are beyond good and evil, they are amoral, pitiless.
Which brings us to the longevity of such regimes. Considering the continuous degradation of the standard of living, the equilibrium point is when Catia and Petare will get so hungry that they are the ones that will be starting the opposition marches instead of Prados del Este. The date? I do not know, they are not hungry enough yet, not enough of their children have died yet. But the time will come, probably sooner than expected. After all, let's not forget that no matter how military like Padrino, the defense minister, are associated to the corruption of the regime, when they give the order to shoot to the troop this one may not follow: the troop will know why the people are protesting because, well, it is their parents and brothers, and cousins...
I will remind the patient reader that there are historical precedents where the troop refused to follow generals orders, and that was that. I see no reason for Venezuela to be any different, the more so that the troop did not enjoy the booty that their generals grabbed.