Monday, December 26, 2016

And now what?

I have been avoiding it, but it is time to think about what these last weeks mean for Venezuela. Whether we like it, political tectonics are at work and January announces itself as a very difficult month, though January may start before December 31. To try to simplify this a little bit let's start with what apparently not even tectonic forces can change.


The premise of the political crisis is that a group of gangsters have taken over the country and there is no way they are going to forgo control because they know that any improvement in governance means that they will end up in jail. It is that simple, it explains it all. It even explains why the outside world is not doing much because they know that gangsters can only be disposed off through violence. After all, the democratic West did nothing for Aleppo, why should we assume they would do something for Caracas? I am looking at you Obama, by the way.

The other factor that is not changing and makes the above one the worse is the economic crisis. The nature of this one at this point is such that only a change of personnel at Miraflores Palace can offer a faint hope of improvement. What happened in December with state sponsored confiscations, reaction looting and currency debacle should carve that in.

Thus we can discuss the options for each side.

Chavismo has a Maduro problem. His erratic behavior and his absolute incompetence keeps making the crisis worse by the day. Until now he had the legitimacy that Chavez gave him which was replaced fast by the need for a figure head to preside over the country while corrupts, gangs, Cubans and the like fought it out over controlling Venezuela. This will not do anymore.

Maduro (or the people he spoke for) have made two grievous mistakes. The first one was to pass a budget without it being voted as a law by the National Assembly. That unconstitutional fiat was bad enough, as no one would lend money without a legal process of state guarantee.  But it got worse for would be lenders, if any. The stupendous crass management of the banknote change early this month has killed any credit or authority he may have had inside chavismo. That is, deciding that the 100 banknote was illegal, then shortening the time for exchange and deposit the notes, and THEN offer a spectacular neck breaking U-turn once rioting started is the kind of political mistake that will kill the love of your most ardent supporters. While making sure that no one will lend you a penny. Not a slight petty problem for a bankrupt country.

Maduro is done, he cannot rule anymore. In any country with a semblant of normal he would have resigned by now, or asked to do so by his own party. Nobody will willingly obey him anymore. For Maduro and chavismo there are only two paths ahead, either go the massive repression way as of right now, or resign mid January to let a newly named vice president, likely a general, to deal with the last two years of the presidential term. I am going on record that by March first 2017 we will either have a new president or hundreds of new political prisoners with possibly hundreds of killed folks. Though the two are not exclusive, unfortunately....

On the opposition side the ability to resit and offer solutions seems gone to naught. The dialogue forced upon it by Obama though Thomas Shannon has proven its undoing. It should not have been so but it has. We have reached the point were the leadership of the opposition is admitting that they underestimated the resolve of the regime. Clearly, they would have benefited from reading this blog.

The reason for such paralysis is that some inside the opposition alliance will not agree on any hard measure of active resistance unless the result ensures them to be on top. If that is not possible then these people have no major problem in helping the regime survive until the time comes for them to be on top. How extensive is this inside the opposition leadership I do not know. But it is clear now that the local political Zulia group, UNT, whose national hopes have failed, will satisfy itself with its leader, Rosales, back in the streets and the new governor of Zulia from its ranks. UNT is the first clear suspect but I am afraid it is not the lone one.

The debacle of the new Electoral Board election was the main evidence for that more than duplicitous role of UNT. In the end it does not matter who is directing the Electoral Board CNE since there is no election in sight. But the point of UNT dealing behind the opposition back was painfully put forward. That was way worse than who ever is sitting at the CNE.

How can the opposition alliance MUD recover from these recent setbacks escapes me. They had a 2/3 majority seats and, well, they could do nothing about it. But that I can still understand, considering that they are dealing with gangsters. In fact I even made excuses for them through the year. What I cannot understand is that a year passed and there has been no red line left uncrossed, no Little Big Horn moment, nothing to show. And I suspect that even the little bit of international good will harvested in the first 6 months of 2016 has been wasted. With Trump election and a shifting of foreign paradigms I wonder if anyone will care much about Venezuela's fate anymore. As far as I can see it, Trump administration is not only willing to revive the Cuban embargo but will have no qualms including in it Venezuela letting Colombia and Brazil deal with the millions of refugees. Venezuela, the next refugee crisis? See if Trump cares a shit. A country full of Machados.....

So now what?


42 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:06 PM

    I agree that Obama sold out the opposition. Your criticism of Trump at this point is not warranted because we do not know what his foreign policy with Venezuela and Cuba shall be.

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    1. Trump has no policies. The world will get only what satisfies his fevered ego in a 3 am tweet. He's as corrupt as any in Chavismo. He might help Venezuela if he can personally profit from the deal. That's about it.

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    2. Yes all Trump cares about is Trump. He inherited a fortune and lost it through the years only holding on by scamming good people out of 100s of million, but mark my word by the time his presidency is over much like Chavez he will be a billionaire.

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    3. Anonymous6:46 PM

      Sorry are you watching fake news, Canadian? Because Trump is already a billionaire. Did you see his plane? What is your source for Trump lost millions? Anyway this is a red herring issue. Venezuela must solve its own problem. No one is coming to the rescue.

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  2. Anonymous12:18 AM

    Can you explain why Obama owes anything to vz? Why is responsible for your country's failures?

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    1. My thesis has been that Obama helped/encouraged Maduro to take a hard line when he established relations with the Castro family dictatorship and visited Cuba to socialize with Raúl. This evidently signaled to Raúl and Nicolás that going the full dictatorship route was a very viable option.

      As discussed in this post, Obama also sent ambassador Thomas Shannon to Caracas at key points over the last two years, and these visits seemed to harden Maduro's resolve.

      Americans have a tendency to have pet projects and beliefs about the world, which lead their elites to support all sorts of interference, bombing, invasions, and steering diplomatic support for unsavory characters. That's to be expected. But please don't expect people like Daniel and I won't bring up the subject. And definitely don't expect there won't be serious blowback when the USA does get physical.

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    2. The policy of isolating Cuba for the previous five decades had done nothing to dislodge the Castros and gave the U.S. a constant black eye. You seem to advocate contradictory things, faulting both overtures to enemies and a hard line at the same time.

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    3. Your logic has a serious flaw: Obama's policy is much WORSE. If all you can do is quote CNN and MSNBC then I'm afraid you won't change my mind. Where are you from, anyway, California?

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    4. Here's a video interview with an UNPACU leader on ntn24

      http://youtu.be/ivmn-JzYi4c

      He expresses a view very close to mine. UNPACU is originally from Oriente, where my dad's family came from. They are a bit tougher than Cubans from the west, Havana, etc. This means they are less afraid to say what they think.

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    5. Anonymous5:08 PM

      When you're by far the most powerful country in a hemisphere, failures are partially your failures as well. Something similar goes for Brazil, Argentina, et.al.

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    6. Until someone tells me what Obama should have done to stop the current state then they should shut up about him. Cuba or not the Maduro gov't is how it is. Reality is the USA flooded the oil market and kept the paper price for crude low to cut the Venezuelan gov't at the knees. But when you have the support of China and Russia you survive. The majority of the people voted for this gov't many times even though it was illegally running elections as the people watched their freedoms stripped away all in the name of a revolution. As for America pushing for this meeting none of us understand the true underlying variables at hand. Maybe the USA knows the regime planned to slaughter any rebellion and did what they had to to avoid it and the clear establishment of a dictator until variables are such that a rebellion can work. Who knows, but lets not forget also that many very rich USA hedge funds have been making billions in interest payments too and gov'ts in all countries look out for their rich supporters. Everyone has shat on Obama and the USA mean while rest of S America has been basically sold out to support the regime up to when it stopped giving free oil and rest of the world has done nothing or supported the regime. What did Daniels precious France do for sanctions to the rich raping the country or any other country. Nothing that's what, at least the USA has the ball rolling on sanctions to many who prospered and investigations to get the majority of the rest of them whether through drugs profits or false contracts or PDVSA. Fact is that the USA/Obama is the only ones that have done anything and for most part without support from anyone and backlash from the Caribbean and most of SA.

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    7. Anonymous9:39 AM

      What couldn't Cuba buy in the last 50 years on the open market? The hardships of the cuban people is from the Fidel policies.
      That the dictatorship lasted 50 years is because the cuban people did not fight against it. At least Fidel saw something he didn't like and fought against it. Turned out he was worse than Batista.

      The majority of Venezuelans who at one time voted for Chavas will soon reap what they sowed. I only have sympathy for the others. Soon will be the time for the latin countries to stand up and help Venezuela, let's see what they do.

      jak

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  3. Have to disagree strongly with the suggestion President Obama is responsible for the current state of affairs in Vzla. Maburro et al would love a Yanqui intervention, so they can claim to be fighting "imperialismo" and nationalistic insincts would cause a significant share of Venezuelans to rally to chavismo.

    As for Trump, he is a right-wing version of Chavez.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obama is partially responsible (see my comment above). However, it's possible Obama, although he was fully conscious that his policy was tossing the Cuban and Venezuelan people to the wolves, may have thought the alternative of having a civil war and terrorism in Venezuela was much worse. He may have miscalculated. Or he didn't understand the linkage between the Castro and Maduro dictatorships.

      The domino effect from Obama's policy is quite evident. Not only is Venezuela fallen to the Castro mini empire, now we see Nicaragua in the hands of the Ortega Mafia, and Bolivia is on the edge of a Morales dictatorship.

      As for Trump, he's a puzzle. And he's definitely not Chavez. Chavez was a fairly low tech messianic character, while Trump seems to be very sophisticated when it comes to finances, and has an excellent command of foreign policy at the 30,000 foot level. I'd say his problems are his impulsive use of twitter, his inability to divest his properties, and his other character flaws, such as the way his hands move towards women's butts and tendency to talk garbage.

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    2. When I saw Trump's photo op stunt at the Carrier factory, I thought of Chavez showing up at some new housing complex handing out keys to grateful new homeowners. The visual of a "savior" politician showing up to lie about what they have done and bask in adulation is straight out of the claudillo's playbook. Trump and Chavez share the form of governing by "personalismo" and taking credit when they don't deserve it.

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    3. "Trump seems to be very sophisticated when it comes to finances". Sure, that's why he's declared bankruptcy five times, cheated his investors repeatedly, taken government bailouts, and has to deal with Russian oligarchs to get any business done. Trump "has an excellent command of foreign policy at the 30,000 foot level." Really? Trump comprehends nothing that does not relate directly to the aggrandisement and profit of Trump. He's a con man, and apparently he has you under his sway. Hang onto your wallet.

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    4. Trump's choices for Secretary of State, and other positions tell me he's moving away from Obama's policies, which appear to be a disaster. I don't like his personality, but he definitely has a better view than Hillary, who was a simple minded neocon golem.

      Thus far, I'm only worried about Trump's potential movement of the USA embassy to Jerusalem. I realize the Israel lobby wields enormous power, and a USA president is supposed to behave as Israel's servant, so I'm hoping his shaking and baking to get AIPAC off his back.

      Regarding finances, I focus on them at the national level. And I'm extremely pleased with the market moves since Trump won the elections. The stronger dollar versus the euro is also helping, so I've nothing to complain about.

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    5. Fernando the markets may have rallied as they have but Trump is also the one who a month ago said the strong USA dollar is a big problem with their trade balance and once in power he will change that cutting it value a lot. Biggest comparison to Chavez I have for Trump is his many ignoring the constitution and desires to jail anyone who does not think like him.

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    6. Anonymous6:55 PM

      Trump is not president yet. How has ignored the Constitution? If you are talking about jailing people for desecrating the US flag then please google Hillary Clinton sponsored bill: Flag protection of 2005. Otherwise please give specific examples instead of throwing sound bites around. But frankly I would prefer to read specifics about Venezuela not the US.

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    7. 6:55

      Maybe someone should tell Trump that he IS NOT YET the president. That would be more accurate

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  4. The Obama administration has deliberately tried its best to avoid any problem with Venezuela before the November election. Through Thomas Shannon they have put a heavy pressure on the opposition to accept a flawed dialogue without anything safe in return. That is, when the opposition was in good position for a show of strength the Obama administration went as far as bringing in, or should I say entrapping, the Vatican to make sure the opposition would stay quiet until after the vote-

    This is now public knowledge. And mentioned several times in this blog.

    As a result Maduro is now in better shape than he was 4 months ago, the Recall Election died, the electoral solutions died. And you expect me to thank Obama? And you expect me to await Trump with glee as apparently Shannon is going to stay a few more months until Trump puts his shit together? Which I doubt he will, but that is another story.

    Venezuelan's problems are not of the US making, but fuck! The US has not helped shit!

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    1. Daniel, how does the fact the DEA, FBI, Treasury and other agencies have ongoing investigations and trials regarding domestic and international criminal activities fit? Why were these not leveraged to force the regime to relent or concede anything to the MUD in the dialoges? Doing so could have improved conditions for el pueblo while even providing some relief to the regime (avoiding jail, for a while). Instead, not using this leverage just turned up the regulator on the pressure cooker possibly creating a bigger explosion when the steam lets go.

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    2. Sorry, Lazarus.

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    3. Daniel I realize you have said it many times on this blog by all my research shows it was Maduro who went to the Vatican and the Vatican who asked for the parties to come together. The USA simply supported the Vatican in offering to assist where all sides wanted. Now if you think anything would be better had those talks not occurred your a dreamer. The result of any delay has made way more anger on a much bigger portion of the populous now then there was prior to Christmas which would have ended any starting revolt anyways. The reality is the opposition is for most part either paid to be useless or as good at being the opposition as Maduro is at running the economy. One thing to be sure of is there is an extreme amount of backroom politics going on that the USA would understand that us people not privy to CIA information would ever dream of knowing. At the end of the day the USA is looking out for the USA not the people of Venezuela and the rest of the world has not done anything close to what the USA has to cripple the regime.

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    4. Canadian

      The word here is that the US was a promoter of Vatican intervention. They had no one else to turn to as the US was already stalling at the OAS afraid to lose a vote, UNASUR is useless and Mercosur had problems of its own.

      Who, when, where, how are matters of discussion, but from here it is clear that the US was a supporter of Vatican meddling, and in a hurry which caused some of the negative results we saw.

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    5. Daniel, if the USA did promote the Vatican angle then it is because of some underlying benefit to the USA. Examole maybe they felt an uprising was coming that the regime would violently resist and mass exodis would occur from Venezuela. Causing more unstable conditions affecting them.

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  5. I beleive Maduro will only go if Castro / Cuba decides he goes. They - not Chavez - appointed him successor and they control your country and its politics. You need to start by kicking them out before concentrating on Maduro. Your people (and you) need to acknowledge that VZ is a territory of Cuba as things stand.

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    1. Venezuelans have a hard time accepting this linkage. The first time I mentioned this to a group of "high level" Venezuelans they got extremely pissed. One of them looked at me and said: "we are not Cubans, they won't do that to us". That was in the fall of 2002.

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  6. As if......f**k Vzla....its like helping a homeless person....there will never be enough money ..help..to give...its who you "they" are as a culture...why anyone believed or had a thought that the US would ride in..or give any support is beyond me...you voted for it...got what you wanted....take a big bite.
    By the way...been following for quite some time now.....nothing has changed...nothing will....its boring

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    1. I'm sure there were Americans who felt the same way when Wilson sent troops to Europe in WWI, or when the USA helped Britain in 1939. And of course there are Americans who don't like to see the USA supporting Israel. Quite a few were aghast when the USA invaded Iraq to turn them into democracy loving technocrats. And others don't like to see USA troops facing crazy North Koreans.

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  7. Excellent post. True, these gangsters are entrenched in power and will not let go because they risk Jail and/or loss of their stolen millions and properties worldwide.

    True, there is division, power struggles, and incompetence within the MUD. Ramos Allup is good, but there's a bunch of clowns around him. Capriles on his side, MCM on another, and Leopoldo, the best of all, in jail.

    The one aspect of this post I don't entirely agree with is the continued emphasis on Masburro, as the main factor behind the narco-dictatorship's failures. No, it's not just Maduro. He's just a tonto-util. There are Hundreds of Chavistas behind this. Corrupt Thieves, inept "economists", complicit gansgters. Hundreds.

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    1. Hundreds that belong to the narco-military cartel.

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    2. Charly8:10 PM

      Agree sledge, just have to read today's Caracas Chronicles issue. Until the military caste is turned into a neighborhood "guachimán" social club, this country is going nowhere.

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  8. Anonymous9:43 PM

    Trump is far more likely to act then Obama was. Obama's inept foreign policy has put the US and the world in a bad situation. Give Trump a chance. Yes he wants regime change in Cuba but that is just a matter of time.

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  9. One of the interesting news stories recently is this:
    http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/Venezuela-military-trafficking-food-as-country-10821861.php

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    1. Ross F6:01 AM

      This is a truly an appalling abuse of power over a populace practically on its knees. It's hard to believe this is happening in the 21st century.

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  10. Funny to see all of the leftist apologists try to actually say Obama ever gave a shit about the people of Venezuela. I'm not a 'Canadian Looking In' but an American living in Chile. Interestgly enough, I have lots of Venezuelan friends here. They all seem to echo this blog. Of the friends I still have in Venezuela they just say they can't leave because of family any the still have hope. Trump actually does seem to care about people as opposed to the worst president ever that I voted for (in 2008 only). Fact of the matter is that socialism is now about to be crushed. People are waking up. As soon as Canada's green energy failures become evident it is next. Then maybe I will comment on Canadian blogs as an out of touch moron called 'American Looking in at Failure'.

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    1. Jack Ristoven I find your post hard to digest but believe you think I am a socialist. I couldnt agree more with your point on Canada's green movement and have been and always will be a Conservative supporter in Canada. In fact I am a member of the Conservative party and served on federal Ministers boards. Have always been a republican supporter in USA until Bush killed the USA as in my view the worst President ever. Hated Sara Palin with a passion and see the Tea Party influence as a disaster on the Republicans. I hate most all socialism but also see certain people leading a country as worse. You have to do little research to see Trump is completely self serving as was the regime in Venezuela. Ignorance is to believe socialism is the problem in Venezuela. The regime is corrupt and used socialism as a front to create a dictatorship and rape the country. Simplifying things to socialism versus capitalism and seeing all one good and all one bad is the ignorance.

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  11. I'm not a fan at all of Obama, but i fail to see how he and his administration has anything to do with the mess that is Venezuela right now. Politicians from South America had shown a thousand times more support towards chavismo than anything done by the USA. But I still don't blame them at all, it really is a internal problem that the venezuelans will have to sort it out by themselves.

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  12. Happy New Year Daniel

    We can hope that Donald Trump and the Congress can agree on some positive policy that will help improve the situation in Venezuela.

    The Republicans in Congress all say and Trump says they support Israel.

    The regime does not. Perhaps that's a starting point.

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  13. Anonymous11:18 PM

    Wow, Obama at fault? This is ridiculous. Long time reader. Look at all your neighboring countries. UNASUR / Mercosur and friends. They have done nothing. Look at Venezuelans themselves - nothing!

    The US is probably the ONLY country actually trying and prosecuting the untouchables of Venezuela, who feel free to travel and shop in the rest of latin america. I get it, a finger in the eye of the US.

    All the trump bashing? Let's make one thing CRYSTAL clear - in the US we had BUSH give power to OBAMA, then OBAMA to TRUMP. These are folks who could not be more different, and when one walks away, another walks in PEACEFULLY, is in control of the military etc. This should be celebrated!

    Until YOU show a better system (and the Venezuelan elections / electoral authorities are crap) then let's not criticize too heavily.

    Do you want invasions? Obama is right to stay out - these issues can only be solved by a change of mindset in Venezuela. I'm serious about this. There is NO unified opposition of any sort. If the US did manage to kick Maduro out we might end up with a narco - military dictatorship, or chaos as the supposedly unified opposition all grabbed for power. There is no Nelson Mandela in Venezuela, there is no Gandi here!

    Seriously, the level of corruption alone is absolutely mind boggling!

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  14. Ross F8:09 PM

    After reading this:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/30/world/americas/venezuela-violence.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=image&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

    and the comments of Anonymous above I continue to be amazed at the complacency of the Venezuelan people as their country falls apart. I've watched this blog for a number of years since making the acquaintance of one of its minority middle class citizens. Comments about the apparent fact that Venezuelans are too "laid back" for their own good have been made on this blog repeatedly so perhaps the situation that we see now shouldn't be so surprising.

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