March 30th 2017, first day of Venezuelan dictatorship
Yesterday the high court of Venezuela, TSJ, ruled that it will perform itself the duties of the National Assembly. In other words it decided that the Assembly elected in December 2015 had lost its ability to discuss laws and it would be now the TSJ who would decide new laws, of name those who would decide, namely the executive power. If it were a democracy the TSJ could have, for example, decided to call for new elections (even if not contemplated in the constitution). But no. The Assembly is simply voided and there will be no election whatsoever for the time being.
This is a dictatorship and the next day the whole civilized world echoed it as such, going to the point of calling this a self-coup, a Madurazo in comparison tot he Fujimorazo in Peru two decades ago.
Now, for all practical purposes Venezuela has been a dictatorship since at least early 2013. Yesterday we only attended the lifting of the last fig leaf left. Now it is all in the open.
So what is this dictatorship? To begin with, in the era of Internet and globalization a dictatorship cannot look anymore like its old cliches. Even China threads lightly on many things. Only North Korea and Cuba still cling to the old communist totalitarian forms. So let's just list some differences, before and today.
There was heavy censorship. few newspapers allowed. Samizdata people were hunted down.
In the age of Twitter and Facebook and it being impossible to stop as administration relies too much on Internet, new solutions had to be invented. First newspapers have been reduced to a minimum, literally. Editions are small because of the chronic lack of printing paper. The paper itself is not necessarily attacked, and the attacks are directed to journalists to create self censorship. These attacks also serve to create self censorship in electronic media. Finally air wave media is reduced through spurious legal artifacts, AND drop in advertisement revenue as companies who do so risk to be aimed at for sanctions.
As such Internet can remain open since a large chunk of the country has no access to it. However, notable twitterers have been jailed, so it is coming there.
Military at every street corner in somber uniforms.
There is no need for military as it used to be. Now the regime has created militias of different types, the most infamous ones are the "colectivos". These have grown out of massive delinquency that has been promoted directly by the state through its lax approach to justice on common criminality. This si all well documented. In addition the drug distribution center that Venezuela has become together with the economic crisis has created a fertile ground for crime to develop, associated with the viciousness seen in drug crimes.
With terror in people's spirits for all practical purpose there is a black out after 8 PM in cities. And in day time too many must look for food to be able to think about protesting. Hence less the need of military. Though the need of fuckingly scary uniforms for the troops charged of repression has been worked on. Some cliches do not die.
Justice at the service of the regime.
In old dictatorships the judicial system was less complex than today where globalization of the economy and human rights have created all sorts of new "crimes". Chavismo has kept this, of course, the indispensable tool for control. But there are some modifications. First it is impossible to have a non corrupt trial. Money one way or the other appears toi bribe some official. Even battles against neighbors or among condominium services cannot be fair anymore.
What the regime has been blatant about is to control the high court of the country. If you sue the state YOU WILL ALWAYS LOSE. In fact it has been years that the state has lost a ruling. And to add insult to injury, it has also been years since we even had a dissenting opinion at the TSJ.
The result of this is very simple: as long as you mind your own business you may carry along for a while but woe is you when you dare to cross the path of a regime officer or group. TO the point that people simply do not even report petty crime perpetrated against them. Whatever for?