Monday, July 23, 2018

What Josep Borrel really meant : a lost country

Spain had what is normal in a parliamentary system: there was a motion vote that ousted the sitting Mariano Rajoy which automatically replaced him with the "leader" of the opposition, Pedro Sanchez.  This one did not reach premiership after last elections since, well, he barely floated around a quater of the vote. But Spain is a country of instituions and Sanchez heads a ministry that is held in place in large part by the good will of very the leftist PODEMOS who is a big, bought, friend of chavismo.
The door opened again.
Borrel and Chavez son in law.

We need to understand this to interpret, in part only, the recent words of Josep Borrel, the new foreign office holder. He said during a meeting with Venezuela's foreign minister, the creep that got there because he married a Chavez daughter, that Spain will not spearhead sanctions against Venezuela anymore and that dialogue should be renewed [english].  Some in Venezuela interpret this as a success, some as a betrayal, both are wrong.

Let's start with the obvious: spearhead sanctions does not mean Spain will not vote for new sanctions, it only means that Spain will follow the lead on that from other European countries. If, say, France wants new sanctions, Spain will go along the decision of the EU council.  In practical term for the new social democrat (and provisional) government of Spain Venezuela's regime remains as abhorrent as it has always been, except that now with all the pressing problems faced by Sanchez this one does not want to confront PODEMOS on the Venezuelan issue. That will bring no credit or advantage to neither side, even though the internal collapse of the outgoing Partido Popular makes it difficult for them to benefit from further Venezuela posturing. The last one with a firm posture on Venezuela Ciudadanos of Pablo Rivera but to little good for the time being.

But another reason why Spain is softly backpedaling (along the EU?) is that they see no point in putting pressure on the regime right now. Why? Because the Venezuelan opposition has reached such levels of incompetence that they see no way to get rid of chavismo/madurismo. If there was such a way, to whom give the new government? And that is the real sad fact, a continuing situation, exposed by what happens in Nicaragua and the latest idiocies of the opposition.

Even though no one wants to call it by its name, Nicaragua is an open insurrection against a tyranny where people are fighting all over the country. Per capita in Nicaragua there are by now about 4 times more deaths than during the Venezuelan protests of last year. That is right, there were deaths in Venezuela but they mostly came from Caracas and a few here and there. In Nicaragua Managua puts only its share. In Venezuela large swath of the country, even if polls said people had enough of Maduro, remained basically quiet allowing the regime to focus its repression on Caracas, Valencia and Maracaibo. Paramilitary forces were enough for other areas.

The Venezuelan opposition is turning into a burlesque show.  Early in July AD announced that it was leaving the electoral umbrella opposition MUD. And last week, lo and behold, the "leadership" of the MUD was gathering again to try to revive its platform. Even renegade Henri Falcon, the sore loser of May fraudulent election, was invited. But many that count, those that have perhaps a small but real following like Andres Velazquez, Antonio Ledezma or Maria Corina Machado were not invited (not that they have much to show from their actions).

Aveledo, ex secretary of the MUD (and reappointed?) has a clear understanding view of the MUD problems: everyone wants to dress up with the tiger's skin even though that one is alive and well. As such even a revived MUD will fail as bad as the old one failed besides the success of December 2015 elections.  What was the worse in the failure of the MUD is difficult to say. Was that the internal rivalries of the would be presidents Capriles, Lopez, Ramos Allup, Rosales? Was it that a large chunck is more than willing to settle some agreement with the regime and damned be democracy, like Henri Falcon or even Rosales? Is it because the charisma of Machado and Ledezma from out side are making impossible to implement and potential "solution" advanced by the MUD? Is it possible that the bitterness of having been abandoned by the MUD in defending their electoral victories make people like  Velazquez or Guanipa unable to overcome their skepticism?

The fact of the matter is that the mess in the opposition leadership coupled to the lack of political protests are off-putting for the potential help from outside, which in the best of cases would be a helping hand, not a solution.  Let's look at the current and very numerous protests: they are all about wage increase, food items and the like. The MUD reports then but does not offer any constructive measure that could coalesce them into a renewed political movement. In fact, in a country that is nearly on the verge of complete stop due to hyperinflation the Frente Amplio, that still born MUD appendix, has no better idea but to begin to "debate" whether we should go to a general strike or some form of milder suspension of activities. Right, that is what needs to be debated today...

The fact of the matter is that the bulk of the 2017 opposition is tired. We put the hours and hours of marches and protests under sun and rain. We got gassed. We put the body count. While the bulk of the working classes, upset with Maduro and already getting used to the food system CLAP supported us, at best, from the lips out, when not complaining that protest should be better organized so that they could circulate better when they went to work since in all fairness most of them could not afford to lose a day of work. Now hyperinflation has made it useless to work while public transport is disappearing, yielding to platform trucks that carry open air folks like cattle. Sure they did not see it coming. They never saw anything coming, believing until the end that mere protests were enough to force Chavez or Maduro to fix things that they had no intention or ability to do. It has been 20 years and they still think that a wage increase, a few price control is all that it takes. Well, now, with ALL power in hand the regime does not care much for these protests and cynically only increases the wages of the military, its only real support.

The opposition of 2017 is forgetting about the MUD, and is starting to forget about Machado et al.  We are now thinking about ways to leave the country or ways to live off what our exiled relatives can spare for us through cash transfers.  In my case, writing this blog has become exhausting and depressing, not even good enough as an outlet. I spent my time getting after years of battle to put my S.O. on my French health insurance because I needed to overcome the fact that he was not French. But now he has just been accepted, without considering pre-conditions. Yes, the French health system is infinitely more humane and cheaper than the overblown over expensive and near inhumane US system.  But I digress.

Our debate now is how long we will be able to survive on my savings in Venezuela. When this is not possible or living in France is as costly as living in Venezuela then we would rather be in the poverty level in France than discarded middle class in Venezuela. The time would have come to leave, not by choice but by outright necessity.

So yes, Borrel is right, Venezuela is now a problem ONLY for its destabilizing emigration and its drug trafficking. Its people are now beyond help and redemption. Are they not?

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Just saying....

So AD is leaving the opposition coalition MUD.

On June 15 I was writing the following:

In this group [willing to negotiate with the regime] we have AD and the rest. AD would be stricter in its negotiations with the regime but since it has lost tremendous credibility after the errors of its leader Ramos Allup last October, it is probably facing serious doubts inside and seems paralyzed. The rest goes from nearly dead UNT to Falcon's failed bid (could it have been otherwise? Geez...). The problem with these remnants is that they actually think that they represent a large chunk of the opposition. They do not. Only AD still has support [a relative term, it means more support than the others but not necessarily a lot of it].

Thus readers of this blog should not be surprised about that rupture. At least since March 2017. Just saying...

What does this mean?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A way out for Venezuela: the post Duque election effect

The time has come to discuss what could be done about the Venezuelan narko kleptokracy. And the election of Ivan Duque in Colombia today does affect the possible outcomes.

At the Colombian border, with the symbolic barrier, from left to right: ex president Pastrana,
with hat; ex president Uribe, hat in hand;  Marta Lucia Ramirez, the new vice president of
Colombia and on the Venezuelan side Maria Corina Machado.  The A+ list
of the democratic Latin American right. Piñera of Chile is in thought on that picture. May 14.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

A way out for Venezuela: a peaceful way out for a dictatorship?

Speculating how this nightmare will end is just that, speculation. The more likely exit will be a surprise, a never seen move.  Remember that this is XXI century socialism turned into XXI century dictatorship in spite of Twitter, Facebook and what not. It will be followed by either a XXI century totalitarian state, a civil war (Syria?) or XXI century new democracy (Tunisia?).

That XXI adjective is more relevant than what you think.

Friday, June 15, 2018

A way out for Venezuela: it will not be coming from the opposition

At least not as it stands right now.

The disarray of the opposition is simply breathtaking.  And if you read Twitter varied time lines, you will find out that some inside the opposition spend time attacking each other in more virulent ways than they ever attacked chavismo. Though I suspect that chavismo having long stopped reading their own incendiary Twitter replies these oppo radicals had to turn their anger elsewhere. But I digress.

Two oppositions

Sunday, June 10, 2018

A way out for Venezuela: the regime options

What can the regime do at this point?

Since its sole wish is to remain in power to avoid jail, they have clear objectives. Unfortunately for them the strategy to reach them has to change almost daily as events seem to escape any sort of control.  Thus the regime sticks to three main lines and lets circumstances dictate adjustments.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

A way out for Venezuela: current conditions

The OAS resolution of yesterday is important on one point: the Venezuelan dictatorship of Maduro is finally named by its name. Only three countries out of 3 out 35 think that Venezuela is still a presentable regime.  Thus it is time to act. But how?