[Updated] I have been receiving phone calls with all sorts of concerns, people afraid that Chavez is preparing some undercover action, stirring deliberately the current protest for some evil purpose. Maybe, but it seems that the genie is escaping the bottle.
With the second closing of RCTV Chavez has started a movement of unexpected intensity, and one it does not seem to be able to control, one for which his only answer is repression, something which at this stage is highly counterproductive. This is not a triumphant chavismo, it is a cornered one, afraid, scared and ready for useless violence. You know, like the rabid dog of old times.... Though rabies might also be making a come back in Venezuela along other infectious diseases that the Chavez health care system fails to counter. But I digress...
The fact of the matter is that chavismo once again lighted the fuse that could mark its undoing, just as it lighted it in 2007 to lose the December vote on the constitutional reform. This time the stakes are higher: the National Assembly vote of September. He starts with a serious handicap. In 2007 he was fresh from his reelection large victory and yet he lost the vote one year later. Now he starts with high inflation, increasing unemployment, less money to buy votes, a brutal devaluation which inflationary effects will be felt before September, lower poll number, a recession that is one the verge of becoming a depression once we consider the electric power crisis. Just for a short list of ills.
And then he decides to close RCTV, on cable only, out of sheer ego! Out of a vendetta against Marcel Granier!
As a result students are again in the streets, but this time around in many major cities of Venezuela at the same time! In 2007 it started in Caracas ad slowly propagated. His international image has been hit much worse than in 2007 when he still managed a fat check book. Now even the French are bitching at Chavez. They have lost many contracts to very inferior competitors due to bribe schemes (I have been told by very reliable sources that shall remain nameless). And Chavez takes away the EXITO retail chain! Without any real reason besides disposing of space for his latest distribution scheme of COMERSO which is doomed to fail just as Mercal and PDVAL did. It is indeed easier to steal what is already built than to create a brand new structure, a normal reasoning in a government of thugs.
All of the current mood is quite well summarized in today's Washington Post editorial.
But it is on the mundane we best see the disarray of chavismo and its inability to comprehend what is going on.
Yesterday for example I was mentioning the words of Merida 's governor, an irrelevant rambling betraying his incapacity to understand, at coping with the situation besides gun shots, tear gas and murder.
Or we can look at the pathetic display of the chavista "student" movement leadership which after three years is still only able to present the same few characters like Robert Serra, long graduated, ensconced in some cushy government or governmental associated sinecure. Goicochea and his 2007 combo are not seen in the streets, or are not at the front anyway, having made good with their gifts at getting real political jobs. It is not that there are no students that are chavista, it is that either they are not that good at leadership, or that chavismo at all level suffers already that terminal diseases of political movements, not to let new blood emerge.
Another good example of the chavismo brain washing that blocks them from adapting to new realities can be found in yesterday VTV visit who forced the state propaganda machinery to give them a few minutes of air time. When they left a near hysterical VTV journalist was asking them if they were going to go to Globovision to demand the same thing! I could not believe her! You can hear part of her insistence at around 35seconds of the video that accompanies the preceding link.
Truly the poor woman does not watch Globovion ever, which is routinely complaining that government officials refuse to visit their talk shows. Had she watched Globovision she would know that the student leaders visit quite often and need not put any pressure to have their existence acknowledged. I could keep going giving more examples of the fairness of Globovision compared to the propaganda of VTV, but I just need to mention Chavez cadena that repair any "imbalance" that any network would have. No, the issue here is that the VTV journalist not only espouses the official line as her job requires, but she actually believes it in her heart, bait, hook and sink. She has lost the man attribute of any serious journalist: a minimum of critical and inquisitive spirit. As such she was shocked at the VTV visit and had to express that unseeingly aggressive questioning you can see on the video.
But the best example that chavismo is out of base on this one comes from Chavez himself, condemning the twittering typists of terrorism (hoping not to date myself to much with this paraphrasing, a bonus point for whomever detects it first.). In a display of how archaic is his thought process he could not hide his distrust for new technologies that allow people to escape from his reactionary thought-orders. Thus, as his good Iranian friends, he called twitter a terrorist weapon. Indeed, though twitter yesterday the students showed him how to escape his goons and reach the doors of VTV in a great political stunt. But Chavez ridicule does not stop some of his acolytes who know better to try to invade the twitter world. Are they going to be terrorists too?
I reread this piece and I realized that there was something missing to make my point clearer, to tie up better the whole post.
I am not ruling out that Chavez indeed took the crazy step of shutting down RCTV to bring the students back in the streets and create a crisis that would justify some harsh reaction. After all, he has not been afraid, and admitted to create the 2002 crisis, to ruin PDVSA as long as any cash it got was sent his way for discretionary spending. Once you have played with the future of a whole nation, what are a few cadavers along the way?
The mental state of Chavez today is comparable to the one of Hitler in the movie "The Fall", a guy that is not afraid to bring whatever havoc it takes to remain "in control" even as control is escaping his hands. As a skilled politician with enabling doctors/pushers he can put a front; but that is what is going on, a bunker mentality that is setting up at Miraflores Palace. Naming Elias Jaua as vice President, a radical that refuses to discuss with the "enemy", of proven ability to destroy the opponent by ruining them first and threatening them if needed, proves that point.
That Chavez succeeds, that he controls the situation to reach only the necessary violence for the excuse he seeks is possible, but I doubt it. Mad rabid dogs may look as if they have a strategy, but the end is always the same. The only difference is the body count.