Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chavismo is in a much worse shape than what you thought

Every media is abuzz with the news that Chavez is not cured after all.  The "Estoy cura'o" will join the long list of famous last words.
Capriles checking Miranda beaches

And yet you would be hard pressed to find careful analysis around, only people  too happy to quote and re-quote a few cable dispatches stating that Chavez still counts on this and that (mainly big bucks stashed away for vote buying).  Well, I do not agree: Chavez and chavismo woke this morning in a much worse situation that the mere idea of renewed cancer cannot explain alone.

To understand what I mean we need first to go back to the first semester of 2011 and what was chavismo strategy then, until one day Chavez disappeared in Cuba for weeks.

Chavismo was coming fresh from a coup d'etat it got away with.  The electoral victory of the opposition in September 2010 still gave a huge majority to chavismo in parliamentary even though not the 2/3 so much desired.  The coup was done in two stages.  Through obscene gerrymandering the majority was denied to the opposition.  And then , when the 2/3 majority failed to materialize the regime used the lame duck assembly to vote an enabling law that gave Chavez full powers on many aspects of Venezuelan policies under the excuse of a flood emergency late 2010.  This enabling law, for example, will be used in a few weeks form now to decree a new labor law which will kill trade unions, will allow the state to name soviets in business, will make it nearly impossible to fire anyone, etc, etc...  Matters that are not related at all with the emergency of 2010.

However gutting the National Assembly of its legislative and control power was not enough in the neo-totalitarian scheme of chavismo.  There are still the governors and mayors of the opposition who may control a meager part of the nation's money but still enough to promote themselves politically.  The example came home to roost when an efficient governor, Capriles, won stunningly the opposition primary two weeks ago.  Although in the first half of 2011 it was still not possible to preview that outcome, it was already clear to see that the three main contenders for the opposition unity candidate were two governors and one mayor.  Thus the strategy of Chavez reelection in 2012 had to include a way to avoid the opposition to gain more statehouses and town-halls, or at least make them irrelevant such as the National Assembly has become.

We may never know what was exactly planned then but the disease of Chavez in June 2011 paralyzed the actions of the regime.  The renewal of the disease yesterday makes look chavismo like the deer in the headlights.  Well, maybe I am too optimistic but bear with me a tad longer.

A probable strategy, which explained the strange electoral schedule of presidential election in October, governors in December and mayors in April 2013, was to make them irrelevant.  People like Milagros Socorro have already pointed out that way and I have concurred and added some.  Since governor elections could not be avoided, Chavez would be reelected first, then he would call for a constitutional reform referendum to void mayors offices, and while this took place he would still hold governors election hoping with a post victory coattail to sweep into office as many chavista governors as possible.  Even if the opposition were to manage to retain its states and add a couple of them to it, soon the replacing structure of the mayoral district, appointed or nearly appointed by the central government, would make them irrelevant while still enough of a fig leave for democracy appearance.  Soon a way to deal with them once and for all would be found.

It is quite possible that in the first half of 2011 chavismo suspected that Chavez would run into problems.  It is also possible that they had doubts on whether they would have enough money in reserve for the campaign.  That is why the presidential election was advanced instead of pushing to 2013 the governor election which would have made more sense if you really wanted to separate the elections on "technical grounds".  It was also assumed by chavismo that the opposition would never me able to manage its goal of unique candidate and thus any division would allow Chavez to bag the election by June 2012 so in the last month he could take it easier if need arise, planning the next moves and maybe even, if polls were right, include a referendum in the presidential election..

Of course, I have no way to know whether that was the plan but we can be pretty sure that the calculations and strategy were along those lines.  And they could have worked except that Chavez got sick in June and that is when problems started for chavismo.

When a megalomaniac narcissistic gets sick all stops for him, and also for his entourage.  While chavismo was wondering whether Chavez would be alive for the campaign, monitoring any detail of his puffiness, the opposition kept plodding along.  Chavismo stopped any primary attempt, any candidate appointment, anything in preparation for October 2012 and beyond except starting to pour money into the streets, the only thing that was already ready for their strategy.  We even heard idiots inside chavismo saying dead serious that governorship candidates would be announced AFTER October 7, not even two months before their election!!!  Fortunately for chavismo even a sick Chavez is smarter than them and he already announced a  few appointments, to try to show that he is in charge even though at the price of establishing for the doubter that the PSUV had lost any interest in democratic procedure.

And the opposition kept going on.  It set its deadline.  It organized the primaries.  It accepted its candidates. A campaign took place with debates, a novelty.  A program was established and signed by the major contenders.  The elections were held.  There was a fabulous turnout.  The winner was clearly established and received the immediate support of the other guys.  And even the few problems that appeared ended up reinforcing the Unidad positions in that they protected the privacy of the people and implied that debate was allowed.

In 7 months the opposition had build a credible challenge and organized a formidable campaign team of motivated people, all of them candidates with their own campaign team tested during the primaries, at all levels.  In other words, the opposition had its candidates, a program, and a an electoral machinery.  Only money is lacking but for the type of door to door campaign that will be required money is not as crucial as for Chavez who will not be able to do many public appearance for his campaign.

In 7 months chavismo did nothing, watched its navel, or Chavez navel for that matter.  We have no evidence whether they had a "plan B", so strongly they felt about themselves after the perpetrated coup in 2010.

Still, it was not necessarily so bad.  After all whatever plan they had was centered around Chavez campaign performance.  But now not only they do not know whether Chavez will be able to perform as he should to save their seats, but they are starting to have serious doubts as to whether Chavez will be around for the whole campaign.  Not to mention of the psychological effect of a Chavez that lied to them by telling them he was cured when he was not.  Already tonight one of my informers trying to set up some "special favor" for some permit (you cannot help it anymore if you do not want to have to close your business)  told me that her contact had suddenly doubled the asking price.  And that the deal should be done within the next two months.

This way to Havanna
At this point it is simply impossible for chavismo to organize a primary election.  Not that Chavez would allow it anyway, and even less his Cuban masters who are getting tired of all that electoral waste of time (look at the renewed repression in Cuba as soon as Dilma Roussef, to her eternal shame, left Havana).  And would a quick primary campaign help anyway?  After what the country witnessed with the opposition there is simply no time, nor conviction, to organize something remotely comparable within chavismo.  The 7 months spent by chavismo in making fun of the opposition instead of minding their own business are suddenly cashing at the door (the tortoise and the hare anyone?).

It is thus my opinion that chavismo is in much deeper disarray as you may see from the surface.  In the next two months they need to decide whether Chavez will campaign or not.  If not, does that mean someone can campaign for him?  If not, does that mean they need to replace him?  If they replace him what will they do about governor and mayoral candidates now that the Chavez coattails are not guaranteed anymore? etc, etc, etc............

And if to these questions you add that the Cubans are nervous about their main source of revenue, that the corrupt narco generals know that without Chavez they will end up in jail, that many high ranking in the regime will find their way to jail or to exile if they lose office, etc, etc, etc....

....then you have a highly explosive mix that will be fueled by new laws that will restrict even more the economy and maybe induce a recession where a boomlet was expected for October.  

Hard days ahead, brace yourself!


  1. Great analysis, although the word great may not be appropriate in the current context. However, great is also to think that good old Fidel, at the end of his days is finding his life efforts go to waste with the demise of his pupil. Whoever replaces Chavez will not be so pliable and the Venezuelan elector even less.

  2. Wonderful analysis, Daniel. I do agree that Chavismo is not an unified front. Beside the unconditional support for Chavez and the desire to keep power, there's nothing else that makes them go along. There are different factions fighting for control: The true believers (Frente Francisco de Miranda), the Bolivarquia, the Military top ranks (like the russian Silovikis), the moderates (willing to deal with the MUD, but I don't think they're many of them), the apparatchiks (career politicians inside PSUV and minor parties) and of course, the Cubans. Don't forget that the Chinese and the Russians will have also a say, but in a more indirect way.

    I wonder how true normal, honest, humble Chavistas feel. They were lied to. We all were lied to. But they trust the man without any doubt. After the success of the Primary and now this, the base should feel deceived. They will probably blame Izarra and the other insiders. But this could be a major test to their support.

    Glad that the MUD is doing the good work (the Tortoise and the Hare reference is spot on), but they must be prepared to all scenarios, like a possible delay of the election to December. I think that Tibi will do so if she's asked to. After the primary and the "cuadernos" fiasco, she's in a battle to keep her job and knows she could be replaced with Socorro Hernandez. Tough times ahead.

    1. Of course there are plenty of scenarios to consider but the post was already long enough as it is....

      However contrary to chavismo I think the Unidad has been operating with plan B. For example they always said that getting 1.5 million votes would be really great even when they probably knew already that they would cross the 2 million marks (pollsters might not publish their data but they certainly would tell Guillermo Aveledo stuff).

    2. MUD is operating pretty well, given the cirsunstances. The work of Ramon Guillermo and until recently, the primary commision headed by Teresa Albanes, shows they have taken the job seriously and acting in an organized and efficient way. Long difference from the days of the Coordinadora.

  3. Wow, you've gone from "nothing serious will be going on until Chavez changes his vice-president. Only when that happens..." to "the sky is falling" in only 36 hours. :-)

    1. And why do you think he came back from Cuba? Probably to prepare himself for a new vice. Though he probably will not name it quite yet, what he certainly did was to tie up stuff with some in the military.

  4. Your description of 2010 sounds like an Ayn Rand novel

  5. Daniel, I don't know if you ever read the UCV sociologist Javier Biardeau, but he seems to me one of the very few lucid voices within Chavismo. Over the last couple years he's been pointing out much of what you and others notice about the fractions within Chavismo. (Though I suspect no one within Chavismo listens to him, even though there was a time when Chávez praised his writing.) In his most recent column, he writes:

    "Lo que impera es el consignismo, el sectarismo, el seguidismo ideológico, la bruocratización del pensamiento crítico. En este lamentable pantano crece la hidra de la ilusión del triunfalismo en el campo del PSUV.

    Se trata precisamente de cuestionar esta modalidad de pensamiento en acto, pues refuerza la posibilidad de que Chávez y revolución bolivariana (que requieren de un sacudón de conciencias, y de una profunda re-conducción democráticas) sean derrotables."

    1. I was already sent it. Truly in-digest until you learn to skip the extensive quotes he puts. What is it with these chavistas that they cannot piece together an original thought without quoting at least half a dozen ideologues, in full? Have you ever read the weekly column that Barreto still has in El Nacional. I wonder who is able to go through one of them in a single sweep. I cannot. This being said Biardeau is unto something even though he does not go all the way into admitting it to himself in full.

    2. I don't know if they studied at the UCV (besides teaching there or something) but I can say that, sadly, that's part of the institution. At least that's been my luck so far. When I was in first semester a professor told us that he wanted quotes only, because we weren't "intelligent enough to understand in full the concepts". Even now, no matter how advanced you're in the career, if you don't include at least one quote, they reject any paper or whatever you do. I always ask the same thing, isn't a university supossed to be a creator of knowledge? How can you "create" knowledge when you have to rely ("ajuro") on somebody else as a crutch?

  6. Chavismo does not exist. There is only Chávez. There is no movement, no ideology, no cohesion.

    Chavez failed to create serious a political movement. He was only interested in being re-elected. I don't think that even his ministries knew how sick he was and yes, I am absolutely in agreement with you, there is a disarray and that is dangerous for the country.

    If Chávez dies, anything can happen. I would even say that if Chávez is sick during the elections, wether he wins or loses, anything can happen.

    If he has a tiny bit of decency for Venezuela, he should nominate a candidate to replace him in the coming election.

    In my mind the only possible good outcome of what is happening is for Capriles to beat a functioning candidate, and by a large number.....

    1. "Chavez failed to create serious a political movement"

      To fail, he would have had to try.

  7. Dr. Faustus4:16 PM

    It is important to note that a Spanish news agency today reported that Chavez's illness is indeed terminal. Furthermore, if he wishes to have 'any chance of recovery' he must undergo continues treatment for all of 2012. If he decides to campaign, he will die sooner,.....period. I believe that this analysis is logical, and is factual. I am also suspicious that changes to the government, a new VP for instance, may be announced today or tomorrow, prior to Chavez's operation in Cuba. Pay attention to any news coming from the government today. Big stuff coming.

  8. Anonymous5:27 PM

    very OT: Ravell and others are saying that the results of the 2011 census give Venezuela 27 million inhabitants. Wiki and other sources still claim the estimated population for 2010 was 29 million.

    What the hell happened to those 2 million people? Did the census fail that badly? Are the murder stats so much higher than we thought they were? Did that many people leave Venezuela?

    And of course, something like 67% of the population is registered on the CNE, even though the over-18 population in LA countries is about 64%, and CNE claims there's still almost 2 million not registered to vote.

    1. Island Canuck6:48 PM

      They never rang my bell & we're here most of the time.

      If the number is 27 million then 18 million on the REP is even more outrageous than it already is based on 28.5 million.

    2. Anonymous10:16 PM

      They voted for the opposition and were scratched off :-)

  9. It would seem that this theme is complicated.Let's play a little Devil's Advocate.

    On one hand there are those who follow Chavez who say he is replaceable ; they don't care about him as an individual. According to my Chavista family what matters is " el proyecto"....these people don't really care that much if Chavez lies or not or what happens to his health.Then there are those who only think of their jobs ( include in that many types of jobs)....what do they care about his moral inconsistencies ??

    On the other hand those who are enthralled by Chavez,might still see him as a victim who honestly believed he was cured, and then got a terrible news.This might even cause more sympathy for him as happened when Chavez's poll ratings went up because of his illness.

  10. Boludo Tejano8:42 PM

    According to my Chavista family what matters is " el proyecto"

    "El proyecto" changes with each sentence that Hugo speaks. If Hugo spent a cadena talking about the need for Venezuela to have a purple people eater in every living room in Venezuela, the hard core Chavistas would start jumping up and down for purple people eaters. No Hugo, no proyecto.

  11. Boludo,

    There are different types of people voting for Chavez.One type that I am familiar with on a personal level are those who believe in worldwide socialism and find Chavez only a way to a greater end.I don't know what the percentage is inside Venezuela, but I would imagine that these people have quite a bit of support outside of Venezuela, just as the drug connected groups do.I am particularly concerned about these latter groups.

  12. "Chavismo does not exist. There is only Chávez. There is no movement, no ideology, no cohesion."

    Correct. What you have is a legion of "chupa medias" and bribed, under-educated people with new refrigerators. A Few dozen of corrupt, brand-new multi-millionaires, close the the Chavez Coroto.

    And then thousands of bribed people with fake "Chavista" related jobs. Heck, even the Chinese are happy building a retarded railroad now.Not that the Chavistas have built ANYTHING in 13 years.

    That's why, if you want this evil, totalitarian regime to go ASAP, you need the head of the snake to go.

    Hopefully cancer and Karma will soon do the trick.

    Otherwise, if the head of the snake is still alive and kicking for the next "elections", they will do everything and anything to stay in power.

    And we might see another decade of "Chavismo".

    Remember his idol who can't seem to DIE soon enough?

    A dude name Castro.

  13. Sledge,

    he has to lose the elections first. I am beginning to think that that is the only way out. Anything else it is a mess.


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