Thursday, March 01, 2012

The scenery gives you the scenarios for Venezuela

Maybe it is time to take stock before a new wave of speculations hits us.  The best way is first to look at what we have in front of us, understanding the players so as to be able to understand better what they are up to.

These days we can divide the country roughly in 4 groups which are vying for the succession of Chavez.  Whether they want to go into the fight is irrelevant, but only one group with the more or less grudging support of another group will be able to prevail, at least for a brief time.  I think we can classify the country in 4 groups today because each one contains a radical wing and maybe a not so radical one but they are motivated by the same interests.  Thus the four groups of motivation, three chavista and 1 non chavista (I abstract the vaunted NiNi since they all can be included in some form with the not very motivated portion of one of the different groups).

The take no hostages, we are all in this together, we sink or swim all of us

This is the smallest group of the 4 but the most motivated one and the most dangerous one because it may control the big weapons.  But controlling weapons does not mean you control the people that will fire these weapons.  This group is small because it includes all the people who made obscene profits either through corruption or through drug trafficking , influence peddling, etc...  They are the ones that had no problem in selling Venezuela to Cuba and sponsoring all sorts of shady activities around the world.  They are those that are the most likely to find their way to jail in a post Chavez area, or at least into exile if they did not kill anyone or did not rob more than a couple of million dollars.  We are talking here some of the high dignitaries of the regime who either robbed or allowed other to rob under they watch, from ministers such as Giordani or Ramirez, to folks like Diosdado Cabello.

And then there are those without any redemption, those who have been busy making Venezuela a narco-state, mostly in the military high ranking.

These people are the more dangerous ones because they are the ones with the most to lose if Chavez leaves the scene.  They simply cannot allow it to happen unless some form of generous settlement comes their way.

The faithful

The next two groups are of undetermined size.  The "faithful" are the members of the sect.  They include the poor, the misiones members, that have made Chavez their savior.  But it also includes the "ñangaras" and other assorted fellow travelers that believe in communism, Castro and other such passé ideas.  For these people the loss of Chavez, cancer or vote wise, is a real tragedy because a whole system of belief is questioned.  The trouble with cults, nothing new there.

They may be dangerous because they include the militia, the street gangs, the Lina Ron wanna-be and other assorted characters who may decide to take matters in their own hands, maybe supporting the above group even if they hate many of them for the corruption they represent.  Or they may decide to stay rather quiet and start waiting for the second coming of Chavez or something else from the mother ship.  That also happens with cults.

The "transactional" chavistas

This group represents those who benefited from chavismo without committing much crime besides the occasional bribe or the juicy subcontracting with the big players of the first group.  They range from the nouveau riche class of "boliburguesia" to the modest public employee.  For them the disappearance of Chavez is not necessarily a threat, and even if they see it as a threat it may be one they can live with.  After all they are the group that realize that the country is not doing well and that they may lose their benefits even if Chavez remains on stage.  Among those people you may even find some that think that perhaps a few years in the opposition may be a good thing to clean up the corrupt faction.  I would not go as far as calling them democrats, but they are certainly the group within chavismo more prone to understand democracy's benefits.

Per se these people are not necessarily dangerous.  However they could become very dangerous once the successor of Chavez is in office (no matter who) because they are in position to do all the necessary sabotage to kick him out as soon as they feel their interests threatened one way or another.  In other words, whomever succeeds Chavez, from Capriles to any coupster of your choice, that person needs to assuage this group long enough to assert its authority, or else.

The non chavista world

The paradox this time around is that Chavez has managed to unify all the people that oppose him.  Clearly these people understand now that the only way to recover Venezuela is to get rid of Chavez in a peaceful and democratic way.  There is no choice, and it is such a powerful knowledge that they are all, from PPT to Diego Arria, under the same umbrella.  Once Chavez is out for good it certainly will splinter fast but right now the unity seems solid enough to hold until sometime in 2013.

The danger inside that group is for chavismo because the show of unity has started revealing the deep fault lines within chavismo.  Chavez disease as simply made them clearer to see as the succession war has started.


Well, they abound.  But basically what you need to take into account is a combination of two of the above groups.  True, the fourth one, the opposition group, may be today's majority but it lacks weapons and resources so it is at least partially neutralized even if it were to win a clear victory at the October polls.  If they are held, but that is already a speculation.  Ignore.

You can start from the following premises for your speculations:

Chavez does not make it from Cuba.  Group 1 and 2 get at each other throats to gain power for the transition period.  Elections are postponed until chavismo gets a candidate.  A coup may be avoided, then again it may not be.

Chavez comes back but too weak to run for office.  So he tries to supervise the choice of successor and tries to do his best to make him win (it will not be a her, too macho a system; unless they feel lost so they may try a her-stunt but I seriously doubt it).

Chavez comes back but not too good, just good enough to run in October.  A variation of the last scenario except that he wants to get reelected.  If he succeeds he changes the Constitution to make his vice president permanent, names it and retires or croaks, whatever comes first.  The aim is to guarantee 6 more years of revolucion.

Chavez comes back and will be healed enough to win and maybe rule for a couple of years (nobody gives him more than that, not even himself if you listen carefully to his tone).  A variation of the above scenario in that he will feel strong enough to do deeper change in the Constitution and enshrine a system that cannot be removed anymore.  The problem here is that there is another factor that will start playing as early as next January: the bankruptcy of the country.

The possibility of the opposition winning is not included because with Chavez disease the word election is followed by a question mark.  So we must limit ourselves to the scenarios of Chavez strategy as indicated above and you will include at will the possibility of group 4 prevailing in some election to be held at an unspecified time.

So there you have, pick your starting point and in your mind make the four groups play among themselves and you will get your very own scenario which will be as good as anyone's else.  The only thing you can bet on is a lot of political instability for the next couple of years.

APOLOGY: the above post came up last night as a draft.  I do not know what happened but lots of editing were lost and even a paragraph.  Sorry.  I suppose it has to do with how slow is my Internet sometime and I go to bed trusting the corrections did come through....


  1. A very interesting analysis, thank you! Your third group, which you call "transactional Chavistas" reminded me of what Vaclav Havel said about Czech totalitarianism: it is the nature of the system to force people into personal acts of compromise, be it bribe-taking, kickbacks to party superiors, or attendance at political meetings to denounce "imperialism". Havel thought that there was a real thirst among those people to return to a normality where "the progressive forces" could not extract these acts of personal betrayal. In my opinion, this is an important reason that, once forced to fair elections, "left" regimes of this sort quickly collapse.

  2. My money's on "Chavez comes back and will be healed enough to win and maybe rule for a couple of years." His slow martyrdom will distract from the economic collapse.

  3. I love your well reasoned analysis , very similar to the kinds of logical moves I envision in my head as well, however:

    If this were an ordinary game of chess we might be able to speculate ourselves into a win,or at least a prediction, but I suspect that in Venezuela the ordinary rules of the Universe don't apply .

    Remember the old chess grandmaster who had a checkered tablecloth and it took him two hours to pass the salt :)

    I suspect there are some underlying factors we are not privy to at this time.

  4. APOLOGY: the post above came last night incomplete, a draft version, quickly written and thus on occasion not understandable. I do not know what happened. I just fixed it now. Sorry.

    1. Island Canuck4:56 PM

      Maybe some wine?? :-)

  5. Could be.... I was drinking a delicious Malbec but it was at least two hours before I started writing.....

    1. Anonymous6:26 PM

      Jealous as Malbec is my wine of choice!

  6. Dr. Faustus6:05 PM

    One of the most iconic scenes in moviedom is the late 60's film "The Graduate." In it a businessman pulls a young Dustin Hoffman aside and gives him some sage advice as to what the future is all about,..."Plastics!"

    Let's fast forward to mid-October 2012. The future is coming, Capriles has won, ...but,...but all of Venezuela is in chaos. Armed thugs are running rampant through the streets. Terror everywhere. The kalishnikov's have come out of the closet. The Chavistas are choreographicing untold civil insurrection on a massive scale. They lost. They're bitter. What government there is has pulled back from the streets. No one is sure as to whom to trust within the police and armed forces. Not possible you say? Unrealistic?

    The single most important thing for Venezuela's future, assuming an electoral victory in October, is so ugly, so despicable, that no one, not even Voldomort, dares speak its name. Most people living in civil societies cringe when the topic is even brought-up. It touches on the evil in human beings. Without 'them' however, all of society would collapse, as Venezuela may do in October of this year. If it's ignored, there is no hope, there is no future. It's quite simple, you need someplace to put 'them.' The word is jails, of course, or detention centers. If you have no place to put those who will threaten a free society, and come October they surely will, you've already lost the fight. It is with great regret that I must post this obscene thought. Forgive me. But if you stop and think about it,....

    1. Island Canuck6:36 PM

      Dr. Faustus:

      I couldn't agree with you more. The thing is it may not be October - it could be as soon as next month or the month after. If he dies the rats will; come out of the sewers are use it as an excuse to attack anything & anyone they perceive as having something.

      We must be prepared for this. There are a significant numbers of crazies or semi crazies in this country that we are not going to be safe.

  7. Anonymous6:27 PM

    'For these people the loss of Chavez, cancer or vote wise, is a real tragedy because a whole system of belief is questioned.  The trouble with cults, nothing new there.' Best line i this post Daniel!


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