Monday, September 10, 2012

Former ambassador Patrick Duddy is rather grim on Venezuelan elections

Read it all here.  At least a gringo that has a good idea of what is going on here.  Maybe he read blogs while stationed in Caracas? :)  You will be hard pressed to find as complete an assessment of the different scenarios possible around October 7 than in this memo to the Council of Foreign Relations.


  1. Pretty good summation by Mr. Duddy, unfortunately it is more likely that we will see one of the negative scenarios he paints, unless very many chavistas decide that there is nothing to gain by violence and stay home on the 8th and beyond. This I find difficult to imagine, since the PSUV hacks are busy using fear to try to sway their base to come out and vote to "defend the fatherland". What happens to that fear on Oct 8th, when they are all primed for war and Capriles is declared victor, or worse yet, it is a very close call and many take to the streets to defend their candidate?

    Already folks in the poorer classes are getting their heads filled with rumor and innuendo. My mother in law swears that the Americans are waiting offshore to swoop in in case Chavez wins, and she lives in Catia La Mar on a hill. I asked her if she could see the ships but she replied that the Amuay disaster was gringo sabotage.

    Asi las cosas, for the first time in my life I have actually asked somebody to stay home and not vote, because there is no way to convince her to vote Capriles.

  2. Ronaldo1:05 PM

    Patrick Duddy provides an excellent scenario based analysis of post election violence in Venezuela. The problem is that Chavez believes he can control the violence and use it to his advantage. In reality, Venezuela is a violent country and the participants in any post election violence will be largely criminals taking advantage of an overstressed police and security system. It will not be all political violence. Chavez does not control the criminal violence now and he won't control it after the election. All of Venezuela (Chavistas and opposition alike) will become a war zone with the government controlled security refusing to stop any violence.

    If Chavez starts the violence, have 3 weeks of food and water ready and lock your doors tight.

    I am pessimistic in my prediction along with Mr. Duddy. However, I also pray for a non-violent resolution so Venezuela can recover to its rightful status.

  3. The U.S. elected officials and political appointees and other public figures are typically so uninformed that it makes people assume that all Americans are the same. Patrick Duddy is a career foreign service officer, who made it to ambassadorial rank. He didn't get there by being ignorant nor by being an idiot.

    In spite of appearances and popular opinion, America is often more competent then is generally assumed.

  4. I always liked Mr. Duddy. He was the US ambassador while Chávez was in its worst peak. Mr. Duddy managed his difficult task with knowledge, diplomacy and a lot of humour. I always like the combination of clever + humorous and I think Ambassador Duddy had them both!

    Now, with respect to what he wrote, he summed up all scenarios and he is one of the few that has raised the milicia problem, which shows how updated he is on Venezuela's issues. On the other hand, I would not put all the outcomes as having the same probability. For instance, everybody thinks very likely that Chávez will not accept a defeat. I think otherwise.After all, he DID accept the defeat in 2007...very badly, I know, but acceptance it was. He then found a way out with the enmienda...but the initial defeat was accepted.

    So I think that Chávez is more likely to accept defeat and THEN plan something else, like a coup (wasn't he a military coupster after all?) than trying to resist defeat right upfront.

    The same happened in 1992: he was defeated, he surrendered and then he planned something else to get in power.

    Now, everybody in the opposition is talking about what happens if he is defeated. IMHO it is pretty likely that that is not the case. The question is, what happens then? If he wins with a narrow margin, what would be his policies? What happens with Cuba? What would he do with his succession? He now knows he is not inmortal, so how would he make it evolve?

  5. Anonymous2:24 AM

    It reads like the CFR's game plan. The need to turn Venezuela to the American direction is pretty important.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the odds of Chavez winning close to 100%? Not trying to be a troll at all - just assuming that based on very rough knowledge in the last six months or so from there. Is it really possible he might lose? I don't like it, but aren't there at least 60% of the public who are poor, and thus very likely to go for the usual populist or socialist arguments?

    By the way, what percentage of Venezuela's population has left since Chavez? One might think that the more that leave, the better his election chances.

  6. hmmm...this one is food for much thought:

    "In many respects Chavez holds the opposition together much as he does his own coalition."

    1. That one comment struck me as well. Without Chavez, the MUD could descend into a bitter internicine struggle if Capriles does not have the leadership and discipline to prevent it. But, I am going to assume that he can and will, simply because he must, and because the alternative is simply too awful to contemplate.


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