Tuesday, September 25, 2012

If Chavez were to win....

"My work here  is done"  Forward comandante
Now that this pick up from the web set the mood, before I start this post we need to distinguish between Chavez winning and "winning".  In the "winning" scenario Chavez steals the election and we can all imagine more or less what would happen next: a profoundly destabilized country and the road toward an Arab-like spring at best and a civil war at worst.

What interests me today is the possibility of an actual Chavez win next October 7 even if in previous posts I have discarded it. But elections are full of surprises.

We need to start considering what electoral scenario would lead to a Chavez victory. It requires major blunders in the opposition camp. It requires the chavismo electoral machine to find its groove. And even if Chavez were to win, it would be a weak victory, a far cry from 2006, no more than a 52 to 48 score, and a sick president that I am willing to bet would not be able to finish his term. In other words, such a victory would not be a sign of strength but a proof of animalistic survival instincts.

We need to assess the mood of chavismo on October 8. This is important because a victory would be kind of a surprise for them.  You do not believe me? Look at recent events, from Chavez himself warning that a Capriles victory could lead Venezuela to a civil war, to accusations that the opposition is preparing a coup (how, with what, I would like to know) and even a neo-liberal economic plan. Such is the despair and self doubt inside chavismo that they have even hired the services of people that used to be inside chavismo, that went to the opposition, and that went back to chavismo when the opposition did not want anything with them (compare Lara Governor Henri Falcon and a failed activist William Ojeda and you will understand what I mean). And two Sundays ago armed goons were used once again to block a Capriles rally in Western Caracas. Clearly, a government that feels a genuine victory around the corner does not resort to such primitive and violent strategies.  This is a dictatorship in decline and it shows.

We do not need to be Cassandra to guess what would happen if Chavez wins. After that big scare that they almost lost office, seeing that their numbers keep going down and that a final defeat is just a question of time, the only option left will be chavismo sponsored violence.  There will be arrests. Capriles and others will be jailed or sent into exile (see what happened to Rosales). Expropriation of people suspected to have supported the Capriles campaign will be sped up. Globovision will be closed once and for all. The "poder comunal", that lame excuse to make all dependent from Caracas while emulating Cuba's spying CDR,  will be set up without bothering with laws to this respect so as to eliminate any power in local elected officials. And I assume that scheduled local elections still go on. Centralization will reach a further paroxysm. All will be designed to erase the political power and resources of the opposition, as it happened in Iran after last elections.

And then civil war will come anyway. The reason is simple, the economic disaster that Chavez has courted will finally arrive and Chavez will be unable, unwilling, incapable of facing it. Around that time he probably would be near death or dead and thus without a democratic opposition willing to assume the challenge of recovering the country there will be only one option left, a succession war inside chavismo. The factions will be united at first in a violent repression of economic victims but that can only lead to a deeper division inside chavismo that would lead us to a civil war of sorts, or an outright one, starting from inside chavismo.

Sorry, I have lost patience with polite discourse.  This weighs heavily on my heart. More than ever it should be clear for us that there is no possible recovery of Venezuela as long as Chavez is in Miraflores.  Removing him certainly carries risks, but leaving him there carries worse risks.  Your pick.


  1. Island Canuck10:42 AM

    Daniel, while I don't want to admit that there is even a ghost of a chance for a Chavez win, my sleep at night is often disturbed by exactly the things you point out.

    After 25 years in my adopted home I will have no choice but to seek another place to live out my years.

    I won't live another 6 years under Chavismo, with Chavez or not.

    A change at my age is not something I look forward to but I just can't take the stress & uncertainty anymore.

    This comment will probably engender the hard core to tell me that if I don't like it then I should leave. Unfortunately that's not the point. I love Venezuela & Margarita. I hate the crime, invasions, bad roads, poor medical services, whether my property will still be mine tomorrow & outrageous conditions to run a business. There has to be a better way.

    All that said I'm convinced HCR will win comfortably.

  2. It's important to seriously consider a Chávez victory. If there's one thing I've learned in these years of observing the Venezuelan situation, it's to never underestimate Chávez and his ability to win elections (legitimately or not). I think certain sectors of the opposition are claiming victory way too early. A dose of realism is crucial.

  3. Anonymous1:04 PM

    There's one detail that'd make a Venezuelan civil war either impossible or very, very short lived: Venezuela (even without a civil war) is completely incapable of providing food for all its citizens on its own. Most food (60%?) is imported and a civil war will certainly disrupt the process to the point of nationwide Somalia-caliber famine. Not to mention that the only reasonable way to import food is through Puerto Cabello, and it'd take nothing more than a couple of tiny bombs to evaporate the port's ability to do anything for at least 6 months. Never mind the fact that obliterating Venezuela's ability to export oil is even simpler than that (and more catastrophic).

    So a civil war in Venezuela would amount to suicide on all parts involved. The country simply isn't in any shape that'd allow it to survive any meaningful amount of stupidity.

    1. Let's hope you are right. However a low intensity civil war, Colombia like, is not to be ruled out.

  4. I really hope Capriles wins. I truly believe than a Civil war in Venezuela is something that can only happen inside the sick mind of Chavez. Anarchy, or something similar to El Caracazo I can imagine, but not a Civil war. We Venezuelan are way too comodos to start a war, more now than Baseball season is gonna begin.
    Any way, I have to say that I am really proud of Capriles and his nonstop campaign. I am 34 and could not do what he has done for even a week.

    @Island Canuck I completely understand you wanting to leave the country. I have actually told my mom to do the same if Chavez wins. I really believe 6 more years of chavismo will be more than what the country can stand.

    1. Island Canuck2:08 PM

      It's like watching a slow motion disaster movie. There will be nothing left in 6 years. Another Haiti.

  5. What about parliament, how does it work? Will (if elected) Capriles disolve it and call elections? Will there be a process of rebalancing of powers? A resurection of the higher chamber?

    Above all I'm finding hard to fathom how Chavista states will function if in opposition.

    And what will Daniel Duquenal do on October 9 and beyond if Capriles wins?


    1. Daniel Duquenal will write a post on his future when the time comes. Right now he is weighing his options.

    2. Daniel if you get the election result right again you should start your own polling company...

    3. Tom, the Constitution does not allow it, unless there is a Constituyente to change the Constitution (what Chávez did in 1998).

      If Capriles wins, he will have all the powers against him and a very thin majority that will not necessarily give him the mandate to change (again!) the Constitution. He will have a packed Supreme Court 100% chavista, the moral power 100% chavista and a Congress with a solid Chavista majority. CAP was gotten out of office with much more favorable conditions.

  6. I refuse to read the works of black hearts.

    1. Oh lookey!!!!! Another over optimistic caprilista!

  7. I don't agree with you, Daniel.

    First I don't think Chávez will steal the election, not his style. If he loses, he is more likely to start comploting to see how he can recuperate power, that's his style. He has always done that, in every losing situation (finding a good plan B to come back) and, in this case, it would be easy because Capriles, if he wins, will do so for a small margin and Chávez will have all the other powers.

    Second, 2012 Chávez is not 2006 Chávez. I don't think that, if he wins, he will be able to get even close to the margin he got in 2006 (63%?). Moreover, IMHO, he will be more interested in his place in history by now, giving the situation. So I don't think he will lose precious time getting rid of enemies..that was in 2006, when he was aiming at eternal government, now he is looking at the eternal afterlife and his place in History, quite another perspective.

    1. Bruni

      Read again. I am not discussing a "win" based on stealing the election, but an actual win, without a doubt.

      Also, one thing is Chavez another thing are the thieves and murderers and narcotics that surround him. This is what I am writing about.

    2. Yes, I understand, but I disagree with your view of the massive arrests, etc etc, for the reasons I gave above.The one that REALLY has power in Venezuela is Chávez. Chávez is the one that decides everything, even if he makes other people believe he is not responsible and I don't think he will be in the state of mind of a 2007 response.

      So, as far as Chávez is alive, I don't think we will witness the 2007 scenario. If he is not...then the cuban military worry me.

      Now, if Capriles wins and he is careful in quietly retiring people and changing the military, I don't think anything will happen.

    3. Anonymous2:34 PM

      Daniel, you say: "Read again. I am not discussing a "win" based on stealing the election, but an actual win, without a doubt."

      Can you explain how one will be able to tell the difference between a legitimate win and a stolen election?

      Further, can anyone in their right mind think that Chavez will ever lose an election? He can't afford it, it's not a matter of public support it's just a matter of survival.

  8. There is so much fervor for Capriles I am beginning to think Chavismo wants him to win,after all the same powers that be( Congress, army , generals, governors) will still be in place...They will neutralize and sabotage Caprile's efforts and then make a comeback in a few years asking for a recall election , blaming all failures on Capriles

  9. Anonymous1:41 PM

    If Chavez were to win, how can we imagine Venezuela as it would be after thirty more years of a life-extended Caudillo? Well. have you seen the recent movie idiocracy? And, the old Woody Allen movie, "bananas?" After running out of organs and tissue to harvest from henchmen of the 'piti Yanquis," Cahvista med techs from Cuba would clone him from one of the melanoma or keratoma spots on his multiple chins! And, the country would most closely resemble the topography of Idiocracy!


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