Sunday, September 02, 2012

The post-Amuay pseudo-revolution in pre post war Venezuela

Cantankerous Rafael Poleo makes the point of its Zeta main piece this week that after the Amuay disaster the elections of October are pointless. He suggests that the sate of the country is so bad that we need to be creative and remove Chavez now, reach some sort of political compromise (a transition period regime of a year or two?) and then proceed to elections once it is all settled some.  All this because it is now impossible for Chavez and Ramirez and a few others to surrender government if they lose elections.  They know they will go to jail and so their only option at some form of freedom is to make at the very least an electoral coup that will only destabilize the country further.

Now this is my reading of Poleo whose articles are not on line and who uses allusions, never naming names, while he has an agenda of his own that does not include Capriles or Primero Justicia.  He makes one think for sure but I do not fall for him usually nor do I fall this time around because it is many of the stuff that I have been writing for a long time (the most recent wondering whether Capriles could square the circle).

One thing is certain: too many chavistas have too many crimes to answer for so that a peaceful transition is possible. This much I trust we can all agree with even if we do not want to admit it, starting with Capriles himself. When a new administration takes charge, it will not be able to ignore a lot of stuff, no matter how strong a conciliatory spirit it pretends to have.  And after last week in Amuay, the task will be even more difficult. How can we not prosecute the managers and heads of PDVSA for not having fire extinguishing foam at hand? Not to mention that they were fool enough to brag about the speed they brought some from abroad.....

If the regime were following its own laws, Ramirez today would be in custody while investigation goes on.  I know the law, I know that I could  go into custody even if a worker commits suicide while at work.......

But I digress. If Ramirez by himself is one of the biggest criminals of the regime, now with charred blood on his hands, he is not the only one. Amuay is only the first of the major bombs that are going to explode soon in many areas of the country. And Amuay itself had plenty of warnings: Cúpira, Aban Pearl, Jose's coke, Monagas rivers, etc.... We can also expect major financial bombs, agricultural bombs, etc, etc....

I expressed in the past my concern that we may not make it to the October election and suddenly those concerns, I hate to admit, have revived.  It all depends if chavismo is already decided not to recognize the electoral result (they need more than a victory, they need a million votes whereas Capriles would get a mandate with a mere 500,000, but that is another post).

What we have to face now is that the situation of Venezuela is worse than we thought it was one week ago. Much worse, probably, and this is going to affect politics in the next weeks.  Maybe as extreme as Poleo suggests. Maybe under a milder form through a chavismo wing that wants Chavez out. Maybe a landslide for Capriles that would make resistance futile. Maybe..... Perhaps, and I hope, the silver lining in all of this will come from within the army and chavismo, enough of them understanding that the disaster cannot be allowed to go on. They would support a Capriles take over if anything because they are sick and tired of chaos (and stole enough to ensure part of their future and want to enjoy it, Capriles only being able to jail a few hundred at most).

But I also fear is that the other dark side of chavismo, the one subjected to Castro's dictates, will embark in a fatal adventure.

But for the sake of argument let's play Poleo's game which has among other motives to weaken PJ to the point that maybe in a year from now Capriles would not be Unidad candidate anymore.  Let's not forget that AD and to a lesser extent COPEI have fed chavismo and thus have some form of ties with it. Chavista voters were not spontaneous generation, they came mostly from AD and COPEI even if chavismo would prefer us to believe otherwise.

AD and COPEI drag UNT into a pact with the army and some inside chavismo, in particular some inside the  TSJ High Court and CNE Electoral Power. As of that pact, to be achieved late September at the latest, Chavez resigns under any excuse but names before a suitable VP for all (maybe even Jaua, why not?). Since there is "instability" in the country after Amuay and PSUV lost its candidate, the TSJ decides that elections should be postponed and the CNE promptly obliges. A law is quickly passed in the National Assembly to polish the legal aspects, a law approved with AD support which breaks ranks with UNIDAD where basically PJ and VP are left alone to cry.

Even though the term "transition" is never used the fact that new elections are called for June 2013 make the new vice prez. a transition government. To hide what was a mere coup to stop Capriles to reach office, local elections are held not in December but in February and divisions inside the opposition allow chavismo to retain about 10 states, including Aragua, when a Chavez defeat would have meant losing all but 2-3 states.

Along the way a constitutional reform is voted, removing the amendment for eternal reelection voted in 2009 altogether,  bringing in a two round presidential ballot, validating the September legal coup and changing the nomination process for justices and other folks.  Thus by June chavismo accepts to surrender some of the judicial controls of the state to the opposition but keeping enough so there will be a limit in the amount of chavistas that will face justice.  The two round balloting divide the opposition and this one goes to the July election with three candidates at least, allowing for a second round ballot in August where actually the chavista candidate is competitive enough to have a chance to win.

Even if the opposition wins in August 2013 it is weakened, cannot do all the hoped for judicial reparations and must limit itself to work the economic agenda.  Chavismo divided in parliament between a raging left and a more "centrist" group manages to strike a few legislative deals with an equally divided opposition. But by January 2014 the new opposition president cannot manage the assembly anymore and either uses the recall election feature of the dissolution of the National Assembly by forcing it to vote a non confidence motion on the vice president.  Whatever it is, chavismo loses its majority but the winning opposition is divided enough that shifting coalitions keep marking the agenda, though this time more favorable to the president.  Still, no matter what, by the end of 2014 chavismo is beginning to be able to create enough trouble in the streets that by 2015 the possible return of chavismo before 2019 is a distinct possibility.

With such a scenario chavismo has avoided the debacle, the country a civil war, maybe, and Cuba may be able to keep getting some money though not as much as before, as her free to accept Chavez demise without the bloodshed Cubans could have organized. The average opposition voter would have been cheated once again to allow the remains of the old political class to fuse with some of the new and a large portion of the chavista one to create a new status quo. AD will not be reborn but it will recover enough chavistas to reach a solid 15% that will make it the hinge party in parliament. But the new status quo eventually will create resentment and bring the country into the hands of a new messiah, this time maybe from the real right......

In other words, what Poleo proposes is to postpone ad patres that Venezuela cleans up its act. Do you agree?

PS: with this entry I inaugurate a new label, maybe too optimist: post-chavez


  1. torres12:26 AM

    "return of chavismo before 2019 is a distinct possibility" even without chavez?


    1. AIO replies to you below.

  2. Anonymous12:35 AM

    I'm not in Venezuela, left decades ago, but ... wow. Hard to believe.

    If the predicted disasters remain at today's levels, where they mainly inconvenience the general public, and if the government can insist that "todo está bajo control", then how could they postpone the election?

    On the other hand, are things so bad that there will be more such disasters? Another Amuay, another major bridge or highway, longer and longer apagones? Fuel or food shortages? Would the government risk allowing or ordering those things to happen? Sure, people at the top might order it, but how far down would the orders go before they are disobeyed?

    I hope members of the Capriles campaign are keeping notes; it would be great at some future date to read what their contingency plans were.

  3. torres, think about how Peronismo continues to return - indeed, except for the military junta, has never left - in Argentina. It hasn't been successful in economic terms, but certainly in political, as it's impossible to get elected (president, at lesat) there unless you say you're a peronist.

    If people ever start associating Chavez with "the good old days," which means the time in-between will have to be at least somewhat disappointing, that desire to return to the era could grow deep roots. Daniel's concern is entirely valid.

    1. torres10:58 PM

      As usual, AIO's point taken.


  4. Island Canuck7:11 AM

    "Maybe a landslide for Capriles that would make resistance futile."

    I really can't believe that the emotion that is being felt in every corner of Venezuela will allow any tricks or evasions to not permit O7 from happening.

    As of today Chavez has no hope of winning this election. Capriles will win with 60%+. Chavistas will stay home in droves & Capriles supporters will stand in line for 8 hours if necessary to make sure this madness doesn't continue.

    The Poleo scenario would be like taking a shower with a rain coat on - really not very satisfying.

    What we are in now is the 1999 scenario. The people are tired of 14 years of failure & corruption. They will vote for change & hope.

    Let's hope that these asshats don't play political games to take that away from us. The old guard should just go home & watch TV & let the younger people take over.

    1. Well, Capriles does not run against Chavez only. And PJ Copei reminiscent arrogance is not helping him much.

    2. OK, getting my reply in the right place this time...

      Canuck, I think your comparison to 1999 is remarkably apt. Very insightful. But winning is not enough. People looked to Chavez to solve the problems they saw, and in some ways he seemed to, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

      However, I return to the Argentina situation, because it's a cautionary tale. Menem, though a Peronist, definitely did things differently, and some things were good. He stopped inflation, privatized some dinosaurs that were lost causes as SOEs, liberalized trade some, that kind of thing. Reasonable steps for the long term, no less. He also made some enormous mistakes, such as keeping the currency fixed too long when it should have (eventually) floated (this is the primary reason why one should never link the Washington Consensus to Menem - it was never truly a consensus, but every version of it included a floating currency, not to mention fiscal responsibility), and presided over a terribly corrupt administration (himself included).

      The bottom line, is, things ended in disaster, and the taint from the truly distasteful parts of Menem's administration spilled over and poisoned, in the minds of many, anything and everything linked to Menem. So even the good became bad, at least in the minds of most voters and politicians. (On a related note, Kirchner is driving the country off a different cliff right now because of her adamant insistence on doing everything differently from Menem. But I digress.)

      The bottom line here is not to argue for specific policies, but to point out that a policy mix that was partly successful was, in the end, viewed as a complete failure by the populace. A clamor to return to supposedly better times can recur in just a few years time, bringing with it a desire to reverse anything and everything assoicated with the interim - damn the long-term consequences. Voters have remarkably faulty memories, and are very short-sighted, too.

      One other factor to consider: Chavez hung on as long as he has by manipulating the system to his advantage. I sincerely hope Capriles, if he wins, does not try to do the same. However, while that is arguably a win for democracy, it shortens his window of opportunity for positive change and, paradoxically, increases the chance of a chavismo return.

      "Hay un camino" is an appropriate slogan, because with a win, things are only beginning on October 8.

    3. ,,,it shortens his window of opportunity for positive change and, paradoxically, increases the chance of a chavismo return.

      LL in the wings.

  5. Jesus H. Christ Daniel!

    Just when one thought we might have learned something, just when it looked safe to cross the street, you have to publish what is the 800 lb. Gorilla in the room.

    I agree with your statement that many think, deep down, that there is very little possibility that there will be a peaceful handover, or in a more optimistic view, a peaceful handover but a very rocky 6 years of strife and unrest.

    What hadn't ocurred to me was how a postponement could be a part of a negotiated deal (I could fathom a unilateral one courtesy of the narco generals/JVR/other calaña).

    I've been wondering why Henry Ramos Allup has been so quiet. Here I thought he had hitched his horse to the Unity Wagon, but if the scenario you describe is true then we are definitely going to lose another 20 years wasting time and money.

  6. Anonymous8:47 AM

    Scary scenarios, but tend to agree with ICan above. Regardless, the bombs are still in place, especially mounting debt and the slow motion train wreck named PDVSA. Many are tired of the chaos, the brain drain continues, inability to import need equipment and spares, no viable long term development plan and broken relations with TNC's, combining to see revenues decline. How to fix the agribusiness? Tough governance coming no matter who is in charge.

  7. I don't think any scenario that involves a resignation of Chavez will happen. The question is will he give up power after losing the election. Chavez isn't likely to resign. And who in PSUV is going to approach him with the idea? The Cubans would willingly sacrifice Chavez but would they be able to put the deal together?

  8. Dr. Faustus10:30 AM

    "All this because it is now impossible for Chavez and Ramirez and a few others to surrender government if they lose elections. They know they will go to jail and so their only option at some form of freedom is to make at the very least an electoral coup that will only destabilize the country further."

    That is a very profound statement. After pondering the implications of you've written, I would also agree. There will be violence in the streets. There will be chaos instigated by the Chavistas. You're right. They have no choice in the matter. They know that, were they to lose the election, many of them will be forced into fleeing the country once the elections are over, or risk a jail term. It is sad to write, but I too believe in an upcoming 'electoral coup.' The Chavez government is being pushed into a corner. They will not go quietly.

  9. The first option of the Chavista mafia will be to try and stay in power and blame others for problems.Only if they have NO other choice would they try to strike some deal.They can always find excuses of emergency situations and/or sabotage interference by the CIA etc.that justify their stay in power.

    If Capriles wins,the power structure that is in place today will want to stay in place after elections whether or not Capriles is president.

    If Capriles wins he would have to dissemble the ticking time bomb.He would have to gradually increase his power by chipping away at the power structures of the Narco State.

    He would need help from other LA countries and the US for that one.

    There are many possible scenarios or ways for Chavez to hold onto power and it is difficult to see which one will take place.The surprise element is all important here.

    What can be easily foreseen is that Chavismo is just not going to hand over power to Capriles and congratulate him on his win.He will not gently into the night.


  10. Charly11:25 AM

    Whatever scenario one looks at the future is frightening. In the best scenario Capriles wins, the SUV accepts the outcome gracefully. Now Capriles will have very little time to put a destroyed country back on it feet. With a PSUV majority in the National Assembly, how can he get the budget he needs unless he has a discretionary account like Fonden, hence becomes another Chavez. Square the circle you said a while ago? His whole term might be spent squaring the circle.

  11. Remember when it comes to the Chavista/ Narco State:

    Metete con el Santo pero no con la limsosna


  12. sorry meant to say Limosna

  13. I believe that it would be a mistake to prosecute the people now in power, even though it is very likely that they have committed many crimes. As Daniel says, prosecution guarantees their intransigence during the transition to democracy, and risks Venezuela's future for a generation at least.

    I think the better attitude was that of Lincoln, who promised to govern the rebel south, soon facing defeat, "with malice toward none, with charity for all" in his Second Inaugural Address in 1864. While of course Lincoln was assassinated and could not oversee reconstruction, it is emblematic that Confederate President Jefferson Davis was simply stripped of his right to hold office, rather than hanged for treason. And Robert E. Lee, rebel general, was not treated as a terrorist, but was allowed to retire to become President of a university.

    A South African style "Truth and Reconciliation Conciliation Commission" might also be a wise way of minimizing PSUVista intransigence. Those who came forward and testified truthfully about crimes committed under apartheid were guaranteed non-prosecution. The Commission had the effect of establishing an authoritative account of what had occurred under apartheid, thus limiting the appeal of those who would campaign for restoration on the basis that "none of those crimes happened." It also allowed thousands of lesser supporters of apartheid to retire gracefully, rather than fight to fight the transition to the last drop of their blood.

    Luckily for him, and for Venezuela, too, President Chavez will have left this earth behind before the need to prosecute him arises. Trying him would be like trying George W. Bush for torture; whatever the merits, it would have entirely hijacked Obama's first term, and embittered American politics far more than is the case even now.

    1. jeffrey

      one thing is to recognize the crimes, another one to prosecute them. truth commission or their historical charity equivalent, investigate and describe the crimes and must punish at least the heads. otherwise they are useless

  14. Anonymous5:09 PM

    The crimes may well have been recognised some time ago. Is it a possibility that those criminals have been approached and their histories deleted from the Venezuelan conscience in order to facilitate a trouble free transition ?

    Maybe a bit distasteful but the risks are high, very high.

  15. Anonymous9:17 PM

    You know Daniel, I’ve been following you for years, Native American Indian USA - But this post upsets me and I sometimes begin to wonder what side you’re on- If I’m not mistaking, you from France, live in Venezuela, so do you carry Socialistic Values or are you just crazy enough to give the Chavista’s more ways to prevent a true election and to continue there killing spree of everything valuable and a FREE country.

    I don’t know, lately your blog has undertones of Socialistic Values when you put everything into context. I could be wrong, but this is one of the Great aspects living in the USA.

    1. dear native american

      i am tired to see words like socialistic and liberal and whatever tossed around freely out of context and historical perspective. liberal meant center, then meant right wing as in neo-liberal and now it is progressive on its way to socialist, and, why not, pink commie faggot in a not so distant future.

      i refuse to let US republicans set the agenda on the war of words. they are truly orwellian on this respect.

      this being said, in the OLD meaning of the word, circa 1970, i am a liberal US sense with strong social libertarian hues; and never hid it in this blog. this makes me in europe a moderate social democrat since everything in the US is right of europe main stream, Obama being as close as european politics a US government has ever come. for your info, today's republicans in europe are seen as moderate fascist, if you really want to push the label game.

      ALL OF THIS being said, this blog is not about left or right, it is about freedom and surely a democratic gop or dem should be able to relate with that. dismissing my criticism of chavez because i am too left leaning for your taste is EXACTLY as pro chavez folks saying that i am not a liberal because any progressive person should support chavez without questioning.

    2. Anonymous8:20 PM


      I’m a Dem and have been sine I was 18, gay in my late 40’s and have a home in Barcelona and US so I understand how both continents live - I’ve worked hard sine I was 14 and never took a handout and never expected one. I did not say the blog was Socialistic, I said it has undertones of Socialistic Values when you put (read) everything into context. By the way Obama has not lived up to the American Dream for MANY GAY DEMs, he picks and choses what side of the house he wants to be in depending on the view and not the substance. And furthermore he is more in tone with Iran Social center than a European Liberal just to keep the record straight.

      By the way, I’ve always respected your work no matter what your core values are, my main question based on my first statement is do you want Chavez to win and if not why help them with your Honored Education by giving them ideas for which I don’t think they would be smart enough to create. And my las line said that “I could be wrong”, so you did not have to jump slap me for any reason.

    3. The "I could be wrong" could be read either as an observation of you about the states or about my blog. Sorry if I misunderstood.

  16. American left are the fascists (a form of socialism). They truly do not support freedom of speech, opinion or thought. Many of the leaders on the left openly do not believe in two party democracy. There is nothing 'libertarian' about American leftists in the least.

    1. I am afraid you need to review your terminology. Your comment does not make much sense except for making it clear you trash any one that does not agree with you.

  17. Daniel,

    It is one thing to state that the political spectrum in Europe is significantly to the Left of the US but making equivalencies of the different political terms used on the 2 continents is an artificial exercise.

    The term 'Social Democrat' is not generally used in the context of US politics and is not a meaningful term for us.

    When people use the term Socialist to describe someone like Obama, they are trying to indicate that he is from the left wing of the democratic party( unlike the Clintons for example) .

    It's important to consider each countries use of terminology in their own context.


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