Monday, May 13, 2013

Announcement and open thread

Blogging will be very erratic for the next three weeks, thus....

... I am doing a first time experience. I will have an open thread, with moderation as I hope that I will be at least able to check the blog every couple of days to approve messages. Please, I will require thoughtful comments from the following themes or other you may deem relevant since it is an open thread after all.

Do you consider Venezuela today to be a dictatorship? And why?

If you think not, that it is not a dictatorship, just a mere authoritarian regime, tell us why you think you can make such a distinction.

I mean this thread seriously because I think we should clarify terms in view of what has happened in Venezuela over the last couple of years.  So take you time, think about it and post, or reply to those who post.  Since there is moderation, take your time to be thoughtful as your comment may be delayed up to 48 hours..... Also, even if I post something, I will still keep this thread on top, a two weeks reader discussion. I am challenging you.

And yes, chavistas are not welcome to this thread because if you think that Venezuela is a fully functional democracy then you are insulting our intelligence by denying what cannot be denied anymore. You are not here to debate, you are agents  provocateurs.


  1. kernel_panic11:18 PM

    Dictatorship Vs Authoritarian regime, that's the question.

    To me, when it goes thru the translator it's something like potato-potato (poteito-potato).

    On a dictatorship power is taken by illegal means (and by illegal I mean that it doesnt matter how much you stretch the law there's simply no legal base for the takeover) and a small group leads the contry with iron fist, they get a hold on the institutions and after that, they do as they please.

    On an autoritharian regime, power is achieved by some sort of election process (not necessarily democratic or fair) and a small group leads the contry with iron fist, they get a hold on the institutions and after that, they do as they please.

    To me the key difference is how they get to power, but in the end, it the same fecal matter but with a different smell. That's why to me is a poteito-potato kind of thing.

    Now, what we have in Venezuela, according to that, it's an authoritarian regime, because:

    a) Pajarito was appointed acting president because of the whole ridiculous "administrative continuity" principle. In this case, the law was stretched as to fit what they needed, and that stretching broke it "subtetly". This is close to a coup, but with no actual "active" action, just inaction (not following the law and appointing cabello), it's "clean" enough as not to define this as a coup*.

    b) El platano ese was declared winner of the presidency after a popular election, which has all the signs to point that was fraudulent (and by fraudulent I dont mean pre-election, I mean: clearly stole the election). The whole campaing was run in the authocratic regime's way: using all the resources of the state, denying everything to the opponent, and with all the state working towards the victory of their head (because clearly, cambrutote is not a leader).

    The difference seems to be on the origin of the rise to power. But I ask: the end result is any different in those two scenarios?

    * Even if we say "ok, but in the end they broke the law, so that means a coup according to your definition", that wrong was "righted" when Camburro was "democratically elected", so, in the end -> Authoritarian regime > Dictatorship

  2. Anonymous11:30 PM

    Kernel, your comment is very funny but also very true.... El platano is certainly an authoritarian "a la" Putin (same as a dictator but with more bullshit)

  3. I think that it is an Authoritarian Regime that wouldn't mind being a Dictatorship. If we take Cuba as the gold standard for dictatorships in America, Venezuela falls short. Venezuela has a private sector and private property, opposition political parties, a free press that is diminished and intimidated but that is capable of publishing newspapers and broadcasting on a limited basis. It has elections that appear to concede victories when they are overwhelming or unthreatening. On the other hand, there are no separation of powers. The influence of the military is disgusting. The power of the government's propaganda is overwhelming. The willingness to intimidate through violence and trumped up charges is clear. The power to spy on anyone without the slightest legal authority is taken for granted by everyone.

    I think that Chavez would have relished declaring martial law but didn't have the support in the military. Fidel obviously told him long ago that to go 100% in his Revolution would kill the (capitalist) goose that lays the golden eggs. They engineered a hybrid that could tout 18 electoral processes in 14 years that allowed them to gain loads of 'soft' power internationally in much the same way Cuba still flogs it's 'medical miracles'. If this were a Dictatorship, Maduro and Cabello would have gone down the road that Assad has gone in Syria. The question now is what will it take for them to peacefully transfer power? That is something that the grandiloquent Beautiful Revolution is not engineered to accept. They have trapped themselves in the infallibility of their destiny - "they will never return." And this is what tempts them into dreaming of a Dictatorship that history will not grant them.

  4. Tony Garcia3:13 AM

    No teneis nada que envidiale al regimen... same authoritarian behavior!

  5. Authoritarian regime.
    Dictatorship means you can name to douche bag at the top: Hilter, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, etc.
    Authoritarian means you can't: PRC, Revolutionary France, etc.
    To the person who is "taken in", no difference.

  6. Well, politics is not a science, is it?
    I am usually punctilious with the use of these terms but here I have to say: things are rather fuzzy.

    I see some definitions of dictatorship as an authoritarian regime ruled by one person. On the other hand, I can think of a couple of cases where things were more diluted: the Argentine Junta
    was still called a dictatorship. The Soviet Union always had one big man at the top but for the rather brief transition periods...and yet those transition periods were dictatorships as well and at different times the big men did have to bear in mind what others said (Brezhnev).

    - We have a system where there are tainted elections (to say the least)
    - We have a system where there is NO state of law (an absolute requisite of "democracy" since Ancient Greek times, but a requisite a lot of useful idiots do not seem to remember)
    - We still can say, if we are not working for the government or expect any benefit from it, that Venezuela is a dictatorship. Venezuelans can read - still - foreign sites stating anything about Venezuela, but that's also possible. Even the patchy Internet censorship applied by Belarus is not present in Venezuela. But, but!

    That doesn't matter in these times, specially considering most Venezuelans have such a faint grasp of logic and common sense (see the discussion about the maize flour shortages and POLAR products made in Colombia). The regime knows what counts now is whether the opposition can freely move around outside the main urban areas and carry out effective propaganda. It can't do so safely in many places.

    We can go pot banging in posh shopping centres...that's like "reservations for oppos".

    Still, I avoid the word "dictatorship", just because I don't want futile discussions.

    I'd use the term's an authoritarian system that is becoming more aggressive. The ones in power would like the system to be totalitarian,
    but Venezuela being what it is, that's not possible. Venezuelans love talking about politics, but do not want to go deeper into ideological stuff. Even Chavistas went directly into cult mode, imagology, they love either a Caribbean or a Llanos syncretism.

    The fact we don't have a full totalitarian system is little consolation. Venezuela is chock-a-block with psychopaths. They have flourished in the last 14 years, but they always existed in particularly large numbers. A lot of them are in a state without rule of law.
    That's bad enough.

  7. Anonymous6:01 PM

    When Chavez was alive the possibility of describing Venezuela as a dictatorship was higher, if only because it was surprisingly similar to the ancient Roman notion of a dictatorship - if, in a rather perverse way: power was concentrated on a single man, in a time of supposed emergency, to allow for "quick solutions". The current regime, on the other hand, is more easily described as merely authoritarian, given the way that power is managed.

    However, it is not a democracy, and I think that is the point. One of the gravest mistakes committed by people commenting on Venezuela, and one of the biggest lies that chavismo has worked to perpetuate, is that our compulsive, repetitive elections are tantamount to a working democracy. Suffrage, however, is merely an aspect, an element of democracy, in its modern conception: it is part of a SYSTEM of values which include separation of power, a State of Law, and sufficient guarantee of certain, basic freedoms, neither of which were upheld by Chavez, nor by Maduro. Even a basic notion of democracy, the principle of rotation, as found in article 6 of the Constitution (alternabilidad) is respected, specially since the government strongly pushes the notion that "it's us or nothing."

  8. The comments above by Anonymous at 11-31 are very informative and one of the best recent posting I've seen on this blog. Your government is authoritarian to an extent but seems to have only the vaguest idea how to run a country. Given your financial situation and weakened currency it's tempting to say Vz is heading the same way as Zimbabwe but fortunately Maduro is no Mugabe. Chavez may have had a dictatorial attitude but under his watch a large part of the Vz population improved their living standards and given Venezuela's resources, this should have been easily achievable. But instead they were squandered.

    One thing that puzzles me is the apathy and acceptance by the Venezuelan people. Why aren't they making more of a fuss about the shortages? I haven't heard any threats of police or military action by Maduro if they don't line up meekly for hours to get their food quota.

    As for the Vz electoral process, by international standards, on the surface a Vz election looks to be fair and equitable until you hear all the rumours about plural voting and "assisted" voting. In a democracy the electoral process is rigorously guarded by the rule of law which includes a secret ballot and one person one vote among other requirements.

    The fact that the Vz government seems able to interfere with the judicial process should be a serious cause for concern but again, clearly not enough people think so or have they been bribed to keep their mouths shut?

    From outside, half a world away, none of this makes any sense. Electricity outages and food shortages affect everyone - rich and poor. Why is there so little dissention? "You get used to it" seems to be the popular attitude. Why?

  9. Anonymous8:04 AM

    When you wake up one morning knowing that you can't trust anyone (in particular the people thet live with you in your house), when you know you no longer have any friends you can discuss your worries with, when you see that the corner shop keeper gets taken away by the authorities one day, never to be seen again, then you know you live in a dictatorship. In my experience, this is a change that happens from one day to the next, a group response to a political situation where the entire population understands all of a sudden that freedom is gone. I have never been able to explain this to someone who hasn't lived through it. Venezuela may be a difficult place to live, but it is not a dictatorship in my view. When the day comes, you will know.

  10. I go by the definition of Dictator: Someone that has all the powers wether he is a strong or a soft dictator is another issue. Since none of the institutional powers dare to oppose Maduro then he is a dictator. Same as Chavez was since June 2004 when they stacked the supreme court (TSJ) and could govern without any opposition from any institutional power.

    Most people use as a definition of a dictator someone who is cruel and ruthless and abusive. But that is not the definition of a dictator.

  11. Anonymous8:43 PM

    I think it’s wrong to try to define what we have in Venezuela, with some labels that are so 19th and 20th century. They would fall short, simply because there are too many factors that have to be taken in consideration. And a “dictatorship” as we used to know, cannot really exist behaving like dictartoships of yesteryears. I think we have a little bit of both. I called a “constitutional Dictatorship” as it has used democratic means, to undo the due process, and ‘legally’ establish and oppressive regime. The oppression in itself it’s also used in a different way. Economics play a huge part. So in return you get little by little, a strangle of the population so slow that by the time they realize they’re doomed it’s too late.
    I feel they closely resemble China, with some tropicalisms that come to us courtesy of Cuba.


  12. Anonymous3:18 AM

    Does it matter if still is all fucked up?

  13. Anonymous8:14 PM

    Dictatorship, Authortarian, Capitalist, socialist, communist, you are debating the wrong thing.
    All of this is what they want keep people debating ad nauseum and complaining and protesting which to this government is just knats flying around with an annoying sound but no substance.

    All of this is simply a smokescreen for the real system in place, A criminal enterprise whose objective is to steal as much as they can from every facet of the country to line their own pockets and their collaborators pockets with money, through corruption, kidnaping, narocotics, money laundering and just plain theft. They do not care about what kind of country they have now or what it will be in the future as long as they can get what they want and that greed knows no bounds anymore. The rest of the world led by the The Chinese will own and control this mess and Venezuela will have sacrificed the sovereignty of their natural resources, which serves the worlds needs. The world will look the other way on the most horrific of human rights abuses as long as they get the oil they need. This regime knows they are untouchable because there is NO ONE nationally or internationally who will force this criminal gang to relinquish power. The people are sheep and the government throws them a few bones to make them think they actually care about the pueblo but in fact they are laughing at them and their ignorance. This is a joke that has been perpetrated on the country and will continue until this regime literally destroys the country and it collapses in financial ruin and then the next phase will be for the international community to come in and bail out Venezuela with an oil for aid program (and you saw how well that worked in IRAQ.) The acceptance of this horror story is only exceeded by the greed of the chavista elite. They have become what they supposedly despised. The sound of protest is drowned out by the sound of the pigs feeding at the trough. You are debating something that is irrelevant to the leadership - they simply don't care because they don't have to. Unfortunately Venezuelans have made their own bed because they swallowed so much BS from these pinochios, and THAT'S why there is a shortage of toilet paper.

  14. In light of Anonymous 1-44 comments, my only question is what are the emigration statistics for Venezuela and is Anonymous planning on being one soon? He paints Vz as a nation without any future, at least for the populace. Do any of you guys have an escape plan?


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