Monday, July 22, 2013

Towards "le dernier carré", or Maduro circling the wagons

SICAD at Waterloo
"Le dernier carré" is a known military term, particularly put in vogue at Waterloo when the last battalion of the Garde Impériale was called at the end of the battle, as much as a last ditch effort as to protect the retreat of the army. The Garde supposedly was standing in squares and the last holding square was, well, kind of like circling the wagons while knowing full well that your scalp was about to free itself from its hold no matter what.

This being said, before I digress further, I am not implying whatsoever that the regime theoretically held by Maduro is about to collapse and they are circling the wagons in a square (though they would be stupid enough to try that if you ask me). No, the regime may still have a while ahead but it is behaving as if the hour had come. But before we go into these nervous defenses of the regime, let's review why it is justified for them to feel cornered.

First, social protest is not ebbing. The regime there benefits of the congenital selfishness of the Venezuelan that makes an interest group unable to take seriously the concerns of other interest groups, starting with the opposition MUD unable to support energetically the university protest, to name the most recent major case. But that does not stop the myriad of protests going on because X was not paid, Y was due such amount, Z were laid off without reason and W was promised this by Chavez himself.

Second, no matter how hard Maduro tries he cannot establish once and for all his legitimacy. Every body, EVERYBODY, knows he won through electoral fraud. That, at home or abroad, they decide to pretend otherwise or prefer not to do anything about it is another matter. One reason may be simply that foreign countries manage basic arithmetic and know the regime of Maduro to be nonviable. Thus why not wait it out? Which is a crass error because it assumes that the regime is more than an assembly of thugs and that at some point it will yield power more or less pacifically. It will not, the regime is a group of military corrupt thugs and their civilian enablers, all working for the colonial master in Havana.  At any rate, that is why Piñera had so much trouble in receiving Capriles in Santiago this week and why Humala escaped Lima for the provinces so as not to be put in the same uncomfortable position. But it is also the reason why Santos did receive Capriles in Bogota because Colombia knows very well that the collapse of chavismo is trouble for them and thus Colombia cannot wait for it to happen, preferring a more controlled end.

But that avoidance in fact plays in the hand of Capriles who, for the first time that I know of, put UNASUR on notice. Humala may have skipped town but the political class in Lima has been served notice and has been asked "it is not possible that what matters most are economic interests over human rights and constitution".  This in Peru, the country that with Chile has probably been helped the most by Venezuelan democracy before 1998. People with principles and intelligence are confirmed in their notions that UNASUR, OAS, CELAC, MERCOSUR are mere fronts for immorality.

Third, of course, is the intractable economic situation. Intractable mostly because the regime refuses to take the measures that need to be taken, refuse to accept that the Chavez years are over, seems to believe that if Chavez were still alive there would not be an "economic problem" today. I am certainly one who wishes Chavez would be alive to enjoy the show of him finally drowning in his mess. But I digress again. The point is that this last week much vaunted solution, SICAD, to offer cash to the private sector to reactivate the economy has proven to be a mere lottery, to have no direction, to have no transparency, to look more like an excuse to give scarce dollars to cronies of the regime than actually solving problems. The second installment of the SICAD disappoints more than the first one and its failing is not even on what I listed before, it is that it is not enough. Depending on the experts, the SICAD is not able to satisfy the demand of dollars of the economy, offering at best, if it continues, if it becomes more fluid, a mere 10% of the needs that CADIVI does not provide. Amen that CADIVI itself is not providing half of what it is supposed to provide. El Universal explains it today, again: the Venezuelan government, instead of priming the private sector to grow again, is reducing its access to dollars while the regime prefers to use the few dollars to pay for debts and import electoral goods  directly. Looks like a Merkel austerity plan if it were not that the regime keeps buying weapons and financing lost causes.

The regime is obviously trapped in a catch 22 situation. This would not be so bad if at least it seemed that they were aware of it and trying to find a way out. But no, they are forging ahead, trying to find the new regulation that will finally allow all the old regulations to work.

For example Diosdado Cabello went to China to find inspiration. But even if he found it, it would not work because after 14 years of entitlements the Venezuela worker is no mood to work like a Chinese worker, the major source of China economic growth.

For example Maduro once again breaks with the US because its new appointee to the UN embassy , Samantha Powers, said publicly that Venezuela is a repressive regime. Maduro gets upset easily these days that things are not going his way and the weak "overture" to the US, with Jaua beaming to Kerry, is over. As if breaking with the US was the solution. We have been now a few years with ambassadors, I am sure Foggy Bottom is shaking.....

Of course, the escalation against the opposition is going on. Several opposition representatives are now prosecuted for a variety of reasons, using even evidence that is obviously forged but that the states attorney takes as valid without bothering to investigate the charges. Reports on pressing the media to stop talking about election fraud are apparently now routine.  As well as pressure against anyone fool enough to write a check for next December election.  And let's pass on tall tales of imminent invasion whose sole object is to justify future repression from the regime .

All in all the scenario is quite clear, at least for this blogger. The regime continues in its downward nihilistic spiral, reaching eventually a "dernier carré" at which point it will either implode into a red dwarf and leave room for a new sun to emerge or go supernova and take down all of us.


  1. Island Canuck1:25 AM

    "The regime is obviously trapped in a catch 22 situation"

    For those of you who are too young to have read Joseph Heller's classic novel here's an explanation of "Catch 22"

    The term catch-22 was coined by Joseph Heller in his novel Catch-22. Initially this is based on the explanation of the character Doc Daneeka as to why any pilot requesting a psych evaluation hoping to be found not sane enough to fly, and thereby escape dangerous missions, would thereby demonstrate his sanity:

    "You mean there's a catch?"

    "Sure there's a catch", Doc Daneeka replied. "Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy."

    For anyone who has not read this novel I would strongly recommend it. You will get a chuckle on every page.

    With regard to Daniel's comments I could not be more in agreement. I firmly believe that this government has not long to survive.

    With wage increases coming 1/9 & 1/11 the inflationary pressures are immense. We are on a point of hyper inflation. The black market rate will continue to rise.

  2. It is going to get worse.
    Keystone XL will be approved and the market price of VZ oil will fall.

  3. "Keystone XL will be approved" Let's hope.

  4. Dr. Faustus6:30 PM

    I am in awe! I love this post.

    Thanks for such great writing and analysis.


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