Monday, February 17, 2014


The question here is who is most adrift in Venezuela today, the regime or the opposition?  The crisis that started late January in Tachira has spread as no other crisis has spread in Venezuela since "el caracazo" when looting happened in all major cities, to varied extent for sure, but enough to leave a memory.

This time around is not about looting, is not about kicking Chavez out, it is about a country that sees a devastating economic crisis ahead and the implied final loss of hope.  Failure to understand that is a major handicap in trying to speculate on "what next?".

The first consequence is that if the opposition is particularly vocal the supporters of the regime are particularly quiet. Maduro is unable to excite them in the defense of "economic" rights that are everyday negated when you have to stand in line for hours for a meager supply of basic staples. Only the violent paramilitary groups who owe their existence, their raison d’être, to Chavez and the regime can be found willingly shooting protesters. And yet this does not imply they are all on board.

The regime is paralyzed, it has no idea what to do so it threatens, kicks out a few USA embassy personnel, accuses Uribe of planning everything. As if Uribe, or anyone for that matter could convince groups to riot from San Cristobal to Puerto Ordaz which surprisingly has had some of the largest gatherings in spite of having one of the worst climate for such rallies.

That does not mean the regime is out. It is desperate enough, compromised enough, scared enough, to try to launch a massive repression if need be. But the future of the regime is strictly along the lines of a dictatorship. The regime knows that never again it will be able to win an election without massive electoral fraud. It could not make it in April 2013, it will not make it later when people are hungry or frustrated at not having the perks they took for granted. By definition a dictatorship has always an expiration date unless it exists on an island jail.

The opposition is equally adrift because it is torn between those that do not want to deal with the mess, those that are quite content to let the country go to hell thinking that they will pick up the pieces as saviors, and those that cannot accept such Quietism. The later ones are the youth, of course, but also the business owners and their employees who understand very well the danger ahead, who know perfectly well that the crisis that the regime seems unwilling and or unable to deal with will leave nothing worth fighting for, in a matter of months, or weeks for some.  You can also add to them those who are tired to see relatives go into exile, those who are tired of crime, those that are tired of the naked abuse and arrogance and vulgarity of the post Chavez staff. This is more than the students without future, it is a social cry of despair.

The opposition leadership is almost as clueless as the regime is. Gut feelings of people like Lopez or Machado were right, but the wave they thought surfing with ease turned out to be a cold day at Mavericks. Capriles thought that time was on his side, that the times of God were perfect and suddenly he has to direct an anger that he failed to measure. He is catching up fast but there is nothing to tell us he will catch up in the end.

The army is the one most adrift. Composed by an overextend fattened and corrupt higher ranks it has to order the middle ranks to go and shoot protesters. Without knowing whether these folks will accept to stain their life sheets to protect higher ups that they cannot possible respect at best, or envy at worst in their desire to replace them and benefit from their corruption. Any officer with a slight amount of education knows what happened to Videla, Pinochet, or Mladic.

When the history of coming days will be written there will be no winners, only losers. And a tragic ending, whether the regime passes. Maybe it is time the world starts taking a little bit of the responsibility it has had in letting monstrosities like Cuba survive for that long. Your moral superiority can allow you to be adrift for only so long until you start paying the consequences.


  1. Anonymous11:55 PM

    Don't be blaming the rest of the world for the problems that have developed in Venezuela. I was living there when Chavez got elected in 1998, everyone had so much hope that he would help turn your country around! All I saw was a wanna be dictator! Over the past 15 years Venezuelans have let Chavez and all his 'thugs' give away and steal the Countries wealth, in exchange for TV's and washing machines!
    Finally the students have 'awoken' and started protesting against Chavistas and the Cubans. Everywhere else in the world where Venezuelans live, they are protesting! Let the rest of the people inside Venezuela get off their behinds and join the protests and get rid of these thieves and robbers once and for all!

    1. I too was in Venezuela in '98. I couldn't believe they actually elected that moron. Then again the 4th republic was pretty corrupt. Regardless, the US & Cuba should stay out of Venezuela. They've both done enough damage already.

  2. Stefan12:13 AM

    Here in Europe, the media are starting to cover the street protests in Venezuela. There are reports in major newspapers, at last. And although European journalists try to be "balanced" and also present the Chavista point of view, they find it more and more difficult to conceal the truth about the regime and what it did to the country.

    1. But apparently little in the US according to a friend in NYC. Al-Jazeera's coverage includes a Philadelphian "expert" saying he saw no imminent end to the regime. Everyone is being guarded for fear of being seen to interfere in another country's affairs Our Head of State's visit to Central/South America last included Mexico and Colombia but not Venezuela

    2. Boludo Tejano4:58 AM

      And although European journalists try to be "balanced" and also present the Chavista point of view, they find it more and more difficult to conceal the truth about the regime and what it did to the country.

      Do European journalists point out that Chavismo has gotten rid of oppo TV, most oppo radio, and is probably working on getting rid of oppo newspapers?

    3. Some European journalists probably do not know we have running water and electricity.....

    4. Boludo Tejano7:13 AM

      Not just Europeans. I once got into a blog discussion with an attorney in the good old USA who claimed that one reason that the poor supported Chavez was that the poverty areas in Caracas had no electricity in Caracas before 1999. It was not difficult to find documentation to show that electricity coverage was pretty much universal all over Caracas, poverty areas included, before 1999.

    5. Stefan1:37 PM

      "Do European journalists point out that Chavismo has gotten rid of oppo TV, most oppo radio, and is probably working on getting rid of oppo newspapers?"

      Boludo Tejano, regarding the German media, the answer is a clear: No. There is a German blog which reports those issues: The paid journalists don´t mention them at all.

    6. Stefan1:59 PM

      Daniel, it´s indeed a big problem that there is little first hand coverage of Venezuela in the media. Most newspapers just publish the reports of the news agencies, which are not just superficial but also very repetetive. If the two German state TV channels wanted to report about Venezuela, they would have to send a correspondent from either Buenos Aires, Washington, Mexico City or Rio de Janeiro. They don´t have anybody in Venezuela. But last September, they sent no less than 34 employees from Germany to Buenos Aires - for the live transmission of the IOC elections.

  3. Anonymous12:28 AM

    Mexico is going to be next if the citizens are not careful!

    1. There are very few parallels between Mexico and Venezuela and those parallels to the extent they exist are growing further apart, mainly due to the strengthening of legal institutions in Mexico

  4. Hi Daniel,
    Thank you, this is a very good analysis of the situation....
    This is where procastination and the self centered view ot things has brought us. While Chavez was very clearly giving away the country to his friends, not very many complained... Now it is almost too late...I hope it is not but the price to pay will be high.

  5. 1979 BP1:23 AM


    Must fight and risk lives for it.

  6. Anonymous2:24 AM

    When the history of coming days will be written
    there will be no winners, only losers.
    How true.

    EveryMan & everyWoman find life very personal.
    Social-web-theory, poverty, elitism are just words.

    no one likes me, I'm a nobody, I don't have anything to eat
    are real issues.
    This 15 year upheaval fueled empty talk & conflicts.
    Today, the conflicts are deadend streets.
    Today, we are also broke.
    Same issues, same diatribes,
    and yes, blame it on your neighbor.

    You are right. xp

  7. Anonymous2:25 AM

    .. I believe that the opposition sees hope , but is not sure what that hope is , as of yet ...

    ... I am praying for you and your homeland . Given the events going on , I think that all of Venezuela will need it . We have a twit in the White House (Obama) , so not sure how much help ...

    .. agree that army is not sure that their orders will be carried out . also , liability in courts in US , UK , and Canada ... also , the I.C.C. ... US Congress may take lead and pass harsh sanctions on Venezuela if a bloody crackdown ... doubtful obamacraps will take lead , do not know meaning of word ...

    .. PdVsa could be cutoff from Citgo [critical choke point] ... US fracked oil is somewhat heavier weight , is coming online like crazy , even with ObamaCrap interference ... between that & Athabasca Tar Sands , could easily supply a retrofitted Citgo , and PdVsa would be screwed (ditto state treasury) ...

    .. Citgo is why Commandante Hugo only went so far ... he knew if he pushed US too far , .... now , he is long gone , and Maduro may not be long in power , I think ...

    .. I am Catholic , and think Church could help lead the way ... Remember , Francis I is Argentinean , and will not approve of a crackdown ...

    .. take a look at my blogpost on the subject , and see what you think ...

    1. Anonymous2:54 AM

      Daniel, as a fascinated observer of Venezuela living is S. Florida I read your blog religiously. You always have interesting, intelligent thoughts. But, Dude, you surprised me completely with the surfing metaphor. Is that another of your many talents? Long board or short?

    2. No, I do not, although I am fascinated by the sea and waves, huge waves. I know of all the spots with the biggest surfing waves and the water underworld that allows for such waves.

      I thought that since the post started with the picture of a natural maelstrom it would be appropriate to add a wave quote. I did visit the one named but it was a low day with waves barely bigger than in San Francisco...... But still impressive.

  8. The US media is starting to pick up on what's happening in Venezuela:

    Fears of More Protest Clashes High in Venezuela
    CARACAS, Venezuela February 18, 2014 (AP)
    By JOSHUA GOODMAN Associated Press
    Associated Press

    Fears of more clashes between pro- and anti-government supporters ratcheted up in Venezuela as both sides prepared to march in the capital Tuesday and opposition leader Leonardo Lopez dared authorities to arrest him when he reappears in public. (snip)

    Venezuelan security forces raid major opposition base - USA Today


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