Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fake temporizing in Venezuela

This week end caught us with two pieces of good news. Well, sort of. Two political prisoners got better jail terms, that is, home arrest for a while. One is a police chief of 2002 that the regime has tried to scapegoat as the lone guilty party of the deaths of April 2002, Ivan Simonovis. The other one was an activist from the protest earlier this year, Sairam Rivas.

Should we read something into this? I am afraid not.

To begin with, those two cases had become a problem for the regime's international image. Not that it cares much at this point, but with an expected trip of Maduro at the UN in the coming days, a mere gesture could only help.

Because it is a mere gesture. The conditions for the release of these two are draconian. Basically they must stay at home mute, and one of them has been released because the regime simply does not want him to die in jail. The other political prisoners, those that truly matter for the regime political survival? They are locked away as harshly as possible (Lopez, Ceballos, etc..).

Then again, one should always try to figure out a silver lining in such "gestures", even at the risk of passing for an imbibed dreamer.

Perhaps the clue comes from Henry Falcon, Lara's governor, asking for the dialogue regime-opposition to restart. Whether such call is self serving or Falcon is being asked by the regime to try to become the mouth piece of the opposition is not the point. The point here is that the regime needs to do something about the economy if it wants to avert a massive bloodbath when everything falls apart, sooner than what many may be expecting.

If we factor in the inner divisions of the regime, as far as we know of them, there is a small window of opportunity for some form of negotiation, if anything to gain time. One of the chavismo factions, the pragmatic ideological left (oxymoron intended) has been somewhat sidelined when Rafael Ramirez was pushed to the foreign ministry. That leaves mainly two factions in office, the military with now full control of the purse and the radical left with a pro Cuba political agenda. We know from history that when such a dipole exists bloody confrontation is unavoidable. The chavismo radical left may not be coherent or rational enough to know that but I am sure the military is more aware of a possible bloodbath for which they shall bear full responsibility. Thus the time is right, again sort of, for some type of negotiation, pacific gesture, something, to see how that affects the inner balance of power inside chavismo. Remember, chavismo has long ceased to be about the betterment of the country, it is only about survival since 2007.

On the plus side, ANY concession to democracy made by these people, representing the least democratic elements of chavismo (and Venezuela), will have more credibility and thus may have a chance to lead somewhere. Were such a gesture made by the "pragmatists" it would have merely been taken bu the radicals as a free pas to trash them.

On the minus side the radicals want to exterminate the opposition and the military want it to submit so they can all do business happily on the military terms, Burma like.

You will forgive me if in the end the release of Simonovis and Rivas had no effect on my mood even though I am happy for them to escape, even if briefly, the Venezuela hell system of jails.


  1. Anonymous8:52 PM

    Dream, dream on!. once again I think you're believing in the good faith of the regime. Your quote,"If we factor in the inner divisions of the regime, as far as we know of them, there is a small window of opportunity for some form of negotiation, if anything to gain time" is really priceless. Dream on, dream on! Yes, the regime has over the years its good faith in negotiating with the opposition. Ha,ha,ha.

  2. Charly12:24 AM

    Daniel, I love your style: "....the least democratic elements of chavismo", as if anyone in Chavismo was a (tiny?) bit democratic. Even the Chavista man-in-the-street is fundamentally anti-democratic otherwise would not find normal the way the regime handles the constitution, the opposition, the treasury, etc, etc.

    As for Falcon, perhaps the most double-face character to walk these parts. Let us not forget he was a Chavista once and got out of it not for his democratic belief but rather because of his competition with Reyes Reyes. Quite a democrat indeed.

  3. There's three things i don't believe in anymore:
    1- Divisions in chavismo: Sure there may be factions,interests and the occasional disagreement but do not be fooled. They all work towards the same goal: Being in power eternally.

    2-Implosion/Explosion: I don't see it happening. A 16 year old cancer patient died because her parents couldn't find/afford her treatment. Crime is as rampant as ever. Prices won't stop going up, shelves won't refill. And yet somehow, there's not a bit of arrechera in people on the streets, there is no tension anywhere, there is nothing that indicates people are gonna explode.The govt can, and probably will default on every debt possible, yet they keep getting enough cash to travel, eat grilled salmon, buy Prada and Gucci, and stay in power for years.

    3- Venezuela: I just don't think there is anything here worth my time. The country i grew up in has been completely destroyed, there are no remnants of the smallest potential for development there once was,nor is there love in me for the country i once felt proud of. Nothing is going to change, like nothing has changed in Cuba, we are not the arabs.

    I am moving on December to Panama. That is if the airline doesn't decide to cancel my fight and give me a refund like it has happened to many people. After all, the ticket i bought 4 months ago at 13.000Bs is now near 40.000Bs.

  4. Juan Crespo, good luck and don´t give up. I´ve spent many years explaining to Venezuelans they lacked the political will and abilities to withstand a takeover. The best solution has always been to clear out as soon as possible. They won´t do very well with the missing brains, and nobody owes allegiance to a country full of slave minded people. It´s better to start all over elsewhere, and try to explain to people in other nations not to ever allow this scourge to take over. This is going to be a very long struggle, I suspect it will never end.

  5. Great analysis with some heartfelt comments. But please, never give up. Even though Chavismo has lasted much longer than makes sense, there should always exist that possibility of hope. And with todays mass communications, so different from the past, conviction can become reality.

    1. Stuart, Venezuela can´t change because it is glued to Cuba by the hip. The Cuban dictatorship has already shown it has very long legs, it gets the cooperation and assistance of European communists, as well as USA "progressives". Freedom seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Unfortunately our left wing friends don´t realize that in the end their beloved "socialism" is doomed to end in dictatorship, human rights abuses, and then morphs into a fascist dictatorship buttressed by a military parasite. This phenomenom is like a disease, and the Venezuelan people aren´t about to get cured.

    2. The opposition could bring change to Venezuela any day by bringing constructive policy proposals to the table in national, state and local institutions. But they have zero policy ideas, nothing to bring to the table, and have only empty hand wringing. They must assume responsibility for being an impoverished opposition, that fails to add to or enrich the political process. They want power handed to them on a silver platter, but have never said what they would do with it. When they were in power before Chavez poverty in oil rich Venezuela stood at 70% -- yes 70%. Today the United Nation measures it at 18%-29%, and that does not take into account free education at all ages, Unemployment stands around 6%. Opposition: stop asking "what can Venezuela do for me?" Ask "what I can do for Venezuela." Oppositions have important roles to play, and you are abdicating, disrupting, not helping.

    3. Monica

      Rarely have I seen such a naive and misinformed comment.

      If you want this type of comment to hold credibility, ANY credibility, you should start by acknowledging that chavismo is in office since February 1999, that actually the regime holds so much power that it is considered by many to be a dictatorship. Thus, blaming problems of today's Venezuela on what happened 15 years ago is either, your choice, silly or acknowledgment of the incompetence and corruption of the regime.

      As for data, I would advise you to question ANY data coming out of Venezuela today as it cannot be verified by anyone. In short, at least since 2010, it is all propaganda. Of course, you are free to believe it and thus you must assume the consequences on your own credibility.

      But keep reading this blog anyway, you may start to educate yourself about Venezuela. In case you have not noticed, I am quite a critic of the opposition too.

  6. Anonymous12:13 AM

    I tend to see it the way Juan Crespo has detailed it. However Daniel you make regular reference to the Chavismo left in your posts. What Chavismo left this never existed. A left would be looking to the best interest of the people. This group and the founding group were never leftist they simply used the concept of the left to manipulate the poor (majority) in order to create a dictatorship. Unlike Cuba this will fail as read a political history book of Venezuela. This dictatorships in Venezuela have happened many many times and all have failed at some point. This gov't would have already been tossed out if not for Lopez and Maria who took a valid revolt that would have gain the backing of the country rich and poor, a revolt lead by every day students and turned it into a political circus losing the support of the entire poor class. Yes their leadership fired up the middle to upper class but completely lost the lower class (majority). Hopefully the next movement that starts stays as a groundswell with leadership from within and the opposition stays completely out of it. Maduro did a good job of making the groundswell about a battle against the opposition hence the arrest of Lopez etc.

    Canadian looking in

  7. Simmonovis release is political posturing for the UN Security Council Seat. A sort of gesture of how 'Humanitarian" this Nefasto regime can be..


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