Monday, August 24, 2015

Will it hold?

It seems that creating an unjustified "state of emergency" at the border with Colombia has accelerated talk of regime "change". We have Miguel, or a nice article at the FT (subscription) by Daniel Lansberg or a dire "self-coup" from Oppenheimer at the Miami Herald. Readers of this blog should not be surprised as I have expressed often my doubts at the elections on December 6 would be actually held, or when describing how the country was collapsing steadily.

Rather than going into the macro thing covered extensively elsewhere, let me go first into the micro stuff.

The fact of the matter is that shelves of non controlled products at grocery stores are getting empty. As for the controlled stuff when it arrives, it is in insufficient quantities, immediately sold, often among some trouble and even looting outside of Caracas as the situation there is much worse.  But this you already knew, it's just that it's getting worse by the day.

But scarcity of food and medicine is just the apparent face.  The reality is much worse as it is more and more difficult to produce food and medicine. It is not that raw materials are lesser and lesser amounts, it is that working with the limited amounts available is increasingly difficult. Not only spare parts deficiency stop production lines frequently, in addition to raw material erratic deliveries, but insecurity in transport and distribution make the few still producing reluctant to ship far away or to risky areas.

And that is not all. To the above problems you must add a renewed corruption drive where public "servants" now are asking straight to your face cash to perform the duties that they are required to perform by law. Not only inspectors now are blunt about asking you for money or they will close your facility on some dumb excuse that would carry at worst a small fine, but requesting permits for whatever has become an ordeal.

I am not going to give you references for the above: this all is my personal day to day experience. We are helpless in front of it all. There is nowhere to go for redress of any abuse, of any black market activity.

As expected this is having a deleterious effect on the political climate, explaining why the regime is grasping at any excuse to blame others for its failures. It was the "economic war" then it was the irridente Esequibo, today it is Colombia unable to control its borders and promoting paramilitaries even though we ALL KNOW that the huge contraband at the border can only happen because of the connivance or actual help from the Venezuelan military. Tomorrow?  It will get worse as these political shows have a light traction, at best, for the regime's political aims. Polls this week seem to credit that if fair elections were held the opposition is above 20% the regime and up and up. Difficult to see how the regime could bridge the gap by December 6. Short of miraculously ending all food and medicine lines I do not see how the regime can reduce the spread to less than 10%, the maximum amount that it can compensate through electoral cheating.

This being said it is quite clear that the Tachira "emergency" and the abuses perpetrated  against defenseless Colombian migrants are a clear step in the strategy to falsify the election. The hope is that cheap nationalism will be enough to reverse the regime's fortunes, or otherwise justify a national "emergency" that will allow a postponement of elections in the hope of better electoral days.

This all we can take as "fact". What is more worrisome is that the regime in full economic debacle IS NOT taking ANY MEASURE. ANY. Unless arresting a few assholes with an extra 10 pounds of corn flour or a few gallons of gas on their bike to Colombia count as an economic measure in a country with maybe 30 million folks. Why? Are we that broke that we cannot even buy basic staples overseas? Is the regime so politically helpless that we cannot even increase the price of gas to a dime a gallon? Are divisions and/or incompetence so entrenched in the regime that they cannot come up with or decide on a single measure to deal with the situation? Measures exist, simple, like a devaluation from 6.3 to 100 which, believe it or not, would have more beneficial effects on inflation than negative ones.

Or is it that the regime is so convinced of its own demise that it is playing the burnt earth card?

Which bring us to the title. My own opinion is that it is a distinct possibility that the regime will not hold until December 6. Either Maduro will be gone, or the regime will have morphed into your regular explicit proto-totalitarian dictatorship. Even if measures are taken TODAY they cannot have much effect by December 6. Even if the regime brings in a whole bunch of imports they are not here yet, they would be insufficient, they will not be spread efficiently and at best could only reach the hard core chavismo.

It is just too late to save the regime in December 6, even if electoral cheating is applied bluntly irregardless of world observation. It would be worse than when Ahmadinejad was fraudulently elected against Mousavi.

Thus the possibility of regime "change", from a Maduro resignation to a coup and bloody repression is becoming quite distinct. Whichever it is one thing is certain: it will not go away peacefully.


  1. "Short of miraculously ending all food and medicine lines I do not see how the regime can reduce the spread to less than 10%, the maximum amount that it can compensate through electoral cheating."

    Perhaps you haven't read enough about the wonders of Chavez's Smartmatic. El Mago Rodriguez and his adorable sister are highly proficient can do anything, with TibiBitch applauding.

    I still expect a laughable, meaningless 55% MUD "Victory", conceded on purpose through enormous fraud, of course.

    Y despues, cuando la gente patalee, ahi si, toque de queda/estado de excepcion.. pero "democraticamente"

    1. The response would have to be peaceful resistance: Stop going to work. But Venezuelans tend to be extremely laid back. I think the frog will stay in the pot until the water boils.

    2. What you say Sledge about the small MUD victory could very well be true and the sad part is the opposition would be satisfied with that.

  2. Fernando, you keep saying that "stop going to work". Are you talking about Norway?

    Most people cannot afford to "stop working", or get fired, they live hand-to-mouth every week.

    Get off your high horse and get real.

  3. Daniel you ask: "Is the regime so politically helpless that we cannot even increase the price of gas to a dime a gallon? Are divisions and/or incompetence so entrenched in the regime that they cannot come up with or decide on a single measure to deal with the situation?".
    I believe the gov't structure was built on mass corruption. That anyone in any position of power has been compensated by being allowed to steal all they can steal. Whether it is military personnel promoting smuggling, or the gangs implemented being allowed to rob and or access low cost goods to be sold on black market. Others dealing in drug trafficking, or payment for permits and inspections. Point is the entire system requires all this corruption, price distortion etc or it loses the support of those being allowed to be corrupt. At this point it cannot afford to lose any of its limited support so it has allowed corruption to get worse in order to satisfy those it was built on.
    At no point can they change any pricing such as say fuel as people will get mad and those smuggling it within the regimes ranks will be upset. No matter what logical measure they would take some element of their support will get upset and it all unwinds. They are stuck in the mess they created as their is not enough oil revenue to continue for all elements of the regime's corruption to get enough to be satisfied.
    Hence the gov't is completely broken and would happily hand over the keys to the castle if they are assured they will not be punished in any way. Especially financially because we are talking about such a large numbers, likely over 10 billion in banks and that does not count the real estate and businesses the regime and friends have bought or taken.

    1. Roberto Carlos7:13 PM

      Daniel these posts by Canadian are even better than yours.
      Imagine: "the gov't is completely broken" who would have thunk it!!!
      Imagine: "they would happily hand over the keys to the castle if they are assured they will not be punished in any way", Daniel you would have never turn over a phrase like that "the keys to the castle" get it? and who would have thought that people that commit crimes would go happily if they are assured not to be punished? Only Canadian can come up with that insight into human behavior.

    2. Anonymous2:41 AM

      Roberto Carlos:

      What's your beef? Daniel has stated, unto infinity and beyond, the concepts that our inward looking Canadian has espoused.

      Your attacks on the blog owner are ridiculous.

      I get you post once and done, but you keep coming back to something you denigrate so much?

      Sera que el que pica es porque aji come?


    3. Damn Roberto, Daniel and I must have made you cry once. What a tantrum. Please keep coming back you are my best fan.

  4. Due to the inextricable Boiling Frog syndrome... Looks like no, it will not hold until December. Auto-Golpe/Estado de Excepcion total, toque de queda, curfews..

    Looks like an Auto-Golpe de Estado is what's going on on now with the "radicalizacion de la revolucion" , estados de excepcion, Militarization of the border, false murder accusations.. we're probably a few more murders away from a complete Self-Coup, pero eso si, metiendoselo poquito a poco, como siempre, como les gusta al pueblo zombie-sapo de Cubazuela.

  5. Anonymous2:43 AM

    I guess they can't wait, can they.

    Here's Godgiven Hair today:

    "Proponemos formalmente que esa actividad de cierre de frontera y Estados de Excepción vaya sumando territorios para ser liberados para el bienestar de nuestro pueblo", aseguró Cabello durante una sesión extraordinaria de la Asamblea Nacional (AN, parlamento) en San Cristóbal, capital del fronterizo estado del Táchira (oeste)."

    Sumando territorios! Here we go.......


  6. Anonymous9:00 AM

    My greatest worry is that the regime will concede opposition victory, only to obstruct all attempts at meaningful reform - except where people will get hurt even more, where opposition will be blamed for all bad results, and good results will be ignored. Thus a devaluation would be interpreted as opposition robbing money out of people's savings, blaming them for inflation and whatnot, while ignoring the fact it was necessary to devalue three (or five?) years ago.

    With courts and media on their side, they certainly could get away with it. It would be a genius political gamble that could buy them several more years in power.

  7. Charly4:47 PM

    From afar, the local situation has become such a boring, predictable subject, I dread when I will have to come back home next week and get immersed again in all that nonsense.


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