For readers of this blog it should not be a surprise that the regime has chosen naked repression. The nomination of Tareck El Aissami as vice president was a clear indication of that. The man is a born killer, in search of a vengeance as early as his days in college.
It is not that Tareck IS the man, he is just the willing agent, the front of the "civilian" radical wing of chavismo, the one closely tied to Cuban interests to which Maduro, Jaua and some other belong. They may or may not be die hard communists, some do not have the intellectual baggage to know what Marxism is truly about. But they all have a mean anti system streak and if they have joined totalitarian regimes from the left side it is strictly a matter of historical moment.
So what has pushed that radical side to act? And act it did. Plenty of opposition leaders accused of conspiracy are being detained illegally as I type. And as I type the regime is also starting to clamp down on the embers of private enterprise. And one can expect any time that the very few independent papers left will close. And Internet is getting worse by the day and it is quite likely that the regime will block it any time soon.
So what triggered that angry regime reaction? Many things are listed next in no particular order except for the last one which is our T time.
The regime has managed to kill the recall election against Maduro. Now that it has two solid years ahead one could have expect some form of quiet. But no. The truth is that recall election or not the regime remains on shaky grounds. On the economic front leaked data would seem to indicate that the Central Bank of Venezuela is dealing with a 20%+ drop in the GDP while inflation for 2016 may have reached 800%+. The refusal of the regime to take any serious action to counter that implies further degradation and the regime, controlled by Cubans, know that. They may actually wish it as a way to control the populace through starvation diet. But there would be a cost.
The military remains an enigma even for the regime. That it has also started this week a purge in military ranks can only confirm such suspicions. Maybe the regime knows that the army was not going to fire at hungry crowds and it needed to purge it fast before the economy grew worse. Maybe it is just scared of a coup for which many motives exist. Let's remember that not all in the military are implied in drug trafficking and those do not see any reason to sacrifice themselves for those who did partake in drug traffic.
The international scene is not good either. Today the dialogue regime-opposition was supposed to restart but nothing happened and nobody was surprised. Even the foreign "pressure" on dialogue has become a lip service of sorts. As a matter of fact in a very late coming moment of lucidity the Obama administration has decided today to maintain in place the measures against the Venezuelan regime, extending them by a year. Surely this is something that will be of help for the coming Trump administration.
All of these developments have been known for a while by the regime. And even though the recall election has been killed the constitution clearly states that last December we should have had governor elections, followed by mayors. They were promised for the first semester of 2017 on flimsy reasons. Since the regime is sure to lose them these elections have not been convoked yet, and by now the logistics rule out these elections before June 2017. Which basically means that these will be held when convenient, preferably when the opposition has been made illegal so that we will have some form of one party electoral system. Even losing only half of states is simply unacceptable for the regime.
The regime was simply looking for an excuse to start its repression and the National Assembly gave one by declaring the political responsibility of the crisis on president Maduro, in a legal figure here called "abandono del cargo" which does not mean that Maduro is AWOL of Miraflores Palace but that he is not performing his job according to his constitutional obligations. That the vote stretches some parameters is true, That the high court TSJ was sure to find an illegal way to annul it was true. But one needs to understand the why of such vote, a why that to my great surprise is not understood from people like governor Falcon to journalists and Internet writers who consider it an error.
Let's see what are the opposition options. The National Assembly has been voided of all content. The excuse on the Amazonas alleged illegal elections has not been, amazingly, settled by the electoral court 13 months later. Nor will it be settled because it would mean new high risk elections. And also that excuse to void the National Assembly is too good to pass on. The opposition self sabotaged itself in the dialogue in exchange for nothing as the regime did not fulfill the engagements taken in front of third parties. That these third parties did not bother to arrive to Caracas this week shows that even those biased in favor of the regime have lost any sanguine sentiment on the subject.
Thus the opposition cannot legislate anything, is under direct threat, has no dialogue to look for. What else can it do but to promote a confrontation with the regime? Not doing so is akin to validate all what the regime has done. As such voting the "abandono" was a perfect move, that forced the regime to act since not doing so could have rendered vocal the inner divisions of the regime.
That it also opens the opposition to its division is a price to be paid. And that should be paid. The hallowed unity is now working against the opposition. Look for a button the secret negotiation between the regime and UNT to free Manuel Rosales who is back today in Zulia with a gigantic rally. We do not know what UNT will do now that it got what it wanted, but one thing is certain, it cannot be trusted anymore. If there is an abscess it should be drained well before any election happens. Besides, were UNT and Falcon to defect the opposition would still retain a majority in the Assembly. Those who will suffer the most are UNT who will be strictly limited to Zulia state as Rosales now cannot hope to be the unity candidate again. Then again maybe the only thing he wants is to be governor for life of Zulia. Same thing for Falcon who will remain cloistered in Lara. Neither one can win a primary within the opposition now, neither Caracas nor Valencia would vote for them. I suspect that they have decided to make a pact with the regime so that they are given a state with some resources and peace in such a way that the regime can still show them as a democracy Potemkin village. And bid their time for better days after 2020.
But I digress. The point here is that the National Assembly has decided finally, perhaps late but finally, to challenge head on the regime and this one has decided to execute what it had planned for a while. Thus starts the political maelstrom that will lead to blood. It had been postponed for too long. There is no other way out now, even if the world decides to put pressure. It is too late, the regime and Cuba cannot take chances now that Fidel charisma is gone and that Trump is about to be sworn in while Europe cannot be relied upon as an escape from misery.
I would like to point out something that may have gone under the radar for many. Brazil and Colombia are starting to acknowledge that they are seeing the beginning of a refugee problem. Their border states are experiencing economic and service strains as Venezuelans come in for food and health care. And these countries are under no conditions to endure a refugee crisis which would be on a par with the Syria one. Surprises may be coming as Venezuela, unlike Cuba, is not an island.