Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dark options

I am writing this as I am listening to Górecki #3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs". You have been warned. (1)

The situation is simply impossible for the Venezuelan opposition electoral umbrella MUD.  Now that the "dialogue" is dead and that a furious regime has imposed a deadline for an advanced presidential election on April 22 what can the MUD do?  Participating would be incoherent with the dialogue since it broke on the matter of the election date that should have been December 2018 (2). Not participating is letting the field open for Maduro to be reelected with gazillions votes through a massive fraud that cannot technically be proven.

Before we walk though scenarios let us understand a few key elements.

To mount a successful campaign the opposition must breach at the very least these barriers:

- hold primaries or some nomination process that gets a single candidate that can motivate the electorate back to the poll stations

- organize a monitoring system on voting day strong enough to withstand the military pressure to commit electoral fraud in at least 3/4 of voting stations. If anything to compensate through massive voting there the fraud committed in the 25% that cannot be reached by the opposition monitors for a variety of reasons.

- quell any idiotic campaign for abstention and transform it into a unifying rally to overthrow the regime.

- be prepared for the day after.

I do not see this happening by April 22. Amen of other necessary items for winning an election.

So, can we do something?

The basic questions the MUD needs to answer within the next week are "Are we or not in a narco dictatorship? Are we willing to face it down for what it is? With all the collateral damage that this will mean."  Only if we all agree on the answers to these questions do we have a chance to come up with a coherent strategy, either to win or to sabotage Maduro's happening.  Next a few possible scenarios depending on how well this is understood, or accepted.

Scenario 1, the worst case scenario, the end of democracy scenario

Some inside the opposition decide to go for it against all odds.  Some go abstention and cannot come up with any other strategy than staying home and wait for the Marines to land.  Likely there will be several candidates, some financed by the regime itself (3).  The bulk of the opposition in urban areas will refuse to go and vote (4). Maduro will be elected without having to make major fraud and with perhaps no more han 40% of the vote (5) . He can thus pretend that he is legitimately elected and we are good for him as president for life. We just pack and leave the country.

Scenario 2, the legitimization scenario

The opposition decides to run and manages to put forward a single candidate rendering minor ones irrelevant no matter how well financed they are by chavismo.  However it seems very difficult that a unity candidate in such circumstances will be able to motivate people to vote. If, for example, Maria Corina Machado decides not to support the said candidate the opposition would be very hard pressed to reach 50% of the vote.

In this scenario the regime would be forced to run a harsher campaign, and go to open cheating expecting a weak opposition response. Maduro would "win" but with no more than a 55/45 lead.  More would be too much and conduct to violence, maybe not on election day but surely after as the crisis gets worse.

Unfortunately the result in that scenario is that unless fraud is not promptly exposed and the MUD refuses to recognize Maduro's "victory", the final outcome would be a grudging recognition of his regime. A "pariah state light" situation which is enough for Maduro to hang in until chavismo itself decides to throw him out of office.

Scenario 3, collapse or recovery for chavismo?

An inspired united opposition candidate does manage to rally the bases. In spite of all odds s/he gets 60% of the vote.  But Maduro and the illegal constituent assembly remain until January 2019.  The election can simply be annulled on any ground, or through the voting of a new constitution and thus a new electoral system implying new elections.

I let you speculate on the disorders and bloodshed that would come out of that scenario. However as it is based on a motivating MUD candidate and there are only 2 months left, well, forget it! Ain't happening.

Scenario 4, the principled campaign

This last scenario is the one that should take place and, of course, in Venezuela with the MUD we have it ain't happening either. Let's walk through it anyway.

In this scenario a principled unity candidate is decided upon. One of his/her first speeches is to state that unless fair electoral conditions do not happen during the campaign this one will withdraw before election day and call for civil unrest all the way until, and on election day.

That position has the merit of being coherent with international support that is currently inclined not to recognize the result of April 22, no matter what. People will come from all over to watch the troubles, and not only journalists. Real reports will be made. Consequences will happen (6).

It has also some advantages since it does not require as much organization such as, e.g.,  staffing to monitor all centres, just enough to prove that there is election fraud. It is a possible way out if the MUD gets lots of support and pressure on the regime from international actors.  The point here is to force the regime to commit such pre electoral fraud that indeed the election will not be recognized before the first vote is cast.  In other words the MUD needs to invest all of its energy in political pressure aiming to the positive outcome that the elections are postponed and thus organized for later, on fairer terms.

The risk here is that a truly desperate regime may decide once and for all to steal the election outright, regardless of international pressure and thus willing to exert massive repression.  In short whoever the opposition candidate and close assistant are they must be ready to see bullets, jail and maybe death.

So there you have it. Wrap your mind around.


1- Of course the David Zinman / Dawn Upshaw classic that I bought shortly after it came out in 1992 and never set aside.

2- Whoever is elected on April 22 cannot be sworn into office until January 2019. The advanced election date is a regime maneuver to control the election while it can still control it, before there country's total economic collapse. Whether a swearing in is possible in 2019 is of course an open question.

3- Rumored to go no matter what are Ramos Allup, Henri Falcon and some failures like Claudio Fermin.  Folks like this last one will have a surprisingly well financed campaign, with more posters than actual voters.

4- Without massive voting in Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo, Barquisimeto, Puerto Ordaz and Puerto La Cruz the opposition cannot compensate for the rest of the country where the regime blackmail for food is too entrenched for people to dare vote against the regime. Unfortunately Caracas and Valencia will have a hard time going out to vote as it is, and the prospects for the other cities are hardly better.

5- Even to reach 40%, with extended abstention, the regime will need electoral fraud such as "assisted" voting or outright blackmail. A divided opposition would leave only a viable candidate with Ramos Allup who has a more or less decent organization with his AD party in small but real recovery.  But Ramos Allup has alienated some of the most motivated organizers in Venezuela, in particular those from Voluntad Popular who can claim that Ramos Allup was not sorry when VP leadership was decapitated.   If Ramos Allup were to manage 40%, the regime would need to print only an extra 5% of the ballots to win. A not so difficult task when there are no international observers and no one inside polling stations to monitor.

6- For questions of time a serious electoral observation requires at the very least 3 full months work with all doors open. Thus it is not possible this time around, besides the fact that e regime refuses them anyway. The only possible observation is lots of international journalists and figures visiting. The better if they are pushed back at the borders.  There is thus a need to motivate them to come and watch the repression.


  1. Participating in an illegitimate election ordered by an illegitimate assembly, which many nations already declared would be declared illegitimate would be....counterproductive (I'm trying to be polite). I suppose you are too civilized to grasp the concept that communists never give up power unless they are forced to do so. The regime is much more than Maduro, it's also Jorge Rodriguez, Tareck, Cilia, and Raul Castro. And they will not ever give up power unless they are forced to do so, physically.

    I suggested to Solorzano she organize another referendum, like the one we had in July 2017, to be held a couple of days or a week before the fraudulent election. It should simply ask if Maduro should resign.

    The aim is to get outside support for sanctions, to organize a national liberation army which can fight with outside Air Force and naval support. A fast analysis shows that 20 thousand Venezuelans armed with Russian weapons (so they are compatible with captured material) can, with serious air support, and a naval blockade, induce a fast collapse of Maduro's army, which isn't really a Venezuelan army. What comes afterwards would be harder, to keep the communists from moving into a terror campaign the USA has to be willing to threaten the Castro dictatorship with war, demand it withdraw all Cuban personnel, and ensure the ELN and other Latinamerican communists don't move in. It won't be pretty, but it's better than seeing Venezuela stay in the hands of these butchers.

    1. Whether I am too civilized has nothing to do with I write about here. This is a pragmatic post based on the possibile in this situation. And, at any rate, scenario 4 covers what you propose.

    2. Anonymous6:03 PM

      How so, Daniel?

  2. Regardless of the tropical fraudulent scenario, the outcome will be the same: Another stolen election. The Kleptocracy perpetuating itself in power, duh, nothing new there.

    What will change is that the Economic crisis will continue to get even worse. That even the millions of uneducated zombies, enchufados, leeches on Chavista payroll hate Maduro. The prospect of 7 more years of even worse Hell becomes intolerable if you can't leave. And most importantly, Rex Tillerson and friends Macron-Macri (EU and Latam) are not kidding this time. Severe economic sanctions including oil/gas embargo would strangle the Kleptocracy: how could they continue to BRIBE the entire military plus Millions of enchufados? How could they pay Brasil for the Clap food?

    It's the Economy, as always.. Even the French Revolution was all about Bread or lack thereof. Le pain, filston, ou est le pain??

  3. The election doesn't matter. Venezuela will collapse into anarchy before year's end. Better to not participate in a fraudulent process & move on to direct action whether peaceful or otherwise.

    Principled Nonvoting: The Beginning of Disengaging From the State

    1. Yes the option that was not listed was total meltdown. When ALL confidence in voting is completely lost and there's nothing left to eat, the result could make the Caracazo look like a walk in the park.

  4. Even if Scenario 4 was decides upon and implemented I always find myself wondering how do they get the message out to far flung places like Delta Amacuro or the likes? With Cadena Nacional running almost daily before elections how does the opposition not only gets its' message and candidate out, but convince people that this is the way forward without hours and hours of convincing ads, discussions, and an extensive economic plan that can be well explained? Howto reach all these possible voters? ALso, there are millions of untapped and unregistered voters out there. And they do not escape the horror of the economic collapse. What plan is there to capture, educate politically, and register at least a hand full, 3 or 4 million, that would definitively swing an election, even one wracked by fraud. It seems such an untapped resource.

  5. Apparently no one is taking Rex Tillerson or Macron seriously. That we laugh at the "Peru 12" I can understand, but the USA is about to become the #1 oil producer, and doesn't need Kleptozuela anymore. Rex just has talks with Mexico and Canada, for oil exchanges is my guess.

    No oil or gas for the Chavista regime means no cash to bribe 5 million public enchufados, no cash to bribe the entire corrupt military. What about THAT scenario?!

  6. I do not see how the opposition does anything more then to have the true NA come out and say the election is unconstitutional and will not be recognized and stay completely out of it. Further rule that the electoral council has been acting unconstitutional and pass the law that any elections under it are voided. Let the world know that Venezuela will not honour anyone unconstitutionally appointed. Won't change anything but is a position the world can support.

  7. Tom in Oklahoma11:40 PM

    Miami Herald is reporting that US Admiral Kurt Tidd who is head of the US Southern Command was in Colombia over the weekend for a meeting with the Colombian VP. Interesting!

    1. They claimed to do with drug trafficking, however is likely just for perception. Obviously they are not planning anything against Venezuela with a Southern commander and a Vice president publicly meeting.

  8. Tom in Oklahoma6:25 PM

    No, I don't think they are planning an "attack" against the regime but I can't help but think that contingency plans to deal with any eventualities were probably discussed.Eventualities such as a financial and or societal collapse would require a prepared response from neighboring countries that could be overwhelmed by the outflow of refugees fleeing Venezuela on a much larger scale than is currently occuring.

  9. I don't see any of the four scenarios happening, or at least a variation of the first scenario, with PSUV still in power, with or without Maduro.

    From what I see here from Brazil, the election results will indeed deliver a "packing signal" for the population.

  10. At this point the OAS should make a resolution not only not supporting the results of the shame election but saying that if they go through with it that the OAS would recognize the only authority left in Venezuela as the properly elected National Assembly. And that all OAS nations would only be able to conduct relations and business through the duly elected NA as the only duly elected authority remaining in Venezuela. With an OAS resolution (34 countries) this would force the cancellation of the election and if the USA pushed hard at the other member nations the OAS would majority support this.

  11. Daniel.....who tells the 30000 Cuban soldiers to leave?....I any of these variations....they are not leaving
    Would the US leave S Korea if they unify?
    I think not.
    No matter how much people suffer and die ...the Chavista people will fight to the death... there is no other choice..
    Until the bodies start piling up ..even more bodies....all this election nonsense .Is bullshit theater.its not entertaining anymore..
    But I love the fact that the Regime now has a very insecure face....Is getting beyond control....that's an interesting senerio...


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