Wednesday, January 23, 2019

23 de enero, bis repetita placent

Between 2003 and, say, 2015 I wrote furiously this blog denouncing the dictatorship that Chavez wanted to, started to, definitely installed in Venezuela.  And now, irony, when I should be typing furiously what seems to be the end of the regime I have got to drag myself in front of the computer.  I am not the same person.
Our next president?

Yet, since I plan to attend tomorrow's opposition rallies I shall write a short summary of the past 2 weeks to help people cut through the contradictory news; and sometimes misleading news from well intentionned journalists who are, I am afraid, coming a tad late to the party.  Last night for example the French TV called Guaidó "extreme right" which goes on to tell you to watch out for what you read.  This blog is, of course, perfect.

January 5 the opposition held National Assembly elected its chair for the 2019 period of sessions.  It was the turn of Voluntad Popular to chair and they pushed forward Juan Guaido, a politician little known outside of political circles where he found good reviews.  After all Leopoldo Lopez is in jail, while other major figures are either in exile of sheltered in foreign embassies. Note: Voluntad Popular according to French TV would have managed the feat to be an extreme right party that is a full standing member of the international socialist union.

The amazing thing is that in spite of totally controlled TV and radio media, Guaidó has surged like few politicians have ever surged. Not even Chavez went that far that fast.  It is quite early to speculate on why such a surge in spite of regime media black out. But let's say that social media is reaching further than one would have thought (but do not be mistaken, lower classes are far from been knowledgeable about Guaidó: they have no smart phone).  One thing is certain: he is a fresh face, not tainted by opposition leadership failures; he seems to be disciplined enough in his speech lines, a rare quality today. That is enough to give him a rocket launch, at least among opposition followers who in not even two weeks have rallied behind him, even grudgingly like for the Maria Corina Machado crowd.

January 10 Maduro persisted in his crimes by swearing himself in front of the high court TSJ. Let's not deal with legalese here: the point is that serious democratic countries do not recognize him. And this for a very good reason: his "reelection" is a fraud. Period.

Thus the NA proceded to do as it is its constitutional duty: declare the presidency void and the need for elections to supply the lack of president.  PLUS that the chair of the NA should assume the interim presidency. Which it has not done yet.

Why has Guaidó chosen not to swear in yet? If you hear the rabid crowds in Twitter you will go from "betrayal" to "cowardice" and a vast choice of insults.  The truth, Occam style, is quite simpler. You can swear in to whatever you want but if you have no means to enforce it, you are dead.

What people do not understand is that Guaidó maybe the chair of the NA, BUT HE REPRESENTS ALL OF IT, NOT HIMSELF ALONE. He cannot do anything of consequence without making sure his back is covered.  The NA has set on a course of actions to put such legal pressure on Maduro's regime that either this one caves in or it does the irremediable: dissolve and jail the assembly.  If the NA plays its cards wisely, Maduro loses no matter what he choses to do.
Open cabildo

The NA started by announcing that it was assuming the vacuum, not swearing Guaidó yet, leaving that for future pressure.  Today it made use of that faculty officially for the first time by declaring that Venezuela would not leave the OAS and consequently naming a new ambassador.  It is irrelevant to discuss here whether that is legal: the point is that it stresses that Maduro does not direct legally foreign policy anymore and the international community will need to chose sides.

The other thing that Guaidó promoted was "open cabildos" some kind of open air town hall meetings. Many laughed but to everyone great surprise, probably Guaidó included, they took a life of their own and withing days the crowds drew larger and larger all over the country.  And Guaidó wily implied that depending on the success of these cabildos and the conclusive rally of January 23 he would decide to swear himself as interim president of Venezuela.

What was the more interesting surprise was the relative lack of reaction from the regime.  We only saw repeated moves that helped it in the past like new TSJ rulings and a miserable increase in miserable social bonuses.  With an hyperinflation people are well aware of the worthlessness of these.  Translation: the regime has no idea about what to do and is preparing for massive repression, it slone card left. That is, if the military agree, and that is far from certain.

Yesterday there was a small mutiny of 27 guards. For all that I know it may have been a show from the regime to justify X action. The problem is that the alleged mutineers called for the people of Cotiza to come to their rescue. And they did.  Cotiza is one of the many neighborhoods of Western Caracas where chavismo has reigned supreme. Low income folks, very sensitive to state subsidies.  In all the 2014 and 2017 protests Cotiza never lifted a finger. Last night it was not only Cotiza with troubles but also other chavista strongholds like EL Limon or La Pastora, San Martin, etc...

Now, do not raise your hopes high that fast. Those are the neighborhoods that serve as links to poorer areas and those ones did not move much, that I know of.  Also there were people there protesting but their numbers were not that large. But they were protesting, for the first time, and the spell is broken. The more so that scared people living in these areas did not go out but started banging their pans in protest and support.  Maybe only 200 went to the streets in Cotiza yesterday. But tomorrow they could well be 2,000.  That is what really shocked the country today, the end of the CLAP blackmail food subsidy program.  The blackmail and the failure of the regime to fulfill its part has exhausted the population (1)

Tomorrow, historical selfie day record?
While all of this is taking place the opposition is getting ready for what may be the largest protest rally ever in Venezuela. January 23 is the anniversary of the overthrown of Perez Jimenes in 1958, our last before Chavez dictator.  Traditionally there are political rallies and marches on that day. Even chavismo tried to appropriate for itself that political marker, but they could not because, well, they are not democrats.

Thus the opposition is rolling its dices for tomorrow, trying not only to hold a mega rally where for the first time there will be a large contingent from Western Caracas, but also rallies all over the country.  Whatever happens tomorrow the one certain thing is that chavismo late called counter marches will not be able to do better in Caracas, and will be absent in the provinces. (2)

Today the stakes managed to go higher. Vice president Mike Pence sent a personal message of support to the opposition for tomorrow and Senator Marco Rubio clearly indicated that the US has had enough of Maduro and that it was time for this one to negotiate something in earnest.

And that too, for good measure

And Rubio, no minced words

And in case you still do not get it

And to nail it, this video of Guaidó. Whether you understand Spanish is irrelevant. Observe his qualm and apparent relax. He may be young but he is already an excellent politician. And more importantly, he inspires confidence!

To be continued (3)

1) there were the "pernil riots" in December when the regime failed to deliver the promised traditional pig hinds that Venezuelans eat for Xmas. Who'd knew that they announced what is going on now.

2) Western Caracas has always sent people to the protest rallies and marches of Eastern Caracas but not in large numbers, and only when such protests were held on week ends.  I am willing to guess that if pressure from CLAP food and violent colectivos was a tad weaker we would have seen significant numbers in 2017, and maybe even in 2014.  The only question tomorrow is how large will be West Caracas contingent, but there will be one. After all, they can claim to go to work and shift to the protest since most places of work will not open..... Colectivos can only herd so many people at once.

3) I will attend and will bring my good camera with real zoom.  But my health situation doe snot allow me to go as far as before since I cannot run to escape eventual gases.  There is no point taking one's smart phone to send pictures because, well, lines will probably be down.  I may tweet on occasion, follow me if you do not do it already.


  1. godspeed, and be safe. will be looking forward to see what comes next, and to hear your thoughts about it post #23enero.

  2. yes, crossing fingers here. Seems we are at the end of a terrible detour for Venezuela - hope we can cut a new beautiful path on the 23rd.

  3. You may have changed (or the regime may have changed you) but don't let them take away your enthusiasm... I know it's easy for me to say not being there. Nevertheless, even if you're in a deep cave, you know the sun still is out there somewhere.

  4. Well here is to hoping this is the end of the regime and a reverse in the country wealth with decades of prosperity. Seen a to be the best shot at a change in a long while. The real question is if the military supports the regime then is there any way for this to work out short of all out war from the people and will they go that far?

  5. My understanding is that Guaidó can only be named Interim President and then has one month to prepare presidential election, if not he himself becomes illegitimate. Is this so? If so then he better stay put as the logistics is likely insurmountable. Most likely scenario is a fat general as president, result of a military coup. Plus ça change, plus....

    As for the French, whenever I go there there is always someone to tell me how ignorant Yanks are of what is going on in other countries, a pot and kettle situation.

  6. With Guaido now declaring himself President and the USA and Canada voicing their recognition of him as the president, it sure is getting interesting. Hope they have enough powerful people in the military to lead the average soldier to do the right thing. Would be sweet if Brazil and Colombia offered their military support to Guaido as would likely convince the average soldier to turn on the corrupt Cuban generals.

  7. I think Brazil will invade. They are probably discussing it now. Look forward to your next post, Daniel

  8. Of course you are in Caracas now!

  9. So here is an interesting one. Maduro says that Venezuela is breaking ties with the USA and the USA diplomats have 48 hours to leave Venezuela. However, the USA has said they do not recognize Maduro but Guaido as the leader hence they should not listen. Interesting to see what the USA does.

  10. Praying for your safety, as always, and looking forward to your next update.



  11. Good luck Daniel. Stay safe,and help restore your country to a sane government.Thaddeus and Elise

  12. Milonga4:06 PM

    Dear Dano: Went yesterday to the rally organized by Venezuelans in Montevideo. I have been going to these rallies for years now, inspired by your posts, and my love for justice and liberty. It was by far the greatest rally I attended, in part because people are really pissed that our government is supporting Maduro and people are ashamed. I kept thinking that all was a dejá vu kind of situation, with hope surging from your guts but your guts telling you that history is far from over. I felt gratified by the amount of people that went to the rally - perhaps our government will listen now. Keep feeling that Mujica´s support (he is still believed an ethical left-wing leader) has given oxygen to your regime. I apologize on our behalf. Shall keep praying.... I embrace you....

    1. Dear Milonga

      You have been a consistent friend of this blog and your tale is heart warming. Thank you.

  13. Anonymous8:29 PM

    May any gods that exist be with the people of Venezuela.

  14. The whole coup is designed and executed by CIA against a legitimate President of Venezuela.It may result in thousands of deaths for no reason at all. Poverty there is caused by the US blockade, and freezing of Venezuelan assets in gold. This will not be very easy revolution to watch, and the whole blame foor it lays right at the feet of US gangsters.

    1. I cannot accept that someone that ignorant on Venezuela, and lacking of evidence for his assertions, comes here to insult our intelligence. This is clearly a post bombing of someone that has never visited this blog until this week.

      Grow up, put up or shut up. Go troll elsewhere.

    2. God, where do these people come from, how can they be so ignorant??? A simple search in google is enough to get a clear picture. Or ask a native


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