So Maduro/regime/Cuba have everything: total control of the executive, legislative and judiciary; decisive support of the army; they count the votes; no private sector able to finance an opposition; decided support of all sorts of tyrants/strong men here and there; the acquiescent silence of a few; semi free propaganda from lefties a.k.a tankies. Just a few democracies against and a few damning reports on human rights violations. But who cares: any insubordination at home will be quickly snuffed now that new repressive laws will be easily enacted.
But there is one thing that the regime has that is a problem: international sanctions. I am not talking about the sanctions against PDVSA which is seen as diminishing the income on corruption schemes (the income for el pueblo is sill enough to fudge elections, and if they want more they can emigrate least they die from Covid before_1_&_2_). The sanctions that the regime fears are those that are an hindrance to enjoy the loot in glamorous parts of the world. That is, it is becoming more difficult to hide the money or buy nice manses in the US or Spain. Never mind the risk of being arrested in doing so.
And now add the topping that the International Criminal Court at The Hague has decided that preliminary examination considers that crimes against humanity have been committed under Maduro in Venezuela. That is, Maduro and a bunch of other chavistas are now officially examined at the ICC for a possible (more than likely I would say) trial at The Hague.
What can a poor dictator do? At home no major problem. Investigated and condemned dictators have survived for years in power. There is nothing that a little repression and a little money cannot solve, as long as you do not leave the country. But if you and your cronies want to travel it is another matter: just hope that you do not need to do an emergency landing in an ICC signatory country.
Thus the "scoop" today.
It was to be expected. Changing tack makes sense since Trump failed in unseating Maduro. But at least Biden people understand that reversal is impossible.— daniel duquenal (@danielduquenal) December 18, 2020
Yet it is perhaps the last opportunity for Maduro to exit without a bloodbath.https://t.co/h4KqOWnB3G
Certainly Maduro must feel confident enough now that he has all in hand. Though his denial on the economy will play a trick on him someday, even Bechar and Mugabe fell eventually. He is probably willing to allow the opposition to gain a few town halls, maybe even a half dozen states, all under due monitoring (3). But replaying presidential and assembly election you may forget about it. And certainly not on fair terms, though some fairer conditions could be allowed at local levels, but not everywhere (4).
In exchange of a few cosmetic offerings, while retaining full judicial control, the most important of them all, the regime merely asks for suspension of sanctions and the implied freedom to keep drug trafficking, money laundering et al.
I, for one, doubt very much that Biden or the EU will accept that. Venezuela has become an hemispheric security issue. But Trump has failed, Maduro is more solidly in Miraflores than when Trump was elected (apparently solid, you know). The only winner of the Trump bravado on Venezuela is Trump himself: he won Florida. Cubans and Venezuelans in Florida or at home are worse off than when Obama left (5).
Let's not forget two things. First, the track record of negotiations with the regime has been an abject failure. Even when not against the opposition. For the regime, as with any totalitarian system, a "negotiation" is strictly a tool for gaining time even if some concessions must be made. On the first opportunity everything is taken back, and offensive resumed. And the second thing is that Maduro is propped up by the experience of Iran and Cuba on dodging sanctions and postponing deadlines.
It is thus quite certain that some conversation/negotiation will take place once Biden is sworn in. Not only it is unavoidable but they are to be supported. Was I thus misleading the reader with this post title? No. The point is that the word negotiation mean different things for a totalitarian state and a democrat. As long as democrats in the US and EU do not understand that and comprehend what that truly means, no serious negotiation will be possible or conclusive.
____________________________________1) just read the latest on how the regime is unable to perform even routine Covid tests....
2) Maduro has announced that he is throwing his lot behind the Russian vaccine. The problem, is that Putin did not get it because he said that it is not approved for those more than 60; that problems in production are reported; and last but not least, they are not bothering introducing the dossier of Sputnik 5 to the FDA or comparable agencies in Canada, the EU or Britain (nor the Chinese, for that matter, that I know of at this writing). I find that suspicious and I, for one, will wait for Pfizer/Moderna.
Fuel shortages are adding to Venezuela's inability to properly test people for Covid-19 despite receiving new supplies.— Álex Vásquez S (@AlexVasquezS) December 17, 2020
To date, just 1,600 of 340,000 antigen tests supplied by PAHO have been deployed, resulting in 400 positive cases. https://t.co/g1s8wFiCLI By @NicolleYapur