Where in the world is Luis Velasquez Alvaray?!

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Well, LVA was a no-show at his National Assembly hearing. Guy was promptly, unanimously sacked and the rumor going around over at Noticiero Digital is that he skipped the country. His right-hand guy, Antonio Barazate – the same guy who tried to do an end-run around the Maduro faction by buttering up Chavez’s mom – shot himself in Barinas when it became clear LVA was throwing in the towel. Barinas faction chieftain Pedro Carreño conspicuously also failed to show up at LVA’s hearing, suggesting his clique is quickly reaching an Ameliachesque level of disfavor.

How to read this? Well, my conjecture is that this signals the ascendancy of the Maduro faction. It’s just imaginable – though staggering in its implications – that the barely literate former rabble-rousing bus driver is really succeeding in establishing his people as the dominant force in the chavista faction wars. Which is good news for midgets near and far – and for their white-powder dealing higher-ups. It’s interesting thinking through this development alongside Jack Sweeney’s piece on the changes in the State Department staff dealing with Venezuela. Jack notes that more and more counter-narcotics types are getting assigned to Foggy Bottom’s Venezuela desk. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

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