The Barrage

There are missiles coming from every direction. In just a few weeks, it was the comisarios, the ports and airports, Rosales, Ledezma, the Miranda clinics, the oil service companies, farm expropiations, laws challenging private property, el Ateneo, Globovision and the list goes on. After the February referendum they suddenly went into over drive, with the government shooting in every direction. It’s impossible to have a proper response to any particular attack. Sitting abroad you are left stunned every time you venture into the Venezuelan news-sites. And, I imagine, if you are inside the country you’d be exhausted even before you wake up. That is Chavez’s tactic, to stun you into submission.

Quico says: That thought by LaLucca in the comments section struck me as especially apt. The reality is that, when I sit down to blog, my standard operating procedure is to look through the news sites for an especially revealing item of news and then try to write some not-too-cliched comment about it. But that methodology has its own drawbacks, and they’re especially visible in the current climate.

The one-topic-at-a-time approach misses what’s felt most distinctive about the Venezuelan political scene since the February referendum: the barrage. Not this attack or that attack, but the whole heady mix of ’em; the sense that, by the time you’ve worked through the implications of any one of the things they’re doing, they’ve run off and done three more, each more alarming than the last.

What we’ve seen these last few months is Chavez on full attack mode on all fronts. Newly reassured that he can keep on seeking re-election indefinitely, the audacity, speed and scope of the government’s authoritarian offensive is just unprecedented.

The guy’s doing it all at once, taking on the challenge of creating a country safe for his lifelong rule with a gusto and determination that leaves any attempt to resist simply gasping for air.

What we have now is the worst case scenario. Even a couple of months back, I really couldn’t believe that the descent into traditional dictatorship could unfold at the pace we’re now seeing.