A quiet, tragic exit for a man who did everything with a bang


Over at Foreign Policy’s Transitions blog, I begin to say goodbye. (Registration now required, although it’s free)

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    • FP should have an system robust enough to remember usernames and passwords, if one checks the box for that purpose. Login didn’t work well for me, even though I’m reg’d.
      Suggest you google the title of the work. Somehow in the clunky FP process, google served up the article.

    • You can press the escape button as soon as the page loads the article. If done with proper timing you can stop the page running the script that pops up the Register/Login window. Just try a few times with a F5-Esc combo 🙂

  1. There is a quiet tragedy unfolding every secon in Venezuela. May men who do everything with a bang disappear from this planet.

  2. For those who can’t read Juan’s piece over on FP, I can summarize the general sentiment like this:

    “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, the bastard is gonna die!!!!!!!! Yes!!!!!!!”

    • GAC: Try this white jacket. It attaches at the back. Here, I’ll help you. There, that’s better. Now just sit tight until I come back with some medication. I’m sorry you hitched your resentment wagon to Chávez’ star for so long. Look at what his rages did to him. Do you want to end up the same way?

    • “For those who can’t read Juan’s piece over on FP:” That surely includes you, because you have surely NOT read it.

    • Don’t confuse a failure to see this as a tragedy with glee over his death. It is what it is, and our feelings about it don’t change a thing.

      • No confusion here Juan. I know glee when I see it… and this is downright uncontainable glee that you feel… you’re writing several blog posts a day about it for christ’s sake…

        Is it sick? Yes. But its also funny, because you actually believe that Venezuela’s problems can be overcome if they can just get an opposition government in power!!! That level of naiveness is downright precious…

        • Feel free to judge me as you wish. It’s sad that for all the time you spend on this blog, you still don’t get it, and us.

          Furthermore, what would you have us do, NOT blog about it? Let’s be objective here, there is simply no bigger story in Venezuela today. Perhaps you’d prefer we write about the terrible state of our schools, or the (still) rising crime rates, or the inflation rate for December.

          • Yes Juan, the only alternative to constantly obsessing about Chavez dying is to “NOT blog about it.” I can see you are a reasonable guy.

            It is one thing to blog about something, quite another to constantly speculate about every.possible.ridiculous.angle of a story. Shit, Quico is over there speculating about whether or not Cuba is colonizing Venezuela. Seriously???

            There are PLENTY of other stories that one could be blogging about right now. Here’s an idea: Why don’t you write up a story about how ironic it is to see the opposition so fervently championing the constitution… the same constitution that they fervently opposed when it was passed… and then trampled all over when they briefly came to power in 2002. Now THAT would be an interesting angle on the whole situation… but of course, impossible on this webpage, given its ideological commitment to nonsense…

          • “There are PLENTY of other stories that one could be blogging about right now. Here’s an idea: Why don’t you write up a story about how ironic it is to see the opposition so fervently championing the constitution… the same constitution that they fervently opposed when it was passed… and then trampled all over when they briefly came to power in 2002. Now THAT would be an interesting angle on the whole situation… but of course, impossible on this webpage, given its ideological commitment to nonsense…”

            We opposed the Constitution in 99 because of its excessive presidentialism and a few other items – I honestly can’t recall anymore, and frankly this blog didn’t exist back then. However, to label the opposition as a whole as having trampled on the Constitution in 2002 is simply propaganda and blatantly not true, and not something we are keen to discuss. But keep the ideas coming!

          • Oh, right. I forgot that the candidates you currently support didn’t support the coup, and immediately condemned the coup regime for trampling on the constitution… And Leopoldo Lopez didn’t go on TV the next day with the coup leaders as they discussed how they had planned the whole thing…

            Not only is there an ideological commitment to nonsense, there’s an ideological commitment to forgetting recent history.

          • Not the way things happened?? So you mean the candidates you currently support DIDN’T support the coup?? And they immediately condemned the coup regime for trampling on the constitution?? And Leopoldo Lopez DIDN’T go on television the next day with the coup leaders??

            Wow. Could you please show me any proof of any of this? Or has your argument been simply reduced to “No, that’s not what happened.”

          • Oh, so first the argument is that it didn’t happen. Now the argument is that it was a long time ago!!! Brilliant!! Keep up the commitment to nonsense JC, at any cost.

          • GAC,
            I don’t want to have this argument, because there is simply no point. It bores me. You sound like those boring old ladies in El Cafetal who are still harping on about how Hugo Chavez is a “golpista” because he launched a coup in 1992.

            For the sake of argument, let’s suppose you’re right and the people I support now initially supported the coup. So? If I were you, I’d be happy “the opposition” “learned” to respect the Constitution. Nothing to discuss.

          • There you go Juan. See? It doesn’t hurt so bad to just be honest for once. Although, they didn’t “initially” support the coup. They supported until it got overthrown, so it is impossible to know if they would have continued to support it over the long term. Now you could go tell your buddy Quico to stop outright denying that it was even a coup to begin with.

            The point is that if you recognize their history of opposing the constitution and trampling on it, it comes across as a weee bit disingenuous when they are suddenly championing the constitution now. Of course, I wouldn’t expect you to be capable of recognizing this without causing some sort of short circuit in your brain.

          • I totally get you. It is like Chavez and chavistas saying that they believe in democracy right?

            LL recognized in Ernesto Villega’s VTV show that there were many mistakes committed in 2002. On the other hand you see Chavez making 1992 a historic year, a national holiday, worthy of a parade, etc. I don’t like any coups. 2002 was one and believe many of the opposition leadership regret to have being in the proximity of it. Maybe they regretted because it back fired? Maybe. Like you say impossible to know. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt

            Chavez doesn’t regret one bit to have betrayed his nation, attempted to kill the president and his family and to have kill 50 others fellow Venezuelans. Not only he doesn’t regret it, he celebrates it. Now how comes that you are so outraged about 2002’s coup but 1992 seems fine? Specially when their authors are soooo proud of participating in it?

          • Right, because a coup is a coup right? Doesn’t matter if one coup was carried against a government that had massacred hundreds, perhaps thousands, of its own people, whereas the other coup was carried out against a democratically-elected government that hadn’t committed any crimes.

            Keep telling yourselves that all coups are equal. Anyone with a brain knows otherwise.

          • Yeap, keep believing that MBR 200 started with el Caracazo. And yes, a coup is a coup. If a crime was committed then it should’ve been taken to a court. If you remember back then even presidents could be taken in front of a judge and face trial. Sometimes they even got impeached. Ahh those days where powers were that independent. Oh nostalgia.

          • Oh yeah, I forgot that CAP was being tried for the crime of massacring people in 1989…. Oh, whoops, that didn’t happen.

          • Right, because a coup is a coup right? Doesn’t matter if one coup was carried against a government that had massacred hundreds, perhaps thousands, of its own people, whereas the other coup was carried out against a democratically-elected government that hadn’t committed any crimes.

            Sorry, wasn´t CAP elected democratically too? A violent coup where dozens of people were massacred by the coup leaders, was done in protest the massacre of others, chavismo again is allergic to irony. If you are the type of person who says that there are good coups and bad coups, as it seems to be your argument, then it’s pretty hypocritical and illogical to admonish someone from supporting a coup. Anyone can say that the government against the coup given was criminal so that made it justifiable. Either you condemn any violent attempt to overthrown a democratically elected government or you don’t.

          • Its obvious that the public isn’t as stupid as you Rodrigo. They obviously don’t see it as “a coup is a coup”, since Chavez’s coup rocketed him into popularity and carried him to the presidency, whereas the opposition has been paying the price for their coup for more than a decade, continuously trying to deny that they had anything to do with it…

          • No one ever tried. Isn’t that sad? He should have been tried for that and not for the partida secreta BS. But the means were there. A coup was not necessary and it is not defensible. But go ahead. Keep defending your coupster/president et al.

            BTW, many of today’s high ranking politicians were in the congressional commission for the caracazo. Including Aristobulo. The caracazo was a horrible day. The only security forces trained to deal with that were the PM and they were on strike that month. Information didn’t flow as quick as it does today. The media’s role was a disaster.

            What would you have done? It was a difficult moment. The decision then was to let the looting continue or what happened. It truly was the perfect storm. One that no one saw coming.

          • You have a very skewed view of justice and values. Yes, it launched him to popularity indeed. That doesn’t mean it was ethically correct.

            Sadly, history, and particularly our time is filled with example of morally questionable individuals who have been launched into popularity by those immoral actions.

            Giving your arguments I assume you believe that lynching is OK?

          • Right, no one could see that store owners’ hoarding of goods in the weeks leading up to the removal of price controls would create mass looting… Who could have guessed?

            And I wonder why CAP was never tried for his crimes? I mean, I know democracy was so great under the Punto Fijo system, and powers were so independent from each other. I mean, there were no undemocratic agreements to share power or anything like that. Keep dreaming Rodrigo. Maybe one day you can be transported back into your fantasy land of Venezuelan democracy, back when people like Posada Carriles headed up DISIP. Oh those were the days!!!

          • Yes Rodrigo, I must have a very skewed view of justice and values because I support a politician that once was involved in a coup.

            I forget, what politicians do you support again?

          • Then, if we support coupster and you do the same. What are you criticizing?

            And by the way. LL and HCR involvement in the 2002 coup was very circumstantial. Whereas Chavez was the leader of 1992’s

          • Circumstantial? LL went on TV the following day with the coup leaders as they discussed how they had planned it! Hardly circumstantial. They were also present as they rounded up Chavista officials in a witch hunt. Let’s not have selective memory okay?

            The difference is as I stated above, one coup was against a government that had massacred its own people, and was NOT going to be tried for it. The other was against a government that had not committed any crimes. It is for this reason that the first coup was widely supported, while the second was widely condemned.

            You can make bogus comparisons all day long, but all you are really doing is showing that you supported CAP’s murderous regime.

          • You know very well that Chavez’s coup was not against CAP, and that his plans to coup started way before CAP was even president. Also, you deny that CAP could have been tried for this, in spite he was tried for other things.

            A peaceful solution was available and not tried. That coup is inexcusable.

          • Yes Rodrigo, Chavez and his buddies probably could have just gone down to the Ministerio de Justicia or whatever other government entity and demanded that CAP be tried for human rights abuses. Yes, that certainly would have worked. Surely they would have immediately put CAP on trial.

            You are wrong that CAP was tried for other crimes. He was never put on trial, but was simply voted out of office by the Congress. If that’s what you think is the just punishment for stealing millions of dollars and murdering hundreds of people then I’m pretty sure I’m not the one with a “very skewed view of justice and values”.

          • And you think that was “justice” for stealing millions and murdering hundreds. So much so that you are nostalgic for those wonderful times!!! Who has the skewed view again?

          • You continue to miss the point. Chavez had to business with a coup as he had no authority on him or legitimacy to judge what CAP deserved. Neither do you or me. Judges are here to do that. It doesn’t matter if you or me think it was fair. It was what the laws and institutions of the day were for. And they did fulfill that purpose. CAP was impeached, tried, convicted, thrown in jail and released and the end of his sentence.

            HCR was jailed, tried and freed. LL was never tried. But he surely deserves a fair trial.

          • I think you’re the one who’s missing the point, Rodrigo. Expecting GAC to display the minimal discursive good faith it takes to have a non-insane argument is a fool’s errand. If I recalled correctly I tried it for a period of several months in 2004 or 2005 but it’s an exercise in time-wasting.

          • Funny how you have the utmost respect for judges’ decisions under the old regime, but nothing but contempt for judges’ decisions under Chavez. Hypocritical much?

          • I didn’t even know about this blog until 2007 or 2008, but nice try anyway Toro, and I’ve never once debated you, because you constantly respond with nonsense quips that do not address the argument at hand…. and that’s only when you don’t simply delete the comments you don’t like.

            Its clear who doesn’t have the minimal discursive good faith.

          • Today it is very clear how the executive meddles with judicial. BTW, the way they replaced Marmol de Leon was absolute shenanigans. FT, I will stop wasting my time….now.

        • There would not be so many blogs and speculation if chavismo had been OPEN and TRANSPARENT about Hugo Chavez’s illness, and about HOW THEY ARE GOING TO FOLLOW THE CONSTITUTION ON THIS ONE, and WHAT THEY EXPECT OF ALL VENEZUELANS. And, oh, also if they had not made the whole matter a telenovela.

      • Tell Juan he can use a proxy link from a search page such as google or startpage. Either that, or write for an outlet that actually encourages readership.

  3. The ESC button works!!!

    It has been close to four weeks since Hugo Chávez underwent an unexplained surgical procedure for the undisclosed form of cancer he has been suffering from since mid-2011. Since his operation, the president has neither been seen nor heard from. The government has only admitted that the president’s condition “is complicated.”

    That may be the understatement of this young year. Rumors continue to filter out of Havana, where the president is “recovering,” but each one is more somber than the next. Whether the president is in a coma or is simply under the weather for a respiratory infection, it appears his cancer is incurable.

    For years, Venezuela, which sits atop the world’s largest proven reserves of oil, was synonymous with Chávez. The charismatic leader, a darling of the world’s left and most of its media, held sway over his nation like few before him. But on the heels of a commanding re-election, the 58-year old seems to have run out of luck.

    What comes next? In order to understand Venezuela’s transition, one has to focus on three men.

    The first is Nicolás Maduro, the current vice president and Chávez’s appointed political heir. In a dramatic speech before his surgery, Chávez asked people “from the bottom of his heart” to support Maduro in case he died and new elections had to be held.

    The problem for Maduro is that his term as vice president expires January 10th, when the current presidential term ends and a new one begins. Chávez, who is also president-elect, may not be healthy enough to be sworn in and appoint him vice president again. If that doesn’t happen, Maduro will be out of a job, even though he would remain the ruling party candidate in any follow-up election.

    Who, then, will run Venezuela after January 10th? The second man to watch is Diosdado Cabello, the president of the National Assembly (Venezuela’s parliament), a close ally of Chávez and, in contrast to the relative newcomer Maduro, a longtime comrade-in-arms of the Comandante. Cabello was one of several military leaders in the 1992 coup that catapulted Chávez to fame, and he holds significant sway over the armed forces, the Parliament, and many of the economic elites that have benefitted from Hugo Chávez’s strange form of socialism.

    The Venezuelan constitution is not exactly clear about what happens when a president-elect cannot be sworn in due to a temporary “inconvenience.” However, according to constitutional lawyer José Ignacio Hernández, the only reasonable solution is for the president of the National Assembly to hold office until either the president-elect is strong enough to be sworn in or, in case of his death, a successor is elected.

    By parsing the public statements from chavistas, it’s clear the absolute absence of the President will not be declared until Chávez actually dies. In the meantime, and assuming Chávez fails to take office, Cabello will rule. (There is a small chance that the National Assembly will replace Cabello with someone else, but that is unlikely).

    If Chávez dies, the constitution clearly mandates a new election be held within 30 days of his death. What will happen then? The third man to watch is Miranda governor (and defeated presidential candidate) Henrique Capriles.

    Venezuela’s opposition has demanded more information, and insists the government must follow the constitution. In spite of a few rumblings from its more radical wing, the consensus on Capriles as unity candidate seems to be solidifying. There is simply nobody else in the opposition with the necessary name recognition to mount a serious challenge to Maduro in such short notice.

    Who will win? Much will depend on the timing. If months go by, Venezuela’s economic situation could deteriorate, making Maduro’s odds longer.

    Maduro has none of the charisma for which his boss is famous, nor does he command the same sort of religious fervor that Chávez inspires in the electorate. In recent gubernatorial elections, chavista forces won, but they lost roughly three million votes in the process (though the opposition lost votes as well, it should be noted). Polls taken some six months ago showed Capriles comfortably defeating Maduro in an election, although the pollsters did not, of course, take into account the intense sense of loss that many chavistas will feel if the president passes away.

    Underlying all this uncertainty is the possibility of a deeply ironic ending to Hugo Chávez’s chaotic, larger-than-life rule. In the most likely scenario, Hugo Chávez will die far away from his native land, in his adopted homeland of Cuba. It is very possible he will never be heard from or seen again.

    A quiet, tragic exit for a man who did everything with a bang.

    • Whenever I raise this with someone in Barinas they look at me up and down and say: ‘stas loco chico’ and that’s it.

  4. So why does everyone take his death for granted? Still believing a bit too much on what’s on twitter or is there any hard evidence? Honestly, for me the man’s in full health until he is declared deceased by the government itself. I won’t be giving myself any more hard time over this issue.

    • Syd, I don’t see the done-deal Cubazuela in the article. As for the internecine fighting, I would bet on Cabello, for the reasons mentioned in the article, plus, not in the article, for the 10/20 Chavista governorships in the hands of former military. If the Oppo has to choose short-term, for example, in the AN Presidential election, it’s better they choose Cabello, who at least is a non-Communist nationalist, as opposed to Maduro, who is a Cuban sell-out pawn, dancing to the strings of his Cuban puppet masters, as evidenced by his recent Havana speech, long on Cuban history, and on Bolivar’s desired Cuban liberation, which he says was finally accomplished by Fidel Castro and his so- “successful” (sic) Cuban Revolution.

      • sorry. I might have included the first source: @AlbertoRavell:
        El pacto civico-militar se firmo en La Habana
        Diosdado viajó a Cuba

        By logic, you don’t sign a civic-military pact in a country that isn’t your own unless there are imperialistic tentacles presiding.
        And oh God, yes. Cabello over el tonto pesado. But given that pact (Raúl, Cabello and Maduro?), will Cabello have sufficient wiggle room to carve his own vision for Vz, independent from Cuba?

        Am I reading too much into this? No sé.

        • Terrible, if true. May be for short-term anti-Oppo unity reasons. Oil and water, but, if not, the Country may be lost, for the time being, and, for who knows for how long?

          • Others have posted it before, but Cuba attempted to attain a grip on Angola, the only thing that drove the Cubans away from Angola’s oil fields was a crushing defeat by South Africa. If Cuba gets a grip on Venezuela’s oil revenues as it did in Angola, they won’t go willingly. Cuba’s anti-Imperialist stance is really a smoke screen, in Angola, Cuban troops actually defended western oil installations so as to keep the revenue stream (to Cuba) flowing.


            If this Cubazuela move is true, the only group capable of stopping it is the Venezuelan military…

          • I give you exhibits A, B, and C: Machurucuto. Angola.Venezuela por gota, empezando por los 3 anillos de seguridad de Chávez, desde un comienzo.

            Dudo que los intereses de Cuba sean por corto tiempo.
            Was the military-civic pact Cuba’s way to ensure peace among the inner camps (Maduro v. Cabello)?
            For remember their interests: to ensure that oil continues to flow to the island of happiness, undisturbed by internal battles.

            Over and out.

  5. Y dale con Capriles… “The third man to watch is Miranda governor (and defeated presidential candidate) Henrique Capriles.” Really? HCR was always a lukewarm candidate for the opposition. There is practically no possibility that HCR could win an election against any of the above mentioned chavista candidates, nor is he the better option among the “opposition” figures. Surely Lara’s Henri Falcón seems a much better fit for a society that has been for almost a decade and a half avowing Left and “socialist” discourses. That is to say, socialdemócratas/socialistas who have some connection to the masses, and, perhaps, “comunidades organizadas”. Certainly not HCR or the rest of the Miranda jet set politicos.

    • You have a point there. A very important one. I support Capriles. But then… there might be a better candidate, or a better team. Keep reminding us in successive posts. I have to agree that we are as a rule too wedded with the Miranda jet set politicos.

  6. This worries me…

    “The Venezuelan constitution is not exactly clear about what happens when a president-elect cannot be sworn in due to a temporary “inconvenience.” However, according to constitutional lawyer José Ignacio Hernández, the only reasonable solution is for the president of the National Assembly to hold office until either the president-elect is strong enough to be sworn in or, in case of his death, a successor is elected.”

    So as long as Chavez is kept artificially alive, Diosdado can rule the country as he wishes and become the strong man in Veenezuela, getting rid of Maduro & Co. and the third man (and the fourth one too!!).

  7. Think that he could have been saved if he had taken a saner approach to his illness. But he chose suicide. By doing as if it was nothing. But most importantly by choosing the Castros’ Cuba and it’s Soviet ways.

    His cancer is incurable. His choice of Cuba for treatment, was a SOVIET (or Castrista) choice for treatment, based mainly on the need for secrecy and obfuscation which was useless (Experts coincide on it, and some truth did indeed get out)..

    A quiet, tragic exit! A SOVIET-style exit, wrapped in secrecy, away from home, lies about his health, “improving” until the very end, no opportunity to speak to Venezuelans.

    One can only hope he has had time to reflect on the consequences of choosing Cuba for treatment and a Soviet approach to the whole thing.

    The ironic punishment does fits the crime to a tee. He, that admires Cuban socialism, and by association their way of things, modeled on the Soviet ways.

    And this is an interesting angle that should be worked, even on grieving and angry chavistas without much trouble. The Cubans (with their Soviet-style treatments) sure did help kill him,. They, the Castros, cheated Chavez their hero out of life, and their Soviet-Socialist secrecy cheated Venezuelans out of knowing anything or doing anything.

  8. Somehow I have the feeling that we are witnessing an elaborately staged theatrical production ever since Chavez learned that he was a goner and that there were no clear succesors at his side with the charisma to take over from him after his death . first the elections were brought forth to october to allow him to be the candidate ( not the much weaker candidate Mr Maduro) , after winning the election he ‘discovers’ that once again he is in the throes of dying bringing to fever pitch the sentimentalized pity of his followers , because the ‘show’ , sorry. the ‘revolution’, must go on he chooses a young strong noble spiritual ‘son’ to succeed him, the faithful Mr Maduro, then he goes away to Cuba to face his last ordeal , time must be had to tranform the vigil for his martyred death into a grand melodramatic spectacle , wringing the last pitiful tear from his followers while giving Mr Maduro a chance of playing the sorrowful but strong leader, in charge of the country and to whom Mr Chavez dedicates his last moments to transfer the burning torch of his sacred mission . ( how touching the way they hold hands tightly , the strong teary Mr Maduro and the dying warrior in his deathbed) , as Mr Maduro plays again and again before the cameras the role of the faithful and tearful but strong son taking over his beloved fathers sacred task , Mr Chavez followers become more and more accostummed to the ideas of seeing him as their idolized leders spiritual succesor. As Chavez faces and undergoes a martyrs death with heroic bravery he becomes deified and Mr Maduro becomes transformed in to a kind of youthful replica of his dead mentor . Presumably this melodramatized production will endow Mr Marudo with the charisma of his beloved father and allow him to beat any oppo candidate while bringing all chavista leaders to follow him in carrying out the beloved leaders revolutionary mandate.

  9. I find the irony of chavistas defending the two coups of 92 (Yeah, coups, there were 2, as the state media tries to sweep the second one under the rug as much as it can) simply hilarious.

    Compatriotas, lets analyze your argument of “Look at those oppo worms who are now beating their chests saying that they respect the constitution when they supported the coup of 2002, they make me sick!” This is not only stupid, it doesn’t have a solid logical ground to stand on. Lets imagine that back in 92, Venezuela had the judicial “transparency” and “commitment to the empire of the law” that it has now, Chavez and all of his thugs would still be rotting in jail to this very day, but thanks to that “liberal, capitalistic, bourgeois justice system” that’s, you know, independent from the influence from the other powers, he got off with a simple slap in the wrist.

    • chavistas, and for that matter, Chilean-Cuban communists such as Martha Harnecker, are unable to view the 92 coup for what it was — A FAILED COUP D’ETAT — because they are dreamers who refuse to grow up and face reality. They live in a nirvana state of delusions and paranoia (it’s me vs. the world), as they convince themselves that the only truth worth knowing is the truth they create, and that their tapping away at a keyboard is actually acccomplishing something. Good gawd, at least the Venceremos brigades of naive fools that went to Cuba in the seventies were more honest in their ideals than the characters who repeatedly try to derail our exchanges, in favour of their delusional vision.


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