The day after

The after-party
The after-party

January 10th has passed. Chávez did not show up for his swearing in, but his “people” took the oath in his place, because the people are Chávez, and Chávez is the people.

The owner of the circus may not have been there, but there were clowns galore. There were chants of people pledging to give their life to Chávez – which may well happen, given Venezuela’s alarming homicide rates. There were TV stars and beauty queens. Foreign dignitaries came to insult Venezuelans while other Venezuelans cheered them on. Military planes flew over, while no one – absolutely no one – mentioned the 11 people that died in a bus accident while being hauled to Caracas for the rally.

Now that it’s over, the question that begs asking is: why was this necessary?

Yesterday was the kick-off of the Nicolás Maduro presidential campaign. After having triumphed in the PSUV primary – which is basically what the Supreme Tribunal “decision” amounted to – Maduro needed to bask in some form of legitimacy.

He got that yesterday by the perfect conjunction of military power, foreign leaders, and el pueblo mejmo, all under the mystical glow of the dying President. If he can keep this ramshackle coalition together, he has a shot at actually getting himself elected to the job he now illegitimately occupies.

Chávez is still alive, but the campaign for his succession has already started. Are we ready for it?

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  1. Reposting here because it’s more in line with this article:

    So yesterday on Jan 10th Diosdado, President of the AN did not assume the post of president and neither did Vicepresident Maduro. Instead a show was put on to celebrate Chavez, in absentia, as the holder of the post. But why make such a spectacle and violate the constitution in the process? The only reason I can think of is to hide the fact that since December 2012 and for the foreseeable future Venezuela is run by a “Junta de Gobierno”, a Board of Governors you may call it.

    Ostensibly, Chavistas are saving the president’s seat for Chávez, awaiting for his triumphal return. That is why they do not want to declare his absence, not even as temporary, and no one is allowed to take his post. The fact is Venezuela has no president and is governed by a clandestine and unofficial Junta with some visible heads but unknown structure, in violation of the constitution.

    Who seats in this Junta?
    Diosdado and Maduro of course.
    Ramirez and some high ranking generals for sure.
    Maybe Luisa Estela Morales.
    And who else? and who is the real boss? who calls the shots? Who has the final say so on decisions? Many would say Castro runs things from Cuba, but I disagree, if anything the Cubans act as consultants and maybe strategists but the real power must be in the hands of those with control of the money and the weapons.

    What do you think? How long can they keep this up? How long will people tolerate this illegal arrangement?

    • If that’s true, Maduro que se cuide. He needs to remember how Delgado Chalbaud ended his tenure in the previous “Junta.”

    • If i were to guess, the members of the triumvirate that is running Venezuela right now are Nicolas, Diosdado and Raul, how long can they keep governing like this? I would answer that question with another question: How long can the triumvirate itself last? Of course right now its all smiles and hugs but, after the funeral passes and Venezuelans (Specially chavistas) realize that he really is gone, how long until the vicious infighting within the PSUV starts? Because it will, oh, it will.

      There are too many conflicting interests that would make unity in the red block almost impossible, the best Capriles (or Falcon) can do now is to take a low profile and let things run their course, don’t stir up the hornets nest but at the same time denounce using the constitution as a wash cloth. Los tiempos de Diosdado son perfectos.

  2. The opposition announced a rally for January 23rd. Perhaps that will be the start of their presidential campaign? The motive of the rally from what I read is to complain about the Supreme Court decision. Bad strategy? (seems to me most people in Venezuela don´t care much about that decision)

  3. If that is true, then the strategy for the oppo should be straightforward: play it extra cool, and let Maduro and his combo get burned with the hot potato that is Venezuela as of 2013

    • I think you fumbled the question about how long the gov’t can wait to implement the economic-adjustment policies currently needed in Venezuela (i.e., devaluation, cutting public spending, etc.) . You’re right that the gov’t can wait few more months. That’s kind of obvious, especially given the foreign exchange control and oil’s current price. You’re also right that the result will be more shortages of basic goods and, possibly, higher inflation (I say possibly because of the current price controls). My problem with your answer is that you were not particularly insightful. You could have been more specific and given more details and actual numbers which, in your favor, you might not have had on top of your head. Also, that all speech about hoarding, even if somewhat true, was unnecessary and irrelevant. Hoarding isn’t among the main reasons why we’re seeing shortages. Moreover, you’re making the kind of argument that Indepabis would make. You should know better. Finally, you could have spared us that last phrase: “…al venezolano no le gusta la escasez”!!! Really? Who does?

      • I know, all valid points! I honestly was not expecting the economics questions and wasn’t well prepared for giving specific answers on them. Thanks for your honesty manuel, I’ll do my homework next time.

        I do think, though, that there is some hoarding in the scarcity we’re seeing. it’s the same as in the last months of the Lusinchi administration. True – the scarcity of dollars plays a big part as well. But that’s not all of it. It’s perfectly rational to keep high levels of inventories when you know a devaluation is coming, followed by a likely price adjustment.

        • True…your argument is logically correct. I’m not arguing that. What I’m saying is that I think hoarding in the current situation in Venezuela has a second-order effect on scarcity. Maybe I’m wrong. But if hoarding is really a big part of the problem, Indepabis is right and should use the Guardia Nacional to go after hoarders. We all know that Idepabis show is just smoke and mirrors.

    • It was pretty good i believe, especially considering that our situation is really, really complicated to explain. I think the “cara e tabla” approach to decision-making in our political life is not well understood overseas, so maybe you could’ve made an emphasis on how our government always gets what it wants in the most deadpan way possible, and how the majority of our society doesn’t care or doesn’t know that they ways are illegal, to say the least.

    • Juan: First of all, my congratulations. It could not have been easy to be in the hot seat with these rather well prepared TV journalists. Second, I’m glad you presented yourself ‘en full gallop’ — con seriedad, pues, inclusive en lo visual.

      In future, you might ask the presenters whether there will be economic questions, so that you may be better prepared. (Though, personally, I think you did a pretty damned good job of thinking on your feet, so to speak.)

      Speed of delivery. It could have been slowed just a touch. Related to that aspect … I’m not familiar with maracucho-enunciation, but is it common to speak as though you have some marbles in your mouth? Eso también hace más difícil el entendimiento de quienes no saben mucho de la economía venezolana. Creo yo.

      Bueno Juancho, te dejo con esas observaciones generales.

    • Oratoria my friend. En algunos casos hablabas muy rápido además que el sifrino twang se te salía un poquito demasiado en algunos momentos. También, es preferible q hagas pausas a que hagas “ehhhmm” “uhmmm” de manera excesiva, etc…las little crutches, pues. Other than that, it was good! Congrats!

    • I agree with the hoarder comment below, but overall it was good. I liked the term “diplomacia de chequera”. you were there as an analyst not trying to convince people of our position and that was the best thing, you were very careful in your assessment showing both sides of the coin. Don’t beat yourself too much and practice entonation more, you coul use more ups and downs, more emotion in the words to tell the story better.

    • You make very interesting points: the launching of Maduro’s campaign (right on spot, that’s excatly what that was), the perception of having a two-headed government, the funny feeling we get when we hear repeatedly there’s no conflict whatsoever between Maduro and Diosdado, and the slowing down of the diplomacia de chequera days.
      Things to improve: intonation.

  4. La pregunta verdadera es: está la oposición democrática venezolana preparada para afrontar el supuesto (cada día menos negado) de que no se celebrarán elecciones en Venezuela luego de la falta absoluta del Presidente Chávez?
    La sentencia del TSJ del pasado miércoles, a través de la cual se argumentó que el poder y voluntad popular, expresados a través del voto el 7-O, no podían estar subordinados a “formalismos” como la juramentación y toma de posesión del Presidente para el período 2013-2019, con lo cual se ratificó la legitimidad del mismo.
    Este será el mismo argumento que utilizarán en un futuro para “reinterpretar” el artículo 233: “en virtud de la falta absoluta de Chávez, ese Tribunal no considera viable la celebración de nuevas elecciones, ya que con ello se “desconocería” la voluntad expresada el 7-O por el Pueblo venezolano, la cual ratificó el pryecto y programa de gobierno revolucionario, y en tal sentido, deberá concluir el período el VP (Maduro?).
    Existirán cabezas dentro del liderazgo opositor venezolano vislumbrando este escenario?

    • Es un muy buen punto. Yo creo que sí, y por eso se están movilizando internacionalmente, no queriendo quemar sus cartuchos con la controversia sobre Diosdado sino, mas bien, guardarlos para la próxima (más importante) violación a la Constitución.

      • Ojalá que así sea Juan.
        Yo percibo que muchos están más bien haciendo cálculos dentro del “ajedrez electoral que se avecina”.
        Como por ejemplo la rueda de prensa de Capriles. Este simplificó y restó importancia al tema jurídico (el elefante dentro de la cristalería), y prefirió referirse (una vez más) a la ineficiencia de la gestión gubernamental.
        Me temo que la dirigencia no tenga claro que este Gobierno (ya sin su Líder) arreciará en sus prácticas neo-autoritarias, apoyadas por las instituciones, en búsqueda de legitimidad.

      • “la próxima (más importante) violación a la Constitución” – hasta ahora desde mi punto de vista y según Maduro durante su discourso del día de ayer, nadie ha violado la Constitución y el 68,5% está deacuerdo con la sentencia del TSJ.

        Si de verdad se ha vioolado la Constitución ¿cuándo van a invovar el 350? No pueden por que no tienen convocatoría, son desmoralizados y no disponen más del apoyo neceario en la calle.

        It has been one defeat too far with the next one due on May 26th. Face the facts: defeats of the opposition: October 7th, December 16th, January 5th, January 9th and January 10th. Unbelieveable but true…….but you still ahve your corporate media,,,,,but no power. No even Inzulza is interested in you losers anymore.

        El único problema con tu entrevista JC es que fue la burgesía de CÑM Chile entrevistando a otro pequeño burgés apatrida. Más nada!

  5. Mi pana, what elections are you talking about? There´s not going to be any elections, be Chavez dead, alive, frozen, mummified. Hasn´t it been clear enough? Hasn´t Diosdado, Nicolas, Luisa Estela and who-criminal else stated this? What we are facing is a dictatorship dude – one backed by the international community- where all the different players of government and armed forces are aligned in one single purpose: to avoid the retaliation that would certainly come if they let go of their grip over the nation.

      • Totally, we have warned that NOW they will not do more elections, but so far there have been many and we have lost most of them, so if Chavez dies and no elections are called then we will be in a complete different scenario. It might happen, but it might not.

        • We should not be waiting for something to happen before getting people to agree with our proposed platform; that should simply be an ongoing activity. The problem is we ourselves don’t support a proposal that is better for both ourselves as well as for those who support chavismo than chavismo’s proposal.


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