Give us the CNE

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Three chavistas too many
Three chavistas too many

Dear UNASUR Foreign Ministers:

Thank you for your interest in the Venezuelan conflict. Now that you helped make the OAS a veritable “circus,” we can start discussing the visit you agreed with the government, the one to help jump-start “dialogue” with the opposition. People in the opposition have nothing but contempt for most of you, but, you’re going to be in Venezuela soon, so we might as well make good use of you.

A large chunk of the current conflict stems from the fact that the opposition has stopped believing in elections as a viable way to solve our differences. People have taken to the streets because, as they say, it’s now or never – which implies that they don’t believe chavismo can ever be defeated at the polls. No one in the opposition believes the electoral processes, as we have witnessed in the past, allow for a fair contest between two starkly opposing yet similarly sized populations.

It’s not like we’re imagining things: last time, after we brought a large stack of evidence documenting a slew of high-profile irregularities following the April 2013 presidential elections, not only did the Supreme Tribunal refuse to hear the case, but they actually fined our candidate for even bringing it, and formally asked the Prosecutor General to file criminal charges against him.

The current crisis is the bastard child of that other one. The unresolved April election created a cloud of legitimacy over the government that is directly linked to the barricades and the protests. And I would like to remind you that, after both Maduro and Capriles asked you to intervene, and after you passed a resolution calling for a full audit, the government ignored you. You failed to follow through, you dropped the ball, so this crisis has your fingerprints all over it.

But … water under the bridge, right?

However … since this is the root of the problem, I would like to make a proposal that will save you a ton of time and that, if succesful, could deactivate the conflict quickly and help you get back to your capitals safe and sound, away from the hell-hole that this blog is named after.

Give us the CNE.

Half of Venezuela is now certain we’ll never get an electoral handover of power under the current CNE authorities. This has led to the current levels of frustration, and no amount of tear gas, no amount of posturing or huffing and puffing from the overmedicated blowhards you represent is going to get people off the streets. Mujica may rant, Dilma may pout, but it doesn’t mean squat to the good folks of Rubio or La Isabelica.

The only thing that might, might get people away from the streets is replacing Tibisay and co. with a fair CNE – one that will put a stop to abusive cadenas (i.e. mandatory broadcasts of government campaign events), to assisted voting, to sloganeering outside of voting centers, to witnesses being forcefully removed from voting centers, and all the rest. And the only way to have a fair CNE is to have an opposition CNE.

Most countries come out of crises like these with some sort of power sharing between warring factions. Hell, Robert Mugabe had to work with Morgan Tsvangirai in order to get people off the streets. Given how toxic the environment has become, there is no chance Capriles and Maduro could possibly work together, and quite frankly, I’m not sure asking the opposition to join the government would do anything other than enrage people even further.

I’m sure you agree a coalition government is impossible. But what about the other institutions? Bar one, they simply don’t get at the core of the issue.

We don’t want the Fiscalía, the Prosecutor General, because ultimately the courts are the ones that decide. We’re willing to wait for a Supreme Tribunal (TSJ) that represents the entire nation – in the meantime, an opposition TSJ would simply be ignored by Maduro. And the people’s ombudsperson? Well, her office is a joke, and she’s a lightweight.

Freeing political prisoners is the right thing to do, but at this point, it would only feed the protests, not quench them. And asking for particular measures – promises to disarm paramilitatries, for example, or shelving particular laws – are simply going to be ignored by the government just like the last time. The opposition knows this, and that’s why they won’t talk to you.

But giving the opposition the CNE would be a coup de grace. Only an opposition CNE can potentially get people off the streets and return a level of sanity to our political life.

Maduro loves to boast about how the people love his Revolution. He certainly makes sure of that every election cycle, spending wildly on vote-buying schemes just like his predecessor did. Much of the argument spouted by international chavistas is that the Revolution keeps winning elections, so they can’t be doing things that badly.

But this whole charade comes hand in hand with an absolute grip on all levers of power, most importantly the electoral bean counters. If Maduro is so tough, if he is so demcratic, he should be willing to fight the opposition fair and square, in conditions similar to the ones you face in your own countries.

That’s all we want.

An opposition CNE is not going to be almighty, but it will have the legitimacy to bring some sense of order to Venezuelan elections. The streets are an imperfect substitute for a referee of our disputes, and what we need is a referee. Save yourselves some time, and start discussing the core of the issue.

The problem in Venezuela is lack of democracy born out of the death of the division of powers. Let’s begin by reversing that, and actually dividing the powers. 

We’ll take that piece – the one that holds sway over elections.

1 COMMENT

  1. And by the way, by what logic do you imply when you state that only the OPPOSITION CNE can be a fair electoral council?

    An electoral council in the hands of a political party can be neutral and unbiased, unlike the current one?

    • Neutrality is impossible with PSUV at the helm. They have determined that they are the chosen ones, no one can rule the country, but them.

      If you put the CNE in the hands of opposition, it could be perfectly neutral and unbiased.

  2. Good post! Of course a neutral Electoral Commission is a first step. A neutral judiciary and prosecutorial service would be a close second. Otherwise, elections will be followed by prosecutions and jail, as recent experience attests.

  3. I think we should make a case for the Supreme Court and not as in “give us the Supreme Court” but as in “give Venezuela a Supreme Court that is composed of neutral citizens or, at the very least, a proportionate amount of people according to a certain vote” (I would suggest a referendum for that)

    How can a person like Gladys Gutiérrez be the head of the Supreme Court?
    How could the previous head of that court declare something as insulting as “La división de poderes debilita el Estado”? I mean: when I was 11 years old I learnt at my public school in Valencia that one of the key things revolutionaries in France of the XVIII century were fighting for was the division of powers!
    And this was the head of the Supreme Court?

    We haven’t shown this in a rhetorical attractive way to the whole world.
    In that we have failed.

  4. If it only were a matter of replacing Tibisay! Th whole system is rotten to the core, Juan. The Supreme Tribunal of Justice, the Military, the Ombudsman, the Comptroller, the National Assembly, government companies and agencies, ministries, the whole enchilacagada. Replacing one small bulb in a dark house does not o the job. We need a deep cleaning. Sadly we are too far gone as a country to need only an aspirin. We need radical surgery.

    • Of ocurse it’s not only a matter of replacing Tibisay (btw, it’s not just Tibisay, but three of the four chavistas), but of all the things on the table, this one is the only one that could potentially change the game for the saner. What are you saying, that the only condition for leaving the streets is bringing down the entire institutionality? Do you really think that is a likely possibility? Do we even want that?

      • You say: Bringing down the entire institutionality?
        What institutionality are you talking about? . The country has been without real institutions for years now! One of the main tragedies is precisely that institutions have been prostituted and made unrecognizable by the regime: STJ, National Assembly, CNE, Moral ? Power, Central Bank, you name it. It would be a dangerous illusion to talk about preserving THESE institutions! The civil insurgence currently taking place is the end result of 15 years of millions being humiliated, abused, brow beaten. Venezuelans can no longer accept that the current regime is legitimate or that there institutions that can be respected. What we see are travesties, let’s not confuse them with the real rhing.

  5. My problem is with the quid-pro-quo that’s implicit here.

    The idea underlying this post is that there’s scope for a trade here. We have an interest in free elections, the government has an interest in ending the protests. So a win-win solution is at least possible! Give us what we want, and we’ll give them what they want. The international community can just gently guide everyone into pareto optimality.

    Problem is, the government *doesn’t*have*an*interest*in*ending*the*protests.*

    This is made super clear by the fact that they keep going out of their way to make sure the protests keep going. When they see protests in danger of winding down they make *sure* to take steps to correct that, by jailing Scarano, say, or Ceballos.

    The government isn’t going to “pay” anything to end the protests. It doesn’t need to. If it decides the protests are no longer in its interests it can dial them down all on its own in a week or so just by dialling back the repression.

    There’s no quo here: we’re really proposing a quid-pro-fuckall. And they’re not going to give us a quid in return for fuck all.

    • Lets not forget to add to the “f#%& all” policy by including the shills of Mark Weisbrot and yes I kid you not, Oliver Stone suggesting in an opinion piece in today’s Boston Globe that for Obama to improve relations with the region, he “join the rest of the hemisphere in accepting the results of democratic elections.”

      http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/03/21/obama-wrong-isolate-venezuela/XCiOn7e7R4M7pSq93J5LeI/story.html

      I dunno, but Juan does raise an interesting proposal….

    • I think Juan’s idea is not an oppo quid gov quo; it’s an oppo quid OEA quo: get the government to give up their hold on the CNE and you’ll have no more protests to worry about at the OEA. You’re right, good luck with getting the government to give up the CNE.

    • I think it’s important to appear to be open negotiations. Being intransigent is not going to get us anywhere.

    • Listen, there’s no way in hell the government is going to agree to this. But we need to bring something to the table. Given how we are in an impossible solution, let’s ask for stuff that matters instead of silly things like “que renuncie la Defensora.”

    • Quico, at some point they are going to want the protests to end. Or at least, they are pretending to want it. In the meantime, we should play ball and call their bluff.

      • Sure, but when they decide they want the protests to end, they don’t need to negotiate with anybody. They just dial down the hate rhetoric, stop making gorilla rape jokes, pull back the colectivos, stop the incitement and wait a week. The protests will die down all on their own.

        The fact that protests are ongoing isn’t something that’s happening despite the government’s preferences. The protests are on life support, and government incitement is the respirator.

        • I agree with you. The government wants to keep protest alive. But is it just pure evilness, with really no reason? Or is it just that they are trying to distract? Isn’t it a bit playing with fire? What if this gets out of control?

          • It could be that they’re making a blunder. But even a blunder is the product of a calculation – though a wrong one.

            What gets me is that people don’t stop to think that they’re calculating!

          • That is, of course, their ultimate goal. How does that fulfills that, is not evident. It is so much more difficult to do what you are saying.

            Also, the conditions in which the Castro’s established their control over an island are pretty different from what we have on hand.

          • “How does that fulfills that, is not evident.”

            Actually, is not that hard to understand. It is kind of a preemptive strike. Everyone is predicting hard times to come in the future. The government knows it. Instead of sitting and waiting for the huge swell of discontent to manifest itself a year from now, with huge protests covering all sides of the political spectrum they engage first the “escualidos” proper who are feeling enraged and reinvigorated and entice them into drawn out protests until they become fatigued, disillusioned and lose the will to fight. Just like it happened after the national strike in 2002-2003. Meanwhile the soft chavista sympathizers are sitting in the fence wondering what it is all about. By the time they feel the need to protest they will have to create their own movement and start protesting anew. Probably less organized. They will be easier to quell. And so on.

            All of this without major violence breaking out. But if a group indeed decides to take arms then the peaceful protests are even harder to do and people would be afraid to participate, and repression by the government would be easier because it is justified. Years go by in this scenario and the government is sitting pretty in power ostensibly trying to bring order to the chaos but really uncontested by any forceful movement.

          • But the idea that the protest do not replenish themselves is nonesense.

            Repressing a small movement today is no guarantee that a new larger movement erupts. In fact, I think it is quite the opposite.

            Also, during the segregation times you had in parallel violent and non-violent groups. The non-violent groups were incredible successful in distancing from the violent ones.Think of Malcom X vs MLK.

            Is not that the MUD is fractured because they don’t know what to do with the government repression. They are fracture because they don’t have a clue on what they ought to be doing in a non-election year. The MUD, almost by definition, is a structure to create consensus around candidacies and help them win. That’s all.

            Civil unrest can very rapidly become massive.

          • “Repressing a small movement today …”

            I wouldn’t call it a small movement.

            “… is no guarantee that a new larger movement erupts”

            Of course not. But it guarantees that an even larger movement doesn’t erupt at the same time. Think about it as a war. If you engage a battalion at a time it doesn’t mean that more battalions are not coming later but it is better to defeat them one by one than having to face all battalions together at once in one decisive battle.

            Many battles have been lost and won by enticing the opponent into rushing into the confrontation before they were ready and in enough numbers and resources for the battle. Sometimes they rushed out of rage, others out of ill conceived optimism, others because they couldn’t unite forces due to fundamental differences. In Venezuela all three factors are in play.

          • that’s precisely the framework that doesn’t apply. In a war the amount of enemy troops are finite. In a civilian society they are not, unless you want to go down the genocide path.

          • “But the idea that the protest do not replenish themselves is nonesense.”
            “In a war the amount of enemy troops are finite. In a civilian society they are not”

            Ask yourself this:
            Why opposition people stopped marching and protesting after the failed strike of 2002-3?
            Why opposition people didn’t vote in the gubernatorial elections of Dec 2004 after the failed referendum?
            Why opposition people didn’t vote in the gubernatorial elections of Dev 2012 after the Oct presidential election (we even lost Tachira!)?

            People get demoralized with the setbacks and stop protesting. For how long did the opposition fell silent?
            Where is the civil society in Cuba? Why are they not marching?
            How about the Russians or the Chinese or the North Koreans?

            All the government needs to do is instill in the people the sense that they anything they do is futile.
            Learned helplessness.

          • You may be right. But also the soviet union collapsed. The chinese protest every day and there are many more examples of situations similar to the ones you describe that failed.

          • “Where is the civil society in Cuba? Why are they not marching?
            How about the Russians or the Chinese or the North Koreans?”

            They are all dead, it’s called “genocide”.
            But yeah, if Maduro start commiting genocide, Venezuela will be pretty much gone, I grant you that.

          • Listen I’m not saying civil resistance or non violent struggle doesn’t work. I believe it can work, and much better than violence, but is not a simple thing. It requires careful strategic planning, is not just take the streets and protest vociferously.

            You were wondering what is the motivation for the government to want to keep the violent protests alive. The motivation is they know that discontent is going to grow and they can not avoid it. Since protests were going to erupt sooner or later they decided to have some of them erupt now when they involve a smaller fraction of the civil population, so they can defeat those and then when the other part of the population starts protesting they will defeat those too.

            The way to defeat a protest, specially a violent day-and-night-guarimba, is to outlast it. And while the protest is going on, chavistas want the oppos to be as enraged as possible so they can spend every ounce of energy into it. Also they want them to have high hopes so they really invest themselves into the protests that much more. That way after the violent protests die down the opposition will be disappointed, demoralized and as bitter as possible. That will result in confusion, recriminations and internal divisions.

          • Ay Quico, vale, qué ladilla, todo lo explicas porque el gobierno lo planificó. Si no hacemos nada, estamos jugándole el juego al gobierno y ellos siguen acumulando poder. Si se protesta, estamos jugándole el juego al gobierno y ellos siguen acumulando poder. En algún momento tu deprechera contra la oposición dejó de ser análisis y pasó a ser tautología. Un poquito de empatía por nuestra gente te vendría bien!

          • “But is it just pure evilness, with really no reason?”

            It is a carefully crafted strategic move. It is about defeating a divided camp before the protests become unified. Instead of waiting for the country as a whole to start protesting they bring out and incite one camp into protesting and quell and decimate that rebellion in advance by repressing and arresting their leaders until there is little will to continue. Then the next group that wants to protest comes, which will be less organized, they can do the same. Rinse and repeat.

            Napoleon tactics and strategy.

          • But does it really work? Leaders is not something it consumes. More and more leaders will continue to pop up.

            Have you seen this kid Carlos Vargas? He is freakishly articulated and coherent. And he is 21!

            And even if you are right, what if oppo radicals start become really extreme? Aren’t them even slightly worried about that?

          • “what if oppo radicals start become really extreme? Aren’t them even slightly worried about that?”

            That is their dream scenario. They must be salivating at that prospect.

            The more extreme the opposition the easier it is to defeat them. Violence is the perfect field for the government, they are perfectly prepared for that. The more extreme the opposition the less support they get from the people. The more extreme the protests the less effective they are. All government actions are justified in that scenario and there would be little or no international pressure.

          • The thing is, what if it is the type of extremist that killed RFK, JFK, Indira or MLK? All it takes is one crazy dude.

            I am certain that they don’t want an IRA type situation in here, blowing stuff up.

            My guess is not that they wish this scenario. I don’t think anyone does. My guess is that they think of it as too far fetch. But it is a dangerous game they are playing.

          • That is why they have the support of the Cubans with their G2 soviet style intelligence apparatus which they recreated in Venezuela. 50 years and counting without any major security issues.

          • Contrary to you, I am pretty certain they are wishing hard for that scenario. It is the scenario that guarantees their stay in power for the longest time. I do not think it is likely to happen. But then they may even decide to fabricate it.

          • With or without protests, the government is confident it can hold onto power with repression.In all these years in which there were only sporadic protests, and the opposition would end up graciously conceding the governments “victories” in elections, the only thing that was gained was a steady increase of government repression, purging of the Military and arming of Militias.I don’t see how all this patience , flexibility, willingness to dialogue on government terms improved the cause of freedom on iota.

            Of course by this time, the government is firmly entrenched and can give the opposition a run for its money with its capacity for sheer repression.Ultimately it will be a matter of perseverance .

            The opposition actually lost in such ruminations…too bad.

            Calling quits to the demonstrations at this point will only give the government a wildly publicized victory.

        • What makes you think that protests would die down on their own if the gov’t stops inciting them? That’s a big assumption. It could actually be that there is some inertia to it, particularly when it comes to non-violent, massive protests. For what I can tell, guarimbas are dying down despite the rise in repression and gov’t provocations while civil non-violent protests are on the rise. I’m not sure that the gov’t doesn’t have any interest in ending the latter (i.e., non-violent massive protests).

          • ” I’m not sure that the gov’t doesn’t have any interest in ending the latter (i.e., non-violent massive protests).”

            I’m sorry Manuel I did not get what you meant, too many negations, could you rephrase please?

          • I meant that the gov’t does have an interest in ending the non-violent massive protests which seem more prevalent today than guarimbas.

          • The violent protests would die down if they are not provoked. Which would allow more peaceful protests which are the ones the government doesn’t want because they can grow in support. That is why the government is not interested in seeing the violence die down. The more people protest now the more likely it is that people become fatigued and lose the will to keep fighting. It is about provoking people into rushing early when they are running a long marathon.

          • I agree! What we’ve seen the last few days is that peaceful protest are growing whereas violent protest (i.e., guarimbas and the like) are less prominent. Most of the violence is coming from the government as a way of provoking violent protest. This, however, and correct me if I’m wrong, has spurred peaceful massive protest throughout the country (at least in big cities), not more guarimbas. So in a sense, the gov’t strategy seems to be backfiring.

          • That is why is the government is now shifting to jailing opposition mayors. Anything to spark the violence again. Regarding peaceful protests the tricky part is to maintain them in the long run without fatiguing the participants and the population in general. That needs creativity and variety so that different expressions and sections of the country can manifest themselves without growing tired or frustrated for not seeing quick results.

    • The only way the govt. comes to the table with anything resembling a willingness to actually make a deal is when the protests get so bad that we are firmly into Civil War territory.

      It’s a shame, because if there were any shred of decency in the regime, there would be some move towards a negotiated solution. However, they believe that to cede even 1 cm is to slit their own throats given all the baggage they are carrying. From Human Rights violations to stolen cash and drug dealing.

      So, they will wait until it may be too late to have any kind of peaceful resolution. And by then, well hang on to your seats…………..

  6. The thing is that even if nothing practical is achieved on the CNE front , if the govt is put in the position of arbitarily and pointedly stalling this initiative it might help further delegitimize it both abroad and among ordinary Venezuelans who by a very large percentage want the regime and the oppo to have a dialogue with consequences . Of course the govt will manipulate and misrepresent the facts as it usually does but there are limits to what people will believe absent a bad faith stance of unconditional support for whatever the govt defends , but people in this latter position are untractable to any rational argument anyway, what matters in how the govts credibilty is slowly eroded aong people who might be increasingly skeptical of the noble revolutionary virtues of the regime !!.

  7. Very well written, unfortunately I don´t see this happen any time soon or at all. All the election fraude since 2004 would become known and that would be IT for this regime. Chavismo will NOT get voted out of power and therefore Venezuelans will have to overthrow this dictator by force!!!

    • Marc:

      Here is a perfect example of what I find questionable about your motives.

      You give us an example of assisted voting from either October 2012 or April 2013. This video has been around for quite a while and is in no danger of being “taken off the Internet” by “some evil YouTube police”.

      I get you are against dictatorships, communism and socialism and are for Mom, Apple Pie, Truth and Justice.

      Me too.

      But posting like you do only makes your case weaker, not stronger. You come across like a paranoid extremist.

      My 2 cents.

  8. It is unlikely that the OAS would discuss this option, right as it is. A better route is to ask NSA for recordings of Venezuelan officials in electoral matters. One of the gems of Apont Aponte revelations was the Friday meeting among the honchos where they plotted who would be screwed the following week.

    So instead of restricting the claim for those NSA recordings, we should extend them to all the shenanigans those thugs plot day in and day out. Snowden lifted the lid to the massive spying jar,so it is no secret that the recordings exist. In fact, I believe it would be a decent way for the NSA to prove that eavesdropping has tangible beneficial effects in some cases.

    Let the world know the fetid essence of chavismo.

  9. Sorry, but wouldn’t the CNE need the assistance of the government to carry out its rulings? I think this idea is a bit too simplistic.

  10. The problem with negotiating with extremists is that nothing is ever good enough, until the opposition can get its house in order, until Capriles can control his own house with an iron fist any negotiation can just devolve into more opposition delusion and paranoia.

    The CNE has acquiesed to the more rational opposition demands to absolutely no avail, because Capriles keeps playing the victim instead of accepting the results unconditionally.

    REP audit?
    There was an audit in the mid 00’s nothing was found.

    Hot audits?
    They went from a few percentages that are statistically viable to a paranoid 56% with every center auto hitting.

    Recound after the last presidential election? (it was the absolute first demand, the notebook audit demand came days later)
    There was a recount and nothing was found, so they move to more bizantine fraud theories like massive scale fraud conspiracy involving thousands of people, because elections take place in the span of a few hours you need thousands to vote twice in different centers ballot stuffing in front of witnesses is a nonstarter.

    Audit after Audit ad nausseum.

    Venezuela runs THE best technical elections in the world, something STEM intellectuals would devise in a vaccum. The problem is always the soft stuff like Campaigning, but I never see you ever whine that the western world money talks during campaigning.

    In short in order to be respected like normal negotiators you have to stop being extremists, you get the CNE and it will STILL not be good enough because the government will still be able to divide what is already reality: the vocal minority (of opo) that is sick in the head, and the silent majority (of opo) that voted overwhelmingly for Capriles during the primaries.

      • You do know that VIOLENT protests as a negotitating tactic is terrorism? The softest form of terrorism but violence will never be tolerated as a means to an end. Your future is that of the FARC if you do not reign in your extremists.

        Protest peacefully all day and night, I might have even joined if not for the opo people that are sick in the head, I too see the parallel with Ukraine and Maidan is riddled with fascists and thugs of their own, now in power.

        As for the Ukraine I also thought about why they did topple Yanukovich and came to the conclusion because their leaders ARE (both Maidan and Party of regions) what you swear all chavistas are, corrupt to the core and willing to betray their leadership for a coin or two.

        Seriously Capriles needs to understand that this little adventure was an attempted coup on his leadership first, then a coup on Maduro.

        • He can’t understand it, Flanker, he’s too busy fantasizing about being raped by a gorilla again. That’s why you can’t negotiate with extremists. When gorillas rape ’em, they like it.

          • Real rape is what happens to the Palestinians, what is happening to the global poor, but if they get violent they either win (extremely extremely unlikely) or be sent to prison or killed one by one. Its obvious MCM and LoLo shot their wad and rolled snake eyes, to continue in this fantasy that you can repeat April 11th is dragging the entire country into a Colombian style state, and for fucks sake Gaitan was assassinated, how can people be so emotional and broken?

          • Juan, read the article on Venezuela in the last issue of The Economist magazine. It’s said there that the socio-economic problems will get SO HORRIBLE in 2-3 months that a perfect scenario for a new “Caracazo” will be brewed. Yes, those protests and the angry people are not going nowhere, they are here to stay. Call it “new normal”. Maduro is scared. FT is wrong.

  11. how about a boycott of the 22? they need to sent a clear message that ‘No human rights = no vacations, no Olympics, no World Cup’. This can be accomplished by free individuals….not tickets sold mean no planes are flying, no hotels occupied, no games….no waiting for government sponsored sanctions. Wouldn’t this put pause to their willful ignorance and actually uphold what they are chartered to do? as they say…$$$$ talks…

  12. The OAS is going to try to appear “neutral” and “unbiased”, and in doing so, may perceive things as being more complicated than they are, and it will be a good way for them to avoid making any effective decisions.

    However, things actually are getting complicated and getting out of control! To me, it is difficult to know how the future will play out. So far, the various political forces are playing against each other. We keep talking about them, but there are new game changers that keep popping up.

    I’m seeing an six forces at work: (1) The idealistic rhetoric of the Bolivarian Revolution (countering the idealistic rhetoric of capitalism) (2) The expression of the will of the majority (whether it be through elections of demonstrations) (3) The sustainability of the economy (national debt, inflation and shortages and waste of national resources) (4) The needs of opportunists to exploit the chaos (including Cuba as an opportunist as well as drug lords and corrupt government employees and officials, all playing behind the scenes (5) The control of news media and public information (6) The control of constitutional law, its protections and the impartiality of justice system, and enforcement.

    It is difficult to tell how these forces are working, but I think it is clear that each force is either working in favor of dictatorship or in favor of democracy as they effect the attitudes of each individual of the public and evoke their identities as pro-government or pro-opposition or even unaffiliated.

    In this sense, the demonstrations do something, although each of those 6 forces should respond differently.

  13. 1. The regime doesnt want to negotiate , they dont feel they have to because the protests can be held in check through repression and they also control all of the institutional apparatus to use as they see fit.
    2. People (including a chunk of chavista or proto chavista opinion) and all of international official opinion however wants both sides to negotiate , they cant ignore that, Would make them look bad. and with the protest publicising popular discontent and the causes for it their image has taken a beating whatever spin they try to give it . (dont think in terms of latam caribbean stooge govts think of the rest of the world and ordinary people )
    3. So they make the appropiate appeasing noises while keeping conditions fired up so that the oppo leadership cant negotiate without seeming to betray their people out there in the streets .
    4. Discontent is rising what ever blame they try to put on the protests. Their ordinary constituency is not hating the oppo more because of the protests ( except for the unsalvageable thuggish fanatics ) , not sure the protests are therefore helping their popularity that much .( if at all) .
    5. Govts and groups that formerly were basically unfriendly but kept quiet are starting to form blocks and move more aggresively (maybe they smell blood and know about the dire financial situation of the regime more than we do or suspect) .
    6. If talks are going to take place ( which not likely) the oppo has to have a focus to the talks to raise topics that make the govt uncomfortable because of what they make obvious about the true nature of the regime . Nothing is lost to propose a topic to hang a handle on whose to blame for the talks preordained failure .
    7. Lets not lose track of the fact that this is just an episode in a longer drawn out process , a battle in a long war . were the regime will have to face some tough increasing challenges in the future .
    8. The oppo is getting a shot of adrenaline that it was badly needing , next time arround the communities most affected by the protests will be better prepared to act assertively in pursuit of the oppos goals.

  14. 1.- Unasur has no power or possibilities to grant anything.
    2.- With no elections nearby the CNE is of little importance in the current crisis.
    3.- The TSJ, military, and money trump an opposition headed CNE several times.
    4.- Most of all opposition should never negotiate the end of protests for no promises. Protester should make demands, no concessions.

    Pardon this but it all sounds like:

  15. Several thoughts: 1) Of course, we all know that Juan’s suggestion, while it would be helpful, is blue-sky thinking; 2) We also know that “Flanker” is aptly-named–i. e., flank the good comments to keep coming at us with his trolling Govt.-interested ones; 3) We also know that virtually no international organization will come to Venezuela’s “rescue” unless and only maybe if la sangre llegue al rio (which it could); 4) I believe it is not a Govt. plan to keep inciting the Oppo protests, from some strategic grand plan, but rather it is a knee-jerk Castro-Cuban reaction, which worked well in a small Cuban island environment, but which does/will not work well in a larger Venezuelan geographical/multi-large city environment; the Castros’ fear is really about protests snowballing out-of-hand, or possibly with a patriotic Venezuelan military backing; this fear is well-grounded by the massive Caracas/many other major city non-paid voluntary turnouts at marches, compared to the really puny paid/bussed-in turnouts at Chavista marches; 5) There is a limit to what all Venezuelans, non-Chavistas and thinking pro-Chavistas, will stand of the slaughter of innocents in the streets, particularly by gangs of Govt.-financed/armed thugs; the total body count is now about 35 and increasing, not counting many hundreds seriously injured. The Ukraine final count was 100, when 20 pro-Govt. Congressmen saltaron la talanquera to oust the President. Previously, the protests had expanded to attack/burn Govt. buildings/institutions, which the protestors considered illegitimate, similar to what the protestors in Venezuela rightly think of Venezuelan institutions today. The Govt. cannot simply jail all Oppo leaders as a solution (LL/Scarano/Ceballos/Del Vecchio/MCM/Muchacho/et. al)., which is their desire and serious intention currently, without something breaking and causing their own downfall.

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