Corrales, on where Venezuela is

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A smart take on the current situation by friend of the blog Javier Corrales, courtesy of NTN24, in Spanish. The part that jumped out at me: there were twice as many people detained this year than during the 1989 Caracazo riots. Who knew?

1 COMMENT

  1. Javier Corrales is a bright politiacl scientist and we should be grateful that he is a perseverant observer of the Venezuelan situation because we need the inputs of outside voices who could see beyond our passions and frustrations.
    Having said that I have important differences of perspectives to the ones he presents here.
    (1), I don’t agree with his division of the opposition between the “hard liners” and the more sensible or rational opposition, obviously referring to those who advocate street protests and those who prefer to sit and drink tea with Maduro. There is an ethical component that seems to be missing from this categorization
    (2), I agree with him that students won an important victory by forcing Maduro to show his ugly reppressive nature and by saying that this movement will reappear with force in the future. It is sad, however that Latin American leaders do not care about this reppressive nature of Maduro and continue being seduced by oil money, abandoning all principles.
    (3), Javier says Maduro can weather the storm. I say he can’t, and won’t. His regime is reppressive alright, but weak. Money is running out and, as we say in Venezuela, por la plata baila el perro.
    (4), Javier insists in his definition of a hybrid regime for Maduro’s government, not democratic but not dictatorial. To this I answer with an affectionate BULLSHIT. Not even under the most narrow political science approach can Maduro’s govt. be classified s semi-democratic. What Javier defines as a democratic sign – freedom of expression – is so contaminated by censorship, self-censorship, pressures on newsapapers and, especially, by the lack of response to criticism by the regime, that the concept is rendered invalid. Criticizing the regime is like pissing on cotton.
    (5) Elections, the other sign of a democracy, are essentially a farce, dear Javier. The Electoral Council and the armed forces control the event and are, in turn, part of the regime, while the political and propaganda mechanisms of the regime controls the before and after. .

    With the rest of the interview I fully agree.
    . . .

    • (1) How is merely having a dialogue with the chavistas supposed to be “unethical”? Maintaining at least some route of dialogue wouldn’t do the opposition any harm, it might even provide them with new strategies on dealing with the goventment.
      (2) Touché.
      (3) As much as I hate to admit it, Nicolas Maduro is still more likely to survive than Viktor Yanukovych. The military, the national guard, the PDVSA, the intelligence services all have his back. PSUV may have internal divisions, but they’ll still be more united than the opposition. In addition the UNASUR (i.e. Brazil) backs him. And Uncle Sam is too busy dealing with the legions of kids from Honduras and Guatemala crossing the Rio Grande border that it won’t do anything to substantially harm Maduro.
      (4) According to the 2012 Democracy Index by the Economist, Venezuela wasn’t (yet) a full-fledged authoritarian regime but a hybrid regime. So Corrales was at least partly right about calling chavista Venezuela a hybrid regime. It’s not yet a North Korea or Cuba but it’s goose-stepping towards that category.
      (5) Elections are deeply skewed towards the incumbent with the opposition given very little room for any maneuver. In that aspect, you’re right. The CNE should be reformed entirely, and the gerrymandering should stop.

      • Arturo, assuming you’re the old Arturo from before, you’ve finally come to reason–could it be that you’ve been re-born, perhaps chastened by fire (and brimstone), in that very place where your previous idol/mentor now resides?

      • “How is merely having a dialogue with the chavistas supposed to be “unethical”?”
        One doesn’t sit and talk with the murderers who just killed the people you claim to represent, they’re sending the message that “hey, it was just a couple of bullets in some faces and exploded heads, doesn’t matter, dude”.

        “Maintaining at least some route of dialogue wouldn’t do the opposition any harm, it might even provide them with new strategies on dealing with the goventment.”
        If it’s made public (Like that famous time), everybody sees how idiotic are the chavista high command members (disociado cabilla and delci sapa rodríguez come to mind) and how little the opposition has to do to actually convince chavistas to defect.

    • Of course you will never find an ethical component in political analysis. This is about harsh reality. Otherwise, analysts would be accused of bias.

    • I disagree regarding the Maduro regime being particularly repressive and authoritatian towards protesters. In Brazil and Chile protests were not led by renowned politicians, and were not intended to bring down the government. While I sympathise with the Venezuelan students’ cause, the whole ‘guarimba’ thing was far more destructive and destabilizing than anything protesters did in Brazil, Chile, or elsewhere in Latin America.

      I have no doubt that if the official opposition in basically any country in the world advocated for protests on the scale that Venezuela saw, with a provocative title like ‘La Salida’, you’d see similar levels of repression.

      Polls at the time also showed most of the people disagreed with the way the protests were being carried out, which means that if anything the whole exercise served to reinforce the Chavista rhetoric of being under the threat of ‘golpismo’, rather than anything else.

      I think the view expressed by Corrales here ignores the spin that the local Chavista media was giving to the whole thing throughout, and assumes locals were thoroughly exposed to the same anti-Chavista media that the upper-classes and people abroad were drawing conclusions from.

      • and assumes locals were thoroughly exposed to the same anti-Chavista media that the upper-classes and people abroad were drawing conclusions from.

        Pray tell, WHERE is the “anti-Chavista media” in Venezuela? RCTV- muerto ya hace mucho tiempo. Globovision- now owned by a friend of Chavismo. El Universal: ditto.

        • Online, mostly… and that’s exactly the point. While Corrales and company look at SOS-Venezuela-type online content and draw conclusions about Maduro’s government looking like an evil oppressor, most Venezuelans don’t adhere to this narrative and were for the most part ‘out of the loop’ the whole time.

          At the heat of the protests anti-Chavista users were uploading to youtube lots of videos and pictures of police repression all over the world or from many years ago and labelling it as if it were from Venezuela’s recent student movement. The government wisely took that footage and used the media control they now exert over the country to create a narrative whereby the reports of abuse were false or exaggerated, and managed to frame the protesters as an anti-democratic force.

          I genuinely don’t think that anyone other than the usual Oposición and a few foreign observers came out of the ‘La Salida’ experience with the impression that the Maduro government is more repressive than other governments around the region. Students reminded the government and everyone else that about 50% of Venezuelans did not vote for them and do not particularly support them, but did not accomplish much else, and certainly did not ‘win’.

          • While Corrales and company look at SOS-Venezuela-type online content and draw conclusions about Maduro’s government looking like an evil oppressor, most Venezuelans don’t adhere to this narrative and were for the most part ‘out of the loop’ the whole time.
            The recent IVAD poll doesn’t agree with you.

            57% blames government forces for the deaths that happened during the protests;

            I genuinely don’t think that anyone other than the usual Oposición and a few foreign observers came out of the ‘La Salida’ experience with the impression that the Maduro government is more repressive than other governments around the region.
            The current IVAD poll does not agree with you:

            59.1% think the government is not democratic and is becoming a dictatorship;
            79.5% thinks there are political prisoners in Venezuela

            Please find another country in the region with similar poll results.
            IVAD tends to lean towards the government, BTW.

            And this with a government near-monopoly on TV, print, and radio media. As you point out, about the only oppo media in Venezuela can be found online.

            http://caracaschronicles.com/2014/09/01/ivad-leopoldo/

      • “I have no doubt that if the official opposition in basically any country in the world advocated for protests on the scale that Venezuela saw, with a provocative title like ‘La Salida’, you’d see similar levels of repression.”

        I do have my doubts. Most sane governments would use a level of repression to contain and defuse the protests. In that sense the Guarimbas would have been mostly left alone. In Venezuela the government attacked and egged the protesters to provoke a reaction and generate more violence because it served its purposes.

        • Sane governments like… for example?

          Off the top of my head I cannot recall a single uprising in the style of La Salida (where people were encouraged to block and damage infrastructure by their leaders, with clear references to bringing down the government in the process) that wasn’t met with as much or more police repression than we saw in Venezuela.

          Hell, the U.S.-supported government of Honduras was much more violent and repressive against pro-Zelaya protesters and supporters in 2009.

          I think that Venezuela’s democratic flaws are not evidenced at all in events like ‘La Salida’, but can rather be found in more subtle readings of the local institutions (or lack thereof). The government is really a hollow shell under which there’s very little ‘problem-solving’ going on. Almost every project carried out by the government shows an astounding lack of planning and transparency… I find that much more alarming than their predictable reaction to an uprising.

  2. Pehaps less people were detained during the Caracazo rather than the recent #LaSalida protests, because CAP prefered to have all the protesters and rioters shot rather than jailed.

      • Erm, no. El Gocho himself acknowledged up to 276 deaths after the massacre. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights said there might be more victims due to mass graves. Other estimates have been as high as 2,000. I don’t think I’m the one with the math problems..

          • And especially when apologists for murder want low numbers to minimize a massacre, they try to discredit those models. On COFAVIC’s front page they cite 600 dead during the Caracazo. But way to use them to try to minimize it…

          • and where is the list of those murdered? Because they were mostly murdered in the main cities and people in Venezuela have families, mind you…and almost everyone had an ID. Where is the list of those “disappeared”? Why hasn’t the military government of Chávez and now Castro allowed an independent investigation of this?

    • If the malandros didn’t shoot against the national guard using the weapons provided by the putrid castro regime, there wouldn’t have been almost any killings.
      Poor shmucks who fap with the stupid illusion that “like 5000 innocents were gunned down by the evil CAP himself”, perhaphs while cackling and stroking a white cat?
      chavistas are really dumbasses xD

  3. When I mentioned the ethical component I thought about the two sides. The protesters of La Salida should not be termed rash or extremists only because they wanted to accelerate the fall of a regime that is literally running Venezuela into the ground. I see them at heroes,although this will place me in the extremist side in the eyes of many. . On the other side I do believe that sitting with Maduro and his band of thugs was/ is unethical. Pragmatism cannot be taken to the extreme of sacrificing values and principles by parting bread with criminals. Again, call me extremist but I think the dialogue really gave oxigen to the regime.
    The example of Mandela is often mentioned to justify the apple pie and motherhood approach.. What is forgotten is that Mandela only reconciled after being in power, not while apartheid was in power. And De Klerk opened up after he realizaed he had no place to go, he was check mated, it was not out of conviction. . .
    .

  4. “there were twice as many people detained this year than during the 1989 Caracazo riots. Who knew?”

    Yeah, who knew right? I mean, I suppose it is difficult to detain people after you’ve already shot them dead….

    The people on this website say some of the most shameful shit on a daily basis.

        • Facts? The 5000 “shot” in 1989 are based on one ONG report that talks about around 100 corpses in a mass grave…shot not single-handedly by CAP and his top military but by colleagues of Chávez…people like Acosta Carlez’s brother. The strange thing is that those shooting at each other back in 1989 are now in power.
          5000? Even then almost every single grownup in Venezuela had an ID and a family.
          Where is the list of missing people? There isn’t.
          The murderers of 1989 don’t want any independent inquiry about the Caracazo because people would found out who the murderers are.

  5. The protests in early 2014 were much less violent and spread than those ocurring during the Caracazo , the forces of order where not as well equipped and organized to handle the distrubances then as they have become now . this govt has professionalized repression because it sees it as key feature of governance not as something that happens exceptionally and in small scale as when people have access to institutionalized expressions of dissent . If we now had a caracazo scale disturbance the number of fatalities would probably be much higher not because a better equiped police could not avoid them but because of two factors :One because some individuals in the repression units are ideologically fanatized and feel great when they act with wantom cruelty against the protestors. . Secondly because you know have paramilitary colectivos acting in tandem with the official forces of order to squash any protest and they lack any discipline or restraint.. One thing is to kill people in the heat and confusion of a violent battle where your skin is being threatened by violent thugs , quite another to kill people motivated by sectarian hatreds .!!.

    • “The protests in early 2014 were much less violent and spread than those ocurring during the Caracazo”
      The protests in 2014 were actual people’s protests, the plunderings of february 27 were instigated by cuban infiltrators who brought weapons during the previous months by the orders of castro.

  6. The Venezuelan opposition – who include the people who generally comment on this blog – are even more impotent as opposition than the opposition in Zimbabwe:

    In Zimbabwe the opposition at least were smart enough to get to share part of governance in the country at the national level.

  7. The El tiempo article originally comes from Reuters , tried accesing the original but the page was innacessible .!! Supplies ex Venezuela to allied nations are clearly dropping ( except for Cuba) a sign that things a reaching a point were the cheap oil oil policy cannot be maintained .!!

  8. The two sides of the opposition? I’m not sure about that. I think it’s more like the opposition is facing two roads and some chose one road and others chose the other. It isn’t a matter of ideology, but a belief in which road would have a better chance of success.

    • If some choose going one wy and others choose going differente way, aren’t they taking sides? I did not mention ideology, call it strategic choices if you wish, but two sides do exist

  9. There is nothing subtle about killing a girl in front of her home by firing point blank a gun to her face , there is nothing subtle about a police woman battering a defenseless womans head against the pavement with a helmet , there is nothing subtle about entering a buildings parking lot and battering the cars parked there or throwing smoke bombs inside peoples home and putting them on fire . there is in fact something quite horrific about an unarmed protestor being machinegunned to death by a non uniformed thug forming part of a paramilitary govt squad almost at whim. or beating students up in their classrooms

    There were peaceful protests which where attacked with abusive violence and then there were guarimbas , the first were treated no different from the second , thats not the way a regime that prides itself on its enlightened democratic credentials acts !! thats the way that a dictatorship acts !!

    The world did take notice , just go back to the papers in those days , and, except for the armed regime organized paramilitary goons none of the ordinary denisens of the barrios ,marched to ‘defend the revolution’ , True most of them did not join the protests but neither did they show any overt hostility to the protesters .

    it is a law of history than when you deny people the means of expressing their discontent and constantly abuse them in word and deed , treating them as pariahs and fiends, your are bound to have some of them respond to that kind of abuse with anger and indignation . .

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