Mental, or just plain stupid?

One happy family
One happy family

I wonder about Nicolás Maduro sometimes.

I mean, it’s easy to dismiss Maduro as insane. The latest from the man who talks to birds, who thinks Chávez was “innoculated” with cancer? Well, the opposition is spreading tropical diseases, and it’s all the media’s fault.

Still, barring the possibility that he’s insane, can he really be this stupid, politically speaking?

Case in point: the liberation of Iván Simonovis.

In case you don’t know, Simonovis was police chief during the April, 2002 coup that saw 19 Venezuelans die and Hugo Chávez leave power for a brief period of time. Chavistas decided to blame Simonovis, along with another group of policemen, and nine years ago he was sentenced to thirty years in jail for “crimes against humanity.”

He’s been in jail ever since. Meanwhile, Simonovis became Exhibit A of the opposition’s claim that there are political prisoners in Venezuela, even though he is not the only one. They have been claiming for a long time that he is gravely ill.. Henrique Capriles even took Simonovis’ wife to the Vatican to accompany him in his meeting with Pope Francis.

Well, early this morning, the government “freed” Simonovis, by switching him to house arrest and yet forbidding him from talking to reporters or using social media.

This is undoubtedly good news for Simonovis, his family, and the people in the opposition that support him. Still, who is Maduro looking to please with this move?

It’s not the opposition. Nobody who is happy about Simonovis is going to think any differently about Maduro after this move.

It’s certainly not swing voters. People caught in the middle don’t really think about Simonovis one way or the other. Their main concern is the economy, and Venezuela’s soaring crime rates. Many don’t even know who Simonovis is.

And it’s certainly not chavistas. The hard-core base is livid with this. They always viewed Simonovis as guilty, and have vehemently opposed any humanitarian measures in his favor. Chavista relatives of some of the April 11th victims have prevented chavismo from showing any clemency toward Simonovis. Maduro himself has pleaded with the opposition, basically telling them he couldn’t free SImonovis even if he wanted to.

Dissident chavista intellectual Nicmer Evans is furious. In a sign that the government is worried about rankling its own base about this, the Supreme Tribunal has said that Simonovis can go home as long as he is ill. If he gets better, he has to go back to the slammer. Talk about trying to have it both ways …

Maduro’s popularity is in the tank. This move gets him zero new voters, and manages to turn off his more radical base. What benefit can there be in this?

My only theory is that granting Simonovis house arrest is a concession to foreign governments, and a gesture for the opposition.

Recently we learned that Latin American governments have unanimously backed Venezuela’s candidacy to the UN Security Council, which should make for some entertaining theater once Hugo Chávez’s daughter takes her seat at the table. On the other hand, Henrique Capriles talked about dialogue again in the last few days, but has repeatedly conditioned it on a “gesture” on the part of the government. And let’s not forget that, in the last few weeks, the government has also released a few more political prisoners, most notably the student protester Sairam Rivas.

It wouldn’t surprise me that this is the calculation behind Maduro’s move. But in throwing his base under the bus, Maduro is probably making things worse than better. No amount of dialogue can cover up the fact that his supporters will not take this lightly.

In spite of it all, it’s nice that a family is reunited on the back of Maduro’s mistake. Let’s hope we see more of these mistakes in the near future, as many more political prisoners are still rotting in jail.

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  1. I think this goes deeper than a simple mistake or a simple gesture: Maduro needs base to governability and guess who is the only one who can provide it? Exactly, the MUD! They need the oppo guys to back them in this crisis and not to “alborotar el avispero” too much these year and a half before elections. A proof of this is Vladimir Villegas’ eventual election as a member of the Consejo Nacional Electoral.

    Chavistas don’t trust Villegas too much. Oppo guys either! So, he is the perfect consensus candidate to chair the CNE with some balance during 2015 (and 2016?).

    What do you think of this?

      • Henri Falcón has already jumped on this bandwagon in his Sunday interview with Carlos Croes on Televen (channel 10) and is pushing the dialogo card to the max. Good luck to him, he’s going to need it.

    • There really isn’t anything the opposition can do to mitigate the crisis (protests could exacerbate it though). Villegas recently said that he would bet on the success of Maduro’s government and that everything would be better off if it succeeded. Not very balanced words in the current political context when one side or portion sees him as completely delegitimate. We can’t be content/pacified with political crumbs.

    • El avispero fue alborotao with february’s protests. Nothing happened.

      Dozens got killed, thousands imprisoned and tortured. Then came the World Cup and freezed everything thus, the country marches again in its usual ways, adapting endlessly to scarcity, violence and suffering.

      I can´t really grasp HOW people at CC thinks maduro is in big trouble. Maduro is in control of this mess of a country. He did made the right moves (giordani and ramirez) to steer towards a radical government.

      1- He tested repression, kidnappings and murder. It worked flawlessly.
      2- He tested movida de mata on heavy fish with Gio and Ramirito. It worked wonders.
      3- He´s testing people defaulting on them. Scarcity has not even made a dent on him. At these levels, people should be in the streets looting and burning everything flat, but they are not. So, it worked.

      Only thing that can depose maduro right now is a golpe de estado.

      • I sense a “This should’ve crossed CARACAZO threshold a long time ago!”
        Bad news for you, buddy, the so infamous and romanticized so-called caracazo, was cold-calculated provoked incident to topple CAP’s government, controlled by no one else than the mastermind behind chavismo: fidel castro.

        Today’s protests? No one knows about them because they’ve been made invisible by hegemon corp.

        • I know the caracazo is a disney production. As 99% of venezuelans i was also ill informed about caracazo until reading deeply into it, including “La Rebelión de los Náufragos”.

  2. There is a saying, “When you are up to your ass in alligators it’s hard to remember that you set out to drain the swamp.” Chavismo is overwhelmed right now. They have no principles left other than to stay in power. Cuba keeps trying to prop them up, but even they can’t juggle all the balls that Chavismo has in the air. It is easy for us looking in from the outside to see their errors. For Maduro and Co. every day is one of putting out fires and just trying to keep their heads above water. We shouldn’t be surprised that they keep screwing up.

  3. Let’s face it: this move caught ALL of us by surprise. We need more time to fathom what’s really going on. It’s too early to tell, unless you can’t help being a blabbermouth.

  4. Rule # 1: Anytime something goes wrong in Venezuela it is either the CIA or the bourgeois parasites. The CIA killed Simon Bolivar before the CIA even existed, right? Isn’t that what the pajaro said? LOL How stupid can a country be for how long?

    • A third of the country is that stupid, and that third holds the other two thirds of the country at gunpoint so they can’t say or do anything about their stupidity.

  5. Maduro doesn´t want the guy to die in his hands, just that.

    He’ll get treatment and go back to rot once again in jail. Only Nicmer Evans and Capriliebers are making a fuss out of this.

  6. Arbitrary justice going in, arbitrary justice going out. Or maybe there was a payment by someone to someone: isn’t that usually how the system works?

  7. All governments take a chief of police as the scapegoat of major crisis.

    Does anyone remember Molina Gásperi? Was he really the author of Carmona’s assassination?

    IMHO, Juan, I think this is a goodwill gesture to make the goverment regain some presentability internationally.

  8. It’s part of the latest goebbelian campaign.
    “Hey, look, UN! We have ZERO political prisoners here! Pinky swear! Now please let our troll sit at the security council so we can keep the dollar flowing to disociado’s pokets!”

    • The ten Policía Metropolitana policemen used by Chavismo as scapegoats still remain in prison in awful conditions, some of them are quite ill and don’t seem to be in line for the same type of “benefit” as Simonovis. It’s a small advance nevertheless and still worth celebrating.

  9. The funny part about this?
    I think is hilarious to see chavistas squirming like salted slugs at hearing this news, that’s why maburro said “He’ll eventually return to rot in jail again”
    But for now, I can say “Sufre, chaburro, sufre.”

  10. Im afraid that Maduros decision to allow Simonovis to have his home for prison is not dictated by humanitarian motives but by mercenary motives of some kind . It does detract from his standing as a die hard Chavista so the quid pro quo must have been considerable.

    Dont know that Mr Maduro is necessarily an intrinsically wicked man but rather a gray mediochre intellectually empty man whom circumstances have put him in a situation were he feels he must play the role that the faithful to the Chavez cause expect him to play . something of an Eichman figure !!

    Maybe as a bus driver or ordinary person he would be a normal gent , but as president and leader of the virulent Chavez cult he is something of a clownish boorish despotic figure. !! Desperately trying to show a personality which he doesnt have.

    • As a bus driver he was a filthy reposero and saboteur who kept staging strikes in Caracas so freddy infernal and the other bastards who now compose the chavista cabinet could stir all kinds of problems in the city, like bank robberies, murders and all sorts of crimes.

    • Maduro was never a mere bus driver. After being trained in Cuba, he became a bus driver to penetrate the bus drivers’ union. It seems to me that many who bring up Maduro’s bus driving background underestimate him. Maduro is a Fidel-trained agitator cum apparatchik. Granted, he is a mediocrity incapable of independent thought who, if his programmed responses from his long ago training in Cuba do not suffice, needs to return to Havana to be reprogrammed. But a mere bus driver he ain’t.

  11. You forgot to put intellectual in quotation marks. And a question mark in parenthesis to emphasize the automatic doubt that arises after making such a claim about Nicmer Evans.
    I was suspicious about these news when I read them because there is no such thing as tolerance for opposition in chavismo, as they have been all too happy to demonstrate over the years. Are they setting the stage for true dialogue? I find that extremely unlikely.
    I agree with Hunt: It just might have been bad press for them to have a political prisoner die in custody with so much going on already, but I can’t even believe that Maduro or his buddies released Simonovis because they had a sudden attack of conscience.

  12. Venezuela is angling for a seat on the UN Security Council, and will also be grilled next week at the UN over its human rights record. This and the other moves are pure image control.

    Watch as Simonovis is magically cured one month from now.

  13. Simonovis was never tried for “crimes against humanity” but as “accomplice” in homicide. His prosecutor then was Luisa Ortega Díaz, current Attorney General. Ortega herself, as well as most any other government official, now holler these “lessa humanidad” claims plainly as twisted propaganda. Reading your article claiming the same lie is yet another sad proof of chavistas’ success as Goebbel’s scholars.

      • “Agavillamiento”, “asociación para delinquir”, and “cómplice no necesario” are some of the magic wands chavismo uses to blame people.

    • “Crimes against humanity” was the excuse given to never let him out of the cell.
      It was the perfect populist adjetive to justify the sickening cruelty that only a scapegoat gets in a dictatorship like this.
      Just ask the average chavista, they’ll say you, words more, words less, that he basically killed every person himself, and did so with extreme prejudice, maybe while laughing, rubbing his hands and curling his evil mustache, while the gunmen above the bridge (peñalver and his gang, who openly said they opened fire upon the crowd) were saints who defended the clueless, becerro stupid escuacas who were used like lambs to the slaughterhouse.

  14. The Real Cuba ‏@therealcuba
    El guión de los Castro: Mete preso a 20 inocentes sin razón alguna
    Luego, suelta a uno y los idiotas celebrarán el “gesto de buena voluntad”

  15. You forget an irony of history in this story … If I am not mistaken in the April 2002 march on Miraflores, Maduro ended up firing his 9mm at the protesters that managed to get to Av Baralt (video of him tumbling like swat a commando is everywhere), while Simonovis and the imprisoned Policemen were protecting the march, and proceeded to fire back at Maduro’s group who was shooting from the Av Universidad bridge.

  16. With the fall in oil prices they are in deep sh..t and want to improve their images to repair fences with the US and other international critics by making attention grabbing gestures of conciliation . Next they will try to take relations to a level where they can get the financial help they so desperately need . To get that help they will need to offer a better image to the world and they are starting to work at it . This is a first step , wait for others.!!


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