The Regime Isn't Crumbling, It's Evolving


ledezmaHow to read yesterday’s arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma? Is it a sign of a government that’s desperate? On its last legs? Or is it a show of strength, a display of their ability to do what they want to do without fear of the consequences?

It’s neither. The regime isn’t crumbling, but it is weak. It can no longer command an electoral majority. And it’s adapting to that radically new reality.

The math, in the end, is simple: with Maduro’s approval ratings now in Caldera-territory, PSUV is not even within striking distance of winning a majority in the National Assembly if elections are anything like fair. It therefore needs to create a new political dynamic where it can either indefinitely suspend elections or bar the opposition from taking part in them.

It may be that they’re planning a Soviet-style election, with no opposition presence on the ballot, or it may be that they’re aiming to do away with elections outright. The details don’t matter that much, what matters is that the era when chavismo subjected itself to meaningful electoral competition is clearly over now. The imprisonment of high profile political leaders is just one aspect of the way the regime has decided to adapt to this new reality: a strategy that’s long on conspiranoia and repression and short on tolerance and democratic normality.

None of this should particularly surprise us. Chavismo never really believed in elections, not if there was any realistic prospect of losing them. Mario Silva said as much, remember?

It’s desperately sad, but it’s the game we’re playing now. The deeper their conviction that they’ll never cede power except through a coup, the deeper their paranoia about the prospect of a coup.

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  1. Thank you for spitting out what many of us try to tip-toe around, for fear of giving the regime any ideas — if that were remotely possible. Every time someone comes up with a rosy picture of the near future, I grit my teeth and say nothing about the dark horizon ahead. And you’re right, the future keeps evolving a few steps ahead of any possible dissent.

  2. Their inability to win an election is a direct result of the weakening of the Bolivarist project. They may have other, more authoritarian methods of holding on to power, but when those are employed they legitimize revolt, and possibly, outside intervention.

    A decision to decapitate the leadership of the Opposition for electoral purposes will cut them off from the deepest well-springs of political legitimacy, and will condemn them to eventual rejection and defeat.

    It will happen.

    • Jeffry personally I think it is naive to believe that in this way.They have never had political legitimacy…but it doesn’t seen to stop those ‘progressives’ ( in name only ) both in Europe and the US from thinking that it does.

      We need to think on our feet, rather than imagine what would usually happen under ordinary circumstances

  3. The descent into tyranny common to failing regimes appears to be playing out. The recent historical fashion is to imprison the most vociferous opponents on pretext, more quietly incarcerate less visible opponents (desaparecidos), and require that remaining candidates for elections be approved so as to prevent insurrectionists and apostates from being elected, for the good of the people. In Venezuela’s case, however, the descent is happening so rapidly that it appears to be more like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  4. maybe not Soviet-style, but how about Iran? Maduro’s tedious cadena last night included some gems. One of them was the notion that candidates who don’t respect the constitution (as defined by him, of course) either won’t get on the ballot or will have their victories annulled. In Iran they have a committee for vetting candidates …. just a thought…

  5. Great post, Francisco. Thanks for calling a spade a spade; this is the long game, slowly but surely to full dictatorship. The pendulum has swung way too far that the fear of retribution, of karmic backlash has put the regime in full gas forward to total repression. It’s totally evolving, and the transmutation isn’t going to be pretty. Only wish this wasn’t the case, though, but elections? Forget it. This is new territory and they are embracing it with open arms (pun intended).

  6. The government is simply trying to elicit a reaction from the opposition. They want the opposition protests to restart one more time focused again on the political topic. It is the best way to silence the social protests. They want to prevent unified protests of all economic classes by triggering political protests and guarimbas just like in 2014. Enough turmoil will give them a weak excuse (which is all they need) to suspend elections, but that is just a bonus.

    It is a provocation pure and simple, and surely more will come. Ledezma, although a very known figure specially in Caracas and the opposition, is not an important threat to the government. They did not dare, this time, to touch MCM. They are saving that card for another moment.

    • I actually don’t think so. I think the goal of putting opposition leaders in jail is having opposition leaders jailed. I don’t think the other’s side reaction is either here or there to them: they need to prevent anything like a contestable election later this year, and having the opposition leadership in jail is one good way of achieving that.

      If some crazies go out and set up some guarimbas in reaction to this, hey, that’s gravy. But I think it’s to flatter ourselves to think that the success or failure of this move depends on how we react to it. It doesn’t.

      • “I actually don’t think so. I think the goal of putting opposition leaders in jail is having opposition leaders jailed. I don’t think the other’s side reaction is either here or there to them: they need to prevent anything like a contestable election later this year, and having the opposition leadership in jail is one good way of achieving that.”

        How does Ledezma’s imprisonment specifically play into this? Was he a potential congress candidate?

        • It doesn’t play into it. Its just more nonsense from Toro. How would imprisoning Ledezma affect parliamentary elections? It wouldn’t and it won’t. But that won’t stop Toro from his non-stop hyperbole that is always overblown nonsense. Last time it was a “pogrom”… this time its a “soviet-style election”… blah, blah, blah

          • Yeah, unless Ledezma resigns as a mayor, I don’t see his involvement. I think he, Toro, will respond with an explanation about Ledezma’s importance in the rally of voters, which is minuscule compared to leaders like HCR and Falcon.

          • just like LL’s imprisonment, Ledezma’s is only about frightening people, maybe this way some opposition candidates will refrain from participating in the elections altogether or will make some sort of deal Cocchiola/Sanchez style. The key about Ledezma’s arrest is throwing a candy to Chavista radicals wich were starting to diverge from the central authority, altough this may further alienate chavismo from the majority of the population.

          • “Ledezma’s is only about frightening people, maybe this way some opposition candidates will refrain from participating in the elections altogether or will make some sort of deal Cocchiola/Sanchez style.”

            Do these theories consciously disregard competition inside the opposition?

            Can an opposition party see these events as an opportunity to flank ABP and other radicals like VV and VP?

          • Radically opposed does not mean they radicals. Thats like calling Capriles ultraderecha. Chavistas have such a way with words…

      • “But I think it’s to flatter ourselves to think that the success or failure of this move depends on how we react to it. It doesn’t.”

        Well, if the opposition is that inconsequential according to you, would it be fair to say that you’re effectively vouching for international assistance?

        • No. As long as the regime can keep the men with guns fat and happy, and can use a combination of colectivo intimidation and their media stranglehold to keep most of the barrios quiet, than they can hang onto control.

          Once their control over either slips, than they are done. All the opposition can do is try to look like a viable alternative and do the best they can to tell people the real reasons why there is little food, no medicine, out of control crime, and rampant corruption.

          • “All the opposition can do is try to look like a viable alternative and do the best they can to tell people the real reasons why there is little food, no medicine, out of control crime, and rampant corruption.”

            How would the opposition manifest itself in Toro’s scenario where candidates are chosen by the Government, or another democracy-impeding mechanic is in place?

            I can think of two options: military turnaround and international intervention.

            According to Toro, the options available to the opposition imply violent social unrest.

            It’s fair to say that the plurality within the opposition allows for different calculations, including those that consider these prompts irresponsible.

          • “…the options available to the opposition imply violent social unrest.”

            Once again, when I finally choose to pick and read one random post of yours, it’s the same chabobo idiocy of always.

            You should kneel and kiss the opposition and the MUD in their butts for being the pacifists their are, because they choose just to step aside and let your idols do the dirty work of teasing the population to the brink of madness, mocking their suffering and hardship every hour of every day.

            One tiny example that could prove that the opposition would be trying to even poke the most infinitesimal fraction of anger in the population, would be broadcasting with megaphones pearls like these IN EACH LINE, day and night, from sunday to sunday, so people realize how chavistas enjoy that:

            “I like standing in a line, I LOVE wasting half of a day in a line standing like a totem under the sun!”

            “There are NO lines for food AT ALL, NO SIRE” (Except the one you are standing now, imbecile)

            Also, in a clear show of this turd-o-cracy attitude, the reporter was threatened with death after NTN 24 made the video public.

            It helps a lot to the “irritation and taunting factor” the smug, “I’m so superior to you” attitude of both idiots, and how they’re mocking people in lines.

  7. “It may be that they’re planning a Soviet-style election, with no opposition presence on the ballot, or it may be that they’re aiming to do away with elections outright.”

    Where does that leave us, those in the Democratic Opposition?

  8. Poor chavistas they are always victims, they made a coup too in 1992 do u remember?? They killed a lot of people, and they even celebrate that now the 4th February of every year. So now there are good coups and bad coups?. Double moral, hypocrites. Now there is a corrupt group that have all the power and they don’t want to go because they know they will have to pay for all the crimes they made in all this years. They don’t care about venezuelans they just care about power. And we venezuelans now 85% of the country want a change, a democratic one with this difference we can start to rebuild our country. If the opposition in the future can’t make it we as people will change them too. But the whole point here is that the government is not respecting our constitution anymore and that can’t still happening. If they did that with a Major, what can we expect for us the citizens? well we know that already, a lot of young students are in jail, some twitter activist in jail, and others are dead by now. So now what? All venezuelans are conspirators too? just for disagree with their politics?? I don’t think so.

    • They attempted a coup, and they went to jail for it…. do u remember? So what’s the problem with putting oppo leaders who attempt coups in jail?

      • False comparison. Chavez had tanks rolling up the steps of Miraflores. Ledezma (who was taken extrajudicially not by cops but SEBIN agents) is being accused of signing a document.

        • Ledezma was arrested on orders from a warrant issued by a judge at the request of the Fiscalia General. Get your facts straight. And he won’t be walking the streets for a long time.

          • You’re right, Maduro said so, even though his initial formal hearing isn’t for at least 45 days–Kangaroo Justice, Kangaroo Courts.

          • There was no order to arrest Ledezma, the fucktards just came and kidnapped him, after shouting “¡Tú sí tienes bolas, viejo de mierda!” when he asked them if they had any document.
            Yep, the same garbage who’s given guns to kill civilians everyday, this regime-shit is so crap, that it’s even worse than the 4th in every single aspect.

      • False equivalence.

        Chavez and his cronies were tried because on 4F and 27N military units imprisoned legitimate governors, bombarded Miraflores with airplanes or tanks, attempted to kidnap or kill CAP’s family (killing several bodyguards in the process), shot at the car transporting the president, executed VTV’s security guards on their knees, etc.

        Ledezma is being accused based on a newspaper clip.

    • Right in the target, Emmerson.
      If Venezuela had any semblance of justice, those bastards should have been locked during the whole 30-year period they deserved for treason and murder.

        • There was no coup in 2002, it was a power void, unarmed civilians marched towards chimpanflores and the wax doll ran away after he sent his goons to slaughter the people.

          The very TSJ stated that there was no coup, that’s why the corpse barked while foaming at the snout “…la PLAASSSSSSTTTTAAAAAAAAAAAAA….”

          Squirm all you want, there was no coup in 2002, you have no excuse for anything.

          • Unfirtunately for your spurious argument the Venezuelan Supreme Court decided that there was a coup in April 2002 in a ruling on March 12 2005.

            But I suppose that a dork like you knows better.

          • They didn’t.
            You’re making a fool of yourself.
            But it’s natural, without the so-called “coup”, chaburrismo goes from “vindicative victim who was just acting on self defense” to “worse than the 4th by miles”, a bit too much for your feeble minds to accept.
            Again, it’s not our fault you can’t recognize the truth and insist in the coup bullshit as an excuse to celebrate those people were murdered and Venezuela got destroyed to the point it is now.

          • Yes, there was no coup… its just that opposition leaders went on television the following day and said exactly how they planned the whole thing out…

            You have to be completely incapable of objective thought to still be denying this one:

        • Garth – Leopoldo and whole raft of opposition non-democrats were given an amnesty by Chavez on December 31 2007 for their role in the 2002 coup and 2002 – 2003 oil industry sabotaje.. But Leopoldo never learned – he could get up to 16 years in jail for orgamnizing La Salida as could MCM.

          • Yes, they coerced the Ven. military into not following Chavez’s cowardly Plan Avila order to massacre unarmed marchers, after Chavez had already ordered the mini-massacre occuring around the Miraflores security zone by his rooftop snipers, as well as his Puente Llaguno assorted thugs, and assorted ground GNB/others. Mighty “magnanimous” of Chavez to “pardon” those not responsible for the results of his own actions. Revisionist history at its worst, but this has been the modus operandi throughout the last disastrous 15 years.

          • There where many coups during that week. The true story of events has yet to be told. One reason is because a lot of Chavistas where compromised before, during and after. A lot of money was paid out. Maduro himself was compromised by IPR and his brother.

          • Coup, or counter-coup, the sad thing is that Venezuelans have proven that they can’t even manage these successfully. In any event, no one twisted Chavez’s arm to slaughter innocents, and to try to slaughter even more.

          • They need to cling to their little lie because it’s their lifeline, otherwise, they end as just a bunch of malandros who slaughtered a pacific protest and didn’t even have the balls to take responsibility, it’s the typical disociado bully who keeps hitting people and then he goes crying and sobbing when somebody dares even to dodge his fist.

            JJ Rendón is damn right when he says that “every dissent to this government is seen as a capital crime punishable with death”.

            But again, when have chaburros taken responsibility for their own actions?

          • Ironic to be accusing others of not taking responsibility for their actions while you are denying opposition responsibility for a coup…

            How do you explain that Leopoldo and gang went on TV the next day and explained how they planned the whole thing out? I suppose they were just high on drugs?

            Unbelievable the level of idiocy around here…

  9. The only issue I take with this post is the word evolution in the title which involves one form of forward progress, its radicalization rather than evolution.

      • Following Keplers definition ( which I share) what the regime is doing is adapting to circumstances where if it wants to hold on to power it must do away with anything resembling normal elections , in part by putting in prison all or virtually all important opposition leaders .!! If conditions were different and they still retained a large enough following that would allow them to win elections the normal way ( with a bit of help from the CEN) they would not be imprisoning Leopoldo , Ledezma etc. Makes sense.

        That of course means changing their Political Identity as soi disant democrats and show their tyranical vocation in full nakedness , that has consequences in the way both ordinary people ( even their would be constituency ) sees them and in the way the world sees them .!! Castro could do it , Chavez might have done it ……but that limp mealy mouth baboon of Maduro ??

        • and another thing its not changing organically or naturally but in an attempt to stave of the final fracture of its political body .!!

      • Kepler,

        I agree with your definition of “evolution” in the biological sense, but that generally applies to whole species over many generations. In the case of the regime, this is adaptation by a single organism for the singular purpose of its own raw survival. I am speaking of adaptation in the sense that a coyote might chew off its own leg to escape a trap. The regime is shedding itself of the unneeded and now hindering trappings of democracy and exposing its true core self in a desperate bid for survival.

        • whew! I may be reading too much into this and arguing over nothing… but… Kepler’s definition (and all who “share” his definition) is incorrect. Too bad you don’t listen to the girl with the PhD (oh yes, I’m heading into the argument that people do not listen to women academics, hundreds of articles on the subject, if you “disagree” with me). Anyhow, change over time is the definition of evolution. Nothing else (more literally: heritable change in a population over time). Natural selection (through which you achieve adaptation), drift, mutation, and migration, are the main forces of evolution. You need only one present for evolution to happen. And true, Roy’s way of looking at it is interesting. In the context of this article, Francisco could’ve also used the term adaptation… adaptation still doesn’t mean “better” (in the anthropocentric form in which we think of “better”), simply means better suited for its environment. And indeed, this is what the article is saying. However, when you simply say evolution, it also implies other forces may be involved, such as drift, adding the “randomness” component to the equation. I think the party and government are “adapting” to changing environmental conditions, but there is also a high degree of randomness (drift) to their “system”, and this randomness is added due to many players having different personal interests, creating a chaotic fluctuation around the “adaptive” tendencies to their policies is this rapidly changing environment (political, socioeconomic, etc). Anyhow. This is my evo/political bs analysis. Cheers, y’all.

          • “I think the party and government are “adapting” to changing environmental conditions”

            you make it sound as though the changing environmental conditions are the active variable with the party/government in the more passive adaptive seat.

            Have you considered that the party/government is manipulating at least some of those political-economic distortions which, in turn cause the changing environmental conditions? Meaning, the real adaptation is being played out at street level, among ordinary citizens.

          • No mutation, no selection and you can have all the time in the world, there will be no evolution, ever, no chance over time and much less of a hereditary character.
            You don’t need a PhD for that, independent of your gender (and who cares what your gender is?). You don’t have to copy paste what you learnt at university. To discuss whether we are actually talking about the forces that are absolutely necessary for evolution to take place or the definition of evolution per se is paja, not science.

            Chavismo is not an individual. It can be seen perhaps as an ant colony.

            Anyway, even within this system you have selection: those who are loyal to the honchos and who have the least amount of ethics (Diosdado) but are not clumsy in their criminal ways (as Makled) get more power and those that copulate with him, at least politically, also thrive.

            To randomness we can include not just internal sources but such things as oil prices and the amount of scandal cases that are discovered outside the ant colony.

          • And a sudden drop in oil price may lead to an extinction followed by a new equilibrium. Away with these dinosa urs already!

  10. A little OT, but not much because the real shit-storm isn’t here yet. 70-80% of the food is imported and of that about 50-60% comes through Puerto Cabello. 3 or 4 years ago on any given day there would be at least 25 ships discharging in Pto Cab and another 35-45 at anchor waiting to discharge. This was normal. This past 15 days there have only been 15 ships in Pto Cab discharging at any time and only 5-7 at anchor waiting to enter. And today, a satellite search of vessels loaded headed to Pto Cab showed only 7 arriving in the next 15 days.
    There is no food coming. What is going to happen???

    • Oh my, but that’s right on topic. Interesting post. They’ve run out of money. The cash coming-in from oil revenue/sales is from mid-November, and even those numbers are dropping every day. Fewer ships in Puerto Cabello? Even less food on store shelves. Panic may be setting in….

    • Well done on the research! And very interesting. That goes a long way to answering the question, “Why now?” I wasn’t buying into the theory that the regime is worried about elections later this year.

      Can you advise what websites provided this data?

      • Check or just google AIS and check Puerto Cabello. My company has a full blown subscription to the satellite feed that you can check traffic heading to a port up to 15 days out. The picture is not pretty.

        • How much longer can the Bolivarian Revlution continue on? Perhaps the answer to that question is simple, mathematical and logical. How many millions of tons of food does it take to feed 30 million people on a monthly basis? Thus taking into account the following factors: with ‘x’ amount arriving daily at the Puerto Cabello, with ‘s’ being the scheduled arrival of future container ships and their tonnage, with ‘y’ amount equal to the tons of food in warehouses throughout the country, with ‘z’ amount of food slipping across the borders as income for those engaged in arbitrage schemes, with ‘h’ being the amount of food which is hoarded on a daily basis in basements, hidden cupboards, etc throughout the country, with ‘m’ being the preferential food deliveries given to the military, and ‘w’ being simply waste. If you know THOSE numbers, and there is every reason to believe that the imbeciles monitoring food distribution for the Chavista’s DO NOT, then you will know how much longer this insanity (The Bolivarian Revolution) will go on. It’s just that simple.

        • Marine traffic by satellite is one of the most watched pathways by analysts of economic development and intelligence survellience. Dramatic changes in inbound patterns to Vz in past 12 weeks have been noted by many. You are all absolutely right about what is coming down the road- politics aside, this is a country importing everything from toilet paper to meat and vegetables to barely maintain a retail inventory now subject to rationing. There is very little maritime import traffic on the horizon which is a very novel situation for the Maduro Regime; arresting all the mayors and retail store owners will not change this. I don’t see any Miracles of the Loaves and the Fishes for this crowd, but I hope a plan for feeding the crowd soon is a point of discussion in the Barracks.

    • Caracas Canadian,

      After thinking about this, an overall reduction in traffic is explained by the overall reduction in commercial activity. We are receiving fewer televisions, refrigerators, cars, parts, etc., because of the reduction in dollars allocated for these uses. We don’t really know how the reduction in vessels arriving correlates with food imports. Without doing a thorough analysis of the ship’s manifests, is there any way to know how much the tonnage of food imports is dropping?

      • Normally grain and other large food shipments come in bulk carrying vessels , while smaller items like tv’s fridges , repair parts come in general cargo vessels , in other words you need more vessels to carry bulk cargoes than to carry general cargo , because they have to carry bigger volumes . If there is less traffic on its way it probably means less food imports . Any way of looking at vessel sizes.??

  11. 1: The move with Ledezma is to distract from Leopoldo.

    2: Leopoldo is where he is because he’s perceived as the larger threat.

    3: The government is shooting for a two-fer, hurt the vocal opposition and drive a wedge into it as well, as those accused of being “soft” on the regime may get criticized for not speaking up.

    4: Create a climate of tension/fear/uncertainty around the parliamentary elections, hoping for low turnout.

    5: The opposition needs unity now more than ever. Capriles said he was going to go around the country to convince people to turn out the vote.

    I don’t think the nut is about to crack, that’s what happens if they happen to win back the Assembly.

    The joker is some kind of riot just blows up out of nowhere and then all bets are off.

  12. Again, thinking that 80% of dissatisfaction means 80% will vote for the opposition is completely wrong. There is only 25% of identified opposition, 20% of radical chavistas, the rest will not vote. We know a big portion of the 25% opposition will not vote either because they do not believe anything from CNE. That means it will be a very close call, again. And when that happens we all know who will win.
    Also, I heard something about changing the circuitos electorales again(I don’t know how to translate this) to make it work for them. They have been in power for 16 years and we still think they are no capable of modifying the law in order to achieve what they want.
    In Venezuela, if you don’t have military support it is impossible to overthrown a government. That simple.
    Elections might be a way to put pressure inside the military walls, which at the end are the ones with the power to make decisions in our country.

    • Electoral districts, you were ok! More gerrymandering??? If they have no money (think commissions) They just jail any of the opposition people in the assembly (who is left, well I think only DC is the one talking there , where he is not in his TV show)

  13. I am sorry to disagree, but I really think the regime overshot this time. I think the latest brutality finally steeled into the minds of the power brokers of the world the nature of the Venezuelan government. While the government was kicking sand in the faces of the opposition, the rest of the world counted their profits and riches they were earning from their association with Chavistas and the bolibourgeois and pointed and laughed at Venezuela when they were out of the room. Now there is real harm that comes from association with this government. They are entering North Korea territory in terms of reputation and no one wants to be associated with governments like this. Even if money can be made, long-term reputations will be harmed from association now that Venezuela has crossed the Rubicon.

    My prediction is that some folks from within the government will move to change things before things slide deeper into the abyss. It is getting more and more embarrassing for talented individuals within the government (or the power brokers behind the scene) to be associated with it.

    • How do you explain the mercantilism with Cuba, dingdong? Nations (even the US on basics in exchange for cash) trade with Cuba without one iota of shame. Furthermore, the recent defrosting of relations between Cuba and the US on other matters, gives even greater legitimacy to Cuba’s regime. Entonces?

      • I don’t think poor dindong here should be responsible of meditating between private US businesses interested in the Cuban market and the childish demands of cuban expats.

      • Syd, thank you for replying to my note with your thought provoking response. I do think the Cuba situation is an important one in the broader discussion. Here’s my take for what it’s worth.

        US/Cuba mercantilism is currently not very strong–it could certainly be much much stronger. Indeed, I think the desire for greater economic development is the big reason behind the big thaw on the U.S. side. There is interest in the business community in working with Cuba on economic development projects. At the same time, the risks to U.S. businesses are there if Cuba starts acting out in a big way. While all of us CC readers understand that Cuba is a dictatorship that oppresses its people, it is not widely reported on in the way that events in Caracas are unfolding. Thus, to most uninformed businessmen, Cuba is a new land of opportunity. Plus, many believe that greater access to economic development activity will slowly transform Cuba and make it more in line with modern economic, social, and governmental policies. That, of course, is the big question with the current pivot in policy.

        The pivot in US/Cuba policy is a fascinating one. While we all know that Maduro is at the very least consulting with Cuban government leadership, it is unclear if the dialogue is a two-way street given the surprise the Venezuela government had with the defrosting of relations. Cuba seems to recognize that Venezuela’s reputation in the world is plummeting and is trying to find a way to reframe relations with the US to promote economic growth. At the same time, this pivot left Venezuela dangling. Venezuela looks like a much more radical place and the behavior of the government leaders looks very different from the smiling faces sitting across from the American delegation that recently visited Cuba.

        For this reason, Venezuela’s behavior is isolating it more and more. While some will continue to work with the government, the reality is that Venezuela’s leaders are poison on the world stage. Doing business with the country is becoming more risky. Any association with the government or its leaders paints one as complicit with human rights abuses.

        I fully understand that Cuba has its own human rights issues that many in the business community overlook. Yet, at the present moment, all of the world focus is on Venezuela and association with Venezuela and its leaders is poison for personal or business reputation.

        • The U. S. strategy is to hope in the long-term that Cuban self-economic interest will keep Cuba from continuing to subvert democracy internally/elsewhere; in the short-/medium-term, Cuba will continue subverting democracy internally, as well as in Venezuela/wherever it can (BTW, Mario Silva is apparently scheduled to return to VTV on Saturday nights…).

          • “The U. S. strategy is to hope in the long-term that Cuban self-economic interest will keep Cuba from continuing to subvert democracy internally/elsewhere”

            Interesting. Are there precedents of countries investing internationally for the sake of the upheaval of “democracy” or another foreign benefit?

          • Not for the sake of the UPHEAVAL of democracy, but for the sake of the PROMOTION of democracy–e. g., post-WWII Marshall Plan, the U. S. promoting free trade in general with low duties/tariffs in detriment to their own industry in many cases (cars/textiles/shoes/etc) to promote democracy, especially in the Far East, Cuba has certainly invested in the “upheaval” of democracy throughout Central America, with arms in Allende’s Chile (a boat-full waiting in Valparaiso when Allende was overthrown after a general strike and a miserably-failed economy, similar to Venezuela’s, but worse with no oil), in Venezuela, as far away as Angola with soldiers, and this is just a short list–but, I’m sure you, as as one of “us, the Democratic Opposition”, already know all this….

          • “post-WWII Marshall Plan”

            Did the Allies -specially the US- share an economic incentive, or, as we’re discussing, was the purpose establishing/promoting democracy in foreign countries?
            “the U. S. promoting free trade in general with low duties/tariffs in detriment to their own industry in many cases (cars/textiles/shoes/etc) to promote democracy, especially in the Far East”

            I wasn’t aware of this charity in the “Far East”. If you can spare the time, I would like actual country names so that I can research their cases.

            “Cuba has certainly invested in the “upheaval” of democracy throughout Central America, with arms in Allende’s Chile (a boat-full waiting in Valparaiso when Allende was overthrown after a general strike and a miserably-failed economy, similar to Venezuela’s, but worse with no oil)”

            I’m having trouble conceive a lack of economic incentives for Cuba. A cursory 3 minute google search reveals the following[0]:

            “In 1971, Chile re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba, joining Mexico and Canada in rejecting a previously established Organization of American States convention prohibiting governments in the Western Hemisphere from establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. Shortly afterward, Cuban president Fidel Castro made a month-long visit to Chile. Originally the visit was supposed to be one week; however, Castro enjoyed Chile and one week led to another.”

            Another point of yours:

            “but, I’m sure you, as as one of “us, the Democratic Opposition”, already know all this….”

            I don’t think that we should subdue fellow oppositionists in issues unrelated to our party vocation. It should be permissible that some of our peers don’t believe in benevolent foreign relationships.


          • Fellow democrat dspur, I see that you probably wrote the glowing Wiki panacea to Allende, as you probably will for the post-mortem of the Bolivarian Revolution, both miserable failures by any objective standards. As for Cuban subversion, the objective, as you as a democrat well know, was ideological, not economic, except in the case of oil-rich Venezuela, and has been especially strong when spending other’s money (Russia/Venezuela), since Cuba’s ideology has sunk its own population into abject miserable poverty (where it has also sunk the Venezuelan poor, but to a lesser extent, so far). And on this note, and following the recent CC suggested guidelines when dealing with trolls, even “democratic” ones, I am signing off with our little democratic discourse, in which I engaged only for the democratic edification of the occasional CC viewer who might not visit here regularly, nor know know the history of the matters we have discussed, nor much less your personal conversion to a “born-again democrat”.

          • “Fellow democrat dspur, I see that you probably wrote the glowing Wiki panacea to Allende, as you probably will for the post-mortem of the Bolivarian Revolution, both miserable failures by any objective standards.”

            Actually, I didn’t quote that Wikipedia article on Allende to flatter his government in any way. I only showed that Cuba had a purpose secondary to “promoting democracy” in regards to Chile.

            I did this by drawing attention towards Allende’s restoration of Chile-Cuba diplomacy.

            We are after all talking about international promotion of democracy.

            We’re not talking about justifying Allende’s or Maduro’s government, but you’ve managed to complicate matters nonetheless by turning this into a strange persecution.

          • NET, why mention Allende? Cuba’s meddling in LatinAmerica under Chavez’ teta was the worse ever and it’s known so no need to reference the 70s because what Cuba did recently was worse. Aqui no hay ilusiones. Everyone is well aware of what is going on.

          • The mention of Allende is to counter the myth/illusion. Venezuela is doing a good job by itself in countering its own myth/illusion in real time.

    • I’m placing my bets on our friendly neighborhood narcos to finally screw things up on the international level. After Diosdados close call with DEA last time, I think our greatest hope for international intervention is that the U.S. and Interpol are keeping close tabs on these guys and eventually, one by one be either incarcerated or suspiciously eliminated.

      • I think you are right Cory. There is a likelihood that the narcos will screw it up for the current powers that be in Venezuela. They have had such a free hand in the country that they are reckless. It could bring the government down. However, I think it is more likely to go down in a different way. The narcos and bolibourgeois all have abuelas, sobrinas, y hermanas standing in line for food and getting shot. They hear from them how screwed up their lives are now. My guess is that these narcos and bolibee’s realize their days are numbered with the crew in charge now and want things to change fast.

        I don’t know if everyone realizes how bad things are now in the country, but it’s bad and getting worse quick.

      • Cori, the problem with that scenario is nabbing them. We can’t even grab a chicken in Aruba. A sealed indictment does not necesarily get unsealed: Fidel and Raul Castro, Aristede for example. Manuel Noriega OTOH but you saw what we had to be done. It’s their achiles heel but how you handle that is key. I do not think we have the focus right now.

      • I hear you Super. It is hard to believe. But, even now, there are people who keep their heads down and try to keep the lights on. If you have a complicated family like mine, there are members in every political faction. Now, however, those who supported Chavez and Madurro are now ashamed. They still go to work and try to keep things running, but their heart is no longer with it. When the family gets together (and we have managed to hold together despite our vast political differences) they are very apologetic of the situation. I think the turning point for everyone was when one of my nieces was beaten for her crappy cell phone (permanent face scars on a beautiful 18 year old) and when one of our tias could no longer get her medicine even after standing in line for hours. Those who supported the government would never vote for them again. That’s why I think the government will fall from an inside job. Everyone knows the current group in charge is totally incompetent and corrupt–including those inside.

  14. For anyone who would argue that Venezuela is still functioning under the Constitution, if the act of signing a document arguing for a change of government is a “coup”, then so is voting for anyone who is not the candidate of the regime in power. By this logic, all of the people who voted against Maduro should be jailed.

  15. Is anyone keeping tabs of all the political prisoners of this regime, say from 2005 on? I’ve seen the number sixty-something to describe the total number of political prisoners, but I don’t know if that is the current status. I’d like to see a more precise list, by name, represented state, date of first imprisonment, current status, etc.

    • Syd,

      I found the following in a website called “Venezuela Awareness”:

      I know nothing about the author. Whoever runs it appears to be Miami based. The list is up to date, as of yesterday. The site contains a curious mixture of English and Spanish. I cannot speak to its accuracy. I did note that he/she/they did not include Raul Baduel in the list. Regardless of his prior culpability in what has happened, he is also a “political prisoner”.

      • Thank you, Roy. A lot of good effort went into compiling this list, which could use better organization on the Web to make searching easier, principally by year.

        Might be good, too, for the list-makers to approach/gain vetting from a Human Rights organization with long-standing and trustworthy credentials. Or from Reporters Without Borders. Finally, the list-makers need to add political prisoners, by year, between 2003 to 2013. I noticed that the detention of María Lourdes Afiuni is summed up in a scroll-down section called “Casa por cárcel”, which is not entirely accurate for it does not reflect her incarceration prior to that point.

        And yes, I did not see mention of Raúl Baduel. As you rightly imply, (earlier) political affiliations prior to incarceration should have no bearing on whether or not the person is classified as a political prisoner. Perhaps Baduel’s exclusion from the list was a simple omission on the part of the list-makers.

  16. The prospect of having elections actually makes the opposition docile. The MUD’s objective has been clear for a while and they ratified it today: They will aim for victory in the Parliamentary Elections of 2015. As long as those elections remain there, the oppo establishment won’t try to do much else. That’s why, if the government is actually going to cancel those elections, it’s not going to do it now. That’s what I think.

  17. Maduro is following his rôle models, the Castro brothers, who are parasites and thugs. Early on, the Castros showed physical courage but they’ve never been able to pay their own way. Instead they lived off Moscow, and then they lived off Hugo the Great. The drop in the price of oil means they can no longer count on Maduro, since there isn’t enough vigorish left for rewarding team Hugo, much less for supporting the parasites in Cuba.

    Maduro hasn’t solidified his position — the arrest of the mayor is a warning to any wavering members of team Hugo.

    • I don’t think that Maduro is subtle enough for Ledezma’s abduction (I won’t dignify it with the word “arrest”) to be meant as a threat to internal PSUV enemies. It is exactly what it looks like. Maduro is using the powers of the State to eliminate eliminate all vocal dissent and criticism of him and his regime.

  18. Can somebody explain why Antonio Ledezma is arrested for signing a document, but General Angel Vivas remains free despite nakedly preaching revolt every loving day? Apart from the inconsistency, I think it shows an actual cowardly streak in the Maduro regime. Vivas may be a crank operating in the fringes, but he does have guns and the will to use them.

    • I assume that’s because anyone who tries to barge into Vivas’s house trying to arrest him is going to get a facefull of bullets.

      Everybody knows that chaburros crumble and squeal for mercy the very moment they feel they lost the total impunity.

      • “I assume that’s because anyone who tries to barge into Vivas’s house trying to arrest him is going to get a facefull of bullets.”

        I am no fan of guns, but this to me is the most instructive truth I can think of in these times. It’s one thing to ritualistically throw yourself to the wolves as part of some grand outside game (Lopez), quite another to say “F– you” and hole yourself up in your house with guns and make blustering Youtube videos that on their best day get 11,000 views.

        Doing the latter may mean the CNN and the UN won’t really give you a headline, but at least you’re beyond the reach of Maduro’s button men. I am still trying to decide who is the wiser here. Lopez isn’t going to free any Venezuelans anymore. Venezuela is going to have to free itself first and then free him.

        Vivas on the other hand, well, he’s kindof a sh***y leader. But in a perverse way, he is leading by actually resisting.

  19. Democratic systems work best when the dominant parties operating within a system are only interested in tweaking minor aspects or changing various parameters within the system. Think of the system like a vehicle and the government as different drivers that can adjust the type of fuel, the speed at which they drive etc. Well Chavez decided he did not want to play within the 4 republic system so he came up with a (nominally) fresh system, a new vehicle with a new engine, with a new set of possible parameters and things you could tweak. What’s crazy is that *who is allowed to govern* is encoded within the Venezuelan system, implicitly if not explicitly. Previous systems such the 4th republic had “power-sharing agreements” (essentially party dualism), which allowed some change in governance style. But Chavez effectively tried to create a soviet-style monopoly with the PSUV. The point of this is captured in the chavista mantra of “no volveran”, the message is that their robolucion system is non-negociable and non-refundable. If you want to know who is allowed to occupy a higher-level office in Venezuela right now just check out the list of party leadership of the PSUV.

    What’s more, it takes only a quick look in the wikipedia to see what an incomprehensible ideological mish-mash the PSUV represents, and by extension the system that Chavez built (*). We know that whether we call it a petrostate or socialist or populist, the system is inherently unsustainable, as defined by the aspirations of chavistas themselves.The brilliant thing about this incoherent system is how much flexibility it allows for rules to be bent or rewritten on a whim to fit the changing times. Playing the electoral game with chavistas is like playing a board game with a 4 year old child that is constantly making up the rules and throws fits of anger if you dare challenge it.

    But here comes the rub: chavismo as such (whatever it is) may not be quite dead, but the monopoly power of the PSUV is in fact gone, and this will translate into change, one way or another.

    *I wonder what would have happened if Chavez had waited some years before calling for a constitutional referendum, but that is now history.

    • At the risk of carrying the analogy too far, young children, when losing, are often known to ruin the whole game by sweeping the whole game board and pieces to the floor, thus assuring that if they can’t win, nobody else can either.

    • “*I wonder what would have happened if Chavez had waited some years before calling for a constitutional referendum, but that is now history.”

      People would have known better the tragedy at Vargas.

      The constituyente was the first “trapo rojo” from this lunacy.

  20. Can we call it now a dictatorship? Or are you still going to use that “flawed democracy” euphemism like a good Stokholm Syndrome victim?

    Damn, this stopped being a democracy the second the wax doll sent his armed redshirts to slaughter the civilians in 2002.

  21. Art. 192 Los diputados a la Asamblea Nacional duraran cinco años en el ejerciocio de sus funciones, pudiendo ser reelegidos por dos periodos consecutivos como maximo.

    How many of current members of the National Assembly are up to the max limit?

    Can you for whatever reasons suspend elections for the National Assembly for more than perhaps a couple of weeks without being decreed as an illegitimately acting government?

    At what point could a government become so illegitimate so as to affect its possibilities of for instance taking on debt? (Ask FR)

    Is there a difference between being a government bureaucrat in a democracy look-alike or a government bureaucrat in something clearly different?

    Would this have an impact on US-Cuba relations?

    • “Can you for whatever reasons suspend elections for the National Assembly for more than perhaps a couple of weeks without being decreed as an illegitimately acting government?

      At what point could a government become so illegitimate so as to affect its possibilities of for instance taking on debt? (Ask FR)

      Is there a difference between being a government bureaucrat in a democracy look-alike or a government bureaucrat in something clearly different?”

      You can stack other items besides parliamentary tenures. For example, cries of illegitimacy. At one point Maduro’s presidency and his government was deemed illegitimate because of the way Chavez appointed him. Later, it was because of voting procedures. Or was it his supposed Colombian citizenship that came first into question?

          • “la china” is a nickname given to raúl castro as a mockery from his bodyguards, the old bastards are known for being backstabbers, after all, they killed the corpse in 2012.

            The country China has shown to have the same moral compass as Shockcave from transformers (Which is, only the stuff that benefits them), they don’t care who’s in government in Venezuela, as long as said government isn’t just stealing their money and sends the oil barrels on time…

            …Two things maburro’s dictatorship might better keep an eye, or he might find himself being discarded by the chinese too.

          • I did not make myself clear / you did not understand what I meant.

            We already now know that la china is Raúl Castro’s nickname among his guards, an irrelevant factoid to this present discussion. As you may already know, Cuba receives Vzlan oil at preferential prices or cambalache, such as: Cuban instruction and guidance on the promotion of the Revolution in the barracks and in government, Cuban G2 security detail, the use of Cubana de Aviación whenever, in an earlier time, the para-doctors, etc.

            Clearly the one who added thought bubbles to the photo does not understand these financial ties between Cuba and Vzla. I would suggest you consider these ties to better understand that la china will not be discarding maburro like a dirty napkin anytime soon.

  22. ..And since our pueblo is so naive and uneducated, — and corrupted — many will continue to buy into all this crap, even lunatic conspiracy theories, until things get even worse.

    They will need more escasez, more inflacion, more desempleo, more inseguridad, less harina pan, HAMBRE, to realize what’s going on. Yes, that’s our pueblo. Many deserve what they are getting, except the lack of education was not really their fault.

    • Yes, you heard it here folks. Venezuelans DESERVE to suffer! Isn’t this blog such a great gathering of fascist thought? Thanks to Francisco Toro for creating this space!

      • Like many people, you obviously don’t even know what the word “fascist” means. And countries do deserve what they get, to a certain extent. How many voted for Chabruto in 1998 and still approve this dictatorship? How many are completely corrupted by the government today? Quieres arepa? Hay ‘ta.

        • That troll starts to sound like a silly airhead teenager, much like the other one who has wet dreams about gulags and concentration camps.

          • agree, so, too, do other trolls that periodically pop on these boards. They could be making a lot of money if they were models for acne medication.

  23. OT: Havent heard Diosdados voice joining the chorus of regime figures attacking Ledezma , if so why is his voice missing , is it because he is no longer politically presentable after the drug charges he is exposed to ?. Do they know something we dont ( as per Diego Arrias Claim) ?.

  24. Francisco may be right. In the 06/02 Conference ” Venezuela: A deepening Economical and Political Quagmire?” Organized by the CHP of the UM. Both Monaldi and Obuchi stated that they both had done a study about how much percentage the winning party needed in order to overcome the gerrymandering that could give chavismo a victory, consudering the new low of Maduro’s popularity ( on that date it was 15%, by now it has long surpassed Caldera’s unpopularity) And to my surprise they both said, 10% minimun difference would be enough to override any sinister intention. Clearly Maduro has 85% or more against him as I write, at least half of it is from the “dojo dojito” own entrails. So… If anyone does the math it is clear Toro is right. They won’t have elections that they know they cannot win in any way, shape, or form.
    By the way in general the conclusion of both the economical and political Panels ( francisco Rodriguez, Monaldi, Obuchi and Bearice Rangel, Otto Reich and Javier Corrales) was that the figure that would rise to a more “democratic transition” would be from the belly of the beast itself. Not the opposition. How could it? The beast has all the arms, power and whatever money is left. And this new “caudillo” would/could be the one that has the most to lose, but also is the one that most likes making money money money… And would be willing in spite of his thuglike attitude and speech and heart is none the less that the greates capo under the sun( pun intended) and his pretty little green eyes. Of course everybody hastened to say… That everything in Politics is unpredictable, and that no one could have foreseen the fall of the USSR, and ther you go….

  25. Laugh all what you want, folks, but it’s time to suck on a lemon! xDD

    Everybody’s afraid, and when the dictator is afraid, the regime lashes out:

    Enjoy the rant 😛

    • No laughing matter. Everyone on this Blog should listen…Julio Coco knows what’s happening at street level–a good explanation of complacency to date–more disturbing is the poor marches turnout–counting on Parliamentary elections (illusive?), or just growing apathy?

      • The “Time to suck lemons” joke was because of this piece:

        Part of the article stated that:

        “Julio Coco is a nobody, but he is a silver-tongued nobody. Lacing his speech with profanities, he rants against the government and against the opposition, against old-time politicians and against believers in market economics. Julio Coco has become an important mouthpiece for the current protest movement – bark, rage, righteous indignation, but ultimately not much more than that … other than a blanket defense of the same economic model that got us into this mess.”

        Like I said, profanities or shouting don’t do anything for me, but those are another way to sell the speech to shose who won’t turn to listen by a second, instead of what almost 100% of the other so-called leaders (both chavistas and opposition) do, which is coat everything with the thickest populist glaze you can find ever.

        • Yes, and to that post I commented, “Julio Coco rocks!!”–and, he still does–he gives one an understanding of what’s really going on with the “Pueblo”, which most intellectuals/better-educated will have a hard time understanding-if at all.

          • NET. I have seen quite a few ” intellectuals ” on this blog attribute inneficacy to the government haha…is naivety a quality of intellectuality?

            I liked the part where he explained that people are too isolated in their fear….he is right on there….if more people could get together in this and protest massively, something might happen..But isolation increases fear , and fear produces more fear etc etc….the balls begins to roll downhill out of intertia.

            The government knows exactly how to control the psycology of the masses……At this point people don’t know what to do so they do nothing.When we feel helpless apathy set in.

  26. As usual, the conversation continues: “Are they as bad as they seem to be?”
    If we go back, it has always turned out that the most pessimistic predictions have turned out true! What does that mean? Well, if I operated a slaughterhouse, I would not want the cattle to know why they are lined up!
    It’s time to prepare for the worst!!!!

  27. Me gusta Julio Jiménez G., aún con lo que otros pudieran considerar como chabacanismo. Habla claro, raspao y con detalles que muestran, no tan solamente su conocimiento de los sucesos en las calles de ciertas zonas en Caracas, sinó con explicaciones sensatas de lo que está por detrás.

    Otro que también opina acerca de lo recién ocurrido, dentro de un marco politico-económico-moral es Luis Chataing. Vale la pena escucharlo. Y toma nota quien se lo pasa de cripto-resentido/a social en los comentarios de este blog — y no hablo solamente del troleado. Hay algunos otros a quienes se les ha lavado el cerebro y carecen de la inteligencia para ver las realidades. Todos somos venezolanos.

    • Lo que le respeto a Julio Coco es que dice hasta donde veo, cosas que son ciertas, sin estar aderezándolas con el nauseabundo glaseadito populista que le meten a todos los análisis de la situación actual del país, campañas políticas y todo lo demás.

      Que lo diga gritado, con algún nivel de lenguaje determinado o esas cosas, realmente no me importa, supongo que ese es el estilo que hay que adoptar para que la gente que piensa que eso es algo más importante que el contenido del discurso en sí le preste atención.

      Lo de chuparse un limón lo dije luego que al man le dedicaran un par de entradas en este blog, señalándolo de básicamente ser “todo lo que no debe ser un líder político” y de que su popularidad se considerase como algo lamentable.

  28. Toro – quote – “the era when chavismo subjected itself to meaningful electoral competition is clearly over now” if you mean this in jest – fine. But as it is meant in all seriousness you, for a person who has a Ph.D, is acting like a moron.

    You appear determined to continue getting everything wrong about Venezuela or you are taking the p*** out of us all with such a wild statement.

  29. does anyone actually have the communique that appears to be at the centre of all this so we can all read the text? What does it actually suggest with regards to how power changes? Just reading lots of interpretation but always good to read the original.

    • Strange. Your posted link led me to the article with some unfortunate typos in the English translation, among them: “… trying to obtain the benefits of a nationalism and trashy as it is fleeting.” Translation should be impeccable if Yoani is to gain a wider readership.

  30. Maybe the regime isn’t crumbling, and it isn’t evolving, it just no longer has the means to carry on an elaborate charade of being democratic and lawful.

    • Well, thats the evolution. Droping out stuff that cant be maintained, becoming harsher and harsher as desperation mounts.

      Not a deep change, but a change anyway.

  31. If we look at the chain of events leading up to LL’s arrest, there are certain incontrovertible facts. First, Maduro knew the country was worse than broke – having pawned off most of the gas futures – so he went begging across the globo and returned home with nada. If the bus driver is going to pay off the nut on those bonds coming due, he’ll likely have to hawk Citgo or take the short dollar on loan buy outs (for fuel) al a the DR. But that takes precious greenbacks out of play that are buying medicine and other have-to-have items that have recently become so scarce. No one disputes that shortages are nearing the critical stage – in fact hospitals and clinics are losing patients daily for lack of supplies. Like – people are dying. Fact. My daughter is an MD in a big public hospital in Caracas and the stories are horrendous and chilling. While the government continues to take no responsibility for the crisis, the vast majority of the population currently blames Maduro and company. And there’s no question that regional leaders past and present are growing increasingly outraged by Maduro’s stonewalling, deflection and Homeric incompetence. And the international community, socialists and otherwise, are basically of one voice that Maduro is not merely a tyrant, but someone who is shockingly overmatched by modern politics. All of this has pushed Maduro’s popularity ratings into the poseta – he’s now barely about 20% approval rating and one must wonder on the basis of what performance is he garnering any votes at all. But the country has reached a tipping point and for the moment, the terrible shortages and financial straights facing Venezuela have been shoved aside as Maduro and company go into survival mode. The condition of the power grid (very poor), the hydroelectric system at Guri (nearly kaput), the total chaos at most ports and the splintering that must be starting in both the military and in Maduro’s own cabinet, will not get any better anytime soon. What’s more, after such a long battle to become a junior partner at the UN, the government is being told behind closed doors that they cannot sit at the UN table while ignoring it’s very decrees (to release Lopez, etc). I am told that given all of these things weighing down on Maduro, his biggest error in judgement is of his own country and people. Cuban advisors are saying to simply get tough and ignore and repress or crush any opposition – but Venezuela is not Cuba. The smart money says that Maduro is going to have to come up with a better survival strategy than throwing his opponents in jail because the civic crisis is only deepening. And fast. Venezuela can only sink so low before change will be required, possibly from many fronts. My sense of it is some civic emergency – be it food or medicine or power or (fill in the blank) – will sooner than later take the country to its knees. Then change will happen no matter who is against it because the survival of the country, as opposed to Maduro and company, will then be at stake. Anything less probably won’t get it done.

    • I totally agree with this assessment. Things are going to hell in a handbasket and everyone knows it. Maduro’s “friends” on the world stage are polite in public but roll their eyes and shake their heads outside of the room. No one will help him at this point with the exception of Cuba and even that help will be limited. My guess is that the bolibees are likely packing their bags for Switzerland and Miami and getting themselves, their families, and their money out of the country. My guess is that things will start going very bad for Maduro and company very soon.


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