Chavismo is a Machine for Not-Negotiating

In a governing party where Intransigence is treated as a cardinal virtue, the first politico to propose negotiating with the opposition will be a kamikaze.


For insiders, the question about the upcoming legislative election has moved on from a focus on 6D to a focus on 7D. I’ve argued the story of the election’s aftermath is going to be about fast deteriorating regime cohesion: a stunning electoral humiliation sending mid-level bureaucrats in the military and the civil service scuttling for the exits. Dorothy Kronick thinks that’s fanciful: it’s Maduro everyone hates, not chavismo. The more likely scenario, she thinks, is that a chastised PSUV sits down around the table and cuts a deal.

It’s a good debate; it wouldn’t be the first time Dorothy gets one of these right and I get it wrong.

In my view, though, PSUV won’t negotiate because PSUV can’t negotiate. I don’t mean that for essentialist, the-scorpion-and-the-frog type reasons. Chavismo can’t negotiate because trying to negotiate with escuálidos is very much the kind of thing that would destroy regime coherence.

Who are the people who make up the chavista elite? They’re people handpicked by Chávez for that role. But they’re not just the people Chávez originally tapped: they’re the people he tapped and who survived in the inner circle for over a decade. They’re the die-hards, the ones who never jumped the talanquera and never got purged.

And who did jump the talanquera or got purged? Anyone willing to even consider cutting a deal with the other side.

There was a powerful – brutal – selection mechanism at play there. And what exactly was being selected for? Loyalty, most certainly, but not just that. There was ideological rigidity, tactical aggressiveness and – most of all – an absolute, gut level revulsion at compromise.

It’s easy to forget how central intransigence is in the ruling clique’s list of cardinal virtues. But when you think back, there’s basically no principle they’ve been more loyal to than the principle of No Negotiations.

To be clear, Chávez himself wasn’t entirely averse to policy reversals. He would devalue the bolivar now and again to keep exchange rate differentials manageable. He would calibrate his stance to the U.S. for tactical purposes. If anything, he was much more supple than Maduro.

But Chávez never once climbed down in the context of a negotiation with his opponents. Never. It became as much a symbol of his rule as the red shirt. And he made sure he surrounded himself with people who saw negotiation with the enemy in a similar light. Certainly, people who showed themselves willing to truck with the other side did not see their careers advance within the ruling establishment.

Chávez and chavismo were seldom more predictable, and seldom more consistent, than in their preferred response to any political setback: la huída hacia adelante. You lose the 2007 Constitutional Reform referendum? You implement the proposed reforms anyways. You lose the Miranda state governorship? You take away all its money and all its prerogatives and set up a parallel governorship alongside it. This time around they’ve good as announced that they’ll do the same thing, planning to govern “on the streets” if they lose.

I don’t see any reason to doubt this is what the top echelons of chavismo are planning to do: and not just because they’re temperamentally and ideologically suited for nothing else.

The bigger reason to doubt a meaningful negotiation is possible is what is sure to be the poisonous factional blame-game to follow on the government side after the election.

Maduristas will be keenly aware that the knives are out for them, Diosdado’s clique too, as will the military narco-elite and what remains of the civilian leftwing faction. In those circumstances, sticking your neck out and proposing the government sits down across the negotiating table with Julio Borges and Henry Ramos Allup will be tantamount to factional suicide. Anyone proposing such a thing would be turned into mincemeat within seconds. There’s an obvious coordination problem here: it may be better for chavismo as a whole to sit down and hash out a deal, but the first person to propose that will be on a kamikaze mission.

But let’s say the top three or four factional leaders sit down in a smoky room and agree to negotiate with the opposition. What do you think that does to the prestige of the PSUV elite in the eyes of a movement rank-and-file that that already suspects them of deviationism? How does the leadership sell negotiations with the escuálidos to a movement that they’ve been dressing in “No Volverán!” t-shirts for years?

And even if the faction leaders do manage to somehow sell a negotiating track to the rank-and-file, how long can such an agreement hold? Won’t the pressures to defect-and-grandstand turn overwhelming as soon as the first painful concession is demanded?

PSUV cannot hold together as a coherent governing party as it negotiates with the opposition because PSUV was invented for the specific purpose of nullifying the possibility of negotiating with the opposition.

It’d be like trying trying to use a toothpick to chisel a slab of marble. You could try, but it’s entirely evident you’ll smash the toothpick, so why bother? It’s senseless.

Forget about talks. What’s going to happen is, they’re going to lose. They’re going to try to huir hacia adelante. And it’ll backfire.

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  1. Chavismo does not negotiate because they’ve never had to. They control all the institutions and there’s very little the “International Community” can actually do to help a regime transition.

    To me, the more likely scenario is a power shift within chavismo. They will try to use their control over TSJ/CNE etc to avoid having a recall referendum on Maduro, at least until he has less than two years left. That way the vice president takes over. If they appoint someone who has support from the military and who can carry out economic adjustments, things might get better before the 2018 elections and they may have a shot at keeping the Presidency.

  2. I agree, no buts…
    On the other side (MUD, Eduardo, Falcon) there are more voices asking for peaceful coexistence, deals, live and let live.
    These voices mention Mandela’s case, which is wrong because Mandela was in prison and led his people into battle, until he won, helped by economic circumstances and outside pressures and only then he proved magnanimous, once he was in a position of power. .
    Negotiating on the side of the opposition would be like killing the tiger and be afraid of the carcass (or skin). It would be not only immoral but strategically stupid.
    Transitions with a component of negotiating, such as the Chilean, the Spanish, the Polish always left trash under the rug and this trash always shows up later on.

  3. The most distinctive trait of chavismo is that they have absolutely no regard for the rule of law or the formalities of democracy. If next year we have constant clashes between the AN and the TSJ (TSJ rejecting everything the opposition passes, AN trying to remove TSJ members etc) the only thing that’s holding Maduro in power is the military. Chavismo will become even more militarized to avoid a Pinochetazo.

  4. Chávez negotiated when he had to:

    Chávez surrendered in his coup d’etat 22 years ago, he surrendered again on april 11th on 13 years ago.

    So, the thing is there have had no incentives for chavismo to negotiate ever since after Carmona because they rule and hold enough power to avoid any negotiation and can play an huida hacia adelante that works.

    At some point the incentives may be well worth to start negotiating (asks Cilia’s nephews).

    • Fíjate that even in the cases you mention, Chávez’s decision was basically unilateral: he didn’t negotiate surrenders, he just surrendered. (Bueno, he did bargain for a priest to be next to him on A11th, but I don’t know that that counts…)

  5. One cant disagree with Francisco, The regime was the child of Chavez, a person whose thuggish gargantuesque narcicism required that he all ways epically project himself (also see himself) as all powerful , mighty , ruthles, absolutely and righteously intransigent in his pursuit of the destruction of his wicked ‘enemies’ . If the regime is a projection of Chavez personal quirks and mentality ,(where the succesors he named were chosen from those he percieved as most loyal to his mode of thinking) they will not negotiate unless they are somehow backed against a corner . but even with a defeat at the parlaimentary elections thats far from coming !! They still control considerable resources and will be unscrupulous about using them .

    If anything their defeat will increase their inner emotional need to act with bravado , with grandstanding agressiveness, like their boss they cant lose face , their ego is too fragile and scarred to contemplate having to meet their scorned enemies in the same level as themselves, they must always appear as having the upper hand, as being dominant. Thats not a formula conducive to negotiations.

    So while some form of negotiations cannot be ruled out where conditions back them against a corner , and the oppo must then be prepared for the possibility we can be certain that as far as they are concerned, for the time being they dont do politics , only war and the oppo must also be prepared to do battle although from a different more advantageous terrain.

    • According to la Bicha or rather one of her informants plenty of food containers arrived in Puerto Cabello lately but the contents is by now all rotten (as usual shall we say?) I give it to you for what it is worth as I have not checked myself, living too far away to smell the stench. However, if it happens to be true,it simply means that God hates Chavistas as they simply could not do this on their own, only incompetents could.

  6. You don’t negotiate on policy, that’s silly. You negotiate on political standing, wheres and hows and whos. And you do that, as Bill says, with enough victories and forceable conditions in hand. You offer them an option less worse than street wars. no politician wants that, but they will choose it over an unacceptable loss of prestige and security.

    On the mid to long term, you ideally do negotiate, as a nation, both outwarfd and inwardly, and arrive at a new understanding of why we need politics.

    • Btw, whereas civil society will distance themselves from high Chavista echelons more and more as Quico has said, the chavistas that do street wars, like Tupamaros and other colectivos, will stick with ’till the bloody end.

  7. Wasn’t Diosdado negotiating…who knows, something with Leopoldo before he was jailed?

    Really like the analysis Quico, the thing that’s left to be seen is if these characters where the most loyal to Chavez ideals or Chavez persona as the hand that feeds.

    I think in both cases we’ll see an huida hacia adelante with the power they have left, either to try to hold power or to show how big their chip is at the smoky room table.

    • I wouldn’t call that “negotiating”. Diosdado was offering Leopoldo exile. This was the Chavista’s intended result of the prosecution of Leopoldo, just like in the prosecution of Manuel Rosales. Leopoldo countered by refusing to leave Venezuela, which forced them to carry out their threat to jail him. This elevated Leopoldo’s status to “martyr”, consolidated his position as leader of the Opposition, and exposed the regime, in the eyes of the international community, for what it is.

  8. I don’t think it would be impossible for chavistas to try and negotiate. After all, if they truly are headed for an unprecedented defeat, then they’d also have to take unprecedented actions that ensure the survival of the regime. I think it all falls down on the scenario: Whether the MUD only gets the simple majority, or if they get 3/5 or even 2/3 of the AN.

    But I think you are right: If they lose and sit down to negotiate, the factional cracks of chavismo will finally be exposed. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

    • What make this interesting is that which scenario we see after 6D is entirely in the hands of Chavismo. It is they who will decide what the outcome of the election is. If they allow the results to be anything close to legitimate, we are looking at a massive public rejection of both Maduro and Chavismo. So, they will manipulate the results, but by how much? Even if they manipulate the results so that the Opposition gains a slim simple majority of Diputados, it will still expose that the popular vote is massively against them. If they go all out and produce a result in which the Opposition loses completely, they will not be believed and will face open rebellion.

      Their best option was to find a way to cancel the elections. However, even that option is now much more difficult, since we are only a week away. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be them right now. They are facing a whole range of very bad options. I can’t even guess at which way they will decide to go. Pass the popcorn…

  9. This article and many people assume that, just because of the polls, Chavismo will end up with a decisive, meaningful defeat on Dec. 7th. Many seem to forget, # 1, that these are just Parlamentarias. When reading these articles and watching social media, they are treating this as somewhat fair Presidential Election, in a fair, civilized country with true Separation of Powers.

    Nothing further from the truth. What we do know, but seem to forget on these debates, is that Chavismo is nothing but an authoritarian, ruthless, criminal Kleptocracy. There has not been a true Parliament in over a decade. There is no Judicial system whatsoever. It has been what Chavez, a dozen people, and a dozen military crooks say. Period. Today, it’s what Cabello, Rodriguez, Cilia Flores’ powerful nephew, and a few dozen military crooks say. El resto es paja.

    So, if you do not have a crushing, massive, overwhelming MUD victory on Dec 7th. nothing much at all will change, in effect, next year.

    And there will not be a sufficiently massive Chavismo defeat in a Parliament, that to begin with, does not really exist. It’s a joke. It’s useless. It’s totally corrupt. And where the Judiciary and the military are also totally corrupt and complicit. 80% of “pueblo against Maduro” will magically transform into a laughable “MUD little victory” of say 57%, tops. After the bribes, the intimidation, the countless CNE tricks, the gerrymandering and the final wicked Smartmatic adjustments. La misma vaina.

    Then Cabello and his PDVSA wealthy crooks will simply BRIBE or intimidate some more new people. The MUD new “diputados” a no angels. We’re talking AD, Ramos Allup, Capriles-type of “socialista” and “populista” people, Chavista Light. Highly, highly corruptible.

    That’s the “negotiation” that will take place. $$$$$, y maj naa. And the non-existent “parlamento” will become just a more entertaining, useless ineffcient Circus than it has been for years and years. And the Executive Dictators (Cabello, Rodriguez, Luisa Ortega, Maduro, the heads of the 32 Ministerios and PDVSA and Corpoelec, Cilia’s 40 family ladrones, the putrid TSJ and the stinking Military will remain in charge.

    And the “revolucion” or totalitarian Repression will get worse. The Boiling Frog Effect will accelerate. There will be more violence after the little “MUD victory”. They’ll just tighten the screws some more. (If they free Leopoldo and others, it’s probably gonna be House Arrest. And what can they do anyway? Look at Ledezma or Maria Corina, hand-tied).

    Until people realize that nothing really changes in 2017, except the Economy, the Colas e Inseguridad get even worse. Then, perhaps, the “bravo pueblo bolivariano rebolusionari” will start to finally get really pissed off, and begin worshiping Chavez and Chavismo just a little less. It’s all just gonna get a lot worse, after the MUD negotiation$$ in el “Parlamento”.

    • LKY: If you are so negative about the Venezuelan people and the future prospects for Venezuela, why do you even come here? What exactly is your motivation for spending your time here? You don’t live here and don’t seem to have any desire to. So, please explain. What’s your deal?

        • Specifically, what did I say that was an “ad hominem”? I simply asked you, without insult, what is you motivation for participating in this blog. You obviously spend a lot of your time here. However, you do not offer any solutions, other than implying that Venezuela would be better off with some sort of benevolent dictatorship. So, I ask again, why do you spend your time here?

          • In our great Country, The Peoples Republic, my countryman Lee and I can freely express our opinion without fear of censure or ridicule, apparently not so on this Brog. As we say in our Country, “It’s the difference of opinion that makes hoss (and political) laces.”

        • Doesn’t matter what you say, Roy. To him ad hominem is defined as saying simply disagreeing with anything he says.

          Just like the Chavistas in this article……………………………….

          • I know… I was being a bit disingenuous for the purpose of exposing what he is doing. I suspect (though I cannot prove) he is one of the cadre of paid trolls. The thing is, they are not even real political idealists, just “pen for hire” mercenaries. To give them some credit, their tactics have gotten more subtle. This particular “Grima Wormtongue” has been tasked with injecting hopelessness and negativity into the discussion.

          • I wish that were the case, then one could understand him.

            He is really just a disaffected, bitter exile that likes to ride his bike around South Florida.

            Which in my mind, is even worse than a paid Grima Wormtongue type. At least in that case it’s easier to understand.

            To contemplate that these are actual opinions of a human being is kind of saddening.

  10. If the Chavistas manage to get get a deal in which they remain the government de facto, while the opposition becomes only the government de jure, I see no reason why the Chavistas wouldn’t want to negotiate an agreement, a lot of people at MUD lean left anyway and probably believe that “we shouldn’t risk starting a civil war now, so let them be there”. But as Gustavo Coronel said, that would be suicidal for the opposition in the long run and incredibly stupid.

  11. “it’s Maduro everyone hates, not chavismo”

    Everyone? Not even close. At least 20% of the population is expected to vote for Madurismo. 6 Million Venezuelans. And the vast majority still adore su Comandante Pajarito Eterno.

    This demonstrates 2 very simple facts: Widespread, Galactic Ignorance and/or Galactic Corruption.

    People may cry a lot, but they sure love the daily Tigritos on 32 “Ministries”. By the Millions.

  12. Para mi, si se va a dar alguna negociación, sugeriria que las figuras a observar sean un Cabello y un Ramos Allup.

    Con la fractura interna que se esta dando dentro del PSUV, el entorno de Maduro es el que esta recibiendo los ataques (Cilia, sobrinos de esta…). Aparentemente el que monta el “peine” para que cayeran los sobrinos con la DEA fue Nestor Reverol, cerebro y #3 del Cártel.

    Dentro de la podredumbre del sistema politico venezolano, si se busca destrabar el juego, primero deberían partir por sacudirse al más débil y en este caso es Maduro y su cubanomania. El mango bajito, pues.
    Después se ira progresivamente hacia una transición, hacia un modelo poilitco-economico más viable.

    La otra opción sería una especie de anarquía, anomia, de un todos contra todos y que al final pareciera nadie quiere. Ni siquiera los chavistas.

    Aquí es donde traigo la importancia de la famosa reunión Shannon-Cabello en Haiti, donde el propósito fueron dos objetivos: que se dieran elecciones parlamentarias y que se salvara la vida de LL que en ese momento estaba en huelga de hambre. De allí que creó que esos atentados hacia opositores provengan del entorno Madurista más que del entorno de Cabello.
    Cabello no se salva igual, porque las actuaciones del US Depto. de Justicia son independiente de acuerdos diplomaticos o políticos, pero pudiera se un atenuante en el juicio, digo yo.

    Al final, envolviendo todo lo anterior y como paraguas tenemos el acercamiento Cuba-USA, donde a estos actores les interesa evitar a como de lugar un caos venezolano, que puedira empeorar drasticamente en el 2016 de continuarse con el mismo modelo.
    Dicho acercamiento es supra-venezuela y pareciera cuenta con la bendición del Vaticano.

    Así que las cosas pareciera están forzadas hacia una negociación de las partes en un post 6D.
    Mientras tanto, se prepara el resurgimiento de Rosales (si es que puede) por parte de la oposición y la venida de la Infanta Gabriela. Acuerdense que “Chavez vive” en un 56% de la poblacion de acuerdo a Keller.

    Entiendo la frustración de Gustavo Coronel. Pero en un sistema tan corrupto, tan viciado, con una elite venezolana acostumbrada al chanchullo para vivir sabroso, la escogencia del “less evil” pareciera sería la regla a aplicar.
    Mi reflexión final y tambien mi frustración, es que algún día en el futuro, tiene, debe darse algún cambio en la actitud del venezolano donde no se toleren los guisos a los que nos tienen acostumbrados los actores políticos. Que ese vicio exista en esa magnitud, por supuesto que recae en todos los venezolanos.
    Pero principalmente recae en su elite.

  13. So everything Quico is saying, as well as the rest of the commentators is Venezuela is under a military dictatorship. Of course. These guys are not going away quietly, ever. Hay todavia mucho oro negro que chupar.
    In this crazy making situation it comes down who are we in the gray zone? How can we sustain and guard our sanity and humanity? As individuals, how can our souls survive? Venezuela deserves a very bright destiny, but these are the cards we’ve been dealt.

    • I am not sure that “military dictatorship” is completely accurate. There has not yet been a case in which the military was ordered to shoot at the public. It remains to be seen if they would follow such orders.

      • The corpse ordered the military to shoot against the people in april 11, other thing is that said military refused to do so, remember “Here tiburón 1, activate Plan Ávila”.

        That’s why he sent his pretorian, illegal and non-traceable guard, the “bolivarian” death circles, now the colectivos, to ambush and kill as many as possible in Llaguno.

        • Agree. However, that was thirteen plus years ago. The military of today is untested. I suspect that the generals would give the order. But, would the junior officers carry it out? I don’t think so. Unfortunately, we just don’t know. Let us hope not.

    • Precisely. Where would these crooks and murderers go if they no longer have power in Venezuela. Cuba is only safe for them as long as two 88 and 86 year old brothers are alive. As soon as the Castro’s die then any Venezuelan crooks/narcos resident in Cuba just become bargaining chips in the real negotiations between Cuba and USA. The only safe places for them are places like Iran and North Korea where none of these malandros would ever want to live.

    • Great question. Obviously all of this is just speculation. But I think short term he stays put. Just like it happened in Argentina this week, a fire cause by an A/C machine destroys all the evidence of his dealings. Mid-term, he leverages the strong brand he has among Chavistas and alongside Maria Gabriela attempts to put together the next act which will be called “The Empire Strikes Back”.

    • Wherever they go they their welcome will end when the dosh runs out. I suspect B&B rates in Havana, Salisbury or some hole in North Korea will be in the order of a $billion or two a week. That being the case they will stay in Venezuela but for how long.
      And I have no doubt they are shting themselves. They will not negotiate, unlike the nephews in the USA. And that is the problem, it’s no longer political and therefore potentially explosive, at a personal level.

      As an aside there appears to be a number of various “happenings” all at the wrong time for this lot in power. You would expect the opposite or at least negative events to be nullified this close to the 6th. Today no food in the Mercals throughout the country. If anyone behind the scenes is pulling the strings I suspect that negotiating by the Opposition will be non existent too.

    • Someone, like Diosdado, with billions at his disposal, still has options. With that much money, I am sure he can negotiate himself an extradition-free bolt hole somewhere in the world that is comfortable. He already has more money than he and his family can spend for generation. The problem is that he is accustomed to power. Can he accept retirement and give up all that power? I honestly don’t know, but he doesn’t strike me as the type of captain that would go down with the ship.

    • I would not enrrollate myself and buy myself a nice chain of islands somewhere in the Caribbean, buried under a mountain of layers of fake companies and such, maybe even keep in touch with the narcoworld.

  14. Lets be honest with ourselves. The alpha narcos will gtfo of the country before they consider sitting down at the negotiation table.

  15. I believe Maduro and Diosdado are separate entities and while Maduro would be willing to negotiate to prolong his presidency, I don’t think Diosdado would (as he is the one with everything to lose and I don’t think he is willing to take a secondary seat to anyone).

    Consequently, I think the election is already under plans to be stolen (which is why Diosdado’s tweets look the way they do) and it will be up to el Pueblo (and ironically Maduro, in reaction to el Pueblo) to decide how to respond…

    It will be an exciting 1-2 weeks for sure…

  16. Your picture says it all I think. One guy is primarily a bad guy with a hold on power that at the end of the day is not rooted in elected office; the other guy is primarily an ideologue and a figurehead, whose power depends on what people think of him.

    The former I think has the characteristics of a deal-maker. His power is not smoke and mirrors, and it is not dependent on public opinion. But he needs to consider the forces of popular opinion. The latter collapses if he cannot project the mantle of ideological infallibility conferred on him by his predecessor (arguably, he has collapsed already).

    You are Dorothy may both be right, if there is a split on the horizon. And the stability of Venezuela may depend in large measure on the innate pragmatism of a certain kind of bad guy. The retired military guys going back some time who dabble in business and politics. They just don’t get hung up on labels.

  17. True. Then again, he had to accept a Comisión de la Verdad headed by Mr. Estoy supremamente preocupado (Gaviria) back on 2002. I think the key questions are:
    1) Will they hold enough power to enforce another huida hacia adelante if they lose majority in the Assembly? Maybe. Maybe not.
    2) How long will the military support them with all the internal and external pressure going up (again, if the MUD get more seats than PSUV)?

    The point still remains: if the appropiate incentives appear on the political scene the no-negotiation strategy may crack down.

  18. Chaviso never negotiated for one simple reason: Chavez came from the military. His job as a high ranking officer was to give orders. These were never negotiable, any more than they are in the Army. Anyone suggesting that a Red Shirt negotiate a governmental decree is perforce guilty of insubordination. That’s all top-dog military hogwash. Problem for the Chavistas is that the rest of the country is not in the army, so the direct orders sound like dictatorial decrees. Remember when Chavez was asked hard questions by foreign journalists? Chavez responded as thought the journalist had no right to ask or challenge the great leader about anything, as Chavez never responded to the question and instead sought to attack the mans character. When he tried that tactic at the UN (the infamous “smell the sulfur” rant), the world knew once and for all the man was a crack-pot and a gran narcissist.

    But no, Chavistas are only good at giving orders. The military is NOT democratic. And so it goes.

  19. Romania is not a valid model for Venezuela. There was never any real domestic support for Communism in Romania. Communism was imposed by force on Romania, and was maintained by force. There was no armed resistance because everyone knew that the regime was backed up by the overwhelming power of the USSR, which would do anything necessary to sustain it. (Ceaucescu’s deviationism in foreign policy made no real difference.)

    When the Soviet guarantee was withdrawn (by implication, when the Berlin Wall fell), Ceaucescu’s authority evaporated with it. Not even the security forces would defend the regime.

    Chavismo is different. Chavismo rose to power by winning the allegiance of the majority of Venezuelans, and the enthusiastic support of a plurality. Chavez died before he himself was discredited. IMO, there are more believing chavistas left in Venezuela then there ever were believing Communists in Romania.

    I suppose that in the 1940s, there was an actual cadre of genuine Romanian Communists. But after 40 years of grinding mediocrity, the regime was staffed entirely by timeservers – rats who deserted the ship the moment it began to sink. (Or more precisely, lightened ship by heaving Ceaucescu overboard, and then changed the flag. IIRC only a few of the former regime’s highest officeholders were actually removed.)

    The chavernment is different – it’s riddled with ideologues as well as mere kleptocrats, and there is a lot of passion left in the lower ranks. (E.g. the colectivos.)

    The question is what the men with guns will do. There’s a “Star Trek” episode where a resentful female scientist mindswaps with Kirk. In Kirk’s usurped body she (he?) gives dubious orders, and the other officers think he may have gone mad – but Scott says to Spock “If Security backs him up…”

    The same question applies here. Let’s say that 6 December is a gigantic landslide for the oppo: 130 seats for MUD, 10-15 for PSUV. Then the oppo demands that Maduro (and Cabello) resign in favor of a Committee of National Salvation (to borrow terms from Romania); the demand backed by massive public demonstrations. The demonstrators march on the government buildings to evict the chavistas.

    What will the men with guns do? Will they go away, or join the marchers? (As the guards did at the Winter Palace.) Will Maduro flinch, and order them to stand down? (As Louis XVI did with the Swiss Guard at the Tuileries.) Or will the generals order them to stand down? (As in Romania.)

    Or will they fire on the marchers? (Or allow armed colectivos to do so.) Napoleon’s “Whiff of Grapeshot” scattered the Paris mob in 1795; the Bavarian police dispersed Hitler’s marchers in 1923. The Chinese army cleared Tianmen Square.

    What will the men with guns do? That is whom the negotiations, if any, will be with.

    • “Or will they fire on the marchers? (Or allow armed colectivos to do so.) Napoleon’s “Whiff of Grapeshot” scattered the Paris mob in 1795; the Bavarian police dispersed Hitler’s marchers in 1923. The Chinese army cleared Tianmen Square.”

      Llaguno Bridge “heroes” ambushed and rained gunfire over the marchers in april 11, resulting in almost two dozen murders.

  20. Folllowing on Rostroms excellent analysis one might observe that Chavismo is no longer a unified movement, that there is a very important part of Chavismo which while retaining an emotional alligeance to the memory of its idolized founder and his rethorical messages is totally at odds with the Chavismo cliques that rule the country for its corruption , disastrous performance in the handling of government and consequent failure to avoid a precipitous fall in its standard of living .

    They might love Chavismo as a sort of theatrical cult (including the idolized memory of their now dead leader) but they have turned angrily against the much smaller Chavismo that holds power . One might say that this deep political cleavage within Chavismo represent something similar to what the loss of Soviet support represented for Ceasescus regime , its now a regime founded on the support not of a popular mayority which has turned angrily against it but of two groups , one of hard core stalawarts fanatized by their ideology and sectarian identity and another which is not ideologically very reliable but which benefits from the corrupt rewards they obtain from their allegiance to the regime. In fact this represents a second fracture within Chavismo which now has remained controlled because of the need of both groups to keep themselves in power but which will eventually give rise to an open struggle for control of the government .

    The government does hold the control of the guns , both of those of the military on which it can count largely by allowing them access to a big piece of the kleptocratic real estate and those of the colectivos who enjoy the use of politically glamorized violence for its own sake .

    History tells us that a government that relies primarily on coercion and force ultimately loses its control of power , the process for it to happen may not take a straight line of negotiated concessions but a zig zag line of gradual erosion in the kind of power it can exercise without falling to pieces.

    Negotiations will only ocurr when the level of power erosion is such that the regime needs to negotiate to ensure its survival or the protection of the governing cliques own lives and interests, i.e when the curtains are already falling and the end is just a matter of time . Dont know that we are there yet , but if the option ever opens the oppo must be prepared to engage in negotiations that lead to a change in regime !!

    • Your last paragraph refers to the “governing cliques ………….. own lives and interests”.

      Maybe there’s an indication of their intent, that intent dependant on whether those “interests” are in Venezuela or otherwise ?

  21. “The chavernment is different – it’s riddled with ideologues as well as mere kleptocrats, and there is a lot of passion left in the lower ranks. (E.g. the colectivos.)”

    I suspect that it’s more about mere kleptocrats than ideologues.

    The only half-true “ideology” that ever was adopted was that “el pueblo” is good and “la derecha” or “capitalism” or “el imperio” were bad. That a new “revolutionary government from ‘el pueblo’ would be better for the poor people, the average, disenchanted Venezuelan, who felt alienated after 40 years of ad/copey (another type of Kleptocracy, but leaning toward free markets, more democratic).

    Chavez clearly lied to everyone (see U-tube videos about his soft initial proposals) and then slowly bought the rest of the military, the TSJ, and every one in his government. That’s when he started talking more about Cuba, comunism or “socialism” and all that leftist crap. To grab the power he had to present a very moderate approach”no control de cambio, mercado libre..” until he could tighten the screws and become the authoritarian thug he really was. Even many educated readers of this blog voted fir him back in the 90’s. That’s how devious and deceptive he was.

    But the Average Pueblo people, sadly much poorer and less educated, bought the cheap Populist lies, bait hook line and sinker from day 1, and still believe in it Today. After the catastrophic disaster Vzla has become. They blame “Maduro” and maybe Cabello. They love Chavez. Today! A vast majority of the population.

    But not just because of Chavez’s personal charisma. Or the communist of “leftist ideology”. No. They are not sufficiently educated, for the most part, minimally informed, to tell the difference between Cuba and Costa Rica. They have no idea what separation of powers means, or what a Parliament is there for, or how a justice system should work, much less the difference between a Laissez-Faire, healthy Capitalistic approach and a sinister authoritarian, exchange-control, price-control pseudo-socialismo, which is nothing but a disguised neo-dictatorship, and Oligarchy of a few hundred powerful and corrupt Mercenaries.

    No, they have no clue about “ideology”. Leave that to a more educated like Chile or Argentina. What “El Pueblo” really understands is $$$. How they live, what they can or cannot buy, the car or moto they drive. The ranchito or small apartment where they now live, compared to the one they live in 20 years ago. The diet they can afford, or not, the parties they can go to, how much they have to work, or not work.

    It’s a very freaking basic “ideology” of hate and jealousy of the have-nots. They came to hate the “sifrinitos” burguesitos con real de Caracas. Because “El Pueblo” is good, honest, hard working, wise, and always knows what’s right. Because “El Pueblo” deserves plenty of good jobs, where they work as little as possible, if at all. El Pueblo deserves to be showered with freebies and gifts from the Gobielno Nasional, get everything for free, and pay no taxes. “Chavez or la Virgencita will Provide” A better car, or a small house, free food, free transportation, free electricity,tigritos, enchufes, 32 “Ministries”.. almost 4 million public employees… Leeching year after year, until the “government del pueblo” stole every Oil Barrel and every penny, and the prices went down, bankrupt country. No more Freebies, no more Tigres, no more Palancas, no more filet mignon, and the “vivienda” promise that never came, or it’s a rotten hell hole in some barrio bolivariano..

    That’s the true “Ideology” of the Chavista masses. Nothing intellectual or sophisticated about it. it’s “Cuanto hay pa’eso” y “Como quedo yo ahi, que me van a regalar? They don’t read Marx and Lenin before tea time in the afternoon, rest assured.

  22. Everyone is willing to negotiate, even the most crazy powe hunger people, if most a matter of circumstance and stakes.

    I agree right now I dont think this chavismo consider the possibility but affter 6 who knows, and it is not about being naive, is about being smart a negotiate way out is better than a full confrontation.

    Given the right mix (I hope this can happen) Mud can have enough momentum to impose some conditions and they hay enough power to impose theirs and that my friend is and ideal outcome.

    Peace is not the obly way out, non the faster or even the best one for us, the one who live and die in this country being opposition, but sure is the best for the country.

    • “Everyone is willing to negotiate…”

      Unfortunately, that is not always true. In part, you are assuming that they are rational. This may not be true for many of them. And sometimes even rational people prefer suicide, taking innocent bystanders with them, over negotiation.

  23. Chavismo is not a conceptually developed theory of society or government , its a mixed jumble of ideas and notions which borrow heavily (but chaotically) from some Marxist inspired narratives and from certain folkish biases and misconceptions, these ideas are not important per se , what is important is that they serve as building blogs of a rethoric which can be used to rouse up certain heady passions in people who feel good professing those passions . The shared profession of those passions then takes the form of a cult . Chavismo is not an ideology but a cult , same as happens with ‘religious’ like cults (which lack a theology or coherent doctrine ) and want to present themselves as bona fide religions, the political cult of Chavismo wants to present itself as an ideology which it is not .

    The regime makes use of the emblems and rituals of that cult to attract popular support , but also more importantly they accompany such cult rituals and appeals with bread and butter benefits which are given to their supporters as reward to their loyalty, the combination of both factors makes the government gather the popular support it needs to prop up its ‘authority’.

    Recently its been blatantly unable to keep the flow of goods needed to make life supportable going , that means that the second factor or leg of its support is broke or deficient , the result has been a break down in its popularity . the cult factor is still there for many of its former supporters , but the bread and butter clientelistic factor being missing the support fabricating machinery is no longer working except at a reduced level .!! Thus we have this bunch of people who declare themselves Chavistas but not Maduristas , In short who are still faithful to the cult but are no longer prepared to support a regime they see as corrupt and inept in giving them what they need.

    • Chavismo is not essentially a government idea. Quico has gone into this with Briceño Guerrero, some very good stuff probably still in the archives. Chavismo is ultimately a schism between what Europeans consider politics and what the african influences have instilled as alternatives together with the indios, all under European masks but representing ways of community and society that desperately need to be assimilated but are constantly faced with unrelenting European totalitariansim, a kind of enforced liberalism.

      Honestly, I say: whoever cannot approach African madness, and insists on calling it ignorance, has no future with Venezuela. What chavismo is is the final breaking point, that moment when Africa and the indians went: “listen, we ain’t goin’ nowhere, and we demand RESPECT.”

      This moment was unavoidable from the instant slavery became untennable. Some new way of living with each other needs to be developped. Venezuela ain’t like no other place on Earth…. Why try to make it?

      • Lets not forget that the non european people came from very primitive cultures lacking any coherent model of governance or of an ideally organized society , more over what ever culture they had was shattered into fragments by the raw depht and comprehensiveness of the spanish mestisaje process which included both cultural factors and biological ones !! The mestizo descendants of those original african or indian people were to a large extent europeized or hispanized , losing most if not all of the root cultural markers of their original identity .

        The mestisaje process however as conducted by the mantuanos left deep scars of resentment among those mestizos whose role was to serve as the despised serfs and minions to their mantuano masters . This raw resentment made many of the european values and ideals loathsome to that mass of mestizos . The result the war or extermination which Boves llaneros forces made agaisnt all white people who knew hot to read .This resentment always exist whenever people find themselves humiliated by their inability to take over a social role that flatters them and has other people lead better lives than themselves.

        That resentment caused rages that could destroy lives and social institutions but not build anything stable to take their place !!

  24. The concept that Chavism cannot negotiate because it would cause a loss of cohesion is like saying rats don’t abandon a sinking ship because it would cause a loss of tranquility! I should think that a sinking economy should cause a loss of cohesion more so than negotiating with the opposition. After all, when an army loses a war, don’t they surrender? Isn’t there a meeting to negotiate the terms of surrender, or is it poisoned koolade or fight to the last man? Those are the three rules of war for how a lost cause ends. Does anyone believe that Chavism is not a lost cause?

  25. There is a good article in the Buenos Aires Herald titled, “In Venezuela, truth is first casualty”. See link:

    One of the best quotes is:

    “It’s difficult for journalists to find out the truth of any incident in Venezuela. We don’t even have reliable polling numbers for Sunday’s vote. And each time the country hits the headlines, a pattern emerges — one of claims and counterclaims, with the veracity lost in the fog of rhetoric.”

  26. I think the thing that is missed in the Toro/Kronick discussion is the power of globalization.

    Here’s the thing. Everyone was happy to take Venezuela’s money when it wasn’t seen as too corrupt or too tied to human rights abuses. Now, the social capital of the Venezuelan government on the world stage is 0. So while many in Venezuela wait for the disappearance of support in country (like Toro), the reality is that the Maduro Government has no support internationally. The Cabello cult even less after the missteps with Lopez and Cabello’s widely reported violent rhetoric. While the Chinese may seem like they are playing with the govt, they are waiting for the grown ups to show up. The Delcy show hasn’t helped either. She’s been a disaster for Chavismo on the world stage.

    It doesn’t matter who wins or loses in Venezuela in the election. In the eyes of the world, including many who were sympathetic to the cause, Chavismo is over. It lost any credibility it had when it started to jail political dissidents and when they went one step too far on the drug trade. Venezuela has set back the leftist agenda of the continent 50 years or more via widespread corruption, poor management, links to drug trafficking, the corrupt judicial system, and very bad leadership by Maduro and Cabello and many others.

    Plus, the other thing that Chavismo missed is that they had a potential partner with the US on some solid leftist goals for Latin America. By crying Imperio, they looked entirely ridiculous and unserious to those who could have helped the government survive.

    While Chavismo may seem to be alive, the reality is that it is already dead. The older generations that remember Chavez may always be strong for the cause. By my young family members will remember not being able to get basic food and medicine. They will remember the inflation and lack of a free press. They will remember the hateful rhetoric and the destruction of the universities. The younger generation is turning the page and looking for something better than subsidized eggs. They see their only hope of either going overseas or staying and making the country better. They already are looking past the world of the Chavistas.

    It’s over.

  27. Again, I failed to see referees to the condom theory. IMO everything Chavismo did, and Madurismo does, should be read as an act by a magician that wants your attention AWAY fro the real trick.

    The puppet master/ magician analogy applies to the real power holders, in this case the cuban apparatchik, and to lesser extend, drug cartels, criminal military cliques, and the newly minted boli- bourgeoisie economic powers.

    All chavista regime figureheads, all are puppets to entertain and distract. The real power and stakes lie in the corrupt machinery sucking millions of $ for every possible state contracts, OPEX and CAPEX dealings and open thievery (police acting as kidnappers p.e.)

    PDVSA had been the larges bounty until it was sucked dry. Same applies to the budget of every single minsiterio, oficinas de desarrollo, Gobernaciones and municipal budgets, military spending, etc.

    Under this scenario of systemic embezzlement, the opposition just falls short in its intention. I fear most of it is quitate tu pa ponerme yo, or else, their signaling should be aimed to convey a real structural change plan, the review of the petro state clientelist system now-on-steroids model, and its not.

    the condom you ask! Well upper echelons of control (starting with the cuban pirates) using and then discarding their echelon level puppets when their show is over. Kind of la piramide scam.

    Perhaps 6D is the time of reckoning after which the game is over and the whole ponzi is exposed.
    We’ll see.

    May God grab you all confessed!


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