What if we in the opposition are playing checkers while Diosdado Cabello is playing 17-dimensional hyperchess? What if the electoral drubbing Maduro will get on 6D has been baked into his plans all along? What if Quico is right – that the regime will collapse after 6D – but only half right, because the opposition leadership can be induced to over-reach and collapse right alongside it? What if both we and Maduro are just pawns in a carefully laid out plan that leaves Diosdado with all the money and all the power?

If recent history has taught us anything it’s that Diosdado is the most successful realpolitik operator in Venezuela. Consider his 2014 machinations. He orchestrated the news media buy-outs, instigated Leopoldo López to give himself up at the end of #LaSalida, and flawlessly silenced Mario Silva’s damning audio. All of this he did behind-the-scenes, even if that meant infamously being in the López Mendoza household three madrugadas in a row and driving the monstro de Palo Verde himself to the judiciary.

He can negotiate, no doubt, just not as we know it.

Dorothy is right: Chavismo clearly has an incentive to free itself from Madurismo, and Diosdado might very well be expected to lead the charge. Given the chance, Diosdado would do anything in his power to get rid of such a toxic partner. If he hasn’t yet it is because he is waiting for his mustachioed scapegoat to gobble up some more blame before throwing it off the boat.

How? Who knows. In a way, it’s beside the point. When a wolf chases an obese goat it doesn’t much matters when exactly it leaps or where it bites first to know how the scene ends. Maduro is limping; Diosdado is prowling. Do we really need a diagram?

Ironically, one thing Godgiven has in his favour is the radical opposition. It has been one of his most powerful assets all along. Time and time again our egocentric political elite has fallen into his trap of misrepresenting us by reminding the public of our penchant for maximalist over-reach.

Think of #LaSalida: not only did its urban middle-class focus play into the Chavista rhetoric of class warfare, pushing away swing voters, but it also gave Diosdado the stage on which to play the only-adult-in-the-room by bringing López to jail and “re-establishing order”. Defenestrating Capriles from his leadership position, it also opened a still festering rift in the Opposition between a moderate wing, lead by Capriles and Torrealba, always too anxious to play it slow and gradually harness the Chavista light vote, and a radical wing, lead by López and Machado, always too impatient to end this narcogobierno castro-comunista.

After 6D that rift could reopen. Smart chavistas will be working overtime to make sure it does. Maybe even on 7D itself: being five seats away from a 3/5 supermajority, some of us will push for a fight and some will not.

This might, incidentally, be the most important incentive for Diosdado to deploy all his dirty electoral tricks – to allow us to win, but (as hinted at in Emiliana’s last post) only in a way that splits us. In  any case, one does not have to see too far to notice that once the Opposition is in power their factional interests will again be misaligned.

Some will yell to push for referendum or changing the constitution, others for bringing some sanity to our economic policy, others for technocracy, others for retribution. Only a few will say the obvious out loud, that our win is due not to not to people voting for us, but rather against them. And, as always in such cacophonies, only the loudest will be heard.

It’s in this noise that Diosdado can thrive. He can play to both camps by pushing a referendum against Maduro and incentivizing the creation of unpopular economic policies the country desperately needs but that will ultimately be adopted without his signature. In this new, sinister balance of power he can achieve the twin goals of getting rid of his old scapegoat while setting up his new one.

Maybe he’ll even contrive to convince María Corina to run for president, or persuade up-and-coming Oppo leaders everywhere to create their own political parties and Henry Ramos Allup to spend some more quality time with brother-in-law, bolichico-in-chief Francisco D’Agostini. I would not even be surprised if he allows the release of Manuel Rosales and Leopoldo López from jail, just to stir the pot.

The end result? A rudderless Opposition framed as split between cold-hearted neoliberal and ineffectual appeaseniks, a Maduro thrown to the dogs for squandering the legacy of el eterno, and a Diosdado with clean hands pulling just the right strings to position himself as his true heir just as the worst of the current economic downturn has passed.

Who knows? Maybe this is the end-game Diosdado has been patiently gambling on all along. Maybe, far from regime collapse, the end of Madurismo will lead to the flourishing of a new form of Chavismo – his form of chavismo.

Shall I whisper the scandal?

The age of Diosdado may be just around the corner.

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M.A. in Economics from the University of Edinburgh. Madrid based. Wealth management, roots in banking and microfinance. Voracious reader of Classics, specially the Russians, and History. Caraqueño and Caraquista, inescapably a lover of Salsa, wheat talk and Rum. Fascinated by South America's indigestion of modernity, owes his political understanding mostly to Octavio Paz, Ivan Karamazov and dad.

54 COMMENTS

  1. The archetypes of the “genius criminal mastermind” or “mad scientist plotting to conquer the world” makes for exciting fiction, but I can’t find any examples in actual history of such people. Diosdado is smart enough, but he is not playing the game on that level.

    • Napoleon Bonaparte is only the easy one for us history ignorants, but I would bet one arm and half of the other a dozen examples would be easy to find.

      Stalin

      Stalin!

      Gómez

      The independentistas

      I don’t even want to go on… Gómez is enough, Gómez will do. A dumb campesino with no eloquence and a pencheant for high-aspiring revolutionary friends.

        • That’s a different argument you are making now. I am glad we agree that “genius criminal masterminds” and “mad scientists plotting to conquer the world” do exist.

          About your personal opinions on Cabello, it seems more like a personal hatred to me than a sober assessment. Doesn’t make you wrong, but I think you’re likelier to be wrong than right.

          • Nacho, that’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. The Cabello brothers have been shipping cocaine to the U.S. for a decade. The investigations are moving far along. This guy is not smart, he’s a fucking idiot.

          • Exactly Nacho. DC said it himself “Nos subestiman porque ellos son cultos y nosotros somos brutos”. I can’t but agree – that’s one of teh reasons Chavistas have been 15 years in power so far.

  2. Here we ho boy !!!

    Between Quico, Dorothy, Emiliana and you, all of you are fine tuning the best scenario after 6D.

    As Quico and me said before: keep an eye in what Ramos Allup and Cabello said and do.
    There is a good chance Ramos will be the next president of Congress.

    Divisions between Maduro y Cabello? Just a hint: Reverol “monta el peine” for the capture by DEA of the famous nephews

  3. Methinks Diosdado is smarter than that, he will try to fade quietly into the night, like most smart mega-thieves do. He has shown he doesn’t particularly want to be # 1. This sinister, devious scoundrel, much like Chavez’s brother “Adan” or Cilia’s entire disgusting family and her powerful nephew, they will know when to disappear. Unless he’s dumber and stupider than expected, or high on coke, he’ll simply take a billion or two, grow a beard, wear glasses, buy a couple new passports, and a couple houses under someone else’s name in the Caribbean. That, or he’s stupider than Noriega.

  4. off-topic; el color elegido para el texto de los enlaces no se lee bien. Entiendo que quieran que vayan a juego con los colores de la web pero se puede escoger un color más oscuro sin que quede mal.

  5. What’s probably gonna happen after 6D is a delightful MUD mess. With a small minority in the Cubazuelan “parliament” , they will all join in for cafecitos every day, discuss a few differences of opinion, shake hands, and talk about “el pueblo bolivariano”.. then, at night, the 90 Muddy new diputados and the 70 Chavista thugs will have rum and whiskey together. They will share jokes about Yachts in Morrocoy, parties, or the terrible situation in the middle east. Since the blatant, massive Gerrymandering already took place, all Ali Baba Cabello and his 40 PDVSA theives need to do is purchase a few more Muddy souls. Can’t be too expensive at all. Then you add the putrid military, the despicable TSJ, and we have a nice new ballgame until 2019, las Presidenciales, the real deal, if “el pueblo” se la cala, la crisis economica, hasta entonces.

    Meanwhile, starting January first, 2016, expect the Masburristas to blame everything on the “Parlamento burguesito derechista”. Everything. Well, some of the blame will still be for the Imperio Yankee, but the main shift will be toward Lorenzo Mendoza and his Parlamento burgues ultra-derechista que le roba la comida al “pueblo”. Guess what.. while the 4 million Enchufados in 32 “ministerios” keep Leeching and stealing, while half of the new MUD diputados are Bribed, not much at all will change next year.

    Unless the let Leopoldo totally free, perhaps. But I doubt it. Caprilito doesn’t have the cojones or brain to change anything either.

  6. Why did Chavez not choose DDC his old army comrade and trusted former co conspirator as his succesor ?? DDC didnt lack the brains or the assertive highly organized character that Chavez might have wanted in his succesor nor the all important army connections which are one of the basic pillars of the regime .?? Why all the fuss and bother in trying to prevent his taking over as president ( as per the Constitution) once Chavez died , why couldnt he appear as president even for a few weeks until the elections where held ??

    The answer should be clear , DDC was not popular inside Chavismo , not among the nomenklatura , or the other members of the ruling circle , or the rank and file follower, its no secret that he was suspected of being ideologically unreliable , too fond of prioritizing and advancing his personal business interests . This maimed his candidacy to the top position which in any event he might have not wanted provided he kept his interests protected and whole . He is not a popular leader , has never won a popular election on his own, a big part of the Chavista movement views him as basically corrupt and many of the ideologically pure intensely dislike him for that .

    So he adopts a position to appease their fears , he is the most blatant and agressive attacker of the opposition , playing the role of the Chavista fanatic to the hilt , he is really the loudest and most incendiary of the Chavista leaders , he is so histrionically insulting and aggresive that few Chavistas now could suspect his loyalty. Meantime he knows Maduro is really an inept leader who in time is bound to dig himself into a deep hole , His calculation must be that Maduro at some point in time will self destruct in which case he must be prepared to either replace Maduro himself or propose someone he can trust as his replacement. The current crisis might provide him with an opportunity to save the regime by allowing Maduro to implode and helping set up a modus vivendi with other Chavista groups and with part of the opposition to allow the regime to take measures that might help save it from ruin . He might not want to be seen as the top honcho but merely as the guy pulling the strings behind the curtains.

    Of course the above is pure speculation except that I do have reason to believe that he has intimately little respect for Maduro as a leader , that he does feel that at some time Maduro will self destruct and that he is a very conniving and pragmatic man when it comes to serving his long term interests which might lead him to bargains with the oppo to prop up a regime, perhaps a more rational regime that will allow him to protect his interests!!

    • Diosdado was Chavez attack dog, the raging pitbull that snap his jaws towards the opposition and the enemies of the revolution, he still is, Him and Chavez had a fall out because Diosdado despise the Castros, he anti-cuban he sees them as theparasites they are, and is not down with supporting them, Maduro on the other hand is totally indoctrinaded and follow the Castros orders without hesitation.

    • Alberto Barrera Tyszka argues that Chávez chose Maduro because he, as all dying patients, never ceased hoping to survive. Maduro (dumb as he clearly saw he was) was loyal to the bone, which meant Chávez could be 100% sure Nicolás was no Gómez to an ailing 21st century Cipriano Castro.

      Yet in the end Chávez died, and Maduro remained in power.

      I have always found this reasoning most compelling, specially since in essence it is such a human one.

      • Chavez knew that he was going to die , the seriousness of his illness left little room for hope , anyone who saw on TV his teary pathetic good by speech before he left for his last trip to Cuba could doubt that he understood he was going to die , hence the need to leave a successor that could maintain the unity of the groups supporting him during an upcoming election which might well decide the future of his movement,

        Of the potential candidates there is no doubt that DDC was the worst , no popular following or charisma , not even within his own camp . So by default he only had Maduro who was loyal , liked by the Castros, didn’t rub the other bigwigs the wrong way . Even then his calculations almost failed in that Maduro won the election with minimal advantage. Just guess what would have been the result if he had appointed DDC as his successor.

        If DDC had been more popular inside Chavismo , better liked by his colleagues in the ruling circle, more popular outside it, he would have been the natural successor. Lacking those qualities Chavez could only hope that Maduro would be able to make it. !! Now that Maduro is clearly a failure and the regime faces a crisis the door is open for DDC to take a different role in the shaping of the regimes future. !!

        • I disagree. Patients can know they are dying and yet not believe it. People tend to be very irrational in those positions.

          I also think Pedro Rosas’ point is very reasonable.

      • Andres, the HCh heir was Adan but Havana said No because at the time, Adan was top coke boss. After HCh passing, the top coke boss title went to DCR. This is the person who controls the airspace allowing the flights in and out. DCR cannot become the ruler of Venezuela because of pending narcotics indictments againt him and his brother. DCR is damaged goods just like Adan. Your analysis is great but you failed to take the narcotics operations into consideration and these are key factors.

        • When HCh passed and Maduro came up, it was already known via Raul Reyes notbooks that Maduro was running coke but HCh had cut a deal with Santos in Santa Marta to not pursue the narcotics issue. Santos then succesfully lobbied the Americans to not pursue narcotics againts the Bolivarians. I think this action saved Maduro thus allowing him to become president.

          • At the time, the narcotics case against Maduro was weak. Everything changed about a year ago when the nephews flew to Honduras.

        • Thanks GD I stand corrected in that I had not factored in DDC’s involvement in drugtrafficking as preventing his consideration as a succesor to Chavez. At the time of Chavez farewell speech DDC’s role in drugtrafficking was not as well stablished as it is now , I still think that his impopularity was a factor but adding to that the drugtraffick connection made him even less likely to have ever been considered for the job.

    • Chavez chose Maduro because he wanted to take care of his family.

      I very much doubt Chavez was thinking about legacy or la revolución. First and foremost, he wanted to make sure his children, brothers and parents would be safe, both personally and financially, and remain politically influential. Maduro, closer to the Chávez family than Diosdado, was then the choice. And look, it worked: his nephew is VP, one daughter is in NY with diplomatic immunity, the other one is living in La Casona, and before they were candidates for the AN, Argenis was director of the Judiciary and Asdrubal was Minister of Oil. Adan is governor, but that was before HC died.

      • “Chavez chose Maduro because he wanted to take care of his family.”

        And then cilia aka “la reina del sur” promptly wanted to kick the corpse’s family outta La Casona, but the shiabbeses just flipped her the bird.

  7. I’d like to say that this is too Game of Thrones-esque to be true, and I do hope it remains as fanfiction in Andrés’ head; but since ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ is based upon real History, we can’t really dismiss that our History will be as twisted as this.

  8. So, let’s assume that Trump wins in the US and then bans oil import from Venezuela. An oil price rebound would be kind of neutralized in such case, right? Then, Dilma gets impeached, and then Macri and this new president of Brazil agree to suspend Venezuela from Mercosur. After all that happens, Venezuela would become some sort of South American North Korea, with only China and Russia backing it, but Russia is kind of busy right now and its economy is in big trouble, they wouldn’t be able to do what old USSR used to do with Cuba, and China knows that to keep investing in Venezuela may not be fruitful, the Chinese might hit the brake.

    My point is: If the GDP falls 20% next year after falling 10% this year, would Cabello/Maduro/anyone resist? I mean, do the people in the military accept to work for free?

  9. There’s little incentive for Diosdado to kick Maduro out before January 2017. If Maduro resigns or is removed before that, there would be presidential elections, which chavismo can’t win without massive fraud. But after Jan-17, the VP finishes the term until 2019.

    So, yes, Diosdado could well be laying the road to blame everything on Maduro and remove him at some point. But I can’t see him doing it before 2017. They’ll carry Maduro’s political corpse until then.

    Of course, this is only relevant if Diosdado wants to maintain a modicum of a democratic façade.

    • Maybe president of the parallel Asamblea Nacional de la Calle that’ll probably be created to nullify an oppo victory in the legislativas?

  10. Venezuela still has to take the medicine. The economy is in shambles, soon will have no more lenders and gold prices are going down (therefore reserves are going down). Whoever administers the medicine will be labeled a traitor by the other side. I think psuv / diosdado are hoping that there is referendum on Maduro. The oppo wins and administers the “though love” the country needs. That can easily open the gates for psuv / diosdado to walk right into Miraflores and stay there for another 16 yrs.

    It seems to me that Maduro would prefer to see fellow Venezuelans eat tree bark (like north koreans) than to implement the most basic reforms. Is very clear that “le van a echar la culpa al que llame al FMI”. The psuv has all the infrastructure to instigate “y joder en la calle”. In addition to control of the military, they probably have G-2 corruption and narcotics files on all the top brass to ensure alignment to psuv (remember pikachu and Baudel).

    This the Venezuelan conundrum…. I think the only way out of this mess is with some sort of coalition… which is very hard to swallow for those that have been marginalized while on the side of the angels.

    • Is Cabello that charismatic to win presidential elections? I see him as being even less charismatic than Maduro, that TV show Con El Mazo Dando, for example, is just unwatchable, he is introspective, his diction is horrible, he can’t hide his anger etc. I see him as a more backstage kind of guy.

  11. Loved your writing on this, Andres. Welcome!

    As for the main point, I think we have been trained to fear Diosdado a little too much after so many years. He is not as smart nor as cunning as we like to think he is. He has carefully cultivated the part of Darth Vader-dado, but to me it’s more bark than bite. It’s fun to fantasize about these larger-than-life, Satan-like characters in the revolution, but we run the risk of getting carried away.

    Still, I wouldn’t want to meet him in a dark alleyway any time soon.

    • Totally agree. Cabello is just your average, under-educated, Chavista nouveau-riche in power. Thugs like him, who came from the lower bowels of our dear Venezuelan nation, only really care about 2 things: money and the intoxicating thrill of power.

      Scrubs like Cabello are not truly” socialistas” or “marxistas” or whatever you want to call their propagandistic brain-wash mambo-jambo. They are Criminals, thugs, and above all THIEVES. As simple as that.

      The only reason they are not out of the country already is because they fear to be arrested, and because they probably have a few more Mega-Guisos on the Stove for an extra-luxurious early retirement of the entire family (Same as Cilia’s , etc)

      In their own twisted, uneducated, immoral, corrupt little minds, they might think they are doing Venezuela’s “pueblo” a favor, while they get filthy rich. Somehow, they must find some absurd “socialista” justification for their massive embezzlements, drug draffic, abuse of power, etc. They live on some other planet, and they deserve to be in Jail, for the rest of their lousy little lives.

      If filth like Capo Cabello or Masburro, —plus Ali Baba Rodriguez and the other 40 thieves — are not brought to Justice one day, Cleptozuela will never learn, and history will keep repeating itself until people are truly educated, morally corrected, and get to work for themselves.

    • Thank you Juan.

      I do agree he’s no Francis Underwood.

      But I for one think the whole LaSalida thing he masterminded, specially when we consider the events of 12F — I think it was him who called the first shots to be fired, most cynically setting the trap unto which we afterwards fell. If we look back on it, it all seemed too arbitrary to not be purposeful. In the end he was the one to grab the spotlight when the dust settled.

      And if I am right on this one, I don’t think it too far-fetched to extrapolate from it.

    • Heh, I still remember those boogeyman stories about how “something different than an election would bring capodado to power, beware and repent, you heathens!”

      As if that SoB didn’t already ordered to slaughter dozens of people already, invluding several ones during 2014’s protests.

  12. It was Tocqueville that said “It is not always going from bad to worse that leads to revolutions. What happens most often is that a people that puts up with withe the most oppressive laws without complaint , as if it did not feel it them, rejects those laws when the burden is alleviated…

    The evil that one endures patiently because it seems inevitable becomes unbearable the moment its elimination becomes conceivable”

    I quote this in the context of La Salida. La Salida may have been premature, but all salidas will be premature if you dont try to poke evil in the eye repeatedly. The “radicals” do that very often, hopefully someday it will work. Hopefully, others will try the tactic some day. But I dont think anyone knows the timing. What history tells us if that you have to go after the system and challenge it for a resolution to take place.

    • I suppose whether Cabello is another Gómez or Guzman Blanco is not ascertainable right now. What matters is that whether or not he is playng 17 dimensional hyperchess, we certainly are not. An evil genious Cabello would have a big advantage over us, if he existed.

      I mean, we can fantasize all day about Darth Cabello, but are there even any brains in the MUD that we could do the same with? I can’t think of a single one to fantasize about in that regard, except maybe Capriles and not so much because of what cards he may be holding, like Diosdado, but because of the ones he has laid on the table.

  13. I suppose whether Cabello is another Gómez or Guzman Blanco is not ascertainable right now. What matters is that whether or not he is playng 17 dimensional hyperchess, we certainly are not. An evil genious Cabello would have a big advantage over us, if he existed.

    I mean, we can fantasize all day about Darth Cabello, but are there even any brains in the MUD that we could do the same with? I can’t think of a single one to fantasize about in that regard, except maybe Capriles and not so much because of what cards he may be holding, like Diosdado, but because of the ones he has laid on the table.

  14. There’s a fight between the Maduro-Flores cartel and the Chavez gang. The Chavez daughter in NY is under the wings of Rafael Ramirez who was canned from PDVSA by Maduro-Flores.

    Chavez did not choose Maduro. The Cubans choose Maduro. Chavez had chosen Adan but Havana said No. Adan was the top coke boss. En esa epoca Adan controlaba los vuelos a Barinas y estaba y esta en la mira de la DEA. Sabiendo esto, Castro dijo No. De ahi salio Maduro.

  15. Don’t forget that regardless of what and who and how smart or dumb Godgiven is, or might be, he is at the top of a US Department of Justice/DEA hit list of sanctioned (and suspected) criminals and if he ever rose to total power, those Damn Yankees would go after him like a dog to a bone. If the charges against Diosdado are genuine (has anyone seen any hard evidence) I just don’t see the US standing by while a drug king pin – if he really is one – run a country in this continent. Obama has kept his nose out of Venezuela somewhat, but if Godgiven takes charge, things could heat up in a hurry.

  16. Diosdado is not going to run the country because of the drugs. He’s already in deep deep shit. We can probably all agree he’s a sociopath. He’s a very dangerous sociopath. Case in point, on Diosdado’s orders, FAV F-16s using Vulcan cannon, shot down two jets with crews and cocaine loads. Why? Because he was having a fit. Trust me, this guy is not going anywhere because him and his brother have a date with U.S. justice. It may not happen because the chances of them ending up dead increase with each passing day.

  17. Leo en el artículo esa desesperanza que ha calado a lo largo de estos 17 años de violaciones impunes de las leyes y de degradación continua de la sociedad. Si el chavismo pierde, gana. Cómo es eso? No es mejor ganar la Asamblea y ya? Que si Maduro y Diosdado son Pinky y Cerebro, dispuestos a conquistar el mundo. El peor enemigo del chavismo son ellos mismos, por eso el rechazo que han cosechado. Diosdado es uno de los venezolanos con mayor rechazo del país, largamente.
    El chavismo está perdiendo la elección, están claros y no quieren que pase, todo lo que hacen es para minimizar daños, reducir la ventaja que saben que hay.
    Por supuesto que la victoria de la oposición, por mucho o por poco, medido en diputados, no será un paso definitivo e incluso puede ser desperdiciada, pero ya no estamos en 2002 o 2005, se ha aprendido.

  18. The article contains good points. Yet, ultimately even if Diosdado were to implement and be successful with this Machiavellian plan he would still suffer a huge political crisis given the state of the economy. He is more practical than other chavistas though so he might survive it.

  19. If Diosdado is playing all of us I would argue that the so called moderate wing of the opposition is the one falling right into his trap. How else would he be able to get rid of Maduro is he doesn’t have a docile opposition obsessed with winning elections?

    Also, the famous rift between the opposition precedes anything that Maria Corina or Leopoldo do. Es decir, their actions are motivated by that fundamental difference in conceiving what is happening to us right now. It is definitely not the other way around, like the moderate (moralistic works better for me) wing of the opposition wants to guilty us into believing. Instead of shooting the messenger (Maria Corina, Lepoldo), why don’t we discuss and debate what sets us apart?

  20. […] Everybody guessed that a big opposition win in December 6th’s parliamentary election would strain the key relationship between Nicolás Maduro and Diosdado Cabello, his powerful long-time number two (and, according to many, behind-the-scenes-number-one). Apocalyptic scenarios circulated, including our own Andrés Rondón’s theory that Diosdado would leverage a big loss on 6D to get rid of his Toripolloness. […]

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