Politics, actually

6D will deeply transform Venezuela's political landscape. How? By reintroducing politics into it.

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If you read Caracas Chronicles, there’s a good chance you fancy yourself a political junkie. But we criollo political junkies have led a strange, paradoxical existence these last 16 years: in some ways, we’ve had precious little actual politics to obsess over.

If by politics you understand the art of sitting down together with a bastard whose guts you hate and hashing out a deal that’s better for both of you than no deal, then we’ve really had almost no politics at all since 1999.

Much of chavismo’s appeal was always its rejection of politics, its bedrock commitment to, well, anti-politics. That’s what I was getting at in my previous post when I wrote chavismo couldn’t negotiate.

And in an ontological sense, I stand by that. The moment the-movement-we’ve-all-been-calling-chavismo begins to negotiate, it stops being the same movement in some fundamental sense.

It surrenders its founding idea. It becomes just another political party doing, well, politics.

Deciding to negotiate, in itself, would be transformational: the end of the Chávez era. The most radical idea in the air right now, the one with the most potential to disrupt the status quo is not revolution, or neoliberalism, or salidismo. It’s politics, actually. 

That’s why I’m still skeptical that the governing clique can genuinely negotiate. I don’t think the movement would hold together under the pressure a negotiation would create. But hell, Dorothy and Andrés make a pretty convincing case that the government (or at least some hairy, divinely bestowed players within the government) may conclude they have no choice. And faced with such a scenario, the opposition unquestionably needs a plan.

Dorothy argues that in such a scenario, the real danger is opposition over-reach: staking out a maximalist, atorado, salidista position that sends wavering regime supporters in the military and the civilian bureaucracy back into those hairy arms.

But I think Emiliana’s right to point out that under-reach is at least as big a risk: we could end up very much in the position of a Caribbean Morgan Tsvangirai, the Zimbabwean opposition leader who “negotiated”, joined the government as Prime Minister, brought some measure of economic stability…and extended the Mugabe dictatorship’s lease on power by at least a decade.

MUD can be as emollient as it wants in front of the cameras. (Hell, once it takes over ANTV, there may finally be some cameras for it to be emollient in front of.)

But once those doors shut, it needs to be clear that all it’s really negotiating is how to ease the governing clique out of power without a slide into civil war. Some minimum of order and legality needs to be preserved as Venezuela takes back its government from the genuinely appalling gaggle of drug traffickers, torturers, arbitrageurs and plain old criminals who’ve hijacked it.

And if that sounds like my inner señora de El Cafetal speaking, take a stroll through Aporrea one of these days: a nauseated, visceral revulsion at the shit our governing elite’s been up to these last few years is now as common there as it’s on DolarToday.

An appreciation of the pressing necessity to throw these criminals out of power is no longer the stuff of partisan invective. It’s pretty much a national consensus.

Venezuela faces unique, extreme circumstances. A group of hugely greedy embezzlers and drug traffickers have taken control of the state, bankrupted it, stolen tens of billions of dollars, destroyed the livelihoods of millions of families, and everyone knows it. Despite controlling the state and all its resources and abusing their power daily for a decade and a half to manipulate public opinion, they’re about to lose an election by something like 20 points: a government-ending electoral catastrophe anywhere else in the world.

And we’re worried about overreaching?

Really?

What I know for sure is that the Venezuela we’ll wake up to on December 7th is radically unlike the one we’ve known since 1999. For some of our younger readers, it’ll be the first time they’ve witnessed actual politics in their whole lives.

Shit’s just about to get interesting.

40 COMMENTS

  1. Sometimes Francisco goes straight to the jugular in something he writes without appearing to notice it , what he tells us is that politics is the essence of liberal democracy , a democracy where different voices and views and social segments come together to bargain and negotiate and join in some decisions which affect society as a whole. The starting point is that no free society can presume to hold everyone to a single imposed view of things , there are going to be differences which have to be sorted out and for that you need for certain people , political agents and practitioners , to engage in politics and figure out how to make decisions that all or most groups in that society feel holds some advantage to them even if they don’t get all they would like .

    Problem is that if you have one group which through sheer numbers take total command of collective decisions then the temptation will be great to ignore all others and do everything with unilateral ruthlessness. and even take some arrogant pride in doing so.

    For politics and democracy to work you have to make sure achieving a big mayority doenst go to your head and make you think you have been crowned absolute monarch or ruler , that you still have to abide by a rule of basic political civility which binds you to work with others in reaching the broadest consensus possible in all the decisions you propose to take .

    If you are a liberal democrat you don’t seek to broaden the basis of political support for those decisions you propose because you HAVE TO , but because it is in the spirit of respect for others who share the life of a society with you You WANT TO. and for that you need to pursue that much misunderstood endevour which is politics.

  2. The discussion around what December 7th will bring has been engaging and thoughtful – Kudos to Caracas Chronicles! I have noticed, however, that some of the discussion leans toward a kind of premature triumphalism as a result of what the polls are saying on a significant majority for the MUD. Nothing would make me happier than a real change in Venezuela and without a doubt my family there share my sentiment too. I wonder though if a significant win for the opposition in the National Assembly will really translate into a ‘transition’ to something other than an adjustment in the regime that will allow it to press on with its madness. I think the current regime (‘chavismo’, ‘madurismo’ or what have you) is characterized by something other than ontological essentialism, and rather by an uncanny ability to shift and morph, and especially so through changing the rules of the game by whatever means necessary. I recall watching an interview with J J Rendón prior to the past presidential election in Venezuela (which seems like an eternity ago) in which Rendón was convinced that Capriles would win by a significant margin. I acknowledge that the upcoming election is a different scenario, but it is also only a parliamentary election in a country that unlike Canada, for example, a win by the opposition will not automatically mean a change in government.

  3. When the negotiation occurs, I think Chavismo will lose what is left from the crappy cheap romanticism (as romantic as the reggaeton, though) around the images of “Chavez The Supreme Savior and his Revolucion”. The first one is dead, and the second one… Well, let’s say that if you called yourself a revolutionary, you don’t sit and chat with escualidos.

    They’re on the highway to hell, pam pam.

  4. LL’ s spirited piece in FP certainly ups the ante and also warns of and anticipates the potential shinanigans the regime may resort to after D6. The tone of the LL piece is remarkably defiant yet balanced and sincere; it surely increases LL’s political capital and heft for someone who must be enduring unimaginable conditions in prison.

  5. I think we are confusing two separate issues. Yes, these Chavistas are led by a nasty group of criminals. However, the main issue has only to do with a single economic issue, which is that you can’t expect domestic producers to sell their products below cost! That has to be agreed to first before anything else!

  6. Francisco from your lips to god’s ear. I hope is that you are right, you are very optimistic in that things will get better. I think people tend to disagree with you because they don’t want to be hurt again and is easier and less hurtful to be pessimistic and think that you will be wrong.

  7. The photo that leads this post is an interesting yet understandable choice. On the other hand, it seems to hearken back to a bygone and formative era of Venezuelan politics with a certain nostalgia and perhaps wish for a return to days when politics were true rather that the aberration that we’ve experienced for the last 16 years. I wonder if the return to ‘true politics’ is or is not to far from don Quixote’s wish for the return of the bygone era of chivalric knighthood when everyone
    followed the set rules of engagement as expected. The era of chavismo is far from a golden age but like it or not it is part of the political history of Venezuela and of Latin America, and a large part of what an opposition majority in the National Assembly will face is how to deal with the radical transformation in the political field during the last 16 years.

  8. The Ancient Greeks already showed and theoretically discussed about one of the key elements of democracy, one that apparently even political commentators don’t discuss these days, as they only seem to be interested in elections and, at most, and only sometimes, about some vague sense of state of law.

    The key elements those Ancient Greeks talked about is real debate. They obviously knew those debates were more a thing for the voters than a mechanism for any of the debate partners to convince the other.

    During the time of Enlightenment debates flourished again in the UK and they spread from there in waves to other countries. Unfortunately, they hardly took root in Spanish societies and much less of all in countries with medieval mentalities even among its top, countries like Venezuela, Here, even the self-called intellectual elite was not very keen or instructed in the manners of political debate.

    And that is why I really was hoping for the opposition to insist on the continuation of the OPEN and very primitive attempt at a debate between the regime and the opposition. It only happened once and the vast majority of people saw the regime came up extremely bad in spite of the fact the opposition was not precisely a bunch of Demostenes or Disraelis.

    But then almost everyone, from those supporting the opposition to, more decidedly, the regime, thought there should be no other attempt at such open, real time discourse…they moved to closed doors and then
    it became, as Ancient Greeks knew would happen, a waste of time and then completely dropped.

    Those among the proto-democrats of our Medieval opposition thought at most “it is not worth it, pa qué?”
    Most among the regime thought: “no, no, what’s this? We don’t talk to them” or, secretly, “oh, eh, it seems we are making an arse of ourselves, people are laughing about us”.

    We should have kept trying…not because there is an actual chance of a real debate but because we have to show to everyone, including Yubiley Rodríguez and José Pacheco, that the regime cannot hold what Ancient Greeks considered elementary part of a democracy: an actual, NON FIGURATIVE debate.

    I have talked about this with people who were Chavistas and who have never gone out of Venezuela, who don’t know what a tourist visa is or even hold a passport. I have talked about this with the average Venezuelan. And here we again have the opportunity to force the regime to show it has no clothes.

    We need to force them time after time to show to anyone they cannot really debate.

    • Excellent reflexion , debate is at the heart of any free democracy , its putting ones capacity to productively reason and argue with ones opponents on the line which requires a self discipline a sense of intellectual respect for your opponents , a civility, a humility , a self confidence which unfortunately not every one possesses. Chavez never engaged in debates , he always spoke from the pulpit of his own pretentious and beligerent self righteousness…….a toxic form of discourse that is stapple in all Chavista leaders, they do not debate and never have , they always polemize and insult and threaten !! its the only discourse they know ……and unfortunately for democratic discourse to happen you need a willlingness on the other side to open itself up to a rational debate ……..absent that they cannot participate in the life of a democracy.

      As the saying goes it takes two to tango….

  9. There are just too many possibilities to guess what will happen, we can only do our duty and and deal with anxiety, in any case shit is about to get real for the goverment

  10. Here, here!

    Man, this thing might actually work…

    Truly, the thing I hope we are able to leave behind the most is the dumb flashy propaganda style. I wish politics could fade into the background and do actual work.

    I will be satisfyied with our political maturity the da this slogan isn’t insane:

    PRIVATIZE THE OIL INDUSTRY!

    Ah… One can dream!

  11. I wholeheartedly agree with the whole approach that even Chavistas hate Maduro and Godgiven (by the way not with the same intensity). The piece I am missing is the factor that a good chunk of Chavistas will rather pardon the misgivings of the current government rather than give up to bring the right back to power. Call it dying with “las botas puestas”.

    Quico is factoring the hate against Maduro but I think is missing the hate for the 4th which could run as deep for the left. I may reflect that thought with the boyos of Marea Socialista and their attempt to be the righteous Chavistas within the Polo Patriotico.

    The true Chavistas will not give up their dream on promises by the MUD. Right at this moment they are in soul searching mode to find the successor, the true hijo de Chavez that will carry on the project. Very few Chavistas blame Chavez for the FUBAR economy albeit Maduro made it a lot worse. Even when Giordani basically threw Chavez under the bus and discharged what he had in his chest on a selfish attempt to save himself, the Chavista movement disenfranchise him in no time. The memory of the comandante remains powerful and a lot of people will defend it to the bitter end.

    Thus I tend to believe that rather than provide an alternative, the MUD AN will, at least at the beginning, bring cohesion to the Chavista movement and the consequences of that are still unknown.

  12. It would be interesting to see how chavizmo attempts to grab a 52% of the seats with like 30% of the votes and the reaction of the opposition, if it wasn’t for the pathetic precedent of 2005, where chavizmo was ALLOWED to install their congress with FIFTEEN PERCENT (15%) of the votes.

    • 85% en contra > que 65% en contra.

      Also, there weren’t nearly as much colectivos out there, nor they were nearly as well armed and organized as now, just to mention ONE factor.

      People went and did their part of the deal by not voting, and then the so-called leadership basically said “mmm, better not” and never mentioned the issue again.

      Why?

      Because they NEGOTIATED with the regime.

      Claiming that “now the stuff’s gonna be good, because we ARE MORE now!” because you have barely more than 60%, is a ridiculous “overstatement” (If that word exists)

      Bájate de esa nube, que si no pasó nada con 85% en contra del gobiernito, nada les impide meter su fraudecito de “mayoría de diputados con 30% de los votos gracias al gerrymandering”

      • Better not WHAT? What where they in a position to do, exactly?

        The whole thing was a fanatic whim that a bunch of scared people followed, only to wake up after election day and understand that no fucking body is going on to the streets to topple anything. We venezuelans are SMARTER than that.

        The set-up was so silly and full of fear. “We won’t vote because it’s illegitimate.” “And then what?” “IT’S ILLEGITIMATE!!!!”

        • “Better not WHAT? ”

          “Better not let the regime to make true of their promise of tossing our asses in a cell if we don’t drop this whole ‘illegitimate congress of 15%’ crap. Also, the guisos, dude”

          It’s a known fact that the so-called leaders were threatened to the point they decided to sweep the whole affair under the rug.

          You think people was a bunch of scared kittens in 2k5? Think again, man, ’cause nowadays ten years later people has MANY more tangible reasons to be pants-shittingly scared of the regime.

          Besides, I go again at the first part of my post: “85% in 2k5 > 65% in 2015”

          What does stop the regime from commiting a colossal fraud of getting their majority with the 35% of votes? We have TWENTY PERCENT LESS people than in 2005, They are even straight up killing people in meetings to scare voters, come on. They can just go and say “We have majority, now shut the fuck up or we’ll kill al of you”, and what could the opposition do against that? Threaten them about the fabled 65% against them?

          I’m not saying that people should abstain from voting now, in fact, I’m encouraging people to go and vote, because I know that people will get pissed when they know their will has been used as a newspaper by a diarrhea-ridden dog and the voting might be a catalyst to follow it with protests that force the regime’s arm.

          And also, before some moron comes and screech “if you want to protest go alone and get killed, because we’re not your cannon fodder!”, well, mr. smartypants, I’ve never told people that protesting would be a walk on the park, I’ve reminded them that protesting is the HARDEST and MOST DANGEROUS of the ways of fighting back against the regime.

          • You didn’t answer my question. Are you saying protesting would have been an effective tool to… Well, you haven’t quite defined yet to do WHAT exactly, either.

            Sure FEELS good to protest, though. Put together one of those shindigs myself back in RCTV days. Ran away from enough trucks, it was all quite fun, to be honest. Didn’t achieve a goddamn thing but increase polarization, though. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I still thought like a teenager after all those experiences.

          • Back in the RCTV days, it was still the only way for up and coming politicians to make a name for themselves, the entire new generation was formed in those protests.

            But I agree with Quico. Now, when we finally have an in for actual politics, are we really going to burn palm trees by the side of the carreteras again?

            Further, those protests were an act of desperate helplessness. We thought we would make a difference because the avarage age was 16. But the instance you are referring to was a bunch of old people who should have known better, who we can comfortably call fools for giving up the AN.

          • “You didn’t answer my question.”

            I answered in the first 5 lines of my reply, stop trying to olimpically jump stuff that you don’t want to face. All the coordinadora democrática heads were offered cozy cells in the worst prisons if they continued with their fantasies about toppling the regime, they said, reasonabily “Better not” and acted like having a congress with 15% of votes was something legal anywhere.

            “Are you saying protesting would have been an effective tool to… Well, you haven’t quite defined yet to do WHAT exactly, either.”

            The goal was to force the regime to redo the elections with manual means. I know many people still believe that thing about the machines just being “expensive pencils” which not only sounds ridiculous and cheesy, but basically equals to burying your head on the ground on the strongest part of the fraud system, because simply “máquina mata voto”, also, not all the machines are audited, just 54%, people should stop claiming that all the boxes are counted, because it’s a stupid lie.

            “Sure FEELS good to protest…”

            Speak for yourself, risking your ass against the fucktard círculos de la muerte then and now against the colectivos isn’t a game. See? This is what I criticize about how protests have been used in Venezuela, people constantly are trying to see a protest as just some stupid bailoterapia, a means to do catharsis and “unload your angry” (“descargar la arrechera”), like some walk on your garden, where you are cozy and safe and no one will even say anything nasty to you; and the so-called leaders in opposition have been feeding that stupid lie to people during this whole regime fiasco since 2002, they constantly claim “just walk, whistle and chant, they won’t do anything because we are not provoking!” and “don’t fall in provocations, when you get kicked in the face, just put the other cheek!”, and then you ask why people doesn’t want to protest anymore.

            I said before, protests are the most dangerous way to face the regime, because even if you perform the BEST defensive maneuver, which is to run the fuck off when the gunfire rains, you’re still risking your life there.

            “Didn’t achieve a goddamn thing but increase polarization,”

            Remember the “victoria de mierda” when the corpse lost in 2007.

            “…actual politics…”

            I admire your soaring spirits to believe something so naive like chavizmo actually conceding something after this elections, where they have 20% more of people supporting them than they had in 2005.

          • You can’t fool ME, I’ve been there, remember? It’s risking your life for an ideal that feels good and exciting, not blowing a whistle. I suspect people like you might cost us some blood and political capital yet. You have no idea the harm you did with the 27f, not internationally where Venezuela became another pet cause for the gringos like the nefarious Arab Spring, but inside Venezuela the effects were disasterous, dividing, annoying, and derroche of political capital. Chavistas that were then considering their stance were snapped right back by the obscenity of such a childishly destructive movement.

            Anyway, good luck, hope you don’t die in one of those (mostly because it would imply an escalation that would suck, and be your fault).

          • “It’s risking your life for an ideal that feels good and exciting,”

            Again, speak for yourself, risking oneself’s life is NEVER exciting, that’s the stupid excuse isaías “fiscal lee-mentes” rodríguez had for the protests, “They do it because they do catharsis and to impress girls”

            “…I suspect people like you might cost us some blood and political capital yet…”

            People “like you” what? Violent? Vindictive? Not comeflor? Or not content with having to lose half of their fucking lives to a destructive dictatorship while having no chance at all to do zilch to change stuff, just because the rest of people just doesn’t want to go outside their comfort zone and thus prefer to take shit from the regime for 50 more years? Sure, bro, whatever foats your boat.

            “You have no idea the harm you did with the 27f,”

            I was 5 during the plunderings of 27F, but almost got killed with half of my family by the putrid choros who tried to get in our way when we were going home, thanks. Or perhaps another member of my family who almost got killed by the same motherfuckers who enjoyend GUNNING people in lines in the days after those robberies.

            “…not internationally where Venezuela became another pet cause for the gringos…”

            Well, you’ve got some chip with USA, so that explains a lot of your attitude, some ridiculous and stupid trauma about being a “gringo colony” bullshit.

            “…like the nefarious Arab Spring…”

            Tell that to the people that were seriously fed up of being starving in the streets while their local dictators carpet-bombed their neighborhoods for the funz.

            “Chavistas that were then considering their stance ”

            Let me tell you somehing about the average chavizta: They will NEVER stop being chavizta. It’s a matter of just blind and stupid pride for them, they’ll make up ANY excuse to justify their pro-commie stance, one could write a whole door-stopper with every excuse I’ve heard from chaviztas since 17 years ago.

            “…were snapped right back by the obscenity of such a childishly destructive movement.”

            chaviztas will never consider any other thing than to keep lamenting and whining for the rest of their lives about their lost demigod and how he was tragically “betrayed”, because their underlying reason is that they will never admidt they made the worst mistake of their entire lives voting by that putrefaction during a decade and half.

            Way to miss the target, man, but, it’s useless to waste more thinking power in this issue, if the victim blaming makes you feel that good, go ahead and eat all the rubbish that pustv has spewed during this time, about “how the sifrinos were just throwing hissy fag fits and how they deserve to be murdered for that”.

          • “…Leopoldo Lopez’ fun adventure…”

            Again, you miss the target, product of the brutal chaburro misinformation campaign, la salida was not orchestrated nor masterminded by LL, it was a series of uncontrolled, spontaneous protests that begun in Táchira after a woman almost got raped by vielma “gocho = sabañón” mora’s bodyguards and his wife tried to incinerate the governor’s house.

            And again, you keep believing that somehow ANY sign of protest would “give reasons to chaburros not to switch sides”, then go and read Nagel’s article “Pax Chavista”, because the guy nailed the subject with surgical precision, any show of non-complacency nor total submission, ANY display of free will, will be treated as the highest, most offensive and punishable by death affront.

            chavizmo should be on its knees crying of joy for having got the softest opposition on the whole of Venezuela’s history.

  13. […] ベネズエラはこれまでの約17年間、今回のような政府が国全体をコントロールできていない状況に直面したことがありません。ベネズエラが向かっているのは、いわばテラ・インコグニタ(未知の世界)なのです。騒動や暴力は十分にありえることです。ですが、政府と野党側のいちかばちかの本格的な政治交渉もまた現実的な可能性のひとつです。そして政権の完全崩壊の可能性もまた、完全に除外することはできません。これは面白くなりそうです。 […]

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