As the end of a short but tumultuous campaign for tomorrow’s Legislative Election draws to an end, there’s a nervous edge to Caracas. Everybody can see the most radical chavistas are not likely to digest bad news well. It bears asking what  the MUD could do to defuse a violent reaction from a tiny but very extreme and well armed fringe within the pro-government movement. 

On October 13th, Nicolás Maduro said that Chavismo had to win the legislative elections “no matter what”. Ever since, the tone for the Gran Polo Patriótico’s campaign has been of relentless intimidation. And given the latest eruption of violence in this rather short campaign, it looks like their most radical wing has gotten its como sea marching orders.

Let’s not forget how the campaign started: four violent incidents in the first 48 hours. By the time the second week of the campaign was about to end, a total of seven violent incidents had taken place across the country.

Remember when Diosdado told us Chavez had been a dam holding back the “crazy ideas” chavismo could come up with? I do. This weekend, we can be sure, will see them thinking lots of crazy ideas. It’s not pretty.

For the government’s most extreme and violent supporters, 6D could look like the beginning of the end. We’re not talking about a lot of people, we’re talking about the farther reaches of of the bell-curve, the 0.5% of armed, lunatic chavistas.

These are people who’ve made a career out of the anarchy – the colectivos chavismo itself helped foster, for instance. They are well aware that la guachafita is more at risk of ending once new tenants arrive at the Capitolio than if the current ones stay, and that usual antics might not be enough this time around.

Unless, by some miracle, institutionality prevails and the Armed Forces steps in to prevent a massacre, the MUD is pretty much on its own. If the unthinkable is ordered, la #Tropa can count on impunity. It knows it can.

It all leaves you wondering: how far are they willing to go?

By the time you’re gunning down rival activists in political rallies, what would stop you from going all out on December 6th?  Given how far behind they are in the generic ballot question, at what point does setting loose their guns look better to them than accepting? Losing a simple majority to the opposition? The 102nd seat? The all-out two-thirds majority?

Now, a few days before the election, the police director of Sucre Municipality (Petare, in Eastern Caracas) was detained by the secret police, SEBIN and the general director of Maturín, one of the hotspots in this election, was held captive in his office by a bolivarian syndicate. Tension has always been a part of the dynamic in the final days before elections. But chavismo had never headed into an election lagging so badly behind in the polls.

The question that keeps popping up, however, is at what point is this really necessary? Will they allow basic cohabitation with an opposition controlled National Assembly? How about a situation where the MUD deputies have actual power, because there’s 100+ of them? Will they go all out Reichstag on their ass?

No vale, yo no creo” just won’t cut it here. The Dakazo was a direct hit on what till then was a sort of threshold regarding the little private property left. The over the top reaction to #LaSalida proved that power was to be held, no matter what the cost. Why is this different? Qué es un Rubicon más pa’ un tigre?

The neurotic chase for power has led them to delve deeper and deeper down a rabbit hole at the end of which you find yourself whacking people to avoid losing a curul in Altagracia de Orituco. That they’ll crank up the violence by orders of magnitude following a humiliating collapse is, at the very least, a scenario we can’t afford not to consider.

The ability to be surprised is something you keep rediscovering in contemporary Venezuela. It’s not as much fun as it sounds. Yesterday’s worst case scenario becomes today’s new normal with frightening regularity. And for a country with little food left, rampant inflation and a crippling economic crisis, the stakes are as high as can be.

MUD needs to plan for every contingency, and especially for this one. It may not be the likeliest, but given its implications, it’s not one we can allow to catch us unaware. MUD’s top leaders should be discussing with the three key players that could defuse a situation: chavismo’s leaders, the Armed Forces and its own crowd.

The top players in chavismo have nothing to gain from a violent scenario. Their reputation is as tarnished as can be, the country’s situation is frantic enough, and a perception of sore losers would harm the loyalty of their most reasonable followers; the kind that, if do vote for them and hear about blood being spilled might gasp out in regret “dear God, what have I done?”.

The Armed Forces, while hardly an easy crowd to work with, do maintain a sense of formal duty that their training instills in them. Even if in residual form. They know they’re meant to put the homeland before anything else, and they cannot stand idly by while large-scale bloodletting grips the country. They are trained to kill in the name of Venezuela. MUD has to understand how powerful a negotiating card this can be as they face the Generals, as it’s almost the equivalent of bringing up their mother. Innocent civilians dying not only leaves them as accomplices of the deaths, but it also leaves a bitter taste of failing that what they love dearest.

To their voters, MUD cannot put on another face than that of resilience. No matter what, cada voto cuenta. If chavismo is going to step up its game, MUD has to be ready. With this much at stake, those new MUD supporters must be introduced to the fine art of staying in the voting center until each papeleta is tallied.

Every call the MUD makes between the voting centers closing and the “Baranda Time” mindset kicks in is a call that indeed could prevent escalation and unnecessary turbulence.

It’s in their hands, not PSUV heavyweights, that the confrontation doesn’t escalate. The way they address all crises, deal with the actors involved and, for once, act as the newly elected majority will gain them the political relevance they ought to have. Winning is pointless if they prove spineless.

 

11 COMMENTS

  1. Can you give us the web page to register at to make sure that the cedula’s of people outside the country aren’t used by the chavistas to vote in their name.

  2. There is also a non-violent scenario post 6D that worries me and I haven’t read much discussion about it to date. My concern is about the power the PSUV has to bring the economy to a halt through a PDVSA strike and/or the disruption of the food supply chains.

    I’m assuming the PSUV has there most dedicated followers in key positions (management/distribution within PDVSA, at the ports and through the state run food agencies) to be able to cause maximum disruption without the use of colectivos or the military.

    Does anyone else think this is likely to happen given the PSUV obsession with the ‘economic war’ and how could the opposition handle it should it occur?

    • Sounds too complicated to carry out, they can just resort to a media bombimg like they’ve done the last years with the “economic war” bullshit, after all, their most rabid and zealous followers are the most gullible too.

      Or they can save troubles and tweak the numbers in the election day, after all, it’s impossible to get witnesses on ALL the voting centers, moreso when there are several of those getting moved aroud collecting false votes, or inside misión vivienda or inside prisons.

      The scenario I’m thinking will be the most likely to happen is, that chavizmo makes their cheat of getting 60-70% of seats with their less than 30% of votes (they did in 2005 with less than 15%), argue that they have majority and that’s “irreversible” and that bullshit, the MUD guys will make some noise, but it’ll happen exactly what happened with maburro’s so-called victory: The issue’ll be swept under a rug in a couple of days.

  3. In my opinion, only the military can bring order to Venezuela’s anarchic chaos post-election, whether outwardly or behind-the-scenes, since the only other major game-changer, public uprising, doesn’t seem to be in the cards for now.

  4. Hopefully, strict orders will be passed down:

    “If you hear shots, get the fuck out of there.”

    None of this is worth dying over. Better let it be another leg the gvt. knocks out from under itself politically.

    Not that spilling one’s blood for a true cause is a bad thing, but the stakes aren’t high enough for THAT sacrifice yet. Actually, if the MUD allowed any such blood to be spilled, they would quickly turn this from “taming the beast” to “fighting a monster.” I know which scenario I prefer.

  5. What you just said is what some of us pretty much wake up at night thinking these past few days. To just add to that worry, I am afraid the violence does not mainly come from a .5% group of chavista crazies. I think chavismo is essentially, in many places, the political wing of organized crime and gangs. If the result of a vote interferes with their business, that can be a big problem. You see it all over the region (Jamaica, Haiti, Mexico, Colombia), but like so many things, Venezuela seems to have the problem now in a highly concentrated and unchecked form.

    And the military…if they’re not learning about how escualidos are the enemies of the people, they’re busy building a narco-state. That high ranking tio we all know about (and have never met) who is still a good soldier and will do the right thing?…if he ever existed, he’s retired. He’s sitting at home with a bunch of beer in the fridge and a revolver on his kitchen table.

  6. So what I am reading from this comments is that you guys are pretty much giving in again to Maduro and his group of bullies…..
    That is exactly what they are doing; they are scaring the shit out of 60% of the population into giving up ownership of the country one more time…….
    I don’t think any revolution or war was won by not engaging the other side….
    As far as I am concerned the Maduro regime has waged a war against any person with an opposing view; killing them or jailing them or “inabilitandolos”

  7. One thing that didn’t allow Argentina to become Venezuela is their low homicide rate, they couldn’t intimidate the people there in the same way done in Venezuela. We can see clearly why all these communist parties in South America do everything in their reach to foster crime, and then use the end-result, this new force conceived, to hunt their enemies down and solidify their power.

    The 5 pre-conditions for a Bolivarian dictatorship to be successful:

    1-widespread violence, anyone can be killed anytime;
    2-small and fragile civil society, no one will scream to save you when the time arrives;
    3-most of the population are poor, they are more worried about their daily meals;
    4-fragile governamental institutions ready to become instruments of the party;
    5-a population indoctrinated to accept immorality as normal when done by the left: “they kill and steal, but it’s for the greater good of the nation, they care about the poor. I’m a socialista too!”

    Argentina doesn’t have only 1 and 3, and it was enough. Good luck, Venezuela!

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