Raúl Stolk – our Raúl Stolk – in the New York frikkin’ Times Op-Ed page this morning:

It was a historic win: More than 74 percent of Venezuelans voted — up from 66 percent in the last parliamentary election — and 112 of the National Assembly’s 167 seats went to the opposition coalition, giving it the coveted supermajority. But before the opposition celebrates its success, it would do well to look back at the last 17 years since President Hugo Chávez, Mr. Maduro’s predecessor and ideological godfather, took power.

The “Chavistas” have proved again and again that they are democrats when they win a vote and authoritarians when they lose. It would be surprising if things were different this time around. Indeed, the opposition-controlled National Assembly may be powerless before its term even begins if the government decides to try to cripple it.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Oh my, that was excellent. Venezuela’s economic downturn is moving from bad to catastrophic by the day. Raul is right. This is different. They lost, big time. Any brazen attempt to manipulate the levers of political power by the Chavista’s will bring even more hatred and discontent. This is a whole new ballgame.

    • No it is not. They still hold the weapons and the military are in deep s$#t with the drug trafficking, the bachaqueo and the other things that are traditional to them: overpriced weaponry and shady acquisitions of it (Russian contracts anyone?).

      Thus, the still hold few more cards and they will play them or you think Godgiven will go down without a fight??

      Ah, I forgot about the Cubans, count that as well..oh wait, the just got in appeasement with the gringos, what Obama would do if the Cubans support a cold and/or semi-legal coup?. Probably nothing as he is busy with ISIS.

  2. I have to confess my guilty pleasure these days: read aporrea. Get a good cup of java, sit back and read some of their pieces. Priceless.

  3. Just what I’ve been thinking all along. Call me amargado, but there’s the reason why I haven’t been able to jump up and down with the Unidad victory… That, and a nasty cold.

    • Apparently those 3 indigena seats are to caucus with MUD, and there are two races that arent called. That would make up the 112 that at least Venevision keeps throwing around. Anyone has similar information?

  4. Maduro is dumb which makes him dangerous. As his intellect only allows him to be a bad copy of Chavez, he will probably do what Raul thinks is the worst case scenario. He just won legitimacy so that political capital is fresh and can be used..pardon my English, it will be used.

    And if you don’t like it, come a talk to my AK-47 (ala Scarface)…

    There is so much at stake and so many military and government people involved in so many scandals that popping the “olla de mondongo” with the new AN is just too dangerous.

    Seriously, or you didn’t notice the not so subliminal message of the entire “high command” in fatigue uniform behind Padrino Lopez every time the Defense Minister was in TV addressing the “Plan Republica”.

    • Hi Colomine,

      I am getting the same sense of a souring mood in Chavista’s rank that you and Raul note. Cabello’s blaming traitors for his loss or the menacing titles at Aporrea:

      “El pueblo saltó la talanquera y se fue con los golpistas ”


      “Maduro puede disolver la Asamblea Nacional, dado el caso en defensa de los trabajadores, Art. 236 num 21 de la C. B.”

      I would not be surprised if they went all scarface on us, albeit a suicide move after the rebuke they have received.

      • Yes, the Aporrea boyos already looking for alternatives and this time perhaps Maduro may read their thoughts.

        I would like to call myself optimistically cautious and I tend to think that everything will be fine. However, I can’t but think that this is a government of gangsters were legal based reasoning (as of the opposition’s AN proposal) is as good as used toilet paper.

        Yeap, it may be suicide but the degree of probability will go hand to hand on how much they value their self preservation in power or have a modicum of chance that the revolution may survive this time. Got your answer already?, they know that these two do not go hand to hand.

        Seeing Maduro and Godgiven resume so far, I may put may money on that they would rather torch the country and flee to the Bahamas before fighting the new AN on fair and legal basis. Heck, they already did just that at the PSUV, they alienated the true Chavistas to impose their model and they did not look down at former untouchables and wannabes, they did it to their own people, to the “other” Chavez sons!.

        But, who knows, they may think that Peronistas still survive and sometime strive in Argentina, hence Chavistas can actually think that power alternation is just part of a healthy democracy. Now that require some level of statesmanship that…jajaja, shut I can’t keep writing..

        Who am I to fabricate those doom day scenarios…

    • They are like a bunch of monkeys designing strategies, and maybe this statement looks naive but is not at all, take a look:

      what kind of really dumb makes an election, gets more than 40% of votes and only takes 30% of seats?

      They could do nothing to avoid the election (hmm), they could not change the system, really? the system used last sunday was against the constitucion, they only needed to ammend the mistake ¨but they didn´t because they are cheaters¨, thanks 15 monkeys less, if not,

      what had happen if:

      they announced the results with only part of the data just after closing time, ¨best system in the world¨, saying opp won instead of announcing: ¨extensión del horario hasta que me dé la gana para hacer trampa¨, then 100 seats to the opp would be enough to calm down everybody (conceding an useless assembly) and by then, free from the pressure, made the tricks to revert one of the races,

      what really happened:

      announced that the opp won the assembly after a long wait of speculations: ¨they are stealing the seats¨ ¨the system is a crap¨, and then continue con más leña al fuego, adding: that there were still enough seats open, everybody thought ¨opp has easily won the supermajority¨, then left all the world suspecting that they were avoiding that with another abusive delay and finally two days later, giving up the supermajority, the one with the real power, and this time they didn´t announce it, and with that, they concede another political triumph to the opp:¨the gap was so big they couldn´t reduce it anymore¨ and ¨the pressure from the people forced them to surrender¨,

      if somebody wants the govt to bust, please do nothing!

  5. Like many families, mine was split between the Chavista camp and the opposition camp over the last decade. However, all of the Chavistas in my network voted for the opposition. Why? Because the country is coming apart at the seams. Everyone has trouble finding food. Parents of opposition and Chavista children all have trouble finding even basic medicine for children. We are all victims of crime.

    What did Maduro and godgiven give us? Those in power blamed the US, they blamed entrepreneurs, and they never blamed themselves. Instead, they yelled hateful rhetoric that threatened. They jailed opposition politicians for peaceful protest. They clearly stole from the collective coffers, gave lots of jobs to family members, and were engaged with the drug trade. It didn’t sit will with my Chavista family members. My brother in law, who so clearly sided with Chavez in the early days, now claims to have always been with the opposition. They are embarrassed that they were ever associated with this gang of thugs in power who so abused their positions.

    I think they could have won if they wouldn’t have overreached. If they would have been more open to compromise and discourse. If they wouldn’t have been rude and nasty. If they would have been more moral. if they would have actually been competent guardians of our economy and government. Some still believe in the Chavista socialist dream. But the reality is that the dream is tainted for generations by the corruption and impunity of the current leadership team.

    • All peoples in the region are very susceptible to fall in the “socialist dream” trap, if a candidate says that he will “help the poor”, the people’s eyes already start to get teary and their hearts to race, they don’t bother with the how, just with the goals.

      Unfortunately, if we don’t understand that socialism can’t function without violating people’s rights and freedom, we are doomed to repeat the same mistake every five years, and only wake up when there’s no food in the table anymore, just to repeat the same again.

  6. Kudos, Raul! Excellent summary and congratulations for getting it published in the NY Times.

    Indeed, this could still go south on us. Maduro and Cabello have been very silent, so far. Formulating strategy? Sulking? Hard to say. What concerns me more is that the Opposition has not yet announced anything of substance. The need to maintain their momentum. In order to do that, they need to present their agenda very soon.

    • “What concerns me more is that the Opposition has not yet announced anything of substance. The need to maintain their momentum. In order to do that, they need to present their agenda very soon.”
      My concern as well. How would the people take the news that benefits have to be cut, that ministries have to be reduced in numbers and employees, that the lines will continue for a while because there is no money to import and local production will take a while to recover, etc, etc, etc.?

      • That is Maduro’s job. Let him make the hard economic decisions. Concentrate on political things, amnesty law, grilling ministers, investigate corruption.

  7. “…If he cares about the country’s future, he will sit down with the opposition…”
    I’ll mark your words in this great line, Mr. Stolk!

    For me, IMO, its so clear that he/ they will not!

  8. Wise counsel. I can see the AN being divested of its power even as it becomes the scapegoat for all the nasty decisions that have been forestalled for this election. And oil continues to drop….

    Having said that, yes, Aporrea is worth a read. They want ACCOUNTABILITY dammit!

    • From what I understand, and I am not a Constitutional Scholar by any stretch, the current assembly can do many things between now and Jan 5, but thereafter the new assembly can put to rights anything the old one does.

      Also, we must remember that many of the wounds to the Constitution these perps committed were allowed to proceed because they felt they had the backing of El Pueblo.

      That political luxury is theirs no longer. If they persist this will really set things to burn.

      That being said, the question is :Do they have the stones to go that far?

      Before you answer”Sure they do!” remember that sometimes “El tiro les sale por la culata”

      I am cautiously optimistic that they will choose to let the MUD hoist itself by its own petard.

      We’re broke, sick and our spouse beats us, but where there’s a will there’s a way.

      One thing for sure, the MUD needs to be as vigilant as they ever were and not make any plans for a Christmas break (I hope)

  9. I remember reading here at CC that you can steal an election if you’re within the margin of error. The same doesn’t apply if you’re +2 million votes behind; public mandate still carries weight in Venezuela.

    • I wonder how many seats PSUV picked up by keeping the polls open several [?] hours after the official closing time. Do we have some policy wonks that can figure that out?

      • the closest race was lost by them by 80 votes so i don´t think they stole any seat after 6 pm, the 6D, the tricks were made during the day (ghost voters, operación morrocoy, etc.) and during the campaign (Canaimita Madness, massive Propaganda and so on),

        for sure they tried but maybe they didn´t figure it out,

  10. Reading Juan Nagel on Twitter I picked up on a conversation between Juan and Manuel @ruedareport

    On Manuel’s Twitter account he states ‘District 3 Aragua St which could give MUD crucial 2/3rds assembly majority includes Colonia Tovar “German” town’.

    Then reading the English Wikipedia page about Colonia Tovar it states ‘Settlers arrived in Palmar del Tuy on April 8, 1843, 112 days after leaving Baden. That day is considered the foundation day of Colonia Tovar’


    112! Prescient?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here