Nicolás Maduro and Diosdado Cabello may not look eye to eye on most subjects, but they sure seem to agree on one core issue: chavismo must disappear.
After the opposition’s big win on Sunday, it took less than 48 hours for the government to throw all the artillery (pots and pans included) they had, and that we discussed here on the blog. “I told you so” rights do not apply, because it was obvious. Everyone knew they would take it badly, and that they would try to sabotage the new National Assembly (AN), subvert it, gag it, and throw it off of a bridge.
What did surprise me, however, was how fast they went about it.
In just two days, between Maduro and Cabello, they’ve started to put in motion crazy ideas such as the appointment of the Supreme Tribunal justices who will replace those who asked for early retirement, sterilizing the AN per an enabling law, taking away control over ANTV, and establishing a parallel AN through street parliamentarism.
Diosdado’s stance, as usual, is that of the scared beast. When cornered, he attacks with his best weapon: bullying. His message is that he will strip the new AN of as much power as he can, in the name of the people who voted for that same new AN. Sweet little bullfrog. (Although, notice how they have departed from saying that they do what they do “for the people,” to simply speaking of “defending the revolution.”)
Maduro’s strategy is somewhat different. He just loses it. He attacked “el pueblo” like a twelve year old prepubescent child would’ve: “I was going to give you houses, and trust me, I CAN, but… I asked for your help and you didn’t give it to me.” And then he went back to menacing with bloodshed and the like.
These attacks are not directed towards the opposition, they are directed towards chavistas who voted for the opposition because they hate Maduro and Diosdado so damn much, that they decided to betray Chávez’s legacy.
Their biggest threat is actually chavismo itself.
And it’s not just Maduro and Diosdado who people hate, they hate them all. You must’ve seen the videos on election day at the voting centers of prominent leaders of the revolution, where they are supposed to have their core electorate, and people, mostly doñas, just heckled them to hell. It’s hard to think of one high profile PSUV politician people doesn’t hate.
Go to Caracas and ask anyone in the streets of Libertador, what they think of Jorge Rodríguez or Winston Vallenilla —who used to be the most lovable face in national TV—, go ahead and even ask them what they think of the Chávez family. You’ll get a lot of criollo curse words in response, along with “those corrupt bastards destroyed the country.” But invariably, every single time, you will get a “Chávez wouldn’t have let this happen.”
Chavismo will not be going away, and this is something we have to come to terms with and capitalize.
And capitalizing chavismo doesn’t mean fooling chavistas into becoming smolanskistas, it means giving them space within the system, make them love it, and defend it. Many will say that chavismo and whatever the government is are the same thing, but I bet you anything that dealing in the parliament with Pollo Carvajal – who has been signaled as a key player of a military drug cartel-, as opposed to dealing with Héctor Navarro or Nicmer Evans – excruciating as this may be-, is not the same thing.
Right now, chavista “ideologists” have been relegated to the icky pages of Aporrea which, by the way, have been firing gems for the past two days. They are accused of being traitors by PSUV leadership. And they’ve even been getting some love by colectivos, just like what happened to Jorge Giordani and Mr. Navarro when they were about to give a press conference to criticize the path the government has taken.
Myself? I can’t understand chavismo wholly. The only thing I see is a frankenstein of an ideology driven by resentment. And hey, resentment I do understand. Because it’s what I’ve been feeling towards them for many years now.
But I feel that if we don’t get over this, it’s going to come back again and again, in the form of people who know how to manipulate it and those who are manipulated by it, like Diosdado and Maduro. I’d rather save chavismo, know where they are, and have them channel their “locos.” If we’re going to have chavismo for a while, we better make sure the chavistas in charge are chavistas we can actually deal with, and not chavistas that are eventually bound to put a gun to our temple. Ojo, I don’t know how we do that.
The problem here is, for chavismo to be saved, they’re going to have to want to be saved.
And that’s a glitch from its foundation, because the disaster that chavismo is going through is the fault of, you guessed it, Hugo Chávez. He embodied a personalistic cult that wasn’t designed to be sustainable after he passed. Whatever children chavismo had, were destined to come back and have chavismo for lunch.
Go ask Jorge Giordani, one of the midwives of chavismo, who just starred in the best metaphor of what’s been happening to it: After being attacked by colectivos, soaking wet from a bucket of water someone emptied over him from a building, he went to ask for the help of a man in a military uniform: “I was a Minister of Chávez, and I demand your help.” And the man looked at him, turned his back, and got away as fast as he could.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.