This weekend, the línea handed down through state media was clear enough: the opposition National Assembly can refuse us Emergency Powers all it wants, we’re going ahead anyway. Here’s Diosdado saying “the people” will approve the Emergency Decree on the streets. Here’s Maduro declaring himself officially ‘in rebellion’ over the decree. Here’s Pedro Carreño claiming all they really need to implement it is the Supreme Tribunal’s approval, which they have. Here’s Jorge Rodríguez freelancing himself new constitutional powers to approve the decree. 

You can fault chavismo of a lot of things, but lack of message discipline is not one of them.

It’s a bit disappointing. The whole brouhaha over the Economic Emergency Decree turned out to be just the Nth chavista approach to the thorny problem of nullifying December 6th’s election.

In fact, the whole play was almost infantile in its simplicity:

  1. Unilaterally hand down some crazy ass decree full of measures you know perfectly well can never be acceptable to the new Assembly majority.
  2. Refuse to defend it in public.
  3. Sit tight and wait for the Assembly to, inevitably, vote it down.
  4. Declare the Assembly illegitimate for having voted it down.

Time was when chavismo showed a bit more tactical shrewdness. Back when José Vicente Rangel was running the government’s tactical game, you might have expected a decree carefully balanced between semi-reasonable sounding measures aimed at peeling off the moderate Capriles/H. Falcón wing of the opposition alongside poison pills meant to alienate the more radical wing. Done properly, the Economic Emergency Decree could’ve been turned into a wedge, seeding real discord inside the MUD caucus.

Those days are past, though. Instead, we got an Economic Emergency Decree so plainly over-the-top it brought the MUD caucus together into ever tighter alignment. With zero sugar to make the medicine go down, no sweeteners that might have tempted at least someone in the MUD caucus to take it seriously as something whose passage wasn’t self-evidently insane, the decree produced a lull rather than a flare-up in the never-entirely-overcome radicals vs. moderates war inside MUD.

In other words, chavismo isn’t just making strategic blunders at this point. It’s making tactical mistakes, too.


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  1. “Attention sailors, rocky passage ahead! Be supremely cool, focused and effective in negotiating the way through, as a team, with sheer sailor skill, forget cursing the rocks or feeling indignant about them, and we’ll be just fine! Remember sailors: treasurrrrrrrr!”


  2. Great Analysis! I just hope the government doesn’t read it, because if they do, they’ll know they can do real damage with this sort of thing and try again.

  3. Mcpapas medianas is right. Do not put any ideas into those square heads because they might come back with a modified decree along those devilish lines.

  4. I think you are jumping to conclude that this was all a mistake. While the decree could have been more tastefully presented, I think that the resulting outcome is precisely what the government was looking for: Pushing the opposition into blocking their initiatives, hence starting to legitimize “their” constitutional clash. I think the opposition should have bundled the negation with the quirk and powerful reform of the BCV law, and have the Gvmt block that one out unconstitutionally.

  5. Great analysis. By the way, a President “in rebellion” is really simply declaring he is no longer obliged to comply with the law. It’s ample justification for impeachment/removal, and is easily transmitted in sound bites.

  6. Begin impeachment proceedings. It will never remove Maduro; nothing probably will short of force. But it’s pretty much duty at this point.

  7. Maybe they shoul be putting some effort on their P.R, they’re not only fighting for common sense, but also against the collective image that el galáctico was the one who gave people the (now idealized) way of life they enjoyed before, and that feeling is very much alive, you have to push reality down people’s troath on a daily basis.

    • Bingo, eureka moment for you renacuajo?

      The moment you realize this has never been about governing or managing an economy, but rather creating poverty, divisions and destruction to make your lumpen more easy to manage and control.

      When you see it that way you become aware of how formidable a foe they are and how successful they have been keeping the charade and the disciplined appearances for so long.

      Time to make them look naked and finally show their true colors, first. Second take them out of play.

      • Well, that’s Marxist dogma alright. The first change to make is cultural, and that might take a couple of generations. Once that’s done, you may address the real practical problems of the people, knowing they’ve turned into the “right” kind of people.

        Which is bollocks. But that’s the principle.

      • 🙂

        Castro is a good communist. He also happens to be smart and lucky.

        Chavistas seem to be missing the luck since the commodity crash and never had the smarts.

        Ultimately, Communism is the syphilis of the political ideology.

  8. Don’t forget aristoburro’s newest granite-face display: “The government does NOT control ANY part of the food distribution chain, as every part of it is totally controlled by POLAR, so, we have to seize Polar to do ANYTHING against the colas”

  9. “In other words, chavismo isn’t just making strategic blunders at this point. It’s making tactical mistakes, too.” “Declare the Assembly illegitimate for having voted it down.”

    Too soon to tell if this is a tactical mistake or not, the Chavistas like to play on the offensive, the MUD likes to avoid battles. If they declare the AN illegitimate, and then we witness AN just accepting it because, well, “this is not a sprint, but a marathon”, or whatever the feel good cliché of the day, it will be another tactical victory for Chavismo. Let’s just hope MUD will do what the people voted them to do: to resist Chavismo, not to give in.

  10. The real tactical/strategic mistake is for the Govt. to take a double-down damn-the-torpedoes approach to the economy, so that they, and they alone, go down with the ship.

    • i.e., I don’t believe that any kind of sweeteners could make NM/Co.’s hare-brained Cuban Communism palatable to even the Falconesque wishy-washers of the MUD.

  11. Chavismo is not smart enough to go for a planned failure of a bill. Keep it simple. They have never had to justify their actions in the past. Maduro wrote this bill personally. Chavismo is still so arrogant that they cannot go against whatever whim the president suggests.

  12. You know, I think maybe Maduro, Cabello, and some of the others actually believe their own BS. They just can’t seem to process the idea that “El Pueblo” is not with them. “Ceausescu moment” arriving in 10, 9, 8,…

    • Bull. There’s the batshit true believers like Salas, Giordani and Samán, but your average boliburgeois is on it to steal as much as possible.

  13. A long time ago, I had a conflict with a someone at work. It got so bad that it became a “one of us has to go” situation. So, I laid a trap to expose the incompetence of this person. It worked, and he had his wings clipped severely. As a result of the humiliation, he compounded his problems with bad judgements in both his personal and professional life, resulting in a forced termination under very inauspicious circumstances. I should have felt triumphant and good over my victory. But, all I felt was pity and embarrassment for my former colleague.

    I wonder if that is how I will one day feel about the Chavistas…

  14. I was talking with some friends today who agree that the outrageous recent words of the new ministers are a ploy to cause more chaos and justify more repression. And I was like “Have you guys considered that they said it because they actually believe it?” I mean, they’ve been writing about it in Aporrea for years and it looks like Maduro, or Godgiven or whoever is calling the shots, picks his people from those lines. Of course Nicolas doesn’t know who Jose Guerra is: Guerra inhabits an actual academic circle of people who sat down and studied economy. For years.

    And what political profit can you gain by letting these people speak? It took the 6D hit for them to recognize that “colas sabrosas” was an asinine conception bred by an unfortunate mind. Yet they are hard-headed. Try explaining the game of thrones to a man like Pedro Carreño and rejoice at his interpretations.

    These guys aren’t terribly good at politics. Underestimating would be wrong but, like Napo said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake”.

  15. Wait….wasn’t it Fidel telling Chaves that elections are a risk..”because the people might get it wrong?”….this must be how they get I rite again…I mean really…what other than shame does the AN offer as deterrent? …they are way past shame…it’s like Italians describing rear view mirrors. .”what’s behind is behind”


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