As an economically hideous 2016 unfolds, opositores are chomping at the bit to get Maduro out of office before gaitas begin to play next December. You know things have come to a head when even Henrique Capriles starts saying the time has come.

I think this is a mistake. Bad as things are, what’s coming is way worse. Way worse. The opposition hasn’t really digested the scale of the external shock we’re going through. Wanting to take power this year is a clear sign that we haven’t truly grasped what it would mean to find ourselves at the helm when the worst of what’s coming hits.

We’ve gotten used to the idea that the basic problem Venezuela faces is misaligned prices – especially the price of foreign currency – and that we could solve all or most of our problems just by getting real: devaluing the exchange rate and lifting price controls. That was the conventional wisdom back when oil was at $80 a barrel, and it made some sense in that context.

Today, that view is dangerously outdated. The external price shock is mammoth. “Getting prices right” won’t be nearly enough.

Consider:

1. The liquidity crisis is way worse than anyone anticipated

We know what’s happened to oil prices over the past 18 months. But have we really thought through what it would mean to take control of a completely bankrupt state?

The math is grim. As of the third week of January 2016, the Venezuelan basket was trading at $21. This means that, assuming production of 2.7 million b/d, and given 750,000 b/d goes to domestic consumption, 300,000 b/d go to Chinese Fund repayments and 150,000 b/d of Petrocaribe+Cuba’s allowances, we end up with 1.5 million cash-generating barrels a day. At current prices, gross income from oil would be around $1 per person per day.

That’s gross income, people, gross: before PDVSA costs.

Net? Not a million miles from zero.

The signals we’re getting suggest hard currency income is being prioritized to pay external debt obligations, and the official exchange rate hasn’t been adjusted. Barclays estimations point to a $30 Bn cash flow deficit for this year’s budget; BofA stressed that for oil bellow $30, financing gap could reach $40 Bn.

Probably the hardest financial blow Venezuela has taken since the 1980s, when the price of oil collapsed and the newly nationalized industry lost 1.5 MMb/d to Perez Alfonso’s conservation policy. Back then, the consequences included: Black Friday’s devaluation, the seizure of PDVSA’s and IVSS’ pension funds and, down the road, the death of Puntofijismo. Also, it is worth mentioning that according to BCV research, poverty rose from 12% in 1980 to 63% in 1989.

At current oil prices, Venezuela’s fiscal math is a tsunami of red ink. And it just so happens that…

2. Oil prices ain’t coming up

Last week, BP CEO, Bob Dudley, moaned at the World Economic Forum that we now face an “even lower for even longer” scenario. Dudley warned oil prices may drop into the teens in the first half of the year. The news came at the same time than the International Energy Agency (IEA) wrote in its Monthly Oil Report than the world could be “drowning in oil” if no one cuts production.

In the meantime, OPEC’s President, Abdalla El-Badri, warned that experienced players in the industry should be aware oil price cycles, and therefore be prepared to confront them. The cherry on top: Saudi Arabia said that, although they find 30-dollar-oil to be “irrational”, they have rightfully earned their position in today’s marketplace, and that less efficient producers are the ones who should be shutting down wells. Therefore, Venezuela should kiss goodbye its “lets cut production and get this over with” expectations.

Bottom-line, all the big players in the oil market are trapped in a situation where no one wants to give in. Everyone is trying to find out what’s the price that will start pushing the oversupply out of the market.

Because this is most people’s base scenario, Barclays went full-panic-mode-on with Venezuelan debt, saying the country had “passed the point of no return”, and that default is now hard to avoid.

3. In a caudillista  society, the President is either devil or saint

With real income dropping to pre-Chavez era levels, and a “credit event” on the horizon, recovery will remain elusive, even if the government manages to pay its debts. Chances are that Venezuelan GDP may contract another 8% this year, according to IMF estimates, accompanied by a spectacular 720% inflation rate.  If debt maturities are met and the oil market stabilizes, Venezuela’s economy could start recovering by mid-2017.

In a caudillista society like ours, whomever holds office will take the blame for the most coñuemadre crisis that Venezuela has faced since statistics began to be kept.

Letting the government pay the political price of adjustment remains the best option, because bondholders and general public prefer institutional stability to social chaos.

4. Austerity is a reality

In its own unorthodox and uncoordinated way, the government is showing it gets it that there’s no money anymore and painful decisions can no longer be delayed. Caracas Chronicles readers know you can see that in everything from delays in paying Pastor Maldonado’s F1 sponsorship money and even Pablo Montoya’s $100,000 Premio Romulo Gallegos to delays in paying Uruguayan agro-exporters and even Venezuela’s UN dues.

Those things make headlines, but here’s what could really make a difference:

Oil Czar Eulogio Del Pino pushed forward for the second time that PDVSA may restructure its debt, meaning that bondholders should agree not to be paid in due time, but latter on and with different returns -a.k.a. a technical default. President Maduro announced time has come to raise the price of domestic fuels. CITGO said it would be issuing fresh debt. Hovensa, a PDVSA-Hess Corp joint venture, got the permission from US Virgin Islands’ government to be sold. PDVSA requested its private partners to pay for imported naphtha to use as dillutant so it can export extra-heavy Faja crudes. PDVSA’s Pension Fund, Banco de Venezuela and BCV have allegedly repurchased important sums of sovereign bonds. Income tax will be raised to 40% for “big contributors” – a category still to be precisely defined.

None of these decisions are comfortable. But they pale in comparison with the kinds of decisions whomever is in power in the second half of 2016 will have to make, and into the first half of 2017. Worse, whomever’s holding the bag then will be making decisions on the brink of hyperinflation, and after October 16th likely also after a messy PDVSA bond default that could lead to PDVSA asset seizures abroad and deep disruption in the company’s ability to even transact business abroad.

All of that is already baked into the political landscape today.

Some may consider that things don’t have to go this way. That, if only more reasonable people were in charge different decisions could be made, and they would allow us to avoid at least some of the hardships that lay ahead of us. And that’s true, to some extent. Better leadership never hurts. Major policy blunders could be corrected sooner rather than later.

But we shouldn’t kid ourselves: the bulk of the still-to-come economic contraction is already baked into the fiscal math in a way that won’t magically change because you put an opposition figure in power.

MUD’s Choice

MUD has to think strategically here. On the one hand, it could decide to accelerate Maduro’s ousting and proceed to hold presidential elections it is likely to win. And that road is poised to be an El Gran Viraje episode all over again. People who will vote for a change won’t be doing it to “regain economic sanity” within a liberal market model, but rather expressing their blind fury that the petro-goodie bowl’s been taken away.

On the other hand, the MUD can bide its time in the Assembly and let the PSUV-led executive take the blow. With its AN majority, it can pass important reforms to reduce the power of the executive branch, something that any incumbent would find hard to do. Some of these measures, particularly the ones regarding parafiscal resource management, can force the government to do all the unspeakable things they always preached against.

Some may find it morally reprehensible to willingly let the country hit the hardest of rock bottoms for political advantage. But we must not forget that, as bad as the economy is, the government still got 40%+ of the vote on 6D. The government is now clearly in the minority, but it’s far from routed. In the long term, though, what Venezuela needs most is to bury chavismo’s credibility as a governing philosophy for the next three generations. Waiting is much more likely to achieve that than moving early.

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but now’s the time for cool-headed strategizing, not for letting the “new majority” propaganda get to our heads.

145 COMMENTS

  1. Good article, but can we please drop the “Chavistas = government” line already? The government encompasses all branches, and one is now controlled by MUD or non-Chavistas, but not “opposition”.

    • In a strongly presidential system as Venezuela where 1) there is absolutely no rule of law and 2) – tightly linked – there is no division of powers between the executive and the judiciary and where bodies such as the security forces are just a branch of the executive the National Assembly can hardly be considered part of
      the “government”

      • MUD controlled NA plus Fascista controlled presidency encompass the government. You give Fascistas far too much respect if you reffer to them as the government.

        Did I say Fascistas? Typo, I wanted to say Chavistas, obviously.

    • No no no, you are wrong.

      Chavistas are the government even more when they illegaly downplayed the role of the assembly using the Suprime Court.

  2. Amanda , thanks for such a meaty and smart article on a really important and urgent issue , Still I dont know whether we have all the angles covered in trying to support an early or a more sedate program for getting Maduro out . Big unanswered question, when would be the ideal time ?? If not within 6 months , when?? What factors will make it the most propitious time for starting to move towards a regime change??.

    One thing to worry about , the regime wont play belly up in giving up their hold on power , they will most likely fight tooth and claw with every dirty means at their disposal to retain their hold on power ,I fear that the window of opportunity for effecting the regime change may not coincide with the most perfect time economically to effect that change !! If so are we sure we will we get a second chance ?? These are all question that need addressing and which remain open even if we accept your well argued reasoning for not moving too fast in the pursuit of a regime change . Right now the Oppos scheduling is to reach a decision as to which route to follow in 6 months time , then the implementation might take, what, another 6 months ??

    I have some quibbles on the oil income figures but yours are probably not that far off from the real ones , still they are harsher than most people usually publish .

    In any event Kudos on a great piece……!!

    • I guess what Amanda is implying is that unless Maduro flees, leaving behind a pran-led civil war, six-digit inflation, and no private company standing, *that* is the right time to gain power! That’s when things will be looking up!

      • Yes, because that is exactly the environment in which a moderate social democracy can take hold and flourish. I find the premise behind this whole article extremely dangerous because it assumes we can control the situation and keep it from devolving into a Syrian style hellhole in which only armed radicals can wield any kind of power.

    • Good comment. I want to add that 1. Removal by referendum needs a neutral Supreme Court, acquiescence from the CNE, and armed forces neutrality. This means the Supreme Court has to be repackaged, the CNE has to be replaced, and the armed forces have to be convinced chavismo won’t be exterminated.

      I also see a serious miscalculation if you assume oil prices won’t go up. Contrary to what Bob says, I see a strong rebound in the medium term. Oil company moguls should be taken with a grain of salt. Thus Maduro’s removal requires a proactive and methodical project.

      This isn’t exactly rocket science. It requires access to a tv station seen in the barrios, the return on ANTV, the change of the CNE, neutralization of the Supreme Court, and coopting Chavistas who are willing to see Maduro out and a rebuild of their movement. Giving Nicmer Evans access to TV would be useful, he seems to be honest.

      Maduro’s removal via referendum can take place by this fall if these steps are in place. This is a tall order.

  3. The quickest way to discredit the gentlemen of MUD will be if they are seen to be propping Maduro up.

    With the people in crisis, this lackadaisical attitude will not be seen as evidence they deserve to govern.

  4. I fear it has gone beyond a point of no return and now the timing of any regime change will be set by ‘el pueblo’ and the military, not by the MUD or the chavernment.

  5. I understand your strategic view. Heck, I have even thought about it. It sounds nice and all that as a thought experiment, but me and the other guys living in the country need something to be done right now. So, yes: fuck political strategy. Because for the regular guys living in Venezuela like me, it’s not a matter of political convenience. It’s a matter of life or death.

    I honestly don’t give a rat ass if reform is carried out by Capriles, Maduro or Juan Bimba. Yes, it’d be great to force Maduro to swallow the pill, but if Capriles (or anyone else) is willing to burn his political career to repair this clusterfuck, let the guy have it.

    As for the end of chavismo, we should be disingenuous. Chavismo is nothing but good old populism under a new guise. You can change the name of the party, but populism will never disappear in Venezuela. You cannot put an end to that.

    • I totally agree with you.. And that’s a fact, any person who be willing to take that mess and try to fix it, will be committing a political suicide.. In Venezuela, majority of people love to live in populism, they always want to hear there’s no problem to worry about, or Venezuela is a quite rich country and every venezuelan can have any thing without have to work for it. Is very sad, but that’s the truth.. By that, I agree with the author too, in that way, is VERY CRUEL for the venezuelan people, whom are left living there, but I think that’s the only way in which that people will learn that nothing in the world is totally for free, somebody must work to produce whatever the people want. That is an universal law.. Like thermodynamics..

  6. Boy, do I have a problem with this post. Amanda, you’re a good writer, but you need to think about what you’re saying more.

    When you say things like “letting the government pay the political price of adjustment remains the best option,” you are implying that the government *will* adjust. We all know that’s not true – it won’t, because it hasn’t. It will cut imports down to zero, name El Picure to the TSJ, and put Hugo Carvajal in charge of the Army before it does anything of the sort.

    In the meantime, you claim it’s the “best option” – in terms of politics. Public opinion. What the financial markets think.

    What about the people waiting in line for food? What about the cancer patients? What about the political prisoners? What about the thousands of people that continue to die in our streets? I guess those don’t matter because they don’t figure in your post.

    This post is deeply disturbing. It reinforces the typical canard about economists being soulless automatons, only worried about economic indicators. It also reinforces the worst traits of the opposition. The post is naive, and worse, shockingly inmoral.

    • It seems to me you didn’t really understand what Amanda is saying. You ask,

      “What about the people waiting in line for food? What about the cancer patients? What about the political prisoners? What about the thousands of people that continue to die in our streets?”

      Well, the thing is no one can solve those problems in the near (medium?) term, not even with the best of the intentions and trying as hard as possible. All you can do is take the blame for the problems. Do you really wanna take the blame for problems you didn’t create without any possibility whatsoever of getting at least something in return?

    • Thing is, you’re failing to engage with her actual argument.

      What about the people waiting in line for food? What about the cancer patients?

      Her argument is that their fucked-ness is baked into the next 18-months regardless of who’s in power. The view that policy reforms now can make a real difference for them is precisely the view she’s arguing against. Her whole point is that your objection made sense…in 2013.

      You can agree or disagree with that, of course. But first you have to engage it!

      • That is simply a false proposition. Measures can be taken right now to alleviate the situation and accelerate the rebound from this mess – for starters, begin to tackle the fiscal mess the country is in. To admit Amanda’s egregiously false premise is to basically surrender the idea that policy can do anything.

          • So the argument is that the mistakes are made. So let chavismo deal with the cost of the mistakes they made. Great.

            But how we prevent chavismo from making more mistakes tomorrow, thus lengthening the time in which you will take power, because the consequences of those mistakes will be baked in in the months to follow, and so on. Do you see the flaw with your (Amanda’s) logic?

        • I’m agree with Juan point of view, it’s easy to calculate all the damage in economic`s and letting the GOB to melt down, but you cannot output in the map the people who is dying without food, medicines or just water.

      • Amanda and Kico,

        Great post. You have really hit a nerve with the usual suspects in cc.

        I heard a similar argument when Capriles lost to Maduro “let them bite the bullet of adjustment” time has proven that the country is worse for it.

        Let me try to illustrate why a *credible* change in economic policy AND the executive branch ASAP has a good chance of being successful:

        Let’s say that a company in Peru manufactures diapers (pick any scarce product) they have hit a ceiling in growth and are looking for a place to grow quickly, they have the equipment and knowledge to make the product. Where could they set up shop that would overnight to gain market share? Where are people doing lines to get their hands on their product?

        The name of the game is Foreign Direct Investments. Only a credible new government will be able to attract them period. Thus the emphasis on *credible*.

        If we keep waiting for Maduro and chavismo to burn up, the funds we will be able to attract will be humanitarian foreign aid ala Somalia and Ethiopia.

        Check out one proposal along those lines from Santos and Bahar http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2016/01/04-venezuela-foreign-investment-flow-bahar-santos

        BTW if the strategy at this point is to destroy chavismo so let the country burn… I’d say the country is burning chavismo is done – 40% with a CNE in their favor with all the public money. I’d like to see them get 20% once they are out of office.

        Best,
        JB

    • Agreed. This article shows the most raunchy Venezuelan pragmatism.

      Indeed is tempting to let Maduro put the final nail in the Chavismo coffin. But the price is just to steep and the article is oblivious that Chavismo, as political movement, is here to stay whether or not you like it.

      Rather than let Maduro finish the work, of utterly destroying Venezuela; the goal is to demonstrate that we have learned the historical lesson and that we are now more mature to conduct real and positive change. Is that too much to ask?

  7. Agree strongly with Juan Nagel and Bill Bass. Regime change is a moral imperative.

    What this article sums is what I have perceived for so long in chunks of the opposition. That is being comfortable with having no responsibility and a total lack of power aspiration.

    Something to add here. The more we wait not only increases the political cost, it also increases the time for recovery.

    • And that portion of the opposition just cannot conceive Venezuela without its gigantic state, owner of all the oil and all Venezuelans just waiting to see what trickles down to them.

      Do we even realize that after the climate accord in Paris this December, among other things, must of the oil that is underground is probably going to stay there? That whatever reforms we find so hard to do right now are probably not going to get easier?

      Since we are unable to even imagine a Venezuela not dependent on oil, we should just close the country. It would be simpler.

    • Now I read you, I think you’re right about that, and I want to leave this clear, I want finish chavismo goverment ASAP, to make decisions which can help to revert all this mess.. My worries are about people that is supporting chavismo at this moment, their leader will take all those decisions as a political flag, I’m so sure about that.. 🙁

    • In my opinion, countries have to be ruled by a different set of values that those of a person. For example: when taking tough economic measures probably the country will be better in a medium run, but surely the are people who are going to have a very very rough times, being unemplyed, kicked out of their houses, etc. But the country puts aside the pain of individuals for a greater good. An other extreme example is that countries go to war, they kill, which for people its just unnaceptable. This being said, I agree that its a moral obligation for the MUD to take control ASAP, but when thinking about stability 20 or 30 years from now, maybe its not that clear.

      We won the election with only around 55%. For the transformation needed to be succesfull we need the “entire” country desperately shouting for a change and understanding that this economic model doesnt work. Trying to make a big move could potentially flip the soft votes that made us win on 6D.

  8. Additionally, there is no reason to think that Maduro’s failure will be chavismos. Large groups within chavismo (that is that they idolized Chavez) are distancing themselves as far as they can from Maduro and his policies. They will survive and maybe inherit a political capital.

  9. First of all, congratulations on a well-written and well-researched article. But…

    I am afraid that your analysis is an impressive mixture of mature patience and youthful naivete. At this moment in history, the Opposition actually has a public voice in government and a popular mandate. If they wait too long, the Chavistas will find a way to marginalize them or simply eliminate them. If the Opposition waits until the Chavistas conclude that default of the debt in October is inevitable, they will also conclude that they no longer need the appearance of constitutional order. The opportunity to get Maduro out of the presidency could pass us by, and Venezuela could become like Burma, mired in a perpetual police state ruled by a military junta.

    I understand your logic and concern about the long term, but as John Maynard Keynes said, “In the long run we are all dead.” I think that concept we need to follow right now is “Carpe diem.” or “Seize the moment.”

  10. Welcome Amanda. I have to admit I have thought of this option before, and you dared to say what some of us were already thinking. But….

    I have to disagree. Because if MUD does nothing to get Maduro & Co. out in the middle of a shock in which we have no maneuverability (because of chavismo’s historicaly and incredibly bad governments), they will lose their credibility. People voted “castigo”, but they are also expecting MUD to do something to try to solve or at least to make a bit easier the life of the ones suffering the most.

    You talk about political costs, but what about political benefits? If MUD is the only one trying to solve the crisis from its limited-action stronghold of the Asamblea – and counting they use good political marketing to make people understand and side with their proposals -, it has a relevant political upside to grasp in the middle of the crisis.

    Además…what if Maduro is forced out of office before we think so and someone has to take the coroto? will MUD leave it to chavismo for them to crash the country again? What about the suffering of millions?

    As someone said above, if there’s a politicial willing and “capable” of swalloing the red pill and to start making the corrective measures needed to set the basis of reforms in the mid-term, that person may not win elections again, but it can give MUD a lot of political benefits in the sense that they were the only ones with las patas en el lodo fighting to achieve actual change. People already voted for it, and in a Revocatorio they will do so again….and that’s something MUD cannot ignore.

  11. Something left out of this analysis is that oil prices are as volatile and almost impossible to predict. Today doomsayers express that oil prices would hover in the teens, but if we let chavismo survive and oil prices skyrocket in the future they’ll be able to manage a way out of the crisis and survive.

    I agree that la MUD needs to think strategically and act smart, but letting the Government survive or breath air isn’t exactly being either strategic or smart. The economy is in the most dire situation that has ever been and people simply can’t wait eternally. And also, there’s never going to be a marvellous, bandeja-de-plata moment where chavismo will leave office and let the opposition take the reins. Botton line is: Never in 17 years has chavismo been so vulnerable and we you just simply can’t afford to let them regroup.

    • “oil prices are as volatile and almost impossible to predict”. Actually, Carlos, this collapse was predictable as supply from North America and Russia increased. The fact that it did not drop sooner was a typical ‘blinkers on’ market inertia. Price will not rebound until the fundamental imbalance between oversupply and insufficient demand corrects itself. With the major economies slowing and more MENA oil coming into the market, the “even lower for even longer” price scenario is looking – sadly – as the most realistic. Granted, the price will fluctuate – as it has over this past month – but will not recover to a level high enough to cover Venezuela’s financing needs again for a number of years.

    • Gracias Carlos. Ese era el argumento. Los precios pueden subir con cualquier problema que salga de la nada y los chavistas van a navegar esta crisis y todos seguiremos j…. Mejor tomar el poder en estos 6 meses, dejar que HCR se queme y bueno ver que pasa en el segundo semestre de 2017

  12. I want to finish off chavismo, but I don’t want to finish off my country in the process. Keeping Maduro in power so he can reap what he’s sown means all Venezuelans do so as well.

  13. Sorry Amanda, obliterating Venezuela so that the opposition can govern for longer does not seem like the correct strategy to improve the country. What is coming is bad and will require knowledge hard work and sacrifice. If the opposition can make the hard landing softer and medium term improve things, then more power to them whether people reelect them, like them or hate them. What is at stake is far more important than power, ideology or popularity: The lower the country goes, the harder and more costly it will be to recover it. We should start ASAP, regardless of the consequences politically for anyone involved.

  14. Amanda,

    Thanks for some thought provoking comments.

    I say we put it to a Caracas Chronicles vote.

    Should we let Maduro boil in his own stew or should we do what we can to get rid of this government?

  15. Whole I sincerely congratulate you for your article, Amanda, I think your analysis focuses way too much on political costs, and not enough on the human cost of not ousting the government. The situation here is dire. As someone said above, this is a matter of life and death and the Assembly won’t be able to legislate for real unless the Supreme Court and the Executive are out of the game as soon as possible, because the reality is that they won’t let Parliament implement any reform or law if they can help it with whatever means necessary.

  16. BTW, the picture accompanying the post perfectly illustrates Amanda’s strategy – let the country destroy itself so that the opposition can gain power.

  17. I think there’s a whole-lot-of-misreading in this comments thread, which is disappointing.

    Amanda is not arguing “the next 18 months could be substantially easier if the opposition was in power, but we should hold off nevertheless.”

    That’s emphatically not the argument.

    The argument is “when external shock is this bad, things are going to get much worse regardless of who’s in power. So why should we put ourselves in the pagapeo position?”

      • While I agree with your point of view, Juan, about the role of policy and the good it can do, I have to disagree here. Yes, it would be the right thing to do to change the government, but Amanda’s most important point is not that we hold off so we can be in power forever. What she actually means is: we hage to hold off until we can actually get the time we need to make a difference.

        Imagine if the MUD took power today and oil went to 0, just for theoretical purposes. The crisis that this could create would probably sour the people’s opinions on the opposition and oust the government in less than a year, bringing back a vindicated chavismo for MANY years to come. Why would this happen? Because the opposition would take the blame for the policies of the government that preceded it, the same way maduro takes a lot of the blame for the many mistakes chavez made.

    • We should put ourselves in that position because we believe are better. That is more capable to withstand the crisis and more capable to get back the country to its proper footing. Any day wasted will increase exponentially the amount of time required to get the country back on its feet.

      For too long we have adopted a “wait til the perfect time” strategy which has only led to the worsening of people’s livelihood.

      Also, to quote Moises Naim: “Countries never hit rock bottom, you can always sink deeper”. What makes Amanda think that this is something that will simply just pass? Because there is the very real possibility that it will only get worse.

      Everyday that passes more human capital is lost (either to murder, disease or migration). This really compromising our room to maneuver. Every day that passes pranes expand their power and control. Every day that passes is a day that hopelessness cements further.

      We see Amanda’s argument very clearly. We understand the political costs. But even with those costs we need to step to the plate.

      • “For too long we have adopted a “wait til the perfect time” strategy which has only led to the worsening of people’s livelihood.”

        What are you talking about? Capriles?

      • Te lo voy a poner simple,

        Si tú quieres un gobierno elocuente que dure sólo los 3 años que faltan de acá a 2019 pues saca a Maduro antes de las elecciones regionales y locales de 2016 (Q4/2016).

        Si quieres que el chavizmo con todo lo que ello significa desaparezca del escenario político del país, y sea posible resolver la amenaza del Mesías que viene bajo la forma del presidente populista de turno; pues espera a que la MUD gane la mayoría de las gobernaciones y alcaldías, pon a la Asamblea a hacer cosas útiles como fortalecer el poder económico de gobernacionales y alcaldías y date los dos años sin elecciones hasta 2019 para mostrar cómo una gestión de gente de la MUD puede ser una solución al chavizmo, mientras el chavizmo se debate en cómo tragar duro las reformas económicas que tiene que ejecutar.

        Sacar al chavizmo antes de tiempo es permitirle sobrevivir latente en la pena de sus seguidores, lo mismo que haría el que le hicieran un golpe a Maduro, ellos dirán en 2019 que no les dejaron ser y los sacaron, que las cosas no fueron porque no les dieron tiempo, y no habrá nada tangible para demostrar que ellos han sido unos ladrones inútiles en todo este tiempo.

        Deja que unos gobernadores y alcaldes de la MUD hagan gestiones eficaces en estos 3 años y no tendrás chavizmo luego de 2019. Saca a los chaviztas antes de tiempo y los tendrás como un mal latente muy próximo a volver porque la gestión de transición será tan mala que los pendejos que votan se tragarán el cuento de que con Chávez se vivía mejor.

    • BTW, the logical conclusion to what you are saying is that, right now, it doesn’t matter who governs Venezuela. This basically means you’ve gone insane.

      • Says who?! Fernando Henrique Cardoso did away with inflation in Brazil, and voters rewarded him with two consecutive terms in the Planalto. It’s lunacy to think that people will punish you for solving their problems.

        • A couple of years of economic hell with another government and they will be ready for a savior that will bring back the chavez bonanza. They might not like Maduro, but they are chavistas. Maria Gabriela comes to mind.

      • BTW, there is a place for people who want Maduro to stay in power, and it’s called “the PSUV.” You all should start filing for applications to get your carnets. I expect Amanda to be first in line.

    • Because the MUD will actually attempt to do something, as opposed to chavismo’s strategy, which so far seems to Thelma and Louise, with the country riding shotgun.

      We’re basically the sober guy trying to break up a drunken brawl. No one will thank us for it, and we may end up taking undeserved hits, but it’s still the right thing to do.

    • ¿si no es ahora pa cuando? the thing is that if Maduro is still in power after the 18 month of catasthrophe, another 18 will follow, so taking power then we will be in an even worse position to fix the country than now and people may blame the opposition for not doing anything before. On the other hand if oil prices rise or if decisions are taken and the situation of the country improves slightly, people will assume Maduro fix it and say the opposition only sabotaged him.

      This is a now or never moment. I doubt that chavismo will colapse in time alone.

  18. Things may get much worse Quico, but some sensible policy changes will have an important impact very fast. Things will get worse before they get better, but the bottoming time can be substantially shortened. And as Juan says, it is the right thing to do.

  19. I agree with Juan here and that’s something I rarely ever do! There is scope for a lessening of deaths and damage and vacating that responsibility just to play politics with a tenuous—and in my opinion reprehensible goal—in mind is a terrible thing to do and betrayal of the opposition’s mandate in the past election.

    Why is it reprehensible? Simply put: burying Chavismo is not only untenable (at best it will be Diosdado/Maduro who gets buried, not Chávez and much less Chavismo) but repeats the mistakes and vicious cycles Venezuela has been engaged in for the past 20+ years! The goal for the opposition should be to change Chavismo and shift the paradigm—to incorporate that 40% of the population that still voted for them amidst this chaos into a functioning an institutionally strong democracy. There is no better moment to do so than now and whether that takes the form of a settled agreement and negotiation (I hope) or wresting the executive branch from them as soon as possible remains to be seen, but that is the only truly democratic way to go about it.

  20. A first class article by Amanda Quintero, proven by the amount of comments it has received. I was impressed by its thoroughness in listing the components of the situation but I have to disagree with the recommendation. The argument implied by the article, whether intended or not is : Let whatever is left of the country go to hell, so that we do not take the blame.
    But the problem is that we all go to hell with the country. This is not a airplane posed to crash that we looking at from the ground. It is an airplane in which we all are passengers , even those who are not physically in the country, por si acaso.
    The problem is not strategic, is ethical, moral, requiring candor, total transparency and idealistic postures,. Es necesario quitarle las riendas del caballo a estos locos.
    By doing this earlier than later we share in the political cost, yes, but we gain power to act now and not later. For example, as long as the country is in the hands of the gang there will no foreign help, no IMF, no cooperation. Macri just got $18 billion in new investments for Argentina in Davos that Cristina K-F could not have gotten.He got rid of the exchange controls. He might be able to negotiate with the so-called buitres. He is telling the world: we are back into the community of civilized countries.
    Who wants to be president forever? Isn’t it better to be known as an Ataturk, as a Churchill, as a statesman, rather than as simply a shrewd politician? Isn’t candor and honesty the best strategy to deal with a national crisis?
    Even a cynic Lyndon Johnson said he was not seeking another term.

    • I have to agree with Gustavo. On the other hand I don’t think that the result would be of the citicens running to the arms of the oppo leadership. I think the result would be a divided country in the brink of a civil war and the military taking control with the results seen.

  21. Amanda, the Venezuelan Apocalypses you have been waiting for is Now.
    When Maduro got elected almost 3 years ago, many on the opposition were not that unhappy because that meant that Chavizmo would have to deal and be accountable for the inevitable crisis, and this is exactly what is happening now.
    And sure enough they paid the consequences and the opposition won.
    You cite that Chavismo still enjoy 40% but I honestly think that number is much lower given the unfair tactics they used to gain that number.
    I appreciate your article to generate discussions but I am not sure if waiting for the crisis to get worse as a way to get rid of Chavismo once and for all is a good idea. That would be akin to get rid of ISIS with a Nuclear bomb never mind civilian casualties..
    I think the MUD role should be to restore Democracy, impeach Maduro ASAP and more importantly solve the urgent problems that have immediate consequences.
    IMO the Chavismo brand is already damaged and they simply don’t have another charismatic Caudillo on the horizon.

  22. While I agree with Amanda’s description of the coming crisis, I think a better handling of the economy could soften part of the blow. Maybe only by a little. But that “little” is more than enough, in my opinion, for MUD to let aside any political cost considerations and take power. Under that assumption, then of course it’s morally reprehensible, and politically naïve, for MUD to stand aside.

    But that issue has already been covered in other comments. For the sake of argument, let’s assume there’s nothing to do. The crisis will be so big that MUD can’t do anything to soften the blow. Even then, it does not make sense, not politically nor strategically, to pass on a chance to grab the presidency.

    The “wait until its burned” strategy completely ignores the political and constitutional framework. The presidency it’s not something lying in the street that you can pick up whenever you feel like it. If MUD wants to grab the presidency, it can’t wait past January 2017. After that, if Maduro is removed, the VP finishes until 2019. So by waiting past that, MUD would leave itself with only two very complicated and TSJ-dependent options: a constitutional assembly or reform. MUD would, most likely, simply be handing PSUV the presidency until 2019. Bad times.

    This long wait would only provide PSUV with more time and options to close MUD’s ways to the presidency. Amanda it’s assuming that the options available today will be there in 2017 and beyond, but they won’t.

    Furthermore, let’s not kid ourselves into thinking MUD would escape unscathed by standing pat while PSUV demolishes the country. People voted for MUD because they want them to DO SOMETHING. To improve their lives, to stop chavismo. They didn’t want MUD to be spectators, as the PSUV-dominated AN was before. People will, undoubtedly, punish anyone who was tasked to do something, and did nothing when it was needed the most.

  23. “Is the future of Venezuela not worth thirty thousand more human lives?”
    “They’ll never stop at thirty thousand…”

    On the other side, dictatorships haven’t been brought down by economy, folks, the best way to ensure chavismo isn’t a viable political model in the future is just outright ban it and broadcast propaganda to demonize it 24/7 for at least ten straight years, coupled with the obliteration of all the cult propaganda made for the corpse.

  24. This post is based on the premise that Maduro and Co. will do the neccesary economic measures….when they won’t and everybody here knows it.

    So, this post suggest…what? Wait until most of the country becomes a graveyard? The MUD itself gave a 6 months deadline because letting Maduro finish his period means not having a country to rule, Allup himself said it so.

    • This post is based on the premise that Maduro and Co. will do the neccesary economic measures…

      This is a misreading of the word adjustment – though an understandable one, because macroeconomists use it in a way that doesn’t mean quite the same thing it means in everyday life.

      In common language adjustment results from a conscious decision on your part.

      In this context, though, external adjustment means something different: the changes that have to happen in society to operate given a lower level of available foreign currency. Ideally, adjustment is managed by a government making intelligent decisions. But the process will take place – is taking place – regardless.

      What are those big supermarket lines you see? Adjustment. That’s just how you bring supply and demand into line when you don’t have dollars and you don’t want to let go of prices. It’s a stupid, mismanaged, inefficient adjustment. But it’s adjustment.

      What Amanda is saying is that even the best thought-out, best managed, best calculated adjustment in the world is still going to imply drastic additional falls in standards of living, because the liquidity crisis is way worse than people have grasped.

      But adjustment? We’re going to get adjustment regardless…

      • I think it will be easier to understand the point (which you dont have to share or believe is right, btw…) if we understand “external price shock” and “adjustements” to mean in criollo “tremenada peladera de cable”.

        Basically, if all that is true, it doesnt matter one bit who is in power, in terms of saving people. They are already dead. There is not going to be any money at all to be able to do anything. The only task of the future government is to decide who goes hungry so somebody else can eat a bit.

        Not precisely the best position to sell a change, when everybody is going to remember the great famine you were ruling over, even if it was all inherited. Better to wait for the disaster to come, and then rally the survivors with the indignity of what has fallen and the conscience that is shared sacrifice or death.

        Now, is that true? I dont know. But if anybody knows of reasons to have a better prognosis for 2016, please share, because it truly looks dire. It may very well be that, say, a different government can negotiate some international help; but looking at the state of the world today and those “helpers”, do you really want to bet on it?

  25. I think folks are missing the main point of Amanda’s article.

    “In a caudillista society like ours, whomever holds office will take the blame for the most coñuemadre crisis that Venezuela has faced since statistics began to be kept.”

    The only thing incorrect about this statement is that she limits it to “caudillista” societies. It is true in all democracies as well. Most people are not that sophisticated about economics, they think the President or Prime Minister can wave a magic wand and generate prosperity if he or she wanted to. Economic trends have a big impact of elections in the U.S. and Europe regardless of which party is in power.

    Let’s say the opposition takes power today and presides over the calamity Amanda’s describes. In a year, people could be in the streets demanding a return to chavismo and the military staffed with chavistas may oblige them, then Venezuela would be right back to 1999.

    Btw, is there a version of this article that is available in Spanish?

  26. Dear Amanda,

    – It is true that given the kind of external shock that we are experiencing the next 2 years will be miserable, regardless who is in charge.
    – It is also true that what will happen after the next 18 months depend exclusively on what you´ve done in the previous 2 years.
    -It is also very true that economic adjustment is politically costly.

    So I disagree with the assumption of your post Amanda, the “strategic” choice of the politicians of the MUD is not between regime change and inhibition.

    Politician’s choice now is between (AFTER REGIME CHANGE), taking power now or empowering a transition government to do what transitions governments do: dismantling chavismo, start the economic reform and give us free elections in 2 years or so.

    Is regime change a moral imperative? Yes.

    Is to initiate economic adjustment a moral imperative? I´d say. Yes.

    Is for a politician to take power NOW a moral imperative? No.

    That´s why all the incentives (de lado y lado) are aligned now around the idea of a transitional government. And believe me, there is plenty of candidates (de lado y lado) more than willing to play that role.

      • Alas, the proposals touted are not for a transition: A Constitutional Assembly, a Recall Referendum, a constitutional amendment to shorten the Presidential Period… All of them would bring a new government. Not a transitional one…

        I understand that the growing consensus is that a transition is not possible. Is it not?

  27. If there were a change of government, through a change in the fx policy a new government could reduce the demand for dollars and have more cash to buy food and medicines, not to mention the possibility of going to the IMF for a bail out (chavismo will starve people before going to the IMF) so, I do think we’ll be better off by allowing implosion and you don’t address one major issue, what if a military non-commy fraction of chavismo gets hold of power before we do under this scenario?

  28. By the early 90s Peru was, like Venezuela, one notch above a failed state. APRA misgovernment had landed the country in hyperinflation and debt default. The state was accosted by Shining Path. Congress was so splintered and politically calculating, that it could not formulate any response. So Fujimori along with the military took over and applied the brutal economic measures that were required. The press called it the Fujishock, a combination of raw IMF polices plus war with no quarters to Sendero.

    Yet in spite of all these brutality ‘el chinito’ (PC crowd back off please, this is how Peruvians called him, even as a mild term of endearment) preserved a political base of support.

    Of course Mr. Fujimori could not help his authoritarian inclinations and he also trusted shady people like Mr. Montesinos, ultimately paving his downfall and more importantly his jailing. The later is very important, because he was held accountable for his misdeeds. Moreover, his daughter Keiko will probably win the upcoming elections and pardon her father.

    As for APRA it still holds sway, but there are plenty of people that have deep mistrust of it, even with a 25 year distance of all the chaos they brought on Peru. Furthermore, they even gained power once again, but were better behaved.

    So I make an argument against Amanda’s position positing that BETTER government is a lot more valuable than terrible government as we have in Venezuela right now.

  29. And to think that the AN might not even have a choice to be made here. lol
    Maduro rule will prevail anyways.
    Amanda scenario will be played automatically , no need to argue folks.
    Venezuela goes to hell and if we are lucky something good comes up from the ashes.

  30. “The opposition hasn’t really digested the scale of the external shock we’re going through. Wanting to take power this year is a clear sign that we haven’t truly grasped what it would mean to find ourselves at the helm when the worst of what’s coming hits.”

    I have deep concerns about that statement, the opposition hasn’t digested the problem, therefore apparently the OP has. Implying the OP knows better than the whole Democratic Unity Roundtable.

    And then the final sentence: well, I don’t know to tell this but there is no worst and there’s a single reason for that: you can always be worse.

    There are already hundreds -if not thousands- of people dying in Venezuela because of the drug scarcity, so the question IS: how much worse does it have to get in order conclude that “ok, now it’s time to get rid of Maduro”?

    So, despite I understand that whoever gets in power after Maduro will have to deal with a huge mess, I can’t see how it’s good for the country in general to keep delaying this issue for another year or more.

  31. I understand Amanda’s arguments but I disagree with her. First for moral reasons. Even if it was the best political decision to let them go down with the ship (I’m not sure it is), I still wouldn’t support it because it is not my nature to cross my arms and wait for my country to fall apart just so I could blame the PSUV. If I thought like that I would have voted along with 42% of Venezuelans on the 6D and I would wear red shirts. It is our duty to try to save this country. For better or worse it’s our land. Secondly it could backfire if a major war or another event makes the price of oil skyrocket. Last but not least if Maduro rides the storm and we wait for the worst to pass by the time things start to stabilize it will be harder to change the govt than now when most Venezuelans are pissed. All in all though congrats on the article. It made me think which is always a plus.

  32. Im not sure what the answer is to the question of whether its better for the country to have the regime change ocurr as early as possible this year or to wait until the full effect of the crisis is felt before attempting the regime change !! There are arguments which sound quite persuasive on both sides of the question but which at the end are inconclusive as to their reliability because they make assumptions we cant really trust unless we given them a better look. Until we have an answer to some prior questions.

    1. If the NA starts acting within the 6 month period announced by HRA , how long until the regime change can likely be achieved ( assuming that the regime will fight to the death to sabotage any constitutional threat to its survival) …in short what is the earliest most realistic date in which the regime change can be accomplished .??

    2. Will that happen before or after the gubernatorial races ?? (which have to take place before the end of the year) , what is the likely outcome of those races , will they quicken or slow the oppo tempo for effecting a regime change.?? Will it make the oppo job of changing the govt easier or more difficult ??

    3.- Will that date be reached before a default is likely to ocurr affecting Pdvsa and perhaps also the Republic ??, what specifically will be the result of that default ?? Will it make the regime change more or less likely ?? Will it make any economic recovery effort by an Oppo administration easier or more difficult ??

    4.- How long before the effects of an oppo administration to restore the country to some semblance of normalcy on the economic front can be felt by the general populace. ?? Will the hard times which will inmmediately follow from having to take salvaging measures affect the oppos popularity and favour a strong surviving Chavismo movement.?? Might that situation threaten the Oppos retention of the power it needs to defeat Chavismo in any future election.??

    5. If Chavismo itself gets rid of Maduro ( if he falls ill unexpectedly for instance) and Aristobulo as
    Vicepresident takes his place and afterwards is offered as a reformed Chavismo candidate , then how do the chances of an electoral win for the oppo stand vs the current situation ??

    Sorry !! I let go of my imagination and have perhaps raised too many questions which are difficult to answer, but some at least may deserve a bit of reflexion and help us better understand what is the dilemma we are facing !!

  33. Amanda’s arguments reminded me of an English expression, for which I have not yet found a Spanish equivalent: “To cut one’s nose off to spite one’s face.” It refers to someone who is acting against their own self-interest in order to hurt someone else. This is a childish and self-destructive behavior and not something to be encouraged.

    And yet, on a moral level, the issue we are discussing goes beyond simple spite. To refrain from doing something that could be done to prevent a humanitarian disaster (or in this case, to prevent an even greater disaster) would be a form of “depraved indifference”.

  34. You talk like if the MUD isn’t government too. The people voted for them for one thing and one thing only: kick chavistas’ asses out of Miraflores. If they fail, only the Ánima de Taguapire knows what kind of opportunists may rise in that apocalyptic situation. Furthermore, as politic strategy sucks, there is no such a thing as a vaccine against ignorance. There is Russia praising Stalin again, there is pro-Russia Ukraine (Ukraine!). That kind of Capriles politics, inertial politics, is lazy and irresponsible. And Capriles wasn’t right about “la sumadera”. We must remember that in 2 years of economic crisis, the worst in maybe, 60 years, el camino largo only added 348.000 votes “a la causa”. And that without Marea Socialista in their way. The new camino largo that you are proposing is “el tiempo del diablo” instead of “el tiempo de dios”.

  35. Contrary to my fellow commentators, I do think this strategy will surely eradicate Chavismo. I just think it is faster and less painful if we steal Pakistani nuclear weapons and start throwing them at our biggest cities. After a while, we make a flash poll and see which State has the most chavismo, and drop a nuclear bomb on them again.

    On the other hand, I have never seen a doctor not enter the emergency room because: “He is afraid that the patient will die and it will be blamed on him”. Fuck this miserable thinking, and I do respect Amanda sincerely. It is this idea that we shall “wait on the sidelines and watch our homeland burn, for political advantage” that strikes a deep nerve. I do not wish to watch my mother die for lack of medicines. And I understood from early 2014 that I should not waste time convincing anyone. My struggle is for regime change ASAP, and do what it takes to help navigate our venezuelan ship in the worse of worst nightmarish hurricane we have ever faced. Stay on deck watching how maduro drowns us is not only (i) Stupid, because we won’t be better off in a couple of years. He won´t adjust but come all communist on our asses; (ii) Suicidal, because it is not true that we will “take flight from the ashes”, the ashes of Maduro will drown us from years to come; it is really (iii) Inmoral. And after the venezuelan people realize the opposittion really let the country die for their political agenda, instead of trying to take power and change the situation, That’s the end.
    Thanks god Salidismo is winning and this post will only serve as the most eloquent way of formulating the idea that we defeated.

    • Cue Quico saying “aw Daniel, you’re misreading the post!”

      (Agree with all you say, in case it isn’t obvious)

    • “He won´t adjust but come all communist on our asses”

      Priceless…

      Agree 100% with Daniel Sierra and his eloquent rebuttal of Amanda’s proposition.

  36. Missing in the great commentary IMO is a section about intention. You have all discussed ad nausea policy and (driven) results, while not being very explicit about intentions.

    I think this is an important matter since you are all assuming that MUD in power, and other wannabe power brokers (MCM, LL, HCR, Lara governor, etc) and their cliques all want to take power to make a new modern utopia to take over the impoverished, famine stricken, macroeconomic hell hole that Venezuela is going to be by the end of the year.

    That is all of them are the “good guys” and that they will be all powerful in restoring rule of law, economic stability, competitive productive apparatus and all other good things.

    In reality, all these players and accolades only want power. Power to exercise and to enjoy and although i am well aware their regimes/ governments will be substantially way better than what we stand to have under the status quo, they will have to work within the same :state” same society, same public servants and same pueblo environments.

    Culture is the hardest thing to change, and trumps strategy and execution every time.

    I think the blame game (I called lessons learned) is not secondary. It is imperative, even a moral obligation as some say, to actually understand and make all understand why this failure yet again.

    How the petrostate model ( regardless who runs it by chance, adecopeyanos in the 80’s, chavistas now!) created such incentives that compounded by weak rule of law and a society of accomplices where “money is good-source of money not so important” (i.e. no social punishment) usually leads to this place tied up to commodity price cycles.

    I am not advocating for letting maduro run, it is imperative to take him down and start to work on stopping the car from going over the cliff, but yes i support the blog in stating that we need to make sure lessons are learned and policy and culture can mature form it . (maduro=mature how funny that is!)

    Cheers,
    L

  37. Because with Maduro in power, he’s more likely than not to keep making terrible decisions that could worsen even more the panorama.

  38. Funny how those who cheered the election of Ramus Allup as an example of Realpolitik now speak of a “moral imperative” to remove the regime.
    You want realpolitik? let the country burn to the ground. Teach them through hunger and death what socialism really means- we wont have economic stability until the last “chavista pero no madurista” starves. If the MUD would take power right now, in a couple of years there would be a coup to put Rosa Ines in power. Maybe there will be one no matter what happens.

    But most interesting is the futility of this whole proposition, the idea that someone would consider this as a viable tatic: long term thingking has been notable absent from opposition circles – now that power is just in their grasp, do you think they will develope temperance just now? Everything goes back to 2005 and not going to the congress elecctions- the state of this country is just as much their fault as it is from the “not maduristas”. You want a moral imperative? “No crime should go unpunished”. Everyone here will get what they have comming. There is no escape from our own doings.

    But worry not Amanda: the escenario you describe will happen anyway: chavismo will try to hold power at all cost, and will block every effort from outing them, until they themselves do what you ask the opposition to do. They cannot grab long term planning either- after all, none of them is in this the future of socialism, but for themselves. They will try to stay in power as long as they can, and doing everything to do so, and thus, delivering this well deserved punishment to the venezuelan population, which will learn the hard way the most basic lesson in economics, which is also the most fundamental principle of physics: ” you are getting nothing for free, every gift comes with a price”

    • Except that the MUD AN is not spinning the message. They should be calling it day in day out:

      No food here- socialismo del siglo XXI did this, did that, now this is the result!

      No medicines you say, Socialismo del siglo XXI did this , then did that, now this is the result!

      The military in not being professional and non partisan in its behavior, Socialismo del Siglo XXI did this, then did that, now, this is the result!

      …And hence before they make a have new discussions towards making recommendations for solutions.

      As some mentioned before, new laws are not what is needed, Venezuela has plenty of laws, constitution etc. what is needed is an education!

      Making it clear and easy to see the causality of today’s Armageddon and linking it to Chavista policy.

      IMO the AN can only have this role, new laws are being blocked anyways, but messaging will sink the chavista ship, sooner than later.

      Mr. so and so, minister or so and so, donde estan los reales? GMVV is already saying it will not give the AN any new infomation around housing built en revolucion…

      Their bigger problem will be one of expectation management, is the AN really thinking it can do more? arms media, (and Money) that is where is at. The regime controls them all.

  39. Folks, folks, folks, please, let’s not get blinded by the fact that a “transition government” won’t have to be exclusively tied to the MUD and everything “non-chavizta”

    The team that takes the first non-chavizta government and thus enacts the economical measures is a team of people fully consious that they’re going to get politically immolated, so I suggest going for some person that few people will miss after they’re “politically dead” and yet will be radical enough to order the measures, like, dunno, Diego Arria?

    Arria’s got some expertise in solving conflics, also he’s anti-chavizta enough to not be bothered by populist bullshit when it comes to basically order the reversion of everything chavizmo has done to destroy the economy, and he’s also not interested in making a political career enough to “keep a nice image”, where “nice” in Venezuela actually means “populist up to eleven”

  40. Hello Amanda. Thanks for your contribution to the debate.

    I have to admit that I shared your point of view for a long time, at least since my college years. Yes, the current PSUV-led Executive HAS to bear the political burden of the economic shitstorm he created (and he’s currently experiencing that). And yes, it’s also true that an opposition government trying to do the right thing here would be in the awkward position of pushing very painful reforms that would affect them big time on the political front on the short term.

    But that doesn’t detract from the fact that what you’re suggesting is coming straight out of a fiction novel. Atlas Shrugged textbook strategy, to be more precise. IMHO, it is fallacious and straight out of fantasy to assume that political power can be seized in the exactly desired timing and conditions as how your post suggests.

    I think your same ideas point to an obvious, inevitable fact: political power will change in Venezuela in the context of a very serious governance crisis and an economic apocalypse (most likely alongside a messy credit event, and maybe even pre-civil war conditions). We are almost there, and it’s just a matter of time before the end game comes.

    And in that context, I think the optimal political strategy is to put in place the transition, starting RIGHT NOW. History will definitely condemn an opposition movement that doesn’t take actions to try to save the country before it’s too late.

    Besides, some of the short term gains from a change in the political-economic discourse can work a long way towards the long-term repairs that will necessarily come; for example, think about the ridiculous +3000 basis points of sovereign risk that is currently priced into VENZ debt, which can easily come down to half of that in the scenario of an opposition govt negotiating an IMF-backed debt restructuring.

    PS: A big +1 on Juan’s comments above regarding the Cardoso government in 1990’s Brazil. One of the best examples of an administration praised on both sides of the political spectrum for having done what had to be done to save the country from economic apocalypse. Key to his success: negotiation with all sectors, which led to society-wide support for adjustment policies.

  41. Great piece Amanda! I do believe there has been a misunderstanding about the core argument of the post.

    Amanda is not implying that we should sit and drink a chill beer while we watch the chavismo implode from within –considering the major hurdles ahead– and let our country go to hell in the process. She’s saying, hey let the chavismo implode from within while *emphasis while* the opposition works from the National Assembly to make the policy changes that need to be done in order to tackle –as best as we can– the hurdles ahead.

    We said maaaaaany things could be done from this institution right? (http://caracaschronicles.com/2015/12/07/23-2/)

  42. Totally agree with Amanda. Venezuelans have a very short memory, and are not as bright as we often like to think. (Want proof? 40% voted for the Criminal Regime, yes, even for Maduro/Cabello, just a month ago. And over 60-70% still Love Chavez, still think “Socialismo” is a good idea. Today. Most people are indeed against “Maduro” but they still light candles for Chavez, who was in total charge for 12 years).

    Now that’s what I call ‘short memory’, and being ‘not too bright’, to say the least, not mention ill-informed and poorly educated; especially after 1.5 Million of the best Venezuelans left the country. (Most of the readers here, for instance). But no one has the guts to say it, politically incorrect, huh.

    Thus, Amanda is absolutely correct. Let Chavistas drown in their own putrid concoction. “Fry in their own oil”, as Henry likes to say. — (and Henry is wrong, as is Capriles, in their views on this. )

    Let “el pueblo” really remember and understand. So that this disaster never happens again. So we’re clear as to whom is to blame, what works, what doesn’t.

    Or “el pueblo” will soon forget, start blaming the ‘Burguesitos” from the MUD for today’s catastrophe, and another Chavez could soon rise again, from the ashes, a proverbial Phoenix bird.. Nicmer Evans style..
    Remember: the Media Machine and the PDVSA and drug money is still Chavista = More Brain Wash.

    And Amanda is right, what’s coming ahead is almost unavoidable. The damage is Done. For all the reasons she details, and then some. (Massive Brain-Drain; Collapse of all infrastructures; Educational crisis (el pueblo getting dumber, less prepared); emergence of other, much healthier Latin American markets for foreign investment (Transpacific Trade agreement; HUGE); Massive Debt, Reserves, and it;s not like tomorrow, people will learn how to grow corn, fish, raise cattle, build anything, master computer science, .. Nope.. Such Miracles take time and divine intervention, they say.

    And, most importantly, let “el pueblo” begin to understand that it’s not just Maduro, or Cabello, or a dozen criminals in power; it’s the Entire Chavista system that is messed up. All liars, crooks, drug dealers, thieves, did I say LIARS? Corrupt to the bone? Because millions from ‘el pueblo’ still think there’s an “economic guerra de las galaxias”, and that “el imperio” is out to get us. MIllions.

    Amanda is right is predicting that the worst of the worst is still ahead. Inevitably. Tough, tough economic measures need to be taken (gas prices, cut 3 million Enchufado jobs, etc)So the smart move is just to step back, go for emergency measures (food, medicine..) while the system and the Criminal Regime Implodes. It will teach a very valuable lesson to “el pueblo” who might otherwise still be confused as to whom is to be blamed for what.

    Let the shyt hit the fan, may the pieces fall where they may, see if next decade Millions will still be lighting candles for El Comandante Pajarito Supremo Eterno.

  43. Excellent piece.

    However, completely disagree with the recommendation which is, essentially, that we have to wait until Venezuela becomes even more of a hellhole than it is right now before we can climb out of it. Look, nobody said leadership is easy. But the essence of leadership is taking ownership for decisions. MUD must own up to the recovery process and all the tough decisions that come with. It has to be very clear.

    I’d rather see a scenario where we begin working our way out sooner. Is the MUD up to leading? Time will tell.

    Thanks.

  44. I think the piece is good, but I strongly disagree with it. In fact, I agree with the moral argumentation given above by Juan, Rodrigo, Bill and Daniel. However, I want to turn my head to the argument that this is not a good strategy even in the purest pragmatism for several reasons. First, this implicitly assumes that the only players in town are MUD and PSUV. However, with hunger and lack of medicines it’s very hard to believe that the people will rally in favor of the politicians of inaction (both MUD and PSUV). So a third party (movement, armed men) could emerge and I’m sorry to say, but usually hunger, frustration and lack of medicines is not followed by a peaceful immediate restitution of democracy. You fail to assume that after Chavismo something worse could come. By not leading the transition, the opposition is keeping the door open for a violent upraise.

    Second, you say that the government is already doing some mediocre budget cuts. Furthermore, you casually claim, almost unimportantly, that they’re failing to pay for food in Uruguay. This is a very clumsy and dangerous way of applying austerity. By failing to buy medicines and food they are generating a potential state of chaos…go back to my argument 1.

    Thirdly, the opposition is already in power. True, it has been, doing very little so far, but in power. It’s true that in a caudillo country the blame falls mostly with the president. Except for the fact that you rallied a great portion of the population behind you, in a massively unexpected turnout for the National Assembly. Furthermore, the hope that the opposition AN brought; in conjunction with the extreme reaction to anything Allup does seem to point to high expectations of the people. Failing at providing solutions can be a major setback for the opposition, even if the president is Maduro. So inaction is very costly as well.

    Finally, nothing tells you that after default things are going to be better than before. Finding the perfect time is not possible. You may never know when the perfect time arrived. Maybe it already has. Even if the opposition starts now a transition, you don’t know when it will actually end. It’s better not to wake up to the realization that you were just too late.

  45. Thanks Amanda; great thought-provoking piece! I couldn’t help it and started reading all of the comments here… What passion!

    Though I’m not venezuelan, I’ve had the pleasure of calling Caracas my home for the last three years and I’ve also had the misfortune of exeriencing the unfortunate and accelerating pace of Venezuela’s current decay. Reading these comments, I can’t help it but disagree with many of the esteemed co-writers who participated in this thread for one single reason:

    As you point out, Venezuela is already committed on a path that is leading it straight into the wall. Sure, some of you point out that you can indeed take policy measures to try and correct what’s happened. I also believe that it basically is too late. Can corrective measures mitigate the effect? Sure, but to what extent? And what measures? And who is serious about mitigating this impact? Certainly not the legislative branch.

    To me, Venezuelans just gave a bunch of people a free-ride card by offering them a seat in the National Assembly. Sure, they aren’t chavistas. Is that enough though? what proposals did Venezuelans vote in favor of? OR was “anything but chavismo” good enough for now? Because if this is the case, then it follows that your arguments are the next logical step in the chain of thought that implies “getting rid of chavismo”.

    IF cooler heads prevail, perhaps we could debate on whether you are right or not on that topic. I do agree that it is hard to be level-headed and more so after 17 years of mess (or was it more, but we just choose to blame Chavismo for everything..?)

    Now, if we agree on the premise that we are already committed to hitting a BIG WALL because of past and ongoing policies, the choice of how to try to avoid that wall becomes imperative (I read MORAL imperative somewhere in there, poor…Kant…if there is one thing that Politics does not offer, it is categorical imperatives!)

    While the two countries are being totally compared, and I am uneasy making comparaisons, perhaps we can draw one historic lesson from Argentina. To Peronists, Perón was “never allowed to finish his mandate”. 70 years of political rethoric about far right and pro-american conspiracies have since fueled peronismo’s main message: that it has an unfinished mandate to change Argentina. In the meantime, by the way, Peronismo embraced the left, and then it embraced the right, and then the left again to veer towards the right in its last and lost election. I heard a very good political analyst speak of a potential evolution into “Casabe-chavismo” because it can go well with any type of ideology…

    This is important, because I believe that Chavismo is here to stay. Whether it suffers from an apparent lack of RELATIVE trust as it did in the last election, or not, Venezuelans will be speaking of chavismo 50 years from now, regardless of its putative evolving policy proposals. To this element, add the fact that one of the only things this government is good at is Communication (and propaganda)

    The question then becomes: is it a good strategy to let chavismo run its current cycle till the (bitter) end?

    Well, first and foremost, I believe in the rule of law, and I also believe that atypical legislative measures such as the removal of a Head of State, are NOT a regular and frequent measure employed by stable democracies, even less so in times of political upheaval. To me, Venezuela is the chronic of a failed state waiting to happen, but it STILLis a democracy! I find it ridiculous when people who complain about the lack of respect towards democratic institutions shown in the last 17 years, spend their time yelling for a coup d’état or for an EXCEPTIONAL MEASURE that will only FURTHER weaken the country’s respect for institutions. No, the solution must come from within the democratic system that needs to be bolstered, not weakened. If not, you are just setting the table for another tragi-comic cycle of Rightwing-populists succeded by Leftwing-populists.

    Back to the intended question, as I understand it: is it a good strategy to let chavismo run its current cycle till the bitter end?

    I believe it is, and I also believe there doesnt seem to be a viable alternative right now. I also believe that the opposition has a role in trying to formulate policy proposals to save us from this impending self-caused doom.

    What I find hard to believe is that they actually have a plan…because I didn’t see any plan during the last election. I did see opposition candidates make a couple of individual proposals to mitigate the crisis, hoping that would be enough to get them elected. Allow people to obtain property rights for their house and sell them if they so wish it? SEEMS OK. It makes sense, it’s a market solution…why not…is it going to save Venezuela from Bankruptcy? NO.
    Let’s be honest, I’m being UNFAIR. The opposition has announced a couple of reforms that made sense.

    But this is the kick: Neither the opposition nor the government have shown a semblance of political will in colaborating. No matter how many proposals the opposition puts forth, they are doomed if collaboration from the executive branch, is not sought. Whose fault is this? Chavistas? MUD? VP? PJ? Well…it takes two to tango… Or if you want to take the easy cheap “I’m a businessman and I want effective change” approach…well, the only way to make things happen, is to make a deal…

    And so, I come to the bitter conclusion that in good old 1970’s latin american ideological fashion, the legislative opposition is not looking to BOLSTER THE GOVERNANCE OF VENEZUELA. It is just looking to make chavismo fail, so that a Far-right Chavez succeeds this excuse of a far-left Chavez.

    Why does this matter? Because I don’t think we should discuss whether it makes sense or not to let chavismo fail. All evidence points to the fact that Venezuela’s opposition has made the same cynical calculation as Amanda, that it is putting up a semblance of “goodwill”, but that none of the current governing bodies, and none of the official branches of government is actually making an effort to veer of this collision trajectory that we are well engaged on.

    Apologies for my tone to my Venezuelan friends; it hurts me to type these words, as I love this country so much that even in the current situation I want to stay!
    And no, just in case cooler heads do not prevail, I am not an enchufado, and I’m certainly not making a living off the Venezuelan economy. But I have lived in some very weak democracies (and one or two failed states) in Africa and Latin America, before discovering the magic of Venezuela. I’m still intrigued as to how many years of indecency it took for the political class (and the citizenry) to get us where we are!

    • As there are many valid points in your comments. Particularly in the semblance within the opposition.

      The area where I digress is where you think this is a “cycle”. It implies that it has a natural end. Maybe you mean the electoral cycle? Perhaps. In that case that cycle would end in 2019. Three years from around this time. Where I disagree is that this is no cycle. This is a process and one that f not stop will continue the process of decay that you have witnessed for the last three years and that many here has witness for much longer.

      Chavismo has yet to make more mistakes. Mistakes which will be very costly. Let me remind you that it has been 17 years.

      Now if you interpret that anyone is favoring a coup, then your are misinterpreting what is being talked here. No one here is asking anything form the armed forces. The only few scenarios being considered here is an early termination of Maduro’s term via an electoral process. Another one is re-drafting the constitution which would require also presidential elections.

      And there is always the possibility of Maduro quitting (like in Argentina, albeit during different conditions).

      Something that I feel is unclear is the cost of waiting. It is not about patience. It is about cost measured in human capital. Everyday gets even costlier.

      • Great discussion.

        I agree with FBR – as bad as it sounds, to do anything that looks as a forceful ousting of Maduro could easily led not only to strengthening the Chavista narrative (“He really was trying to help el pueblo but they took him out and them applied their paquete neoliberal”), but could easily lead to the creation of multiple terrorist groups to defend the revolution.

        Even the best case escenario, that Maduro realices in the hot mess he is in (highly unlikely, I know) and abdicates to a transitional government, it could be easily spin into a narrative of Maduro betraying “el legado”.

        So, my pretty pessimistic analysis is that no matter how this ends, I’m pretty sure that political violence is in Venezuela’s future – they have money, weapons and a lot of “locos”, and the only way to minimize it’s impact is to make sure that their popular support is as low as possible – it is a very different thing fighting an urban guerrilla if they have 5% of popular support than fighting one that has 20% support) (just think of the excesses that the government commit in fighting them, and how easily that reinforces their ranks)

        In any case, I also think that none of the big actors have much control of the situation – the system is so chaotic right now that is imposible to predict the consequences of any movement beyond a couple of days at the most.

        • But at the same time, as the state recedes under chavismo, it is occupied by pranes. Something pretty obvious to me.

          So you are saying it is better to fight them when stronger but with less support?

          • The difference between fighting pranes than fighting “righteous dignity rebels”, is that you can lock pranes in the sebin’s tombs and no one will mourn for them, while every time you do anything against the “rebels”, your support goes down.

            Sadly the force struggle is inevitable, the state has to focus on the regions more exposed to be taken by the pranes and their gangs so we don’t have to witness stuff like the bunny-pig’s funeral murder, where a guy was shot 50 times in front of a crowd and the idiots present basically exploded in applause for such an atrocity.

          • Well, I’ll explain the reasoning behind my post.

            You see, chaviztas idolize, they put into a friggin’ altar as saints to any, ANY so called “leader” with a NAME, they make them sacred and infallible paragons of perfection, because one thing that MUST be understood about chaviztas, is that they are dirty hypocrites.

            One example: [Insert random non-chavizta person’s name here] has money, BBAAAAADDD >:O. The corpse had lots of money too, but that’s GGGOOOODD :D. This is hypocrisy 101.

            Another example: Unnamed malandro kills some woman just for funz, BAD, sadly, almost HALF of chaviztas will agree on this, the other half will say she DESERVED IT. Llaguno killers rain gunfire upon unnarmed protesters killing a dozen, now that’s fuc***n’ GREAT :DDDDD. Hypocrisy^x (up to x)

            Most recent example: Lilian Tintori goes to visit LL in Ramo Verde, burn the witch in the stake, ’cause you know, “ramo verde’s monster” and all that BS. diosdadito’s wife went to visit him while he was jailed for coup, stuffing his son’s pinata with GRENADES, now that was BRILLIANT and worthy of the PRISON OF DIGNITY.

            PRISON. OF. DIGNITY.

            Those three words. Are. Not. Mine.

            They’re LITERALLY lifted from one of DC’s most recent trollings, while he was interviewed by zurdacondutca’s resident palangre. (Not gonna search the video ’cause it’s a couple of clicks from here)

            Now, what would possibly be “worse” from a “getting the dissappointed chavizta’s support” point of view, fighting some random pran like el picure? Or DARING to defy one “god from the red pantheon”?

            Why do you think it’s taboo to say ANY part of the truth about the corpse, which is basically the SOLE culprit from EVERY single disgrace Venezuela’s suffering now?

          • You are shifting onto a different direction. One thing is to idolize Chavez, and another one, pranes.

            But you are saying something very important. The opposition NEVER attack Chavez because they were afraid they would alienate the electorate. What kind of political opposition is that!? Those folks tend to think that we should wait BTW.

  46. Blog Post: “Putting LGBT rights lower than empty ceremony in the list of priorities is messed up!”

    Comment: “How dare you?! How distasteful! We’re in an emergency!! No time to even talk about froufrou civil rights when we’re in the middle of a war zone!! P.S.: Marriage is obsolete anyways!”

    Blog Post: “How about we just wait Maduro out?”

    Comment: “Hmmm, shrewd strategy!! Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.”

    *slow clap* Great job everybody. Sure can’t figure out how the country went down the drain. *slow clap*

    • The title of this post is “Want to Finish Off Chavismo? Keep Maduro in Power”

      That is the ONLY question that being considered here.

      The article satisfies a good response to that question.

      Now if you ask, is letting the Chavismo stay in the power best for Venezuela?

      That is a whole different question with very different answers.

      This article is about pure political pragmatism.

  47. I think the discussion brings many valid points to a simple situation that has no clear answer. I like Daniel’s example of a Dr. Because it highlights what I think Kiko has been trying to say all along a reinforces the validity of the question Amanda brought up. I was thinking that if we let the patient leave it will spread a deadly disease… But I think this one is a better example.

    If we let chavismo burn: will they really die and can we rebuild from ashes? Or we suffocate the fire, save a bunch of people leaving the arsonists alive, and ready to burn us all over again when they get a chance. Will more people die by suffocating the fire and leaving chavismo alive? If that’s the case, aren’t we morally bound to let them burn and not intervene just yet?

    There are two many variables to take into account for any of the two scenarios, but I’m sure that very compelling arguments can be brought up for both and that’s what Amanda just did.

    Do we really have a chance to kill chavismo for good by waiting? Will it come back and haunt us like a zombie if we act now?

  48. The problem with the people who didn’t get the point of the article is that they doesn’t know what a calendar is and how the Venezuelan voting calendar looks like.

    How would you expect the MUD would promote a revocatoy referendum before december 2016 if the regional votings should be at the Q4/2016? You are really naive. No one with political aspirations would take the power of this chaos before the regional votings had happened.

    Do you guys know how to count? Apr 2013+3 year means at least apr 2016, but that is just the momment to start the revoke process, and the votings would happen months later, by economy, at the same time as the regional and local ones, never before Q4/2016.

    Who in MUD would disdain the chaotic scenario chavism will face at the end of 2016? what they are looking is the maximisation of the regional and local heads and councils. The only real way to eradicate chavism is by taking the political power from downside, and then, backed up in the two years with no votings, to promote economical and painful changes.

    Remember 2017 and 2018 are not electoral years, and 2019 will face the presidential voting for the post transitional government.

    Retaking the SSM issue and what the AN should be doing until 2017, i think the AN should be setting the path to strenghten the regional and local governments, dismantling the Central government to allow the chavism dissappear slowly behind the possible MUD’s succesfull management as governors and mayors .

  49. Venezuela needs professional stewardship, not more optics. The sooner we can get the adults back in the room, the sooner we can wade our way out of this mess.

    As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

  50. Another reason not to wait until “chavizmo toasts itself”, and this might be one of the most important ones, specially for those still living in Venezuela: “I don’t want to waste my youth in a disgusting hellhole.”

  51. Don’t know that once the oppo takes its decision it will be able to delay the process for effecting a regime change , they cant avoid it because the pressure from its constituency will be relentless and unstoppable , that’s what they were voted to do ( If in doubt look at the polls) , the regime will use its powers to delay or sabotage the process as much as it can so we don’t know for certain when the process of regime change might be completed , it may take longer than expected. Then there are two events which can have a very impacting effect on any such process , one : in October of this year Pdvsa will have to pay some 10Billion of USD to avoid default , the general expectation is that default is pretty near inevitable and will likely have terrible consequences for the country , second gubernatorial elections must be held before December and their result will either complete the burial of the regimes credibility as a political live force or if they pull a miracle give them a second breath of life ……..One thing I know from historical and practical experience , the outcome of this kind of process is very difficult to predict or plan …expect surprises……the notion that the Mud can delay or advance the regime change process at will is not one we can rely on ..there are too many variables ….!!

  52. Cool heads. You are asking for ice in the desert, it seems, Amanda!

    The question, in strategic terms as I see it, is not whether economic policy can be implemented to safely navigate the crisis, but whether the MUD is capable of the navigation.

    I hoped so… But given the action of the AN, with its ceremonial soft-Carmona symbolic gestures like the Caldera thing, I don’t think they’re as worried with preparing for the storm as with establishing their political psychology for the future, the dynasty of 4 1/2 Republic.

    Sadly, because of this, I cannot but see the MUD as simply the lesser evil and agree with Amanda.

    Kudos for your bravery. Venezuelans think blind fury is bravery usually, it makes me proud to see exceptions like you.

  53. Capriles has always advocated for saving the country first, rather than letting it burn for political purposes, but it happened there were neither constitutional means (besides resignation) nor political capital to oust Maduro in 2014; so logically the efforts had to be put in order to make the government change (as hopeless as we could be about it already). Now, it’s pretty different, we have the tools, we have the people, and the government has proved time and again they won’t do shit to get us out of this mess.

  54. Interesting article, Amanda, and the debate it caused. The President was elected on April 14, 2013 and sworn in on April 19th., so that to start collecting firms for a revoke process, it is necessary to wait until April 2016.Then the firms will be submitted to the CNE, who will count them, accept them (or not, remember 2003 and firmazo, reafirmazo, firmas planas, everything done to gain time). When CNE accepts them, it should set the date for the referendum.
    Now, all that has to take place before April 14, 1917, when the President will have been in power for four years. After that date, even if there is a ” falta absoluta” of the President, the Vicepresident gets to finish the term, until 2019. So whatever is going to be done,it has to be decided soon as there are very important time limits.

  55. It seems to me few here think we can educate a large amount of the population even now in order to prepare a regime change.
    That is sad. I believe on one hand most Venezuelans are in denial when it comes to how serious the situation is and most don’t understand much about economics…but on the other hand I think a lot of them can be instructed…and we can transform them into vectors of economic knowledge.

    Apparently, most Venezuelan political junkies think Venezuelans are not just lacking instruction but idiots.
    And that is not correct.

    • Yes… I think it’s wrong to think they are idiots, just like you. After all, chavismo boasts the fact that they politically educated the population. That has yet to be tested fully, but December’s election result may be a hint.

      My biggest issue with your premise is that our electorate doesn’t want to be instructed. It wants to believe, and some stopped believing in the revolution, yet some still believe… But I fear there are very few that believe in the Mud. We just see it as the lesser of two evils.

      Unit we can have something the people and the country can believe in, we’re just haphazardly United against chavismo and their broken model, and have no real way of really convincing people that this mess was created from fifteen years of crazy mess.

      In the end we will be just like them, now blaming la quinta for all that went and is going wrong.

      • Again: I do not believe people are idiots. If you treat them with respect and you tell them the truth, which is not nice and not simple and takes some time, you will gain their trust after a while.
        We haven’t told them the truth. No one has. Perhaps Uslar Pietri did, to some extent, but in way too intellectual ways…and he was just one person. We need a movement of people who have the honesty and the will of hard work to come up with a minimum of common shared facts and then explain that to the people.
        Above all, we need people who want to take Venezuela out of the bloody feudal mentality it has had since it left Neolithic times. We need to discuss what accountability and real political debates and division of powers and productivity are.

  56. Great post/discussion. The MUD, I believe, is not consciously colliding with the Govt., if anything, it’s the other way around, due to Maduro’s Castro-Communist “education”/upbringing, which only allows for further central planning/concentration of Govt. power, rather than rational free-market solutions to the economic mess Chavez/Chavistas created; this, and the need for this ultra-corrupt Govt. to cover their backsides and try to avoid public airing of the massive fraud (300m GMV housing solutions vs. 1.2mm claimed, for example) and stealing (estimated up to $300bill.) foisted on the ignorant Chavista electorate by the miserably-failed “Bolivarian” economic model. The cards are dealt, Maduro/et. al. are doubling down on their bets; they will not go easily, or without probably a bloody civilian sequel (remember, most of tthe current key Govt. political figures were Commie urban thieves/guerrillas/military conspirators before miraculously being elected to power). The current rational/thinking military are sitting on their hands waiting/hoping for a peaceful “constitutional” solution to Venezuela’s miasma. But, it’s questionable if the economic tsunami actually present (e. g., the OMS recommends that all counties, even those at war, have at least 150 commonly used medicines available to their populations–Venezuela has only 30; Mercal, where 6mm Venezuelans in extreme poverty buy weekly below-cost basic foodstuffs to keep from starving, instead of providing semi-weekly/weekly goods, is now at bi-weekly providing, and many times at only 30% of the amount provided a year ago) and to come will allow any peaceful/electoral solution, and the 75-95% Venezuelan poor will probably react violently from hunger, unless the military reacts first. Events will probably overtake/precede any current MUD/Govt.solutions to Venezuela’s intractable economic/social disaster,and it can only be hoped that the MUD has the political/communicational wisdom to put the blame squarely where it belongs, so that “Chavismo” is dealt a crippling/hopefully fatal death blow.

  57. I think Amanda’s article underestimates the positive economic effect of a change to a democratic government in Vzla. Foreign investment flowing back into the country etc. I’m sceptical about ‘poisoned chalice’ arguments. I remember that in the UK just before David Cameron won the first election, there were dire predictions that the austerity measures were going to be so harsh and so unpopular that whichever party won would be a one-term government and would then be out of power for a generation. But it didn’t transpire.

  58. Is there not a case for the AN/MUD to practice the “black arts” that the dead one used with such success? I’m thinking that HRA needs to dust off a “Blood, Sweat and Tears” speech so that there are no illusions about magic wands.

  59. I really liked the article!.

    i guess the thing is that winning the past election with 54% of the votes have poisoned us to believing that the country is in for a change, which i dont agree with. The votes that made us win where soft, first timers, and can be interpreted in many ways. Definately its not an overwealming shout to change our economic and political systems.

    The country is not prepared to support the measures that need to be taken in order to restore sanity. If MUD rushes, those soft votes that made us win, could flip again.

  60. I just wanted to voice my support for Amanda’s opinion, which I share. True, it is relatively easy for someone living comfortably outside of Vzla (knock on wood) to voice this opinion, but let’s think for a moment what the Cuban masters of brainwashing will do: by March they will start saying that everything was fine until the new MUD-led AN took over, and desperate people will buy it. If things improve, they will plaster chabe’s face on everything. They will prevail, they have almost 60 years of experience in Cuba. As harsh as it sounds, total collapse in the hands of PSUV is the only way to guarantee its disappearance.

  61. Comparto 100% la posición de Amanda. El concepto de imperativo categórico que abunda en el estupendo debate no es aplicable a la política. Aquí no están en juego los principios, sino las estrategias, aquí estamos optando como Churchill entre pactar con Hitler, sometiendo al país pero salvando de la muerte a cientos de miles de jóvenes británicos, o luchar, sacrificando toda una generación, por el futuro libre de sus hijos y nietos. Churchill no dudó, optó por lo segundo, principios aparte, y salvó a la Gran Bretaña.
    Preferimos salir ya de Maduro, por una cuestión de principios, y asumir la dolorosa carga del ajuste, y sus consecuencias políticas, en tanto que el chavismo se recupere en el activismo opositor, saboteando las soluciones, movilizando colectivos y pranes, disponiendo de los cuantiosos recursos sustraídos del erario público y de buena parte de los hierros. Qué más productivo que atacar a los ricos, al imperialismo y al neoliberalismo que empobrece al pueblo!!!
    Argentina, 1956: Dilapidada la enorme riqueza acumulada durante la guerra, y respondiendo prematuramente al descontento popular, los militares depusieron a Perón e iniciaron los ajustes económicos que acentuaron tal descontento. Así es como Perón regresa triunfalmente años después, y la Argentina sufrió 50 años de populismo, empobrecimiento y degradación. Hasta Macri, como gobernador de Buenos Aires, levantó un monumento a Perón frente a la Casa Rosada. Y el virus populista sigue activo saboteando su triunfo.
    Históricamente los pobres recordarán siempre al gobierno de Perón como la época de oro principalmente porque disponían como nunca de un regalado bolsillo abultado, y repudiarán a los gobiernos de los sucesivos ajustes que se lo vaciaron. Al igual, el de Chávez será recordado por generaciones por igual razón, desconociendo los resultados de tal despilfarro y obviando el período de escasez atribuible a la oligarquía. No es la hora del aprendizaje y la reflexión? O preferimos ser los pagapeos y servirles en bandeja un país saneado a los chavistas en 2019?

  62. Is sad to read an article Titled like this one, solutions can’t not be based on the Non Sense Ideas of taking everything to worse cose of a change wanted.

  63. Amanda Quintero, your reasoning is completely falacious and illogical. I will explain why very slowy because it is important to make my point absolutely clear since your argument is dangerous and destructive and I am afraid some important oppo leaders are in the same page as you . You are assuming that you KNOW and ARE ABLE TO PREDICT what the consecuences of the collapse will be. But you don’ t. There is no way you can know that, you simply don’ t know anything about the kind of society that will emerge after the collapse or its conditions! You only know it it will be very very bad and I can’ t see why you would think that can be good for you! You are assuming very childlishly that the consecuences of the great collapse will be somehow very favourable to you, that they will be what you expect them to be… The truth is the impact of the crisis goes far beyond your agenda and our understanding of the situation. Don’ t you see it? The crisis itself is a sort of blackmail you are falling into. Maybe that’ s why the situation is not fixed! The fact that you are making your argument proves I am right, because it means that Maduro has actually bought some time in power by consistenly making things worse! So he won’ t stop. You have to stop thinking that the worsening of the situation is in your own interest because it is simply not. It may seem so, but it is not. The lower you get, the harder it gets. Having said that, also try thinking about the people dying from lack of medication in the meantime.

  64. I found it hard to see that as an option, since I have no protection against what “hitting hard rock bottom” means, in terms of starvation. It may seem indeed like the wise option in terms of erasing chavismo from the face of the earth for good. But, my view is that, the more time the changes take to start, the worst the crisis is going to be. And I’m reminding you that, this year and a half wait could mean that thousands of people in this country starve to death, literally. We are now barely surviving. Former middle class struggles to gather money for food, and basic needs, water crisis adds-up to the formula. And it all seems pretty neat in theory, but the havoc will affect lives. Despite the hard and impopular measures that needs to be taken, you would be surprised to know how many people understand the need of those measures to be taken, in order to solve the crisis. This Capriles-like approach (esto se cae solo) is not acceptable, in my humble opinion.

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