Miguel Rodríguez Torres: No Longer Ignorable

Here's some bad news: the time when you could just ignore Miguel Rodríguez Torres is over. The former Interior Minister is making his move.

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It gives me no pleasure to tell you that you really ought to watch the video above carefully. Sadly, it’s becoming imperative to do so. Why? Because Rodríguez Torres is not your average dissident chavista.

With his roots firmly planted in chavismo’s military and security aparatus – he’s a retired Army General who participated in Chávez’s 1992 coup attempt, as well as a former head of the Intelligence Service and the guy in charge of the security services as Interior Minister during the 2014 intifada – MRT is ideologically miles opposed to the leftwing civilian faction that’s been responsible for most chavista defections over the last few years.

MRT has been plotting his move for years. His website is copyrighted 2014. He’s a deliberate, careful operator, and his challenge to Maduro is now virtually open. Don’t believe me? The guy is allowing himself tweets that…don’t leave that much to the imagination:

In a context where plenty of chavistas, especially in the military wing, see Maduro as more a problem than a solution, he’s pitching himself in a seller’s market. Despite his blacker-than-black Human Rights record, MRT is pitching himself as a kinder, gentler kind of chavista. He goes on and on about national reconciliation, about the books his priest gave him to read, about dialogue the human soul’s capacity for forgiveness. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I can throw him, but that’s his line and he’s sticking to it.

Despite the obligatory, ritual denials that he’s seeking the presidency, Rodríguez Torres is hardly subtle in his ambitions: he’s calling for a “refounding of chavismo” and for the resignation of PSUV’s national leadership. On the policy front, he’s arguing for unifying the exchange rate, for ending price controls and moving towards income support aimed at families, and a series of other policy apostasies – embarrassingly, his is a more coherent and complete policy prescription than any opposition spokesperson has dared to voice.

For the growing cadre of chavistas, including many regional leaders, looking for a viable figurehead to pull them out of the quagmire that is the Maduro presidency while ensuring impunity for the abuses of 2014, Rodríguez Torres offers a particularly compelling package.

How far will he get? Time will tell.

One thing is clear to me, though: MRT is not a Nicmer Evans or Jorge Giordani style figure Maduro can safely sideline and ignore. In the present context, this stuff has to be raising alarms in Miraflores. Watch this space.

45 COMMENTS

  1. Maduros main strenghts are his control of govt resources and powers , the fear of many top chavista that if they dont support him they will lose their hold on power and all that entails both to their inflated pride and interests , and his absolute lack of scruples in using all means available shamelessly to maintain himself in power .Also that just by personifying power he attracts the support of people who are attracted by power itself , whoever wields it . ( the cratolatric herd) of which there are so many Venezuelans .

    If there was an election Maduro would find it hard not to lose it , but if he loses it then there is always opportunity to use a different less tainted figurehead to represent Chavismo in an election , that man would likely be Aristobulo who is already inside the circle of power , careful not to be seen as threatening to other Chavista bigwigs and highly popular with the grass roots . If he changed his speech (which is deliberately not as obnoxious as Maduros) he might attract quite a few now dissafected Chavista .

    He might become a formidable candidate …..if he can bring the Chavista circle of power to the notion that a change in speech , ( a tad more like Torres own) is tolerable and that they should (despite their fears) accept that the challenge that a new election might pose for their continued dominance .

    Torres is playing a well thought out strategy , he projects a military strong men image , may still retain some military friends , speaks with moderation , expounds the need for union , thus he might canvass the support of many mid level Chavistas and part of the grass roots specially those fed up with Maduro , but he is not inside the circle of power , has no officilal standing , which will make things difficult for him . He will not get a free ride from Maduro …….thats for sure and the top bosses may not be yet prepared to jettison Maduro until their situation becomes more dire.

  2. What I hate the most about this country is that I can’t really never figure out what the hell is going on no matter how many blog posts I read.

    First I thought Ramirez was one of the three powers ruling the land, then I saw him getting kicked out of PDVSA
    Then I thought Cuba was behind everything, then they betrayed us and went cozy with the gringos.
    Then I thought Diosdado was the mayor player… and then he got sort of kicked out.

    Then this guy appears. Never seen him before but now he is also a “powerful player” What? why? who the fuck is ruling this place anyway? Cause Maduro sure isnt.

    • C’mon, he’s not *that* obscure. He was Interior Minister during 2014!!! You may not have heard of him, but I promise the people his security forces tortured back then won’t have forgotten his name.

    • you are kind of right. think for example, as when alexander the great died, the empire divided in four pieces.

      this is sorta like that, but with more pieces and united by ideological glue

  3. Well, I don’t know anything about this guy’s background, but he speaks as a head of state. His standing as a potential candidate as president of the Republic dwarfs Maduro’s, Chávez’ and (also) Donald Trump’s. He may be a risk for democracy and human rights. But given the current status of the Venezuelan affairs, sorry but I don’t see much at stake.

  4. Cuando Quico comenta que MRT es el ala militarista del PSUV me viene a la memoria una conversación que tuve con Armando Gabaldón en los tempranos 90’s, donde decía que, de acuerdo al Determinismo Marxista, Venezuela tarde o temprano debería ir hacia una dictadura.

    Sopesando la falta de tracción de la oposición y las trancas que producen al sistema la permanencia en el poder de un Maduro y un Cabello, cada vez veo con más chance que ese escenario se produzca. Pensando también que la oposición le está apostando a que la crisis continúe para no cargar con el costo político de solucionarla.

    Habría que ver con qunen están cuadrados dos personajes de los que poco hablan: Gustavo Gonzalez Lopez y Nestor Reverol.

    El primero controla los servicios de un inteligencia, entreno a los paramilitares antes de ser Dir. del SEBIN y ahora está, según el último descubrimiento de Castro Ocando, de todas las escuchas, pinchazos y demas, tanto de la oposicion comi del regimen. El gran Father.

    El segundo me dicen es el militar con más conocimientos del narcotrafico y narcolavado en Vzla. Tanto así que puede jugar los dos bandos como quiera (el malo y el bueno). Por algo dicen que es el cerebro detrás de los narco generales y 3ro en la pirámide de poder.

    Adicionalemte, Gonzalez Lopez y Reverol son cuñados.

    Cuenta MRT con estos dos? Si alguien sabe, que avise…

  5. I think you are looking at this the wrong way. What matters isn’t what MRT means as alternative to Madurismo, what matters is that it is now clear that there IS a dependable part of chavismo that can join forces with the saner parts of oppo to apply bona fide pressure to get the referendum.

    If MRT needs to be president a bit for a new status quo to grow in Vzla that values sanity slightly more than ideology, I’ll vote for the bastard myself.

    And many others will too. Don’t waste this bombita, sane-MUD.

      • Power isn’t some magic staff you hold, own completely, and then must relinquish. It is a complex relationship of relationships. Otherwise we would still be vassals of the king of Spain.

    • “… that values sanity slightly more than ideology…”

      Sanity, sure, the sanity to order to have killed anybody who dares to say a peep, but without the noise that today’s chavismo screeches as they slaughter people.

    • Lopez Contreras como buen andino era conservador y veía el trabajo de “institucionalización” que venia desarrollando Gomez (a palo limpio).
      Aunque no venia de la academia, Lopez preparo el terreno para su sucesor Medina Angarita que si fue formado en la recién FAN, aunque tuvo sus bajos de ultimo momento.

      A MRT yo lo veo mas como un esbirro al estilo Pedro Estrada

  6. It’s true that MRT is making his move, but so far I haven’t seen anything to indicate he has any support besides his family, or at least none inside PSUV. Why would any of the current chavismo leaders / chiefs flock to MRT’s side? Why is he a better option than others? Why would PSUV-at-large choose him as their next candidate?

    So, yes, MRT is running for president. But as part of what party? I bet he’ll be on the ballot in the next presidential election, but as a third-party candidate, outside PSUV and MUD.

    • With such a completely inoperant goverment as we have, the presidency is as good as up for grabs right now, you only need military support to get and/or stay in power. IF he has support there, then he is a heartbeat away from power.

  7. Having this guy as a “transition man” would equal to have some Videla-Pinochet-chimera without any of the good stuff those might have done.

  8. I felt like vladimir was walking on eggshells with this guy, as if he was afraid of him. He could have brought up the HR Issue (send the army to the barrios, WTF?)

  9. Arias Cárdenas with a terrible human rights record, a guy that would be in jail in a country with institutions. The worst part is the many so-called ni*nis or independents (read disgruntled chavistas) like him,

    • That’s the proof that there’s still a bunch of incredibly stupid people in Venezuela that keeps thinking with their asses instead of their brains.

      Hell, a lot of those people haven’t even taken off the plastic wrapping of their brand-new brain…

  10. Seguro, señores, vamos a poner en la presidencia a un carajo que participó en un golpe de estado, y que de paso mandó a matar a casi cuatro docenas de personas durante manifestaciones populares.

    Pero bueno, como mató unos colectivos y sigue siendo militar, ESE ES EL HOMBRE, CARAJO, ¿Qué podría salir mal ESTA VEZ?

    …Erga, es para convencerse de que hay venezolanos que de pana son masoquistas de a bolas.

    • Any attempt to make institutions actually work on this country goes through making the military kneel and make them accept that they SERVE the civilian part of the country, not the other way.

      Allup, with everything, understands that letting that bunch of corrupt, self-serving criminals run rampant is what has put this country on this mess.

  11. The country is in a state of deepening crisis perhaps made worse by the bitter emnity between regime followers and a growing movement of oppos and dissafected chavistas , some people hold on to the view that come the breaking point ,a pol that stands somewhere in the middle may come out on top , someone capable of proyecting a message that both sides can identify with and bring the country together , at different time we have seen different figures position themselves in that role , example Falcon within the Mud , sometimes JVR inside Chavismo, MRT is just another would be pol who thinks that there is a future playing the guy in the middle !! This is a sign that there is a group of people who sense that unless a pol can be found that somehow bridges the chasm between the two contending groups , then resolution of the current crisis will become ever more daunting…if not impossible …..!! That no single faction can by irself resolve the stalemate that is strangling Venezuela.

    • MRT is not a figure that can unite the country, that’s not the angle. He is a figure that can bring about a state of affairs where both competing factions can compete in a more gentlemanly fashion.

      Whether he us actually presidenciable or not, he obviously is the only one out there selling a believable way out. Oppo pols are too cascarrabias and chavistas in power have too much to lose.

      • “… a believable way out…”

        He’s not selling any “way out”, he’s just interested in keeping chavismo afloat, with him on the driver’s seat.

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