Fear and Loathing in a No-RR Scenario

All of our eggs - not just all the opposition's eggs, but all of the nation's eggs - are now Referendum Revocatorio basket. What if it falls?


A palpable sense of dread hangs over many of us. Scenes from last week of jubilant people smiling as they signed a petition to recall Maduro were offered momentary relief. Still, each day brings fresh horrors – whether it is news of starving racehorses, museums shutting down, gangsters gunned down, or public officials flaunting the law. Heck, now it’s a thing to kill pigeons to eat.

Bad as things are, we still have one thing offering some semblance of hope: the Recall Referendum. It ain’t much. It’s flimsy and precarious and may not save us in the end. But like passengers after a shipwreck, we’ll grab on to whatever bit of driftwood comes our way. It’s far from ideal, but what choice do we have?

Which makes it seem almost cruel to go through this scenario, but go through it we must: if the recall fails, what then?

After the Supreme Tribunal shot down the idea of a Constitutional Amendment, we knew that left the Recall as our last, best option. In all likelihood, it’s our last shot. The only other option, the Constitutional Assembly, is cumbersome – and a government willing to play rough enough to sink the RR is willing to play rough enough to sink the Constituyente.

Everything now hinges on the Recall Referendum – not only chavismo’s power, but also Henrique Capriles’ career, Leopoldo López’s freedom, Polar’s survival, and the lives of thousands of Venezuelans. Whether it’s those needlessly dying at the hands of unchecked crime, those who will suffer from tropical diseases that go untreated, the newborns dying in our hospitals, or the families beginning to show signs of starvation, the bottom line is: the longer chavismo stays, the more people will die.

This is the moral choice we face as a nation.

Let’s make one fact clear: the Recall Referendum should happen. We have the signatures, we have the votes, and time is on our side. There is no way that, in a fair and just Venezuela, Maduro survives a Recall Referendum held according to chavismo’s own rules.

But we know chavismo is re-writing the rules as they go along.

For all the optimism our leaders convey, there is a real possibility that the process will be shot down. Chavismo has many tools at its disposal to…dispose of us. The terrifying part is the realization that if a Recall does take place, it’ll be largely because the parts of chavismo who’ve come to see President Maduro as a long-term liability have outmaneuvered the parts of chavismo still standing by him. We do all the legwork and take all the risk, but the ultimate decision is going to stay in the hands of people who hate us, who would have us exterminated if they could.

What we know is that if Jorge Rodríguez, Tareck el Aissami, María Cristina Iglesias, Elías Jaua and the other leftwing extremists who still have Maduro’s back have their way, there will be no Recall Referendum.

If they get their wish, Venezuela would face a tragedy unlike any we have known. A society that’s been flirting with state collapse could cave in completely. Hyperinflation – the real kind with intra-day price rises for most products – could destroy the economy outright. Basic order – already badly compromised – could give way completely to anarchy amid complete institutional implosion. The cohesion of the Armed Forces would probably not hold.

And us? What exactly would we say?

What exactly do we want Henry Ramos Allup to say the day after a bunch of goons with guns turn up on TV reading a high-sounding communiqué about restoring the constitution and announcing they have Maduro in custody? What exactly do we think Chuo Torrealba’s game plan should be when the commander of the National Guard gives an order to go stop a looting episode in Cumaná and his troops and mid-level commanders just don’t pick up the phone?

If the Armed Forces act to end this disaster, what will we say?

We’ve grown used to the idea that, as much as defeats hurt, we’ll always have another chance. This time, we don’t. God knows we all need the Recall Referendum to succeed. The time is now. If this thing doesn’t happen, we only face a cliff.

We’d better have our parachutes.

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  1. There is one quite good analogy to Venezuela – Communist Romania. That thing ended bloodily, but the crash had a bottom, and Romania is now a rising star of the former Communist world.

    Don’t end the story at the cliff. The history won’t end there.

    • There’s a big difference – communist Romania was not a military narco-state, with armed gangs freely roaming the country. The call for “law and order” will be loud, and this will prompt the military to act and overstay their welcome. We *have* to factor in this very real possibility.

        • Of course the story doesn’t end there, but for most of us, the concern is for ourselves and our loved ones to still be alive to see the continuation of the story.

    • There are several major differences.

      The Romanian regime was imposed and maintained by Soviet force; Chavismo is home-grown.

      The long-time leader of the Romanian regime was a colorless bureaucratic sleaze, who became discredited with the whole people; the long-time founder and leader of Chavismo was a very charismatic demagogue, who enjoyed enormous personal popularity and died before his misdeeds were brought home.

      The Romanian regime maintained civil order, right up to the end; Chavismo has allowed a serious breakdown of order.

      The Romanian regime relied exclusively on its disciplined official security forces; Chavismo has enabled lots of free-lance vigilantism.

      Romania was a total dictatorship, with a Communist monopoly of politics and only sham elections; Venezuela has a publicly operating opposition, which has won many elections.

  2. I have proposed this before – just one of many ideas we could implement -:
    the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans abroad should start demonstrating not in front of the Venezuelan embassies abroad but in front of other Latin American embassies. Venezuelans in Madrid should all go to the embassy of Brazil those in Washington to the embassy of Argentina, those in Ottawa to the one of Panama, those in Sweden to the one of Colombia etc etc etc all over the world. We should put those governments to shame.

    Right now Tibisay Lucena is also preparing another Lista Tascón. What do we do about it?
    “Now there is nothing we can lose” is too little, I think.

    Venezuelans need to declare to the world a set of requirements that need to be met. One of them is the cleanup of the Judiciary. Another one is the opening of the public media, which is completely propaganda right now. Yes, this is no luxury. It is a violation of human rights the way the regime is using the “public” media right now.

    Diosdado has called Capriles and many others murderers, thieves, etc? Well: it is time to bring up something not to El Nacional but to the public media abroad…about Diosdado and his gang.

      • Which “this”? All those things are just more ways to put on pressure, make the military top realise the outside world wants them out and would support a regime change.
        Any measure that is non violent is useful at this stage as long as people don’t get tired of it like a new strike. It is not much to organise those actions abroad.
        Again: the devil is in the detail. We should stop protesting in front of Venezuelan embassies. We should do it somewhere else (that is regarding expat actions)

        • The point being that chavismo grows bolder every day in their abuse of law and the constitution to thwart all attempts by the opposition to… do anything. Chavismo doesn’t care about anything other than power and corruption and they sure as hell don’t give a damn what the international community thinks. So JC’s point, doing what you ask will accomplish nothing in the face of chavismo intransigence. However, just because it is fruitless does not mean it should not be done. The world does need to know what’s going on. It’s just that international moral outrage at the abuses being perpetrated won’t affect this regime of enchufados.

          • Chavista honchos will use any kind of violence just to keep power. I know. But these actions will increase the chances factions between Chavismo will start fighting each other as they will think the rest of Latin America wouldn’t mind to see a change, even if it is “just one Chavista replacing the others “. And that can benefit us.

  3. Claudio Fermin view is that that the revocatorio can get sabotaged in which case the oppo should phocus on winning the forthcoming Gubernatorial and mayoral elections at the end of the year ….., the thing is to harrass the regime all way possible and keep the pressure going , making it lose credibility and face by going after every political target that makes itsef available . Winning one political space after another . Things arent going to get better but worse for the regime , for one thing its broke and fast losing the support of even some of its longest lasting allies……., If one strategy doesnt work you adopt another and another , My own view is that there are many shinks in the regimes legal armour which we havent really explored and which can be exploited with lethal effect……, We should see the revocatorio as our best most close chance to effect a regime change but not as the only way to that much desired result …..there are others …….!!

    • Bill – You’re a very intelligent guy, and I enjoy reading your thoughts and I think you have a clear view of the situation . Please do not misinterpret this – it’s “focus” not “phocus.” Also “chinks” not “shinks.” Your English is much better than my Spanish. Allup’s latest statements that the AN will not follow any unconstitutional TSJ ruling were a bright spot in my otherwise dreary day yesterday. He went on to address the oficialistas saying that they knew what he was talking about.

      • Ramos Allup’s posturing & Fermín’s idea about the gubernatorial election are symptoms of a wider disease in the opposition – we simply don’t understand how much is at stake in the coming months. Do we honestly think the Venezuelan population and, more importantly, the military, are going to sit by and idly wait to win one more useless election, or wait until 2019, while the country literally rots away. And if they do act, can we honestly say they don’t have a point?

        • Juan – Lo ve igual. Las cosas empeoran casi dia por dia (por lo que leo). Pero rezo que lo que pase sea pacifico y ordenado, y no algo “en la calle” como dice Maduro.

          • “… y no algo “en la calle” como dice Maduro.”

            El problema para el encantador de pájaros es, que cuando las cosas se den “en la calle”, no le van a salir como él piensa.

        • “Do we honestly think the Venezuelan population and, more importantly, the military, are going to sit by and idly wait to win one more useless election, or wait until 2019…”

          But everybody who wasn’t willing to wait until 2019 has been called “rrrrradical exxxxxtremist guarimbero” so far.

        • “We’ve grown used to the idea that, as much as defeats hurt, we’ll always have another chance. This time, we don’t.”

          I have been consistently impressed (surprised, amazed, shocked) at the Venezuelan ability to suffer an indignity, a shitty situation, and not break. Time after time. The lines grow longer, the list of shortages mounts, the body count rises from lack of medicines. The list goes on. And yet, the people have not broken. Sure, se arreche por unos dias… but never a truly unified nationwide “ya basta, hasta allí y NO MAS”.

          But the attitude on the street is different now. It’s palpable. The seemingly unbreakable camel’s back feels like it’s just about stressed to the limit. The next straw really could be THE straw. If the recall is derailed, then that’s it, there is no more hope for people to hang on to, and all bets are truly off.

          Thats a day I honestly don’t want to come. It would make today, May 5, 2016 seem like good times. But to answer your question, if people lost all hope and acted…. Yes, they would have a point. What other option were they left with?

      • Gringo: My apologies for my many spelling mistakes , thank you for your kind words and for your corrections , now Im more aware of the CHINKS in my command of english spelling and that I must FOCUS on improving that spelling .!!

        • Your English is really excellent – I thought it was your primary language, and I was (ahem) surprised how well you wrote in Spanish. Me encuentro leyendo mas en Espanol, intendando de recobrar y mejorar.

    • I agree Bill.
      It is important to understand that the only power the opposition has is the political power, the support of the people. The laws, the AN, even the elections count for little. So no there is not much hope that constitutional means will force them out. Yet the regime is still paying lip service to a few of them like elections, and so we should make use of those opportunities knowing that the game is rigged.

      Chavismo is lost and is just trying to gain time in hopes of a saving grace, like a rebound of the oil price or another miracle. There is no plan B for them and no exit strategy. They feel they can’t dismount from the bull so they hold on for dear life.

      Meanwhile the opposition must show them the door at every chance, even if they do not take it, the people can see that that is what the opposition is offering, a change, a solution to the disaster chavismo created. A solution that can only be initiated as soon as they leave power.

  4. The referendum will succeed, with about 85% of the votes, but Maduro will order the TSJ to declare that it is null, because even though 85% voted “out with him,” it did not total the seven million plus needed (because one million died of starvation and other natural causes, and another million fled across the border to a saner country), and Maduro will repeat with a glowing face, “Nadie me saca de aqui. Yo se los dije. Y saben quien me lo dijo a mi? Un pajarito.”

    (Just kidding.)

    • Actually, yours is a very likely scenario. But I highly doubt that he can get away with it. The failure of the recall referendum will unleash a storm unlike anything we’ve seen yet – mark my words.

      • Isn’t this what Gringo said more or less exactly what happened with the corpse in 2004, that the people who “out voted him” were a couple of thousands of votes of taking him out (Even when the referendum was won by the opposition), and that he also mocked the country claiming in several oportunities that he would never, ever leave the power, even if ten millions voted against him?

        Yep, that’s what happened. He was lucky that Mr. Danger aka George Bush’s personal war against Middle East resulted in the skyrocket of oil prices a bit later.

  5. My 2 cents worth is that this will end in the street with blood. The referendum will not proceed within this year and the status quo will prevail with more and more people dying and anger rising. At some point there will be a spark that ignites the flame leading to a coming explosion which will involve the military and maybe an armed conflict between sections of the military, militia and colectivos. Then it will be the task of new leaders to pick up the pieces and rebuild,

    • Exactly. But let’s think of the day after – what becomes of Caracas Chronicles? What position do each of us take personally? That is what I’m trying to get at.

      • Just guessing here, but it seems it would depend on how the factions materialize, and positions they put forth. If oil prices stay under $40, there will be some (not a lot of) money to supply food and medicine. Default or restructure the debt. Hopefully Guri will refill. I sound like a looped video, but whichever seems the most practical way to restore private property and eliminate the many disastrous policies of government ownership of production, and price controls, subsidies, and such. I’m not sure I get the politics of it, but there’s so much in the news about how many businesses are operating at very low capacity (SIDOR, for example), that the country would, if order were established, present an opportunity for private capital – not to steal or plunder, but to invest and produce. Maybe that’s what rich enchufados are waiting for, which is why I would hope that whatever government comes in would encourage companies like Halliburton, or French, Australian, Spanish, Italian, English, etc., and not rich enchufados or Iranian, Chinese, Russian, and others of that inclination. What I’m saying doesn’t translate into the practical until some definition of factions begins to emerge. (Did I understand the problem / question?)

      • Juan,

        On the day after, there will be no space for considerations of ideology. Simple survival will force the competing interests to cooperate. The military will be busy keeping order and eliminating the various armed groups that will try to compete with them for control of territory. This part will be bloody. The AN (those that survive), will become a de facto interim government.

        Once some interim stability is established, the interim government will go hat in hand to the international community asking for help, which they will receive. Venezuela will recover, after years of hardships. Twenty years from now, this nightmare will be history.

        What becomes of Caracas Chronicles? You all get a brief moment of fame on the news shows, explaining to the world what happened here. Then you go on to write another book. Twenty years from now, you will occasionally get together to wax nostalgic about the greatest adventure of your lives. When you try to tell your children about Venezuela’s hardships and your parts in the saga, they will be sure that you are exaggerating.

        And life will go on…

  6. I know some people are gonna lol at this one but I am surprised nobody has brought the obvious.
    There are probably more than 100 clear reasons to Impeach Maduro.
    If we consider the historical precedent, Carlos Andres Perez was impeached by just one weak reason, why not Maduro?
    I know the TSJ stonewalling, blah, bla bla, but with International pressure and on the face of super obvious, undeniable impeachable offenses the TSJ might finally give in. This time the eyes and liability would be directly on them and some Judges conveniently might change alliances given the imminent power shift.
    Even if that fails, which is more likely, this would add up to the offenses when they have to face justice and also helps to deligitimize Maduro even more.
    I think Ramos Allup, say something about this yesterday.
    And we don’t have to wait until next year for this one.

    • I don’t think the TSj would give in to any sort of pressure, and neither would any of the other institutions. Unless chavismo breaks from within or Maduro loses serious support of the military, or both… they will continue to cause trouble.

      • I think the AN should pursue the Impeachment next.
        They said they are going to use ALL the constitutional means to oust Maduro.
        I can’t find a reason why it shouldn’t be done. Just waiting for the recall referendum while doing nothing would be stupid.
        And as I said, even if unsuccessful, the impeachment would expose and help to build a case against the TSJ now and future legal ground to persecute their Judges.

    • Looking at it from chavismo’s side, the smartest thing they ever did was stack the judiciary. The type of process currently going on in Brazil can’t happen in Venezuela because the judiciary isn’t independent. Without an independent judiciary, there are no checks on abuse of power in any form, including impeachment proceedings. As was said satirically the other day “the TSJ has declared the Constitution unconstitutional.”

      • With that train of thought it follows that nothing should be attempted because the TSJ will rule out anything and everything unconstitutional, including the RR. So we should just give up!
        Which makes me wonder how the 6D ever happened?

        • No, Toro, we don’t give up. We keep doing what we can, even knowing that the deck is stacked against us. Unfortunately, I fear that, in the end, only a military insurrection will effect true change. Whether for the better, that remains to be seen…

  7. El chavismo está intentando acorralar a la gente y tenerla pisada lo más posible para mantenerse en el poder y poder seguir raspando la olla.

    No estoy de acuerdo con eso de que “si el RR se da habrá que agradecerle a los disidentes del chavismo”, todos sabemos que los susodichos “inconformes” son en términos de poder unos ceros a la izquierda (Todos esos inútiles alcagüetas de la fulana marea sucialista), y en términos políticos están todavía por debajo de los más despreciados de la MUD, son perdedores como el miserable Giordani que la gente hasta tobos de agua cochina les lanza en la calle porque ya de vaina en sus casas los respetan.

    Al chavismo se le está dando la oportunidad de resolver esto de forma civilizada, de seguirse negando por mantener la impunidad de los cuatro gatos que dirigen ese montón de pus sangriento, se van a arrepentir mucho peor que el resto de la gente de Venezuela junta, cuando el peo escale a proporciones que los hagan desear llorando y de rodillas que la gente se hubiera quedando haciendo las guarimbas satanizadas de 2014 y las bailoterapias desde 2002 hasta 2012.

    La Salida, que por cierto tantos acá aborrecen por disque “violenta e inútil” se va a quedar pendeja, al menos en la parte violenta comparado con el peo que el chavismo, y sólo el chavismo está provocando SIN QUERERLO, porque el chavismo será muchas cosas, ellos realmente piensan que lo que lograrían con la violencia sería someter a la gente por medio del miedo, los golpes y las balas. Ellos en ningún momento han considerado que la gente les va a reaccionar enfureciéndose al punto de que se sobrepongan a su miedo precisamente porque la paciencia de los venezolanos ha demostrado ser la de un santo hasta ahora.

  8. And, ah, where is the Vatican in all of this? A few years back the entire Bolivarian Revolution packed a Cubana airliner and headed off to Rome to seek a spectacular photo op at the Vatican, approval from the Pope. They got it. Smiling pictures. Happy small talk, this time in Spanish. It all took place in an elegant reception area, the Pope personally receiving Maduro, Cilia, Giardano and Ramirez with a 16th century Raphael hanging on the wall in the background. A Spanish-speaking Pope’s blessing to a new government. But since that time, it’s all gone wrong. There are now Spanish newspapers in the Vatican. It’s all there for one to read. Surely the Pope understands the disaster and human misery descending on the Pueblo of Venezuela? Surely he understands the fascist-like policies being imposed by this very unpopular government? He’s Argentinian! “You gave THESE people your blessings! …and you’re allowing this to take place? Massive fraud and deceit?” Where’s the Vatican on all of this? Why the silence? If there is no outrage coming from the Vatican, and soon, this Pope will go down in history as another Pius XII.

    • What’s the Vatican have to do with anything? What does it matter if the Pope understands anything about Venezuela?

      • The Pope is a facilitator to the Venezuelan economic death spiral. The Vatican’s silence on the Bolivarian Revolution is outrageous. If you allowed these clowns into the Vatican, allowed them the credibility of standing next to the Pontiff, and then IGNORE their fascist behavior and their corruption, you are facilitating their depravity. It’s that simple. Many of the poor of Venezuela still believe that the Pope supports the Maduro government. They are told so by the media. Millions are suffering, and the Pope says nothing.

        • “Many of the poor of Venezuela still believe that the Pope supports the Maduro government. They are told so by the media.”

          And if the Pope said otherwise, they would find out how…and then would do what? If anyone’s support of the regime is dependent on whether they think the Pope supports the Maduro government, instead of the hellish condition of the country, then they are certifiable.

          And anyway, you’re wrong. He is not ignoring anything.


          He also met with relatives of political prisoners this past week, among other things. And you frankly don’t know what pressure he’s exerting through non-public channels. Publicly berating a regime is generally last resort and extremely uncommon for a Pope, for various reasons.

          Get a clue.

    • What exactly would the Pope do that would make a real difference? More international moral pressure that Maduro and co. will ignore?

    • No, do not focus on the Pope. Focus instead on his number two — a man who knows Venezuela better than anyone at the Vatican. When Nicolas Maduro was foreign minister, Pietro Parolin was dean of our diplomatic corps. After he left Caracas, he became the Vatican’s foreign minister. He and his boss are both fluent in Spanish and he has a reputation as an activist diplomat (having most recently been the key mover of the behind-the-scenes deal that got Cuba back in from the cold when the Obama White House re-established diplomatic relations.)

  9. Excellent article. !!!

    Being in Venezuela this week I have more time than usual to comment on the articles as I am in a self-imposed curfew.

    I would like to be the contrarian on this interesting and meaningful conversation. My fear is that the “regimen” will let the RR happens only after they secure that the current or any other designated VP stays in power. They could even let the opposition win the regional elections. but as we know with “Alcaldia Mayor” they will cut all the powers of this entities.

    The opposition lead by Capriles will claim victory for winning the regional elections and life will go on as it has been in Cuba for the last 50 years.
    MUD will be happy for winning “spaces” and the “regimen” will stay in power until presidential elections.

    I’ve been visiting Caracas this year more than I’ve visited Venezuela in the last 3 years. The situation is more than desperate. Basic staples like sugar are impossible to find ( just went to McDonalds La Castellana where I bought Coffee and there’s no sugar, my bachaquero can’t even find it).
    What I notice is resignation and people just spending their lives trying to find food…No sign of Caracazos….if RR is not activated. Furthermore, Capriles and su combo has been the major “apaciguadores” of street protest (whether LaSalida et al)

    My 2 cents is that RR will happens if it happens later than January 10/2017. Opposition will be focusing on regional elections claiming victory for winning “spaces”

    • Life will definitely not go on as it has been in Cuba. If we fail in this, the country won’t run with any level of normality, at all.

      Regional elections would wipe chavismo from the map whether they want it or not, but they won’t do much good if central power is still in chavismo’s hands.

      As for calming the streets, that’s a thing of the past. Capriles and the rest have been calling for street demonstrations to pressure for the RR for a while now.

      We’re simply no good without the Referendum. It’s quite literally our last chance.

      • IDK. Generally the harder the crash, the harder the adjustments are to swallow. On the one hand, you’ve got an economy in serious trouble and extreme shortages of food and medicine.

        But, on the other hand, you’ve got at least 30% of the population (my own out-of-the-hat guess) that truly believes a managed economy is viable. Could be that they blame current situations on the economic war, or government incompetence, or corruption, or whatever. But exchange controls are still viable in their minds. Managed prices are viable. Even expropriations are viable. These policies were all introduced by the santo comandante, and are beyond reproach.

        As one friend put it, “somos Chavistas, no somos Maduristas!” as he voted for the MUD on 6D. He later regretted that vote, but, the sentiment speaks volumes. Not everyone who voted for the MUD on 6D supports the MUD’s economic policies. “Change” for them comes in other forms.

        With a new president and new leadership, even as desperately needed policy reforms are implemented and conditions begin to IMPROVE, I still think that we’ll see an unusually large portion of the population generating significant blowback over those same reforms, due to ideological ignorance.

        OR… maybe I’ve just been living in distortionland too long and am conditioned to always expect that up is down….

    • “What I notice is resignation and people just spending their lives trying to find food…No sign of Caracazos….”

      Making people to survive just for finding basic staples is communism 101, that’s why the nomenklature takes control of all the production means in the country, so they can hold all the population hostage in that sickening stranglehold where those who don’t kneel and obey simply don’t eat.

      Also, cars**tazo wasn’t a “popular spontaneous rebellion against corruption”, that’s the idiotic fallacy sold by communists, those lootings were a coldly calculated coup against CAP by Castro and the cubans who had infiltrated Venezuela since the 60s.

      “if RR is not activated. Furthermore, Capriles and su combo has been the major “apaciguadores” of street protest (whether LaSalida et al)”

      That’s the general idea about PJ’s role in this problem, still, they’ve been clever to cover up their asses and not leave any proof of said dealings (Which are as stupid as Cisnero’s deal with chavismo to break Polar to favor his monopoly over beer at the cost of starving millions of people)

      “My 2 cents is that RR will happens if it happens later than January 10/2017. Opposition will be focusing on regional elections claiming victory for winning “spaces””

      “Screw everything, brace for the impact, keep people ignorant and looking for food so they get tired and we can continue screwing everything” That’s the classic MO for chavista nomenklature.

  10. You know, the constitutional amendment is not really “dead”, the TSJ just said that it would not apply immediately to Maduro, i’d say there’s a far better chance to first have the AN aprove it, then have a massively overwhelming vote in the referendum, and THEN put an enormous pressure, through whatever means available (hell, even the military, if possible), to have it apply to Maduro’s term, and call for a general election this December. The enmienda is a far far far “cleaner” option than the referendum, and people’s jobs won’t be put at stake.

      • The Constitutional- Amendment- won’t- apply- to Maduro-decision is beyond dumb. If the Constitution is amended to say: “This will apply to the sitting President, Maduro”, then it’s binding. It’s the Constitution for God’s sake! The TSJ doesn’t have a free-standing right to strike down the Constitution.

        • ” The TSJ doesn’t have a free-standing right to strike down the Constitution.”

          Only if that benefits the rebolution.

          You can ask Rodríguez Araque, who said that “the catchment of money for illict means is not outside our moral compass, because it’s being done to benefit us and the revolution.”

  11. As an aside, the really reprehensible Delcy is outraged that the US has denied visas to some of the government “Diplomatic officials” trying to enter the US. Gosh, could it be that diplomatic passports are given to criminals like Cilia’s nephews??

  12. It will certainly fail, you don’t think you’re gonna overthrow a dictatorship with some scribbles in a piece of paper right?

    • Certainly fail? What is your basis to say that?

      You do know the Recall is not about the signatures, right? It’s an election, like any other. If chavismo reaches that election, there’s a real chance that it will leave power.

  13. I for one won’t cheer any military intervention, even if it appears at first sight to be for the good. When the military intervene, they don’t go back to their barracks all that easily. And in our case it’s worse, because they’ve already been out of the barracks since 1999. The transition from chavismo will be hard and unstable no matter what, and having the transition start with the military holding power will make it a lot more difficult. The table is certainly set for a military intervention, if social unrest increases to the point that several top generals says “We can’t allow this to go on”. One obstacle, in my opinion, is the lack of cohesion among the FANB as a whole. A successful intervention would require many groups among the FANB to agree to go along, or at least to don’t stand in the way. I don’t know if there’s enough cohesion for that.

    If the government is overthrown by the military, I think MUD should come out immediately and say they do not support any coup, that the constitution should be followed, and call for whatever the case calls (if Maduro resigns, then elections in 30 days, etc.). There are groups in the opposition – and most are not really part of MUD – that want the military to intervene because they know that’s the only way they’ll get to be part of a new government. They don’t have any real influence inside MUD, and they don’t have enough popular support or a candidate to win elections or primaries against Capriles / Lopez. So they know the only way they’ll be a meaningful part of a new government is if they are called to join a transitional government by the military. When any opposition politician calls for the military to “do their constitutional duty” or any other code words for “overthrown Maduro”, all I hear is them telling the guys in uniform “If you do so, I’ll back you. And call me after you’re done”.

    If the military intervenes, they’ll surely try to get civilians, including from the opposition, to join in a Junta or whatever, even if just for appearances sake. MUD must not hitch their wagon to anything of the sort. If MUD does join in, they would be throwing away everything they (and we) have been building for the past years. If you want to replace chavismo, you start by not behaving as they do.

    • We must disabuse ourselves of the idea that ‘the military’ are a monolith unified group , automatically capable of mounting a succesful coup to take over the country. after 17 years of being jostled and purged a hundred different ways , they are a fragmented bunch, full of cracks and internal divisions , with many competing cliques fighting each other , with quite a few that just wish to be left alone to enjoy whatever goodies are thrown to them from the banquet of the regimes largesse and corruption . Some of them are stakeholders in the regimes future.!! Even if quite a few might have their doubts about the regime’s survivability , they will want to make sure that whatever they do has a good chance of success and will have the support of most of the population. The situation is a hot potato they wont want to inherit !! So lets not be too sanguine about the chances of the military wanting to stage a succesful coup to take up the reins of power on a permanent basis……..we must think of them more like timid self interested beaurocrats than as ambitious warriors…!!

      • Bill Bass,

        Once the regime clearly loses its grip on power, I would expect a short period of chaos within the military in which most of the generals and admirals will be purged and a new chain of command established. Once that takes place, the army will set about restoring order and reclaiming territory from the various militias and armed gangs. I do not think that they will try to play a political role.

  14. There is another reading of the possibility of a RR happening soon that people have overlooked: A negotiated arrangement between the opposition and PSUV higher-ups to have Maduro out by mid next year so that Aristobulo takes the presidency. I think it’s pretty clear that Venezuela is past the point of no return and the economy is rapidly crashing down. The Maduro regime is looking at the real possibility of a country-wide riot that would have to be put down by force and that means a bloody repressive counter-attack by the military. Since the economy can’t be fixed that quickly, an opening has to be cut in the pressure cooker lest the whole think explode with a very loud bang. Classic Sun Tzu. That opening is the RR.

    The opposition, however, knows that having the presidency now is a political liability. With the opposition in power, years of accumulated economic mismanagement would have to be corrected. The dreaded “paquetazo”. Three years before the next election. This is CAP II all over again, but this time the opposition would have to bear the brunt of the finger-pointing and would face a country–wide riot of its own. The military would, in true Latin-american fashion, either come in with full force against the populace or try a Coup d’ stat. Or both. If they don’t, Chavismo will be back in three years after an election that would not need to be rigged in order for the now thugs-in-power to win. Not very pretty scenarios.

    So what is there to do?

    Negotiate. Have some “moderate” within the ranks of the government replace Maduro, appease the masses, implement long-neglected economic reforms. What do they (PSUV) gain? A political future. One that’s fading extremely quickly with Maduro in power. What does the opposition gain? A future as well. One without the taint of (undeserved) blame by the common people because of unpopular economic corrections.

    Aristobulo being on TV lately, being exposed by the media to “el pueblo”, is a signal in that direction.

    • The thing is: we have to end Maduro’s regime now. If Aristóbulo takes power, we’re done. The country can’t stand any more of this cruel, destructive government.

      It’s not about the opposition… it’s about the people. Normal, innocent citizens are dying.

      As for the oppo taking the hit if they come into power, if that happens, they will have to stand it. It may not happen in any case. With a truly well-planned transition, power won’t be a liability. We’re in a situation so extreme, that even policies that would be considered unpopular in any other circumstance, won’t make people bat an eye, as long as the new institutions ensure medicine and food supply and start dismantling exchange and price controls.

      • My biggest fear is that MUD to avoid a civil war than only would exist in their mind (two armed bands are needed for a civil war) could possibly accept this salida. They would get the “governaciones” and Aristobulo will stay until next presidential elections

      • IDK. Generally the harder the crash, the harder the adjustments are to swallow. On the one hand, you’ve got an economy in serious trouble and extreme shortages of food and medicine.

        But, on the other hand, you’ve got at least 30% of the population (my own out-of-the-hat guess) that truly believes a managed economy is viable. Could be that they blame current situations on the economic war, or government incompetence, or corruption, or whatever. But exchange controls are still viable in their minds. Managed prices are viable. Even expropriations are viable. These policies were all introduced by the santo comandante, and are beyond reproach.

        As one friend put it, “somos Chavistas, no somos Maduristas!” as he voted for the MUD on 6D. He later regretted that vote, but, the sentiment speaks volumes. Not everyone who voted for the MUD on 6D supports the MUD’s economic policies. “Change” for them comes in other forms.

        With a new president and new leadership, even as desperately needed policy reforms are implemented and conditions begin to IMPROVE, I still think that we’ll see an unusually large portion of the population generating significant blowback over those same reforms, due to ideological ignorance.

        OR… maybe I’ve just been living in distortionland too long and am conditioned to always expect that up is down….

      • Javier, regarding Aristóbulo, I’m curious what you think. My wife is of the opinion that he’s a much more moderate chavista, and would play ball with the MUD if the rest of PSUV control structure was eliminated (like Maduro).

        Building on that, and responding to El Gocho’s post: If the rest of the PSUV machine were dismantled (TSJ, CNE, etc etc etc), could it not be reasonably argued that a negotiated deal with Aristóbulo could make a very difficult national transition somewhat smoother?

        If it was Aristóbulo dismantling exchange controls, not Allup or Capriles, I think some of the hardcore chavistas would at least be willing to give it a try. maybe. possibly!

        All this is assuming Aristóbulo was willing to play ball and work closely with his new MUD masters, and everything my wife has said about him seems to indicate he might be smart enough to see that doing so would be the only way to preserve his career in a positive light.

        IDK. I don’t know Aristóbulo, I’m going on limited conversations with a few people. I’m curious what you think .

        • I do not think Aristobulo has the political clout inside the PSUV to pull it off.
          If the RR is delayed until next year there is going to be a big internal fight for that VP post. Think Diosdado, Padrino, Rodriguez Torres, etc. Who knows who would come up on top?

          The other thing, is would that person reverse the policies that have brought us to this point? Would he be capable of recognizing that the controls (prices, exchange, distribution) are doing terrible damage to the economy? Would he be capable of dismantling them? Would he initiate a reconciliation with the opposition?
          If it gets to that point it would mean (in my view) that chavismo is already defeated.

          Such scenario with a Gorbachov-like figure leading a PSUV perestroika and introducing a Venezuelan Glasnost may seem improbable, but hey, crazier things have happened.

          Since it is a possibility someone needs to start promoting it. That may represent for many chavistas the only viable exit strategy that does not end in violence.

          • Also, Aristóbulo’s one of the most reviled fat fished in chavismo, who’s fully commited to all the stupidity that dragged Venezuela into this pit, who also completely agrees and fully endorses every stupid communist policy from chavismo, that range from the “economic war” excuse all the way to the cadivi tumor and who thinks that people goes and spends hours in lines because they have lots of money to buy stuff.

            And, he also claims that people MUST GET USED TO LIVE LIKE THIS, FOR EVER AND EVER.

            No, folks, Aristóbulo’s as scatological and despicable as Diosdado, Maduro and Padrino.

  15. Elections have been the opium of the Castro satraps.

    They steer people’s anger and frustration periodically as a well designed pressure relief valve. They keep enough hope for people to remain docile and controllable.

    The few that have realized this and promoted the Salida and other more “radical’ actions have been ridden with pejorative positioning by the “opposition” that wants to play along. the real menaces to this arrangement are in Jail or so discredited in public opinion that their actions are under control.

    I ask you where is all the money fro the elections and for the operation of the “institutional opposition” coming if not from the state? or is there any private industry left or individual contributors financing partidos politicos anymore?

    This regime does not believe in free and fair elections, they are another mean to their end of totalitarian control, much as the judiciary, the military, the media, and control by para state means such as uncontrolled crime (or promoted even), by discretionary distribution of scarce staples, by dismantling educational an sanitary systems…long etc.

    All the actions of the regime are consistent with this strategy. there is no fluke, no incompetencia.

    Maduro is dumb for sure, at it serves the purpose. The former puppet was ” pintoresco” this one is “humillante” :both help keep people looking at the puppet and distracted while the real strategy continues its effective execution.

    To your question Juan, what does CC and other spokespersons become the “day after” the game change? It depends what your intentions are naturally.

    I take most of your readers and contributors to be intellectually honest and well intention-ed patriots, IMO the roles should not wait for the “day after” , but rather start today, and be directed towards active resistance. With all its 10 letters r-e-s-i-s-t-a-n-c-e.

    Verstehen Sie?

    …enough de hablar tanta paijta como si el pais fuese la pretendida democracia liberal de occidente que algun dia pretendio ser.

    Somos colonia y tierra arrasada. The motto should be independence and good governance..

    • El motto debería ser muerte al chavismo, ahora.

      Pero la corrección política mata a nuestras madres de hambre, de enfermedad, de violencia.

    • “I ask you where is all the money from the elections and for the operation of the “institutional opposition” coming if not from the state?”

      Todo iba bien hasta que llegó la teoría conspiranoide.

      • Lamentablemente es así. Un estado otrora rico en financiamiento de petrodólares y bajísimo control institucional, en manos de una fuerza invasora que utilizó estos recursos en asegurarse un tinglado para robar y ser inmune a una reacción nacionalista.

        Sistemáticamente identificando, atacando y neutralizando grupos e instituciones en su tablero de ajedrez. (militares, PDVSa, medios, administración electoral, control de identidad y notarias, manejos de transporte de mercancías intranacionales e internacionales, industria privada atrofiada y sector publico clientelar hipertrofiado, pare ud. De contar. Un largo etc….

        Teorías conspiranoides dice, pues si, lamentable. Los partidos políticos también fueron objeto de esta sistemática ocupación, comenzado por cambios constitucionales de eliminar financiamiento publico una vez el chavismo tomo el coroto.

        Luego, le puedo decir, con conocimiento de causa, que ha existido un sistemático control vía corrupción de cualquier elemento corruptible dentro de estas instituciones de “oposición”.

        No sea zángano ni inocente amigo Ochoa. Lamentable insisto, pero cierto.
        Puede Ud. explicar tanta inefectividad en las acciones e iniciativas que intentan las oposiciones de otra forma? es pura incapacidad de los liderazgos opositores?

        Estamos realmente tan jodidos como nación que vamos ya para 4 lustros y no se identifican los problemas y formulan soluciones correctamente?

  16. Los Chavistas se van con las botas puestas. This will not end peacefully, and why would it? Retirement plans for dictators is jail or death.

    Indeed having the military take power will make them the de facto ultimate power in Venezuela for time to come, I can imagine them acting like the Turkish military before Erdogan, taking over whenever they thought it was appropriate. This is just plain bad for democracy.

    What was telling to me was the issuing of the ‘signature forms’ by the CNE. This is certainly a concession by Chavismo. I repeat a concession. This is against their nature. Moreover, it turned out to be shot in the arm to the opposition which was able to show strength and cohesion.

    Since the December election, every political event is lost badly by Chavsimo. This is costing them dearly so why even allow yourself to be humbled? The answer is that they fear more ‘la calle caliente’. So any concession to postpone civil unrest is a better choice. It’s political palliative care during which you can pray for literal miracles.

    Postponing the violence is also a problem for the regimen, because it weakens day by day, so when it does go off it may be Eastern Europe totally 80s where the troops just refused to repress. But that point of weakness may already be with us, thus the concession to avoid ‘calle caliente’.

    I don’t want to believe that Chavismo can become a Castro or Mugabe, if nothing else, the ruling gang just lacks the talent.

  17. Tocayo Nagel, una pregunta:

    Por que consideras el Constitucional Amendment como no viable?
    Podrías profundizar acerca de este punto? gracias

  18. Ya no más, señores. No más vueltas en un tema tan triste. Vamos para 20 años dándole vueltas a las mismas soluciones “pacificas”.

    Todos aquí sabemos en el fondo de la consciencia que el chavismo ganó.

    El referendo, igual que otras maniobras en el pasado, será aplastado y ridiculizado.

    La única forma de cambiar el gobierno es derrocandolo por las armas, con el riesgo de que eso desate otra dictadura militar o una guerra civil. No hay otra salida, nunca la hubo realmente.

    Salgan los que no han salido, saquen a los que quedan, los que ya salimos.

    Estos temas solo alargan la agonía de los que sufren y la angustia de los que vemos todo desde afuera sin poder hacer mucho.

    Disculpen que no lo escribo en inglés, no creo poder transmitir tal tristeza de esa forma.

  19. There will be no recall vote, that is the whole strategy by Chavismo: Get to Jan 10 2017 with Maduro in power. After that they will get to 2019 with or without him. Hope there will be rain and higher oil prices and stay around at least until 2025.

    • If there is no RR, there will be a coup attempt. If chavismo thinks it can get to 2019 unscathed, then I commend them for their optimism.

      • Exactly.

        My Money is on a coup that triggers a split between armed officialism factions, each one with military, paramilitary and organized crime ramifications.

        All clutching at straws to gain some facade of legitimacy by recruiting naive members of the civil political leadership.

        From the cubazuela scenario to the unknown!

        What really is driving it all IMO is a more regional example, a new XXI century “Chaco War” with Big Oil and other new Global energy players (China) playing proxies and waiting in for a decimated oil jurisdiction to be available for cheap.

        • Why I don’t think it would be a coup? The army is so corrupt and so in drug trafficking that is better for them the status quo. Unless they could negotiate with the opposition and some groups within Chavismo, IF and this is big IF the street protests are so large and non-manageable that they can use “el pueblo arrecho” to negotiate a transition.

      • I don’t know if you’ve already seen this. It’s from Runrunes originally, and all of that article is pertinent to discussions and opinions expressed on CC. The short passage below is especially relevant to your present topic on CC.

        Even though presumably none of us here are “connected to the inner chambers of power where the real information flows,” here’s an assessment and opinion from someone who is – and it matches what has been expressed by some here – e.g. NET’s post just below here.



        “Ayer en La Tercera de Chile dijo varias verdades sobre el incontinente verbal que maneja el país como si fuera la granja de Orwell. Dos errores principales que Maduro ha cometido: “Identificarse demasiado con el mito del cargo que le llegó por default y no aceptar el consejo de Lula da Silva de optar por una estrategia de concertación con la oposición”. Pero también, según este intelectual, pecó de “megalomanía”. A la pregunta ¿Aguanta la ciudadanía esta situación con largos cortes de luz y escasez de alimentos?, respondió: “No. El revocatorio no se haría antes de enero 2017 y la gente no aguantará hasta ese momento. Habrá un estallido social y la toma del poder por los militares que convocarán a nuevas elecciones o una Asamblea Constituyente”

        • “…no aceptar el consejo de Lula da Silva de optar por una estrategia de concertación con la oposición”

          El baboso de Dietrich, que se cree tan sabelotodo, aparentemente no se ha enterado, o ignora por pura malcriadez típica de los comunistas, que Lula ya tiene rato largo amenazando a Brasil con que les va a hacer la vida de cuadritos con terrorismo si se atreven a seguir con la idea de hacer pagar a Dilma por corrupta.

          El estafador ese sólo anda picado porque dejaron de pasarle sus chequecitos de miles de dólares mensuales, los cuales ahora se los están bebienod los parásitos del Podemos español.

          Aparte de seguir con su tozudez ridícula de que “Maduro es malo pero Chávez era bueno” cuando dice que el primero pecó de megalómano, porque será que el fiambre no era casi megalómano; esa absurda “lealtad chavista” de considerar sagrado al malnacido aquel es lo que más desquicia de estos miserables comunistas, más que la hipocresía inherente de querer “destruir el capitalismo disfrutando de todos sus lujos” que siempre, SIEMPRE practican.

          • Totally. These jerks pretend to be philosophers when all they do is throw out incredibly absurd and impractical arguments solo para despitstar y para ganarse attencion y plata. I try not to waste time reading about them, and I didn’t know who Dieterich was, until I looked him up. Bad post of mine. I just thought it was interesting, the way the article was written on Runrunes, that he said there will be a coup before there is time for the RR.

            The possibility still exists that a Guri disaster won’t happen (won’t worsen), and that other miracles take place, such as food and medicines, that international pressure on the chavistas forces sanity, that at least some of the estimated $300,000,000,000 is recovered – and maybe Maduro and his clique are recalled or totally ignored. How does that great saying go? “Los anhelos no emprenan?”

          • This guy Dieterich is an example of what I meant way earlier, that the elites – artists, businessmen, politicians, diplomats, writers – are trusted to, or are supposed to, provide intellectual direction, and fail miserably. The guy who steals because he’s starving does less harm, and has a better excuse, than the elite who morally and ethically betray.

          • Dieterich is a communist who insults in German “capitalists” in a similar way as Lenin did.
            I do not say “communist” lightly. The guy only criticized Chavez when the caudillo didn’t pay him attention at an event.
            He is still a communist and for him any “collaboration” is only as long as his group is weak.
            Some old, boring interview with him (in German) here

    • There will be No recall vote?
      or, no recall vote before 2017?
      It is not the same.

      If they delay the recall until 2017 it would still be important for people to go out and vote against Maduro.
      Even if it is just for symbolic reasons, to indicate the need for a change.

      Even if Diosdado is the VP at the moment.

      Although, I doubt enough people would vote to revoke Maduro under those circumstances.

      • “Although, I doubt enough people would vote to revoke Maduro under those circumstances.”

        Yeah, yeah, everybody thinks it’s better to have ma duro kill you and your children with easily curable diseases rather than having diosdado force you and your family to eat rotten garbage with maggots.

        Whoa, I’m still amazed to see t hat so many people still believe that fallacy about “we can’t let diosdado touch Miraflores, or else he’ll be worse than Kim, Gómez, Pinochet and Videla together!”

  20. Calm down you all. First of all, if there is a coup, it will be from Padrino Lopez and we will be tripply fucked.

    Second of all, there won’t be a coup.

    Third, CNE has no reason to actually block the RR. Unless people start freaking out. Which is unlikely, as VP has been largely appeased by the RR

  21. A successful/timely RR is pie-in-the-sky, not likely, but theoretically possible, if there were some significant military pressure behind-the-scenes. I believe military cohesion, in conjuction with a civilan/military junta, is more likely than a civil war, judging from past Venezuelan history, and Venezuelan idiosyncracies. The longer Chavismo maintains any important public support, the longer/more difficult it will be for Venezuela to dig out of its mess. Chavismo will play for time as long as possible, hoping for some recovery in oil pricing, and for further deterioration in Oppo support, down from 60+% at year’s start, to a recent 49%. Meanwhile, the Petro Peon Pueblo has shown an unbelievably/unimaginably-high threshold for pain….Caracas Chronicles will be needed in the mid-/long-term chaos that seems destined to be Venezuela’s future ….

  22. The metaphor of the yellow sign at the end of the road in Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is extremely appropriate. Thompson’s trek to find the heart of the USA lead him to Las Vegas, which he described as what entertainment would be like if the Nazis had won the war. He also described it as the heart of the USA dream. In Venezuela, we see what the end of the Cahvismo dream looks like: delivery of what Las Vegas gives its participants—debt, despair, and starvation. While Thompson charted the fall of the sixties free lunch, free love, and the drug culture’s twisted fall (which he links to Las Vegas culture), here the yellow sign points to the end of Chavismo socialism. Unfortunately, the consequences are similar. Thompson just drove out of Las Vegas in the film. Venezuelans will have to figure out how to reconstruct their world. Thompson’s yellow sign offers no alternative, and his writings never did offer anything except create well-formulated critiques of our decadent society. Venezuelans will have to do a hell of a lot more than Hunter S. Thompson ever did: they will have to rebuild their lives, or die after all the goats are gone. That rebuilding will require a different ideology, lifestyle and society.


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