Henri and the Challenge of Stability in Transition

It’s April, 2017. You are the Interior Minister in Venezuela's MUD-dominated transition government, and you’re sweating. Profusely.

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You hate the idea of passers-by seeing the Interior Minister sweat, but you can’t help it, even though the air conditioning in the Miraflores ante-chamber is cranked all the way up. The pretty girl from protocol tells you President Henrique López Allup is running a few minutes late, finishing up a meeting with the Cuban ambassador —the latest in a tortured series of negotiations to send back the last of the 12,000 Cuban “doctors and sports trainers” (many, obviously, spies) still in the country. Part of you suspects it’s a pretext, that he’s keeping you waiting because he’s sick of your damn face. Who wants to deal with an Interior Minister who only ever brings bad news, anyway?

 
It’s been six months since the days of the revocatorio. That was back in October, and the euphoria that followed it seems impossibly distant now.

It’s been six months since the days of the revocatorio. That was back in October, and the euphoria that followed it seems impossibly distant now. The historic cadena, back in July, when Tibisay was forced by street riots and intense international pressure to accept a 2016 recall vote seem like positively ancient history. Even November, when López Allup managed to bring together all of MUD and beat Aristobulo’s despondent bid to hang on to the presidency, feels like another century.

As you sip the marroncito the mami from protocol brought out, you flip nervously over your briefing notes — another week of riots, this time in El Tocuyo, Cabimas, Porlamar, Punto Fijo and Guarenas, always Guarenas, entire barrios still barricaded by FFM operatives and under their control in Maturín, Acarigua, Valencia and Barquisimeto, a fourth failed raid in Calabozo in search of clues of Diosdado’s whereabouts, twelve PNB destacamientos still not following orders, yet another wildcat strike in the Costa Oriental del Lago has shut down 125,000 b/d in production, a shady coded message from Erika Farías on YouTube giving what look like instructions to her cadres but your guys can’t decipher. You close up the briefing book and wonder how much longer you’re going to keep your job if you can’t bring this mess under control.

 
You’d tried to warn the president elect that if he didn’t prepare an olive branch, armed, organized chavista opposition would swallow the new government whole.

You’d tried to warn the president-elect that if he didn’t prepare an olive branch, the armed chavista opposition would swallow the new government whole. You’d tried to explain that you didn’t have enough guys you could trust in SEBIN to even begin to piece together a picture of where the chavista arms caches were, to map out their command structures, to figure out who was training whom where and for what, to tap into their communications and try to organize a fight back. You tried to explain to him that you were outgunned and outmatched, that you suspected half the guys on your payroll were feeding you false information precisely to give chavismo time to organize the resistance. You tried to get him to prioritize this shit, to put it at the center of his agenda, because if he didn’t, the country would never be calm enough to reap the benefits of the reforms the economic team was implementing.

You weren’t surprised he didn’t really listen, though. The PJ-VP-AD-UNT negotiations over cabinet posts sucked up virtually all of his attention during the quick transition period, and from that it was straight into negotiating the mammoth IMF bailout needed to finance it all. You’d get a couple of minutes at the tail end of the cabinet meeting when the president would turn to you and the National Guard commander sitting next to you and say “…and you guys have whatever security fallout this might imply covered, right?”

Then he would turn to the next agenda item, as though you had some kind of magic wand to deal with the tsunami of sabotage coming your way, as though the Planning Minister’s talk of privatization didn’t imply still more jobless, armed young ideological opponents with too much time on their hands, as though the minutely honed network of UBCh, FFM, colectivo and militia units chavismo had spent 13 years building could just be disappeared through a decree on a Gaceta Oficial. You know without a minimum of calm, the country will never be able to attract Foreign Investment on the scale the economic team is projecting, but what on earth can you do?

 
Normally you’re so busy putting out fires you don’t have time to think, and honestly it’s almost better that way.

You sit there, nervously, your Whatsapp exploding in your pocket with more reports from the field each moment, clear that you don’t have any of the resources it would take to really calm down this situation, and think back on that one quick chat you had with the new defence minister along the Miraflores hallway the week before about how he couldn’t cope with the hundreds of junior officers spread all around the Armed Forces, guys who’d entered the Military Academy with Chávez already in office, guys Chávez had in many cases personally trained, guys who’d decided to become military men precisely to emulate Chávez, and darkly hinting that he was sure if those guys were plotting something, the Intelligence Services wouldn’t tell him.

What the hell is taking him so long with the Cubans?

You hate the wait, because it gives you time to think. Normally you’re so busy putting out fires you don’t have time to think, and honestly it’s better that way. But now you have time to think, so you think back to the briefing the new economic team had given at the start of the last cabinet meeting about how reforms would need at least a few months to start to show results, so it probably won’t be until 2018 that people start to see any tangible improvements. You think how that means you still have months of hunger riots, of depressed wages and inflation and shortages and desperation to contend with.

You think about the way chavista underground propaganda is already selling its people on the idea that this was all the fault of the new neoliberal government. You think about the way CAVIM was handed over to the new government without a single record of any munitions stores. You think about the intelligence report you read a week earlier warning you at least 6 out of 10 cops you command are corrupt or ideologically opposed to you or both and either way can’t be relied on to follow orders. You think about the way every single order you get from up above is an order you can only deliver on by in turn giving orders down the line, orders to people you don’t trust, orders to people who want you to fail.

You think so much that by the time the president walks into the waiting room to greet you your eyes are closed and you’re rubbing your temples so hard it takes you an awkward few seconds before you realize who’s there…


 
Economic reform won’t work without political stability, and political stability can’t be established unless you extend minimum guarantees to some very nasty people.

It’s easy to dismiss Henri Falcón’s call for a Government of National Unity until you really sit down to think through the security challenges the next government will face. To a worrying extent, the mainstream MUD opposition is happy to wish away that challenge —bueno, sabes, eso se maneja— without really getting into the nitty gritty.

Henri Falcón’s pitch is simple: economic reform won’t work without political stability, and political stability can’t be established unless you extend minimum guarantees to some very nasty people who, like it or not, have the weapons, the training and the organization to destabilize any new government.

That’s realpolitik —starting from the world as it is, not as it ought to be.

It’s not a message I expect anyone wants to hear. But it’s also not a message we can afford to ignore.

89 COMMENTS

  1. I was really disgusted reading your post, not really knowing why, until I reached this part: “economic reform won’t work without political stability, and political stability can’t be established unless you extend minimum guarantees to some very nasty people”
    That is the reason, whether we like it or not, we have to realize that some kind of agreement has to be reached in order for the country to start going forward ;and even then it will be a long a painful road

    • perhaps it was the bloated, delusional fluff that preceded the core message that so annoyed you, as it did me.
      or perhaps, too, it was the irrelevant mention of the mami from protocol, a reflection of the writer’s bratwurst fest?

      • I agree. It was really a useless, badly concealed editorial attempt at trying to show how well he knows the character…trying us to tell us, of course, that the Machista is really the imaginary Henry and not the post’s creator.

      • No it’s not, yet it has to be said. We ended up in the current mess because way too many people who ought to have known better were too busy pursuing purity instead of getting things done (and sadly, I am not talking about the Chavistas) That nonsense has been the constant in the history of Venezuela since 1958.

      • Just a very naive question, What do you mean by “political stability” ? As there is no such a think as a free lunch, everyone has to pay a price, Where and how much costs, and how pays it ? I remember the “discussion” between Hitler and Rohme the day before the ” Nacht der langen Messer” -operacion Colibri- Rohm se “autosuicido”..
        .

  2. Excellent post, very clear, pragmatic and realistic. Anyone who thinks that all the problem will be solved once this gov’t “leaves” is fooling themselves. The above description is one of two options, the other one is a repressive state the likes of which this country has never seen, one which even Chile will seem like a kindergarten. Be careful what you wish for, reality has a way of fooling you and is always three steps ahead.

  3. And the first part of your post would have shown that chavismo will have forsaken all of its partisans’ civil, political and even human rights by becoming full-fledged terrorists.

    About the second part of the post, what Falcón suggests is what happened in Nicaragua with the sandinists, they agreed to hand the government in exchange of complete impunity for their crimes, which made possible for them to reclaim the power again until this day.

    Chavismo must be completely excecrated and obliterated as a political movement, it’ll be the time to make them choose between their lives and their delusions of impunity.

  4. I’d hate to see Diosdy and company get away scot-free for his crimes, but if that’s the price to pay for a successful transition, I’d gladly pay it.

    • And do you really think that giving full freedom and complete impunity for their atrocities to “Diosdy & Co” won’t result in them organinzing the terrorist movement to sabotage the next government? Because all the plugged ones and the boligarchs have more than enough dollars stashed in fiscal paradises to finance such a thing, not counting with their best ally in the region, the veteran drug-terrorist-pedophiles the farcs.

  5. People even if they want to do whats convenient or necessary too often find that they cannot, because they are dependent on others who will ‘not play ball’, the notion of a transition govt is of course attractive but how do you get the other side to agree when even if it suits them personally they are automatically set on a ‘war to the death’ stance…!! they are prisioners to their own sense of the inevitability of a apocaliptic revolutionary outcome…..!! I dont think ones idea of justice is untouchable , do believe that sometimes it must be sacrificed to achieve a greater more worth while purpose, and yet I am not convinced that even if you agree to forego your moment of justice , that will do they trick……!! They have staked their lives on being supreme powerholders , how do you get them to abandon that existential posture …..!!

    • “They have staked their lives on being supreme powerholders , how do you get them to abandon that existential posture”

      You take their lives away. It worked with nazis. Diosdado can’t harm from Hades.

  6. Look, if you treat “the government” as a monolith, it’s easy to fall into this despondent sense that there’s no one to negotiate with. If you see it as a complex coalition of different groups with different outlooks and different attitudes, jealous of one another, where some clearly feel excluded by the ascendency of others, then you start to grasp there are *plenty* of leverage points for negotiation.

    Can you negotiate with Jaua, Cilia, Jorge and Delcy? Probably not. Do Jaua, Cilia, Jorge and Delcy represent the interests of the whole government? Definitely, definitely not.

      • The same TSJ which has a swindler who faked her doctorate in her resume, a rabid communist human-rights violator, a guy whose loyalties change faster than a semaphore and the same TSJ which has a fugitive criminal among its head judges.

        Oh, boy, you have to look WAY lower to find somebody who might be worthy to negociate with.

      • Its true there are divisions and rifts among various chavista power circles , maybe that opens the door to the possibility of a negotiated transition where the hand of justice is stayed in order to allow the country to be restored to ‘working condition’ …….nothing wrong with that but Im personally too ignorant of how the internal dynamics of the inner circle works to be able to asses how that can be achieved ……!! If Francisco and others think its possible Im willing to keep an open mind ……but cannot realistically judge whether that can be done ……as things now stand…!!

    • Negotiate?…pragmatism got us here and now we want to be pragmatic by giving up something that is ensured (the removal of Maduro) for something you don’t know would ever happen or would be even in control of these people in order to negotiate.

      You have to start from the point that they (Maduro and Co.) can control all that jazz you wrote in your article, but guess what, they don’t. Hence, they can’t negotiate.

      To manage transition you have to go Nuremberg with Maduro and his people. Show that there are consequences, that there are not untouchables anymore and that we are mature enough to begin change by taking tough decisions. Show that you are in charge and they are not worth to even “negotiate”. If that mean go and hunt down every AK 74 these assholes gave up to protect themselves so be it.

      Thread lightly a la Caldera just got more instability at the end, I guess is what you call “leverage”. We don’t need that. If the Chavez movement is something that we want to leave in the dust of history, we have to show up all the rotten stuff for the world to see. The left may even accept that as a way to purify their movement and live to fight another day.

      The Cubans did just that 1959-60, when they just got a bunch of Batista people and shot them for their crimes (or the perceived ones). Not need to shoot at no-one but exemplary punishment has to be exerted if we want to (finally) make sense of our country.

      You know what it is said about building over cracked foundations, it brought Chavismo down…by the way.

      PS. Falcon is one of the most pragmatic politicians, he got couple of things right here and there but he is where he is because he never truly stand his ground. You may want to stop paying attention to his ideas.

  7. I actually see a more stable Venezuela emerging from a transitional (+/- six months) military government. During this period, the colectivos and malandros would be (ahem) purged and civil order reestablished. To dump the current situation on a new and fragile civilian government very well could result in the scenario above.

    By the way… negotiate to remove the Cubans?? What is to negotiate? 48 hours to report to deportation centers or be arrested. Ya!

    • So, the military takes over (presumably through extraconstitutional means), they proceed to “purge” the colectivos and malandros (and I’m sure there will be no human rights violations in the process)… and they will just hand over the coroto after 6 months?

      If they manage to pull it off, it will be a stable government, I’ll give you that.

      • Firstly, I would argue that the existing government is currently “extraconstitutional”.

        Secondly, there will no doubt be “human rights violations in the process”. War is hell. But, there is no other way to reestablish Venezuelan sovereignty over its territory. That is why it is best done by a military transitional government. This way the new civilian government will not be forced to start out by dirtying its hands in the course of these essentially military actions. They take power over a country which has already been pacified.

        Thirdly, this would only work if the duration period of the transition government and the date of new elections were announced at the beginning. Furthermore, it would only work if it had the explicit approval of and in collaboration with the MUD.

      • “and they will just hand over the coroto after 6 months?”

        They have no choice. The military can stabilize the situation militarily, but not economically, and without the latter they’ll be inevitably overthrown. The only way to stabilize economically is to go hat in hand to the international community, and the latter has very limited patience for military rule these days, it will demand the military step aside.

  8. I think you are basically right Quico. However let me tell you about the evolutive origin of anger.
    Rationally speaking there is no point on revenge: the damage is already done, you are better cutting up your loses. But, if you dont reliatiate, people will think: “this guy is a puss”- and they will stomp all over you.
    This is when hatred sets in: you are willing to destroy yourself as a deterrent- call it a mini MAD doctrine- to avoid others from following suit. Of course if you die on the process its not really a deterrent any more but it has too look like you are really really willing to blow up and lose more than you will win in order for your threat to work. You discard local, temporal “rationality” in exchange for a risky bet: after all, better to die on your feet than living on your knees, right? Evolution seems to think so. Thats why,4 billion years later, anger still prevails.
    These people need to go on trial, and to be hanged, if possible. If it would do nothing for us, it will do something for humankind: to send the message that you can’t just get away with this.
    A fairy tale, for sure, but a fairy tale we need to tell to our children. Justice,honor and duty maybe just lies we tell to ourselves, but those are lies we need, and the belief that the bad guys will get punished at the end is something I am not so easily willing to discard for the sake of “stability” under someone else boot.

  9. Chavez, Fidel, Russia , Combo, and some more; They displaced significant monetary assets abroad for the re taking of the country. Chavez always opened a new battle front to distract, this is a LONG CON!

  10. “The pretty girl from protocol…” Really!!!

    We all know the MUD has a massive gender problem, but it seems Caracas Chronicles has one too!

    Quico, do you not see the huge damage you do?

    • I’ve been collaborating with CC for some months now, and I followed the blog since a couple of years ago. If there’s a problem CC has, believe me, it has nothing to do with gender. CC is one of the few places (within the opossition) in which you see constant awareness calls about MUD’s gender bias. The blog has been very frontal in matters of pro-gender equality.

      • Exactly Javier, I agree that this blog does call out issues of gender inequality, which is why it is so disappointing to see Quico (as the Executive Editor of this blog) being so backwards about gender equality in his writing. I don’t doubt Quico’s desire for gender equality, but I can call in to question his go to position of assuming all positions of power are male by default.

        When Quico writes “The pretty girl from protocol…” he is clearly placing the gender of the Interior Minister in question as a man, and that man has a condescending attitude to those in positions below him.

        It amazes me why people get so defensive when all I am doing is pointing out negative uses of stereotypes of women (which by default reinforce prevalent sexist attitudes that prevent women from obtaining positions of influence and power).

        Now we could speculate as to whether Quico actually wrote the role of the Interior Minister as a lesbian, but only Quico can answer that? But either way, the imaginary person who is on the receiving end of that derogatory statement about “The pretty girl from protocol…” (which is derogatory in two ways – 1. it bases her worth in society on how she looks. 2. it patronises a grown woman by referring to her as a girl, thus belittling her.) is still having negative views forced upon them.

        If you can’t see why this is a problem then you are the problem. Please don’t be so over defensive of a blog that you clearly love and enjoy, like do, and instead see the points I am making in their context.

  11. Maybe Henri is one of the few talking about this possibility, but I dont think MUD has not think about this before. This armed branch of chavismo is not new.

    All-in, I get Henri’s point. It’s a paramount issue to deal with these people in order to avoid instability, but…is it the only way realpolitik is offering to have a “calmed” transition? What happened with your Ceaucescu’s scenario and people (radical and moderates) leaving chavismo? In the end, they can also end being just small focuses of violence in the eye of an overwhelming majority against what these violent groups represent.

    • El 23 de Enero is before Chavez, they don’t like to acknowledge, but they don’t send their girls abroad when a fight is looming!

  12. I know I’m probably wrong, but I feel criminals have to pay for their wrong doing. If not, others will come and commit the same crimes knowing they will be allowed to get away with it. And history, sad history, will repeat over and over again.

  13. I think the vast majority of the public bureocracy are just playing along under the red regime, and like the workers of the AN, would just be happy to have a new boss and will follow orders trying to keep the ongoing guisos. Not so sure about the army though, if they haven’t acted by now it’s probably because it’s infested with communist fanatics.

  14. For 17 years, Chavismo modeled lawlessness and impunity, believing that they had an exclusive right to do so, that the use of such tactics would always be toward the rich. Then the bolo tanked, the food has run out, the medicine is virtually gone, Guri is dry and the grid is arcing bad, and the institutions have been compromised and productivity demolished. The thing never talked about is that no side has much to negotiate except changes in policy because all that was is now gone. Venezuela has been destroyed. It will can can be rebuilt, but cheeking the lawlessness and impunity will have to be dealt with first, otherwise policies will mean nothing to anyone.

    The Chavistas created a monster believing they could control it. Negativo.

    • I agree with you, that the security situation has to be dealt with before most of the serious reforms can be undertaken. Andrés Miguel Rondón in a recent post invoked Thomas Hobbes’ commentary about the state’s having a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. At the moment, this is not the case in Venezuela, and this threatens Venezuela’s very existence as a state.

      The first thing that needs to happen is for the state to reestablish its sovereignty over the wide swaths of Venezuela that Chavismo has ceded to the interests of others including the FARC and other Colombian paramilitaries, the “Zonas de Paz” that are controlled by semi-legitimized criminal mafias, the various territories with illegal mining, etc… To do so will require the military. Police are for protecting and preserving peace, not conquering and taking territory. The areas we are talking about are are not currently under Venezuelan law and should not be treated as such until such time as Venezuela defeated the armed elements that control them and has reestablished their sovereignty.

  15. Quico has partially the reason. But, he overestimates the balls factor. Yes, the BALLS factor. ¿How many chavista colectivos will prefer impunity in exchange for disarmament? And they are the most radicalized, I don´t wait much resistence of the GNB and PNB. That people is caracterized by their cowardice. The mayority of them will beg for conserve his job.

    We can forgive the small criminals, and in change, punish the big ones. Diosdado, Maduro, El Aissami… we should be selective.

  16. I have never seen “Burp Mayor” or “Limey” here before, and yet between them they have nearly changed the subject and hijacked the comments section to talk about something completely irrelevant to the subject of the post.

    Gentle reminder to not feed the trolls.

    • Dear Roy,

      I first visited Venezuela in 1996 and then lived there for the whole of 2013.

      I am not a troll and if people chose to engage in my discussion, rather than jump on my comments with sexist attitudes, you could have seen how my point is relevant.

      This article is about what could possibly be needed to allow a transitional government to succeed and one of these aspects will include using the grass roots ex-PSUV supporting community activists to buy into any transitional arrangement. Many of these ex-PSUV supporting community activists are women, so my expanded point is this – If you hold and express derogatory views about women (and we know the MUD has issues with women in positions of power), how are you going to get the many female community activists to buy into any transitional arrangement and deliver what the MUD needs from them?

      As for Major Burp – the least said the better!

    • Don’t blame the flies, Venezuela is a lord of the flies conundrum, and may I have, faba beans and liver while you troll the trolls? uhum! A shante

  17. Great piece. I think while many people have a handle on the reality of the economic situation, evidence that the political reality is understood is much less. There is no unilateral solution to this mess. People see the collapse of Maduro’s regime as a win and are looking forward to that end with very unrealistic ideas of what comes next. The grim irony is that we want Maduro to go, but if Chavismo collapses without a negotiated solution in which it has significant buy-in, if it splinters into a bunch of competing factions (all armed, no doubt), the possibility of a viable replacement or transition to normalcy in any foreseeable term goes down and this hell just gets worse. Bear in mind as well, the opposition at this point shows little sign of being up to any significant stress-test. That is not a great starting point from which to take a no-compromise position.

  18. While I agree that the security situation is the top priority, the scenario above has a few holes. The other side is not fully considered. Mainly: Why would the colectivos, GNB, PNB, FANB, put a tough resistance against the new government? If we assume that their main goal is self-preservation (life, freedom, etc) then the obvious strategy for the vast majority is to lie low, and try to evade justice (the worst offenders are fucked, of course). And besides self-preservation, the best way to keep their weapons is to hide them, not lose them (and likely also their lives) in a firefight.

    Which takes us to the second question: Who? As in, for whom would all these people risk their lives and livelihoods? Chavez’s dead. For these groups to risk their lives, they have to do it for someone. Not because of motivation, but rather, protection. This is not Palestine or a 1950’s marxist guerilla; there’s no ideological or religious factor in Venezuela to motivate these people to risk their lives. They would then need a leader, someone to say “Fight for me, and rule with me when we win. I have your back”. Who’s that person or persons? Who’s the Chavez they’ll trust their lives to? There’s no chavista that elicits that kind of loyalty and trust.

    The post-Chavez chavismo is fragmented and lacking in true leaders. Chavismo is going to coalesce and form a resistance force under who? Who’s fighting for Erika Faria? For Maduro? Diosdado? Very few, at most. If these people can’t get enough people to march for them today, how are they getting people to risk their lives for them tomorrow? And, for what? To put them in their gilded positions again, while everyone else – including these “fighters” – go hungry? Who’s fighting for that? People fight for something or someone. I don’t see either.

    (And we’re assuming here that the Farias, Maduros, Bernals and Diosdados would want to fight, which is not exactly a given. They have a lot of money and places to go. And we’re also assuming they won’t fight among them: I bet they have a lot of grievances to settle once they are not united by their desire to hold on to power).

    I bet there will be trouble, sabotage and skirmishes with/by the worst people, and my main worry would be things like obedience and control of forces like SEBIN. But the rank and file, the mid and low-level officers, they have nothing and no one to fight for. If they value their lives and livelihoods, they’ll do nothing. I don’t see chavismo being able to muster an organized resistance. Chavez took that possibility to the grave.

  19. Alas, this forecast is far too plausible. Indeed it might be optimistic. When the Sandinistas gave up power in Nicaragua, they looted the government of everything they could take – cash, vehicles, office equipment, electronics, tools, furniture. It was called “la piñata“.

    The same thing will happen in Venezuela, I fear. Plus general destruction of all records that might expose chavista thieving. The new regime will have to try to govern the country with no records, no money, no equipment, in the face of mass hunger and economic collapse. And fail.

    The chavistas and their PSF allies will blame all the problems on the new regime. The colectivos and other gangsters will pose as “popular resistance” to “right-wing death squads”. Within a few months, the new government will be replaced by a “unity” government with MUD figureheads but chavistas in all key positions. The rest of the MUD will be killed, arrested, or driven into exile.

    The more insane chavista policies will have been dropped (mainly the exchange controls), so the most pressing needs (e.g. food) will be met; order will be restored. Over the next few years, the non-chavistas will be “salami-sliced” out of the government.

    What is needed to restore Venezuela is :

    plenty of well-trained, well-disciplined constabulary to restore order and suppress the colectivos and criminal gangs

    and a huge wad of money to meet immediate needs (food, medicine)

    and a corps of capable administrators to
    – use that emergency money effectively
    – rebuild ruined state institutions

    and a force of crack investigators to
    – track down and recover the billions looted by chavismo
    – expose and prosecute chavista and boliburguesa thieves

    and a leader (or leader group) who can speak effectively to the Venezuelan masses about the actual damage done by chavismo, and persuade them to accept a period of continued hardship while the ship is righted and gets moving again.

    Sadly I don’t see any of things requirements being met, except maybe the money.

  20. I wonder now what “the government” actually means. They still retain some control over things like the media, whatever money is trickling in, gaming the system, and making sweeping pronouncements, but they command a rapidly shrinking demographic waiting for handouts and they have lost all respect and credibility with anyone they are not shipping free oil to. It feels like their only real power is in thwarting the ANC. The military seems pretty autonomous at this point, and who really knows the position of the various security forces. And who knows how much food the rank and file are getting.

    At some point the foot soldiers and police, mostly drawn from lower-income areas, will start wondering who they are fighting for and why. In real terms, there is hardly any functional “state” to defend, and law and order is becoming a slippery term when the gente are thirsty, hungry, and sitting in darkness – basically indoor camping with few provisions. How much longer will airlines even land in Venezuela? You can’t get any mail delivered because anything of value gets stolen.

    In this kind of clusterfuck it’s seems almost crazy to try and guess what will happen next, but the old notion of there being two distinct “sides” in the conflict has been starved right out of existence.

    I’m thinking that nothing short of a peace keeping force might be required. But the thing I’d most hate to see once this farce finally tumbles down is for any interim government to negotiate ANY kind of amnesty program in order for the government to finally step aside. If they refused to grant amnesty to others, they should never be given that as an option.

    Anyway, all rational people have known for six months that virtually everything the government says is insane and without true meaning. I’m beginning to wonder if the biggest fraud of them all is that there is, right now, an actual government at all, and if so, what are they actually doing other than thwart the “opposition.” All this talk about being on “the brink of collapse” only made sense a few months ago. the government HAS collapsed.

  21. There are several things I dont agree with the article (the mami bit was a mistake in presentation; the presentation of the “chavista opposition” in the scenario as a very well organized and coordinated network of sabotage and espionage and resistance flies in the fact of years of evidence of how they roll – brutish, yep, organized, my ass)

    But it is more or less hitting something a lot of people dont want to hear.

    Look, the other day I was reading “The Death of Stalin”, a fictional account in comic form of the period after the death of the tyrant and the movement of the underlings to survive and come up in said period. It is fictional, and has many bits that are not true, but it also draws heavily on real history, and the bit that seems relevant here is to show how just at the beginning, it was Beria who looked like he was going to come up on top and manage to sideline and then purge all his enemies (that is, every other guy on the comitee). But those other guys managed to unite precisely due to this threat and while giving the impression of being weak and useless, jumped on him and got him executed.

    Whatever post-Maduro scenario it is, it is going to be a dance of several factions in both sides, all looking for stuff from supremacy to survival; the victor will be the one that USES the others the best…

  22. So appease the chavista thugs so they won’t kill/burn down stuff when they lose the government? Oh Quico, they’re going to kill people/burn down stuff anyway so why should they be able to walk away with the money they stole without paying for their crimes? Both in the literal sense of confiscated wealth that was obtained through corruption AKA every chavista goverment official ever and with prison, of course.

    I’m with Ulamog on this one, if Venezuela is to have a chance at becoming a half decent country, chavismo must be beat down into submission or we WILL become a Nicaragua type of perpetual shitty failed state or a “special period” Cuba.

    I get it, you want people to get along and sing songs around the campfire but let’s not forget what are we opposing here. Chavismo is perfectly happy to let kids like Oliver Sanchez die for lack of chemo without a moments notice, do you think they’re going to care about some “escuacas sifrinos capitalistas explotadores hijitos de papi?” and by “escuacas sifrinos capitalistas explotadores hijitos de papi?” I mean everyone who doesn’t have a PSUV card and applauds every brain fart Maduro has on live TV.

    There is no appeasement, you either crush the colectivos, the militias, the prison gangs and every other malandro that has sprung during the chavista disaster as soon as you get to power or you’ll have to get used to the idea of fighting a marxist terrorist guerrilla ala FARC or Sendero Luminoso for the next 40-50 years.

          • Si lo que tienes es un yoyo como arma, no se si será venganza o no, pero fantasia es un rato.

            Todo eso de que vamos a aplastar al chavismo suena muy divertido, pero como Tony Stark no sea del Táchira y haga trajes de Iron Man al por mayor la realidad es que, mañana, vas a tener que lidiar con lo que dice Francisco; que tienes un porcentaje importante de chavistas (desde el malandro al militar) con armas y tu no sabes con cuanto cuentas para controlarlos. Que no sabes con que porcentaje de las fuerzas armadas o de la policia cuentas, y con cuantos no solo no cuentas, sino que estan en tu contra.

            Que de mucha arrechera, vale, si, la da, pero la diferencia entre comentar cosas aqui y al que le toque capitanear esa posible transición es que lo de mojonearse no le va a servir de nada. Tendrá que asumir que su UNICA posibilidad de sobrevivir y que el país avance será identificar como y con quienes del “enemigo” se puede negociar y a cambio de que y, si hay suerte, como deshacerse de ellos cuando se pueda en el futuro.

            La parte interesante seria identificar las facciones del otro lado y a quienes se les puede usar en contra de quienes…

        • Sorry, really sorry, eek, trying to form a think tank, don’t let the minions close the door where god split you in two!

      • International forces, UN’s blue helmets or the DEA come to mind. In fact, the return of the DEA to Venezuela will send half of the “plana mayor” of chavismo fleeing faster than a fart on a hammock.

        Look, I know the thing looks impossible, and that the only plausible solution this over-depressing post gives is to grant complete impunity and more than 80% control of the “new coalition government” to chavismo because it’s thought as they hold the entire country as hostages, ready to unleash a clusterfuck of distilled genocide on the population, daesh style.

        You are oblivious to the fact that every single diplomatic, whose activities could be laughably easy to trace, could be antagonistic to chavismo (Or just sane enough to know that having armies of bloodthirsty terrorists isn’t convenient), and thus could request aid for Venezuela in ANY way possible, be it humanitarian or other kind.

        The underground propaganda? Supress it with Conatel 2.0, remember, the official propaganda aparattus now belongs to the new government, so you can broadcast on open TV 24/7 on how chavismo is what ruined Venezuela, and how Chávez was at its head, and how it’s his fault that his minions are killing people by thousands daily, and how they want to destroy the whole country just to go back to stealing… Hell, you can just say the truth about chavismo, showing mild analyses of everything they’ve done and chavistas would dissappear from the streets faster than the nazis did in the post-WWII days, where “no one” was nazi anymore all of the sudden. After all, HegemonCorp served pretty well to chavismo to hide the reality from the people for one decade and half so far, people in Venezuela in average are moronic enough to believe any bullshit broadcasted to them enough times. Other component to consider here must be a reform of the contents taught in schools about recent history, where children must learn about all the atrocities made by the chavista dictatorship, in less than 10 years you’ll raise a generation of people who’ll hate chavismo with all their guts.

        Every major figure in chavismo has committed one crime or another that could land his ass in a cell for the next decade, and if the worst crime they committed doesn’t last enough, you just use the AN to modify the organic penal code, so the penalties now are added, and now, do you have a guy like Osorio the weavel that has stolen millions on repeated swindles and caused millions of losses in damages due to his stupid pro-marxist policies? Well, buddy, he’s facing at least 30 years in jail. Iris Varela? The sole slaughter of ANY prison would be enough to lock her in a cell for 30 years? Diosdado, Marudo, Cilia, ANY drug kingpin? 30 years, by a random charge taken from a freaking bucket full of tiny papers. Valentín Santana or Jesús Pinto? Both have pending charges for murder, 30 years. Padrino? 30 years for high treason. Every mayor figurehead in chavismo has forged himself a record bigger than Bart Simpson and the Joker together, so it would be stupidly easy to lock them in a cell, which MUST be done, they can’t be allowed to go free of responsibility to enjoy what they stole, 30 years after and without any fortunes to finance any rebellion, they won’t be a peoblem anymore.

        The street guerrillas? Plomo parejo with them, of course, let’s not become the same monsters as them, and give them the chance to turn themselves in to be judged, or try to capture them so they have fair trials (Where they’ll be found guilty anyway and tossed 30 years in a cell because they’re criminals), but in the end, if everything else fails, offer rewards for their heads, there’ll be lots of people willing to do the government’s dirty work of quashing any chavista idiot who tries to go the terrorist route.

        There are some who can be let go in exchange for full cooperation with the new government, of course, but NO ONE IN THE CÚPULA deserves ANYTHING.

        And it’s not “desire for revenge”, Venezuela is not Spain which collectively agreed to sweep under the rug all the stuff the Franquistas and the communists did to “achieve the peace”, Venezuela ALREADY whent through that, with the pacificacion process which gave to communist terrorists the chance to reinsert themselves into civilian life if they stopped all their subversion and Venezuela-invaded-by-Cuba bullshit, and look at the result: Today, communists are in full power, controlling even the numer of times people have the right to eat, while thousands die every year. They HAD their second chance already, and they squandered it in the worst way possible.

        • Yes, yes, let me know how many divisions of the UN forces you have ready to come and how many DEA agents and we will talk

          The damn OAS thing never got to fly and you are thinking about an enourmous international military/police effort that will materialize without any delay or problem and achieve not sure what objectives because you wish so.

          Get real. Nobody is going to hugh a chavista and kiss them, but all this stuff is idiotic nonsense; any new government will have to deal with Venezuelan problems with whatever they can get and it is not going to be a multinational armed force. Its going to be who you can trust and who you can buy from the Venezuelan security and armed forces vs the rest. By all means ,go hard on the rest. Just ensure you got something real to hit them with, not a pipe dream of Caribbean Afghanistan Done Right.

          • Until a couple of years ago, the USA were happy to collaborate with Colombia to combat drug trafficking in the zone, then Santos arrived and told them “we don’t need cha anymore, I’ll declare these guys are perfectly fine”

            Get real, all the international intervention has been blocked by chavista diplomats, as much ridiculous as they can be as Delcy or as much souless lowborns as Alvarez to deny the humanitarian help, having the diplomatic control of the government gives you the advantage of offering any benefits as tradeoff for not only help into the worst matter of the article such as the chavista terrorists, but as to attract investments to rebuild the economy (And transnationals care very little for the conditions in countries that don’t affect their businesses) and so on.

            You say “where are the DEA agents, they won’t come”, step down from that cloud, man, those guys are eager to jump here just because drug trafficking affects USA’s interests, period, and that’s how the issue should be presented to them and to everybody who Venezuela wants to get help from, in the form of “this will benefit both of us”

            It’s true that countries don’t have friends but interests, but it’s true too that countries will move due to the same interests.

  23. I think whoever comes to power will first have to have a security strategy. A political strategy comes second. Hard to imagine any strategy that does not have justice in the mix, which is different then revenge. No viable system lets people get away with murder and mega thievery. Making that a condition for a truce feels like a policy guaranteed to fail. So does anything driven by revenge. Hard balance to strike.

    • The time-honored strategy for that kind of case is to take some as scapegoats and ensure the rest are safe if they collaborate. If you can actually have the stronger hand for that. Someone “paga el pato” and the rest have always been against the abuses and they were saints trying to work inside the system to…

  24. I can imagine Quico fathomed this idea after a nice luncheon with his friend F-rod, the folks of Torino capital (sponsors of the AOS event last week and Mr Rodriguez’s current employer) and Henri Falcon in NYC last week.

  25. As we guess the outcome, here is mine.

    Some big event is bound to happen in the next few months. Maybe the credit default or some mass shooting in the streets because of a riot, or the dissolution of the National Assembly. I can’t see this dragged out past Christmas. This will trigger some military garrison to rise and I doubt the military will be willing to fight it out between them and it will be over for Maduro. Roy, in his comment accurately calls this government extra-constitutional, so in a perverse way, such an uprising would be constitutional, due to ‘la bicha’s’ (Venezuelan constitution) wording.

    At that point a government of unity will be invoked under Ramos Allup, he is a clear elected official to take over.

    The question is how will Chavistas react. I suspect that there will numerous factions that will be quick to jockey into a government of unity, while slower and stubborn factions will conveniently be made scapegoats for the Chavista mess. You see this already with Marea Socialista.

    After that it will be the long process of rebuilding the poor country with the IMF, and it will be this that good leadership will have to sell to Venezuela. They will probably have 6 months of good will by the people, but easy things like supplied stores will certainly be a tangible improvement even if people will be unable to afford goods.

  26. Any oppo leadership attempting to put things together via a transitional arrangement will face two contending problems , one to sattisfy its own constituency’s rage against the corruption and abuses of the current powers that be (including the rage of lots of dissappointed Chavistas) while at the same time appeasing some within that power group by foregoing their deserved punishment so they allow the transition to happen ……….!! Dealing with one problem makes the other problem worse……,!! While practical results might trump the purity of principles, there is a price to pay for dissapointing the enraged expectations of most of your followers ………. !! Not saying its impossible but it will take some clever manouvering to achieve…!!

  27. Most opinions against this post stem from quibbles about the protocol girl, or ad hominem attacks on QT.

    Is security in a transitional escenario a real issue? History says so.
    Is this being thought at the proper levels within the Unidad? There’s reasonable doubt about that.

    I am not suggesting that elite negotiation and a national unity government trump the popular vote, but to have the popular vote mean something, a viable security strategy has to be in place. Which is it? Is pure repression viable? Is it morally defensible?

    I don’t know.

    And the post dares to ask that.

  28. No se trata de aplastar al chavismo con las armas, se trata de aplastarlo moralmente. Hay que hacer algunas concesiones para mantener la gobernabilidad, sí, pero también hay que destruir toda el mito chavista poco a poco. El asunto es que con la actitud de algunos es imposible hacer ninguna de las dos cosas. La verdad es que acabar con el mito de chávez no es más difícil que acabar con el mito de la cuarta tal y como el mismo chávez hizo tan efectivamente. Claro, eso es posible sólo si uno se lo propone… El amor hacia Chávez y lo que representa acabará en el momento que haya cierto progreso en la economía (o por lo menos la esperanza de tal cosa) y que empiece la liberación de las instituciones. Hay que tener el poder y usarlo para reducir al chavismo a su mínima expresión, quitarle su única fuerza que es la propaganda y reescribir la historia. Ustedes creen que van a lograr algo si no atacan directamente ese imaginario, ese doble discurso? Hoy Leopolo López es el monstruo de Ramo Verde, pero el día que salga el monstruo será Maduro. Ayer la Salida era golpista, mañana quién sabe cómo será vista. O es que se les olvida que ahora se celebra el 4f como una fecha patria? La historia, en efecto, la escriben los vencedores. Eso sí es estrategia política. Hay que tener el respaldo popular, pero eso no es suficiente. Hay que conducirlo en la dirección correcta y para eso hay que tener un liderazgo coherente y congruente. La oposición le cede demasiado terreno simbólico al gobierno, lo cual le hace muy difícil moverse. En nuestra situación actual lo recomendable es polarizar, así como en otros momentos lo recomendable era esperar. Macri ha tomado medidas muy impopulares y su popularidad, aunque ha bajado, se sostiene. La razón es que ha sido claro en su discurso desde un principio y por eso la gente le está dando tiempo, a pesar de todo. Nadie le va a dar tiempo a los políticos populistas de la MUD porque su discurso no es claro, unívoco, ni realista.La gente puede tenerle paciencia a un líder que hace ajustes si éste es honesto desde un principio en su propuesta, pero no si es populista para captar votos y luego sus acciones demuestran todo lo contrario (Remember CAP, anyone?). De verdad no entiendo cómo algunas personas quieren dar lecciones de estrategia política si no entienden la naturaleza del poder y no captan algunas nociones básicas como estructura, supra-estructura y pseudoactividad. Evidentemente todos tenemos limitaciones a la hora de comprender las cosas, pero no podemos imponer nuestras limitaciones y sesgos a todo el mundo como una especie de norma epistemiológica. Sí, es obvio que hay que hacer algunas alianzas pragmáticas con algunos de nuestros enemigos, pero el único objetivo de eso es en efecto atar al chavismo mientras se hacen los cambios necesario en la supraestructura para quitarle toda vigencia y la posibilidad de resurgir.
    Bill Bass dice que la oposición tiene que contener a los seguidores que quieren ver cómo se enjuicia a todos los corruptos, y yo digo que está equivocado totalmente en su planteamiento porque tal y como yo lo veo enjuiciarlos es una oportunidad de oro y no un riesgo: una vez que empiecen a caer por corruptos los primeros chavistas se habrá dado un golpe simbólico mortal que sepultará esa opción por un buen tiempo.Acá en Buenos Aires un taxista me dijo que había votado por Macri, aunque eso lo jodiera, sólo porque quería ver caídos por corruptos a los K. Ese es el espíritu al cual hay que apostar y no me parece descabellado. Yo no creo que Diosdado tenga suficiente respaldo popular para evitar caer preso si hay un cambio de gobierno y por eso es que no va a soltar el poder por las buenas y ustedes son unos gafos si se dejan joder en aras de una “estrategia”. Dejen de hablar de estrategia política y digan: no nos da la gana de hacer las cosas bien y ya. No es fácil, pero sí se puede. El chavismo va a quedar sepultado simbólicamente cuando LL esté libre y cuando caigan los primeros chavistas por corrupción (no van a caer todos pero sólo necesitamos que algunas ratas entreguen a las otras ratas). Si no pasa nada de esto, el chavismo habrá ganado.

  29. I don’t like it, but this post has many truths that the guy in charge will have to take into consideration.

    The biggest issue is to identify who inside the security forces is against you and with how many resources they count. It’s a fact that before leaving power, chavismo will do its best to sabotage because they rather see the nation burn that surrender.

    People like Godgiven Hair and Iris Varela, Nico and J-Rod must be severely punished because you need to send a message. But you also need to sit down with several repulsive rats and conduct the dissidence -and, particularly, the armed dissidence.

    Chávez was great at this, he played the opposition like a harp from hell for years, so that the oppo would follow the path he made, when he wanted.

    I’ve always believed that, under a new government, we will see a terrorist organization, Fuerza Chavista de Liberación or something that creative, planting bombs and making us all miserable. You need to locate and sabotage those idiots and to do that, you need insiders. All the insiders are trash and you will have to sit down with that trash.

    It’s ugly, but it’s true, the legacy of El Comandante: A corrupted society on all levels.
    These issues must be considered seriously or the new government won’t last.

    • “I’ve always believed that, under a new government, we will see a terrorist organization, Fuerza Chavista de Liberación or something that creative, planting bombs and making us all miserable. You need to locate and sabotage those idiots and to do that, you need insiders.”

      And the moment they decide to become terrorist, it’s perfectly fine and most of the country will see it the same way, to outright exterminate them without questions. It’ll be the time to tell them “surrender or die, and we can hire external help to accomplish that”.

      Toro’s post makes the new government appear as a minusvalid, useless shell incapable of accomplishing anything if Diosdado (Or any chavista figurehead) doesn’t approve it because they weren’t given absolute impunity, it’s the worst of the possible options, the Sandinista Trap, the same thing that happened in Nicaragua, where the terrorists now reign supreme making life for the people miserable in all levels.

  30. Without a doubt, this comment section is the best I’ve read on CC, and, while all are excellent, I particularly liked Ulamog and Juan Largo. While I consider Falcon a lightweight intellectually, and a guabinoso aprovechador politically, he does have a point, but about the difficulty of dominating subversion under a new rational/democratic Govt. Pragmatically, FT’s “accommodation” seems attractive, but practically it probably might work only short-term. “Sympathy For The Devil” , regardless of pragmatism, doesn’t work long-term (He will always pop up–just ask poor Nicaragua). The hard-core Commie leftists, now fully-entrenched in Venezuela, will cede only under physical (military) force. The Colectivos will not give up their arms willingly, and, once you take away their Bs. 200m salaries, they’ll just up the ante on their extortions/robberies/kidnappings. The vast majority, however, of “Chavista believers”, will be happy to change shirt color, so long as they continue receiving Populist freebies/employment, at least to some degree, until the economy can (hopefully some day) generate productive free-market jobs. The new Govt. propaganda machine will have to work full-time in media/schools, as someone said, to defenestrate Chavez/Chavismo, revealing them for what they are–the man/belief/movement that brought a once relatively well-off (by L. A. standards) Venezuela to a state of abject poverty.

  31. “”If you see it as a complex coalition of different groups with different outlooks and different attitudes, jealous of one another, where some clearly feel excluded by the ascendency of others”” just to begin with we need some empirical evidence that this statement is consistent with what is really happening. It is not a dilema monolithic or groups confederation with particular interests between them, for example “different leves of corruption, low, medium, high, “narcolavado” associations, “camaradas del hampa with government support”, terrorist links, say Alcaeda, Hezbollah, FARC, etc, and so on, At the end we need to clear up some twists of moral relativism, if any,.

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