There’s this tendency in the opposition to imagine the crisis is all on our side. That the chavista movement is made up entirely of people who are A-OK with the country’s descent into unlivability: wild-eyed Serrano-style ideological hardliners too blinkered notice or olive-clad kleptocrats too drunk on 18-year old scotch to care. And while there are clearly elements of that in the chavista movement, to flatten it into only that is to miss two-thirds of what’s going on.

Polarization is all about not seeing the other side, about losing any sense of its reality. It’s clear that the government doesn’t see us beyond its clichés either. And that mutual blindness has always been a contributor to the crisis.

But let’s be clear, chavismo is undergoing its most thoroughgoing crisis yet. You get glimpses of it through an Aporrea that reads more and more like the House Organ of Marea Socialista: a place where anti-madurista heterodoxy is now almost expected. And you get the clearest glimpse of it yet in the elevation of Vladimir Padrino López to a post that amounts to Prime Minister —as clear an indication as we’ve seen yet that pressure for a change in policy direction has reached fever pitch.

Chavismo is uniquely ill-equipped to understand the forces that are driving Venezuela’s economic and social collapse. But they’re uniquely well equipped to register it. Seventeen years of investing in communal organization have ensured that the party-state does have a presence in every town, village, barrio and caserío in the country, and information can’t help but flow up and down those structures.

Chavistas at the grassroots level are pissed, and they’re pissed for the same reasons everyone else is pissed: just surviving has become enormously challenging for people. Chavismo, for all its authoritarianism, has not built the kind of soviet-style totalitarian state that can genuinely shrug off its own people’s starvation.

And middle ranking chavistas, folks with aspiration for public office sometime in the next few decades years, are keenly aware of the way this crisis is turning the PSUV brand toxic. Nobody inside the Bolivarian movement has any illusions about electability as long as they’re hitched to Nicolás Maduro like a ball and chain.

Time was when you could make up the difference via spending in the run-up to an election, but that time is gone. There is. NO. Money. When 88% of likely voters tell you they want the president mandate revoked, you know things have reached a head.

Maduro’s rampant incompetence is intolerable to the country, yes. But it’s also intolerable to PSUV. And it’s in this context, of a movement driven to the brink by awareness of its own toxicity, that you have to think about what’s coming in the next few weeks.

Nobody making decisions right now thinks Maduro can win re-election in 2019. Nobody within chavismo thinks the movement can survive unless it jettisons this catastrophically failed governing clique out of power in relatively short order.

Do they hope for an orderly transition that keeps less destructive aspects of the coalition in power? Of course they do. Will they work hard for a Gattopardo-style transition, where everything has to change so everything can stay the same? Definitely.

Can they necessarily control the forces of chaos and social conflict their own misgovernment has set loose? Not even they know the answer to that.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Imagine their surprise when they realize Maduro is just a symptom of a much larger and deeper problem and that jettisoning him, however difficult, will be but a tiny first step on a journey into another galaxy.

  2. It was about time that base chavistas finally knew what their so-called revolution was actually about.

    Still, until they don’t accept that the guilty of all this mess was Chávez himself, their opinions and complaints are less important than a spoiled child’s tantrum.

  3. “And middle ranking chavistas, folks with aspiration for public office sometime in the next few decades years, are keenly aware of the way this crisis is turning the PSUV brand toxic. ”

    Probably more than Half of Venezuela’s entire adult population is still Chavista, today. To me, that’s amazing. They still adore Chavez, and think that it’s just Maduro, Cabello etc, who are to blame. Did these Millions of Venezuelans forget that Hugo was the one in power for over a decade, when everything was screwed-up and the country went to hell? Don’t they understand that the fake “socialism” or “revolucion” is a total mess? And that Hugo Chavez is the one responsible, and the he even designated Masburro has his successor to finish Venezuela’s disaster?

    Apparently not. But I digress.The above includes the pseudo-intellectual clowns from Aporrea and everyone in the PSUV. They still claim (honestly or not) that Chavez was great. How stupid is that? How dishonest? How ignorant? Chavez himself messed up Vzla in what, 14 years with total power? He destroyed private enterprise, created the massive brain-drain, crime and murders rates went to hell,
    and THEN came Masburro, just a few years ago.

    But they cannot comprehend that, or, they have ulterior motives to blatantly lie about it:

    It’s because of “their aspirations for public office” as its elegantly stated here. In other words, quieren Enchufarse. They want a piece of the pie. They are jealous, because they can’t steal for themselves. They want to be a part of a Chavistoide government for what? To get illegally rich, of course!

    So it’s a “quitate-tu-pa-poneme yo” scheme. The PSUV contrarians and the Aporrea “intellectual” clowns just want Maduro and his entourage to leave office, so they get a chance themselves. And you can bet they are no angels.. rampant corruption would continue, but they would be happier with the coroto..

    • “They still adore Chavez, and think that it’s just Maduro, Cabello etc, who are to blame. Did these Millions of Venezuelans forget that Hugo was the one in power for over a decade, when everything was screwed-up and the country went to hell?”

      Why do you think that Castro ordered to kill him on 2012?

  4. The PSUV is not toxic, Maduro is. People will remember Chavez=Money, being dead the legend will live on. Used to be CAP=Money, he won the second time because of that, then reality set in.
    Throw out Maduro and replace him with MG Chavez and they will vote her.
    24 years of propaganda (since 1992).

  5. Chavez formed a cult , the cult afforded a proud but mostly failed people a largely delusional narrative which made them feel grand , warlike , noble , loved , fierce, brave , mighty and thrillingly enraged against a fiendish host of enemies , the ego boosting quality of this narrative (and of its glamorized rage against an emblematic enemy) was part of its appeal . The craving for this sort of narrative is still there as is its appeal . At the same time the narrative promised an improved life which the all powerful leader would assure its followers ( the People) , lets call this the Venal Cornucopia of Plenty dimension of the Chavista Cult. He was able to deliver on this latter promise using the billions of dollars brought by the increase in oil prices and the billions of dollars in borrowed money . Delivery on this latter promise included all sort of subsidies, access to public jobs, access to all manner of unlawful gains from participating in corrupt businesses.

    With gross mismanagement of govt resources and the fall in oil prices the Cornucopia of Plenty serving to sattisfy the venal needs of the mass of the regimes followers dried up and was substituted by a life of want and penury as common Vntienezuelans had never known ……….The crisis is so deep that a large part of Chavista followers now feel deeply dissapointed with the Chavista regime , the other thrilling enraged part of the cult however has not died …….., Maduro can no longer offer most followers the gratification of this emotional craving they have ….so while dissapointed and angry at the Maduro regime many of them still retain this craving alive…..!!

    To ignore the appeal of Chavismos enticed rage message , and think of Chavismo as expressing simply a desire for a better (subsidized0 life is to miss the basic point about Chavismo……!! This latter element of induced rage is what keeps a much diminished support for the regime still alive…….Part of the followers of Chavez became emotionally addicted to their glamorous hatreds and cant easily abandon them even if there is every reason to do so …….!!

    • Así es, Chávez ofreció glamour, emociones y dinero. Como “dólares no hay” ya solo quedan las emociones. Cuando desaparezca de su vista el imitador de Chavez que tienen ahora en el gobierno, las emociones también desaparecerán, es cuestión de tiempo.

      Vienen entonces tiempos de cambio muy interesantes… tomen asiento para poder ver todo como es debido.

    • Reminds me of the Wizard of Oz, in the end it’s all an illusion and the wizard ran off with all of Venezuela’s money

  6. The situation is all part of Chávez and Castro’s planning to convert Venezuela into a Soviet/Cuban model society. The national plan (Plan de la Nación) is pretty clear on that. We know that it isn’t Maduro being incompetent nor Cabello being corrupt, though it appears he is, it is the plan for the new Venezuela and el nuevo hombre born of the pseudo revolution. I have become convinced of this

  7. All of us who have lived, live, and will live in Venezuela suffer from “la estupidez” that the Conquistadores brought to the “New World”. Required reading to understand this affliction is Herrera Luque’s “La Huella Perenne”. The only cure is to familiarize yourself with your intelligence and then exercise it every day. Salud, Gonzalo Palacios G.

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