About once a month, Raúl Stolk channels Naky over on The Daily Beast, writing these amazing catch-up briefings to let a gringo audience into the minutiae of public life in Late Late Chavismo. They’re really a lot of fun to read:

Over the years, Hollywood has oversimplified the level of complexity involved in disarming a bomb. On film it usually comes down to a timer, a choice between two wires (red and blue), and a Swiss Army knife. Pretty straightforward. You close your eyes, say a prayer, and “clip.” There’s a 50 percent chance you’ll either save the day, or you’ll end up splattered like a Jackson Pollock all over the pavement. Real life, however, is so much more complicated. Ask Venezuela’s minister of defense, Gen. Vladimir Padrino.

On July 11 President Maduro went on national TV to announce that Gen. Padrino (whose last name, coincidentally, means godfather) would share the task of solving the food crisis. Maduro explained that Venezuela’s most prominent military tactician was the correct person to fight off scarcity since it was a consequence of The Economic War waged by the country’s enemies.

Then Maduro looked at his ministers, and gave them a very clear order to subject themselves to whatever Gen. Padrino needed to handle these issues. The order was penned down in a resolution which confirms the vast powers that the general now has over the cabinet. This is much more than an unusual, albeit illegal, transfer of powers to the Minister of Defense. In effect, Padrino was appointed as a prime minister of sorts, and he has indeed assumed the role, as President Maduro has become less visible in the past few weeks.

Swiftly enough to choke local outrage, and cryptically enough to block the meddling eyes of international media, the military has made its move. A coup d’état? Power is still being shared. But it’s increasingly hard to tell who has the final word.

The level of opacity we live in is beautifully undermined by the bizarre need to put a question mark after “coup d’état” — I mean, goddamn, usually when there’s a coup you know it.

The question for me is how Néstor Reverol’s appointment as Interior Minister fits in with this narrative. It’s an open secret that Padrino López and Reverol hate one another’s guts…but as Defense and Interior Ministers, they’re not going to have any choice but to collaborate somehow.

Is this Maduro just doing that infuriating thing he’s been doing to the economics cabinet —naming people who don’t agree and guaranteeing policy incoherence— in the security cabinet now? Sure looks like it to me…

7 COMMENTS

  1. Whenever I see a Venezuelan general I look at all the ribbons and medals on his chest and I start to try and imagine just what military campaigns they were involved in to “win” all those awards.

    Invariably I think that one is the award for being able to bend over and tie their shoe laces with the big barrel stomach. Another has to be for increasing cocaine shipments in his area of responsibility. Yet another must be for stomping on protesters with the biggest award for number of head-shots to demonstrators.

    • Too much pomp for the 45th largest army which the most recent accomplishments have been shooting the very own people they sworn to protect and provide safe passage for drug trafficking. Uh-oh forgot the shut down of the border to Colombia but you may say that if illegals still cross Rio Grande to US then what would you complain about the our guys crossing the Tachira River to reach Cucuta.

      No wonder they are calling themselves “Bolivarian” perhaps it is because that it was the last campaign they actually managed to do the job…200 years ago.

      I am still laughing at Chavez bluff of pinning the Venezuelan army against Colombia. The bulling and fascist army of us that had its last war in the 60s versus the one that has been fighting a guerrilla war for 50 years and has been recently equipped and pampered by the US.

      • On its trip to the Colombian border, the Venezuelan army couldn’t even fight its way out of a traffic jam. 🙂

  2. Haha….your assuming Maduro is making these choices…cant imagine it.
    The Cubans know whos doing what…and what they have…now their predesposed to follow the Cubans orders…their way more scarred of the Castros……kick the can down the road a bit…..wheres it all goung to end……if you think their worried about honesty or dignity your fooling yourself…look at Cuba…what a farce.
    Its already a military government….and the real gift to cuba from Chavez was the militerized militias….enforcment……and i think they just got a green light to pull the trigger…
    The problem with the rite revolution…they sell u economics and transparency…but wont die for it like the left……..its a comment section…im leaving one.

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