Three weeks ago, when the opposition’s MUD umbrella group announced a big street protest for Thursday, September 1st — three days from now — a lot of opposition supporters in Venezuela rolled their eyes. “Why on earth wait almost a month!?” people asked. “We need to do something now.”

Over the last few weeks, the point has become increasingly clear. Focusing regime opponents’ energy on a single date, and creating enough time to organize around it has become its own form of strategy. It has sent the regime into a new paroxysm of repression, just when it’s least able to afford it, and has ended up becoming a key part of its strategy to isolate the regime internationally.

The broad and sickening crackdown on Voluntad Popular leaders —from the rejailing of Daniel Ceballos and the raids on Lester Toledo and mayor Delson Guarate’s homes to the bizarre transfer of Pancho Márquez and Gabo San Miguel— shows a government girding up for confrontation on September 1st. But this renewed repressive energy comes just at the time when its reserves of international good will are running on empty.

The region’s willingness to treat Venezuela like a normal country is at an end. The place where that’s most visible now is Mercosur, where three out of Venezuela’s four partners — including the two biggest economies in South America — have balked at the prospect of seeing Venezuela take over the organization’s rotating presidency.

 
Venezuela’s preferred tactic for fighting this diplomatic fire involves the use of a jerrycan full of gasoline.

The fight over the Mercosur presidency is, of course, about much more than this largely ceremonial role: it’s really a fight over where the line is in terms of “state normalcy” and whether Venezuela has now definitely crossed it. The controversy at the OAS about the invocation of the Democratic Charter is, in effect, the same fight: the region looking at itself in the mirror, seeing the bizarre turn events have taken in one corner of it and asking itself where exactly the limits are.

Venezuela’s preferred tactic for fighting this diplomatic fire involves the use of a jerrycan full of gasoline. In Mercosur, a marginally skilled diplomat would’ve been able to smooth over the crisis. Instead, Venezuela turned up with Delcy Rodríguez, whose idea of diplomacy involves rapid-fire insults aimed at anyone who opposes her, together with a bizarre, Carmonian self-declaration that the Venezuelan presidency of the organization had already begun that only further antagonized the countries Venezuela aspires to lead. Any remaining doubts Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay might have had about the character of Venezuelan diplomacy were definitively put to rest by Delcy’s outburst, which ensured only that her diplomats won’t even be in the room in the future as the issue is discussed.

In fact, it’s hard to shake the sense that Delcy and her brother, Downtown Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodríguez, positively relish the idea of Venezuela as a regional Pariah State. His bluster, together with Diosdado Cabello, in promising to purge thousands of director and sub-director level civil servants for signing the recall petition have harderned international perceptions of Venezuelan irredentism: a state run by lunatics without the first notion of hemispheric norms about democratic fair play.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro thoughtfully laid down the prep work for this situation a couple of months ago, and so he’s now able to meet the latest regime escalation with a credible threat of outright exclusion from the Inter-American System.

 
As the government responds to calls for street protests with Cuban-style repression, Almagro’s stance looks simply prescient.

His tireless lobbying and, at this point, outright advocacy in favor of a robust hemispheric response to the collapse of Venezuela’s democratic institutionality has looked rash at times this year, with even some broadly sympathetic observers fretting that he was playing posición adelantada. 

Not at all. Almagro was leading from the front: exploring for the region’s diplomats the terrain they’d find themselves occupying soon enough. As the government responds to calls for street protests with Cuban-style repression, Almagro’s stance looks simply prescient, his early invocation of the democratic charter prepositioned the instruments that would be needed in the months to come.

And so the extremist faction of the Venezuelan regime — the Rodríguez Sibs, Diosdado and the presidential couple at its head — finds itself in an extremely precarious position: at the head of a varied movement including many who are far less comfortable than they are with international pariah status, widely reviled in public opinion, with no money amid the worst economic crisis the country has ever seen, relying on cops and troops they’re not able to feed reliably to sustain themselves in power.

It astonishes me that so many in the opposition continue to perceive the regime’s position as strong, not to say virtually unassailable. Personally, I don’t see the regime as unassailable. At all. I see a regime running out of options fast, and on all fronts, in parallel. It’s a view that, I know, will attract derision from those who style themselves hardboiled, but who’ve in fact learned nothing these last 17 years except for helplessness.

 

59 COMMENTS

  1. The last paragraph confused me. I initially thought you were saying the opposite of what you really meant. I would suggest that the first paragraph by changed from…

    “It astonishes me that so many in the opposition continue to perceive their position as strong, not to say virtually unassailable.”

    to…

    “It astonishes me that so many in the opposition continue to perceive the regime’s position as strong, not to say virtually unassailable.”

    Apart from that, it is a good article and I concur with your analysis. I initially wondered about the lengthy time between the announcement of the march and the date. It now makes perfect sense. The sense on the streets here is that it will be huge! The government’s heavy-handed and clumsy repressions have only made people more grimly determined.

  2. Well, the regime is still in a strong position … to deliver as much pain as possible to try to stop change.

    Nothing as dangerous as a cornered and wounded animal

  3. A good slogan could be worked up from the idea that they soon won’t be able to feed the cops. “Today we are hungry, tomorrow you too.”

  4. In fact, it’s hard to shake the sense that Delcy and her brother, Downtown Caracas Mayor Jorge Rodríguez, positively relish the idea of Venezuela as a regional Pariah State. His bluster, together with Diosdado Cabello, in promising to purge thousands of director and sub-director level civil servants for signing the recall petition have harderned [sic] international perceptions of Venezuelan irredentism: a state run by lunatics without the first notion of hemispheric norms about democratic fair play.

    Given the history of the Tascon list, the civil servants who signed the recall petition knew full well that they were putting their jobs at risk. Yet they still signed, which exhibited some combination of courage coupled with disgust at the regime or at Maduro.

    Cuba was a pariah state in the Interamerican system for decades. As has been pointed out in a previous thread, the assistance of Cuba’s Soviet big brother enabled Cuba to ride out the economic consequences of being a pariah state. Venezuela, by comparison, is sliding down the razor blade of a downturn in the oil market.

  5. Good article. I can’t fathom any group in power who believe Delcy is a good choice for diplomat, especially in times like this. Her behavior and insults have probably put at least a few countries that were on the fence squarely into the “we can no longer ignore this anymore” camp.

  6. Thanks for this, Quico.
    Living in Venezuela and facing these day-to-day realities makes one lose focus on how strong the government really is.

    And despite all barking and biting coming from their end, the truth is that this government, right now, isn’t nearly as strong as it was in any previous moment of its existence.

  7. This is what happens when average, corrupt people like Maduro or Cabello or Delcy and Jorge Rodriguez reach positions of power. People don’t like to admit it, but the leaders of any country should be the brightest, better educated, smartest. Not the average bus driver or drug-dealing street thug.

    The Elite should be ruling the less educated, clueless masses. In any country. Usually the Elite already have some money, so they won’t steal as much. And they know something about Economics, international trade, Diplomacy; they usually speak a few languages, at least English, which is very important in international trade and diplomacy.

    The uneducated Monkeys that grabbed the power in Vzla, can hardly speak decent Spanish. Maduro did not even complete public high-school, bus driver. Cabello is just a street thug. Delcy and her brother are also uneducated to be holding any international or relevant position. Plus they are all corrupt, of course.

    Usually, the Elite of any society is prone to steal less, with higher moral values, ideals, and ideas. As much as people criticize Henry Ramos Allup, the guy obviously did go to school. He has a decent vocabulary, knows how to express ideas. That’s valuable in Vzla. Even Capriles has more eloquence and education than thugs like the bus driver or Cabello or the Rodriguez thugs.

    Leopoldo Lopez is, by far, the most qualified to be president. Harvard education, bilingual, international experience and credibility, strong character, impeccable morals, a family man, and close to the reality on the streets. He would be a great president. Totally anti-Chavista. Not “socialistoide” as Capriles. Maria Corina is good, and somewhat educated, but not as good as Leopoldo.

    The Elite of the Elite should govern. And that’s Leopoldo Lopez. Next in line would be Henry, Capriles or MCM. You cannot have uneducated clowns like Masburro or Delcy running things.

    • I take strong exception to the above rant , not that an effort should not be made to create elite institutions and groups , as measured by their capacity to achieve things without resort to self gloryfying delusions or sectarian political bias , but because elites are not born but formed both by learning experiences and the methodical cultivation of natural talents , and can be composed of people from all social origins , even the most humble, for example I understand that before Falcon joined the opposition he was held by many members of the opposition as a remarkable gobernor , and have inside information from people who dealt with Andres Velasquez when he was gobernor of Bolivar State that he is a truly talented administrator ……….there is also recognition that some of the regime appointments were of people who were considered very talented , I seem to remember Vielma Mora when he was appointed head of the Tax Authority and another young man who did a good job when in charge of the ID and passport office.

      In short the best elite is one which is inclusive , that does not discriminate between the scions of high born families and those of honest hard working but less advantaged families , always am reminded of Deng Tsiao Pings phrase : A good cat is one who catches mice regardless of whether his fur is coloured white or red or of any other colour…………!!

    • The problem with “The Ruling Elitists” running a nation are that they are far removed from the daily struggles of the common man. While I agree that they should be educated, I don’t believe that they necessarily need to be the Best and Brightest. Look no further than the United States, who have for YEARS elected Ivy League educated Poli-Sci and Law majors.
      And what do we get in return for electing them time and time again? Another batch of out of touch cake-eaters who think everyone else who doesn’t have their glorious educational background isn’t worthy to make a decision regarding their own welfare, let alone liberties and freedoms. They Elitists LITERALLY believe we are too dumb to know what is best for us, and the only thing keeping “them morons” from running over a cliff and into oblivion is their steady hand at the helm. Its the very definition of insanity… doing the same dumb thing over and over again, in the hope that the outcome changes. Which is where this appeal in Trump lies. Whether he is dangerous remains to be seen, but he isn’t the same old thing trotted out every 4 years.

      • It amazes me to no end how people keep missing that governing is about 2 things, and insist it should only be about one.

        Yes, governing is about good administration. It is, also, about proper representation. You need BOTH things. The very best administrator, just imposed on a population that do ont connect with the vision put forward, will be a failure. The opposite, of course, is just populism.

        The country should be ruled by whoever manages to articulate a good vision that is supported by the people… for the time being (elections and limited periods are important for that reason). That person should have the integrity to know when he has to listen or appoint technocrats. He or she may not be the very best technocrat around – but somebody grounded in reality enough to know you need expertise and professionalism to transform goals and dreams into realites.

        Or, in other words, no, nobody solved the problem of good government with a magic recipe, you can only work at the eternal balancing act it is and just try not to fall too much.

      • People seem to have a problem with the word “elite”:

        “a select part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities:

        In this sense, the “elite” should also be down-to-earth, while being the smartest, best educated, and qualified. If they are really ‘elite’ they have to know what’s going on, and how to deal with problems.

        You have 2 options: hire mediocre, average people, or hire the Best. If you run a company, what do you do?

        • José,

          Right…and the magic wand that will allow us to discern who those people are is hidden where exactly?

          It’s 10th grade level political theory, chamo. Outside the Harry Potter books there is no sorting hat to do the work for you.

          What there is is *politics*: a domain where people struggle for power. In that context, people have enormous incentives to portray themselves as “superior to the rest in terms of ability or qualities”.

          And any conceivable body you set up to select them will itself need to be staffed, and the selection process for *that* body will face the same information asymmetries.

          The problem is precisely one of *discovery*. If there was a reliable process for determining who the “best” are, there’d be no problem. There isn’t, and there can’t be.

          • It ain’t that complicated, Quico.

            First, you look at the resume. Where did this person study, how long, grades.. Then you just sit in front of the guy, or gal, much like a job interview, ask questions, see him/her talk. In about 10 minutes you know if the person is smart, educated, prepared, and ‘elite’, or not.

            Granted, politics is a murky, twisted arena. But as in any business, you try to evaluate Integrity and Honesty as well, and you supervise that over time. After some years, that person has a record. So you can trust them more.

            Those are the Best. The Elite. And if they speak several languages, and accomplish good works, and never steal a penny, they’re even more Elite. It doesn’t take long to recognize the best, or at least one of the best, if you know your business.

            Concrete examples in politics:

            We’ve had the Trump clown, the insufferable actor named Ted Cruz, the deplorable Christie and Fiorina, the unpalatable Jeb Bush, and other chumps. Now we are left with Trump and Hilary, to me it’s an easy decision: do not vote for either, hate’em both equally. I would have voted for Marco Rubio or, previously, John Mcain.

            Are they “Elite” in politics? Well, as close as it gets..

          • And of course as you decided who are the good ones and who are the not good ones, all of us will decide the same. Like, it is unthinkable anybody would look at your choices and say that you are full of shit and those guys suck and somebody else is the real “good” one. It would be unthinkable that somebody else would come to the same argument and say “and thats why Hillary is the best one”, for example.

            That just cant happen, cause politics is like mathematics and once you get to the proof nobody can really doubt it.

          • First, you look at the resume. Where did this person study, how long, grades.. Then you just sit in front of the guy, or gal, much like a job interview, ask questions, see him/her talk. In about 10 minutes you know if the person is smart, educated, prepared, and ‘elite’, or not.

            Que de pinga! I get to be dictator of the world!!

            Chamo, the problem is in the “you”. You WHO? The “who” isn’t given. It has to be selected. And then all the same problems you thought you were resolving arise again.

            There’s a name for that particular rabbit hole: infinite regress.

          • Jose, I hate to break it to you but many leaders within Chavismo are smart people. Many come from the *best schools*. Many were relatively normal people when they started their careers. They would not show up at job interviews with devils horns. Then they made a series of career enhancing choices, they found themselves making ever bigger compromises with their ethics and giving ever bigger excuses for their superiors, then they were appointed to places like the TSJ, and then they were doing really bad, stupid things.

            A guy like Jorge Rodriguez may be many things, but he’s not a dummy. Smart people do abominable things. Henry Kissinger, a very smart guy who had his hand in some very bad things, said that power is an aphrodisiac. I don’t know about that, but if power is not held to account, it has a toxic effect that undermines good judgment. Its not the lack of good education or a lack of capability that is the problem, it is the toxic effect of power that leads smart individuals to perpetuate a disaster like what is going on right now in Venezuela.

            I’d just add, I do think Maduro is not smart, but I know bus drivers that are. He gives bus drivers a bad name. For starters, he is not in control of his vehicle.

          • The problem with “you” is that there is no “you” in a democracy.

            The mess the U.S. is facing with its coming elections is entirely representative of the problem of a democracy: John Adams’ tyranny of the majority where two (of several) elite candidates who look reasonably good on paper by your criteria but actually suck, are the only options. Yay Ochlocracy!

            Now, if you are promoting oligarchy, wherein the elites screen the elites, well…you are more in luck. That’s probably a closer approximation to what is happening. The issue therein, is that you end up with considerable selection bias and self-serving special interests. You might be okay with this, but, as someone actually interested in statesman-like qualities in the leaders I vote for, the “elites” in my country are sorely lacking.

            As far as comparing it to a job interview: practical experience on my part says that’s just…bad. And wanting elite employees? Meh. They tend to be prima donnas looking for the bigger, better deal. Give me someone with ability and aptitude and a willingness to learn and a passion for the work with an education from some third string school and I’ll take them over the god’s-gift-to-business Ivy League grads. I’ve done this more than once; we do not even look at GPA; if they know what they are doing, it comes out pretty quickly in the interview. (Note: both presidential candidates are Ivy Leaguers. Yay!)

            Fun fact about elite people: they have the same foibles and weaknesses as “ordinary” people; as people they aren’t any better than the warp and woof of the reset of the citizenry. The only differential between them and everyone else is that, in general, they have been afforded more opportunities than average. I would actually argue they are lesser than others because they should, in many cases, have accomplished more given where they started from relative to everyone else.

            The people that should be running things are the ones that don’t want to run them. Give me a Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus any day of the week over what we have now. The issue therein, however, is that he won’t want the job. Instead, if you are lucky, you’ll end up with Sulla or a Caesar, or worse, a Gaius Verres, Catilina, Nero or Caligula.

        • In my youth I became interested in finding out about the very best breed of cattle , pigs, poultry in the world , and discovered that 90% of them were developed by farmers in Britain during several centuries of careful selective breeding around the XVII and XVIII Century !!

          Then I worked for years with an international company reknowned as one of the most successful and best managed companies in the world , of course it was run as a meritocracy which meant that they were picky and choosy about whom they hired looking not only at their academic credentials but at their character and personal qualities ,and even more methodical and careful about the assessment of each employees performance every year using proven techniques to identify who might develop into a superior manager or professional in their career, this assessment ( a collegiate assessment using certain measurement parameters applied year after year) allowed them to choose the people who got promoted to higher responsabilities and to plan their careers , the system had been in operation for many many years and the results were indeed remarkable , not that it was infallible but it made highly probable that the people who climbed to the top were for the most part really exceptional managers .

          Institutions in most developed countries including Singapore and nowadays in china follow the same meritocratic path to choose their leaders , the system is not perfect but it makes sure that people who handle big decisions are well prepared to take the best decisions allowed by the circumstances, the culture of meritocracy guides personnel planning of many institutions and the results even if not absolutely devoid of failures , for the most part work very well.

          People are not chosen only for their technical and managerial expertise but also for their people skills, what they are not allowed to do is to engage in demagogic tactics to gain the simpathies of their peers or their superiors….

          That’s the way you create elites, by building on methods for identifying the overall expertises and talents or many gifted people over a long period to make sure only the best reach the uppermost ladders of corporate or institutional authority…..!!

          I say this because I lived in this kind of system, was taught to apply it and can vouch for how effective it can become when it becomes part of an institutional culture …..if you havent lived thru this then you are excused into thinking that its a fools errand…….it is NOT.!!

    • “The Elite should be ruling the less educated, clueless masses.”

      Absolutely disgusting! I assume you place yourself in the former category, so you can fortify your pathetic ego at the expense of the former category. You obviously do not understand the difference between “rule” and “govern”. You seem to want to reestablish a feudal aristocracy along with serfdom. You are expressing exactly the ideas that caused the rise of Chavismo in the first place!

    • . Not the average bus driver …
      Maduro was far from “the average bus driver.” Maduro trained in Cuba as an agitator/organizer. He was in the bus driver’s union in that capacity.
      The issue with Maduro is not his education so much as he is a Castro tool.
      For well-educated persons, consider Giordani.

    • Jose, estoy cansado de ver de primera mano como la “elite venezolana” a la que te refieres, que viene de buenos colegios privados y de familia pudiente, son los principales rapaces en caerle a la renta del país.

      Por ponerte un ejemplo y sin que tenga algo personal contra LL, averigua si sus estudios en Harvard los pago del bolsillo de su familia o de Funda Ayacucho donde su padre era el presidente. O si utilizo la posición de su mama en PDVSA para conseguir dinero para la nueva e incipiente ONG Primero Justicia. Estamos hablando de alguien que es de familia pudiente.

      Y esto es un solo ejemplo. Me sobran las manos para contar los hijos de ministros y miembros de la CSJ con los que me caí a palos y me fui de rumba.

      Como dice Bill Bass, elite es algo mas que tener buena educación y dinero. Tu mismo pusiste el ejemplo de Caldera.

      Pura porquería. Si Venezuela le debe lo que tenemos es exactamente a esa “elite” que me atrevería a decir, traiciono a su país. Bueno, país no tienen.

      • “Funda Ayacucho donde su padre era el presidente”

        Ajá, su pa’ era presidente ahí, ¿Acaso LL NO pagó el crédito de F.A. entonces? Porque lo que importa es que no se haya robado esa plata, Juan.

        “O si utilizo la posición de su mama en PDVSA para conseguir dinero para la nueva e incipiente ONG Primero Justicia.”

        Ah, cierto, aquel rumor que más nunca los chavistas que consiguen hasta el más mínimo detalle para meterte preso se les ocurrió usar, y que hubiera hecho mucho más fácil el tener a LL pudriéndose en una celda que tratar de endilgarle los 45 asesinatos que Maduro mandó a cometer a los mandriles del sebin.

        • Ulamog, una fundación de becas tiene un presupuesto determinado y limitado. Esas becas deberían ser destinadas a gente que lo necesita. Acaso LL lo necesitaba? No estaba LL en capacidad de pagarlo de su propio bolsillo?

          Referente a PDVSA, eso no son cuentos de chavistas para jorobar a LL. Eso sucedió. Así de simple.
          El punto que quiero traer es que la “élite venezolana” esta acostumbrada a disponer de los recursos públicos como si fueran propios.

          Y eso tiene que cambiar. Eso debe cambiar.

    • Jose, what a load of elitist crap. “Usually, the Elite of any society is prone to steal less”. Right. Explain that to the Bolichicos who themselves come from “good” families, went to the elite schools in Venezuela and should know better. You cannot generalize. In my life I have been dissapointed by members of the elite, as much as I have been impressed by people from the “lower rungs”. Is all about values, and the “elite” does not have a monopoly on values.

    • How do I start? While I agree that educated people should govern, and use logical, reasonable, analytical framework from which to construct a good system, in which everyone can play through an agreed upon set of code, rules and regulations; I don’t agree with the elite of the elite should have the only rights to govern. I definitely agree that people like Madurro and Delcy have shown to be catastrophic, not to mention Chavez, I know for a fact a stern system with the correct checks and balances should suffice. Leopoldo is arrogant, crass, and honestly a bit of a bad strategist. HIs fans, are little Lopez lookalikes and I don’t believe he actually shows the necessary understanding of the multitude of potential policy reforms needed in Venezuela. I am more pro Ramos Allup, a statesman who has a good grasp on the regulatory framework and has the cultura; aspects needed to unite this country, and even Maria Corina Machado. I agree that Capriles’ very socialist endeavors put him as a high risk candidate for the opposition. I went to Harvard and while that education is prime, it definitely doesn’t give me the right to rule over others… needless to say your point was taken, it just that type of rhetoric was what got Chavez elected in the first place.

  8. At this point it is very clear that Chavismo is a shattered front. One only has to read Aporrea to see that, or even CC. Now, it does seem that disaffected Chavistas are willing to ‘cut their nose to spite the face’. Yes Maduro is really bad, but escualidos jamas! So don’t expect much from them. At best, they will just sit around and skulk.

    Venezuela needs saving from itself. It will need international help in the short term, both humanitarian and financial. However Chavista government is out doing itself in becoming a rogue state. So poor Venezuela will not get any relief while Maduro sits in Miraflores.

    The recall referendum, the only democratic means that seems feasible is being sabotaged at every turn by Maduro. Yes, they have yielded to every step so far, which is an accomplishment but everyone expects some last minute trickery to scuttle the process.

    Then you have the military which seems to be in a position ‘ni esto ni aquello sino todo lo contrario’. And as any institution in Venezuela it must be deeply divided and as such untrustworthy to Maduro. I mean common, do you think any general wants to be known as ‘general yuca’ and general leche’? Even with 500+ generals available, it seems a bit much. And then there is the real dark task of having to go and crack some skulls to prop up these Chavistas criminals?

    The Chavistas lost an election because Chavistas did not vote or voted against Maduro, will they now take to the streets this Wednesday? Looking at the map for the protest, it seems that the protest plan is something ‘del este’ again. Will people walk from Catia and Caricuao? That would certainly be a game changer.

    Juego trancado.

  9. I am in total agreement with your statement: “It astonishes me that so many in the opposition continue to perceive the regime’s position as strong, not to say virtually unassailable. Personally, I don’t see the regime as unassailable. At all. I see a regime running out of options fast, and on all fronts, in parallel”.

    I agree. I have been talking about the very weak position of the regime for months now, why a much more aggressive opposition stance was required and why calling for dialogues and “transitions” weakened the resolve of the country to accelerate the ousting of the regime.
    Rather recently you argued for such a transition, mentioning the case of other countries. You said: “The architects of previous democratic transitions learned the delicate art of mobilizing international support without being perceived as instruments of foreign intervention…. and they developed modes of documenting abuses, recognizing and sometimes compensating victims by appointing Truth and Reconciliation commissions or other such bodies, without seeking revenge or exacting full justice in the fraught conditions of a democratic transition. They found ways to recognize each side’s contributions to national progress. And they worked together on necessary economic and social changes…”

    That I did not share. I like your current assessment much better.

    • The regime’s position is weak, sure. And will be even weaker in September.. but let’s not forget that somehow they have held power for almost 18 years now. And remember that the corrupt Military and Police and Sebin and Guardia are behind this, all bribed and corrupt.

      And that there are about 35 “Ministries” with millions of public employees, all leeching off the regime. They must fear for their happy guisos when the regime falls.

      Also, the dozens of main crooks and thieves and criminals of the regime must be scared to death: prison, loss of stolen properties, etc. Where are they gonna go to hide? Margarita or the Caribbean? They will fight to stay..

      Maduro and Cabello and Chavismo are doomed because of the economy, lack of food, long lines, crime. But so is the next MUD government: exactly how are they going to fix such a huge mess?

      • It will be very difficult, but not impossible. Remember that Venezuela has something to offer the outside world, including natural resources. The IMF will likely need to provide a hard-currency lifeline but will require freeing the dollar exchange rate and eliminating the fuel subsidy. Transparent privatizations could get the electrical grid up within a year, but the inevitable huge increase in electric rates from essentially zero to something sustainable might be too much to bear. As I said-very difficult, but not impossible.

  10. Okay, I’ll bite.

    Why on earth does the regime “can’t afford” to up their repression? We have 17 years of tangible evidence that they just will and nothing will happen.

    For me the international support point will always be irrelevant when China exists to pick up whatever pieces remain of our destruction.

  11. I agree with Quico that the regime looks like cracking and faulting. However, most of his arguments are based in the growing isolation of Venezuela in the international political environment. I believe that international opinion and pressure is a powerfull determinant of the internal political process in any country and specially in underdeveloped ones. Because of that I have been questioned by friends who do not think the international participation is at all important. Their main argument points, for example, to the extremely long persistence of the cuban comunist regime which has survived the strongest of all international pressure short of outright military intervention – save for Bahia de Cochinos. They endured the US blockage, the explusion from the OAS, the severance of diplomatic ties with many countries and the loss of their mentor and suporter, the Soviet Union. How could they resist? … they ask me. The answer is with repression. Imposing on the population hunger, scarcities, poverty and international isolation, of all things. Of course, Fidel, Raul and the other cuban leaders are much more inteligent and competent than our galfaros so that it seems that more repression is what is looming for us in the near future. Once Maduro, Cabello, Rodriguez and Co. lost their scruples for looking “democratic” they will not stop at any limit. Simply because if we succeed they´ll enter into hell. The crucial point is, thus, how much can we, their opposition, resist and keep struggling. I have bad feelings about that because I am 79 and its is hard for me to go out and fight in the streets but the younger generations have my heart bottom support.

    • “The international political environment” does not care anymore about Venezuela, and its sold-out heavy oil (to the Chinese).

      For some reason, some people think that Venezuela is the center of the earth.. There are dozens and dozens of countries like Venezuela, or even worse off than Vzla. Just look at Africa, or Asia, or other South American messed-up countries. Or Central America. ”

      What makes you think that the USA or Europeans are going to come to the rescue, specially in Vzla? They don’t want to have anything to do with us! Our oil is heavy, and unrefined, and we can’t even mix it with lighter oil. And it’s cheap, elsewhere in the world, and of better quality.

      If it was for ‘humanitarian” reasons, wealthy nations have dozens of other countries to help first. Think there’s hunger and scarcity in Vzla? Sure. But you should see the horrible conditions elsewhere. And what’s the track-record of Venezuela repaying loans? Pathetic.

      If I’m Germany or the USA, I help elsewhere and/or invest my money elsewhere, sorry to say, as a Venezuelan. But they are not dumb.

  12. They are weak but we are weaker. As far as I can see, if they let the situation come to this point, it means they don’ t care to be isolated. I am afraid they just need to keep in control, and I think they can do that well enough by old-school repression. They will not backdown. If anything, they will try to bribe us. As for the elite discussion. I think a good “administrator “is not necessarily a good politician, because you can’ t really compare public service, as complex as it is, with management. There are too many variables that make the analogy unsound. Politics requiere a whole different set of skills.

  13. It will take a national strike and bullets to stop Raúl Castro from cementing his control over Venezuela. Meanwhile Obama, Mogherini, the Red Pope, and the others will make sure the Cuban dictatorship remains under their protection and good will. You are alone.

  14. What gets left out in this conversation are the immediate or nearly immediate actions that might effect change. The Sep. 1 rally might get the world’s attention if Maduro and co. handle it like Delcy handles “diplomacy.” But maybe the bigger opportunity is in the billions owned and shortly coming due per bonds. While the international community seems to give only lip service to the crisis, the one thing they Do take seriously is money. And it is unlikely that del Pino is going to renegotiate the whole nut, if any of it. Maduro will soon face what he has never had to do: Be told what to do from the outside, and to have no choice. If he defaults, the oil income will be garnished and Ven’s assets seized, resulting in a crisis that cannot be sustained, like it or not.

    I suspect there is some way to leverage the impending bond issue to the advantage of the opposition BEFORE it happens, but I couldn’t tell you how.

  15. Francisco,

    I’m on the news, I’m off the news, I’m on the news, off them!!! I’m in Venezuela, I’m back home in New York. I’m freaked out, I’m depressed, I’m on the news, off the news! Naky kills me with all the details (I adore her).

    “Everything ends.” My dad saved me with those words.

    Thank you for your rationality. Thank you for your objectivity.

    I’m always back to CC, I’m always back to CCS 🙂

    You are all my heroes.

  16. So what do they have to lose by being a Pariah?They know if they are ousted, many many people will go to jail be exposed and lose millions and they don’t want that.So they hold the referendum (next year) put someone else in power and weather the storm.As far as the takeover of Caracas–Media blackout(tweak the internet/information black out)Close a few subway stations and block some roads maybe a few power outages here and there.Play videos on all the channels of old Chavez rallies-rinse and repeat.They will stall and stall.Some other event(US elections/terrorist attack etc) will take over the news cycle and this becomes Zimbabwe 2.

  17. I would hope that the Sept. 1 grand march month+-long pre-announcement was part of a grand strategy to give the Regime time to over-react/repress, but it’s probably more a function of taking the time necessary to try to organize/stimulate the necessary hundreds of thousands to participate, given that maybe a million or so would-be activists have emigrated since the last million-strong grand march April 11, 2002, plus many others may now be too cowered by fear to participate. This march has somewhat a do-or-die feel to it, but, barring a really huge turnout, behind-the-scenes military pressure, or large march fatalities, it probably wont force the Regime to allow an effective Regime-change RR before the Jan. 2017 cut-off date. The Castros are calling the shots, they’ve managed being a starving Pariah State for many decades, and only Venezuela’s increasing oil production/income economic collapse, with its military saying enough is enough, will probably really be a game changer….

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