Jorge Rodríguez, through his spokeswomen at CNE, made a serious mistake last night. You can read all about the specifics in Naky’s brilliant briefing this morning. But the question before us is, what does it mean? And why focus on Jorge Rodríguez?


JRod has become the regime’s key tactician, the head of its most ideologically obdurate and extremist wing, and the all-but-avowed decision-maker behind the nominally independent National Elections Council (CNE) board.

We focus on JRod because privately, and not-so-privately, CNE’s titular head, Tibisay Lucena has stopped even pretending she gets to make her own calls. She doesn’t. On no es con el payaso, es con el dueño del circo grounds, it’s time we trained our fire on the real culprit here.

Technically, Jorge Rodríguez is just the mayor of Central Caracas (Libertador), but one feature of our dictatorship is that people’s real jobs rarely line up with their official titles. In fact, JRod has become the regime’s key tactician, the head of its most ideologically obdurate and extremist wing, and the all-but-avowed decision-maker behind the nominally independent National Elections Council (CNE) board.

It’s a job that used to fall to José Vicente Rangel, and José Vicente was a lot better at it than JRod is. José Vicente understood that the center of his task was to keep the opposition divided. His tactical moves consistently sought to split off opposition radicals from moderates, helping keep the opposition in a kind of permanent low-grade civil war. The radicals vs. moderates splits that have riven the antichavista movement for so long, and that did so much to keep chavismo in power, were not casual. They were, to a large extent orchestrated.

Why do I say JRod overreached last night? Because the 20% Signature Gathering Drive decision his spokeswomen announced yesterday is not likely to split the opposition: just the opposite. The decision is so plainly one-sided, so extreme, it’ll strengthen MUD unity instead.

What JRod needed was an ambiguous decision: one that seemed to hold out the possibility, the outside shot that if MUD really got its act together, it just might be able to overcome the obstacles and collect the signatures it needs to keep the recall going. The goal was to keep the “moderates” committed to the process while pushing the radicals into protest.


Not even the most naïvely deluted of MUD doves could think it’s possible to meet these requirements.

Last night’s decision doesn’t do that. By once more refusing to name dates for the next step of the process, activating far too few voting centers and far too few captahuellas, distributing those centers absurdly on the map, writing in an hour-long lunch break (¡por dios!) to shorten each day of signature gathering day to 7 hours and — the cherry no top — freelancing a constitutionally non-existing requirement to collect signatures for 20% of the voters in each state, the decision kills the recall process cold.

Not even the most naïvely deluted of MUD doves could think it’s possible to meet these requirements. And even if they did, CNE also explicitly announced no recall would be held until after the key January 10th, 2017 deadline, and so would leave Maduro’s vice-president in power through 2019. This is a position not even Timoteo Zambrano could support.

So JRod has failed at the core of his job: keeping the opposition divided. Instead, he’s blundered into a move that creates clarity on the death of the recall and the shift into a more militant season of protests. This is something the MUD has gone to extreme lengths to avoid, but which even the most moderate among them can no longer miss.


In the end, JRod has gifted them something they have the hardest time achieving without outside help: clarity, and consensus.

Even if MUD decides to participate in the bizarre insult of a 20% Signature Drive, it will merely be using it as a coordinating device for street action rather than an actual attempt to activate a now-dead recall.

In the end, JRod has gifted them something they have the hardest time achieving without outside help: clarity, and consensus. The road ahead is clear. All that’s left is street action. MUD just became a protest movement. Its job now is no longer to mobilize voters — the terrain it’s most comfortable with. It’s to rally social protest, to put itself at the head of the volcanic anger in society at a government that has made day-to-day life profoundly unlivable.

The political game changed profoundly in Venezuela last night. Jorge screwed up.

Bad.

34 COMMENTS

    • Yes its time. Should have been done months ago with a date set for this year in September. But still possible in this time frame for the middle of December.
      Then the recall might have a chance of success for this year.
      Oh!, the pressure this would put on.

    • IMHO a Constituional Convention is like 100 miles of bad road, with a trash strewn beach full of dying fish at the end of it.

      No one can argue that the 99 Constitution is a perfect thing, but timing a CC now may end up being worse than what we now have.

      For what it’s worth, we need civil disobedience, protests and a refusal to acknowledge that this “government” represents the will of the people.

      In fact, we should simply state that THERE IS NO GOVERNMENT. There is a “mamarrachada que pretende ser gobierno” instead.

      An nationwide stoppage, in a radically different country from the one that did this last time, would be a good place to start.

  1. ِِTeniendo en cuenta las políticas del chavismo, cometer un gran error era algo impostergable y a alguien le tenía que tocar cometerlo. Era imposible pasar agachado muchas semanas más sin dar la cara. El paro del transporte ayer muestra que si la gente se une, el chavismo podría durar menos de un día pero por desgracia y por el momento, no se ve esa unión en el país. La gente lleva aguantando y sufriendo tanto tiempo que quizás sí que terminen protestando todos para derrocar al gobierno pero una unión basada en la ira y el dolor, no en un proyecto común de país, es flor de un día. Aunque mañana acabasen con este gobierno, al pueblo venezolano le quedan todavía por delante unos cuantos chavismos que sufrir hasta que finalmente madure.

  2. I understand and support the conclusion you reached in the article but I can’t help but thinking that that is a profoundly optimistic (the “…so I got that going on for me which is nice” Bill Murray meme comes to mind) reading of what CNE statement entails…

    • agreed. Kiko is trying to break the helplesness cycle, but there is no alternative in wich we are not fucked, if the opposition plays along with the insane cne conditions the RR, best case scenario chavismo will stay in power until 2018 with their vp; if mud doesn’t play along then maduro stays in power until 2018 and they’ll just say that the oppo refused to go to a RR, so unless there is a coup there is chavismo until 2018.

  3. I disagree. Jorgito does not have the brains of JVR, but is good enough for the quality of politics here. The recall will never take place. Governor’s elections have been postponed indefinitely without any political cost. So his objectives were met. Some overreach.

  4. Not only the MUD, if Venezuelans do nothing or dont react at this clearly fraud its over, they will be no more elections till Venezuela becomes a whitered, lousy, chaotic piece of dirt

  5. What if on those same days MUD prepares its own 20% process ? With parallel signature centers all over the country, everybody signs, we could even finance the aquisition of our own capta huellas and have this virtual firmazo and send (previously scanned and backed up files) to cne and to the Vatican or the OAS ? That would be an excellent way to channel all this frustration and constructively mobilize opinion.

    • That would be pointless, doing a 20% process that will be call illegal by TSJ y CNE , the OAS cant do nothing and the Vatican will do nothing too and also is under a socialist incline Pope, and you know how socialist support each other no matter what with their cult mentallity.

      What Venezuelans need to do is to put pressure shut down every activity, et together and tell Chavistas is enough with the bullshit if the oppo let chavista cross this line is over lets just call Venezuela Mad max or Lil Cuba and be done with it

  6. Sorry Quico but I didn’t agreed with you in this one.

    La MUD ahora esta obligada a afrontar una realidad impostergable si quiere sobrevivir a la arrechera colectiva que se le viene encima

  7. Great analysis. I’ve never seen Capriles and Corina so in tune like yesterday, indeed. I’m even becoming a fan of Capriles.

    And if we ponder on what Rodriguez did, it’s the best outcome possible, since the referendo would never remove Maduro anyway, and the headlines will be now about people trying to get free from a obvious dictatorship, no more ‘democratic rethoric’ possible to foster left-wing journalists’ articles abroad, the expected ‘They couldn’t get the 20%, so Maduro stays, that’s democracy, etc, etc’.

    The truth is in the open for all to see, even the most naïvely deluted of MUD doves, and the left-wing abroad trying to prove that Venezuela is still a democracy (you know who you are).

    • Marc wrote: ” Great analysis. I’ve never seen Capriles and Corina so in tune like yesterday, indeed. I’m even becoming a fan of Capriles.”

      No nos equivoquemos aquí. para MCM ha sido su posición desde el principio. Capriles por otra parte, está como Obama. Tratando de defender su legado ya que gran parte de su capital politico lo apostó al RR 2016.

  8. We’ve reached the point I long warned chavistas and others we would eventually reach…..the suspension of all elections for the good of the revolution. And, as I told them, by the time this point was reached, they’d have given away so many of their rights that there would be little anyone could do.

    Not that it comes as a surprise, but we’re officially fucked. There is no easy out.

    • As an outsider looking in, I have to agree with you. It’s looking like there are only 2 possibilities left. One is to suffer through another 3 years until the 2019 election although we know the economy won’t last that long, the other is to rise up and take your country back.

      I’m sorry for the loss of your country.

        • Seems to me that the biggest obstacle in the recall is how they are restricting voting machines, at least in the general election that will not work as well. This is all academic anyway, as the country will not last till 2019 in its present state.

  9. “Not even the most naïvely deluted of MUD doves could think it’s possible to meet these requirements.”

    I seen a couple of ones in my facebook. Cryptic language of course, but using key words as “constitutional ways” and “institutions”: they might be waiting for the party line, thou.

    That been said, I always been a dove. I opposed the Salida, because I knew it was doomed to fail. After today however I will treat any doves remaining as being either grade A morons or being in the government payroll.

    My guess is that Chavismo already lost the moment they allowed the parliamentary elections. The moment to strike was a month ago, but I think the MUD simply underestimated the stupidity of the chavistas – who are not even just willing to admit they failed and take their stolen money and live in their golden retires for the rest of their lives. A negotiated transition would had allowed them that, and maybe even eventually regain political power later. They don’t want such a thing, because they simply don’t believe in politics except the brand of politics they already sport: doing whatever they want.

    Now probably everything will have to burn to the ground.

    • The one who only stealed money already left this country but there is other that have done more than steal, Terrorism, narcotraffic and international fraud are some of those crimes committed by this group of PSUV member.

      There is a reason why Diosdado is the biggest voice of the no revocatorio, no elections and Chavistas will rule this country forever crown in PSUV

  10. As I see it, the Opposition has a small window of opportunity. The Chavista government has not yet created and organized its full-on police state apparatus, but is rapidly building it. They are starting to execute arbitrary detentions, but they still don’t have sufficient personnel and infrastructure to carry them out to a degree sufficient to terrorize the general population into submission. If the regime is allowed the time they need, they will become much more formidable than they appear at present. The leaders of the MUD need to very carefully consider their options. Time is not on their side.

  11. I agree, they screwed up, they should have left the dates open ended as to not kill the RR from now and keep the sheep hopeful.

    BUT, I can’t share your optimism. I really do believe that the MUD is going to participate on the 20% and push to win by a landslide on 2017 (even though we won’t get there because its physically impossible to get the 20%).

    Why do I think that? because of what they’ve shown in the last couple of months, a dog that barks a lot and doesn’t bite. Threats were made, and non were actually delivered. Oppo heads said they would not accept conditions and…

    Here we are, 16 hours or more after the CNE spoke, and we still don’t have an answer. THAT IS ALARMING. Why on EARTH did they not have this scenario thought out and prepared for it beforehand?

    Do you know what they remind me of? the CNE after elections, when they go late into the night to give results.

  12. So, huh. When did Caracas Chronicles turned into another baseless (borderline criminal) optimism beacon?

    This post couldn’t be more off base even if it tried.

  13. J. Rodriguez is probably just laughing on his way to the bank.

    This scoundrel is just another chavista thief. For each speech like that he probably gets millions.

  14. “All that’s left is street action” Bla, bla, bla… No hay cojones chico! Or maybe you are thinking Los Estudiantes again will do the job of the other 29.5m people who prefer to stay at home watching novelas. Good luck with that.

  15. “Deluded”, or “diluted”, either works, the former better, but the coining of a new word combining the two also works. True, JR, supreme tactician of electoral fraud, could have strung the Oppo along with more machines/lesser requirements, only to say they didn’t get the sufficient number of “valid” signatures; the fact he didn’t indicates not only his hubris, but the feeling of those that govern that they are firmly/strongly in control. Remember, Jaua’s statement after the Oppo’s “Toma De Caracas”, that the Oppo was strong only in “el Este del Este de Caracas.” But, please, cut poor JR some slack, remember, he was orphaned by the Cuarta, when is daddy was killed for something so innocent as keeping Niehaus kidnapped underground for 2+ years….

  16. “Even if MUD decides to participate in the bizarre insult of a 20% Signature Drive, it will merely be using it as a coordinating device for street action rather than an actual attempt to activate a now-dead recall.”

    I think the article was great until that paragraph. If the MUD tries to go for it, it will fail and the recall will be -even more- dead. Leaving the MUD with only one real option: protest. The one option it has never been great at conducting and much less, making something out of it.

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