Tonight, the charade is over: this is a dictatorship.

The regime pulled all stops and stopped pretending. Deep in our gut, we knew it was coming. The regime looked dictatorial, sounded dictatorial, acted dictatorial, but somehow wasn’t a full-on dictatorship just quite yet. It’s a “light” dictatorship, we’d say. There’s a big democratic deficit, we’d say. It’s quasi-autocratic, we’d say. And the all-time favorite: “no vale, yo no creo”. Well no. Not anymore. Now it’s different.

The constitution is crystal clear: it consecrates the right to call for a recall referendum. The laws that govern it are unambiguous. But the regime shat on all of it tonight. It grabbed the thing that gives government’s legitimacy -votes- and said no, we don’t need that.

For years, Venezuelans had this weird sort of counterfactual feeling. We knew that if the regime was desperate, they would take shelter in arms and their hollowed-out institutions.

But we could never prove it.

There was a torrent of money coming out of the ground, they sweet-talked Venezuela with cheap populist tricks and we could never call their democratic bluff. This year, we forced them to show their hand. And they have nothing.

No se quitaron la careta, los forzamos a quitarse la careta.

On the eve of, it’s difficult to know what it all means. Why did Maduro leave for some bogus world oil tour with no return date today? Does this have anything to do with Zapatero’s latest cryptic visit, Manuel Rosales’ casa por carcel? What kind of shady negotiations are going on behind closed doors? Who sent troops out to the Autopista Caracas-La Guaira? What MUD leaders are banned from leaving the country? We don’t know.

The ball is in the MUD’s court. What they did before won’t work anymore. It’s time for new tactics, new rhetoric, and time to up street protests. Big time. It’s time to get the OAS involved.

But it’s also time to breathe and think. History is clear. You don’t upend dictatorships overnight. This is just another chapter of the last 18 years. Part of the marathon, not a sprint.

What comes next is a fight that we all saw coming, but had mostly figured would come in November, after we collected 20% of the signatures nationally but failed to do so in some state. A fight for the streets and a fight on the streets. La salida, but for real. I, for one, am scared shitless.

51 COMMENTS

  1. Time for the politicians to step aside and say loud and clear “there is no democratic/political solution with this thugs so I have nothing more to do, it’s your turn people, bring them down”

  2. The way forward is a difficult one, but acknowledging the challenge and a clear definition of the problem really goes a long way. Kudos Venezuela for forcing the regime to drop its farce. It took us too long and it has costed us dearly, but so are all wars.

    I would add t your assesment, not only that is a dictatiorship. Period. But also that is an occupation, and the invading army does not care about the nation, or the venezuelian people, only their looting, their spoils, and their safe retreat, when necesary.

    God bless all of those who fight and resist this communist onslaught.

  3. You are “scared shitless”. Think about those of us who actually live in Venezuela…

    But, you are right. There is no more facade. This is what dictatorship looks like and sounds like. But, Venezuelans are not used to this. It will not be tolerated for long.

    • It will not be tolerated for long??? What are you talking about??? Do you think 17 years is not long enough??? From the very beginning we saw it commimg and some of us were calling for wolf but no one wanted to accept it.

    • Venezuelans are not used to this? Venezuela history is just one long story of one dictatorship after another. You are on constitution No. 26 over 200 years since independence, on average a constitution lasts less than 10 years.The current one lasted so far 17 years and was custom designed for Chavez. Time for a new one.

  4. I have my doubts that this coup is fait accompli. There is too much going on, as Frank enumerates in his piece.

    Let’s see when the generals appear on TV and say that all is well and they pledge allegiance to…

  5. “Why did Maduro leave for some bogus world oil tour with no return date today?

    It appears that this “bogus world tour” lies at the very center of the drama taking place behind closed doors. They’re broke. The years of non-economic decisions, with one stupid cadena after the next, are finally coming back to haunt the PSUV. A ‘perfect storm’ of of impending disasters is approaching. They’re in a corner and something dramatic is about to happen. His trip to China is a last ditch effort to obtain a badly needed loan to keep them from possibly declaring a default in the near future. Hugo Chavez “bet the house” and put all of Venezuela’s oil chips on China. If Maduro comes back empty-handed from Beijing, once again, there will be major economic and political consequences. This time real economic decisions will have to be made. Big stuff coming.

  6. “Tonight, the charade is over: this is a dictatorship. ”

    Tonight.

    Tonight.

    TONIGHT.

    T, O, N, I, T, E.

    …Well, it seems that sending snipers and the colectives called by other name to fucking slaughter three dozens of unarmed people among almost a million IS a standard “democratic procedure”

    • In 2002, the government had a serious, worrying autocratic bent, but it also had widespread popular support. Now the regime lost popular support, and the autocratic bent is much worse. They refuse to go to elections. The situation is markedly different.

      • Please clarify me what part of “sending snipers and gunmen to slaughter unarmed protesters, resulting in 25 kills-by-headshots” is considered a “bent”.

        Chávez should have been dropped into the bloody ocean to becone shark chow just for that butchery.

        The two reasons that made the power void from 2002 fail were:

        1- The elites wanted to control every piece of the government to profit from the corruption.

        2- The military were angry because they knew they were going to be sent back to the barracks, because they wanted to control every piece of the government to profit from corruption.

        But the corpses that fell were murdered by the direct orders from Chávez himself, dude, how can you consider that JUST a “BENT”?? The SoB went full Al-Assad there, for Pete’s sake!

        Oh, yeah, the “popular support”, guess what, chavistas aren’t considered stupid for nothing, they EARNED it, in fact, supporting the and celebrating the murder of those protesters so brazenly makes them the most reviled and stupid imbeciles ever. Of course, NOT ALL the chavistas are like this, but holy s**t, a LOT of them are.

        Also, the mere presence of “popular support” doesn’t transform a regime into a democracy, lots of dictators had popular support through history, and still were piles of putrid manure.

        In 2003, Chávez himself REFUSED to go to the RR, he managed to delay the whole process until he could cook the mega fraud that helped him to remain in the power; also, the 2004 RR wouldn’t have displaced him from power anyway, because it happened in the 4th year instead of the 3rd, so chavismo could have stayed anyway, yet Chávez was such a megalomaniac psycho that his frail and bloated ego couldn’t stand the idea of anybody not kneeling blindly before him and his idiocy.

      • A regime that has consisted in worshipping a failed military man, where his every wish was everybody´s command, where his word was law, where he decided whether or not to jail judges (Alfiuni), shoot dissidents (April 2002), or let a man die during a hunger strike (F. Brito), where he called a victory of the opposition a “shit victory” (dic. 2007) and completely disregarded it, etc, etc, etc, can hardly be called a democracy but instead has all the right elements to be called a dictatorship.

        When all power resides in one man and all aspects of life for citizens in that country vary depending on said man´s whims and paranoias, we can call that a dictatorship.

        Maduro has only given continuity to this system, the problem is he does not have the other one´s charisma and he certainly does not have the obscene amount of money the other one handled, so he can´t continue to give people their “bozal de arepa”. But democracy left Venezuela a long long time ago, long before Oct. 20th, 2016.

        Chavismo has been using the “popular support” argument since forever, as if that is the only thing that matters in terms of democracy. There has to be a true separation of powers and a true representation and respect for all kinds of political thinking in a country for it to be considered a real democracy, and not only votes and votes and votes. It makes sense for chavismo to only mention popular support as what matters in democracy because it was the only thing they had, what I don´t understand is how “dissidents” are also using this same argument to legitimize the plunder and raping of Venezuela going on since 1999.

        Repeat: votes do not legitimize a dictatorship. Popular support is a façade sold for the consumption of international “conchupantes” of the regime and for the brainless “lumpen” that still support communism around the world.

        Do the words “rule of law” mean anything to anyone anymore?

        The “official” opposition´s behaviour has been that of the frog inside the pot. Chavismo is achieving everything they set out to do since the beginning: absolute power and impunity. They are the “azote de barrio” magnified to government scale. This was evident to many since the beginning. But the frogs said “no vale, yo no creo”. And now the water´s boiling…

        Venezuela has been under a dictatorship since the first shot was fired against an unarmed protester.

        “Better late than never”, they say. Small consolation.

  7. This might seem superfluous, but is there any way one can write up a list of all the unconstitutional moves the government has made in 2016, especially in terms of the recall referendum? Because I feel that we always bring up in snippets the illegal moves the government has made, which get worse every day, but then they’re lost in a sea of other illegal moves and nothing really comes out of it.

    The government is acting unconstitutionally, and yes that might not amount to anything because they’re in command of all the power, but as Quico has said before, we have to set the bar high (or right where it should normally be but I guess that would mean high for this government), and call them out on every single illegal thing the government has done. And put it all in one place for people to see.

    Yes it might not do anything, and maybe I’m just ranting out of desperation of all the &#$@ the government has done, is doing, and will keep on doing, but I think it’s worth something.

  8. “…A fight for the streets and a fight on the streets. La salida, but for real. I, for one, am scared shitless.”

    No need to be scared, nothing is gonna happen. People don’t wanna fight anymore; after many months having difficulties finding food, people just don’t have the energy nor the desire to do anything, so they will just take the abuse and sit at home blaming the MUD for it.

  9. I think that those who feel it’s going to be more of the same are in for a rude awakening.

    We’ve crossed a point where there is no more hiding from those who did not want to acknowledge it, that this is a dictatorship without masks.

    The RR in many peoples minds represented a way out without much bloodshed or drama, but that door has been firmly shut so that the “corpse” explodes just like the one that got reported on the other day.

    This is where the government wants us, ready to explode and thereby justify whatever evil they have planned.

    Tomorrows protest by women on the Autopista takes on a whole new meaning and risk.

  10. These people will never leave by any democratic means.
    I’ve been saying this since the presidential elections.

    Now maybe people will begin to believe me.

  11. Trump is not even the president and the Toros of the world are already saying that he is a dictator. Why can’t be that fast to predict left-wing dictatorships? 17 years? Seriously?

  12. File this entry with all of Quico’s “The game has changed”. I checked a few newspapers around the world and nobody took notice. If people in Venezuela don’t do anything, nothing will change. And keep exposing Maduro’s government for the dictatorship that it has been for a long time now will do nothing to make a change either.
    Maybe Quico can come up with a solution while sipping a cup of Joe in Canada.

    • I’m not claiming that “the game has changed”. What I am claiming is that the regime dropped its democratic mask last night.

      Their regime’s capture of institutions/processes—the TSJ, military, CNE, legislature—was still plausibly democratic if you were willing to try hard enough. But not anymore. Blocking the RR through bogus rulings to avoid a presidential election when 80% of the country is against you is different. That’s all. It also means that the oppo will need to change its tactics. To that extent, yes, things changed.

          • I don’t blame you, it’s the zeitgeist my friend, when everything around goes down, we all go down too.

            17 years to detect that Venezuela is a dictatorship. If that’s not the definition of idiocy, what else is?

        • Guys, what is going on is historic and awful. Petty insults are the last thing we need are right now. If you wan’t to say something, please make a clear and concise case and spare the ad hominem. It doesn’t help anyone.

          • Sorry, won’t happen again. I just got a bit annoyed by the discussion of when we were supposed to have started calling this a dictatorship. So many abuses have pushed my patience to the limits. I’m way too furious about what’s happening, knowing that no one will do anything meaningful about it. I apologize and promise to take my anger somewhere else.

  13. Mind you, this is now. In 2018, they may go with “You know what? There’s a national emergency, our economy is in crisis, we can’t do the presidential elections. Maduro is reinstated by the TSJ, carry on with your lives, people”.

    • I seriously doubt they’ll bother with that exercise. Too risky. Much too easy to just say, “everyone loves us, everything is fine, carry on”.

      • “everyone loves us, everything is fine, carry on”.

        Isn’t that exactly what chavismo has been claiming these last 17 years anyway?

        “People loves Chávez, and thus it will accept any atrocity done in his name.”

    • 10 years ago, the government had 50, 60% support and won elections. Now they have around 20% and are electorally inviable. Their institutional control is much deeper and shameless now. That matters.

  14. Chavistas are not as dumb or incompetent as many think. They played it pretty well. At the start, Chavez lied and promised continued democracy, to protect private enterprise. He just exploited the frustration and alienation of the majority, the poor, less educated.. he promised ‘socialism” to work for ‘el pueblo’, and started brain-washing them about the evils of capitalism, the Imperio and the ‘sifrinos’ or burguesitos.. Thus the country got even more divided, and with charisma and oil money, giving out freebies, bogus public jobs, false promises, he became a folk hero. Which he remains to this day, btw..

    That’s when the disguised dictatorship started over a decade ago. He grabbed all the powers, bribed the TSJ and the military, no more separation of powers: that’s a dictatorship. But disguised with ‘elections’ , international alliances, overblown populism, some free press, people can still travel overseas.. So internationally and in the pueblos, people still thought – and many still do – that it is ‘socialism’ a leftist democracy of sorts..

    Meanwhile, Chavismo cntinued tightening the screws.. the infamous Boiling Frog technique. They forced over a Million of us to to leave the country, fired or jailed most opponents. The corrupt government got bigger and bigger, with bribed leeches, thieves, getting richer every year. That’s how Chavismo has stayed in power fr so long. With a mixture of carrots and sticks, bribes and punishment, terror and lies, corruption and bank accounts. Then they sold all the oil, el Pajarito Comandante Supremo died, so Chavistas had to tighten the screws even more. They finished buying the military and the TSJ, CNE, police, Sebin, guardia..

    But they still claim to be “socialismo” or a “Bolivarian Republic” and even a democracy of sorts, and many people still believe it, to this day. It’s still an arroz-con-mango: call it TDK : Tropical Dictatorial Kleptocracy

  15. The Charade is over…again. That should be the title. We had a chance but we spent the last two years demoralizing our own base and convincing ourselves that any kind of protest is radical and therefore eeeeeevil. Now, if you didn’ want to prepare for other scenarios, at least you could have let people burn some cauchos without insulting them. I expect nothing from the likes of Capriles. Chavez was right when he called him “nothing”. That’s what he is. We can still defeat them without any violence, but we don’ t have the leadership that we need. We have to get rid of all the fools first and then act.

  16. I wish someone would day what everyone is thinking, “Indeed, Hay Golpes Bueno” if it is to topple a Dictator from power and restore Consitutionality to a country… We need to drop the hipocrisy.

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