If This is a Show, Who’s the Audience?

A little horde of chavista agitators waltzed past the National Assembly's security yesterday and onto the floor. It was a squalid bit of showmanship, aimed at showcasing Jorge Rodríguez's control over PSUV's means of political violence.


Venezuela’s political crisis has gone kinetic since last Thursday’s government move to kill the recall referendum. On Sunday, in a National Assembly session that was Extraordinary in more ways than one, opposition lawmakers officially declared that the “hilo constitucional” — the Constitution’s core doctrines on who gets to rule the country — had been broken, and redefined its task as helping re-establish constitutional rule in the country.

Amid seven other points, the Assembly’s motion explicitly calls on the Armed Forces to disobey orders against the Venezuelan people.

PSUV’s response came in the form that feels most natural to chavismo today: political intimidation.

This is a remarkable moment in the nation’s history. If there are precedents, they are not recent. The opposition explicitly called forth the Armed Forces into the settlement of the political crisis, even if it was in the form of a negative duty (what they must not do) rather than a positive demand to rebel.

The real shape of this fight is becoming more and more explicit. When institutions fail, the men of violence have the last word.

Soon, we had PSUV’s response. Not in the form of the lame propaganda speeches its Assembly members were repeating from memory. PSUV’s response came in the form that feels most natural to chavismo today: political intimidation. A small group of colectivos, visibly led by Caracas mayor Jorge Rodríguez, burst into the chamber and proceded to threaten, intimidate and in a few cases assault opposition assembly members. They waltzed past the National Guard security cordon around the assembly with no trouble.

To my mind, Jorge Rodríguez’s visibility in both being seen to lead and (even more importantly) being seen to stop the violence was far from a mistake. Just the opposite, it was the point. JRod needs to be seen to control the means of starting and stopping political violence. That is how power is tallied in PSUV. It’s not about speeches or ideology or mobilization or even having political clients, much less about policy: it’s about having your hand on the violence spigot.

JRod understands that. That’s the basis he’s competing on.

With whom was JRod communicating through his little stunt? With the same people the MUD majority were communicating with through their historic motion: the men in olive green. As the shape of the confrontation comes into focus, PSUV’s message to the military will not come in the form of words, but in the form of threats.

Chavista factional jockeying has become a competition for the means of creating — and controlling — chaos.

“Side with our enemies,” JRod was saying, “and you’re going to have to face down our people too.”

And he was communicating with other factions in PSUV — like Diosdado’s — and saying clearly: anything you can do I can do better. Chavista factional jockeying has become a competition for the means of creating — and controlling — chaos.

Why? Because controlling the means of political violence is how you establish yourself as impossible-to-ignore in chavista politics today. It’s how you establish your claim to power, and your leverage at the negotiating table. Violence has become the currency of power.


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  1. “That is how power is tallied in PSUV. It’s not about speeches or ideology or mobilization or even having political clients, much less about policy: it’s about having your hand on the violence spigot.”..this conclusion is not true, …..the power is framed by ideology, violence, policies (since they are the government) , everything together, it is the old history of communism, the recipe just change a little, depending of demography….. in our case, the syncretism between religion, ideology and rentismo is the perfect setting.

        • It means they are sensitive to the outside world’s response to seeing violent mobs attacking the session of an established institution so the mob is converted into a group of indignant pogressive congressmen ………!!

          Here the fact that it was a violent mob couldnt be suppressed, so they glamorized it by picturing it as an ‘spontaneous’ movement of ‘the people’ protesting the shady intrigues of a bunch of right wing conspirators….!!

          Every audience gets the message that best suits the image of the messanger!!

          But for the ‘insiders’ it was just what Francisco wrote , JRod telling every one Im the guy controlling the mob violence here and Im a good guy because I didnt let them attack the congressmen in their chamber….!!

  2. Obviously a dysfunctional Chavista world, a case in point. Friday night a couple of Sukhois are playing war games with a commercial airliner. When comes time to give some explanations to the public in the absence of the president, who shows up? Diosdado. Who’s he after all? A mere deputy who don’t even show up at the assembly. Who’s Aristobulo? The current buttler? Even among themselves, all that counts is the show of naked force.

    • Charly, we dont know the type of aircraft used in the Avianca air intercept. We also dont know what really happened. We do know that a fighter jet came in from behind activating Avianca proximity alarms. Right now the incident falls on the pilot(s).

  3. The game is not over until you see the men in olive show up on TV saying which side they pick. Something like they did on the election of December 6th when Chavismo wanted to reject the election results.

    And even if they do show up and choose ‘the wrong side of history’ (I hate that cliche!) they risk becoming like the Argentine military, a base institution, bad at wars but good at terrorizing unarmed people.

    Finally, Maduro is no where to be seen! I mean, even if you cannot do a thing, when your house is on fire you watch from the curb!! Instead, he is jetsetting?!! Even Chavistas have to figure this much out. He may pull a Fujimori, he will fax his resignation in (I am an optimist at heart).

    While this James Bond movie style epic fight is going on, the doomsday clock is ticking in the background for Venezuela taking it the way of a failed state. Will Bond or Goldfinger prevail? (Does that make Maria Corina a Bond girl?)

    • Wrong! Dont assume General Vlad Padrino is on your side! Smoke and mirrors. FANB is completely co-opted. Dont be misled by events of 6 Dec. The military is knee–deep in cocaine trafficking….all branches. Are you aware that cocaine loads fly to Haiti aboard Venezuelan air force cargo aircraft? Padrino was key in setting this up.

  4. The event certainly showed that the forces of political violence whose cooperation the opposition sought are completely indifferent to the opposition’s welfare.

    As to other aspects of the Declaration, why anyone cares who is Maduro’s mother, particularly under present conditions in the country, escapes me. It is the kind of thing a thug would seize on not to assist the forces of democracy, but as cover to take over.

    • Well the constitution says that to be president the candidates must be Venezuelan by birth AND hold no other citizenship.

      Maduros mom, if proved to be Colombian, means that he is a dual citizen, and thus not fit for office, (he’s not fit for office for many other reasons, too but I digress).

      Since he has also not renounced his Colombian citizenship he therefore is still a dual citizen.

      That’s why anyone should care about Maduro’s mom.

      • I think if the opposition wants to appeal to the international community, if it wants to show it is serious, it should park the birther argument and stick to matters of substance.

  5. I disagree with this assessment.

    I believe this was part of an inner struggle for power between different fractions of el chavismo.

    The fraction that support Maduro, which includes Hector Rodriguez, Jorge Rodriguez, Tania Diaz, etc, don’t benefit from such thing.

    Think about it. Those thugs were probably armed and could have shot a diputado in the middle of the National Assembly.

    Others like Diosdado Cabello who have been gunning for Maduro for a while and what better way to discredit him. Also, adding to my case, he wasn’t present at the National Assembly.

    • I saw a lot of rainbow colored flags and banners. Maybe they where using this to disguise the weapons underneath?

      JH, keep an eye on Manuel Rosales and Un Nuevo Tiempo. There you may find the answers you seek!

  6. It isn’t just Maduro’s double nationality which disqualifies him to be President, it’s the high probability he was born in Cucuta, which can’t be proven, since the local Colombian records were ripped out of the Colombian registry on Chavez’s watch, and the Venezuelan birth registries are forgeries. Disqualifying Maduro on a nationality basis provides an easy out for the Ven military as a substitute for the blocked RR.

    • Even if he was born in Cucuta, he is Venezuelan by birth (even if his mother was Colombian citizen only when he is born, his father being Venezuelan):

      Article 32: Are Venezuelans by birth:
      1) Any person who was born within the territory of the Republic.
      (2) Any person who was born in a foreign territory, and is the child of a father and mother who are both Venezuelans by birth.
      (3) Any person who was born in a foreign territory, and is the child of a father or a mother, who is Venezuelan by birth, provided they have established residence within the territory of the Republic or declared their intention to obtain the Venezuelan nationality.
      (4) Any person who was born in a foreign territory, and is the child of a father or a mother who is Venezuelan by naturalization, provided that prior to reaching the age of 18, they establish their residence within the territory of the Republic, and before reaching the age of 25 declare their intention to obtain the Venezuelan nationality.

      Even if he was naturalized (but in this case where is the “gaceta”, the official journal which state the naturalization?), Maduro clearly has been living in Venezuela since his early childhood:

      Article 40: Political rights are reserved to those who are Venezuelans, with the exceptions established in this Constitution. Naturalized Venezuelans who have entered the country prior to reaching the age of seven years and have resided permanently in Venezuela until reaching legal age shall enjoy the same rights as Venezuelans by birth.


      It seams to me old fashion anti-Colombian xenophobia, and very stupid political move (considering very close links with Colombia of that at least 5 millions citizens).

      • One thing is to be a naturalized Venezuelan citizen, another is to fulfill the Constitutional citizenship requirements to be President. The AN will answer your doubts tomorrow (if allowed to meet). But, Maduro is obviously Venezuelan, since, by his own words, he was born in La Candelaria, El Valle, Valle Abajo, and some other places, that I can’t remember right now….

  7. Amid seven other points, the Assembly’s motion explicitly calls on the Armed Forces to disobey orders against the Venezuelan people.

    There is a parallel with the resolution that the Chilean Chamber of Deputies passed on August 22,1973, by an 81-47 vote, three weeks before the coup. The resolution is often called the Declaration of the Breakdown of Chile’s Democracy. It accused the Allende government of systematic violation of the laws and Constitution of Chile. It also addressed the issue of the Armed Forces.

    14. That the Armed and Police Forces are and must be, by their very nature, a guarantee for all Chileans and not just for one sector of the Nation or for a political coalition. Consequently, the government cannot use their backing to cover up a specific minority partisan policy. Rather their presence must be directed toward the full restoration of constitutional rule and of the rule of the laws of democratic coexistence, which is indispensable to guaranteeing Chile’s institutional stability, civil peace, security, and development;

    When one compares the Armed and Police Forces of the two countries, the parallel train falls off the tracks. While the FAV may not be completely given over to Chavismo, Chavistas constitute a strong element in the FAV, courtesy of Chavismo’s controlling promotions and retirements for 17 years. Not to mention those in the FAV and GNB who pad their pockets. While the Armed Forces of Chile interpreted the resolution as a legislative green light for a coup, and acted accordingly, it is very difficult to imagine the FAV responding in a similar fashion, given the Chavistas in the ranks.

    Will the FAV “disobey orders against the Venezuelan people?” Not if General Padrino Lopez has his say. There is a parallel with Generals Prats in Chile and Padrino Lopez in Venezuela, as both supported their respective Presidents. However, is is VERY hard to imagine General Padrino Lopez reaching the conclusion that he had lost the support of his fellow officers, as did General Prats shortly before he resigned his command. There is too much support for Chavismo within the FAV for that to occur.

    It is possible that if given the order to fire upon unarmed citizens, some in the FAV will “disobey orders against the Venezuelan people.” Those lower in the ranks would be more inclined to disobey than those higher in the ranks, as the higher-ups have more to lose.

    • The handwriting is on the wall. The Ven.Govt. Socialismo Bolivarianismo Del Siglo XXI is a failed model/State. PL/cohorts probably will not want to follow their Argentine/Chilean predecessors in crimes against humanity…..

  8. As for “Who’s The Audience?” Apart from being un error garrafal internationally, JR/Chavismo just did what for them comes naturally in a Malandro Forajido Nation–respond with (now only a handful) of paid political agitators, acting with total judicial impunity, to try to disrupt an AN elected overwhelmingly “By The People”, and “For The People”. And the Audience?–What better summation than a recent quote from the Govt. Commie rag “Correo Del Orinoco,Fri, Oct. 21”, by scruffy-haired/bearded UBV Professor Jose Romero Losacco (I kid you not): “…uno de los grandes retos del socialismo del siglo XXI es negar la modernidad como modelo social, ya que…la misma es un proyecto civilizatorio basado en el consumo incesante y acumulacion de capital.”

  9. For what I read, it seems that Víctor Clark was the one saying to them to go away. It seems that “the poor little orphan” wants to show he is important

  10. PDVSA did not increase the ratio of the exchange and did not reach the self imposed 50% minimum threshold. So what do they do??

    They took what they could. 31.4% of PDV 17 old and 45.3% PDV 17 new

    I guess that this was better than nothing. I expect more exchanges to come further down the road…

  11. Excellent analysis. I’ve read a little about the colectivos in the mainstream press, but I’d be interested in reading the kind of vignettes and on-the-ground storytelling you guys do so well. Or if they’re as important as you say, maybe a weekly-themed series as you’ve done with Caracazo and such.

  12. Was anyone else surprised by how old the Chavista hordes are becoming? It must be the same people for the past 17 years. I guess that says something about the inability of Chavistas to recruit new followers, as you’d think that you take your younger base to something like this.

  13. A los marginales imbéciles que les pagan para que hagan estos espectáculos patéticos se les va a acabar la valentía el día en que les caiga otra turba de gente más grande y les rompa la cara a puñetazos.

    Si no me creen, sólo fíjense en los colectivos, y como estos mismos asesinos sanguinarios que salieron a matar gente mandados por diosdado durante las protestas de 2014 ahora ni dan señales de vida luego de que miguel rodríguez torres les mandara a matar media docena de los suyos allá en el centro de Caracas que hasta sacaron los cadáveres abaleados a la mitad de la avenida como trofeos.

  14. Aporrea’s articles are most schizophrenic than ever. They reject the National Assembly “… and all his works. and all his pomps”, but then they go after the government with equal vile.

    I kind of pity those guys, because in the end they were useful fools and cannot come to terms with it.

    • Chavistas in Aporrea remind me of Neo in the Matrix after Morpheus told him all his life was a lie and all he was is just another batterie to keep the machines alive.

    • They are antipolitics incarnate, the same morons that went heads over heels for Chávez in 1998 thinking of him as a holy avenger for the poor.

      Now they are reduced to the pathetic shrieking ones that screech that they are not malleable sheep, for they consider themselves to be “above the stupid puppets” and all that rubbish.

  15. This article brings up a point:
    If Leopoldo Lopez was “legally tried and convicted” (cough, cough!) for inciting violence, then all the people including the GNB and the people who gave them orders, including Maduro, should be in jail.

    HRA was right when he said that the regime failed to realize that the RR was a life-jacket thrown to them. It offered them a democratic way out.


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