Last Sunday morning, MUD was in the driver’s seat of Venezuela’s constitutional crisis: riding a wave of popular discontent and international condemnation as they pushed for the kind of tough-minded street agenda that, alone, seems to really worry the regime about its grip on power.

By Tuesday afternoon it had surrendered all of its tactical advantage. Opening a negotiating track stopped the protest agenda cold. The president’s sort-of-impeachment? Shelved. The March on Miraflores? Postponed. The momentum? Gone.

And all that in return for…well, basically nothing. The release of a few political prisoner (even as fresh arrests were made), together with a vague promise to negotiate in front of a gaggle of priests. That’s it.

How worried is Nicolás about his grip on power now? This worried:

The launch of dialogue threatens to demobilize the opposition grassroots entirely. It has driven a toxic wedge between MUD and its most committed supporters, opened a visible split between VP and PJADUNT, enraged the activist base and left Maduro…well, dancing.

 The demobilizing, time-wasting, unity-splitting, momentum-sapping potential of entering into negotiations with the government have been the very first thing every single observer has noted about any proposed dialogue all year.

All of this was foreseeable…and foreseen. The demobilizing, time-wasting, unity-splitting, momentum-sapping potential of entering into negotiations with the government have been the very first thing every single observer has noted about any proposed dialogue all year. The people now participating in the dialogue were arguing along these lines just days ago.

So I do not take seriously the notion that they were unaware of it somehow.

In fact, Henry Ramos Allup told us explicitly he saw it coming when he said he was willing to “pay the political price” for launching negotiations.

Look, I know. I know, people love to ascribe olympic levels of stupidity to MUD, but this is beyond that. It’s fun! But think for a second: it isn’t minimally believable that they don’t understand the critique they’ve been making all year.

There has to be something we’re not seeing.

But what?

As I see it, it has to be one of two things:

  1. MUD leaders have received a credible commitment for a major, meaningful concession (with the emphasis very much on the ‘credible‘ bit), or,
  2. MUD’s leadership has been compromised (it’s being blackmailed and/or has been bought off.)

It’s easy to see why the government would want to promise unicorns-and-rainbows in front of the priests and hard to see why MUD would be inclined to believe any of it.

I keep trying to work out how 1. might work, but I struggle. It’s easy to see why the government would want to promise unicorns-and-rainbows in front of the priests and hard to see why MUD would be inclined to believe any of it.

Any commitment the government makes today it can costlessly renege on tomorrow, simply because they retain total control of the Supreme Tribunal. That tribunal is not even a little bit shy about ruling that war is peace, ignorance is strength and we have always been at war with Eurasia.

That being the case, the government has every incentive to make commitments it doesn’t intend to honor. You want a promise of early elections? Have it. Want a pledge to seat the three Amazonas state members of the AN to restore MUD’s 2/3rd majority? No problem! A new CNE board? Yes!

With that TSJ Joker in their back pocket, who can believe they will follow through?

Again, I find it inconceivable that MUD leadership hasn’t thought about this. To posit that MUD is just naïvely falling for insincere promises at this stage in the game is to make heroic assumptions about their idiocy. Everybody and their cat sees this, it isn’t minimally reasonable to think that the only people in the country who don’t see it are the people actually dealing with it day in and day out. Asserting that they’re this dumb amounts to analytical laziness.

The problem is what it has been all year: the TSJ. The government cannot make credible commitments until it gives up its chokehold on the Supreme Tribunal. 

That points to the move that could really destrancar el juego. Appointing a new, credible TSJ would allow the government to commit intertemporally. And what MUD needs most of all is a reason to believe a commitment arrived at today won’t be clawed back six months from now

Trouble is, the tribunal doesn’t seem to be on the agenda. General Elections? Yes. A new CNE board? Yes. The tribunal? Not so much.

So either the TSJ negotiation is a very well-kept secret or…

2-The Twitter Crazies are right, and an important chunk of MUD’s leadership has been bought, or is being blackmailed, or both.

To me the Corrupt MUD hypothesis not just far-fetched, but analytically lazy.

To me the Corrupt MUD hypothesis is again so far-fetched it smacks of analytically laziness: a guerreros-del-teclado talking point that amounts to a slur on people who put their life and their liberty at risk day in and day out to represent us.

Temperamentally, I’m very ill at ease with this interpretation. The scale of the conspiracy needed would just be too vast. I think we’ve seen what a paid former-oppo plant acts like. I think Hermann Escarrá and William Ojeda, not Timoteo Zambrano or Chúo Torrealba.

Occam’s Razor is very seldom kind to convoluted tales of sprawling conspiracies. Like the Dumb MUD hypothesis, the Corrupt MUD hypothesis is just loathing masquerading as analysis.

But I have to admit that, if push comes to shove, I’m more likely to believe MUD is corrupt than to think it’s this stupid. The former is at least a possibility, the latter I think we can reject outright.

 

104 COMMENTS

  1. There’s a third option you’re missing. Vatican and USA are pressing the MUD to sit down and calm the eff down. AD/HRA went to the first meeting only after he got a direct call from one high rank member of the Church. And he also called the 3N march after he met Shannon. MUD is not just getting heat from Venezuelans, but also from its allies abroad.

    But there’s also a second point you’re missing: the so called “juicio político” was a dead end. Let’s say that the AN moved forward and got its veredict. Then what? Nothing. Nothing at all. And we all know what would have happened if the 3N march would have gotten green-lighted: many injured protesters, some other thrown in jail, and probably some guys shot dead. Another dead end. The MUD folded back because it had a shitty hand. It was a lose-lose situation. I think they made the right call this time, even if I hate it.

    Yes, we lose some momentum, but whatever. People will march to Miraflores ANY other day. We can scare these bastards with our “marcha sin retorno” some other day (let’s say on 12N, Ok?).

    Amanecerá y veremos.

    • The Vatican and the Obama administration have their own interests in mind, the objective the MUD might have will not be a priority, the MUD does not have real allies abroad, but the government does. The only way the the government is going to get pressure from abroad is if the opposition internal pressure escalates and the possibility of a total paralysis of country becomes a real option. Anything short of that will be business as usual for the government and nothing is going to change. They will play the delay card at every turn as to maintain the status quo. The MUD is being outmaneuvered and the internal fractures are widening, Coup de chapeau à Maduro & Co.

    • Even though I agree with both your hypothesis, implying the “juicio político” was a dead end, I can only wonder why would they propose it in the first place. This would lead me to the OP’s train of thought about MUD being just plain dumb.
      My only conclusion is that MUD were expecting different results from their threat, which, again, seems pretty naive and stupid to me when you take into consideration the amount of power the government actually has.
      Indeed: amancerá y veremos.

      • Ehm… like… as stupid as trying to bring Maduro down by saying he’s Colombian, with no prove that he isn’t also Venezuelan, with most opposition leaders in the same situation (HCR being Polish for example) and with the TSJ having already ruled against it?

    • I agree, this is the best decision they could make ay this point.. they need to demostrate internationally that they drained all democratic and pacific options before having a confrontation as this will end up with many dead inocent people… there is still time to head to Miraflores if the dialogue does not bring results and there will be no regrets as it will be the last resource….

    • A. Barreda
      Very well said.
      In a game of chess, like in any strategic situation, the threat that is not used can be much stronger than the one used.
      Once a threat is put into action the government can defend against it, and the opportunity passes, the threat is spent and loses its power.

      Marching to Miraflores may seem like a powerful thing, but that is a myth that stems from what happened in April 2002, which was a one time occurrence mostly propitiated by Chavez himself. In reality a protest around Miraflores most probably would result in nothing. As a looming threat it is more powerful. If we believe Emiliana the MUD was actually strong armed into promising that fabled march to Miraflores. The dialog was an opportunity to actually back down from it without losing too much face and smartly they took advantage.

      • You obviously dont know who Isaac Perez Recao is and the plan he led. his brother and Maduro are chums. He is the real coupster and terrorist. 11A came about because of him, not HCh. Baduel was with IPR. Its the idiots that hijacked the plan that are to blame. But the plan would have failed nonetheless. Many bailed when they found out because they understood it was nuts.

  2. Let’s save the outrage for the moment the dialogue proves to have been worthless. In the meantime as far as I know there are 4 work groups meeting daily working on agreements, November 11th will be the next “plenaria” of the dialogue. But stuff that have been agreed already can be announced before that date.

    I believe the MUD is clear on its demands, they are just giving the dialogue with the Vatican a chance, they have been clear on requiring immediate results of this dialogue. Let’s wait for that (it’s just days) before getting all pissed about the MUD.

    • The dialog is worse that useless. No matter how good it is, it has been a slap in the face of the opposition supporters.

      You cant be calling people to steel themselves for the big showdown THEN say wait, nah, we are going to talk, If this was planned to go, then the whole other performance was a waste and counterproductive.

      Again, thats a different dimension from the dialog itself. What the MUD has signalled to its supporter is total confusion and disappointment. It was the call to resist the coup OR the dialog, not both things and not in that order and so close. Cant rally the masses and then un-rally them.

      The only thing they get with this is that when (or if, if you are optimistic, but past performances point to when) the dialog goes nowhere, then any call to support your protests is going to be met with derision and apathy. And a high risk that somebody is going to break ranks and capitalize the frustration with the now-we-go-now-we-dont leadership.

      • I know it’s hard to believe in dialogue, it has been a waste of time with the regime. But this time it’s with the Vatican as mediator (plus Thomas Shannon surprise visit this week). I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for a last attempt at negotiating a way out with the thugs.

        If it ends up being a disappointment I’m pretty sure the protests can be mobilised once again, the people is still mad and have reasons to protest. And we know how a protest to Miraflores ends, nobody wants a bloodbath.

        I see these talks as the last chance the democrats are giving the regime to solve the crisis.

        • I agree. Let’s give MUD leadership a chance, too. If the march on Miraflores had taken place, there would have been almost certain deaths. The MUD leadership are the ones on the ground. It takes tremendous courage to do what those guys are doing. And I take my hat off to them. If we can arrive at some negotiated settlement, that’s much better than a river of blood. It’s all too easy to criticise MUD from the distance of an armchair outside Venezuela; it’s very hard to have the guts to be a MUD leader within Venezuela. Maduro needs some kind of escape hatch; otherwise, he will never give up power and there will just be a bloodbath.

      • Again, is not the issue of the dialog itself. You can call people to the metaphorical and not so metaphorical barricades one day, and the next day is forget about it we are in dialog. A dialog that took a lot of time to set up, so when they were all fire and brimstone in the Assembly they HAD to know it was coming.

        Dialog may be a last chance for peace, but this charade was a failed last chance for the MUD to be seen as competent leadership. Whatever explanation there is, stupidity, blackmail, corruption or just too many chefs spoiling the soup, the MUD had an opportunity to look like a decisive force by backing any of the two options… and went for both in the most schizophrenic way possible.

        • It is really quite amazing. The Chavistas are so incompetent with economic policy. They actually believe that having 3 exchange rates, seizing companies, etc.. are good policy.

          And yet when it comes to political operating, they are masters.

          Literally, Stalin would be proud of their moves here. They know exactly how to play a weak hand well. Pushing for dialogue, delaying the recall, accusing Amazonas deputies of fraud, releasing only 5 activists….

          Their sheer cunning and Machiavellianism is impressive.

    • I think this is the right place for this:

      Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

  3. There’s the other thesis, that the Vatican and the US goverment want “stability for the continent”, even without democracy. Hey, don’t want a mess just before elections, you know?

    I’m livid.

    • Livid indeed. It is apparent that the Vatican, and a thoroughly left-wing indoctrinated Pontiff, sees the chaos in Venezuela as a dispute between two warring political parties, with little inclination in judging who is right and who is wrong (evil) in this dispute. How else to explain all of this? The Vatican is taking the stand that their political differences can somehow be “sorted out at the negotiating table,” or so the thinking goes. Complete insanity. Mind-boggling.

  4. Quico, our only two options to explain the situation is that MUD is either corrupt or stupid? God, we are screwed! Emiliana, take us to Miraflores. (BTW this is sarcasm, I’m just as confused.)

  5. I see a third option: Maduro has already communicated his desire to resign in return for asylum and other guarantees and personal protections, including protection from his fellow Chavistas, whom have have not given consent. The MUD believes the offer is credible to the degree that they are willing go along with it and delay other actions. The details being worked out right now are how to script this to prevent a violent upheaval in the wake of such an announcement. The MUD’s goal at the moment is to buy time to work out the details.

    As difficult as this scenario is to believe, I find it more credible than Francisco’s two options.

    (Even if it isn’t true, it would make for a hell of a good movie script!)

    • Same theory, but doubting that Panama will be the final destination.
      If true, let’s hope it goes quick enough to have elections next year and not Aristobulo for the long run.

      Wait and see. Let’s just wait and see.

    • I’m inclined to agree here

      we have already come this far, the climax to this all must not be too far
      (or at least I most wholeheartedly hope so)

    • “Maduro has already communicated his desire to resign in return for asylum and other guarantees and personal protections, including protection from his fellow Chavistas, whom have have not given consent. ”

      Imagine a 747 full of Chavista thugs and their families going to Panama! That would be truly hilarious, haha! But I don’t think it will happen, they have nothing to fear, they have tanks, sukhoys, and tons of guns and ammunition against a leaderless and scared population. I guess what we will witness it will be MUD politicians fleeing to Panama instead, with the Vatican blessing.

  6. Yet another option (the fifth after seeing comments above?): the MUD leadership believes (they may or may not be right but that’s irrelevant as perception is reality) that they don’t have the pull to put on a serious and even scary power display. What if the protests, tomas and marchas end up being “one more”? What if they are just too peaceful or lackluster? If you are bluffing with your street power you better double down or at least show some bark and with the divided leadership plus the frustrated people, MUD might be suspecting that the lack of display is going to create even more frustration. Better to sit down and talk and hope for a revuelta…

  7. In this day and age of instant communications, the notion of having 20 people decide the fate of a whole country is ludicrous.

    People should organize themselves to mobilize via twitter/facebook/etc, and not follow the lead of some people that will put their future careers ahead of the best thing for Venezuela.

  8. The Pope is for socialism, USA presently cares only about peace. Maduro will survive and Venezuelans lose. Look at what the Pope has done in Cuba. The CEV should fight for Venezuela against the intrigues of this Pope.

      • Actually this whole mess is making of the castros in Cuba, they’ve been invading Venezuela since the 60s to get their tentacles in the country’s oil to finance their regime.

        • Throughout history multiple 3rd parties have had designs on Venezuela, it has been the result of poor Venezuelan leadership that has led us to this situation. Yes, the Castros had influence, but the decision makers were “criollitos & criollitas”. The decomposition did not start with Chavez y su combo, but they surely carried the insane process to fruition.

          • The gangrene did not start with Chávez, that’s true, but it did start with the castros, because they openly tried to invade Venezuela barely the year after they seized the isle through the communist guerrillas that murdered hundreds of people in Venezuela (Soto Rojas the former Ventarrón congressman was one of those, who dismissed the slaughter of civilians as “a boy’s prank”)

            And once their efforts failed to take over the country through force, they decided to leave thousands of agents here, which later infiltrated all the political movements in Venezuela, resulting in them having eventual access to power and forcing many of the stupid hyper-state policies that ended leaving the thick of the people in the pauper ruin that made it easier for Chávez to control and then take over the country, to butcher it in tiny pieces to spoon feed it to the castros as it happens today.

            The policies from the guanábana, with their obsession of the government holding a monopoly in economic and political power is a direct teaching from the castros and the communist system as a whole.

            That thing about “it’s just the venezuelan way” and “the people in Venezuela have the goverment they deserve” are among the most stupid insults that can be barked today, even more when it IS a “venezuelan thing” to ALWAYS try to look for a reason to blame the victims for what they’ve suffered, telling them that they somehow deserved to lose a relative or to be sunk in soul-crushing poverty; it’s the same case when a woman is raped and beaten down, then there’ll be always an imbecile that claims that “she deserved it”.

  9. (Most) People here are giving the MUD the benefit of the doubt, so I will too…

    RG Aveledo kinda did…

    “”Cuidémonos de sacar conclusiones precipitadas en un proceso político complejo y en desarrollo. Esperemos más elementos de juicio.””

    Stupid or corrupt… too black and white, Quico. There must be something , I hope.

      • I think you’re seeing too much into this. There is no magic bullet, certainly the MUD does not have it. The march to Miraflores was a bad idea, that apparently they were strong armed into promising. A move like that should be saved for a coup de grace moment. It can’t be used at this moment. Much more pressure should be used in other areas (even physical areas in CCS) with more boicots, strikes, communiques, etc.

  10. I’ve been less than impressed to date with MUD’s decisions but I honestly believe they see something big coming, that’s to say, something along the lines of what Roy has mentioned above. Otherwise, why give up so much so quickly to a bunch who have shown repeatedly that they can’t be trusted?

    I think we all know that the top level chavistas are up to their asses in crime…..drug shipments, stealing the wealth of the pueblo, and just about any other crime you can imagine. They will NEVER give up power until there are guarantees that they won’t be thrown in jail, that their ill-gotten gains will at least partially be protected from seizure, and that they have safe passage out of here (cause I don’t believe a single one of them will want to stay). I can only hope that such things either are being negotiated at this moment or are on the horizon and MUD leaders can see it and believe it.

    Turn the page.

  11. FT is outdoing himself, with the seemingly-correct metaphors of NM dancing salsa to “Vampiro” lyrics, and the MUD playing chess on a Gary Kasparov tablero (with Jorge “SmartMatic” catbird-grinning in the background). The MUD’s actions seem similar to the Yalta/Potsdam Conferences agreements–to avoid major bloodshed against an entrenched foe, the Allies agreed to what seemed a reasonable compromise which would lead to democratic results, only subsequently to see all of Eastern Europe fall under Communist domination….

  12. Well, I never thought they were stupid or corrupt (as a whole anyway), I’ve always thought that they were scared. Scared to call the the streets and fail, scared to have deaths directly linked to their protest, scared to go to prison.

    And when you’re facing a dictatorship like this, that just won’t do.

    • Think you’re probably right. I wouldn’t put it past those unwholesome chavistas to have threatened them personally. Plus I understand the Friday strike was a bit of a wash. Scared to call the streets and fail sounds about right.

  13. Wow, I consider this an improvement. At least you are considering the possibility that they are corrupt, which, by the way, makes you stupid if you believed in them of choose to keep defending them. I am not so generous, I think they are both stupid and corrupt! There is no dept here, really. MUD just wants elecciones generales next year, even though that is simply a dead end with 0 basis in reality, like the juicio politico. It s not only a dead end (meaning it will never happen), but actually, it is a terrible defeat and tragedy for all venezuelans, even for the poor stupid souls who happen to believe in MUD no matter what. I think that the most frustrating thing is the fact that MUD supporters still think they are the rational, inteligent ones! they are patronizing even though they have been completely proven wrong many times and defeated in politics and diplomacy by an uneducated bus driver! If they are going to sit with the church, they might as well, you know, do self-flagelation! I would like to see that more than a march to Miraflores at this point. Todos sabemos, en el fondo, en nuestro estómago, que lo que la MUD hizo es inhumano y no precisamente en el sentido de Komodo o Stockfish ..¿Hasta cuándo la vamos a defender?

  14. I would add a third option, or 1.b:

    They are stupid, but in different way. In this scenario, they know everything you just explained: the government’s commitment is not credible, and won’t come through with anything they promised (or just a few things). And once that happens (and MUD is completely sure it will happen), MUD can walk out of the dialogue with “Try dialogue” checked off of the list of options. And that’s an option that the other countries, the Vatican, OEA, and everyone MUD has been courting for support, wants to see checked out. Then, they can commit to a street agenda without people both in and outside Venezuela saying they are radicals unwilling to try a peaceful and negotiated resolution.

    That said, if that their thinking, then they fucking blew the execution, especially in how they have handled the expectations of their supporters (as you also explained).

    So, to summed up, their dumbness lies more in the execution, than in their thinking.

    • That doesn’ t make any sense. First, they don’ t need to try the dialogue just for the sake of it. You don’ t gain points for being nice like this is some sort of video-game. We are not dogs, and there is no bone.There is no check-list, that is what some want you to believe. OEA was actually pushing for the Carta Democrática, and now it will be forced to back down because of the negotiations. So we lost even that… And that brings me to my second point, the dialogue has some serious consecuences: the first is that there will be no elections until they fucking decide , because, you know, we actually agreed to discuss the electoral agenda in a table with some foreigners and some thugs rather than to simply enforce our own Constitution and do what it says. The second consecuence is that we did not only lose the RR, the AN, the Carta Democratica, and our dignity, but actually we lost something worse: the right to protest. So not only we lost everything, but we can’ t even say a word about it.
      La verdad es que no nos tenemos que sentar con nadie para legitimar nuestras protestas. Yo entiendo que desde hace dos años un sector de la MUD (el que yo estoy llamando corrupto), ha hecho todo lo posible para criminalizar la protesta, llamando a las simples expresiones de descontento, radicales, violentas, etcétera. Si la MUD es corrupta, no importa ni siquiera si se llama a elecciones generales el próximo año, porque estamos perpetuando la crisis actual al mantener los elementos humanos que la generaron, lo cual quiere decir que el futuro de Venezuela pasa porque surja otra fuerza política completamente diferente al PSUV y a MUD. Esa es la lucha que se viene.

  15. Es mejor que sean asesinadas decenas de miles de personas inocentes durante unos cuantos años más, a que unos cuantos inocentes caigan a cambio de cientos de criminales exterminados y la caída de la dictadura en un tiempo corto.

    Porque ya saben, la “PAAAAAZZZZZZ” y vaina.

    La marcha del 3 se suspendió supuestamente por petición directa del enviado del Vaticano (Sumada a la amenaza directa de meter presos a dirigentes específicos y sus familias), el juicio contra narco-gafo fué cancelado por Cejota Borges que ya todos saben que es un vendido (Que entregó a varios militares que estaban planeando restituir el orden constitucional hace un par de años atrás)

    A los que dicen que este “diálogo” dió algún resultado: Deben estar comiendo bastante bien, y capaz que hasta tienen guardaespaldas para que no les joda nada de este peo, es más, el mismo Mr. Toro lo dijo claramente en el artículo: “Liberaron a algunos presos políticos, MIENTRAS HICIERON NUEVAS DETENCIONES”

    Así que, soltaron a ¿Cuántos? ¿5, 10, 20? ¿Y agarraron a cuántos más, 60, 50, 100? Qué desperdicio…

    Así que, Mr. Toro, la respuesta a tu pregunta no es 1 ó 2, es una combinación de ambas, algunos están comprados, y otros están chantajeados.

  16. “It is unbelievable to me that MUD could have failed to see all this coming”

    No it isn’t, even you were backing their decisions in September 1st, and called “shitheads” or “keyboard warriors” to people who saw it coming from miles ahead. Your argument? that people that day “were making history” Yeah dude, that definitely is going to be in history as the greatest joke the opposition pulled right in front of people’s noses.

  17. “To me the Corrupt MUD hypothesis is again so far-fetched it smacks of analytically laziness: a guerreros-del-teclado talking point that amounts to a slur on people who put their life and their liberty at risk day in and day out to represent us.

    Temperamentally, I’m extremely ill at ease with this interpretation. The scale of the conspiracy needed would just be too vast. I think we’ve seen what a paid former-oppo plant looks like, and that’s Hermann Escarrá, not Timoteo Zambrano.

    Occam’s Razor is very seldom kind to convoluted tales of sprawling conspiracies. Like the Dumb MUD hypothesis, the Corrupt MUD hypothesis is just loathing masquerading as analysis.”

    HUH!? REALLY QUICO!??

    YOU DON’T THINK THAT HENRY RAMOS ALLUP IS LIKELY COMPROMISED DUE TO THIS INVOLVEMENT WITH THE DERWICK ASSOCIATES FIASCO!1?

    HIS GODDAMN BROTHER IN LAW IS ONE OF THE MAIN CROOKS!

    AND HRP PUBLICLY DEFENDED HIM JUST A YEAR AGO!!

    Haven’t you read Thor Halvorssen’s open letter to HRP yet? Well, here it is:

    http://www.noticierodigital.com/2015/01/carta-abierta-de-thor-halvorssen-a-henry-ramos-allup/

    ISN’T IT PLAUSIBLE (TO NOT SAY **HIGHLY LIKELY**) THAT HE’S BEING BLACKMAILED DUE TO HIS INVOLVEMENT IN THE CASE.

    http://www.larazon.net/2016/05/09/entrevista-thor-halvorssen-bolichicos-estafaron-con-chatarra-electrica/

    PS: I had to use ALL CAPS because I couldn’t believe that you would be so dense.

  18. Whether they are stupid or corrupt it does not matter at this point. What matters is that they lost hundred of thousands of votes, if not millions, if there is ever an election in the near future.

    • It should be noted that if they pull a rabbit out of their hat and everything they have done all of sudden makes sense, all will be forgiven.

  19. Normally, I would agree that it is stupid to take the pressure off until the deal is done, however, reluctantly, very reluctantly, I think the timing of the march with the US presidential elections was not good, and so a plausible excuse for some delay – not a lot of delay- is a good thing, this once.

    Notwithstanding the views of many readers here, most of the world is waiting to see if the USA decides to jump off a high cliff, and until that question is resolved, nothing else is going to get much attention or matter that much to anyone on the outside who can influence these events. A state of existential distraction does not assist the MUD in the small corner of the world called Venezuela.

    I’d add, I think people who think this is a ploy by the Obama administration- part of the overall conspiracy for communist world domination and so forth- have a much overinflated view of the importance of Venezuela’s destiny in US politics. It is a question of garnering some significant attention and constructive action, as opposed to none at all.

  20. When you have Cuba the united States, and the Vatican, participating simultaneously in three negotiations: “The Cuba aperture to the world”, the peace talks In Colombia, and now the dialogue in Venezuela- negotiations that are interdependent- How do you avoid the “leaking” of interests? In other words, in not only the best interests of Venezuelans what is giving direction to the negotiations. We might be assisting a conundrum in which the parts involved, unable to resolve, but obliged to prioritize, are force to administer the crisis so the whole “parapeto” doesn’t fall apart. Weather the U.S and the Vatican are acting willingly, or are being blackmailed by Chavismo into doing so, is irrelevant. The fact is that something very big is bedding what would be “una partida ganada” for the Venezuelan people. #post-politics

    • ” In other words, in not only the best interests of Venezuelans what is giving direction to the negotiations.”

      We are very aware of that. Thing is, since the best interest of the word apparently is letting us to rot, one would think that wouldn’t be too much to ask that the people that dare to call themselves our leaders actually cared about the Venezuelan people. But nope, can’t upset the US’s elections! Or the (soon to be failed) legacy of Pope Francisco.

      Hope that Trump gives every single one of them what they deserve.

  21. When you have Cuba the united States, and the Vatican, participating simultaneously in three negotiations: “The Cuba aperture to the world”, the peace talks In Colombia, and now the dialogue in Venezuela- negotiations that are interdependent- How do you avoid the “leaking” of interests? In other words, in not only the best interests of Venezuelans what is giving direction to the negotiations. We might be assisting a conundrum in which the parts involved, unable to resolve, but obliged to prioritize, are force to administer the crisis so the whole “parapeto” doesn’t fall apart. Weather the U.S and the Vatican are acting willingly, or are being blackmailed by Chavismo into doing so, is irrelevant. The fact is that something very big is bedding what would be “una partida ganada” for the Venezuelan people.

    • We are dealing with a US government that open up to Cuba without asking anything in return, that traced a “red line” in Syria without wiliness to enforce it and that had preferred minimum visibility in Latin America in spite of having many interests at stake. Rewind few many years ago and the Obama administration did not blink at Chavez when he and his jalabolas of the then AN lifted the presidential terms and introduced the immediate re-election. Thus, I don’t believe that we have “a partida ganada” on the contrary, the only thing Venezuela has as leverage is for all practical purposes gone and that is the oil we export to US.

      Nowadays the only leverage is the escalation of violence and even that does not directly affect the US. In fact, the US is the only source of hard cash and they don’t even try to play that card in order to influence changes in our country. Perhaps the US is more worried of wrecking the peace agreements in Colombia thus forcing some détente in Venezuela in order to shore up any remaining support from Maduro or at least making him agree on not messing with the peace process. Kinda strange line of thought if you think that the FARC back has been broken for quite sometime and the pacification itself is being challenged by the creation of many small guerrilla bands.

      At the end, I don’t see a lot of leverage in a negotiation that does not have anything at stake for the negotiators themselves. Neither two ex-presidents nor the Vatican have a lot to lose should the whole thing breaks apart. And for Maduro, getting the negation table going was always his desire to cool off the street and gain time… he already got what he wanted and the MUD did not even try to fetch a reasonably trade off for sitting down. What a disgrace.

      • “Partida Ganada” because, the opposition had the entire country, if not supporting the MUD, at least being 85% against Maduro. People willing to go to the streets, the support of an important segment of the international community for the first time ever- the constitution on your favor- the possibility of winning almost all seats in a regional election. A different leadership would have seen a bunch of green lights; I know that in a confrontation with chavismo there was nothing granted, but given the context, you had the chance to hit hard. It is obvious to me that they are ditching a golden opportunity to seize power and it a terrible way, for something bigger, that I am afraid doesn’t work on our best interest.

        • As some have said here, ignoring the Vatican’s call and not exhausting all peaceful means first, as an alternative to a probable, maybe decisive, maybe not, bloodbath march on Miraflores, is a good internationally tactical call, especially since I don’t think a week or few delay will make a major difference in the Oppo’s/Country’s resolve for change. Additionally, the U.S. cannot afford a major Ven. bloodbath just pre-Pres. election, which might well become the tipping point to a Trump victory, which, although it might favor Venezuela, could certainly put the world at risk down the road…. .

          • Who is going to march to Miraflores now? Who would take a shot in the name of a ‘compromised’ MUD leadership now for God’s sake? Who would lose an eye only to see Maduro and Borges bailando la salsa later? It’s over for MUD!

            Regarding what you say about Trump, it’s ridiculous, even pathetic, to see Venezuelans supporting a woman that has a lot of responsibility for what’s going on in Venezuela. It borders on Stockholm syndrome. As Colomine said very correctly above, the US (Hillary was ‘only’ the Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, mind you) could have used the leverage behind being the biggest PDVSA customer in the world to change things a bit in Venezuela, yet they chose to do nothing, and now they have a former civilized and prosperous country as a failed country in their backyard due to inaction and very bad foreign policy. The ironic part is that Venezuela returned from the dead just to bite Hillary in the ankles a few days before the elections that she is very likely to lose.

            Nevertheless, you say that Trump will destroy the world.

            The Venezuelans did a very poor judgment about Chavez and now they do the same with Trump. Hillary, as Secretary of State, was a disgrace to the world, specially for Venezuela, and now we are heading to the fourth world war just look what Russia has been doing lately. But you want to double-down the bet just in the same way that the Venezuelan people reelected multiple times Chavez.

          • Legitimacy, as well as trust is hard to get, easy to lose and a lot harder to regain once you have lost it.

            The MUD does not understand (yet) how hard it is to recover when you blink in front of the challenge. Even Gandhi forged ahead knowing that there was a quite good chance of getting hurt (see Salt March).

            Some people like to raise the flag of “avoiding a bloodbath” or as Mr. Quico once said (words more or word less) that it is irresponsible to call people to go out to get shot. For those that think that a bloodbath is a pointed event with specific time, place and even outcome I would like to remind them that just last month more than 500 people lost their life due to violence in Caracas. That is not counting the ones that die due to lack of medicine or food and that’s just one city.

            In political terms a day is equivalent to a week and a week is equivalent to a month. In war terms the side that has the initiative dictates the opponent strategy to defensive mode. In negotiation terms you always need to have a position of strength in order to get the best of the negotiation. Well, my NET. friend, we just lost 2 months equivalent (and counting), we gave up the initiative and we are “negotiating” a now pretty bad hand. On top of that the MUD lost the trust and moreover their legitimacy as our representatives and they are more divided than ever. It is a disaster, it is just that some people are still in denial.

          • Replying to just some of the above: Hillary is the lesser of 2 evils, Trump is clearly dangerous/irresponsible, even though he may be the U.S.’s Last Great White Hope’ A failed petro-state Communist Venezuela is a shining example geo-politically to LA/rest of world how NOT to do things. The MUD is not split (see LL’s group ‘s press conference yesterday). Turkey is a possible mirror for what may happen in Venezuela, although with a Cuban Leftist twist, as one of the possible worst-case outcomes. Only a few days have been “lost”, but intelligently so, and, without important concrete results soon, I expect there will be an Oppo march on Miraflores. The military will finally decide, as will the disastrous oil/economic/intl. reserves situation. Reading the tea leaves from afar is not the same as living it.

  22. Se solicita manifestante dispuesto a coger un balazo para la marcha a Miraflores el 3 de Noviembre. Candidatos por favor presentarse en la Plaza Venezuela el Jueves a las 9am.

    Aproveche absoluciones colectivas sin necesidad de confesion para Catolicos otorgadas por el Arzobispo Emil Paul Tscherrig antes de partir.

    • Paragraph 2309 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

      The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. the gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:
      – the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
      – all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
      – there must be serious prospects of success;
      – the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. the power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

      BTW Marc, are you applying to my job post?

      • I would apply, but not to get shot like a walking target, becasuse if I’m going down, I’m bringing at least five of them with me, I would gladly hide a couple of metal plating and a machete under my clothes, and wear a helmet, just in case.

        Look, dude, I know the whole “chavismo got defeated without any confrontation” idea is just too good to let it go, but keeping the people for an indefinite amount of time going to useless bailoterapias so the chaburro (yes, chaburro, totally deliberate insult for the paramilitary enforcers) hordes can come and beat the crap of kill people as they please borders in sadism or outright being sold to the enemy.

        Even those who went and used the non-violent resistance methods at least didn’t have the nerve to constantly tell their followers that “everything will be ok because they won’t dare this time”, the “they won’t dare this time, so let’s just prance like the world’s made with sugar, they’ll have a change of heart seeing our peaceful walk” with NO BACKUP STRATEGY WHATSOEVER is irresponsible, they MUST at least have a plan to RETREAT AND MINIMIZE THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE WOUNDED, CAPTURED OR KILLED.

        AND…

        If the retreat can’t be accomplished by ANY means, then fuck it, self defense is a right, regardless of what the constitution, the regime or any of the comeflores who hasn’t been beaten within an inch of their lives might babble to compensate their superiority complex.

        • Hi Ulamog,

          I have doubts that Chavistas are going to go away ‘por las buenas’.

          But I think this premise is still to be satisfied because of the dialog going on.

          – all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

          I don’t have high hopes for the dialogs, but let it run its course for 10 days.

          As for immolating myself in hand to hand combat with Chavistas, even with my developed skills in this matter, it is something I won’t do. That’s why middle class people make poor rebels. They have alternatives.

          Professionals of violence shall mete it when the time comes. They wear green.

  23. “MUD’s leadership has been compromised (it’s being blackmailed and/or has been bought off.)”

    Most likely. If you go by Venezuelan History.

  24. “I’m more likely to believe MUD is corrupt than to think it’s this stupid. The former is at least a possibility, the latter I think we can reject outright.”

    Right on target. But WEIN??? (What else is new)????

    Venezuela has ALWAYS been a highly corrupt country, among the most corrupt per income / per capita in the world. Since the 60’s. The least corrupt 5 years, I must add, were the Perez Jimenez years, when most of Venezuela’s infrastructure was built, and there were far less prisoners and abuses than we see today.

    I reiterate: To start fixing a diseased, profoundly corrupt country like Vzla, you need a tough, military style government, for a while. Good look to the MUD to fix that HUGE mess, at all levels.

    El pais esta podrido. Pura corrupcion, everywhere. Desperate times call for tough measures. Ay Caprilito, lo que viene es candela..!

    My guess: The next “MUD Government” won’t last 2 years.

  25. I’ll try to be short: they are not being stupid, they are being naive. That’s it. And kind of stupid, too, but not that KIND of stupid. They have been pressured to sit by the church and american diplomacy, some of them believe that actually the Vatican will content a Sai Baba follower like Maduro. That’s what i think they are up to. It’s a plan that will fail, ’cause the government just want time and that the polytical momentum gets lost: they will promise heaven and then send us to hell because they are dictators, that’s what dictators do. For me, the MUD is making a huge HUGE mistake: Maduro is getting international recognition, momentum is getting lost and most importantly people feel betrayed and hopeless.

  26. Stupid, corrupt, seem awfully tough words to describe MUD. What cards do they hold? Very few as far as what I have read here. Chavistas control the military and the armed militia groups. While very few like Maduro, there still are Chavista supporters and MUD lacks universal support. As far as foreign support, the Pope and the US government dont favor MUD, they support a democratic system but are quite willing to accept a fig leaf democracy for a few,years in the name of stability. Those two entities and many other INTERNATIONAL organizations have been doing that my entire life. So, MUD must muddle its way through negotiations until the world is satisfied that Maduro will not even provide a fig leaf democracy and until the people of Venezuela decide they cant take it any longer, sort of like that excellent article here about MUD meeting its supporters. MUD probably isnt sufficiently populist to represent Venezuela. It would be so different if the Chavistas were seen as right wingers. The world would be swamped with the false imorisionments and denial of basic human rights if the Chavistas came from the opposite end of the political spectrum. Patience, my friends, painful patience.

  27. The govt holds all the levers of power, MUD has a weak hand. The march to Miraflores is not the Storming of the Bastille. With the Vatican and international pressure MUD has little choice but to go through the motion of dialogue if only to exhaust one possible option. But MUD should have asked for stiffer conditions before sitting down instead of being pacified with the crumbs of 5 activists’ release.

    Dialogue or not the country continues to go down the drain with hunger stalking the land and the collapse of health care and education. Maduro’s problem is not the opposition but the real possibility of a people’s uprising driven by economic hardship unheard of in any civilized country. He continues to play cat and mouse with the opposition while the hungry tiger lurks in the shadows.

    If Maduro has any sense of survival he would put affordable food in the shops pronto even if the country has to default on international debts. He would lift price controls for food and return expropriated farms back to their owners. But he continues to toy with a failed socialist system which even Lenin moderated under the threat of famine. He cannot see the danger because he is surrounded by sycophants and coddled by the army’s support.

  28. Maduro is not going to Panama. Nothing good has come from this. Leo is incomunicado, Vatican was lied to, Shannon left emptyhanded with egg on face.

    The parents of American hostage Josh Holt published a letter today in WaPo that explains the problem from the US side. It’s a one man show.

    I believe the US has to negotiate from strength. Reds (Chavistas) don’t respect weakness. In my opinion, Mr Shannon made many mistakes. The left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

    Mr Shannon gambled and lost. It wasn’t even close. It’s clear to me what is going on vis a vis nephews and hostage. Talk about bad timing and worse plan.

    The nephews will soon dominate the headlines

  29. I hate to say it, but we are all engaging in pure speculation. We and the entire population of Venezuela have been “mushroomed”. Which is to say that we are being kept in the dark and fed s__t. I think it is safe to say that there is something of real substance being discussed at the moment behind closed doors. I do not buy the hypothesis that the MUD leaders are naive and/or stupid. They did not get elevated to where they are without intelligence and cunning. Nor do I buy the argument that they are all conspiring to betray the Venezuelan public. The “Occam’s Razor” argument makes the likelihood of this very remote. Therefore, there is a third explanation that must fit the facts. The scenario I spelled out above is one of those alternate explanations, but by no means the only one. I am afraid that none of us here has sufficient information to draw hard conclusions at this moment. I am assuming the “wait and see” posture for the moment. Like, I have any other choice…?

    • Where did I say “Panama”? That was someone else.

      I agree it was pure speculation and I never said I had any evidence to support it. I only claimed that it seemed to fit the few paltry facts we have better than the two options presented in the theme of the original article.

  30. The interpretation of the political situation of Venezuela depend on the level of “radicalization” of the people. If it’s someone radical (with or without a logical reason) then the interpretation is some like this article. Now, if it’s someone objetive, with a strategy vision , the interpretation can be something like “a move to push a political and electoral way for a goverment transition. Like i say, depend of the level of radicalization. Lets see some facts:
    1-. The goverment who shows itself as strong and prospering decided to sit to “talk” with an enemy: The venezuelan opposition. That could be a sign that the goverment is surrounded and need to negociate. What are the terms of that negotiation? Maybe a way to leave the goverment? Questions to answer
    2-. The liberation of political prisoners shows to the international comunity that in fact they have politicals prisoners when they say that wasnt true, and it shows that the “dialogue” was effective in an some point.
    So, to try to understant the real reason of the MUD to stop the march, and freeze the political trial against Maduro we have to see all the possible angles.

    • “If it’s someone radical (with or without a logical reason) then the interpretation is some like this article.”

      Mr. Toro, RADICAL?

  31. I believe Capriles when he says that in order to be “consistent” the MUD has to accept the offer of the Pope to negotiate a settlement. But now that he has given the talks 10 days to make real progress, that has to be sacrosanct. How is success measured? I think it has to be general elections with a new CNE and valid international observers within two months. Everything else is far too elastic. Releasing all of the political prisoners is meaningless without elections. As most of the prisoners themselves would agree. Humanitarian aid – although it goes to the heart of the suffering caused by the crisis – creates all sorts of false expectations and the need to create an alternate mode of distribution. Can anyone imagine the government in charge of this? I did read somewhere an offer of a couple of supreme court justices for the MUD. Would this matter? And if and when the MUD forms a government, will they be tough enough to manage the chaos that all the Chavistas will unleash in the name of their frustrated revolution? That’s when the protesters really will be terrorists setting of bombs.

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