Say our families have a longstanding feud. After generations of strife, we find a mediator and get to work on resolving our long-held differences. Except when you get to the negotiating table, you realize my stance is…a little funny. I insist, positively demand, that after every clause our agreement include an asterisk:

*FT retains the right to unilaterally break this agreement at any time in the future for any reason with no previous consultation, entirely at his discretion.

I doubt you’d be minded to agree to anything with me in those terms.

By tacitly accepting the legitimacy of the government’s Kangaroo Supreme Court MUD is, in effect, capitulating.

It’d be insane.

Because what I’m proposing there isn’t really an “agreement” at all, it’s a capitulation.

A deep asymmetry in the stickiness of our commitments makes a mockery of its “agreement-ness”: we’re both making commitments, but your commitments bind you while  I get to renege at will.

You’d have to be insane to “agree” to anything in those terms, right?

Well, MUD is insane then, because that’s very much the shape of the deal it has just accepted.

By tacitly accepting the legitimacy of the government’s Kangaroo Supreme Court, MUD is agreeing to an agreement that binds it, but doesn’t bind the government. Not really.

Because we’ve seen how chavismo uses the TSJ: to call the court “partial” is to give it far more credit than it deserves. Chavismo has used TSJ repeatedly to declare that the constitution says the exact opposite of what it says. The Court rules without hearing arguments from both sides, without holding hearings, without even going through the motions of tribunal-ness. The problem with the TSJ isn’t that it’s a flawed court, it’s that it’s not a court at all.

The TSJ is just Miraflores in a different building. That’s all.

MUD leaders keep telling us that they don’t believe in anything the government says. But they’ve just agreed to something the government can costlessly renege on.

A reminder of how this all works came as early as yesterday, when Maduro once again renewed the Economic Emergency Decree without the parliamentary approval the constitution explicitly says is required. Why? Because faced with a reluctant Assembly, Maduro just invoked his asterisk and had the TSJ grant itself a power the constitution explicitly reserves to the Assembly. This all just happened for a fifth time yesterday, literally the day after the interim agreement was announced by Monseignor Celli.

By leaving the Tribunal out of the agenda, MUD is agreeing to a catastrophic asymmetry in negotiations: its commitments are binding, but Maduro can just pick up a phone, call Gladys Gutiérrez, and claw back any of his commitments unilaterally, at any time.

Short of his resignation, no commitment Nicolás Maduro can make while the weaponized-TSJ remains in place can be minimally credible.

MUD leaders keep telling us that they don’t believe in anything the government says. But they’ve just agreed to something the government can costlessly renege on. They can deny it until they turn blue in the face, but their position today is premised entirely on chavismo’s good faith.

41 COMMENTS

  1. Ocariz wrote to the Pope; Ocariz said he trusted him. He implied that the Pope would make Maduro comply with the “agreements”.Urosa has said that the outcome does not depend on the Pope who is not a mediator but a friendly company.
    The worst that could have ever happened to Venezuela is that the opposition trusted this Pope.
    The CEV has a moral obligation to tell Venezuela the truth.

    • “The worst that could have ever happened to Venezuela is that the opposition trusted this Pope.”

      Even worse than 17 years of Chavismo rule??

      • Yes, now you will have at least 17 more years of chavismo. This Pope paid homage to Fidel Castro when protocol did not require him to do so, declared that “the communists are the ones that speak like Christians and the one that falsifies the gospels by inventing contents that are not there like the outrageous one about the virgin feeling tricked by God.
        This Pope is the worst that could happen not only to Venezuela but to the Church. His theology was explicitly condemned by John Paul II

        • Chavismo is not going anywhere anytime soon, and it has nothing to do with Pope Francis. The regime will leave when forced to, and that will take enough men with guns forcing them to.

          • Of course it has to do with this Pope; like the Castros in Cuba. This Pope came to Maduro’s rescue as with the Castros. This Pope is one of the proverbial wolves under sheep’s clothing. He sold to Venezuela the pretense of a fair and impartial “companion”
            This Pope is intent on doing away with the Church as it was and with the world order as it is. He hid his liberation theology in the closet during the reigns of JPII and Benedict XVI.
            And you are wrong; guns are not needed but balls. Like Leopoldo’s. Wonder why he is still in Ramo Verde?

          • Came to Maduro’s rescue? No one forced the opposition to go for this BS dialogue. They did that on their own.

            What if he hadn’t come? You honestly think the march planned for the 11th would have overthrown the regime??

  2. Suspending protests and cancelling political trial for Maduro was akin to shutting in an oilfield. Once you want to reopen the oilfield you find that production is greatly diminished because pressure in the reservoir has been lost. The process of bringing the oilfield back to where it was before is as painful as the political process of injecting new enthusiasm into a people who feel betrayed.
    MUD shut in our civic reservoir. What we need now is a new, uncompromising, leadership. This MUD is below the level required to lead the civic battle for democracy and freedom.

  3. Incessant brain drain, threats, arrests and even murders took its toll on MUD’s leadership. With the exception of Maria Corina and possibly some less relevant others, what’s left in the country is not enough to conduct such a hard task like a pacific transition back to democracy.

    I’m with the liberation theology/peronismo guys in Vatican now; short of a miracle, the Venezuelan future is already defined. May the Venezuelan experience at least serve as an example for the other countries willing to go the same route.

  4. My spanish language skills are far too basic to express the utter dismay and disappointment in this agreement.

    I’m shaking my head in utter dismay at the complete lack of power that the MUD/AN has put on display in this ordeal.

    Gustavo already summed up exactly my frustration in the (lack of) steps that was backed away from by the MUD.

    Threats only have meaning if they follow through with actions.

    My biggest fear now is that it has only made Maduro and the Chavistas (and the Military, by proxy) that much more powerful. Is this a democracy any longer when you have no opposition and only bed sheets to fight?

    All of this takes place before our very eyes. And the Vatican (-spit-) watches in earnest the whole time.

    My heart goes out to the millions of VZ who suffer more as a result.

  5. I know most of the state and national police in my Pueblo. And the National Guard know who I am as well. I am willing to bet the highest of stakes that when push comes to shove, these men and women who are starving and have been reduced to the same powerless groveling as the civilian population, WILL NOT raise there arms against us. My advise is we have to start preparing for the worst right now. Make friends with your local police and military. Feed them, take care of them, treat them with dignity. Their boss doesn’t. They are looking for friends, as are we. Unfortunately, without bloodshed, there will be no positive change. No changes are ever made here until someone important dies.

  6. The MUD is most deifnitely not up to the task …..clearly they lack the brains or the leadership to handle the opposition. There is not one person that is not profoundly dissapointed in them. They should step aside, why do 28 million ppl need to be bind to an agreement that was made by 20 incompetent fools in a hotel meeting room?

  7. Ya Maduro reventó el primer compromiso:

    “1. En el campo económico y social, acordaron trabajar de manera conjunta para combatir toda forma de sabotaje, boicot o agresión.”

    El… Ese extendió por 60 días más los estados de excepción y de emergencia económica:

    http://www.lapatilla.com/site/2016/11/13/maduro-extiende-por-60-dias-decreto-de-emergencia-economica-y-estado-de-excepcion-en-todo-el-pais/

    Es más, con esto, el tipo este unilateralmente se ha limpiado la parte antero-posterior con TODO lo “acordado” en ese diálogo de hecho, porque también con eso se pasa por el forro las competencias de la Asamblea que se supone son los que pueden autorizar esos decretos.

    También leí por ahí que el fulano “acuerdo de vivir en PAZZZZZ” se lo echó por el pico el mismo narcomostacho al salir berreando unas groserías ahí contra Ocariz.

    Es que los chavistas son tan nada que ni la rendición más patética son capaces de respetar, el podrido eligió bien a su sucesor a la final, porque más nadie podía ser tan recalcitrante y detestable como lo fué él mismo.

  8. When it comes right down to it, the MUD is trapped like a coyote in a bear trap.

    On the one hand they have chosen to negotiate with a criminal conspiracy that won’t honor anything agreed to.

    On the other hand, there is a Venezuela that desperately wants to wake up from the nightmare it is in and are looking to the MUD to help wake them up from it.

    The MUD really have only one worthwhile choice at this point.

    Send the Vatican home and get up from the table. No more dialog, no more time for the regime to keep playing Pope a Dope.

    Protest, civil disobedience and violence are the only way out now.

    It doesn’t matter if we get “smart” seasoned negotiators to replace the MUD. It doesn’t matter that the MUD sends Timoteo Zambrano and Henri Falcon packing and put in some better equipped persons.

    It doesn’t matter if Voluntad Popular changes its position and sits down at the table.

    I am the eternal optimist, always have been, and I wanted very much for the negotiation to produce palpable results that would enable a peaceful transition (which for me would have been the best solution).

    But that’s gone.

    • The problem here is ‘quien paga los muertos’. Make no mistake, Chavismo will not go ‘por las buenas’.

      And then it goes to the men in green if they wish to become an occupying force in their own country trying to prop up an nonviable marxist economic system.

      • No doubt, quien paga los muertos is the question.

        And I hate that it even IS the question.

        But I don’t see any other way. If there is ANY way it could be avoided, I’d gladly listen to it.

    • “Send the Vatican home and get up from the table. No more dialog, no more time for the regime to keep playing Pope a Dope.”

      No, the right strategy was to use the Vatican as an echo chamber for the opposition’s voice to the world, to number every single abuse the regime has done against the people and hold said position until the chavista clique accepted to concede under international pressure.

      Chavismo lives and breathes from its “democratic” mask, what sort of “people republic” could hold politician hostages, send armed paramilitary forces to slaughter the people and then even deny basic imports such as food and medicines? Ah, hey, the Vatican could have been upset about that, but come on, the MUD should stop with that ridiculous posturing of letting every single tantrum chavismo brays as if it was a spoiled kid.

      • Letting the rest of the world see what Venezuela has become is worthwhile, up to a point.

        The UN, OAS, EU et al have had a pretty good picture painted for them this last month.

        The Chinese will not lend a single yuan or dollar to this regime, even if the AN turned around and authorized the borrowing. They are aware that anything not rubber stamped by the AN means it could be thrown out at a later date.

        We are past that point now.

        Ask yourself, are any of those actors going to be able to pressure Maduro into agreeing to early elections, re-populating the TSJ and so on?

        The regime is in a trap of its own too. Too many people in it are exposed to actions in courts, actions that have NO statute of limitations whatsoever.

        Even if the entire country signed a deal not to prosecute, all it would take is ONE person to file suit at the Hague to put paid to any agreement.

        AS a matter of fact, there already are suits ready to be filed there and elsewhere.

        • “The UN, OAS, EU et al have had a pretty good picture painted for them this last month.”

          Yeah, pretty good picture, they still think that the chavismo’s democratic mask is their actual face.

          “The Chinese will not lend a single yuan or dollar to this regime…”

          As long as the regime pays the loans, the chinese will continue lending, adn the regime’s well willing to put the people to starvation to pay the vultures.

          No, you keep the pressure form all the angles, in any way, in any method, to expose their rotten marrow, to undermine and bring down the regime.

          Chavismo is worse than Marcos Pérez Jiménez, is worse than Juan Vicente Gómez, and is even worse than Videla and many other dictators that have come to power in several of South America’s countries.

          Yes, complete eventual isolation for the regime, DESTROY its credibility, take their money off (Because the boliblights aren’t willing at ALL to dish hundreds of millions to finance the regime), MUD’s position was beyond pathetic because they even surrendered the LANGUAGE, they accepted to blame everything that’s gone wrong with the country on the opposition (specially the middle class) and validate the regime’s complete bullshit mountain.

          Lots of people here want to still believe in that idiotic fantasy that chavistas can be “convinced” just by the “door to door” and flyer campaigns, when by every word spoken by any activist, a thousand more have been stamped in the chavista’s brain with fabricated proof included.

          Bad news for those naive folks: You CANNOT CONVINCE the chavistas, but you can DESTROY THEIR FAITH in chavismo, ONLY THEN, you’ll be able to even “propose” anything such as the abstractions like “respect the constitution”

  9. We all know perfectly well that LL would do exactly what many are prescribing here, and that is the reason the Chavista’s will hear nothing of releasing him. But he’s the man, IMO.

  10. It appears as though Venezuelans have a choice to make, either submit to another 2 years of Maduro and hope there is enough left of the country to fix, or start taking your country back by force.

  11. Wow, Venezuela is one pitiful country.

    Let me ponder about the MUD.

    I presume that many of the writers in this blog are at most 2 degrees removed from the MUD leadership. Either you know some MUD leader or you know someone that does. I would surmise that we the writers and commentators belong to the same socio-cultural as the MUD leadership. Moreover, many of you now hold successful careers outside Venezuela demonstrating a good degree of intelligence and competence in a world class level.

    Put plainly, people hanging around here are very MUDish and not particuraly reprobates.

    With the results obtained by the negotiations we can now distance ourselves from the MUD leadership because they are incompetent sellouts?

    We seem so Nicmer Evans, we are trying to distance ourselves from failures which we actually own.

  12. MUD capitulated the will of people in 2013, in 2014 and then asked for the vote of people in 2016 and the people overcame (ala David vs Goliat) a very assymetric campaign to give the MUD a very powerful weapon of two thirds of the National Assembly and the MUD capitulated again.

    People want to live in peace and don’t want violence, and people have done to the point to accept being murdered, to starve, to die for any disease, to be imprisoned without breaking the law, and basically been reduced more and more to be treated very close to a nation ocuppied by alien forces.

    Remember when Francisco de Miranda capitulated he was imprinoned by Bolivar and it worked as a new hope for the people wanting to be free from the foreign king and it resulted very well considering the king was kicked out not only from Venezuela but from the new world.

  13. Here is a wild idea: Lets march on the prison where LL is being held. Demand his release. We seem to be desperate for leadership? Maybe that will start the chain of events necessary for change. Yes there will be blood. So be it. I’ll be in the front row. Maybe a little Gringo blood in the mix will help get the juices flowing. And yes I have children here in Venezuela and I can’t take them out (2 different mothers) so I would rather die then watch them starve slowly …and that is where I am at at this point. Can’t even afford to eat properly anymore.

  14. Yeah….100’s isn’t going to do it. Reminds me of a Rojo Vivo video I saw many years ago….really opened my eyes. Thousands marched on a prison in Ecuador where they were going to release a child molester. They actually marched a few days BEFORE he was to be released, pushed down the gates (killed a few guards that got in the way) and proceeded to drag the animal down the street and beat him with cana brava until a piece of his head flew off from one of the blows. That’s how the video ended. Left a major impression on me because I saw how the will of the people expressed by the mob and the tremendous social message and general deterrent that was created that day as all those would be child molesters saw how the Ecuadorian people deal with pieces of shit who cross societal boundaries. That was a few thousand, no more. And there was no stopping them.

  15. Oh, hey, look how the “dialogue” has served only to destroy, again, any semblance of international pressure against the damn regime:

    http://ntn24america.com/noticia/consejo-permanente-de-la-oea-analiza-este-miercoles-una-declaracion-de-apoyo-al-dialogo-en-venezuela-123584

    “Permanent council of the OAS analyzes on wednesday a statement supporting the dialogue”

    Someone should present in that very debate, how chavismo has completely used the dialogue as toilet paper in less than three days.

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