Where do we go from here?

As 2016 draws to a close, Ricardo Sucre gives us a balance of the MUD's shortcomings and opportunities, and how to move forward from the recall referendum that never was.

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After the disheartening failure of the Recall Referendum, the opposition seems aloof and disoriented. Those on the ground feel there’s no clear sense of what comes next. Their leaders are running off in every direction, contradicting one another, and even themselves, even with their own tweets. Amid despair, Ricardo Sucre sat down for an in-depth interview with Cronica Uno to shed some light on our predicament.

Sucre, one of our leading intellectuals and political scientists, likes to swim against the current. Those that read him find him hard to accept, mainly because he offers a good dose of realism. He says it like it is. Most of the time I agree with him. But in this interview, I have some quarrels with his arguments. Not because they are negative, quite the opposite, he is too optimistic.

In a nutshell

Sucre accepts 2016 was a hard year for the MUD. It went into 2016 with an ambitious agenda, thinking it could do many things only to find out in a brutal way that it can’t. Legitimacy didn’t translate into real power. It was like a kid who learned the hard way that tying a towel around his neck doesn’t make him superman.  

Among the many shortcomings the MUD had, some were avoidable. Sucre singles out its weak outreach to the armed forces. Terms like milicos, narcogenerales, cartes de los soles, in his opinion, are counterproductive. The opposition has been very effective in alienating a crucial kingmaker and pushed it towards Maduro.

Sucre also makes a good point to those eager get rid of chavismo ASAP. The opposition, he says, has no ability to generate a crisis.

He’s right.

We don’t.

We don’t have a movement, we don’t understand civil disobedience (or insurrection, as he prefers to call it).

This is something that those who lead the MUD are clueless about and have made no attempt to incorporate those savvy and willing in non-violence.  

To me, our low capacity in this regard is the real crisis MUD faces, but it’s not surprising. MUD hasn’t seriously invested in that capability. That, I think, is the problem. Yet instead of seeing this as a call to action, Sucre takes it as a given: we don’t have that capacity therefore we can’t get that capacity or even worse, we don’t need that capacity. And that’s where the wheels come off his analysis.

The risk of ignoring risk

Sucre has an obnoxious habit of assigning specific numerical probabilities to each scenario. It annoys me because these numbers aren’t a product of a measurement or calculation. They’re plucked out of thin air, in an ill-advised reach for the appearance of numerical precision.

With that in mind, he assigns a 70% probability that Maduro serves through the end of his terms.

When considering the idea of opposition parties  becoming illegal, its candidates jailed or simply the cancelling of the elections, he immediately dismisses it. This is not only optimistic but terribly dangerous. This scenario is risky.

Risk in my training is a number. It is the product between the probability of something occurring and the cost of its consequences. The probability of a nuclear war may be low, but its impact is so dire we still call such a scenario highly risky.

Let’s say we agree with Sucre and say that the probability of chavismo going full Nicaragua or Russia is low: the question is, is it zero?

In the face of the incredibly high costs that this scenario would have, wouldn’t make sense to prepare for it?

Sucre thinks otherwise and here I think he gets it wrong. Badly wrong.

Let’s watch old games

I’m no football fan, but something I know coaches do all over is to study what the opposite team has done in order to anticipate what could it do in the next game.

So what has chavismo done when faced with losing an election:

  1. Minimized the consequences. They lost, they acknowledged it but then they stripped of all power that particular governing body. With the Metropolitan Mayor they created an appointed office that had all the budget and resources leaving the elected office with none. Similar things happened with governors. In the case of the National Assembly it got stripped of all use and its functions have been transferred to the TSJ or to the President.
  2. Avoided the election all together. This is evident with the recall referendum, but also with the upcoming regional elections. They seem like they are happening, but they have been postponed for reasons that haven’t been explained and we haven’t demanded an explanation either.
  3. Jailing leading opposition figures or banning them from running. This has happened in many instances, not only for high profile leaders but even activists.
  4. Banning parties. Most notable mentions are VENTE and Marea Socialista.

In the case of a 2018 presidential election, chavismo can’t minimize the consequences of losing like the have with the metropolitan mayor or the national assembly. The TSJ may resist, but given that all judges will be on a timer is unlikely. The executive is the king. For that you go all in. Since it won’t be able to deal with the outcome, it is likely, based on chavismo’s past plays that it will: avoid the election, arguing lack of resources to fund it (something that has been hinted for the RR); Jail the major leaders, such as HCR with made up charges of course; or my personal favorite, banning opposition parties, which are in the line for registering due to some arbitrary bureaucratic processes.

Sucre seems to think (and he walks in the company of many intellectuals) that chavismo will walk into an election, that it knows will loose, with results that will be forced to accept. This would be absolutely new in chavismo’s playbook and, in my opinion, wishful thinking.

Misunderstanding Insurrection

A problem we see with insurrection is that is perceived (and rightly so) by many as a way to get rid of Maduro at all cost, causing a crisis that would lead to a new April 11th and somehow who ever steps in this time will be wise and noble. That won’t happen and many are right to label guarimberos as loons.

There is different type of disobedience. One that wants to lay out a long term plan to enable us to reach common civic goals. A disobedience that is non-violent and that guarantees that Chavismo will play by the blue book and not by its playbook. This is not something that can be carried out in parallel with the electoral political agenda, It MUST be carried out in parallel. The goal of this disobedience is to have the ability to generate a crisis that chavismo fears more than going to a losing election. Sucre argues that Chavismo won’t have the strength to say no to that election, but why? If there is no threat of zaperoco, very little strength is needed.

Common goals

It is painful to many that we couldn’t get to a RR now. To me, only a real crisis could’ve forced the government to hold an RR, and MUD didn’t invest in the ability to generate a real crisis. Something that chavismo would fear more than actually going to the recall.

That’s an effort that needs to start now in order to meet our 2018 goals.

Why do so many intellectuals like Sucre shy away from MLK Jr.’s insight that to set off change you sometimes need to create tension? Are they too optimistic? Naive? Or do they fear irrelevance?

A dear friend, whose opinion I value a great deal, told me that resistance would leave out millions. He’s right. Only people with a very particular skillset and will should participate in it. But there is so much to be done in other areas. This has to be tackled in all fronts.

We need to entice all kingmakers, conquer new institutions and make sure that we have de courage and civility to keep chavismo in check. And we really need to pose a credible threat.

The 2018 election is around the corner. Clock is ticking.

60 COMMENTS

  1. In my opinion, it is a self delusion to think this can be resolved peacefully.
    Venezuela is officially a Dictatorship the day Padrino Lopez declared they were siding with Maduro. It doesn’t get anymore clear.
    This is why after a year Maduro and Co, have not conceded anything.
    Unfortunately this is a situation where there is no other option but to force them out with violence or the thread of violence. How many times this unpleasant fact needs to be repeated?
    No diplomatic pressure (Mercosur, UN, OEA, Vatican etc) will make them leave. Neither will endless march with a constitution in hand.

    Ideally, the USA could just throw its weight and thread to oust them like they did with Panama’s Noriega.
    The military balance of power of Vzla vs USA is so asymmetric that not a single bullet would be fired and they could just surrender. Uncle Trump can send us the bill later.

    The other alternative is just to live in submission to Maduro’s dictatorship surrounded by misery for decades to come.

    And I hate to repeat this meme but is so fitting.
    The very definition of insanity is to keep trying the same thing expecting a different outcome.

    • Will we be entering a new era of US intervention in Latin America? Maybe. Will Latin America, on balance, tolerate it this time around? I doubt it. The notion that the gringos just fix things by force or threat of force, and then send a bill, is a powerful idea (particularly for the gringos at certain times) but it is not an idea that has worked well in practice. I may be wrong but I don’t see them or their proxies being welcomed as liberators on the streets of Caracas for very long.

      • I would say there is a 0.001% chance of intervention by the USA.

        That’s not plucked out of thin air by the way, it’s called a guesstimate. I think more people should be will be willIing to assign probabilities to various outcomes. That way, as events transpire we can know who is operating off of bad assumptions.

        • So let me get this straight. If you say there is a 0.001% chance of something happening, and it happens, does that mean your guesstimate was right and something highly unlikely happened, or does that mean you were operating off of bad assumptions? I just want to be 100% sure I understand your reasoning, because I’m still liking “maybe”.

          • It would mean my assumptions were very likely incorrect.

            Now saying there was a 0.001% chance was more of a joke aimed at the author saying he finds it obnoxious how his subject likes to assign specific numerical probabilities which are not truly quantifiable. I think in this instance it’s sufficient to say that while I will allow that it is possible, I don’t think there’s any real chance of it happening.

            But I am serious when I say that I see no problem with assigning numerical probabilities to different scenarios. These numbers are not plucked out of thin air. They are based on guesstimations. It’s good to see where people stand, to see how likely they feel a given scenario is. And the people who are consistently wrong in their prognostications should take a step back and consider that maybe they are making bad assumptions.

      • I think Colombia and Brazil have a lot more to lose from a continuation of Chavismo than the U.S. They are the ones that would suffer the most from a massive Venezuelan refugee crisis that could be destabilizing, economically and politically. I can see them actually leading a coalition formed to interven in Venezuela, with the U.S. performing solely in a support role supplying logistics and intelligence.

        • I think it is more likely that if there starts to be a large flow of refugees, and Brazil or Colombia start to become more vocal in opposition, the Venezuelan regime will lash out, and that will start a conflict. And I can’t see any conflict of that nature that the gringos would stay out of. I don’t see the Trump doctrine being one of restraint, leading from behind, or not doing stupid stuff.

          Epa! Where’s Mitchell and Gringo…

          • What would Trudeau do?

            Maybe Canada and Cuba will together assemble a coalition of the willing to beat back the imperialist forces.

          • If the regime actually did that, why would the gringos want to get involved? Certainly, the U.S. would support them diplomatically, but why would they feel any need to send their own troops? Either Colombia or Brazil is quite capable of taking on the FANB and defeating them decisively and quickly. Together, they would make quick work of it. They would not really need any assistance, though they would certainly seek diplomatic approval and blessings from most everyone in the region before going in.

        • No refugee crisis is pretty, the nature of a crisis, but as your comment pertains to Colombia I think that could be particularly ugly. If the peace deal is allowed to go forward the fragmentation of the FARC and likely violence associated with oncoming confrontation among other armed actors (Bacrim, ELN, ect.) vying for the criminal economies they now control. They, the refugees, may well find themselves being extorted, forced to carryout criminal activities as well as the normal food,shelter and medical shortages.

          Unfortunately, (in that violence may be a likely solution) the Maduro administration may not find themselves in a position where finding a country to exile within is seen as an option. Recently it seems that corrupt officials throughout LA seem to facing prosecution far more than in the past.

        • I don’t know, this again seems like wishful thinking to me. I don’t think those countries would get involved without UN authorization and that is not happening (China, Russia). As you pretty much pointed out, those two countries have militaries which lack an expeditionary capability. They would be dependent on the USA to provide support and that would make the intervention that much more controversial. I am sorry but this idea just seems like a non-starter. Maybe I am underestimating just how bad of a humanitarian disaster this is shaping up to be and/or how much of a disaster it will be for neighboring countries.

        • This is unimaginable, at least from the Colombian perspective

          1. The Santos gvmt wants peace with the FARC, not war with Venezuela

          2. Colombians generally are tired of endless war (50+ year civil conflict)

          2. Even if hostilities with FARC end, Colombia will still have a chaotic security situation, with the BACRIM (bandas criminales) and the smaller but still active guerrilla group ELN (which will surely be taking in a number of recalcitrant FARCers). Colombia still won’t have total control over its own territory…but they are going to consider invading Venezuela?

          3. The Colombian military is 440,000 strong but could not deal a decisive blow to a guerrilla force of 8,000 combatants, including women and child soldiers. But they are going to feel confident about defeating the Venezuelan military?

          4. Even if there were popular support for such an action (there isn’t) and the Santos gvmt were up for it (they aren’t), Colombia is not in $ shape to do this. COP has gone from 1,800 to 2,900 vs USD in less than two years. They just approved an increase in IVA from 16% to 19%

          So it’s us (the U.S.) or nobody. Given that no one in the U.S. is clamoring for such an expensive and difficult action, especially with the war on terror taking priority…my money would be on nobody.

          • You make good points, but if Colombia is threatened with being forced to absorb, say, 3 million refugees, streaming across the border with nothing but the clothes on their backs, how would they react?

          • Hombre arana,
            I have been clamoring. I do hope that Trump’s strong opposition to drugs may be the deciding factor in US intervention.
            I do not think it will be an active military operation. More to the CIA swinging lower ranking commanders and coordinating a coup.
            We don’t have a record to be proud of when it comes to this type of intervention. Chile in the 1970’s resulted in torture, death and misery for many people. The Chilean coup was during the Cold War. The ends justify the means mentality coupled with the misguided Domino theory belief put the US in bed with people much worse than Maduro.
            The other major problem is the fact that Maduro is the elected President of Venezuela. We hold democracy as a basic right. Maduro’s removal by the US would be in conflict with US policy.
            The most recent example of this policy taking preference is Egypt. Mursi is an Islamist fundamentalist that intended to turn Egypt into another Iran. General El Si Si was supported by almost all Egyptians. The US froze aid to Egypt when Mursi was removed from power. Eventually the Obama administration restored the aid after pressure from Congress and new elections.
            I do not believe that Trump would support the same actions, but US law is specific regarding funding governments that come to power in coups when a LEGITIMATE government is overthrown. Legitimate is the key word here. Until the 2018 elections Maduro is the legitimate President.
            If I was involved in the Venezuelan opposition today, I would focus my energies on the members of the Supreme Court. They are the people that act as Maduro’s puppets. As they disappear, the national Assembly would have power over new Judges.

      • No one’s asking for an intervention, what we should be asking for is for other countries to STOP PROTECTING the narco-chavista regime and STOP threatening to not aknowledge a government that takes power by a way other than “elections controlled by the chavista CÑE”

        And THAT, is one of the reasons MUD’s leadership’s been obsessed with the “pacific, democratic and electoral ways aka tibitiby-certified elections”

        • That’s the wrong end game. The end game should be to remove the regime from power. Not to beg for other countries to stop appeasing them. That is a distraction.

      • Or because circumstances change and what didnt work one time , does work the next time arround ……!!

        Timing is everything….!!

    • US invasion?

      Yeah…that’s not happening.

      Venezuela is not Panama. It’s much larger, has a much better equipped military than did Panama in 1989, and has thousands of chavista civilians armed with kalashnikovs and grenades. The fact that the U.S. is better equipped and better trained does not mean that the bad guys can’t shoot back. Overwhelming technological superiority wouldn’t really help that much when we’re trying to root out colectivos house by house.

      Such an action would require:

      1. domestic popular and political consensus within the U.S. (where no one is even talking about this right now)

      2. U.S.politicians willing to commit ritual political hara-kiri for even suggesting this idea out loud

      3. a sizable force to occupy the entire country

      4. the U.S. becoming responsible for solving Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis at all levels – food, medicine, public order, pursuit of criminal bands, rebuilding democracy and its institutions from the ground up, plus a thousand things more

      5. an open-ended commitment

      6. untold billions of dollars

      7. hundreds or thousands of U.S. casualties

      8. ugly collateral damage, for which we would be responsible

      9. concentration of the bulk of our available troops in one country that is not a hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism

      …all while yielding very unpredictable results and earning us international scorn for our trouble.

      It just doesn’t make any sense at all…

      …of course we did just elect a pretty wacky new Commander-in-Chief…

      • A simple naval blockade would collapse the government. Even a blockade that only targeted oil exports would collapse the government. Barring terrorist attacks, there would be no casualties. The issue is not whether or not we could defeat the Chavistas militarily. This is not going to happen regardless.

        • The difficulty of course is that this is like that situation in the movies where you have the bad guy cornered but he has a gun to the head of a hostage. Very difficult to take out the bad guy w/o the hostage getting hurt.

          A blockade could collapse the gvmt but in the short term would mean even less food and medicine coming in…then we become partly responsible for the starvation and misery that follow.

          One thing that is certain is the U.S. would not be up for anything open-ended, expensive, and with high quagmire potential. Not trying to diminish the horrific suffering in Venezuela, I just think that’s the reality of how most gringos would see it

        • Good luck with a naval blockade. Maduro still owes China billions and the only way he can pay them back is with oil. The Chinese are not likely to sit still and have the US cut off their payments.

          Besides which I don’t think Trump has any desire to put troops into another country.

          • I’ve said it’s not going to happen. I agree with what hombre arana is saying, just wanted to point out it wouldn’t require a full scale invasion if it did happen.

            But if it did happen, screwing over China would likely be one of the reasons behind it. They don’t even have a blue water navy and I assume a trade war would already be brewing.

      • Certainly has the prospect of being much worse than taking down Noriega or “forming” Panama in the first place. Not a likely scenario to begin with, but like you said we just elected a “pretty wacky” Commander-in-Chief.

  2. “Risk in my training is a number. It is the product between the probability of something occurring and the cost of its consequences. The probability of a nuclear war may be low, but its impact is so dire we still call such a scenario highly risky.”

    Not entirely so. One thing is the ex ante perceived risk, and another the ex post risk based on the ex ante perceived risk. In this case what is ex ante perceived as very risky, nuclear war, ends up being not so risky, while what is perceived as relative safe, like driving cars, ends up being much more riskier for the society.

    Not understanding that has led current banks regulators to assign a risk weight of 20% to what is AAA rated, and one of 150% to what’s below BB- rated and which therefore never causes major bank crises.

  3. Rodrigo has identified exactly what needs to be done to set in motion change that will improve the situation. Where I’d differ, is that this approach needs very broad participation and support. Why the MUD has not been able to build an effective coalition with labor, I do not know, but my guess is that such a things falls outside both the imagination and the skill set of a conventional politician, or that it requires bringing in unfamiliar faces.

  4. Good analysis. A couple of points. The mistakes of the MUD have alienated most of the reasonable, moderate, majority of the opposition. The MUD needs to keep a low profile and work the bases, the military and disfranchised chavistas. Set long term,( 2 years) plan. and stop making promises they know they can’t keep.

  5. The problem Chavismo has is the imploding economy. Ideologically they are incapable of stopping the worsening trend. Hyperinflation is nigh. Bills and coins are unavailable. Sundee is quashing commerce. All goods are in short supply. They sure seem to be implementing North Korea’s economic model!

    The Bloomberg that people referred to yesterday was also an interesting aspect of how Chavismo is evaporating. If you are a dirty Chavista and you know that if you go down with the ship you are looking at some stiff sentences in the US, then it is time to negotiate a reduced sentence by selling out a bigger fish than you. Moreover, you will be able to live legally (or at least your children will) in Venezuelan-heaven-on-earth: Miami.

    I visit Aporrea frequently. If those guys represent the Chavista base, Maduro is politically a lonely soul.

    The military rank and file are another huge problem. Say what you may, but being an occupying force in your own country is not something your military family member wants to do and then spend with you Ano Nuevo.

    Chavismo has the economy, its leadership, its base and its muscle in a rapidly deteriorating state.

    Now that the fake dialog is out the way, the opposition has to push and push. Chavismo will not negotiate with them. In proper Stalinist way, Maduro y su combo will ask “how many divisions does” MUD have?

    But make no mistake, this is going fraught with uncertainty. The opposition and its supporters must buckle down for a long struggle. Chavismo will leave only by gun and only Chavistas and military speak this language, the MUD does not have the means to play that game.

  6. My first glance comments:

    1) I think that you are underestimating the incompetence of Chavismo. In spite of knowing that they are doing so, I don’t think that they can stop themselves from wrecking the entire economy to the point of massive starvation in Venezuela. And that would happen well before the end of 2018.

    2) I do not think that Chavismo will subject themselves to another election… ever!

    3) “The 2018 election is around the corner.” Really? Two more years? That is like an entire human lifetime in Venezuelan political years!

    Sorry, but I just can’t accept such a time frame. Morally, it is reprehensible, considering the death toll we can expect from violent crime, lack of medical care, starvation, etc… Secondly, I consider it impractical, because, if it does go on that long, Chavismo actually would consolidate total power after turning twenty percent or more of the current Venezuelan population into refugees or corpses. Colombia, Brazil, the U.S., and a coalition of the other LatAm countries will intervene before they will allow that large of a refugee crisis to spill over the borders of Venezuela. And if Venezuela is intervened, it will lose its self-determination for at least a couple of decades, and rightly so!

    • Roy,

      1)We have been saying that for more than a decade.

      2) I agree, unless they have no other choice.

      3) I really wish I could say otherwise. But to get to the point where we can generate a crisis will take time, and that is if we start now. I really would like to be able to see something sooner, but I can’t. Not realistically.

      • The MUD was capable of generating a “crisis” just before they de-escalated for “The Dialogue”. In spite of the political price the MUD paid by standing down, there is no other leadership for the Opposition. So, if they start ramping up again, the people will follow them… again. I would say that the MUD could create a crisis anytime within 3 or 4 weeks from the moment they decide to.

        • Quite acute comment ………the angry mood is building up as things deteriorate on all fronts ………the timing of the next crisis is going to be important , next april some large debt payments fall due …….meantime scarcity and inflation are bleeding the life of millions of Venezuela making it increasingly desperate…!!

  7. Time works against Maduro because things are getting worse and worse every day , there is nothing they can do about it and the regime is becoming more hated and isolated each day that passes , the rot inside starts invisibly then grows and grows until you reach a tipping point in which it all explodes ….!! Time is in our side ……whatever our desire to make things go faster , sometimes you can push things only so far ….and the thing during that time is not to lose the oppos unity of purpose and keep the spirits of the followers stirred up whatever the ocassional delays and dissapointments ..!!

    • I think you are right that the situation is deteriorating and time is on the opposition’s side. Where I disagree with you is that this means you cannot call for new leadership or the implementation of different strategies. I also disagree that it represents “unity” to question the motives of people who criticize the leadership.

    • B.B.,

      I am afraid that I must disagree with you that “Time is in our side”. Over “time”, two things will happen that benefit the Regime:

      1. Memories are short. Right now, most Venezuelans are painfully aware of how badly their standard of living has fallen. They know that they ate, dressed, and lived much better last year than they did this year. As time goes by, however, today’s wretched reality becomes the “new normal”. As that happens, people become complacent and slower to anger over their circumstances.

      2. As the Venezuelan Diaspora continues and accelerates, it is draining Venezuela of people who are are smart enough to see the truth, wise enough to accept the truth as they see it, and strong enough to act upon what they see. That is to say that the ex-migration is a sort of filter in which the wolves leave and the sheep stay. Given sufficient time, the Regime will see to it that all of the most of those morally capable of actively opposing them leave Venezuela. This was one of the principal strategies employed by Fidel Castro that allowed him to retain power in Cuba for so long. The ~15% of the Cubans who left were the ones that mattered. As time passes, Venezuela will lose more and more of its citizens who matter.

  8. I don’t believe in a US intervention, at least not as overt as an invasion or something like that, I also don’t believe lately the oppo has done everything in their power to oust chavistas, that’s why a new leadership may come in handy.

    It would be a defeat if the solution to this mess comes from another country as it is also a defeat that the only reason these guys are losing support is because of themselves, with that level of mismanagement, corruption, and all round assholery it is staggering that they still have something like 20% of the country on their side.

    On the other hand if somehow someone manages to put the military on their side, just picture what kind of deals would need to be made. PSUV has actually managed to rig all the Powers so that only seriously dirty polititians can be in charge.

    We speak about Chávez’s legacy on the corruption of the masses, but there’s also the one he set on our polititians and the political system itself.

    I’m not saying the ones that came before him where saints, but the new normal is scary.

  9. The probabilistic concept the author is trying to explain and some commentators are bringing up is that of the “fat tails”, the less likely scenarios from a probability point view but that if they do happen can have a high impact. This is also connected to the “Black Swan” concept coined by the author Nassim Taleb. There are also White Swan events (when these random and less expected events have positive consequences) and Grey Swan events (which were perceived by some but not broadly and do have large consequences, like for instance the great financial crisis). Now, the point about Black Swan events is that these events are random. Random means they can’t be forecasted, no one could have seen them coming, not even having assigned a 0.000001% probability of occurrence, hence why they are so disruptive. Someone who states that they can understand risk, and even “measure” risk, has no clue how risk works. The reason why it’s called risk, is precisely because it can’t be quantified (hence why the concept of a Black Swan comes up in the first place). However, the academia will always do their best to tell you they can model all these events and probabilities with their spreadsheets and their distributions, bla bla…And you will have an army or IYIs (Intellectual-yet-idiots) defending their broken models…The author mentions probabilities being the product of “measurement and calculation” as if these would save them from being flawed from a logical point of view. You can have models in financial markets based on normal distributions computing probabilities of distributions for certain events (in fact this is how many financial models work). But the truth is saying financial markets follow normal distributions is just an assumption, and as such, even with calculations, be flawed (and they often are and hence why the effects of these financial crashes are the way they are).

    For further reading on the IYIs: https://medium.com/@nntaleb/the-intellectual-yet-idiot-13211e2d0577#.7l1ywo3qc

    • My training is in engineering. Particularly I have a certain level of expertise in process control. I am not talking about chaotic or fractal systems like markets. Risk, in that field is a very known number, and experiments have statistical value and one knows the distribution of the process based in experience.

      Sucre nonetheless pulls number out of thin air. Just to illustrate, what is, in his opinion, more likely. This of course means that he is always right, because even if he assigned a small likelihood, an event can still occur. But leads the audience to prepare for the most likely and not for the least likely scenarios. Something of utmost danger.

      • Rodrigo, thanks for your reply. Well I can tell you that in many occasions, numbers from “market experts” and economists are equally as bad as Sucre’s numbers despite the calculations and spreadsheets behind these. Calculations just for the sake of it don’t mean too much to me. I do take your point that you are coming from an engineering background (I am coming from a financial markets background) but the context of the post is probabilities and risk in the political/social spectrum, which to me seems more close to chaotic or fractal, hence my comment. I am very wary of forecasters, political pundits. etc because they are rarely held accountable to their forecasts and they just keep them changing them all along and I presume you heard this before: “Even a broken clock is right twice a day”.

        Going back to your point on preparation for the least likely, I agree. That is precisely the point of an insurance policy for example. An interesting anecdote is that, for example, many people would frequently play the lottery but not have an insurance policy, meaning that they believe in remote events only when the consequences are positive. Does this mean they are irrational or just ignorant? In the case of Sucre’s audience, are they irrational or just ignorant?

      • It does not mean that he is always right. That would be unknowable. Does he try to claim he was right after the fact? That would actually be obnoxious.

        Listen, if I ask two people if the Detroit Lions will win their game this weekend and one says “Oh yeah, they’ll definitely win!” and one says “I give it about a 75% chance”, I wouldn’t think of the 75% guy as the moron.

        Also, the numbers he is spouting may not be particularly accurate but to say they are plucked out of thin air is not correct. He is not choosing them randomly. He is probably well aware that this stuff is not really quantifiable and he is just guesstimating.

  10. I once calculated the mortality rates/100K of the US in 1950 and today –that is, with and without antibiotics– using two links where the info is published:

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0922292.html (TB, cancer, cardio, respiratory)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infant_mortality (infant)

    Mortality/100K
    Country US US US US US World
    Event TB Cancer Cardio Respiratory Motor Infant Mortality TOTAL
    1950 22.5 139.8 510.8 31.3 23.1 15,200 15,927.5
    2011 0.2 184.6 249.8 17.2 11.1 4,300 4,762.9
    11,164.6 difference

    Meaning the use of antibiotics decreased the death rate by 11,164/100k (per year).

    I read that the Hospital Universitario has been operating basically without antibiotics for a year. Just do the numbers for the population of Venezuela = 31,108,000

    For 12 months: 11,164/100K * 31,108,000 = 3,473,084
    For 6 months: 1/2* 3,473,084 = 1,736,542
    For 3 months: 1/4 * 3,473,084 = 868,271
    For 1 month: 1/12 * 3,473,084 = 289,424

    Or put another way, assuming the dearth of antibiotics has not been 100% but instead 1/12th of that or 8.33% for one year, then 289,424 have been allowed to die needlessly.

    • Not to say that the numbers are not real, but combined with those in the OP of the Hambre, gasolina,prioridades thread are just remarkable. Venezuela may not be Syria at this point but it is on the simmer burner with not a soul paying attention. Yes there may be a bit of media coverage here in the US but realistically not a single soul whom I have spoken with has a clue of its problems. Sad to say but at this point Venezuela could be compared to Haiti. What I mean by this is to say that even the most “inhumane” of stories we get here are greeted with a shrug of the shoulders, some non-consequencial remarks and the conversation moves on. Not a single person that I know in the “Great White Northern Satan” has a clue about the situation “down there”.

      More effective communication is needed, by the emigrants, the oppo, and the citizens who remain.

      • I am an American with a keen interest in the plight of the Venezuelan people.
        Sadly many people that I speak to have no idea.

    • Would the difference between antibiotics never being invented, compared to them not being available now, make a difference.
      My thinking is that the amount of bacteria that has been destroyed by antibiotics reduces the chance of exposure. There would also be a lower chance of someone traveling into the country with a communicable disease due to being able to access antibiotics outside of Venezuela.
      Then there is also the antibiotics in animal feeds that may reduce the chances of acquiring an illness from food.

  11. You completely ignore the human factor. You say they didn’t invest in the possibility of a NVM. That is true. The question is why and what does it mean? What it means, in practical terms , is that they simply don’ t want to do it for whatever reason. Which means, it doesn’ t matter how unpopular Maduro is, or how weak his government is, it will never fall. His will to stay in power is stronger than our will to take the power from him. In order to generate change, you need the energy. Energy in this case comes mainly from willpower. You don’ t even need a majority (even though we have it), you just need the resources and the audacity.Time favours Maduro in terms of psychology. If you give him time, he will crush you, well, all of us. You have to start thinking of a rebellion. You have to plan it, you have to find a way to make it work, no matter how hard it is. We have to invest all our resources on that. It is risky, but the other alternative is worse. People will not rebel if you give them hope. That’s why you can’t try both strategies at the same time. You will end up with politicians eating the flesh of the ‘radicals’, and the ‘radicals’ death or in prison. We have seen that before. Masses are indeed caotic and fractal. I don”t know what will happen, but I do believe that if MUD doesn’t change or banish, we will either become slaves for decades, or some new unexpected agent will rise with incredible force, and take power. What is true is that in either case there is no future for those who refuse to act now.To wait is suicidal. Those who don’ t want to plan a rebellion or be a part of it, well, they can just leave now, or become part of the dictatorship Of course we can’t expect a rebellion to form in one month. I agree with Rodrigo. It will take time. But if we invest ourselves fully it may work. There is no certainty it will work but at least it would have a real chance. Sometimes you change or die. That is my message to the few decent people in the MUD ranks. As long as you deny yourselves the opportunity to rebel, as long as you keep looking desperately for alternatives that will never work, you will never have the strenght and the willpower to take the power away from Maduro. If you know that you are weak, it is okay, but then step aside and give room.

    • The sudden change from the ‘you’ to the ‘us’ , the harping on Maduros invincible WILL being stronger than that of the opposition so that these will NEVER win …..stinks of TROLL to high heaven ……!!

      • La voluntad de Maduro de mantenerse en el poder es más fuerte que la voluntad de la oposición de llegar al poder hasta que se demuestre lo contrario. Hasta ahora yo te diría modestamente que vamos muy mal. SI tú quieres seguir poniendo tus manos en el fuego por ellos, perfecto. Dales todo el tiempo que tú quieras y todas las oportunidades que consideres necesarias. Estás en tu derecho. Motívalos, presiónalos, oblígalos a no dejarte mal, porque quiero que sepas que estás quedando muy mal, todos los que están defendiendo a esos tipos están quedando muy mal. Terrible. Yo no me les acercaría para nada. Entonces eso: que demuestren que no son la porquería que muchos decimos que son. Hasta que no demuestren nada, pues, su reputación está en juego. Es así de sencillo. Esas son las reglas. Yo cesaré mis críticas y mis ataques cuando me callen la boca con hechos. Lamentablemente, no ha llegado ese día todavía. Lo que veo es todo lo contrario. Los veo vendiendo bolsas de CLAP, haciendo memes para burlarse de Lilian Tintori, mintiendo descaradamente (algunos usan el eufemismo “fallas comunicacionales”,está bien”),. Insisto, yo los veo muy mal, los veo en el suelo, postrados, acabados. No sé, a lo mejor son cosas mías. Quizás estoy exagerando.
        Yo por mi parte estoy cien por ciento seguro de que los líderes actuales son absolutamente incapaces de lograr los objetivos y creo que es una cuestión de supervivencia hacer algunos cambios. Eso es todo. No puedo concebir cómo, después de fracasos tan abrumadores, tan duros, algunos quieran mantener una actitud paternalista. ¡Qué arrogancia! Lo interpreto cómo la típica soberbia de una élite que está a punto de ser guillotinada y no lo sabe, como la ceguera típica de los últimos días de una clase decadente. Es una visión triste, pero es lo que percibo. Si soy un troll o no, que la gente decida, no sé. Admito que soy un poco fastidioso.

      • Stop saying troll, that’s more trollish than the people you have responded to, just because you find an opinion (((“”””Radical”””))) doesn’t mean it’s a troll, too many of us feel this way, it’s okay not to agree, but just outright discarding it, is just as obtuse as the goverment, it doesn’t matter if you’re on some moral highground, it’s still a shitty way to think and discourse.

        From your previous post i could even conclude you’re like Chuo Torrealba’s lost cousin or something.

    • This is right on target. There is no other exit. The only tool the ratas understand is violence and a rebellion with a clear objective is the only way to get to the end of removing these thugs. The current slate of opposition leaders are too weak too afraid and have no courage to mount a rebellion. Unfortunately the only ones capable are retired military many of whom are in jail or left the country already. A sad state of affairs. Sad to know that there are no leaders capable of delivering a free VENEZUELA. Bolívar must be rolling in his grave.

  12. If this had been the mind set in 1957, Perez Jimenez would have continued in Miraflores until he died of old age…

  13. Estos dias me he estado entreteniendo leyendo sobre el proceso de independencia de las 13 colonias en todos sus detalles, y lo que resulta fascinante es como hubo errores y fracasos incontables de parte de Washington y otros lideres del movimiento independentista, No era facil combatir el poderoso ejercito y armada de la Inglaterra de esa epoca , al final sin embargo recibieron ayuda de Francia y tuvieron algunos criticos aciertos y ganaron su independencia ……..Nadie lo recuerda pero a Washington por poco lo destituyen varias veces por fracasos estrepitosos en la conduccion del ejercito patriota ……….., la historia ensena que no triunfa quien no se equivoca por que todos los seres humanos somos falibles cuando las circumstancias nos presentan obstaculos e incertidumbres que retan incluso las mentes mas sensatas y lucidas sino el que se equivoca menos ……….!! Esta lectura me recuerda otras lecturas sobre como Venezuela y otros paises hispano americanos se liberan del dominio de la Corona espanola , tambien a traves de un cruento y complicado proceso incluso mas traumatico en el que los patriotas una y otra vez enfrentan errores y fracasos hasta que al fin ganan su independencia con algunos aciertos criticos que son como la cresta de una ola de inmensos y constantes fracasos ……..!!

    Habra fracasos y errores y aciertos y azarosos beneficios en el proceso que en este momento se adelanta para retornar Venezuela a sus antiguas libertades y bienestar ,lo decisivo no es enganarse pensando que siempre todas las decisiones van a producir el resultado anhelado por que las circumstancias no permiten semejantes suposiciones , pero si entender que mantener la unidad y cohesion de la oposicion como movimiento politico es fundamental al logro del resultado que se busca , la canibalizacion brutal de quienes lideran el movimiento no va a contribuir a lograr los objetivos de este. es desde luego saludable que se les critique sus errores o desaciertos o falta de exito pero sin desfenestrar su integridad moral y politica por que en un proceso de por si complicado e incierto no siempre tengan exito en sus iniciativas……!!

    • Nadie serio se va a tomar en serio que compares a Washington o a Bolívar con Allup o Borges . De verdad.Además, supongo que hay que ser indulgentes con ellos pero no con María Corina o con Leopoldo López. Si Capriles comete un error, lo comparas con Washington. Si María Corina comete un error, la tratas como una loca. Se te ven los colores, Bill Bass. Caldera puede ser un corrupto probado, pero se merece una oportunidad mas Diego Arria es un empatuflado y merece la condena absoluta. Si quieres salud en la unidad, comienza por analizar cuáles son las partes enfermas y por tratarlas. La salud de una organización no es un milagro divino sino algo que depende de la integridad y probidad de sus miembros. Si tienes mucho miembros enfermos no vas a lograr nada nunca. Ha pasado suficiente tiempo y ya se puede saber objetivamente quién es quién. No veo por qué no pueden ser reemplazados los enfermos, por qué un sector que no tiene nada que ofrecer excepto lo mismo que el gobierno se impone. Yo a ese sector le doy un cero por ciento por ciento de probabilidades de tener éxito. No van a lograr nunca nada más de lo que el gobierno les permita. Y por eso los veo muy mal parados en la historia. Si algún día salimos de esto, van a quedar muy mal, así como quedas muy mal tú, Bill Bass, comparando a Washington con Ocariz y con Henry Falcon.

      • Our political bubble is against to out-of-the-venezuelan-box thinking, be it the Oppo or the Gov, also the nepotism is too high for a new leadership to take place from inside, unless they go out of their way to have an inside election for their new leadership, which they won’t until a real election takes place, and for the same reasons the goverment doesn’t want elections.

      • Bolivar y Washington en su tiempo no tenian aun el prestigio que les ha conferido la historia , aunque se les repetaba no eran los idolos intocables que hoy son…..la comparacion no es con los personajes sino con los exitos y fracasos que cada quien tuvo que afrontar y con las criticas desvastadores que en su tiempo les endilgaron …..cuando incurrian en fracasos o errores …….(que lo hicieron muchas veces) , ademas igual vale decir lo mismo de otros personajes y grupos del pasado que pasaron por experiencias parecidas ……, cito sus nombres por que son los que alguien que no lee historia puede reconocer pero hay muchos otros !! Sospecho que la mala fe y la ofuscacion le ciegan de leer lo que comento en el contexto que corresponde …..quizas por que asi puede tergiverzar el mensaje que expongo…!!

        A diferencia de ud tengo muy poco interes en quedar mal o bien , estos analisis no los hago para servir mi vanidad sino por un prurito de examinar critica y equilibradamente las observaciones que leo en este blog ……, el tiempo dira si estan equivocadas o no…., pero tengo la conviccion que si no caemos en esteriles canibalismos los chances son buenos de que se lograra el objetivo perseguido.

        No se por que supone que tengo baja estima por los meritos y caracter de MCM , todo lo contrario, es uno de los lideres de la oposicion que mas respeto….

        Tampoco comulgo con la supercheria que solo los heroes puros y beatificos son efectivos en los ambitos de quehacer politico ……, la historia nos dice otra cosa, si eres jardinero tienes que acarrear algo de bosta para que tu jardin floresca …..es ingenuo y tierno pensar otra cosa…..sobre esto quizas te sirva leer un Viejo ensayo de Ortega y Gasset sobre el Arquetipo del Politico llamado Mirabeau o El Politico…..

        En este momento tengo tiempo libre y puedo dedicarte algo de mi tiempo , pero ya empiezas a aburrirme y lo mas probable es que en el futuro no pierda mas tiempo en responderte….., tengo otras cosas mas interesantes en mi plato….

        • La cuestion nunca ha sido el error por si, errar es normal y hasta productivo en ciertos casos, pero me he de imaginar que Washington logro aprender de sus fallas para mejorar su actuacion en el futuro, de lo contrario no hubiera quedado tan marcado como lo hizo, el problema es el atacar un problema de la misma manera que se ha hecho en el pasado, y no funciono, y esperar que en condiciones mas adversas y represivas funcione, y ni siquiera es el hecho de que se haya intentado el dialogo, sino que se abandono la base, el sentimiento, el imputo y las expectativas de sus simpatizantes.
          Todo el mundo tenia sus dudas sobre el dialogo, hasta aquellos mas fervientes creyentes sabian que al gobierno no se le puede creer, sabiendo eso, no se prepararon ni quisieron hacerlo para una situacion que en el mejor de los casos era poco probable, y en el peor increíblemente probable. Siquiera si aceptaran sus perdidas y lograran hacer algun tipo de catartasis y aceptacion sobre sus fallas y a raiz de esto, tratar de idearse un futuro politico donde hayan verdaderas politicas de cambio, yo entenderia el punto de vista de apoyo a la MUD, no lo compartiria pero lo entenderia y lo respetara mas de lo que lo hago ahora, y no por los simpatizantes sino por los dirigentes.
          Creo que la mayoria de los venezolanos comparte este sentimiento, y aun mas preocupante creo que una parte importante se queda entonces con un vacio politico que es complicado llenar y este vacio usualmente lo llenan los Chavez de este mundo.

        • Bill, de verdad crees que estás siendo objetivo a la hora de juzgar a los líderes de la oposición y sus estrategias? No es una competencia, sabes? Lo que me interesa es hacer una aproximación a la verdad. A mí nunca me ha gustado presumir de los libros que leo. También me he liberado, gracias a mi experiencia como lector, del mal hábito de hacer interpretaciones forzadas y de hacer comparaciones innecesarias entre personas y entre contextos.Los libros y la vida se tocan en muchos puntos pero también se separan en otros y hacen espirales hacia la locura, hacia el abismo. Hay que aprender a ver esas cosas, a sentirlas.Por ejemplo, en el 2014 Aveledo citó a Javier Marías en medio del diálogo. La cita era muy bonita pero el asunto es que estaba completamente fuera de contexto. Existen muchas ideas muy lindas, pero no todas son igualmente pertinentes siempre. Hay que hacer un esfuerzo muy grande para entender los tiempos, el espíritu de los tiempos. En esas cosas yo soy romántico.Yo te voy a hacer algunas recomendaciones, a ver si a través de los libros podemos acercarnos mejor. La primera es Marat/Sade, la obra brillante de Peter Weiss. La segunda es una un ensayo de Borges que se llama La supersticiosa ética del lector. La tercera es “En medio de Spinoza”. Los cursos de Deleuze sobre el filósofo holandés . El primer libro lo menciono porque se habla mucho sin fundamento de radicalismos y de revoluciones, del decadentismo y del rol de los intelectuales. Esa obra puede servir para que algunos círculos despierten de su letargo y entiendan los riesgos de su situación, porque el escenario planteado ahí me parece mucho más cercano que el escenario que planteas tú. El ensayo de Borges lo recomiendo porque a veces olvidamos cómo estamos sujetos a las formas de pensar que están de moda en nuestro tiempo. Él habla en particular de gustos literarios, pero sería interesante pensar cuáles son las modas intelectuales de nuestra sociedad ahora mismo y cómo nos determinan y afectan. El curso sobre Spinoza lo menciono sobre todo porque ahí hay un análisis maravilloso sobre cómo el poder de los tiranos se fundamenta en la tristeza y en su habilidad para disminuir nuestra potencia de obrar.
          Te voy a poner el ejemplo de María Corina Machado. Yo no siempre estoy de acuerdo con ella, me parece que ha cometido errores, pero ella tiene algo que los demás no tienen. La voluntad irreductible de oponerse al gobierno. No dudo ni un segundo de su voluntad, y por eso cada vez la respeto más mientras que a otros cada vez los respeto menos. Siempre esquivas los puntos fundamentales. Por ejemplo, por qué es imposible hacer un cambio de líderes y organizacionales. Por qué no podemos organizarnos de una manera más democrática y eficiente. Etcétera. Sería bueno que intentaras responder de verdad a esas inquietudes en vez de llamarme troll o mala persona. Algunos ponen el ejemplo de Polonia y de República Checa. Mi respuesta es que esos líderes no sólo eran más fuertes y educados, sino que pertenecían a organizaciones de base, sindicales, no eran estrictamente partidos políticos como lo son AD o PJ. Chávez destruyó ese tipo de organizaciones y qué hemos hecho nosotros para reconstruirlas? Más bien hemos seguido su ejemplo! Insisto, la reforma de la oposición es necesaria para su supervivencia como tal. Pero esa es otra de las cosas que esquivas. Yo no escribo para ti, Bill Bass. Escribo para debatir y para expresarme en general.

  14. “Sucre has an obnoxious habit of assigning specific numerical probabilities to each scenario. It annoys me because these numbers aren’t a product of a measurement or calculation. They’re plucked out of thin air, in an ill-advised reach for the appearance of numerical precision.”

    Some people call it a Bayesian Prior…and its not that bad.

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