There’s a scene right at the end of The Lives of Others, Florian von Donnersmarck’s brilliant 2006 film about the oddly intimate relationship between a dissident East German playwright and the SEBIN STASI agent assigned to spy on him, that I can’t get out of my head.

Eastern Bloc communism has fallen and Georg Dreyman, the playwright whose intensively spied-on life we’ve been watching for two hours, finally gets to sit down and read his own Secret Police file, piecing together intimate details about how the state barged into the most private nooks and crannies of his life without him even realizing.

By now, though, that state is no more. And so the tables are then turned: Dreyman now knows details about his spy, Gerd Wiesler, that Wiesler himself has no clue Dreyman knows. Now it’s Dreyman who gets to gawk on an unsuspecting Wiesler from a distance.

It’s odd watching that scene as a Venezuelan. The system of oppression that has intruded into every aspect of our lives has a shared lineage with the one that brought Gerd Wiesler and Georg Dreyman into their warped inimacy. The STASI learned its methods from the same KGB that taught the Cubans that went on to teach SEBIN. When our own criollo Georg Dreymans sit down one day —hopefully soon— to read their SEBIN files, what will they find out? What will we?

My sense is that a lot of things that don’t seem to make sense about the Venezuelan political scene today are not going to make sense until that happens. Mysteries like, how can it be that MUD, the opposition umbrella organization, has more or less stopped working now, with millions of Venezuelans suffering, 3 in 4 losing weight, and an overwhelming consensus in the country that the government is to blame? How can MUD have botched its recent reorganization so badly, saddling itself with an obviously unwieldy, unmanageable decision-making structure that makes it impossible to act decisively when decisive action is needed? How, in short, can the opposition be at its weakest precisely at the moment the government is most vulnerable?

I think the answers to these questions must be in a SEBIN hard drive somewhere. It’s the only sense I can make of it.

Little could be more corrosive for a political movement than pervasive distrust of this kind.

Because the problem in MUD is, at root, about trust. MUD leaders don’t trust one another enough to cooperate effectively. They don’t trust one another’s motives, they don’t trust one another’s agendas, they don’t trust one another’s loyalties.

Little could be more corrosive for a political movement than pervasive distrust of this kind. It eats away at MUD’s ability to collaborate, to coordinate, even its ability to communicate.

Some of it, I’m sure, stems from the normal competitive dynamics that make it difficult for politicians anywhere to trust their colleagues fully: careerism, incompatible ambitions, old grudges, tribal loyalties, the whole sad catalogue of human frailties magnified by the drive for power. But some of it, I’m pretty sure, goes beyond that.

A Buyers’ Market

Members of Venezuela’s National Assembly earn a salary — when it is paid — of around $9 a month. Suplentes —alternate members who stand in when the main deputy can’t make a session— earn Bs.1,500 a day, about 36 U.S. cents at the black market rate.

In practice, this means that there are two kinds of parliamentarians in Venezuela: the Independently Wealthy, and the —how can we euphemize this?— “privately sponsored”, let’s say.

Everybody in Venezuelan politics knows this.

The soup of ambition and frustration and greed you create when you pay high-ranking politicians misery wages while regime-connected cronies skim off tens of billions into offshore accounts makes a perfect caldo de cultivo for influence operations.

It would be an interesting exercise to go through and figure out how many parliamentarians belong in each group. Out of 224 opposition deputies (main and alternate), how many are Independently Wealthy? I can’t say I really know. Maybe 30? 50? Not more than 75, surely.

That leaves you with a political class that, on the whole, has to hustle to serve other clients to put food on the table. Here you find a whole variety of livelihood strategies, from the relatively vanilla —professional consulting gigs, that sort of thing— to the decidedly un-vanilla.

The soup of ambition and frustration and greed you create when you pay high-ranking politicians misery wages while regime-connected cronies skim off tens of billions into offshore accounts is dangerous. It’s a perfect caldo de cultivo for influence operations. Cynics that we are, we tend to imagine these will always take their most debauched forms, because, as everyone knows “¡están vendidos!” We want to picture greasy politicos pulling into Fuerte Tiuna to get their Mensalão directly from Diosdado Cabello.

In reality, I’m sure it’s often a lot subtler than that. The regime has its pick of cut-outs and middlemen to provide a minimum buffer, not just between the regime and the politician, but between the politician and his own conscience. A proliferation of cash-flush bolichicos, boliburgueses, bolinarcos and bolieverythinginbetweens is on hand to provide routes into opposition politicos figures.

Each case is different, and the way you compromise each figure is different too. On one end of the spectrum, I’m convinced Hermann Escarrá must have been caught on tape by SEBIN doing unspeakable things to barnyard fauna. (It’s the only way any of it makes sense.)

Other figures probably require a lighter touch. It’s easy to see how, say, if your kid is getting treatment for a life-threatening disease abroad, even the hint of the possibility of a prohibición de salida del país must weigh heavily on your mind.

Ask any opposition politician, on his second or third drink, and I guarantee virtually all of them understand this dynamic is at play.

The point is that there’s enormous scope for creativity in the wide space between the brutal assrape of Hermann Escarrá’s dignity and the subtle, cynical manipulation of Carlos Ocariz’s personal tragedy. Some guys you’ll buy, others you can rent, some you’ll badger, others you’ll threaten or extort or bully or manipulate or exile or ban from travelling.

And some, you’ll find, already agree with you and so you don’t even have to spend any resources pushing them to do what you want them to do: they’ll just do it out of conviction. Those guys, I suspect, are by far the most valuable to the regime.

Ask any opposition politician, on his second or third drink, and I guarantee virtually all of them understand this dynamic is at play. And it matters. It colors their interactions with one another in a deep and ineffable way that’s distorting the opposition’s entire internal dynamic. It’s serious, and it’s bad.

In any given conversation between any two given MUD leaders, both of them are, in the back of their minds, wondering: who’s this guy really play for? Who pays his lunch? Is he recording me? Is Tareck El Aissami going to get debriefed about this conversation? Or Victor Vargas? Or Alejandro Betancourt?

Is it really safe for me to speak candidly with this person?

More and more often, more and more opposition actors are answering “no, it isn’t.” And it isn’t even necessary for the other person to truly have been compromised for that dynamic to develop. Just that you suspect that he has been. That’s all.

Look, we won’t know the true extent of the regime’s influence operation against MUD until we have our own The Lives of Others moment. For now, all we can do is speculate. But we don’t speculate on the basis of nothing. We speculate on the basis of facts that are out in the open. We speculate about dynamics so clear it would be a dereliction of duty not to point them out.

Venezuela right now doesn’t make sense in the absence of a stunningly effective influence operation against MUD. That’s not evidence, I know. Pero es lo que hay.

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  1. Excellent post!

    There is be nothing more blind than to blithely assume that MUD is a normal opposition coalition in a normal country. In the East bloc, it took decades for real opposition groups to form. Even then, it turned out that the secret police had their hand in everything.

    At the fall of East Germany, oppositionists discovered that in some instances, 20 years before, the Stasi had instructed a police agent to get close to them, marry, and have their children. And report weekly to Stasi HQ. That’s deep cover.

    Assuming conditions in Venezuela are analogous to Britain or Germany is a misunderstanding of the reality. Yet you’ll see snide journalistic references to “Venezuela’s fractious opposition” its “ineffective opposition” and so on.

  2. “I think the answers to these questions must be in a SEBIN hard drive somewhere. It’s the only sense I can make of it”

    Wow, you are really making all this stuff up to justify the MUD’s lack of competence? Why is it so difficult to understand that the majority of opposition politicians in Venezuela have no experience whatsoever managing anything other than talking bla bla all day and being politicians? How can you expect them to be able to deliver on anything if they never had done anything meaningful in the first place? Happy for you to prove me wrong, just list whatever you think they have done in 15+ years worth highlighting as a success (perhaps the only case is the AN election but I would just say they were benefited from people voting against the government but not necessarily for the opposition) and we can have a discussion. And every year it goes by, it gets worse. Why? Because it is one more year the current government is in power and managing things (if you can call that management) and one year they are not getting any hands-on experience.

    MUD’s/Coordinadora Democratica lack of professionalism and their poor performance is astonishing. Yet, no one is willing to point fingers and call a spade a spade because it will play “in favour” of the government. That is the argument of brain amputated people. Gimme a break…

    Mediocre politicians = mediocre results

    • Do you really believe that, for example, the march to Miraflores, the one that was called after CNE officially killed the referendum, was cancelled solely due to MUD’s incompetence? There was nothing else at play there? No pressure from the government? No threats, no blackmail, no one selling out?


      And also, waht “De Pana” asked: why do you have to be so obnoxious?

  3. I believe this is not the case.

    Personal ambition comes into play. Shortsightedness comes into play. But also, more importantly, differences in political strategies (which come first).

    You mistrust others because you disagreements are so strong that you cannot fathom that they could be truly, honest disagreements. They cannot possibly be thinking that. They must be bought, or have a secret agenda.

    But I think that the truth of the matter is that “secret agendas” are probably not due to SEBIN-sponsored meddling (during our last Legislature, we had a few defections (well publicized, and enough to allow PSUV to go on with the TSJ stuffing)). This Legislature, so far, we’ve had none of true consequence, barring some quorum altering mishaps (which have been all over the place). Those secret agendas come from old grudges, old allegiances, old familial relationships, and old ideological grudges. And old corruption, too.

    Can they be capitalised by Chavismo? Sure, but I doubt they need that.

    And then, insinuations such as this article’s conjectures, do their own work. They seep in and influence opinion. “That’s not evidence, I know. Pero es lo que hay”, it’s almost as polluting to our opposition relationships, than actual SEBIN meddling. I won’t ask you for investigative journalism or even research because journalists run risks greater than politicians. And some of what transpires outside of legitimate journalism into social media is no best than unsubstantiated hit jobs. I have read thing that I know are patently false.

    I believe the truth is much more simple: the opposition has been institutionally played by chavismo, and without an electoral or an institutional escenario, they seem hapless. And they cannot organise an alternative course because either some don’t believe in it, or some do, but deep down they do not believe they can muster up the energy for that. So they go on with individual agendas: We have at least two presidential candidates in full swing for 2018 (Ramos and Falcon); AP was legalised, and VP aims to do the same… AD ponders, and PJ does, too. They have to look out for themselves because, since 2013, all bets have been open in our micro civil-strife.

    And it has a lot of historical precedent.

    This is maddening. But it is only human.

    • I think the Ruperti-J.C.Caldera tape shows conclusively that however much or little of this goes on, it’s not zero. I think it’s naïve to think guys like Alejandro Betancourt and Victor Vargas don’t have at least a few MUD figures on retainer: the evidence is circumstancial, but in these circumstances, it was always going to be circumstancial. I think it would be deeply out of character for SEBIN to suddenly develop scruples in this one area and in no other.

      But I tend to agree that the widespread perception that it happens is as bad or worse as the fact o it.

      • Yes, and you point out to possibilities which are real. I’m not saying that SEBIN has any scruples. I’m arguing that they do not need to act in order to divide the opposition.

        There are honest-to-goodness disagreements. Dramatic, dire, and true.

        Does the fact that such disagreements have been glossed over from time to time show that the SEBIN was weak on those occasions or that they could be actually resolved?

        I agree we will see very bad things, and one of them is the scope of surveillance: I’m sure we will find out how unwittingly people have exposed themselvs because they were living in a relative free society with little surveillance, and then, with the growing authoritarianism (still selective, still not in completely full-swing) and with growing private imput by individuals of thoughts and emotions in social media, the massive amount of data gathered is unfathomable. I agree with that…

        (A few years back it was leaked that I was a twitter user under surveillance (possibly confused with my father), and I know for a fact that even though the MUD offices were regularly swept for bugs, and were monitored from afar (you don’t need an actual bug, today), many information was leaked in simple gossip, by relaying information of meetings through social media, from Whatsapp to twitter, live and most willingly (and recklessly). Check the pictures: at every meeting, people are on their phones.

        I mean, come on: are we not under an authoritarian government? Let’s act like we are, then.

        • Sure, but you’re eluding the heart of the argument. It’s about money. It’s about the fact that dozens of MUD deputies and activists are flat broke. It’s about the fact that the parties don’t have money, MUD itself doesn’t have money…and their contrincantes have a petrostate on tap.

          • In that case, you need so very little that even a subtle nudge could work. Without anyone even realising it.

            Misery opens a pathway. I grant you that.

            But in a miser-society, wouldn’t that be too in-your-face?

            Alas, I also have my own “triggers”: how about rich foreing-based Venezuelans and their influence? How about the Cisneros fortune?

    • “…the opposition has been institutionally played by chavismo, and without an electoral or an institutional escenario, they seem hapless. ”

      I agree.

      There was an insinuation by Chavismo to play democratically, even begrudgingly when they accepted the electoral defeat of December 2015. As politics unfolded, the MUD cornered Chavismo into full frontal dictatorship. And that is where democracy stopped and it became a full Stalinist power play “How many divisions does the Pope have?”.

      MUD does not have colectivos, nor are their followers willing to spill their guts on the barricades. It is not in MUD’s culture, and in fact, Venezuelans do not make good fanatics.

      So it now seems to be a waiting game. Does Chavismo achieve full Cuban status or does their inherent incompetence blows them out of power.

      • “…nor are their followers willing to spill their guts on the barricades.”

        Got to disagree with you on this one here, because as much ferocious as the colectivos, the GN and GP were at attacking the people, the people fought back and in many cases sent those murderous bastards running.

        Chavismo doesn’t want the protests to become violent because their enforcers are used to attack people that won’t fight back as they are hired malandros.

        Any mention of the “violence only serves the regime to justify repression” is completely void and null because chavismo is known for making up cases to imprison people without any basis, they DON’T need violence to repress, in fact, chavismo’s best scenario is the people sitting peacefully waiting to die from hunger, any disease or a malandro’s gunshot while they steal “in peace”.

        “There was an insinuation by Chavismo to play democratically, even begrudgingly when they accepted the electoral defeat of December 2015. ”

        No, you’re wrong, it was never in the interest of chavismo to do anything democratically, they planned to emasculate the AN as soon as they realized the fraud couldn’t be done in 2015.

        “It is not in MUD’s culture…”

        And here, as the article states, it could be that it’s not the interest of the MUD to actually get rid of this regime, but to coexist with it, as if anything needed to “get out of the hole” ( could be achieved with chavismo in power.

        “…Venezuelans do not make good fanatics.”

        Several of the most radical chavista nutjobs prove your point wrong.

        “So it now seems to be a waiting game. ”

        It’s always been a waiting game, the people waits, while the nomenklature steals until there’s nothing left to steal.

        “…their inherent incompetence blows them out of power”

        And that’s the criminal approach that MUD aspires to use, which is actually a fallacy, as hunger alone hasn’t been enough to drive a dictatorship out of power before.

          • So according to you:

            1) Venezuelan people is either stupid, spineless, corrupt or simply too rotten to do anything about the regime.

            2) MUD is full of well meaning but ultimately stupid politicians that will never ever convince chavistas to vote for them.

            3) The chavista regime is an impenetrable fortress that established the cuban style dictatorship for at least 50 more years.

            4) Even after the last chavista has died in 60 or more years from now, it’ll take another century to even make Venezuela livable again.

            Dude, you have only one choice: MAIQUETÍA.

          • No Ulamog. I said nothing like that. But I guess you are taking my Rorschach invitation…

            MUD played the democratic game well and won by demonstrating that Chavismo is anathema to democracy. But once that is finished as it is now, what next?

            Violence? I don’t see the return of urban guerrillas or start of suicide bombers. I don’t see violence as a feasible option for MUD or any other movement in Venezuela that has strong middle class roots as MUD. And the point I am making is that dialog, democracy and any other civilized option will not be entertained willingly by Chavismo.

            Civil disobedience? Protests? Chavismo has demonstrated to be unfazed by that.

            I don’t think Venezuela can consolidate itself to a classic Communist abomination because it is broke and no one is going to foot the bill for it. You need a China or Russia to spawn a North Korea or Cuba. So their inherent incompetence plus their broke communist model will be Chavismo’s undoing.

            As it stand right now there is no external threat to Chavismo except themselves and that alone is a formidable threat.

          • “No Ulamog. I said nothing like that. But I guess you are taking my Rorschach invitation…”

            You did, trying to deny it only presents you as someone who’s not being serious about what they’re saying.

            “MUD played the democratic game well and won by demonstrating that Chavismo is anathema to democracy. But once that is finished as it is now, what next?”

            Chavismo has been anathema to democracy since the day Chávez ordered to slaughter two dozens of unarmed protesters in april 11 of 2002, and MUD has NEVER stated that chavismo is outright a dictatorship, using as an excuse that it would “disrespect the chavistas”

            “Violence? I don’t see the return of urban guerrillas or start of suicide bombers. ”

            Chavismo has those, because they’re their line of defense against the people, the malandraje is the best ally of chavismo, and MUD has NEVER pointed that out, only Ledezma and MCM had done it, and they’ve been tramplen on by that, MUD has vetoed MCM and abandoned Ledezma because they had too much of a “sharp tongue”

            “I don’t see violence as a feasible option for MUD or any other movement in Venezuela that has strong middle class roots as MUD. ”

            Because MUD’s infiltrated by people who doesn’t want to get rid of the regime: Medina, Borges, Guevara, Rosales, Falcón, Zambrano and others.

            “And the point I am making is that dialog, democracy and any other civilized option will not be entertained willingly by Chavismo.”

            You’re contradicting yourself here, because you have stated before the “mudero way” that only “peaceful” options are available to get rid of chavismo.

            Learn and understand this: Chavismo will NEVER leave power by ONLY an election.

            “Civil disobedience? Protests? Chavismo has demonstrated to be unfazed by that.”

            No, chavismo is TERRIFIED of any protest or even any sign of dissension, because their entire structure on their bases is built on the fallacy that they are inmaculate saints that haven’t done anything wrong ever, and MUD has NEVER done anything to try to counter that message, cue people from the MUD having spoke about ridiculous things like “Chávez’s legacy” or “respecting the chavistas grief for their leader”

            “I don’t think Venezuela can consolidate itself to a classic Communist abomination because it is broke and no one is going to foot the bill for it. ”

            The classic communist abomination will endure as long as chavismo keeps the people down and silenced, break the silence and the domination and the regime falls in days.

            “You need a China or Russia to spawn a North Korea or Cuba. ”

            No, you need a cuba and an infiltrated to the marrow MUD to keep a chavismo afloat.

            “So their inherent incompetence plus their broke communist model will be Chavismo’s undoing.”

            Which is the incredibly irresponsible “tactic” of letting chavismo to destroy itself so people “finally gets tired of it”, which is ridiculous and you see MUD isn’t even aiming for that, as they are doing absolutely NOTHING to influence people’s opinion against chavismo (And that means swing opinion against CHAVEZ, because to attack chavismo you have to attack that bastard)

            Yeah, it’s easier to just say “Let’s wait 50 years until people’s tired of this” (Which won’t happen if the opinion change isn’t introduced).

            “As it stand right now there is no external threat to Chavismo except themselves and that alone is a formidable threat.”

            And this is another ridiculous point, to believe that chavismo is an invincible force that only chavismo can destroy.

  4. Your speculation makes sense. Collective oppositions find it difficult to oppose any authoritarian regime in part due to its intelligence operations and also due to competition inherent in collective politcal enterprises.I will adx to tbat speculation with some of my own. I speculate that a problem in Venezuela is that you have to rely too much on politicians for an opposition. Let’s assume Venezuela had not nationalized your now main asset, oil, and had not increasingly quashed other private businesses. You would have had an alternative source of political power whose economic interests would not allow a bunch of fractured political types to stand in the way of opposition to ruinous economic policies. My notion of good governance is separation of power within government and the maintenance of multiple private interest groups as a bulwark against a too powerful government.

  5. The problem that I see with the MUD leaders is that they are politicians. As politicians they all have their own political ambitions that influence their relationships with each other and their stances within the opposition.
    Venezuela desperately needs an opposition leader that people will support, rally behind and fight to the death with to end this brutal, illegal reign of Maduro and his cabal of criminals.

  6. Quico has an scenario, other comenters have others… I frankly think all are right:

    I dont think all the problems of the MUD are due to infiltration – but I also dont deny that given how the regime rolls, is stupid to think they dont do that kind of thing.

    I also dont think you can rule out MUD’s innate problems of being a coalition of people that in the best of times would be rivals, and that a lot of them are, well, your average mediocre Venezuelan politician.

    Normally complex situations dont have one explanation but several. I’ve no doubt that if we ever get to see SEBIN’s material on the MUD, it will be shocking and explain a lot; I just dont think it will explain it all. It will be just one of the many knives in the back of Venezuela.

  7. Its clear to me that the most likely depiction of inner MUD dynamics is the one described by Guilllermo Aveledo Coll . As the saying goes , usually what people ascribe to misterious dark sinister motives are simply the result of ordinary human weaknesses and bungling ……except that, many people with vivid imagination simply love to imagine highly melodramatic scenarios to account for what a more humdrum account will explain….!! Im all for using Ockams razor´’ adapted to account for understanding political behavior .

    I don’t buy it that if the regime uses rich boliburgueses to ply oppo politicians with financial support , that means that they are at the beck and call of the regime, first because many boliburgueses ARE themselves interested in buying the ‘future good will’ of those pols as insurance against the time when they might be called to account for their cozy modus vivendi with the regime , second because even if those pols accept such support most of them are smart enough to accept it and then act whichever way suits them….. as someone who was once disappointed in his expectations after paying a sum to a high official once said ‘the problem is finding an honest official who once bought STAYS bought.’ Then I would expect that there are a lot of very wealthy enemies which the regime has made during these last 18 years which are prepared to help finance in a hundred of indirect ways the oppo pols because they want their revenge on the regime ….. !!

    Among US companies it is common for companies to contribute to the campaigns of different congressmen of different parties at the same time , they just want to hedge their bets , not because those campaign contributions will necessarily allow them to dictate those congressmen decisions once they take their seats but because what they most fear is having someone who might look on them unfavourabley if they ever find themselves in a tight spot……..if funding those contributions allowed those companies to control those congressmen then they would be outlawed ……!!

    Of course some ocassional hanky panky type of arrangement may have happened from time to time , but I don’t believe the regime thru various financial means has a stranglehold on what the MUD does or doesn’t do .

      • Quico is right in pointing out that misery makes the opposition rife with graft and besiness possibilities, and that the government is all too happy to exploit that. I agree.

        But I have spent most of my life hearing about supposed personal fortunes of people I know, and people I’m supposed to know, and the lifestyles so described are simply not true.

        Alas, I understand that being independent means you have to wonder this. I respect that.

        The implication, however, that only PJ and UNT types are somehow susceptible to this is almost self-defeating.

          • AFAIK, the MUD board was barred from exiting the country (with Capriles and Torrealba, Cartaya, Medina, Barreto, Sucre Heredia, Gabaldón and Aparicio). Some were already out, and cannot comeback or, well, have passports issued. And they were mostly Beatos.

            Additionaly, and then again, AFAIK, there are open cases for many, which are pending and can be used, selectively.

            No one is arguing this is not an autoritarian regime, JP.

          • You can’t compare being barred from exiting the country with being jailed. Even if some small degree of repression is used against the loyal “opposition”, it’s clear that the government focus his strength against those who participated in La Salida.

            At the same time, we have some pretty convincing cases of moral hazard coming from people such as those who held the MUD’s coordination during 2014 or those who had a key role in the “huevo frito” alliance. Should I remind you of the Jacobson scandal? What about JC Caldera receiving money from Ruperti? Or Ramos Allup’s brother-in-law bolichico?

            Like it or not, there’s sound logic behind Quico’s argument. Also, there’s mounting evidence supporting those guesses.

            I understand that family ties to certain factions within the MUD can be a burden. But you can’t shut your eyes and assume good will from anyone who shares your preferred tactics.

          • Maria Corina Machado is also barred from exiting the country.

            I’m not saying that condition is the same as being jailed -who could?- but it is still a sword of Damocles.

  8. This is a very is a very sober, reasonable, healthy way to evaluate what is happening with MUD. I think we have more than enough reasons to suspect of the leadership of the opposition and even if we didn’t, as citizens, we should be educated into doing so. But our political culture, doesn’t allow for that to happen so easily, and this is something that is weakness that is being exploited by our new rulers. For us who live overseas is perhaps more obvious; you see how the press articulate responses, debates, openly talking about these techniques; we can see many bad thing about U.S media, but still, you can’t deny that there is vibrant critical culture. When it comes to the way things are told in Venezuela and who does the telling, as a citizen, I feel like I have to shift gears, like I’m expected to be less critical, I have to become less of a citizen. Let me be clear, this is not about talking badly of politicians, or being “anti-political” this is about serving society about saving democracy . Is clear that most Venezuelans don’t understand what is happening, why should they, we never had to face something like this. However, countries had, and that is where our press has to pick up, establish parallels, educate its audience.
    The MUD, will be acting the way it is as long as it doesn’t feel threatened in its status as official unchallenged, unquestioned representatives of Venezuelan opposition. If you pay attention, political leaders in Venezuela only go to certain places where they know they are going to be treated nicely, asked carefully crafted questions that reinforce a particular narrative; we saw it with “El Dialogo” now with “las validaciones”. I see big potential for alternative journalism here, a meta journalism that takes these realities into account when drawing editorial lines, new practices and alliances able to break with our predictably as a society.

  9. Another thing we might find out is what really transpired in “El Dialogo”. It’s clear that, magically, after both parties sat down to talk, MUD just kinda disappeared to reestructure its leadership.

    I’m not quite sure what’s going on, but I just heard on Union Radio that there’s just too many differences on what to do next and that Primero Justicia, for example, just wants to wait for the government to implode.

  10. I have a general rule of thumb that says you should not attribute to conspiracy that which could be explained by stupidity or incompetence. The former are rare, whereas the latter are all too common. So, my question to Quico (who is closer to the people in question than I am): Do you really think or feel that you can rule out simple stupidity and incompetence for what we have seen (or not seen) from the MUD?

  11. Let’s not compare SEBIN to STASI. After the fall of the wall, one could find out if the STASI had a file on you and then get all the file’s information. SEBIN’s filing system, on the other hand, is probably a total, disorganized and chaotic mess.

  12. Wow, King Maduro has corrupted the financial system, the court system, the separation of Military with government institutions, the constitution, and political system, (to name a few) and so many on this board think SEBIN has not been a factor in the infiltration, and manipulation of such a diverse group as MUD. If I were the evil King, and VZ my fiefdom, that is what I’d do. Wouldn’t the evil side of you do the same?

  13. Even in democratic countries the secter services infiltrate political organisations; in the United States, the Ku Klux Klan has been destroyed as a major outfit by the fact each Great Titan believed other Great Titans were FBI agents while the CPUSA had two thirds of its membership on the FBI’s ledgers.
    In the Netherlands an agent created a fake Maoist party, even going to Red China.
    During the Algerian War, the Algiers section of the FLN was totally taken over by French secret services, causing the militants to infight, believing others sere traitors.

    If democratic and freer nations have intelligence services infiltrating political groups, and given how are things in Venezuela, with paramilitaries killing demonstrators back in 2014, the SEBIN has even more powers to engage in these sheningans, and might have tried to infiltrate the MUD and any opposing orgs.

    In East Germany, STASI’s home, even bishops have been known to rat on their flock.

  14. this is probably Toro’s most especulative, conspirative theorist article to date.

    Definitely there is a lot of staseing going around political circles, but I think that ultimately it goes down to the fact that the military high command and the clique has stolen all power from everyone else and are not gonna share it unless forced by someone holding a gun.

  15. “I” mentioned that many of us were accomplices. I do not doubt for a moment that hundreds, thousands even, are unwitting accomplices.

    And I agree that being one of thos whose head is above water does seem murky. I agree.

  16. Is this the same Toro that a few months ago ended a post in this very site saying that we should be thankful for the MUD and we didn’t know how lucky we were to have him?

    As kids say nowadays: Lmao

  17. Kico, although I think your speculation probably has some merit in a limited number of cases, I believe that the MUD’s real problem has been trying to act democratically in an autocratic non-democratic setting, worse yet, one backed by the Military, the final arbiter of power in Venezuela in countless cases historically. As for the SEBIN’s files being revealed some day, don’t hold your breath–as an example, DC’s offices in a Simon Bolivar Tower were mysteriously destroyed by a 2-story obliterating fire, and, subsequently, most, if not all, of the Gobernacion de Miranda’s files were destroyed when DC lost the Miranda Governor’s election….

  18. Of course the SEBIN is bribing, blackmailing and manipulating many of the MUD politicians. And not only the guys on top… It is not speculation, since it is actually done in the open, for everybody to see. What troubles me is how some still deny it. That denial is very suspicious. We should be constantly purging ourselves.There is no way to properly fight against a dictatorship with compromised leaders and with no discipline. This is obvious. No organization will ever work if it is completely infiltrated.
    We have to understand that this is not about “strategy”
    Sorry, but there are no strategical excuses for what has been done. There are only people who want to fight the dictatorship, and corrupt people with a corrupt mentality that want to be a part of it. A corrupt individual is one who with his actions ( for example, participating in the dialogue, calling the resistance protesters radicals, etcetera) defends the currrent status quo and undermines any actions against it.
    It is only,as I have said before, a matter of will. The will of the government to remain in power is greater than the will of the oppo to overthrow it.

  19. I strongly suspect that quite a number of people ostensibly inside the regimes band wagon have covert oppo sympathies or close personal connections with people who are enemies of the regime or are afraid that a power shift/change will make them vulnerable so they collaborate with the oppo in many different ways , leaking damaging information which the govt wants to keep secret, looking the other way when they are told to participate in some anti oppo activity , warn oppo activist of coming persecutory measures etc , even quietly contributing money to oppo causes or individuals.

    The oppo appear to be well informed of a lot of stuff happening inside hight govt circles or inside the army , fact of the matter is that there are so many clandestine enemies of the regime simulating o be its friends that the regime can never know whom they can trust, this is a sure sign that the regime is deeply infiltrated by people who feel antipathy towards the regime or will collaborate with its enemies for reasons of their own , also when regime groups bicker among themselves , one group will tell on another group , or even sabotage its activities to harm them or stay ahead of the game .

    Weve known for some time now that quite of few among the most trusted regime factotums are opportunists or deeply disappointed in the betrayal of past promises and have turned coat to collaborate with international and other agencies to help in the indictment of the regime and its highest officials for their crimes and abuses ……..a guy in NY who specializes on dealing with these kinds of former regime loyalist complain that his phones never stop regime with the calls of people who offer to help in the fight against the regime or who want a deal for doing so.

    The MUD may have some people which are vulnerable at the regimes efforts at infiltration , but my guess is that many more inside the regime are playing a double game to protect themselves or advance their own interests by doing things which favour the oppo . No to be discarded is the probability that there are people inside the MUD who cunningly make the regime believe that they are going along with its agenda while really feeding them false information or manipulating them to harm their plans at the most opportune moment…….!!

  20. Yes, of course they (the MUD)have some information about what is happening inside the government .But they are the ones being played, not the other way around. As all facts show.Don’t be naive.The regime is in complete control of the situation. The regime will not fall by itself. And it seems that there is no real determination to fight against it. If there is no will to overthrow the regime, nothing matters. We have seen many leaks and sanctions over the years and specially over the last three years. All useless if we decide to go the dialogue at the last minute.As the crisis gets worse, it will only raise the stakes for everybody. And the stakes are always higher for the oppo and specially for the common people, so to wait is suicidal and that strategy has always been wrong and will never work. If anything, the MUD seems to be working alongside the government, not against it. If it is part of any conspiracy, it is not a conspiracy in the best interest of the people, but against it. The people wanted to fight for the RR. That was denied by the leaders. Why? Whatever plan, whatever strategy they have, it is no longer of any interest to the people nor it has anything to do with the people. That’s why they are considered corrupt. It is not only about money, you know… so this stupid game , even if it worked, will not solve the political crisis, it will only make it even worse, because without any moral ground it will be imposible for the oppo to implement any real change. The only symbol the oppo can use is LL. Believe me, there is no way to survive a transition (or even dreaming of a transition)without a big purge.

  21. Finally Francisco comes out and says it. I did the same a couple of weeks ago and was persecuted for being a “troll”, so welcome to “guerrero del teclado” status I guess.

    In terms of being “highly speculative”, the issue is trying to get your hands on cold hard facts like Sebin files, bank account transfer records, Cadivi would be a god mine. But the fact that we can’t openly prove Mud dangles and dances from more obscure strings does not make those strings inexistent. I just hope someday we get to unmask some of these politicians for what they really are.

  22. The so called MUD strategy was always weak. it was never going to work, it never really had any chance. Nothing good could ever come out of it. Some of us understood it instantly. The moment I saw Capriles calling Maria Corina and Leopoldo Lopez sifrinos, Leonardo Padron calling Altamira protesters illiterate, and PJ supporters and propagandists attacking “the radicals” as if they were fucking yihadists, I thought: Chavismo has won. At that point we were morally and intelectually defeated by chavismo. We were not defeated by the SEBIN or by the colectivos. We defeated ourselves and that’s what I really mean by corruption. That so called strategy was in fact nothing more than a capitulation and an act of corruption. La salida was nothing more than a reaction to that capitulation and as such I will defend it a thousand times, because crazy as it was it was the last act of true resistance this country saw and it deserves respect. We were always threatened by the SEBIN and the colectivos, we were always under enormous pressure, but we resisted, even though we had no foreign allies and the oil prices were high. Our people was willing to fight and did indeed fight. That ended the moment the MUD capitulated, december 2013. What ultimately defeated us was…Fernando Mires and Luis Vicente Leon. We had resisted so much and then we gave up everything for a bad idea, for a suicidal idea. So we have to give up that bad idea and start thinking straight. Our enemy is the government and our objetive must be to defeat it and to make sure we can change the status quo in a substancial way. We have to remove those in our ranks that have become an obstacle.


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