April 11 on Puente Llaguno: Chavismo at its Nadir

For years, chavismo has organized a big counter-demonstration whenever the opposition hits the streets. We went to yesterday’s government rally on Puente Llaguno. There was no one there.


You’d think that, after days of massive opposition protests, April 11th would be the perfect day for chavismo to return to the streets. Fifteen years on from the 2002 coup attempt that became a heroic comeback, what better time could there be to re-establish the government’s popular credentials?

That’s what they said they’d do. Elías Jaua, now the Education Minister, announced they would rally from 10 a.m. on the emblematic Puente Llaguno to commemorate “the 15th anniversary of the rebellion that defeated the brief dictatorship of Carmona Estanga and denounce the massacres he ordered.”

So I went out there to check things out. And it was kind of shocking. The turnout on Puente Llaguno was, in a word, pathetic. Even chavismo’s Twitter-bot army seemed quieter than usual.

There weren’t even the usual guys hawking bottles of cold water. Ambiente de marcha: zero.

The rally was supposed to start at 10 a.m. A small sad-looking stage was set up on the overpass: nothing like the all-out theatric tarimas the government wheels out for big rallies.

Near noon, Numa Molina, a catholic priest, said mass on the stage in remembrance of the victims of that day. A group of a 150 people, tops, sat in on the service in red shirts with old chavistas slogans from this or that Misión. Most were older lefties. No high-profile governing figure was going anywhere near that stage. There weren’t even the usual guys hawking bottles of cold water. Ambiente de marcha: zero.

The Easter holiday makes it harder to rally people for a show of strength. Most people in every chavista demonstration are obviously public employees forced to show up: during a holiday, it’s almost impossible to recruit even a decent crowd.  

The usual anti-imperialist slogans were shouted, the traditional insults were hurled at the National Assembly, but you could tell their hearts weren’t really in it. “Huevo sin sal” is the phrase that comes in mind.

A mix of a speeches by some non-entities came next, followed by a sad, forlorn “cultural festival” that painted a dramatic picture of chavismo’s new weakness. An older lady in a kind of batola —picture a devalued Soledad Bravo— took to the stage to sing a song. The handful of older people in the crowd sat there, disengaged, barely paying attention, not even bothering to applaud afterwards. It was just sad.

It was an once de abril sin pena ni gloria, a portrait of a government whose mobilization capacity has just plain collapsed. Honestly, it was sad.

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  1. Love the post but am a little perplexed as to why you think it’s sad. That a failed political project is failing politically is good news to me!! =D

  2. This story reminds me of something I saw after the breakup of the Soviet Union. In Tblisi, Republic of Georgia, there was an old lady that spent her days in a rocking chair parked in the middle of the street in front of her apartment. People just drove around her. I stopped once and asked some neighbors, what was she doing? They told me that she used to be a Communist Party member who used to keep tabs on everyone who lived on the street and ratted out anyone who didn’t toe the party line. She is still trying to do her previous “job”, but reports to no one. They explained that she just can’t accept the world has changed. It was really very sad.

  3. As Chaviso runs out of other people’s money, the failed engine now sputters along on fumes. A telling not e here is how “No high-profile governing figure was going anywhere near that stage.” This is a major turnaround. All the years of impervious roostering and paja and forked-tongue malarkey are perhaps all things of the past. Chavista officials are suddenly pariahs. The very Presidente was pelted with basura. Will the rats start jumping ship, fleeing the country to Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia? At what point will the failed government become so irrelevant that only the military will be left holding the flag? Then what. Haveing spent almost their last B paying off today’s bonds, imports will be even less, meaning scarcity of food, medicine, etc. will only get worse. At some point somebody will start having to deal with this mess. The question is: Who?

  4. For a besieged dictator, Maduro sure seems to be enjoying a lot of international travel. Earlier in the week in Cuba, now:


    Now, I can see that he may be trying to drum up some measly international support, but anyone can perceive that Venezuela’s international standing is beyond redemption. Which leads me to think that these guys are REALLY out of touch with the reality.

    • If you’re reduced to campaigning for international support in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, what’s your next stop, Pitcairn?

      • He is probably discussing exile. He knows that the day is quickly approaching when he will be gone from power.
        I dream of him being executed along with the rest of his cadre.

  5. “Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. The judicial branch of government is divided into district courts, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the Privy Council in London being the court of last resort.”

    If Maduro is planning to flee to this island nation of just over 100,000 people, he is sure to face some tough questions from the British, which are closely allied with the US. He certainly wouldn’t be able to show up with ill-gotten funds, nor could any of his staff or other Chavistas. Unless he plans on driving a autobus once more, the place seems an unlikely escape hatch. But we have to think he is looking for somewhere having just been pelted in a previous stronghold.

    • His future is going to resemble the life of former Panamanian leader Noriega.
      He is going to spend the rest of his life in prison, if he is lucky. The only question is, which country will he be serving his sentence in.
      A US prison will have better conditions. The chances of him escaping from a US prison a very very low. I would like to see him rot in the same conditions that he has put other people in, if he isn’t executed.
      I still think executing him would send a message to anyone else that thinks they can try to become the next dictator.

  6. Lots of wishful thinking here, they are not even close in being done yet. Mark my words, it will be at least a couple more years of hunger and misery before they hand over any power. They don’t care about the people, they have billions in the bank and they have still a shitload more to steal and deal.

  7. You might be right, Duncanvd, but not about the money. They have assets, but far larger debts, and international courts of arbitration keep awarding billion dollar claims to expropriated businesses. Venezuela cannot hide in an economic vacuum, not with all their imports, nor can they deal strictly with Russia and use their banking system. It may turn out that it boils down to how much depravation the public is willing to withstand. Seems doubtful the public will stay calm for another two years, or even anther two months.

  8. Una concentración celebrando la primera masacre orquestada por la dictadura chavista.

    Sorprende que no hayan lanzado a alguno de esos “dirigentes” del puente.


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