Just this Tuesday I wrote calling on MUD to present a political plan for transition, describing it as a roadmap with clear goals and steps on how to transition to democracy, with incentives for chavista officials to drop Maduro and his inner circle.

Little did I know, MUD was already working on it.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly installed a commission charged with “building guarantees for a democratic transition”. The commission includes heavy-hitters from the four big parties –Julio Borges from PJ, Freddy Guevara from VP, Stalin González from UNT, and Dennis Fernández from AD— and one surrogate from Henri Falcón, and another from María Corina Machado.

From the statements of several opposition deputies, you can easily infer that the commission is tasked with drafting a transition plan to entice defections from the regime, and that it will include some sort of amnesty for defectors.

Guevara said the message from the Assembly to those that keep backing Maduro was that “they don’t have to sink with him.” He added that they would build mechanisms so that these people –both civilians and military– can “side with the people”.

For her part, Dinorah Figuera from PJ said the commission would not “guarantee impunity” for human rights abusers, but rather build bridges to both chavista civilians and the military for a transition. Carlos Valero from UNT said they wanted a peaceful and orderly transition, and mentioned they were fractures in the government’s coalition.

There’s lot to chew on in this news, but let’s focus on three issues.

The truth is everyone in the opposition is willing to negotiate with chavistas, as they should be.

First, this commission confirms what we wrote on Tuesday: the opposition knows it needs defections from the regime to be able to break the stalemate. Protests alone won’t be enough against a united regime. MUD is trying to break up regime cohesion, even if this means having to welcome very bad people into the transition bandwagon (like a certain Attorney General, or a former Ministry of Interior and Justice).

Second, let’s discard the notion that the opposition is divided between those who want to negotiate with evil chavistas, and those who, from their moral high ground, refuse to even consider it. The truth is everyone in the opposition is willing to negotiate with chavistas, as they should be. They differ about with whom to negotiate, and about what to negotiate, not about negotiating.

The commission includes people from VP and Vente; the two parties that refused to sit down with the government last year. They refused to attend those meetings not because they’re unwilling to talk with people from the regime, but because they believe negotiations should be about a political transition. Guevara reaffirmed their willingness to negotiate on Tuesday, and Machado has been saying the same thing since last year.

This shows that, even if many people from MUD’s base consider treasonous to even sit down with regime figures, the opposition understands they’ll get nowhere without negotiations. And that, yes, they’ll have to make some concessions.

Any type of amnesty will be deeply unpopular within MUD’s base, but we better start to get used to the idea.

Which brings us to the third issue: the opposition believes that some sort of amnesty is necessary and unavoidable if we want to get rid of this dictatorship. Speaking on Tuesday, Guevara listed “all of those in the second level, such as, Supreme Court justices, the military high command, police forces, prosecutors, the comptroller (…)” as valid counterparts to a negotiation.

Any type of amnesty will be deeply unpopular within MUD’s base, but we better start to get used to the idea. It’s going to happen, with an explicit amnesty, or with an unofficial one where the new government simply doesn’t bother prosecuting many of these criminals, especially those wearing green fatigues.

It has happened after every modern dictatorship –all of them, including after the fall of Nazi Germany, all the communist dictatorships in east Europe, and with every dictatorship in Latin America (including Venezuela’s.) Some high-ranking officials usually get prosecuted –and we sure hope in Venezuela it’s a lot of them— but many others, especially mid and low-ranking ones, simply merge into the new system. The one recent example where a point was made not to do this? Iraq, after 2003, and we know how that turned out.

What should give us some comfort is that there are also many examples of both official and unofficial amnesties that are later repudiated or ignored (ask your friends in Argentina), or the criminals are tried in other countries or in international courts.

MUD is now working on its offer to the Armed Forces and the chavistas who want to survive Maduro, and who want chavismo to survive as well. The coalition has never been very adept at coming up with far-reaching agreements or plans such as the one they have to prepare now. It’s good at coming together for elections, but everything not related to elections usually takes them a lot of time and infighting. We hope this time they can do so, and quickly.

53 COMMENTS

  1. Bit early to be talking about a new government, although I share your opinion that putting forward a plan for this is the way to get a crack in the regime support and ensure a future where a new government is possible.

    It is going to be difficult to know, exactly, what to do with the ones “in green fatigues”, though. As you say, some amnesty for some is going to be necessary, but a new government that has to be wondering all the time about a possible coup by Chavistas diehards will have a hard time doing anything.

  2. I object to this paragraph: “Second, let’s discard the notion that the opposition is divided between those who want to negotiate with evil chavistas, and those who, from their moral high ground, refuse to even consider it. The truth is everyone in the opposition is willing to negotiate with chavistas, as they should be. They differ about with whom to negotiate, and about what to negotiate, not about negotiating”.
    From what we hear from Venezuelans the opposition to a negotiation is formidable.
    The author of the article even suggests two candidates for absolution: a Luisa and a Miguel.
    Negotiation is not what Venezuelans are marching for. They are marching for justice to be applied.
    Negotiation is the road to another Chavez, in 10-15 years time.

    • I beg to differ. Most of Venezuelans are not concerned about abtract concepts such as freedom and civil rights. They are concerned about bread-and-butter issues, i.e. their survival.

      Don’t take me wrong: I would enjoy watching Dioscapo, the Rodriguez siblings and the rest of the gang rotting in prison for many years, but right now, I would gladly turn a blind eye if that means that we get a quiet/stable normal-ish life ASAP.

      In short: f*ck the righteous sense of justice of you people. That’s a privilege for people in the First World who can afford to buy bread or medicines whenever they want. We want solutions to the humanitarian crisis. And that will only happen when we pay the ransom to the kidnappers.

      • The whole “fuck the righteous sense of justice” is what brought chavismo in the first place, you should have studied the country’s history and know that chavista highest bosses have been granted amnesties and impunity for their crimes several times in the past.

        Most venezuelans aren’t interested in abstract concepts, which is the reason why MUD can’t connect with them, their speech is always going to nebulous abstract concepts as thet want to avoid attacking a single chavista boss or idea.

        • “chavista highest bosses have been granted amnesties and impunity for their crimes several times in the past.”

          the difference is that in the past they had a choice, now we don’t have a choice, it’s either some sort of amnesty or cubazuela forever.

          • No, the difference is that we DID have a choice before (People could always leave the country, remember when the putrid a-hole joked that anybody who didn’t like chavismo could go for Maiquetía and again when dioscapo said that anybody who didn’t like being killed by malandros could leave the country), the “cubazuela forever” thing is a fallacy, because the very nature of chavismo by which they won’t allow any sort of peace to the people, the people will keep rebelling and fighting against them, even if that means that the fight will drag for a long time.

            People won’t surrender because there are simply too many that are willing to fight and there are NO things that chavismo can offer in exchange to peace.

      • Paying ransom to kidnappers will buy you some short-term freedom, but they will continue to kidnap, if not you, whoever they can in the future–i. e., instability, Colombian-style. Amnesty for lower-level non murderers/non-major human rights violators, O.K. ; for the other higher-ups, NO O.K. If you want a quiet/stable normal-ish life, go to the U. S., which is more willing than you to punish Venezuelan major transgressors; if you want Castroite instability/subversion for the rest of your life in Venezuela, forgive, as you recommend–but, you will never forget….

      • “I beg to differ. Most of Venezuelans are not concerned about abtract concepts such as freedom and civil rights. They are concerned about bread-and-butter issues, i.e. their survival.”

        I can believe that, especially given my experiences with other people around the world and the knowledge that I am not a Venezuelan.

        But they SHOULD be concerned with them, because they aren’t *just* abstract concepts. They are what will determine whether or not the bread and butter the people need to live will be available down the line.

        tyranny kills, freedom saves. Heck, the late, Great RJ Rummel spent a great deal of time pointing that out.

        “Don’t take me wrong: I would enjoy watching Dioscapo, the Rodriguez siblings and the rest of the gang rotting in prison for many years, but right now, I would gladly turn a blind eye if that means that we get a quiet/stable normal-ish life ASAP.”

        The problem is: what definition of “quiet/stable, normal-ish” will you accept? Especially one where these bastards may come again?

        “In short: f*ck the righteous sense of justice of you people. That’s a privilege for people in the First World who can afford to buy bread or medicines whenever they want.”

        You ever consider that the righteous sense of justice and the willingness to fight a war to the knife is the reason why descendants like me can buy bread or medicines when they want?

        The United States’ Founding Fathers had several choices to come to some at least marginally preferable terms with the British Empire and ultimately walked away from all of them beyond independence.

        The English decided that their King had become a “Man of Blood” whose stirring of war against his own people had to be paid with blood of his own, come what may.

        The Dutch fought for eighty long years in order to avoid taxation without representation and military rule.

        Were the craftsmen that went into the London Trained Bands or the Continental Troops at Valley Forge less concerned about living a normal life than you?

        It’s one thing to put water under the bridge and hash out a decent peace of forgiveness. But it’s another to desperately offer amnesty to those who have murdered with near imputiny in the hopes they stop bullying you.

        “We want solutions to the humanitarian crisis. And that will only happen when we pay the ransom to the kidnappers.”

        The problem is that paying ransom to kidnappers is at best fickle to the extreme. It does work more than many people point it out to be, but you’re at the mercy of the kidnapper, or the “Dane.”

        And it’s worth noting before we talk about paying Danegeld the difference. The saying about the difference between robber barons and totalitarian moral busybodies comes to mind.

        I agree with Gustavo and Ulamog.

        if you want a solution to the humanitarian crisis, make sure Chavismo Never Comes Back. Ever.

        And frankly, amnesty should be offered when it means far more to Them than it does to you.

  3. I think negotiations and amnesty of low and medium ranking officials will be an important step towards regaining peace and democracy. Many won’t be able to stomach it and I understand that. However the other option is more bloodshed of innocent people.

    • Neither Héctor Navarro, Giordani nor Evans are ordering colectivos to slaughter people on the streets, so:

      1) Mid ranking chavistas hardly need amnesty.

      2) The only ones looking for impunity are the worst: Diosdado, Maduro, Alsaime, the usual suspects.

      • They might not be ordering colectivos to slaughter people, but probably have stolen a couple millions here and there and need some sort of amnesty to keep them. I think most of mid ranking chavistas would take any sort of deal to keep their corrupt money.

        • Yeah, they might have taken a couple of millions here and there, and that would have caused some deaths in an indirect way (Such as some lady dying from a heart attack because there was no medicine or a child that died in an operations table because there was a blackout in the middle of the procedure), but you are right, those are way “easier to forgive and forget” than those of the butchers such as MRT, Diosdado, Iris and the rest of the high bosses.

  4. The truth is that negotiations, within some limits, for instance not in the cases of violations against human rights, should always be permissible, as long there are some clearly identifiable quid pro quos

    • But the only ones interested in getting away with their crimes and that have the power to enforce such a thing are the ones that comitted the worst crimes.

  5. I agree with Pedro that the need for some amnesty is unavoidable. The “moderate” chavistas will certainly ask for some reward for their jumping the fence. They could be asking for the same amnesty that was denied to political prisoners last year.However, the Assembly approved amnesty for political prisoner,not for common criminals. It is fair to ask if they would be asking for their own political crimes as well. I suppose they would not be so shameless to ask for amnesty for all the corruption, robbery, smugling, drug trafficking and outright murder they may have committed. It would be unacceptable as inmoral to even ask for amnesty to the colectivos. It is unthinkable to pardon without trial criminals like the female guard who smashed the face of the protesting girl or any of the other despicable murderers we have recorded and witnessed.
    If we manage to contain our nausea, we might swallow amnesty for prosecutors, judges, jail wardens, and the like involved in the ilegal jailing of Leopoldo, Ledezma, the Comisarios, and the rest. This could include the justices of the Sala Constitucional of the TSJ. Mind you that they already have the US punishment which is totally legal and could be extended forever.
    I agree with Pedro that some sort of amnesty would facilitate the joining our side by some military sector and even some civilian chavistas but it has to be viable in the sense of acceptable by the majority of the people. Don’t forget that now it is the people that has the strongest bargaining power by being in the streets for so long. They have learned that even the parties are only for coordination not for herding them like sheeps.
    The other difficult side is the financial amnesty they would like to have. Its sort of, “lo robado robado está y yastá” liberally translated as ” my stolen bounty is well stolen and it is mine”. This, as you surely agree, is unacceptable. In fact, I think there are some experts already preparing themselves for hunting stolen fortunes.
    As far as the cubans are concerned, I think they would be happy if we just offer then some 50.000 bbl/day. I don’t think they are expecting much more given the state of the venezuelan economy.

    • “I suppose they would not be so shameless to ask for amnesty for all the corruption, robbery, smugling, drug trafficking and outright murder they may have committed. It would be unacceptable as inmoral to even ask for amnesty to the colectivos. It is unthinkable to pardon without trial criminals like the female guard who smashed the face of the protesting girl or any of the other despicable murderers we have recorded and witnessed.”

      Which is exactly the only amnesty the chavistas would be interested into.

      “If we manage to contain our nausea, we might swallow amnesty for prosecutors, judges, jail wardens, and the like involved in the ilegal jailing of Leopoldo, Ledezma, the Comisarios, and the rest. ”

      Oh, look, the criminals responsible for stealing 15 years of people’s lives gt to walk away to USA to enjoy their stolen billions, brilliant idea.

      “I don’t think they are expecting much more given the state of the venezuelan economy.”

      You grievously underestimate what the invaders want from their colony.

    • “As far as the cubans are concerned I think they would be happy if we just offer then some 50.000 bbl/day.”

      They’re going to have to be happy with ZERO, because that is what they are going to get.

      What I propose they get is not apt for posting here……….

      Giving the Cubans ANYTHING is like a battered wife getting her abusive husband a birthday present after he beaten the crap out of her.

  6. I won’t say anymore. When I read that “As far as the cubans are concerned, they would be happy to receive some 50,000 barrels per day” I am left speechless

    • Mr Coronel, please, don’t remain speechless. Let us exchange ideas and arguments. We are on the same side, you know. I wrote that comment without any intention of favouring the cubans. Let me try this argument. I think that if we are ready to pardon hardcore chavistas, say Calixto for their enormously damaging contribution to the venezuelan suffering we should be ready to pay some price to get the cubans out of the country without bloodshed. Fifty thousand barrels, a number that I just got out of my sleeve, thus it could be less or more, I don’t know, supplied for some time like, one year, seems to me like a good bargain. I have been told that they have 4000 troops in Venezuela, Would you not pay them to go away instead of going to war? I hope you can give your thought about this. I respect very much other people´s opinions.

      • You are gravely mistaken if you think the castristas even plan to leave the country.

        Also, just 4000? Really? Dude, the chavista army (The true army, not the GN) consist of more than 200.000 serial killers that don’t hesitate to blast a kid’s head off with a shotgun, 4000 castristas would be likely exterminated in less than three days if they wanted to engage in a war against the country.

          • Only if they pay them up, in cash, at market price.

            Any less is to keep the invasion going, if they want to kill Venezuelans, well, they’ll be treated like the invading force they are, there’s a lot of people in the country eager to do so, besides, invading forces don’t have human rights to respect anyway.

        • Most of the Cubans will go on their own, for a simple reason: because no one will be paying them to stay here. Do you think Cuba will be able to keep thousands of people in Venezuela once the new government stops paying them? Once the Barrrio Adentro payments and the free oil stops flowing? There are Cubans in Venezuela because Venezuela is paying for them. Once the money stops, they’ll go back to Cuba, or stay here working on something else. Cuba can sustain them on it’s own.

          • The Cuban subversives, which are the true cancer/danger, in the military/Saime/notarias/PSUV/et. al., are not going anywhere, unless you hunt/force them out.

      • Giving the Cubans ANYTHING is akin to a wife giving her husband a birthday present after beating her up and raping her.

  7. Hillary Clinton got off scott-free, why not some mid-level chavistas? The fly in that ointment are guys like Godgiven Hair. Can’t give him amnesty and he’s not going to risk fleeing the country. He goes down fighting. Who dies with him is the question.

    • Mid-level chavistas are powerless, so they’re not a threat, and their “crimes” could hardly be considered as such, speaking horsecrap for years like Navarro and Evans did isn’t punishable, they’re not criminals, they’re just stupid.

      Sure, there are some morons that stole a bit here and there, like those who made a killing squeezing money from desperate people for their passports (Or doing it now with the CÉDULAS), are you going to pursue each of them? Nope, it’s not worth it.

      What about the accursed vest-wearing goons that ravaged every operating business with the sundde? Can’t catch them all, so let’s just go after their boss, the guy whose name I can’t (And won’t care to) remember that was recorded in that infamous video demanding prices to be lowered and assaulting the businesses, that bonehead must pay for that.

      What could be offered is something like “sell out your bosses, and maybe we’ll turn a blind eye on those three or four millions you extorted”

  8. Welp, it’s this “if we want to get rid of the dictatorship, we must grant full impunity to all of its bosses” again.

    What the big chavista heads want is complete impunity for their crimes, all of them, the murders, the drug dealing, the political prison, the discrimination and the corruption that also lead to thousands of deaths.

    I won’t elaborate much as I’m kinda tired of reading this thing time and again so I’ll be short.

    Opposition is indeed divided between the colaborationists and those who want justice, the thing is that most of the so called leadership are the ones itching to go into those useless dialogue tables.

    Chavista bosses have been forgiven and given amnesty for their crimes TWICE already: The 60s castrista guerrilla invasion war, and the 92 coups.

    Impunity will lead Venezuela to the Nicaragua problem: Chavistas will retain all the power and allow an oppo candidate to self destruct in Miraflores, to return in the next election and begin this nightmare all over again.

    And before some schmuck tries to accuse me of being a vengeful fascist, all the chavismo I mentioned in the reply doesn’t count all those mid-level or lower (and also powerless) defectors.

    Impunity is one of the foundation stones of chavismo, it’s disgusting how the MUD is so willing to sell out the people of the country for a chance at getting their hands on the hyper corrupt system that’s the party state.

    • Well said, and brutally true.

      In the end, I do believe that when Government fears its’ own citizens, there will be peace. When citizens fear their government, we get what we see now.

      I fear that tearing the sodding system down and ripping the leadership apart with one’s own two hands may yet prove to be the least bloody and destructive option. I deeply hope I am wrong, especially since I am not one of those immediately in danger of having bullets rip through their flesh in the attempt.

      But I think either Chavismo must be discredited and destroyed along with many of its’ leaders, or it will rise again. And ultimately no regime can hope to win a bitter war of attrition to the end with its’ own people.

      Stay safe.

  9. Negotiate like the government does. Agree to anything it takes, when we get what we want, don’t deliver.
    Same as they have always done.

  10. Justo de Irak estaba hablando con un pana. Incluso despues de la 2da guerra los aliados sabian q no iban a poder con los alemanes si no daban amnistia. Buena idea.

    • Sí, pero los otros alemanes y los judíos sí que no les dieron amnistías a los nazis.

      Para el día siguiente en que la guerra había terminado, no había un sólo alemán que se atreviera a identificarse como nazi porque sabía que lo podían linchar, y los que se escaparon fueron en su mayoría cazados hasta el día en que se murieron porque lo único que les quedaba era esconderse y rezar porque no los encontrasen.

      Los que no jodieron a los demás simplemente cerraron la boca y dejaron de identificarse como nazis aunque tuvieran sus esvásticas y copias de Mein Kampf encaletadas en sus casas.

    • Es completamente falso que en Alemania hubo amnistía. La gente tuvo que llenar formularios que fueron revisados y verificados donde ponían TODO lo que habían hecho durante el régimen nazi y fueron llevados a la justicia todos los que cometieron alguna clase de delito. Incluso dividieron a la población en 5 grupos: delincuentes mayores, delincuentes (activistas, militaristas, y especuladores), delincuentes menores, seguidores, y personas exoneradas. Todo el que cometió delitos, pagó por sus delitos, en trabajos forzados, cárcel, multas, e incluso en impuestos especiales. Sólo hubo 2 amnistía, la Amnistía de Navidad, y la Amnistía de la Juventud, que fueron otorgadas a los que estaban bajo las clasificaciones de Delincuentes menos y Seguidores que habían pagado la mitad de sus condenas y a aquellos que se consideró que eran muy jóvenes e influenciables como para tener criterio propio a la hora de cometer los delitos. Así que eso de que en Almenia se juzgó a los cabecillas y el resto “simplemente se mezclaron en el nuevo sistema” es enteramente falso.

  11. I wonder what an ultimatum could do?
    The Oppo leaders together with the international community make a pronouncement of cease and desist, by a certain date. It would apply to all the regime supporters, they would have to surrender or else.
    That would draw a clear line in the sand and is the incentive / thread that is needed to reach critical momentum to put an end to this madness.
    Those that didn’t surrender would face serious legal consequences for human right violations, etc at home and abroad.

    • Excellent suggestions (this one and the previous one @torovolt). I think this is the way to go, as much as it churns my stomach to think these gangsters might get away with what they did.
      Just one minor correction: *threat, not “thread”[sic].

  12. You cannot say, “To hurt another is wrong, and punishable,” then after someone hurts another say, “Oh, that’s alright.”

    “Leniency” is the word the MUD is looking for, not “amnesty.”

  13. I can see Luisa Ortega Díaz, but why negotiate with Miguel Rodríguez Torres? He’s one with blood in his hands and, having fallen from grace, has little leverage on a possible transition. I think he’s a clear candidate on being thrown to the wolves, he has much to pay for and little to offer in return for avoiding justice.

  14. I say give them amnesty/immunity but do not block extradition. Let the rest of the world deal with them. Venezuela will need to focus on rebuilding and not worry about what “they” will be doing to undermine the process. I imagine the US, some European countries, and the world courts would gladly prosecute them for drug related and human rights crimes.

  15. Look, if you really want to speak of a political transition, you need a legitimate document, signed publicly by popular, relevant moderate chavistas (if there is such a thing) and by all our parties, with a clear long term plan, including economical measures, political alternation, etc, etc,etc. But instead of making this almost impossible political transition viable you are just speaking of accommodating with the corrupt military and allowing the continuity of the corrupt system. You are just leaving the people out of the transition.

    About amnesty:
    what even makes you think that it is even relevant to speak of amnesty at all?
    I am not against amnesty per se, perhaps it should be included in a long term political transition pact, but I just think that it is out of place to speak of it right now.
    Are they really forced to accept it? It seems more like a show.
    Ask the big shots, they are not even hearing about it. If they ever think they have to run, they will demand it. It is not like offering amnesty will make anyone magically surrender.

    As it is, it seems that MUD has no interlocutors. The big shots don’ t hear them, the moderate chavistas don’ t hear them This transition offer is thrown into the air like it is nothing. That is because they are not speaking to whom they should be speaking to, instead they are just masturbating with the idea of a transition and flirting with the worse of the worst. But, as they say, God is in the details.

    Also, the country will never rise without a sense of justice, and I don’ t think the people is having any of that Miguel Rodriguez Torres crap. Perhaps some elites are buying it, but the people ain’ t. If you don’ t want to be called dictators and face guarimbas on transition day 1 , perhaps you should avoid mentioning him at all.

  16. Amnesty is necessary. But what about people charged with drug trafficking in thr US? Won’t those be persecuted no matter what?

    • Well, if the amnesty forgives and forget the murders, why can’t it forgive and forget the drug trafficking too? After all, they won’t even have a reason to go to the mean ebul empire.

  17. Good article.

    Obviously an amnesty must be negotiated, perhaps on a truth-and-reconciliation basis, as was done in South Africa. Forcing them to fight to the death to avoid long jail terms will only increase casualties among democrats.

  18. If I were the person to negotiate, I would stand in the position in where I have to recover the country. economically, socially, politically. they are letting us without international fund. On the other hand the government doesn’t have anything to lose, the highest personnel of it have their money in Andorra, HSBC or any other tax paradise, the rest of the people could fear because, we know for sure that those funds in the States could be frozen. So, it will be leave the country and you don’t ever come back again. the question is: what are you going to do with the rest of their people?

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