So how are we to read the political moment Venezuela is living through? I think of it as a defections race. Both sides are under strain, both sides are stretched, and the rules are straightforward: whoever splits first loses.

Who will split first is not obvious —and that’s a big difference from the picture in 2014 when a level-headed scan of the competitive landscape made it obvious the government would find it relatively easy to wait out the protesters.

Not this time around. The question of whose side the clock is on is the question of 2017. The answer isn’t obvious.

Tensions are running high on both sides. Early warning signs of splits are obvious on both. Chuo Torrealba and UNT flirting with participating in Maduro’s deliriously rigged Constituent Assembly is an obvious sign of a potential split on the opposition side: they’ll plainly not be joined by much of the MUD mainstream, meaning they’d have to strike out on their own. The Prosecutor General’s apostasy and minor chavista figures such as Gabriela Ramírez’s blow-back plays a similar role inside the government: much of chavismo is plainly, obviously not signed up with the government’s strategy, and the temptation to bolt is more or less out in the open.

The question of whose side the clock is on is the question of 2017. The answer isn’t obvious.

The government’s obdurate maximalism turns out to be a big advantage for the opposition: when your Best Alternative to Raising Hell on the Streets (BARHS — eat your heart out, Harvard Negotiating Method) is facing political extermination and political prison for fascism-inspired terrorism, calling out people tempted to give the BARHS a try is relatively straight-forward.

Granted, the opposition has the weaker hand —just by definition, simply by virtue of being the opposition— but atypically it’s playing it smarter: giving government aligned forces a genuinely compelling Best Alternative to Cracking Our Skulls (BACOS). MUD’s offer is clear: if you’re in the security forces, your BACOS is amnesty, as long as you can show you were on the side of the angels when it really mattered. Make the wrong choice, though, and you’re in jail.

I cannot imagine this showdown going past the month of June —though heaven knows nothing’s harder to pin down here than the timing. Anyone who expresses confidence on how this is all going to pan out can safely be written off as a crank. At least the rules are clear: Get the other side to crack first and you win.

But I think we have the advantage, because their BACOS is way better than our BARHS.

It’s going to be a white-knuckle ride all the way through to the end for sure, though.

13 COMMENTS

  1. God damnit, why there are people thinking that engaging in the fraud of the Constituyente is worth it? Imagine you win. You won a rigged contest, one that embodies an undemocratic view of society, called in an unlawful way by the dictatorship!

    On the idea of the article, all efforts should be done to widen the cracks in the official side.

  2. LOD must have at least a small group of very powerful people backing her, my question is whom those people would be? No way is she taking these very high risks without being sure she isn’t getting killed at the first traffic lights while driving home. Anyone here have any idea whom these guardaespaldas are??

    • I am not sure it is people, it is probably information. She has been Fiscal for a long time, with all kinds of denuncias engavetadas. She probably let the powers that be know that if anything happens to her these files are going online. I hope she has more people behind her though.

  3. Cheat me once, shame on you.
    Cheat me twice, shame on me.

    When Ronald Reagan was signing a nuclear reduction agreement with Gorbachev, he famously looked over Gorbachev’s shoulder to ensure that he was signing the treaty. After the laughter died down, Reagan
    made a statement that cut to the heart of any negotiation. “Trust but Verify.”

    The regime was given that trust during the Vatican mediated negotiations. The decision by some opposition groups to attempt negotiations with the regime severely damaged the opposition’s unity and allowed the regime to strengthen its oppression. Only for the government to prove once more that they can not be trusted.

    Maduro and his criminal cadre have proven themselves untrustworthy again and again. Anyone that believes dialogue or participation in any regime approved dialogue will bring the change that is so desperately needed is a naive fool.

    “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin

    The regime has proven that they will do anything, including murdering children, to remain in power. A rift within the opposition is what they desperately need. Do not dishonor all of the sacrifices and all of the lives that have been lost in this struggle for freedom, by accepting anything less than a change of government.

    The opposition has the momentum. The increasingly erratic actions of the narco-criminal regime prove this. Do not allow defeat to be snatched from the jaws of victory!

  4. In my opinion time is on the opposition side. Unlike in 2014 or before Maduro political capital now is terminal low nationally and internationally. In other words, he is isolated and the perverse regime exposed and morally bankrupt. The only way that he can maintain in power going foward is with heavy handed represion. However, real pressure from abroad that has yet to be activated could put the final nail in his coffin.
    But the struggle continues and nothing can be taken for granted.
    Maduro can still win if Trump stop at just individuals sanctions, the OAS keep talking and no action, and Latin American countries do nothing substantial on their own.
    Then the streets cools down and Venezuelans start to leave the country in droves similar to the Syrian crisis.
    The opposition has to organize better, find money, act fast and dont deven discard and armed struggle if we want our freedom back.

  5. Not even a comment on how absurdly effective has been blocking the enchufados’ assets in the mean gringo empire, that even this cretin fanatic is now defecting?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=su0QacY5mSc

    This is the only amnesty allowed: “KEEP SUPPORTING THIS FUCKERY OF A DICTATORSHIP, AND WE’LL STRIP YOU OF EVEN YOUR PANTS NOW”

  6. La gran ventaja de la oposición no son las posibles divisiones en el chavismo sino los hechos que cuenta el primer tweet de @Fedeagro. Hay que esperar un tiempo entonces pero es verdaderamente lamentable desde cualquier punto de vista que para que algo mejore en Venezuela primero todo se tenga que ir por completo al carajo.

  7. Fracisco’s central argument is a kind of “time flies”.It’s a point of view (right or wrong,I don’t know), but I think it’s a simplistic scenario. Meanwhile, time is a variable it’s not the most important one.I mean, we are not in a race against time clock, we are in a conflict against a dictatorship with many tentacles. This strategy of the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica is a kind of “Better late than never” (Milicos únanse a mi antes que sea tarde) that understimates Maduro’s possibilities.

    From my point of view we are in a race “In the long run”, where things can change from day to day.

  8. This audio needs to be confirmed, as we need to confirm all of our sources as “citizen journalists” (we need to be better than they are).

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZSYmomi61M

    However according to “periodista Chavista”: 1. We no longer have the majority. We cannot be on the offensive, we have to be on the defensive. 2. We no longer have money because the oil rent has collapsed. 3. We have to throw a few Chavistas under the bus so that we can survive and we have to show we are cleaning house. 4. We cannot fight violence with violence. We have to realize their is a difference between fascism and the hate everyday people feel. We cannot negotiate with fascism, but we can address the reasons why people are pissed. 5. The GNB going to war against the pueblo and engaging in urban combat (i.e. chasing down guarimberos in apartment complexes and residences and punishing everybody who lives there) will just piss people off even more. 6. If this game of chicken keeps going on to the point where the GNB starts firing live rounds, they will lose support not only internationally, but also lose support within the GNB because it is unconstitutional. 7. If this goes to civil war, Chavistas will lose. 8. Neither the MUD’s proposal of general elections nor the Chavistas proposal of the constituyente does not sole the reason why the people are furious. A. Insecurity is not controlled. B. No food or medicines. C. Civil war is alien to Venezuelans and we are not going to fight this..PAZ. 9. Our only hope is to address A, B and C.

    “There is no way we (Chavistas) can win this.” Now we just have to look to save our hides because by addressing the material conditions of why people are suffering and try to unite the pueblo behind that. “The only way to save Chavismo is to avoid a civil war.”

    Yes, this might make sense to a leftist intellectual..However will the brutes listen to logic??? is the million million bolivar fuerte question.

    But yes, the race of defections begins and hopefully the rats start jumping ship.

  9. I have to give credit to the chavistas as they continue to pull shit out of their ass when I thought there was none left.

    The call for a constituyente with local & regional elections to follow was a WTF moment until one realizes the goal of the former is simply to cancel the latter.

    As for Torrealba, I’d suggest he stand trial along with the chavistas.

  10. Anybody who thinks the ANC is acceptable does not think straight; it is not only the end of democracy, it is the end of private property and individual rights. FC’s thesis of June is correct only if the ANC is convened then and dissolves the AN, probably jailing most, or all, if they try to meet. Don’t expect much from the OEA–a 2/3 sanction vote probably wont happen due to the small bought-off ALBA Caribbean nations. Further individual sanctions from the U.S. will not deter ANC intentions. If the Oppo were to back off/down now, the incentive for U.S. intervention would be greatly lessened, and, this, at crunch time, may well be the decisive factor, barring a major Ven. military defection first.

  11. Yo sigo sin entender qué fuerza mayor le impediría a Maduro eliminar a sus adversarios y ya. Puede comprar a la mitad (por ejemplo UNT) y reprimir a la otra mitad. Eso le basta.Y lo mismo se aplica para quienes salten la talanquera. Un enchufado que se una a nosotros pasa inmediatamente a estar en la mira y se convierte en una posible víctima. A mí me gusta la idea de pactar con los moderados, pero el punto es que la suma de todos los moderados sigue siendo una fuerza insuficiente contra las mafias. Las transiciones se dan cuando hay voluntad de todas las partes.Es obvio que estamos lidiando con asesinos, criminales y fanáticos, no con estadistas ni pseudoestadistas, ni nacionalistas, ni políticos. No van a dudar ni un segundo en elegir el camino de violencia. Van a torcer todo a su favor.
    La discusión no debe ser sobre pactos o transición, sino sobre cómo obtener la fuerza necesaria para un contraataque eficiente. Los pactos en sí mismos no son amenazas creíbles.

  12. Don’t forget, the opposition and most of the pueblo has learned to live with greatly reduced resources. The government and the security forces have so far been floated by the little cash trickling in, but servicing debts has changed all that, and a huge note is looming which the gov. can probably not cover, or maybe can manage at the expense of slashing imports even further. It’s simply not sustainable. I’m with Quico that the witching hour is the end of June, if not earlier. And the Constituyente is entirely meaningless sans funds. If the gov defaults on the next series of loan payments – and it could probably go either way – the game will shift quickly and dramatically. But at this rate it’s hard to imagine things not totally melting down in the meantime.

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