There’s something in the air. A sense of impending horror. Not your ordinary, everyday Venezuelan horror.

In the streets, tension mounts as people whisper rumors in the long shopping lines. Towns and cities are emptying out. Even in ministries and government buildings, mentioning it invokes nervous glances.

Along with a name that brings dread, the shocking abomination even has a catchy tune.

¡Oh, eh, oh, eh, oh!

This feeling has been built up throughout the protests but only took real shape two weeks ago, ahead of the Popular Consultation of July 16th. I can pinpoint the instant it came home to me. I was in Farmatodo. Two elderly ladies in front were buying soap. I asked them how much was it. They told me they didn’t know, and admitted they didn’t need that much soap either, but they bought some “just in case.”

Minutes later, I get a phone call from my mom.

“Do you think we have enough rice?” she asked, uneasy. Very unlike her.

“I think so.” I said, remembering the couple of kilos we have stacked from a rare full supermarket trip last week. She’s not convinced.

When reality is this unmoored, why shouldn’t you believe the madcap Whatsapp messages?

“I think I should buy more, just to be safe.” When she gets home, I see she’s bought a couple more bags at a steep price plus spaghetti, processed meat for cold cuts, and some canned tuna.

Canned tuna is expensive, we usually skip it. None of this is like her.

But she was hardly alone, telling me how people were buying up to 10 kilos of spaghetti no matter the price, just to have stocks in case of… algo (something).

It’s always “algo the blank no one wants to fill in.

The 24-hour national strike last week made it that much more real. The root of this strange expectation? The National Constituent Assembly. It’s funny because, looked at in a certain way, the Constituyente changes nothing.

Before tomorrow, chavismo had vast amounts of power and resources and did whatever it wanted regardless of the Constitution. After tomorrow? Meet the new boss same as the old boss.

And yet the threat of an Assembly that lifts even notional limits on what the crazies can do, the dystopian vibe of our public sphere deepens. Around my neighborhood, stores open only for a few, seemingly random hours, with scared customers spending money they don’t have on luxuries that shouldn’t be.

Yes, I’m scared. The opposition’s politicos are scared, too. Also exhausted, just like everyone else.

There’s something otherworldly about it all a sense of a reality poised precariously on the edge of the impossible.

The fear is charged by how little we truly know about the Constituent Assembly. A thing that may have started as an editing gaffe on VTV got a life of its own after the government saw how people reacted on social media.

The National Electoral Council then set up an election in a matter of weeks with rules so byzantine it makes Calvinball look sensible. When we were starting to acclimate to that, we were assaulted with a parade of candidates so ridiculous they make you forget that La Máscara, María’s son, will remake the country’s legal framework from scratch.

When reality is this unmoored, why shouldn’t you believe the madcap Whatsapp messages? Why not buy into the chain about how Cuban Intelligence is sending viruses through Luisa Ortega videos and how you shouldn’t shop at Abastos Bicentenarios because they’ll use your ID number to cast your vote for the Constituent Assembly? Is that really any crazier than Tibisay Lucena waving La Espada de Bolívar around?

Yes, I’m scared. The opposition’s politicos are scared, too. Also exhausted, just like everyone else.

Whether the Constituent Assembly happens or not for all we know, it’s a game of chicken the psychic toll it’s taken is already considerable. We’ve shifted from the “normal” low level fight on the streets to an ultimate showdown. At stake: everything.

The Constituent Assembly… isn’t more important than the creation of a solid citizen movement determined to beat back oppression.

But then, isn’t this how it always feels?

Isn’t this how we were feeling just before the 2006 election, when Chávez defeated Rosales? I cried that night because I thought for sure it was the end of Venezuela. When Capriles admitted defeat in 2012, I could feel the blow send shockwaves through my family, classmates and friends.

And then, there’s the possibility that the opposite happens: there’s no Constituent Assembly, for whatever reason, someone in Québec gets two hamburgers and we’re left wondering if this a victory, a tactical retreat, a sham, or just an old chavista mind game. We’ll be left, then, trying to find an answer to “what comes next?”.

And that’s what I’m truly scared of. The Constituent Assembly is important, no doubt about that, but it isn’t more important than the creation of a solid citizen movement determined to beat back oppression. It’s been a mere 14 days since over 7.5 million Venezuelans organized ourselves to do it. We did the impossible. Have we forgotten already?

Venezuela doesn’t end tomorrow, the struggle just becomes a bit harder. But then, was it ever easy?

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44 COMMENTS

  1. the difference is that before we would always have the next date, the next election, yes we were devastated after each abuse and defeat but at least we had the hope for the next election wich felt depressing because it seemed like a huge period but we could count on the next governor’s, the revocatorio or wathever election, this time it’s different and worse because after tomorrow there will be no ‘next date’, no 2018, no 2021, no 2032, we would be left with a single option, a miracle, since all the remaining limits to chavista power will dissapear and no one seem to be able to do anything about it.

    • Regardless of what happens now, games, bluffs, or a hardcore attempt at full-blown Castrista Dictatorship, the criminal regime won’t be able stay in power past 2018 and cancel or cheat on the presidential elections.

      Too many people are against it, and the economy will be even worse.

      Even if the corrupt military still supports Cabello/Tarek/Rodriguez/Maduro, the people and the international community would not put up with that, no se la van a calar.

      My guess is that they’ll use their putrid, fraudulent ‘constituyente’ to repress, abolish the current AN, and to negotiate with the MUD. To buy time, weasel their way as months pass by, ‘guabineando’ Chavista style, steal the last millions of $, and figure out escape plans for next year. But they will not be able to cancel or cheat on the 2018 Presidential elections. The shyt would REALLY hit the fan then, if not before then.

      • Poeta, there will be no need for elections, that’s the just one of the many reasons the scamtituyente was called. It’s over. There’ll either be a violent overthrow of this regime or the population will whimper and do as it’s told.

        • “…or the population will whimper and do as it’s told.”

          Or the population will be slaughtered at a slower pace than it’s being murdered today.

          • Yeah, that too Ulamog. I’m afraid that if the US doesn’t come through with some backbreaking sanctions, then this one is over. Going forward, the ANC will give Maduro et al permission to keep the peace at whatever the cost.

  2. Excellent write up Jose. Real important questions.

    IMO is al the above, a sham, an improvisation, an strategic milestone, mind games, and eudomar Santos praxis.

    The real endgame is domination. Psy-ops are cheaper than open warfare. Cubans use it everyday to control their island, and now we suffer it as their colony.

    They have also signalled well enough, over the last 100 days+ and 100 kills +, that colectivos y revolution armada were no simple bluffs…

    On our side, all we have is numbers, 2/3rds to 90%of the population or so, depending on what number you favour, opposing in principle the occupation and the destruction of the nation.

    when these numbers organize, face reality and fight back effectively, we will be able to say that the end of the beginning is done. Fighting does not guarantee victory, but not fighting does guarantee submission, cuban style.

    Dios bendiga a Venezuela.

  3. It looks like the coming of the ANC has been over hyped by the opposition in terms of actual impact to bring a sense of urgency to the resistance, used as a target to rally against Maduro. In other times when Chavizmo had real followers it would have been really a catastrophe if supported. But you already said it very well why it won’t really matter.
    Would be really nice that the opposition put all their focus on how to oust the regime rather than how to legally invalidate anything in this environment.
    The opposition needs to wake the f*ck up and realize that this is WAR, since a while ago and we are no longer bound by any constitution or rule of law but the shot of a gun.

  4. Just a thought… Is it possible that the Opposition actually wants the Constituyente?

    Consider… By electing the ANC, the Chavistas are actually and voluntarily dissolving the current Chavista government. Hell, Maduro will be out of a job on Monday! We will then have two sets of competing authorities. The first is the National Assembly and the newly appointed TSJ, all of which are legitimate in accordance with the 1999 Constitution. The second is the ANC, which over seven and half million Venezuelans have already rejected as illegitimate, and which country after country in the Americas and Europe are pre-announcing that they will not recognize. As far as I can see, the stage has been set for most of the world to announce on Monday that they do not recognize the legitimacy of the ANC, and that, the AN, is therefore the only elected, legitimate, and constitutional authority in Venezuela.

    “Roast me! Hang me! Do whatever you please,” said Brer Rabbit. “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch.”

    • It’s speculatable that the regime knows the thing will fall flat, thereby giving them an excuse to throw up their hands and say: “Due to the evident lack of enthusiasm of the general population to establish peace and order in the nation, due to the Imperio’s brainwashing guerra economica, we the good guys, despite our best efforts, must, with broken hearts, leave the Venezuelan people to their own elected fate. Bye now! See ya in Paris!”

  5. In my humble opinion tomorrow would be an excellent day to start colouring the streets red with rojo rojito blood. The start of a civil war couldn’t be better timed.

  6. One example of the dreaded “something” might be very well somebody like Valentín Santana, serial killer at large who controls a sizeable chunk of peoples’ lives in Caracas at gunpoint, making his dreams of punishing “being a escuálido” with killing the **** out of them in the spot.

    Which is the wet dream of many lunatic chavista fanatics.

    Or maybe it is simply given carte blanche to sundee’s resident imbecile and whiner wilmer contreras to send his marabunta to every single business across the country to loot and expropiate everything people holding a meager work might possess? Let’s remember that the guy known as “samán of s**t” is part of the prostituyente too.

    Which is another dream of the crazies too.

    Another “something” to be really afraid of would be the mass expropiation of houses under the decree that “no one else save the enchufados has the right to own anything” (Aka bye-bye private property), I guess it should be really fun to get out of your house to work at the remnants of your expropiated business (Where you find some colectivos stealing all your stuff) only to return home by the afternoon and discover some other colectivos have changed the locks in your house because they assumed you were escuálido.

    Oh, hey, that’s ANOTHER chavista wet dream too.

  7. The leaders of the opposition need to stop hiding their heads in the sand already, pretending that laws and the constitution will protect us. ANC or not, these a dangerous criminals are taking us to a genocide. It is incumbent upon the opposition leaders to stop doing more street protest and start an ORGANIZED and ARMED offense with the help of our democratic allies, this is WAR. Time is on the essence before the regime takes complete control and becomes irreversible.

    • Me stands up, applauds as fucking long and loudly as I can, FINALLY someone that agrees that we need to start killing chavistas if we ever want to see a truly free Venezuela. It’s been long overdue!!!!

  8. Excellent post. I think, and I hope, that pressure and exhaustion you describe is leverage at work. I think often in these situations there are no discernible signs of progress until a complete breakthrough is achieved. That is also what I hope of course.

  9. Toro Volt, I don’t think the coming of the ANC was overhyped, in fact, I’d say it couldn’t be hyped enough.

    Sometime next week Godgiven Hair and the likes of Celia Flores, Delcy Rodriguez, Iris Valers, Elias Jaua and too many other hard core leftists to count will be making the rules for how we’re to live our daily lives. If that doesn’t scare the living shit out of everyone, I don’t know what will.

  10. The town’s polling station is a block from my house. A friggin’ gandola (18 wheeler) fully loaded with CLAP boxes just pulled up.

    These mother fuckers have no shame.

  11. Don’t forget, Cotinuente or not, Maduor is worse than broke. The dread many feel is from knowing that this clepto gov. is not sustainable, and since they vow to go down shooting, this thing could get very ugly and chaotic? Especially with the DEA and Treasury Department ready to pounce on many senior staffers. They must feel increasingly trapped, since there is no longer any back door out of the country – except maybe to Cuba or Bolivia, or perhaps, Siberia.

    Will be interesting to see what Trump will do if Maduro runs this through tomorrow. I know my family members in Ven. are sweating bullets.

    Excellent post, incidentally.

    • “Maduor is worse than broke”, Mate they’ve nicked about 500 billion dollars, who’s broke??? Certainly not those hard core cunt chavistas, they can and will pay for support for many many many years to come!

  12. It feels to me like they are getting away with it. No masses in the street yesterday. Busness as usual for the narcopigs.

  13. I wish we could have a popular referendum to update our constitution such as Venezuela is having. What we have currently defines negative rights – what the government can’t do to us – but fails to define what the government should do for us. Radical right wing thought focuses only on the negative, and prevents people from realizing what can be accomplished.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2008/10/29/645565/-

    • Who the heck is “We?” Do you assume everyone who isn’t from Venezuela is from the EEUU?

      And by the way:

      Did you finish High School? The U.S. Constitution can…and has been…changed by something known as “Amendments.” Ever hear of them?

      My God, I didn’t know there were people this stupid out there.

  14. How would you like this JudiLynn? Trump calls the refrendum and also decides the “sectors” that will be represented such as billionaires, millionaires, property owners, business owners, gun owners, white people, males, and finally, last but not least, conservatives.

    Would that work for ya?

    • I would oppose that with all my might but he wouldn’t need to do that since that is already who controls the US under Trump.

      What needs to happen is a popular consultation with formerly oppressed groups to reach a more equitable society.

    • People imprisoned by their own hand, do not understand the concept of freedom. This goes way back to Plato: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

      For general enlightenment to all here, this link is from a Conservative website, but packs a powerful argument concerning the role of the federal government of the U.S. as prescribed by the U.S. Constitution:
      http://conservatives4palin.com/2011/05/the-constitutional-role-of-the-federal-government.html
      Here is a less detailed discussion:
      https://clyburn.house.gov/fun-youth/us-government

      Generally, this is taken as representative of the role of federal government, as stated in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution:

      *** The purpose of our Federal Government, as found in the Preamble of the Constitution, is to “establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” ***

      (Note that it does not state that the government shall guarantee literacy, nor intelligence, for all.)

    • People who are imprisoned by their own hand, are incapable of understanding the concept of freedom. That goes all the way back to Plato:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

      For general enlightenment of readers here on this site, it is generally accepted that the Constitutional role of government is stated in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Here is a link to a conservative website offering a bit more in-depth discussion:
      http://conservatives4palin.com/2011/05/the-constitutional-role-of-the-federal-government.html

      ***
      We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
      ***

  15. The ANC isn’t a bluff, it isn’t mind games or a negotiating trick. The regime is hell bent on carrying through with it.

    The purpose of the ANC is clear – to dissolve the National Assembly and give Maduro a free hand in governing Venezuela with an authoritarian hand.

    If Venezuela doesn’t explode in protest the future is bleak. Maduro doesn’t bother about his countrymen starving. All that ordinary Venezuelans can hope for is the he runs out of food to feed the army and the security forces.

    Don’t depend on outsiders to come and rescue. They won’t.

  16. Spot-on Kenny, which is why I hope Trump applies ball busting sanctions. We’re on the cusp of political repression like this country has never seen. Think we’ve got political prisoners now? Just wait.

  17. March to Miraflores and refuse to leave as they did in Argentina that after police brutality turned against the govt, Pres. De La Rue resigned. Demand that Maduro resign. Huelga Nacional to paralyze the economic sector. There is going to be more damage from the Constituyente Fraudulenta than anyone can imagine.

  18. The ANC is a go and Quico’s twisted logic to try to understand these guys keeps missing the mark. For years they’ve sucked up to the Cubans: why would they be any different?

  19. ANC candidate Jose Félix Pineda was murdered at his home.
    That is a good start.
    Every single one of them dead by the time the polls close, then on to Miraflores!!

  20. Nobody knows how this will pan out in the next few days and weeks, not even Maduro.

    Has this little Napoleon bitten off more than he can chew? Is he in over his head? How will other countries isolate Venezuela and how crippling will it be? Will it cause a split in the regime backers and precipitate a rebellion? Will the rank and file of the army remain loyal? Will protests escalate until Venezuela becomes ungovernable? Or will the protests die down under heavy repression and the opposition leaders are packed off to jail leaving Maduro triumphant?

    Maduro thinks he can win but he isn’t in touch with the real situation on the ground. He is firmly an inhabitant of La La Land. He dances while Caracas quakes. His job is not as secure as he thinks.

    The establishment of the ANC is not the end of opposition against his regime, it could be the start of the end game. The ANC will not put food on the table of hungry Venezuelans and medicine in the hospitals. International sanctions may turn the economic screws harder. Maduro may move too fast to dismantle democratic institutions and conduct a witch hunt against the opposition, A hungry population seethes with discontent and even regime supporters are horrified at his heavy hand..The army quivers in its support. The generals are too well fed but the stage is set for a middle ranking officer to lead a rebellion.

    Maduro wants the ANC to cement his authoritarian rule but it may be the catalyst for his downfall. With the opposition jailed and the National Assembly destroyed who else can he blame for his economic incompetence? In the end the ANC didn’t matter. What matters is something he has callously ignored all along – the suffering of his countrymen.

    • “What matters is something he has callously ignored all along – the suffering of his countrymen.” When you people start to understand that within a communist dictatorship suffering of the people isn’t something they think twice about, it’s a well calculated side effect that they couldn’t give less then a fuck about.

    • The ANC is NM’s/Co.’s “Last Stand” and backs-against-the wall only possible way out of jail, plus Cuba’s only way out of a new Special Period. As in the movie, the winner will be who has the best bullets (economic/ammo) and most willingness to use them. El Coloso Del Norte will decide, in the final analysis, as/if needed.

  21. If the govt relies on food packages to extort the support of the most needy (or reward its followers) and these packages are supplied by the Vicepresidents ‘friends’ using overpriced mexican food, packaged and imported from Panama then Mexicos and Panamas declaration that they will also apply US sanctions against the regime bigwigs will likely disrupt this operation and make the flow of packages to the regimes venezuelan ‘clientele’ more difficult and at the very least ruin the ‘business model’ used by those bigwigs to fill their pockets………, this is just one example of how sanctions can operate to disrupt the regimes plans and practices.

    There are others which can affect the regimes efforts at pouring oil over the stormy waters of venezuelas explosive situation……

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