It took one year, six months and two days to get the portraits of Chávez back into the Legislative Palace.

On January 2016, in a flourish of institutional assertiveness, then speaker of the National Assembly, Henry Ramos Allup, decided to rid the Federal Legislative Palace of all images and likenesses of Hugo Chávez. Chávez was the only former executive to have his portrait displayed in Parliament, and Henry was not having it. “Imagine if each political party could bring their favorite president into the Assembly, imagine what the National Assembly would become,” Ramos Allup explained.

Returning the portraits of Chávez to the National Assembly building was a promise that Diosdado Cabello had threatened about on several occasions. “I don’t know who’s going to win the Constituent Assembly, but I invite you all on the day of its installation to join me at the Legislative Palace and in returning the pictures of Bolívar and Chávez to their rightful place, so they may never be taken out again!” he said during a campaign rally in Monagas.

Now, videos of Chávez’ mug reentering the National Assembly building are being touted as a symbolic victory for chavismo. Images of Chávez in prayer, having coffee, and giving a speech before the United Nations are once again gracing the hallways of the legislative palace, trying to convince us of one thing: that chavismo is back.

After MUD won parliamentary majority in December of 2015, the first grand flexing of its political muscle was captured for the ages in this video of an AN worker removing both Chávez, and chavista likenesses of Simón Bolívar, from the neoclassical Capitolio. It signaled  the dawn of a new age when Chávez’ legacy could finally be put to rest.

“I don’t want to see any portraits here unless they are of the classic Libertador. I don’t want to see Chávez or [Nicolás] Maduro, take all that vaina to Miraflores or give it to the people in charge of the garbage collection, “the leader of Acción Democrática said.

But that is now in the past.

Yesterday, not a single opposition legislator placed a foot inside the AN building. Red shirts and chavista chants once again reigned supreme on the streets surrounding the Palace.

“Volvió, volvió, volvió“, Chavistas screamed as the pictures of Chávez were returned to the Capitolio. Watching the ceremony on State TV, it seemed like the days when opposition leaders could walk about the Legislative Palace as legitimate authorities are gone, never to come back. And it wasn’t just Chávez, it was also Diosdado Cabello, Cilia Flores moving back in…. la crème de la crème of awful, radical, scary chavismo.

And just like that, 545 Constituyente delegates took the team picture in front of our legislature and will begin work in their new, usurped offices in Parliament starting today. The opposition leadership insists that this brings us one step closer to the end of the chavismo era, but yesterday’s swearing-in ceremony was pretty triumphant; a victory party for chavismo. More than the Chávez portraits, this is about the loss of an important space, both physical and political, for the opposition.

“So, does this mean that, other than our remaining governors and mayors [the ones who are not in jail or in exile], there are no more opposition politicians? Is the opposition becoming a social movement?” a foreign friend asks me. I let the weight of this loaded question sink in. In whom and in what place does the representation of almost 8 million Venezuelans rest now? We don’t know what will happen in the Palacio Federal or with the National Assembly or with the new tenants. What we do know is that Chávez volvió, y volvió arrecho.

38 COMMENTS

  1. This was depressingly predictable. The opposition has no power to overcome impunity, lawlessness, corruption – those things that sustain the current government. Can’t change the CNE or the TSJ, can’t keep Ortega in office, can’t can’t can’t can’t……….. The people with the guns have won again.

  2. Actually, the MUD did a lot for the little space of Democracy that was left. They always bet on an impossible peaceful resolution to no avail.
    People expectations are unrealistic and ungrateful to the MUD-AN when considering we are facing a dictatorship here.
    As I have said here before, again and again this is dictatorship that won’t back down unless ousted by force.
    Venezuela betrayed by a corrupt Armed Forces all that we have now is international support and should be use it.
    If we want to restore democracy we need to fight the narcoregime with guns no stones.

    • Madura / Diosdado are playing poker with the international community, convinced no one will call their bluff and do something that may increase suffering of ordinary Venezulanos. With the oppo cut off at the knees and Ortega office powerless, only international intervention has a chance at this point.

  3. In a way Chavez never left the Legislative Palace.
    Oppo won the votes but no power.

    In hindsight it makes more sense now.
    Back in 2015 the narcoregime was not ready to outright block an election unmasking its true dictatoral nature to the world, so to ease tensions they let the opposition have their illusion of a “win” while Maduro was making time hoping for the oil market to recover or other salving event.
    You can sense that in some videos watching Allup scolding Maduro while he laughs. Maduro knew he has absolutely nothing to fear from a toothless AN
    Now that we know more clearly where the power brokers stand, it all makes sense.
    The whole AN contraption was just a sham and we all fell for it, once more wasting more than 500 days.

  4. Venezuelans have proved, once again, at least for now, that they are incapable of saving themselves. If decisive international help does not come soon, Venezuela will become Cuba II, until, in the ruling Regime’s hubris, they start killing too many at once, and/or begin trying to spread their Communism to neighbors/the SA region….

  5. Venezuela does seem to have been lost to a dystopic inglorious revolution, leaving the opposition in the wilderness (once again?). With the sham CA the regime is hitting the reset button to sink the nation further into an economic and social sinkhole of monumental proportions. The MUD in the meantime are fighting among themselves, jockeying for political positioning. It’s a disaster. How will people react now. Some are opting to join the ongoing exodus to Colombia, Brazil while others with more means fly farther away. Others will continue protesting and resisting while some will simply spend most of their energy just getting by. For the youth of Venezuela the future is grim and as I’ve told my own nieces and nephews, leave. It’s painful to say this.

  6. The ANC openings yesterday/today were chaired by evil-eyed DC,showing where the real power lies, while the titular heads are only (temporary?) parapetos. The ANC approving of these titular heads, by “100% acclamation” (showing only 50 seated real power ANC reps raising their hands, while the other 500 Pueblo pendejos formed only a blurred background), also showed where the real power/”voting” lies.

  7. This article is a lie!

    You said:

    “Yesterday, not a single opposition legislator placed a foot inside the AN building. Red shirts and chavista chants once again reigned supreme on the streets surrounding the Palace.”

    This is true but your article is a lie. Why?

    Because the truth has 3 components: “all the truth, only the truth and nothing but the truth”. If any one of those 3 components are missing from any article or statement, then it is a falsehood.

    Then why is this article a lie?

    Because you did not say “all the truth”.

    You failed to say that many legislators were brutally repressed in their way to the AN.

    • This is important. AN legislators were nowhere to be seen. Not only was the space stolen but ceded to the criminal gang now in control of the complex. If their path was blocked then their absence is understandable. However, I did not see any news showing pictures of the legislative body walking towards AN and being repressed with tear gas. Show me the news please.

      I hate saying this but we Venezuelans are a whole bunch of opportunistic cowards.

        • Alex is talking about the vast majority, Petro-State Peons (if not, why haven’t they risen up in mass, a la Ukraine, et. al.?) and the “proud” opportunistic thieves (“No me lo des, solo pongame donde lo hay”). And, let’s not even dignify the politicians with discussion, such as latest HRA, et. al..

      • Alex:

        are you actually keeping up with the general news besides here at CC? The AN recently named over a dozen Supreme Court Justices to displace the justices that Maduro & Co ILLEGALLY named right after the 2015 parliamentary election.
        (yes, do not forget that the current Supreme Court is illegal per the existing 1999 const. hence the need for the convoluted, and also illegal, “constituyente”)

        The AN named their justices right after the 16J popular vote. 6 of those justices are currently hiding in the Chilean embassy after one of the justices was arbitrarily put in jail.

        The AN has been inefective because Maduro & Co have blocked the AN at every turn, large and small decisions, since they were elected in 2015.

        People really need to stop bashing the AN. That’s a luxury we can afford once the country is actually running a democratic government.

  8. What a disgraceful, defeatist article. It is a chronicle for the regime, while we should be writing chronicles of the rebellion. I am not against impartiality in journalism but C.C. is not an impartial arbiter in the Venezuelan tragedy, but an entity fighting on the side of democracy. At least, this is what I think it is. If I am wrong, please let me know.

    • Coronol, you are correct, and we need more people like you in Venezuela leading the charge!!!

      Larger battles lie ahead and we know these guys are a ticking time bomb financially. We have to focus on the coming storm and how to survive and beat this regime.

      That said, there are millions with their thumbs up their ass waiting for somebody else to do it for them in Venezuela. People want politicians to solve their problems. However it is becoming more and more obvious that we have to start taking power into our own hands.

      Not sure if your average Jose sucking on Polar Light will be up for the task. But food will be getting more scare and way more expensive here real fast real soon. The ANC does nothing to resolve the economic problems of this country, only makes them worse.

      The big question will be if chaos and rioting in the streets benefits the opposition/resistance or the regime in a month or two from now…

    • Completely in agreement with G. Coronel. if the purpose of the piece was to spark pent up anger inside, it has failed. Depressing with a capital “D”. It might not be too late to ask Aporrea to run it.

      It is also true that the MUD has failed on the promises made during the AN electoral campaign. What is the point on going to another electoral process with the same system? So we do not lose the “spaces gained”?

      Isn’t it clear that the only answer is that ALL have to REVOLT? What is the point of saying that we are on 350? And, like the old saying “deseos no preñan”..,…do not wait for Trump to act “decisively”.

    • The article is fine. The comments are defeatist. Having Chavez’s picture In the AN building won’t solve the grave economic crisis the country is in, nor will it provide a viable government. The opposition is doing the right things. If we read the chronicles of any successful rebellion against oppression since 1776, we know success is not a straight line. As CC says, we go on.

  9. LMFAO….this whole charade was planed forever in Havana…can you imagine the laughter ……..they use these idiots ..ingnorants…..Venezuelans prove once again…. t hery deserve what they got…..i hope this shit sandwich tastes good..
    You could go on and on about this…..but hasn’t it all been said already?

  10. Damn. This is one depressing epiphany of a post. Beautifully written and superb way of putting things into context. Kudos, Gaby.

  11. Having been following this situation for going on 20 years now, from both inside and outside the country, there’s been some heroic moves from the opposition, and the gente have shown remarkable resolve and patients, but what I have seen, slowly but surely, is the gradual Cubanizaton of Venezuela. And the world has simply stood by analyzing and talking and effecting no substantive change. Perhaps the economy will eventually sink Chavismo, or at least drive them out of immediate power, but it’s hard to imagine what it would take to get the country back on solid ground. The analyzing, however sage, seems to happen in a rarefied world so removed from the beating heart of it all that many times it feels like some loco intellectual game. I’m sick of hearing myself talk about things that never seem to change. And that’s probably the key to the Cuban model – simply press on till everyone tires or looses gusto till the situation is so desperate you play along or die.

    Venezuela needs some heroes. There are plenty there because I’ve met them. Hope must live on somehow in these dog days. I wish I could offer more. Just Skyped with my daughter in El Tigre and the look on her face and the sound of her voice just slayed me. She’s a young doctor who should be looking at a bright future but its all dark clouds. Tragic to watch.

  12. One objection: the building the AN was in was of purely symbolic significance from the moment when the opposition won a majority. The opposition’s political power is in the street. These latest events simply dispense with the illusion that it lies in a functioning institution (poder). For practical purposes, nothing has gone backwards. We are simply seeing things as they are. And it bears saying: the opposition is winning opinion in the streets. All objective factors are running against Maduro.

  13. It is totally nuts the comments and even attacks I am hearing now against the AN after the Ledezma video. Their new “hero”
    Many are thinking that the AN failed because they didn’t name the new CNE, the rest of the TSJ and a Transitional President. LOL
    Do they know that the regime tolerated the AN just to have some facade of legitimacy but in the end were totally powerless?
    The armed forces just laughed at them.
    The Regime never pay attention to any of their demands.

    Then they urge people to wake up because now the MUD-AN is the enemy and are now just discovering that we are under a dictatorship.

    Sometimes wonder if these people are web bots for the G2.

  14. We are in the presence of a shrewd government (obviously), one which saw a golden opportunity in dividing the opposition and shattering morale by announcing regional elections. It worked wonders, split the Opposition’s leaders in a matter of hours after the announcements. I wonder what a huge dilemma it must be not to run for office and repeat same errors as in the past when the opposition first lost absolute presence in the AN. But people are asking for a unified and sturdy opposition, now more than ever, one that will resist temptations and put the country’s objectives first even if that means losing spaces. The country is lost to a dictatorship in any case – the only way of regaining spaces is by first getting rid of the dictator.

  15. The Muddy opposition looks as divided and defeated as ever. So what’s next? More marches, protests, more talk now? The Chavista regime will just continue laughing, repressing even more, bribing everyone, stealing everywhere, atornillandose en el poder even more.

    With the corrupt military, police, GNB supporting the tragic Venezuelan Kleptocracy, Cubazuela 2 has officially arrived. And supported by millions of Chavistoide “pueblo” people, mind you, often also corrupt, opportunistic, populacheros, vastly under-educated, de guiso-en-guiso.

    To some extent, many deserve what they’ve gotten and what they’re gonna get, for their galactic ignorance and world-record “pueblo” corruption. Chavistas and many non-Chavistas, but enchufados too.. at all levels, everywhere. But no one dares to criticize our beloved pueblo, at least a lot of it.., do we?

    Let’s ignore that, and keep blaming just the putrid politicians, cogollos with power. Kleptozuela’s fundamental problems go way deeper than NM/DC/the Rodriguez Thugs, Tarek, and the top thousand Chavistas now with power. But it’s also a “pueblo” problem. Mostly ignorant, often corrupt too. Often complicit, and culpable to some extent. Millions and Millions of them, everywhere. Too bad for the minority of honest, educated, hard-working Venezuelans suffering the consequences now. Truly feel sorry for them.

    Blame, in part, 40 years of AD/Copey for creating this genocidal Chavista tragic narco-regime, and it’s
    clueless “pueblo”. They alienated the poor, under-educated majority, creating the deep resentment against the “burguesia derechista”.. The Chabestia took advantage of that, and there you have it.. 18 years and counting. Now they all fear jail, loss of their stolen millions. They will do whatever it takes to stay in power.

    Where’s a MPJ when you need one? That or Trump and the CIA, seal team 6, armados hasta los dientes. That along with SEVERE international economic measures. That criminal regime won’t let go peacefully, forget the 2018 elections, unless the Barrios bajen de los cerros, and they arm themselves. Lo que viene es candela or it’s Cubazuela2, for several more decades.

    • I agree that the opposition has been defeated, more now after the government declared regional elections. I don’t agree with you though that AD and Copei are to blame. If any, they are responsible for nationalizing oil and making leftism a posh trend but their governments did plenty of good deeds as well. Corruption exists in any country dude. I work with Colombians and they continuously mention how serious the issue is over there.
      It was however a few in the elite circles including deutsche bag Rafael Caldera – the worst of them all- and some businessmen who gave away the country in a silver tray back in ’98. In what other country in the world do you see business folks and the educated rooting for a communist?

      • I meant that AD/Copey and the previous Mud’s we had after MPJ, Caldera and all, are partly to blame for the emergence of Chavismo because they failed to educate and incorporate “el pueblo” into the economy. Chavez took advantage of the deep resentment of the under-educated, alienated, poor majority, who now still hate the “burgueses” “derechistas” “sifrinos”.. Those are the people that support Chavismo to this day, besides the crooks, enchufados and public employees (corrupt leeches, for the most part,, millions of them).

        Had they been educated, assimilated and cared for during the 4 decades of the 4ta Republica, Chavismo wouldn’t have such deep roots now.

        And yes, there is corruption everywhere, even some in Sweden, Finland or Denmark.. Certainly in the USA and Europe. But much, much more in L. America, Africa and Asia, but then.. then there’s Venezuela..

        Worldwide, today, per-capita, I guestimate Kleptozuela takes the cake in corruption. Even more corrupt than Brasil, Mexico, Haiti, Nigeria, Iraq or Siria. We only show up in the top ten at: https://www.transparency.org/country/VEN …..because they look only into the public sectors, not exactly overall/per-capita/income, or updated yet.

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