Part of my job is to make predictions. Broadly, there are two ways you can do that. You can take the Luis Vicente León approach and hedge every call to within an inch of its life until it really isn’t a prediction at all, because there are no circumstances in which it can be falsified. The appeal of this approach is clear enough: the guy’s never ever wrong because he never ever takes a risk. Bo-ring!

The other approach is to make clear predictions. That’s the one I go for. It’s risky. It means some times I get to take victory laps and other times I have to take the walk of shame… this one is, erm, one of the latter.

Basically, I read the politics wrong, and also MUD’s reaction.

Back in June, my partner Raúl Stolk bet me two Big Macs that the Constituent Assembly election would go ahead as scheduled on July 30th. I bet him they wouldn’t. I owe him two burgers (Emi is vegetarian, so she sat this one out).

Here’s how I got it wrong.

My argument, originally, was that going ahead with a widely despised Consituyente election was just too risky, and the government would eventually come to see that. Specifically, I argued:

To press forward with an Assembly the country plainly doesn’t want is to invite the kind of civil conflict that I don’t believe the people around Nicolás Maduro actually want. It’s to court the next wave of Oscar Pérezes, this time inside the Armed Forces and organized, to attempt a power play. It’s to invite a situation so explosive and uncontrollable that no politician with a working self-preservation instinct could want it.

My argument had two parts: first, that the Constituyente election was likely to destabilize the regime, and second that the regime would recognize that, accept that view, and respond by cancelling or postponing the vote. The first part of the analysis had serious problems, the second part was just plain wrong.

First the first part: protests were pretty strong in early June, and my assumption is that if people were destabilizing then, they’d be that much more raucous come Assembly Election time. Basically, I read the politics wrong, and also MUD’s reaction. MUD didn’t really dare to mount a coordinated attempt to sabotage the vote  and even so election day left 15 dead. The government then immediately pivoted in what I have to admit was a brilliant, JVR-style gambit to sucking MUD into a fratricidal discussion on gubernatorial elections. Together, the images of the Constituent Assembly officially convening with Delcy Rodríguez at its head, alongside anger at MUD leadership and its visible powerlessness ended up sucking all the air out of the protest movement instead.

Jorge Rodríguez/Raúl: 1, MUD/Quico: 0. 

Of course, I also argued that going ahead with Constituyente elections would destabilize the Armed Forces, and I was partly vindicated by the Fort Paramacay fracas. There are lots of signs of military discontent, they are ongoing, and it may yet be that the government rues the day it decided to go ahead with such a polarizing election. (But that wasn’t what my bet with Raúl was about, so I still lose those Big Macs.)

I plainly misjudged exactly how much risk Maduro and the people closest to him were willing to tolerate.

It’s in the second part of the argument that I really had it wrong: I thought the clique around Maduro would eventually come around to understanding how destabilizing the election would be. I thought they’d share my analysis and realize it was in their best interest to avoid it. This just didn’t pan out at all. 

Jorge Rodríguez/Raúl: 2, MUD/Quico: 0. 

The reasons are many: Diosdado Cabello’s faction and the radical civilian wing of chavismo both mobilized to keep Maduro to his word, and their opinion plainly outweighed the voices urging a postponement of the vote. Though it’s clear the government was repeatedly warned by multiple voices, both inside and outside Venezuela, about the dangers of going forward, Maduro concluded the warnings were just overblown. The ones that were coming from within his own security aparatus, I think, he dismissed as just overly cautious: exercises in bureaucratic ass-covering by analysts who didn’t want to be blamed if “something” happened and they’d failed to issue the appropriate warnings.

One thing July 30th has taught us is that the Armed Forces aren’t really a veto player within the regime. Their instinctive conservatism and their private warnings to Maduro were just disregarded by a leadership clique that has a higher tolerance for risk than they do. Like them, I plainly misjudged exactly how much risk Maduro and the people closest to him were willing to bear.

Turns out they’re willing to tolerate a lot more risk than I thought.

Personally, I still think that’s likely to catch up with them sooner rather than later, but that’s neither here nor there. The voices counselling caution ahead of July 30th weren’t strong enough to get the Constituyente election called off, and next time we meet I get to sit in stony silence while Raúl enjoys two gorgeous burgers in front of me.

I went out on a limb, and I got it wrong. For an analyst, it’s an occupational hazard. Posts like these aren’t a huge deal of fun to write, but I’d still rather do it this way than hedge everything to the point of meaninglessness.

58 COMMENTS

  1. To be honest predicting all these things is almost like a throw of the dice.
    I bet Maduro (Raul Castro) himself was on the fence weather to proceed with the ANC or not.
    Other way to predict is to track all chavizmo has done since 1999.
    The trend is that they have move forward with their “revolution” from the start and they have no intention to stop even if they have to pay with their own lives.
    The trend of the opposition has been to always coming short underestimating Chavismo intentions and power.
    So betting on the side of Chavismo has been an easy win.

    In the spirit of predicting I have an easy bet: 4 big macs with fries and soda that the narcoregime will never fall unless the powers that be agree on an US military intervention. Is that simple.

  2. Francisco, I hope Raul enjoy his burgers. but they topped with little bit of coca from Mad Ernie stockpile. I am sorry you wrong.

  3. It sounds like you’re worse than Leon–you’re just making excuses.

    Now THAT’S boring!

    Hell, I don’t know a tenth of what some of you guys know about the situation in VZ, but even an idiot like me knew the AN was going full speed ahead.

    Seriously:

    How could you have come to any other conclusion after what you’ve witnessed since 1999? Is it some kind of a denial issue you’re dealing with?

  4. There’s no way of really knowing even tho’ your heart tells you so. I thought Trump would lose and now look at the horrific mess he breeds for all of us! Keep writing! Keep predicting!

  5. Yeah,I wish only two big macs were at stake there…but, hey, it is always nice when somebody accepts being wrong. Maybe you should start by changing your premises. So called radicals have always been right, so maybe their premises are simply correct. That doesn’ t mean we should always follow the so called radicals, but their analysis is more correct because it is based on the right premises and on hard facts. They are more rational and down to earth. Just because one disagrees with something (for instance, a US intervention) on principle, doesn’ t mean it is bad from a rational or pragmatic point of view. Chavismo harldy ever makes this error of judgement, and that is the edge they have over us. Some of us perhaps are better educated than them, but they seem to always make the right choices. They have their bullshit propaganda that makes them seem crazy, but they are very rational and less supersticious than us when it comes to evaluating ambitious high risk strategies. MUD propaganda is based on being the voice of truth and reason, and yet they are incapable of making good analysis or acting with any semblance of coherence.
    It is not possible to plan the right strategiy based on wrong premises. It also not possible to win any war. no matter how good and correct your strategy is, if your generals don’ t want to fight and are ready to stab you in the back. Those are our two main mistakes.

  6. There is lots of denial and wishful thinking among peaceful Venezuelans. To realize you are captive and kidnapped by your own state is not a fun thing to do, specially if you live in the country and have limited options to flee without major costs.

    Quico is a privileged commenter. He cares about Venezuela and through hard and meaningful work managed to raise the CC brand and site as a key agora for all things Venezuela. Kudos on that Francisco. Now, he also lives in Canada, has a growing abyss with the Venezuela he loves as he makes a new life for him and his family in Montreal.

    This abyss is common to all us exiles and out-migrants. The distance and the need to life your new realities eventually forces a growing distance to the realities on the former homeland.

    And then there is ideology. I think Quico still thinks socialism could work if it was just tired one more time, with some improvements and changes. The left wing ideology is just too pervasive and romantic. Smart people, good people, fall for it all the time.

    A rational actor would not have increased their own risks, a la maduro, by going forward with the ANC, but Maduro is not rational, and more importantly he and his cadre are not autonomous. The cuban regime that owns Venezuela, and their fellow travellers with interest in the current trend of events, will benefit from the increased risks and the intended consequences of the destruction of former Venezuela…

    Drugs, criminal operations, ideologic operations, geopolitics, neighbouring countries (Guyana and T&T O&G), Brazilian north front, all benefit from this state of affairs.

    Time to change the analysis and stop trying to read the regime’s puppets actions without looking into the puppet masters interests.

  7. You take RISK???!!! Your profession is built around narratives. There is no downside to all the bla bla you write. Again: no downside, no skin in the game and therefore no honour. The same with Krugman, Hausmann, etc. etc. Please do us a favour and read the entire Incerto series of Nassim Taleb.

    By the end of this year your default predictions will go sour again and then you will:

    1) Flood us with reasons of why it hasn’t happened
    and
    2) Tell us it will happen in March/April 2018

    “Distributive justice isn’t taking from a risk taker who earned honorably, it is keeping his probability of losing it very high.”

    • Also, stick to analysis and opinion (which you are much better on). Skip the forecasting part. Forecasting is a cheap activity.

        • Instead of making ‘make it or break it’ forecasts , predicting highly specific things with total certitude, one should asses the higher or lower likelyhood of something happening , It is usually unwise to go for definitive predictions because circumstances as so complex , so full of uncertainty and happenstance that one can never be sure to hit the mark with any prediction….., I, prefer the way weather services asses the coming weather , they dont say it will rain tomorrow but rather ‘60% chance of rain’….., I do think that Pdvsa is insolvent , holding on for dear life to a thin line of cable a hundred yards from the ground just to make payment on certain bonds continue ……for a while longer ….a sudden gust of air may bring it to the ground, in the end what will happen is that there will be an attempt at a restructuring ……if its succesful ( and the chances of that happening arent really great ) , default may be avoided , if it fails default will happen whatever the govt does to try and stop it…….. the signs are there that Pdvsa is close to a break down in its ability to operate with any measure of normalcy ………, the signs are there , the ships that dont deliver their cargo but wander arround the caribbean for want of a pre payment , the break down of basic installation for want of maintenance , suppliers being paid with promissory notes that no one believes will ever get paid …., it will be a sad day for all when Pdvsa finally is made to throw the towel….

          • Bill, there are domains where predictions are useful and domains where they aren’t. Predictions in the social and political domains are worthless. The majority of the events that have shaped history were never predicted by any anal-ists and journos. (think 9/11, WWII, etc.). The only thing that can be identified is the fragility or lack thereof in various systems. You see, PDVSA is more robust than people give it credit for.

    • Venny Trader:

      Regarding “RISK,” you are a fine one to talk.

      What is YOUR skin in the game?

      The only risk I see that traders take is with other people’s money and not with their own.

      • Michael Lewis (look him up) says the top book on the topic is “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator,” a thinly disguised biography of American stock trader Jesse Livermore that, using an assumed name, he published with journalist Edwin Lefèvre in 1923. Livermore, known as the “Boy Plunger,” famously went from being $1 million in debt to spending $2 million each year on his personal expenses.

        • Jesse Livermore is a great example of a person with skin in the game. By the way, he earned and lost a lot of money in various occasions. In and out of bankruptcy a few times.

      • I put my personal capital at risk Money for Nothing. That is my skin in the game. If I am wrong, I might lose all my money, savings, etc. By default, investors and speculators have skin in the game when they invest their own capital. Someone has to take risk in societies you see.

        By the way, traders at investment banks or asset managers seldom have skin in the game as they are merely executing trades on behalf of their clients, they are just operators. I wouldn’t consider them risk takers because their neck is rarely on the line. Yes they might lose their jobs if they lose their clients’ capital, but this is no different from under-performing at other jobs. The problem with modernity these days is that people are getting more and more removed from the consequences of their actions (bureaucrats at the IMF, economists at Harvard, journalists flooding us with news and forecasts that get lost in the hundreds of articles written per day, etc.)

  8. Honda famously has adopted a particular defect management philosophy: Whenever a defect is found, the fix isn’t merely to apply some immediate remedy, but to investigate what flaw in the procedures allowed it to happen. That is, we need to investigate this more deeply, and since what’s behind the defect.

    I believe the general thread here is overestimation of the internal political effects. Toro misses that there’s nothing that can be called normal politics in Venezuela since 2015. Ergo, there was no real political cost to the regime for creating the ANC. The ANC could declare Maduro to be God, and MUD would have to shrug its shoulders and say it doesn’t have any guns.

    What really holds the regime together now is the twin threat: Internally, it threatens the opposition with unrestricted violence. Externally, it has a more complicated threat to the international community; not so much a direct economical threat (everyone by now knows how bad it is in VZ), but the threat of being held responsible for the reconstruction and the humanitarian cost if other countries do anything to stop the regime.

    Fortunately, both the opposition and responsible actors in the international community can help each other. The opposition can offer and give political cover for an economic sanctions plan that can really hurt the regime. It can promise to try to stabilize Venezuela after the regime is gone and to show itself ready for the task. The international community can apply economic pressure, and deter the regime from the worst violent excesses. This requires however giving up daydreams of dialogue (any dialogue that isn’t about immediate transitioning away from the regime), or of further political process of elections, and accepting some costs by both sides that weren’t accepted so far.

    The alternatives are bleak: The first option is that nothing changes, the regime successfully starves Venezuela, leaving it a shell of itself with only its supporters. The second option that eventually something cracks, some elements of MUD radicalise, some military units rebel, and Venezuela ends up in a Syrian civil war scenario. The last option is that the regime doesn’t manage to squeeze imports enough, and simply implodes. The result could be some sort of transition, but a Somalia scenario seems far more likely – since it is unlikely that anyone would be able to provide security.

    • One of the many mistakes that the MUD made was to not release a sound plan to rebuild Venezuela after the regime is gone.
      Bankers have much more influence compared to the average person. Goldman Sachs doesn’t pay hundreds of thousands of Dollars to politicians just to hear what they think. Bankers also like to get their money back. A sound fiscal plan to stabilize the Venezuelan economy, most likely with help from the IMF, would have the banks looking to oust Maduro also.
      I have done as much research as the muddled PDVSA financial statements and the secret government borrowing allow.
      In an abbreviated version, I found that the government oil revenues have virtually dried up.
      Production is estimated to have fallen slightly below 2 mm bpd. Roughly 50% of production is being used in domestic consumption, repaying China and Russia and given or sold below cost to Cuba and other countries.
      This leaves roughly 1 mm bpd to sell. Venezuelan oil sells for about $10 per barrel less than Current West Texas Intermediate Crude (WTI). At today’s prices Venezuela is receiving $40 per barrel.
      Here is the kicker.
      Market Watch reports that Venezuelan lift costs average $27.62 per barrel.
      http://www.marketwatch.com/story/venezuelan-oil-production-may-tumble-20-by-the-end-of-2017-2017-03-02
      Simple math comes up with $55 million per day in lift costs. With only half of that oil reaching the market, they are receiving $40 million for $55 million in expenses.
      As in any accounting procedure the lift costs include, labor, capital investment, maintenance and depreciation.
      Basically the regime is taking the cash flow that should be reinvested in maintenance and capital projects and spending it. This is why the oil production is declining so quickly. The oil field maintenance firms from the US are owed $3.8 billion.
      As production declines due to lack of maintenance, the lift price will continue to rise if the number of workers is not reduced. Considering that the regime has used this for patronage jobs for so long, a layoff of employees is unlikely.
      There is no way the regime can operate as an independent oil producer and remain in business. They will eventually just run out of money. This is why the only option left to them has been to sell assets to Russia.
      This is going to lead to the starvation of possibly millions of people.
      The argument against embargoing Venezuelan oil has been that the people, not the regime will pay the price. The people will still pay the price probably for a longer period of time if the US decides not to embargo the oil imports. Maduro, Delcy or Cabello will eat the last pork chop in the country while the citizens literally starve.
      I do believe that drastic action needs to be taken before this becomes a crisis with millions of deaths.

      • Very, very well-said John. I don’t see how the opposition believes they will force Maduro to hand over the keys when he has clearly stated that what can’t be accomplished with votes will be accomplished with bullets.

        • I hope Maduro’s statement is profound.
          Now that we know votes won’t remove him from power, I look forward to a bullet directly between his eyes doing the job.

          • You and I both hope for peaceful ends, but we both realize that is no longer possible. So a quick end through bloodshed is the only outcome likely to bring about peace.

            But the people of VZ are too demoralized and leaderless. The MUD is effectively disbanded. The ANC can and will further destroy what little is left. There are no armies coming to the rescue.

            It will take the deaths of millions to shake loose the people from their zombie state. But this will not come quickly enough, if at all.

            Expect nearly all the opposition leaders to self exile by the end of the year.

            That is my prediction.

  9. I give Quito a lot of credit, and CC:

    They take a lot of abuse and shit from some of us (guilty here), because we redirect our anger at what’s happening in VZ to some commentary here. How can we help it? We’re PISSED!

    But the site still permits these “negative” posts, sometimes nasty and condescending, which is a very, very big thing.

    It’s something to be respected.

  10. I just love this statement “I thought they’d share my analysis and realize it was in their best interest to avoid it.” Ha!

    Besides dodge elections, when has this government not done what they said they were going to do?

  11. Toro,
    I have watched you in numerous panel discussions and read many of your articles and analysis of the Venezuelan crisis. You frequently spoke about the circle of lunatics that surround Maduro.
    Crazy like a fox is what they are.
    Political pressure will never remove this regime.
    I spent my adult life in government service. Negotiations require that each side gain something. Many times the US announces a successful negotiation with another country without releasing the side deals and aid packages that are promised in order to achieve the necessary results.
    The only thing that I can imagine might make the regime step down would be safe passage to a country that will offer asylum. As long as this regime is confident that they can continue to steal the money, food, medicine and future of Venezuela, they do not have any incentive to leave.
    The knee jerk denunciation of US intervention on the part of many Latin American countries was wrong. The politicians that are playing to there base and stirring up sentiments of “Yankee go home!” or playing into the argument of American imperialism are betraying the people of Venezuela that are suffering this man made tragedy.
    My gut tells me that the Venezuelan military will collapse once faced with the imminent invasion of superior US forces. Air power alone can quickly destroy the command and control, air defenses, tanks, personnel carriers and the joke that is referred to as your air force.
    The 5000 portable surface to air missiles pose a threat. Destroying the stores of these weapons and quickly containing the soldiers to their barracks is a priority.
    Nature abhors a vacuum. This is a critical time for opposition leadership to be unified.
    Who will step in and provide law enforcement, military command and restoration of civilian services? How will the collectives be dealt with and disarmed? These challenges can be overcome. Former military leadership may be capable of temporarily filling the most critical jobs and commands.
    Venezuela can not begin to rebuild until this criminal regime is gone. Quickly dismissing US intervention to remove this regime is foolish.
    When another 100,000 Venezuelans have died, the infant mortality rate is tripled and there is no more garbage left to eat, what will the politicians that have condemned Trump’s remarks be saying then?
    I will bet 100 Big Macs that they will be saying something must be done and condemning the US for not intervening sooner.
    The people that are eating the garbage, watching their children die and are suffering under this regime may have a different opinion than the politicians that are comfortably isolated from the horrors of the Chavez/ Maduro/Castro/ Al-Assami-Hezbollah criminal regime.

    • “The 5000 portable surface to air missiles pose a threat” to Venezuelan air traffic also. A few missiles in rebel military hands could stop all Vzla helicopters and aircraft (military and civilian including Cuban). Capturing these missiles and using them against Maduro should be priority.

  12. Kudos on this frank and candid post; it was refreshing to read and serves a way to reboot after having take stock. One thing after the constituyente sham that is clear though is the illegitimacy of the sitting gov’t now before the world and in Venezuela. And for all those who say the street protests were less than effective it has to be acknowledged that in large part they’ve called greater attention to the crisis there and have helped to consolidate opinions against the regime internationally and at home.

  13. I will stick with my own opinion since the very begining. Back in June I thought the constituyente would do nothing good to maduro.

    Just remember that back in February, the country was very quite and maduro ruling freely. Only minor hindrances inside and outside the country.

    Now, things have changed. The chavismo is cracked and divided. People like the Attorney General, even some psuv deputies, former top chavista ministers, some chavista writers, aporrea, and who knows who else all around the country are now openly against maduro. Herman escarrá is on diet preparing himself for his next jump.

    Internationally, things for maduro are even worse. All countries in the whole continent have labeled maduro as a dictator (countries with less population than a caracas-magallanes do not count. Obviously Cuba is an appendix of maduro along with Evo and Ortega so they are meaningless).

    maduro is mentioned everywhere along with words like “kim jong un” or “dictator”. Even the leftist Ecuador, first through its parliament and then through its president considers unacceptable what is happening in the country.

    Which is even more interesting is that Trump’s bombastic announcement did not bring back anyone to support maduro. He is at the same level of kim jong un. Or Saddam.

    how many people did go to streets to defend maduro in the last events? No one.

    So I will keep my forecast of 50/50 chances that maduro stays in power beyond 2019.

    • Maduro is an appendix of Cuba? And, Venezuela has acute appendicitis (pustulant type). I’m sure that everyone here talking about getting rid of NM as being THE solution to Venezuela’s problems realize that it’s really getting rid of the Puppet Master and many other various puppets, which will be the START of solving Venezuela’s many problems….

  14. Quico-

    One thing you may have overlooked one factor in your analysis because it is so obvious (and excuse me if I missed it in your post; I went through it quickly). Maduro is a dyed-in-the-wool communist despite profiting quite handsomely from his position (like the Castros). Nothing will deter him. This dominates his worldview. Happy to give you a McDonald’s gift certificate next time I see you.

  15. I for one was very wrong. I was sure 31 July would bring all-out chaos and conflict. But then, I also thought opp leadership had a pair.

  16. That Big Mac made me panicky hungry at around 5:00 PM here in Philadelphia, and I could have had one, as you all know, but I didn’t…because I have food at home, all kinds, and I can cook and I have light and heat and air-conditioning and natural gas without interruption, ever. I can fuck around…cook, not cook, go out to dinner before the movie, have dessert first, skip dinner, take a walk, go for a run…go to the bookstore..

    (I live in the city and yes, I can take a walk…)

    I’ve been around. I have seen the effects of the bacillus in Asia, Africa, South and Central America. Eastern Europe.

    Socialism. Inhuman, nightmarish socialism which is ALWAYS, ALWAYS applauded by the left. The media, the fatuous soft scientists of sociology, literature, airfingquote-EDUCATION-airfingquote, gender studies, diversity studies, will never miss a chance to defend it.

    SOCIALISM. Death is its goal. Your death.

    (Oh by the way, if you get the itch, Lefty…DO NOT lecture me about Scandinavia. You don’t know what you’re talking about.)

    Most of my Venezuelan friends have escaped, but for those of you who remain: I hope to God that someday, when the last of the leftist murderers have been blown out of Venezuela, that you can walk freely around your town…eat whatever the fuck you want to eat, learn or not, build or not, make love or (actually no choice there), argue or not, disagree or agree or shrug it off and trust that it is all your right and that you don’t have to lose your life for anything other than your own bad habits or unlucky genes.

    I think about you every day.

  17. Gangsters while wielding a gun against an unarmed victim are seldom bested by the latter , not because they are smarter or craftier than their victims but because because being shameless and ruthless the gun gives them the power to decide things totally in their favour ……., to despise the victim because he is ‘outsmarted’ by the gangster is really apalling ………and dishonest !!

    If the gun changed hands then we would realize the true measure of the gangsters mediochrity…..!!

  18. Sun Tzu: “The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.”

    Keep up the fantastic work and ignore the trolls.

  19. No teason to expect change until the funds flow chanhe…still hoping the usa escrows all of the us oil $ and only disperses according to what the national assembly decides…will be interesting anyway

  20. This outsider says that any predictions that don’t accord sufficient weight to ideological factors will err. One reason why left wing dictatorships are harder to topple than their right wing cousins is the messianic call of the leftist ideology. In the long run I speculate that the future of Venezuela will be determined by emigration more than oil prices. If the educated middle class flees the country the future of Venezuela is more likely an enduring left wing dictatorship.

    • 80% of Venezuelans are officially poor, most in extreme poverty by international standards. Very little Venezuelan “middle class” is left, and most of that wouldn’t even reach poor status by U. S.income standards.using a real currency exchange rate.

  21. Quico: no worries, my friend. Ain’t nobody got no crystal ball. It does take some courage to make a prediction, especially about things that matter, and you can’t be right about everything. Even Luis Aparicio made an error every now and then, it doesn’t mean he wasn’t a great player.

    I for one can’t heap scorn upon you for having been wrong, because the vast majority of political commentators never write anything like an “accountability post.”

    Keep writing, keep educating, and yes, keep forecasting. You know how little the media here in the US cover Venezuela; CC is THE place to go deep and to stay current.

  22. You then need every educated person to remain home and that will be very difficult. Leaving is more than understandable.

  23. I have to say i had been waiting for this one almost with the same anticipation as for the one with Nate Silver explaining how the hell Trump won. I appreciate you writing it, takes guts!

    That said i can’t say i care for the logic. If i get it correctly its like i was wrong on (1) the ANC being a destabilizing force and (2) Maduro dismissing its destabilizing power. To my mind if you were wrong about (1) then (2) is absolutely irrelevant. If it was not destabilizing then there was no point in assuming (or not) that he would ignore it. He had nothing to ignore, if it wasn’t destabilizing. There was no “voices of caution” there was no need for “veto power”.

    Yet there seems to be a sense of not being totally wrong about the ANCs destabilizing nature. That is reinforced with the passive aggressive “.Personally, I still think that’s likely to catch up with them.” And beyond the big macs i think that the resistance to conclude that there is no discontent in the FANB even after what actually took place is worrying to me.

    If you will indulge me, what scenario is more likely?
    Scenario 1 the ANC caused huge discontent in the FANB, nobody wanted it, it split Chavismo. Maduro ignored it and got away with it. And in doing so he disarmed the opposition, killed the street protest and appeared to be stronger and with a more unified group of people around it than before. That would make him a political genius, one that saw a high risk move, calculated the risk, accurately foretasted he could pull it off and went in for the high reward that typically comes with high risk.

    Scenario 2 is that the discontent was not there in the first place. There was never any hard evidence that there was. We were all misled by intel and that the FANB (as it looks today) has always being rodilla en tierra behind him. Chavismo knew they could pull it off, they didn’t care about the calle or the international community and they did it.

    What scenario is more believable to you?

    And please don’t tell me the Paramacay thing proves there is discontent. That was a rebel guy (not an officer) who went, convinced a few soldaditos and stole some guns and had people shot. That is no evidence of any actual officer being unhappy. IF it was a real thing the government would have never given it any media attention.

    Now the worst part of believing in the first scenario against all evidence is that it happens to be the scenario that we WANT TO BELEIVE. The one that gives us hope and a sense that there is still a chance of something good to come.

    I get it, i’m right there with you….but it doesn’t make it accurate.

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