Is Our Fate the Same as Cuba’s?

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Photo: Francetvinfo, retrieved

The irony is embarrassing: in a family of professional political commentators and rabid whiskey-chugging, fortune-telling pundits, it was my Prados-del-Este hypochondriac grandmama who was the most foreboding.

“Chávez is taking us straight to Cuba!” she used to say, to our most loving derision in our Sunday sobremesas.

“But Cuba is an island, mamama – plus, it was the Cold War.” The same could never happen to us, we thought. Venezuelans love money, our genes can’t carry communism. We have oil and the Americans won’t let us. Plus, “Rómulo Betancourt used to say…”

But, oh boy, she was onto something. With our economy in free-fall, our cities flooded by trash, the government’s official propaganda going full-on Orwellian, our private industry in shambles and our populace in hungry submission to the state, we actually do look like Cuba now.

This is bad news today, but worse news tomorrow. If our fate equals Cuba’s under Castro, then we’re in for 40 more years of this mess.

I spent the larger part of 2017 diving into history books (Chinese, Cuban, Russian), looking for reasons to disagree with this doomed outlook. It was a desperate quest for hope; I don’t know if I found it. But at least it yielded me these three truths:

The Utopia is dead

Central to all socialist revolutions is the hope of one day arriving at the communist Utopia. With a murderous “the-end-justifies-the-means” logic, both the Russian and Cuban revolutions hoped to convince their citizens that all sacrifices were designed for future prosperity. Nobel prize winner Svetlana Alexievich’s masterful “Second-Hand Time” testifies that, to a large extent, they succeeded: many old Soviets are nostalgic of what this utopian propaganda gave them.

Chavéz is dead and chavismo died with him

Communism’s true opium of the masses: a quasi religious narrative of blue cities and constant fights with eternal enemies. A trick for communist leaders to scapegoat economic setbacks and blindfold everyone, showing them only the future.

Lenin (against the backdrop of the tsarist empire and WWI), and Castro (in his rebellion at the excesses of the Batista regime), effectively personified this narrative. Chávez, to an extent, did too. It couldn’t be otherwise: they were these narratives’ heroes.

The problem is, Chavéz is dead and chavismo died with him. According to Datanálisis, only 4% of Venezuelans believe in the guerra económica – the last iteration of the chavista narrative. Indeed, a majority of Chavistas identify themselves as “chavistas no maduristas.” Maduro’s version of the Revolution is, like the USSR in the 80s, in a crisis of faith.

This makes it profoundly fragile.

The Bolivarian Revolution was rich once

Another effect of Chávez’ death is that it split the historical idea of the Bolivarian revolution: what he left, and what Maduro did after. Many Venezuelans’ idea of the past is no longer the “Cuarta República”, it’s Chávez oil-drunk regime. The Soviets and Cubans, on the other hand, pointed to the past as a wasteland. It made things easier.

The possibility of the oil industry drying out completely due to sanctions and/or default is its biggest threat yet

Of course this isn’t enough to bring Madurismo down. Ours is no longer a democracy: public uproar alone will not remove those in power. Thing is, this memory of prosperity affects the ruling class too, the middle-ranking bureaucrats and military officers who used to have it very good, but now have to share decreasing flows of money with a changing class of enchufados.

For the plutocratic feudal state that Madurismo has become, this prospect of shrinking largesse is particularly worrying. Indeed, the possibility of the oil industry drying out completely due to sanctions and/or default is its biggest threat yet.

Lacking ideology, Maduro’s power is sustained only by money. With hyperinflation and default looming, he’ll soon be too poor to buy it.

Maduro sucks at totalitarianism

Three revolutions, three successions of mustachios. Stalin, Raúl Castro, Nicolás Maduro. How did each deal with the hard task of taking over from the big guy? Simple: by taking total control of the State.

Well, the first two. Maduro sucks at it.

Maduro’s only policy has been to not change the fragile status quo keeping him in power

Stalin, through the “Great Purge”, and Raúl, through one of the most patiently choreographed successions of the modern era, managed to claim control of intelligence services, the military, the industrial power-brokers, the food distribution, the diplomatic machine, the arts and sciences intelligentsia, the junior cadres of their Parties, and so on, of the countries they inherited. They planned, for God’s sake. The economy wasn’t always good – but when they commanded, it obeyed.

Maduro, facing bulging paramilitary groups, an imported intelligence service, competing money men with access to power, bulging black markets, a military that functions precisely through disobeying the law, the malandros and, in sum, the completely anarchic composition of today’s Venezuela, can only wish he had some control.

Of course, he could do like Stalin and implement inner-party terror, or like Fidel who reigned in the Cuban mafia and disarmed his own Milicias Nacionales Revolucionarias. Instead, Maduro’s only policy has been to not change the fragile status quo keeping him in power. The economy, the monopoly of violence, the back-dealings within the PSUV, the loyalty of the paramilitary… his control dries up by the day.

“Ajá, ¿y entonces?”

Madurismo is losing the battle for the future (legitimacy), the present (state control) and the past (existing power structures). When compared to similar dictatorships in the past, it stands out by its inherent unstableness.

This implies one thing only. Venezuela is now in what complexity theorists call the “Edge of Chaos”, a system so unstable that anything, however minor, can set off an explosive chain reaction. Maduro is drenched in fuel, at the mercy of an unhappy spark.

And I haven’t mentioned exogenous factors; my aim was to argue madurismo is falling under its own weight. The international panorama adds more fire to the mix. Relative to Castro during the Cold War, Maduro lacks international insulation: there’s even more matches around him.

So no, mamama, con todo el amor del mundo, I still disagree. This is not Cuba, it never has been and it never will be. Venezuela’s current system cannot possibly last forty years. This river is taking us elsewhere, maybe it’ll be good, most likely it won’t.

But there’s a chance.

 

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M.A. in Economics from the University of Edinburgh. Madrid based. Wealth management, roots in banking and microfinance. Voracious reader of Classics, specially the Russians, and History. Caraqueño and Caraquista, inescapably a lover of Salsa, wheat talk and Rum. Fascinated by South America's indigestion of modernity, owes his political understanding mostly to Octavio Paz, Ivan Karamazov and dad.

57 COMMENTS

  1. Definition of an oxymoron:

    “The problem is, Chavéz is dead and chavismo died with him….. .Indeed, a majority of Chavistas identify themselves as “chavistas no maduristas.”

    I stopped reading there.

    Chavismo, in its essence, is faaaaaaaaaaaaaar from dead. Arguably, it’s practically thriving in the region. Castro-Chavismo, Populism or ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’ are all rooted in massive ignorance, alienation and a certain disdain for affluent classes or “burguesia capitalista”. Elements that are very much alive worldwide, especially in Latin America. Without going very far, look at Petro next door, Mexico, Colombia.. or right at home.. Falcon, the Chavistoide MUD.. Nonsense.

  2. You’re right about that. Maybe I should’ve clarified.

    Chavismo is dead in the sense Maduro is seen as illegitimate heir thereof. My argument, that this makes HIM particularly fragile, stands though.

    Anyways.

    Saludos,

    AM.

    • But Maduro is just a Tonto Util, a puppet for Cuba, for Padrino, Cabello and the Narcos. Chavismo is an entire machine, a pseudo ideology made for crooks, which includes even the MUD and Falcon. That pest is very much alive in the region.

  3. I don’t know about that yet. The government may not have much money left, but it’s still enough money left to exercise a strong social control through the CLAPs, and as long as that remains, they won’t have to worry about to many people protesting for food.

    Also, most of the government’s top officials are Maduro loyalists, with the notable exception being Diosdado. Maduro may not have implemented a purge, but the sacking of Luisa Ortega and Rafael Ramírez is proof enough he’s following the Chávez playbook of surrounding yourself with loyalists.

  4. I tend to agree with your analysis. I just finished telling my wife that, although I cannot say what Venezuela will look like in one year, I can guarantee that it will be very different than right now. She rewarded my brilliant insight by calling me “Pendejo”.

    Of course, the real question is will we have a positive future to look forward to, or just more misery under a different sort of regime? The “Edge of Chaos” is a good description. At some point, nearly any alternative appears better than chaos.

    The scenario that bodes worst for Venezuela’s future is the one in which, while the diplomats flounder, Cuba seizes the initiative in the midst of the chaos to send it’s own troops to impose order and effectively annex Venezuela.

    If that happens, you could be offering apologies to your grandmother.

    • I believe the cuban ocupation threat is vastly overstated, most cubans that came here just used the country as a springboard to the usa, and I doubt that there are enough cuban psycopathic fanatics to take over the whole country, they are crucial advisors to the regime sure, but they couldn’t rule venezuela alone without most of chavismo

      • Well, I disagree with you.

        Cubans occupy pretty much all the important posts in SENIAT, the Registries and Notaries and many ministries. Never mind the way they have burrowed into the military.

        So yes, perhaps it is not an invading army a la Angola. But they certainly occupy the nerve centers of Venezuela!

        Every WW2 Germany has its Petain/Vichy setup.

        Cuba has managed to be an occupying force with relatively few military people, although their overall population in Venezuela is reputed to number about 60K. How many of those will take up arms to support the Regime when push comes to shove?
        Best to think 100%, anything less is a bonus.

        • Considering that any Cubans found in Venezuela after a regime change would be in mortal danger, I think they would be sufficiently motivated.

    • Even the “educated” elite is mostly Socialist. Now they’ve had the innovative idea of rebranding the same losers as Frente Amplio and expect people to take them seriously. This is the people that welcomed Fidel back in ’89 and are now unhappy about the consequences of their choices.

      If the regime falls tonight, Venezuela is still doomed.

    • Contrary to the Chavista/PSF narrative of the Fourth Republic being a model of capitalism run rampant, a lot of the Venezuelan economy was run by government-owned entities- which meqns socialism. PDVSA. Aluminum. Steel. The Guri hydroelectric complex. Telecommunications (until privatized).And so forth.
      Granted, a lot of those government-owned companies weren’t badly run- PDVSA and hydroelectric come to mind. (No, telecommunications do NOT come to mind as being well-run.) But that also means that a lot of people have memories of socialism being run well- before Chavismo.

    • One of the reasons Carlos Andres Perez was impeached was his decision to bring in more market based policies during his second term.

      CAP finally understood that market based policies were beneficial, only to meet fierce resistance from his cabinet and from within his own party. Too many “cambur” chasers (today we call them enchufados) saw their patches of corruption threatened by these policies.

      You could argue that his impeachment is a major milestone in the birth of chavismo, and it set the stage for what was to follow.

  5. “Many Venezuelans’ idea of the past is no longer the “Cuarta República”, it’s Chávez oil-drunk regime. The Soviets and Cubans, on the other hand, pointed to the past as a wasteland. It made things easier.”

    You say that Chavismo died with Chavez, but unfortunately, it’s precisely because “Many Venezuelans’ idea of the past is no longer the “Cuarta República”, it’s Chávez oil-drunk regime,” that although they are definitely not Maduristas, they are definitely Chavistas. They all long for the good old days, for “this memory of prosperity affects the ruling class too, the middle-ranking bureaucrats and military officers who used to have it very good, but now have to share decreasing flows of money with a changing class of enchufados.”

    That’s the problem. So many are still hoping the oil price will go up and things will go back to the bacchanalean times of Chavez, when there was money for all to steal and no one had to worry about working!!!

  6. Much as the Mexican “army” long ago invaded the United States, Cuba’s “military” is well-entrenched with all going according to plan.

      • Thanks Mr. Crispin. Lots of power and communication problems here over the last week. I told the woman that there could have been a nuclear war under way and I’d have been none the wiser.

        • MRubio
          I hope you see this. I have been trying to call you with no success.
          I left you a message on your post the other day. I’m trying to get a cell phone to our friend in Caracas. She has been robbed again.
          How is our granddaughter doing? If there is anything that she needs that I can assist with please let me know.
          I think the phone system is no longer functioning as far as international calls are concerned. I will keep trying.

  7. Going full Cuba is probably better than full Somalia. (Never go full Somalia.) Since there is oil involved, maybe Libya is a better example of the future. The cultures are obviously different, but the underlying theft, corruption, lack of education, Marxism, etc., have similarities. And oil prices don’t matter if you are producing any. From what I am reading on this blog and other sources, Venezuela oil production is in a death spiral. What will happen when there is no more free gas to consume or to smuggle to Columbia as a ways to make $$?

    This could go a lot of directions, but I’m predicting some sort of Cuba-Libya hybrid. The 2% in charge will be fine (filthy rich). Another 10-15% doing the bidding of the 2% will muddle along. Everyone else is fucked. The idea of Venezuela as a modern western country (and Caracas as a modern city) is dead, and that wont change for decades. The cars will be circa 2000’s, instead of 1950’s. Not as cool. Sad.

    • Fundamentally different situations led to the Cuban revolution vs rise of Chavez. The reason the cars are old, and the primary reason for Cuba’s extreme impoverishment is due to the now nearly 70 year old blockade of the island.. That is not to suggest that an unimpeded communist Cuba would have thrived, but it is unfair to suggest that the fault lies entirely with socialist communist policies. Internally they could not be more different, where Cuba is an extremely safe country (due to being a police state, to be sure,) Venezuela stands as one of the most dangerous and violent countries in the world.. Also unfair to suggest similarities in lack of education, theft, and corruption… Cuba in fact retains one of the highest literacy rates in latin america (pre revolution it had among the lowest rates), and provides relatively strong education (though sprinkled with state propaganda) and health services (obviously severely lacking in resources and funding..) There is a reason VZ was importing Cuban doctors in exchange for Venezuelan Oil… Both are obviously corrupt, though I would also say that in VZ corruption is rampant at virtually all levels, where in Cuba serious corruption, and theft, is more concentrated at higher levels of government..

  8. I agree with your assessment. Maduro is in unstable stability for the reasons that you state and I think things are on the move already:

    1)-9 Colonels were put in jail with a threat of 30 years in Ramo Verde over the weekend.
    2)-Godgiven knows that he is the next man to be purged and there is no where for him to go.
    3)-People are even angrier, sicker and hungrier than last year and the “Frente Amplio Nacional” even has disenchanted Chavistas in their ranks (this is of note!), so if they can mobilize the people there could be another round of ‘calle caliente’.
    4)-For the past year, the military is running the whole country. They run food distribution, electrical systems, PDVSA, you name it and the country is still going to hell in a hand basket. Given the resounding failure they may be ready to get out of the business or running the country.

    • Nine members of Venezuela’s army jailed on treason charges
      Caracas (AFP) – A Venezuelan military court on Saturday ordered seven army officers and two sergeants to be jailed on charges of treason and “instigating a rebellion” against President Nicolas Maduro.

      If found guilty the accused soldiers “face up to 30 years prison,” defense attorney for the suspects
      All nine — six lieutenant colonels, a first lieutenant and two sergeants, one of them a woman — were ordered sent to prison in a hearing that ended early Saturday, Medina said.
      “No concrete evidence against the officers was presented, only testimony based on alleged intelligence reports,” the lawyer said.

      Two of those detained are battalion commanders — one in Caracas, and the other in San Cristobal, on the border with Colombia.

      The soldiers were taken into custody by military counter-intelligence agents on March 2, accused of belonging to an anti-Maduro movement known as the “Movement of Transition towards the Dignity of the People,” Medina said.

      The arrests come more than a week after Maduro ordered 24 retired and active duty military officers demoted and kicked out of the service.

      Among them was Raul Baduel, a minister of defense under Maduro’s predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez….

      • These arrests, fake trials, and imprisonment will only increase resentment and lack of trust in Maduro’s government among the military at all levels. Maduro has not learned that military respond to bribes not punishment. Watch out Maduro.

    • renacuajo67, could you expand on your comments about Godgiven Hair? While I haven’t been on line much over the last week or so, I can’t say I’ve seen or heard anything that would indicate that he and Maduro are at odds. While I long suspected he’d be a thorn in Maduro’s side, he’s long fooled me by seemingly throwing his full support behind everything the regime does.

      Any insight on this subject would be greatly appreciated.

      • Well, I haven’t heard of any noise anywhere. But remember maduro detached themselves from psuv by making a new party or umbrella party or whatever called something along the lines of “somos venezuela”, leaving diosdi in his psuv vote, diosdado also didn’t appear in their ridiculous sign language video and finally diosdado pushed the psuv card thingy probably to try to keep the psuv with some political power. That’s about what I can think.

        • And Diosdi asked for elections of the assembly and they we denied. As it stands he is the party boss of has a been party, namely PSUV. He holds no real position of power in the government. He also sees the purge of Ramirez, Ortega and generals

          • OH yeah, he “suggested” to mix presidential with congress elections, I had forgotten about that,

      • Godgiven has his hooks deep into the SENIAT, the ports and in the military.

        After his stint as president of the Assembly, he did drop off in terms of public appearances, but not by much.

        I’m guessing he’s keeping his head low as much as possible, perhaps hoping to escape more sanctions (or, when I have a scotch or two I begin to think he’s got a deal with Uncle Sam to rat out the rest, which is why the US has not sanctioned him yet.)

        Never underestimate his reach. There are still, even after a few purges, that owe him fealty in the military.

  9. I also don’t think Maduro can go Full Cuba. While he definitely has the support of the Military and the Apparatchiks are all on his side (even Diosdado), things are about to get a lot worse. By now it’s obvious that we can’t pay all those outstanding PDVSA bonds. Hell, we can’t even pay the interests of them this year. So, I think it’s pretty obvious that we’ll default this year. And if that happens, we will lose Citgo. Which will be the equivalent of an Oil Embargo without the US lifting a finger. And, nobody will fund Venezuela |after we lose Citgo. If the Russkies or the Chinese were willing to, they would have done it already. They’ll run as much interference as they can at the UN just to piss off the US . But, by now it’s obvious that they’re not willing to spend one more cent in this sinkhole. By then, There will be no money to keep the Military quiet, and let’s not even talk about those CLAP boxes. IOW things will get MUCH MUCH worse after April/May. Cuba managed to last this long because they got funded by the USSR. That allowed them to close the economy and turn them in the basket case they are. Maduro has nobody to fund him through that transition. Hell, after May, I suspect that even the Cubans around here will bail out.

    • I think it was reported here “people” protesting after governor and mayor elections claiming their clap or their pernil for voting…

      Appalling stuff.

  10. This is the question you made “Is Our Fate the Same as Cuba’s?”. So many people answered, not so long, “No vale, yo no creo”. Maybe this people doesn’t live in Vzla anymore at all. Maybe the majority of them. It’s my guess. But, besides it, there’s a fact: Whith oil at 100 US$, maduro would be a good president. That was the biggest support for hch. Nothing more. So, vzlan society supports presidents based on hope, and in their capacity to deliver US dollars for everybody and everything. And my answer is: Do you still have any doubt?

  11. “This is not Cuba, it never has been and it never will be.”

    It is already worse. We have worse crime rates than they.

    The damage socialists and populists do is irreversible, What the Gracci brothers did in the roman republic set the base for its fall and the story repeats again and again, even at a smaller scale you have the munster rebellion and the Jim Jones church, socialism can only end where it always end. Tragedy and mass death.

    Being an exceptionalist , specially for venezuelan, a people who are still mostly socialist is down right retarded.

  12. This is an important article, with some good historic perspective. After all all it’s about the fate of an entire country we love, formerly known as Venezuela. Too bad most of its premises are fundamentally wrong, as are its “three truths”. Luckily for the author, the ultimate conclusion is somewhat correct, although no happy ending by any means.

    1/ “The Utopia is dead”.

    No it ain’t, far from it. For the reasons I pointed out above and then some. “Chavismo” (or populism, whatever you call it in its many mutating forms and disguises), can only be conquered by some degree of basic knowledge and education of the clueless masses. To point out just one example, I hope Colombia survives the Petro Chavismo current threat, and if they do, it’s because they are generally better educated, less ignorant overall than Klepto-Cubazuela’s average populace. They might not be fooled by the obvious Chavistoide lies we fell for, and many still fall for today. Because they have a bit more knowledge of basic World History and Economics 101, for example.

    2/ “The Revolution was rich..” –

    It still is and will be for a while, with all the natural resources on such a big territory, twice the size of France. If oil goes down in decades to come, they’ll dynamite minerals and continue dealing drugs. Any tropical Kleptocracy can find plenty of cash to stay in power, after bribing the military, as they do in numerous African and Latin American countries with much less resources. During bad times, they just tighten the repression, as Cuba and many others have done. Just watch as these Kleptozuelan Genocidal thugs survive a severe US economic embargo soon, with $35 Million less per day for bribes. They’ll live on the enormous drug trade, and repress any uprising. Anything to avoid jail and losing their stolen fortunes.

    3/ “Maduro sucks at totalitarism”.

    First, it ain’t just Maduro, it’s hundreds of top Military thugs, dozens of Chavista Narco-Capos of all sorts, dozens of Mega-thieves in the oil mafia, food mafia, exchange control/financial mafias, countless top crooks who really have the power and call the shots, including the Cuban Intelligence, plus Middle East mercenaries. Sure, they are not as sophisticated, efficient dictators as the Cubans or the Chinese, but they have bribed just about every sector of the country, from the military to the businesses left, especially the oil, to the police, ‘education’/brain washing system, even the Muddy “opposition” is infiltrated. Chavistas everywhere, at all levels, world record number of “ministries” and “generals” and “alcaldias”.. plus about 5 Million complicit pueblo-people Enchufados, corrupt ‘public employees’ on top of all. Plus the suspect “MUD”, full of rats like Falcon, Nicmer Evans.. After 19 years they have Kleptozuela grabbed by the balls. All powers, including the imaginary “Legislative” and “Judicial”, not to mention “Electoral” branches of the Narco-Kleptocracy. Additionally, many imperfect dictatorships in 3rd world countries have survived for decades with much bigger deficiencies and a weaker hold on society.

    Thus, all “three truths” exposed here are false. And yet, the conclusion to this important article and crucial topic is somewhat correct, to some extent, in a sad way:

    “This is not Cuba, it never has been and it never will be. Venezuela’s current system cannot possibly last forty years. This river is taking us elsewhere, maybe it’ll be good, most likely it won’t.”

    Right. Klepto-Narco Cubazuela ain’t no Cuba. For numerous reasons. Notably it’s size, it’s strategic geo-political position, it’s regional and worldwide economic relevance. And that’s the reason that wicked Kleptocracy can’t last 6 decades or 7 decades as North Korea. But not because, as the author here suggests. because the Madurismo incompetent mega-thieves will implode by themselves, “eso se cae por su propio peso”, no. It’s because the USA, yes our beloved Gringo friends, plus Macron/EU, plus Macri/Piñera and other interested world powers will not let it happen. That’s why.

    They were hoping Kleptozuela would self-destruct and then explode, but as we saw last year, it ain’t happening. 4 Million “opponents” people fled, gave up, vencidos, most will not return. 5 Million people: Enchufados, the country thoroughly kidnapped by the Narcos and Mega-Thieves at all levels. Hard-Core Criminals. Thousands at the top. But know my buddy Rez and others know better. They are waiting for the next election mega-fraud to apply severe sanctions and lay down the hammer. First no more cash for oil, then a few Seal team 6 choppers in the night. Venezuelans should be begging for that, and be thankful.

    So in that sense, there is some oblique ultimate truth to this article. As far as where “this river is taking” Kleptozuela, after a Chavistoide, highly corruptible MUD is forcibly inserted, after the US Marines and the UN leave, sure, it won’t be Cuba II. Or Somalia, or Zimbabwe or Haiti or Nicaragua. Very different animals. Or different shitholes, should I say, ravaged by massive ignorance and various ‘chavismos”. But it won’t be pretty. Expect no expedited, miracle recovery back to the bright decades before el “Comandante” HDP eterno.. Far from that. A huge, deep, extensive damage was done. An entire generation was severely damaged, and worse. The economy utterly destroyed, forever in debt now. Oil will keep going down, they don’t know how to produce shit. And, worst of all, the suspect “MUD” is what’s coming, with an incredibly uneducated, ignorant and highly corruptible new generation. A mess, for 4 more decades, not just like Cuba or as bad as Syria or Somalia, but a shithole of sorts nonetheless, compared to many more advanced, much healthier nations. Honestly, el que se pueda que se vaya, y con toda su familia. Ese peo va pa’ largo..

    • Do not tell Trump supporters that populism (tariffs) is for the ignorant, you will get skewered here. Chávez may have had the foreign reserves to go with important substitution to the nth degree but his rhetoric was pure populist if not his policies.

      MRubio—if you see this, best of wishes concerning Crystal.

    • I hope Colombia survives the Petro Chavismo current threat, and if they do, it’s because they are generally better educated, less ignorant overall than Klepto-Cubazuela’s average populace.

      If Colombia survives, it will do so for the same reason that Peru will survive: been there done that. The siren songs of Chavismo remind Colombians of the FARC. In the 50 years of the FARC’s existence, it hasn’t won many hearts and minds. Similarly, in Peru, they recall both the military socialism of Velasco from 1968-80 (well some do recall that from long ago) and the terror of Sendero Luminoso. Been there, done that.

      As a fossil fuel exporter- coal plus oil- Colombia’s export income, like Venezuela’s export income, has dropped in recent years. In 2013, fuel exports- coal and petroleum- accounted for 69% of Colombia’s exports. Not as bad as Venezuela’s ~98%, but still pretty high. From 2013 to 2016, Colombia’s fuel exports dropped from $40 billion to $16 billion. Non-fuel exports dropped from $19 billion to $16 billion. Overall, exports dropped from $59 billion to $31 billion. Yet per capita income in Colombia (GDP per capita, PPP (constant 2011 international $)) increased from $12,296 in 2013 to $13,124 in 2016.

      I would believe that the example of how Colombia managed the downturn in oil export income, compared to Venezuela’s management of same, would dissuade most Colombians of EVER considering taking that Chavista trip. Piedad Cordoba would beg to differ, I realize.

      Though the best motivations for Colombians to not take that Chavista trip are provided by all the Venezuelans fleeing into Colombia.

      World Bank: World Development Indicators

      • I still think that the previous KLeptozuelan MUDs are responsible for Chavismo: in 4 decades they failed to educate and incorporate the ignorant masses. They alienated them instead. that division and deep resentment created a monster named Chabestia. No way it would have lasted 2 decades in power, and counting, if the populace was slightly better educated and informed, less utterly clueless.

        I’m also sure that if a Pinochet or MPJ had had the same 2 decades in power, instead of Chavismo, Klepto-Narco-Cubazuela would be even better than Chile today.

      • I used to live in Colombia, still have many friends there, and travel there 3-4x/year for work. As impossible as it may seem to believe, given that Colombians have had a front row seat for the horror show that is chavismo, there is a very much less than zero chance that Petro could win.

        I have asked my Colombian friends about this. How it possible? Why hasn’t Latin leftism been thoroughly discredited for all time, especially in a country that is being overrun with Venezuelan refugees?!

        The answer I am given is that Petro supporters believe that references to Venezuela are just a right wing scare tactic used by a rich, corrupt political ruling class trying to hold onto their power and privilege. “We are not Venezuela, that could NEVER happen in Colombia.” Anti-Petro Colombians respond saying “Venezuela tampoco era Cuba”

        Petro is in fact incredibly dangerous. Former M19 guerrilla who has defended Venezuela’s constituent assembly and has openly stated that he would like to see a constituent assembly in Colombia.

        It’s too early to panic. It’s not too early to be very concerned. No candidate has enough support at this point to win on the 1st round, but anything could happen in the run-off. If Petro wins…then we could eventually end up with twin Latin leftist narco states.

  13. So, are you saying that a disenchanted chavista with salvageable links to the revolution and the prescence of mind to hire a guy like FRod is neither a fantasy nor such a bad thing?

    Fucking commie.

  14. Okay;

    I don’t know if my prior post ever posted…CC, you have to allow instant posting without moderator approval…but I just read this entire article.

    I really liked it. Very well written and entertaining. And accurately informative.

    My only gripe, but it’s a big one, is the invention of the term “”Madurismo.”

    This doesn’t exist at any level.

  15. “This is not Cuba, it never has been and it never will be.”

    I never cease to be amazed that some people that consider themselves as opposition to chavismo still can’t see that Venezuela is not cuba but worse, it’s a COLONY OF CUBA.

    • This is an important comment. When we accept that Venezuela is a defacto colony of Cuba, a lot of other things make more sense than before.

      How has Maduro, a not particularly smart man, managed to outwit the Opposition and stay in power? Because he is just the frontman for the Cubans.

      The real questions are, as Venezuela descends deeper into chaos, how far will Cuba go to keep their colony? Will they commit troops? Enough to do the job? Do they have enough? How would the U.S. react? Will the other LatAm countries tolerate an overt invasion of South America by Cubans?

      We should try to remember that in this game of Football, the field is all of North and South America, and Venezuela is only the ball.

  16. Andres, maybe instead of being at The Edge Of Chaos, we are immersed in near total chaos? For the future, Madurismo isn’t the problem–Castro-Communism, under whatever leader of the moment, will be the problem, as the 2-bit Island nation is calling the shots, as it has in Nicaragua, may well be doing in Colombia in the foreseeable future, and certainly has Brasil in its sights. The Castro-Communist ideology is inherently expansionist, and finds fertile ground in the traditional Have-Not societies of Latin America. It BEHOOVES the U.S. to excise this spreading cancerous tumor from Venezuela in the near future to avoid much greater damage/danger to their own interests in their LA backyard. If the financial/oil sanctions don’t produce a pro-democracy Venezuelan military response (the Oppo political/Pueblo responses to date have been of minimal effect), then the U.S. must use military force to protect itself geo-politically for the future (No, Dorothy, your opinion/pre-approval will not be solicited–you’re not in Kansas anymore….).

  17. Is Our Fate the Same as Cuba’s? Good question. For those of you naysayers that it will never happen in Venezuela, and at one time I counted myself as one of those, nowadays, I’m not so certain. Unquestionably, Venezuela is not Cuba, but with the on going exodus of Venezuelans in search of greener pastures, I’m reminded of a what the father of a Cuban friend of mine once said after fleeing to Venezuela in the 60’s, “one of the main reasons Cuba became what it is today, is that the middle class left the island”. Can you blame them though? “Dr. Guevara” was quite busy overseeing the firing squads. We may not be there yet, and while starvation and lack of medicines may not be live ammunition, empty shelves are still quite lethal.

    • Obligatory Trainspotting MEME:
      Some hate the Cubans. I don’t. They’re just wankers. We, on the other hand, are COLONIZED by wankers. Can’t even find a decent culture to be colonized BY. We’re ruled by effete assholes. It’s a SHITE state of affairs to be in, Townie, and ALL the fresh air in the world won’t make any fucking difference.

    • In a recent poll, 40% of Venezuelans are planning (yes, planning, not just wishing, though planning and doing are frequently far apart) to leave the Country in the next 12 months….ACNUR (?) just officially classified Venezuelan emigrants as refugees….

  18. “The problem is, Chavéz is dead and chavismo died with him. According to Datanálisis, only 4% of Venezuelans believe in the guerra económica – the last iteration of the chavista narrative.”

    That surely must be a mistake in how they phrased the questions, most people I hear in the street still say that businesses abuse with price increases, venezuelans have yet to be taught the mechanism behind price increases and a lot would still blame the goverment for not regulating enough

  19. “But there’s a chance.”

    Yes, there’s a chance el pueblo will change its culture to begin respecting others’ rights. There’s a chance el pueblo will stop hating themselves and learn to love and accept, and thus turn away from self destructive public policies.

    Ask yourself how.

  20. Good analysis rooted in historical context and thoughtful reflection while still managing to convey some sort of light at the end of the current nightmarish tunnel of hell…. It nonetheless boggles the mind that Maduro’s still standing, almost by dint of gravity-defying ‘black magic’ or the like. Maybe it’s the Russians with Putin as the maestro hechicero…

  21. “Venezuela’s current system cannot possibly last forty years”.

    Of course it can.

    I mean, why wouldn´t it last, I don’ t understand.

    It will last as long as we lack the strenght to fight back.

    I don’ t know if our fate is to be the same as Cuba, but I do know that right now we are even in worse shape than Cuba ever was, so…

    Just as we never imagined that we would arrive to this point, things could easily get even worse in the future.

    It is proven (at least for me) that this dictatorship will never fall by itself.

  22. Anyone notice that …. after a long period of relative silence … he’s back?

    Looks like he is trying to capitalize on anti-Trump sentiment to re-jig his old game. He still has a hard time with basic facts. Why doesn’t some legitimate reporter … hello, Quico … call him on it in the real press? Why isn’t there an expose of him here on CC?

    https://www.usnews.com/opinion/world-report/articles/2018-03-03/new-evidence-the-trump-administration-is-meddling-in-venezuelas-elections

    • Thanks for that link, Weisbrot really is making an effort to defend his buddies. I can not say if he is consciously misrepresenting the facts or if his views are so colored by his (misguided) beliefs. He has zero credibility whatever the case.

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