Photo: Reuters retrieved

Political systems usually have a plan for everything except their end. Focused on staying in power, they exist pretty much the same way all mortals do (they’re human creations, after all): knowing that they’ll die someday but without giving much thought to the matter of delaying it as much as possible. Just like with people, some systems are more successful than others in this task. That’s why the transition from a political system to the other is generally traumatic, like every death, and sufficiently complex as to warrant its own field of study: transitology.

With the democratization process the world experienced after the Berlin Wall fell (known as the third wave of democracy) this science was developed with a focus on transitions from non-democratic regimes to democratic ones, although in the age of “new authoritarianism” and “hyperleadership”, or “reverse-wave de-democratization,” now transitologists talk of reverse transitions, where a democracy starts fading until it eventually disappears.

In the last five years, there’s been much discussion about Venezuela’s transition. In fact, everything indicates that we’re experiencing one, although not the one dissidents had wished for after Hugo Chávez’ death in 2013, or chavismo’s electoral defeat in 2015. On the one hand, it’s clear that this isn’t Chávez’s regime as he structured it back in 2007, when he declared socialism in his zenith. All of its fundamental pillars —popular support, El Comandante’s hyperleadership, oil revenue and the Armed Forces— have crumbled except the latter, as part of a system in which the nomenklatura, which didn’t split and remained in control of the economy, manages the country in a way strongly reminiscent of what specialists call a patrimonialist or even predatory State.

That’s why the transition from a political system to the other is generally traumatic, like every death, and sufficiently complex as to warrant its own field of study: transitology.

Therefore, if we look at the process since 1999, we could talk about a reverse transition going from the previous democratic system, capable of allowing an anti-system candidate to take power, to the situation we lived on May 20, when the electoral event itself had little meaning for Venezuelans.

It was a process with several layers, starting with its bonapartist use of elections to dismantle the previous State and concentrate power on Chávez. This aspect was key for the regime’s international legitimacy, but a problem for his successor when he realized he couldn’t win any more elections. His choice was to practically kill them, first by suspending the recall referendum with dubious rulings; later, politically disqualifying, jailing or exiling many opposition leaders, especially the most popular; and lastly, establishing conditions for regional and later presidential elections that kept the opposition from voting.

Going from the yearly elections held for anything during Chávez’s government, to this situation in which few people care about the electoral event without a substantial change in conditions, is no small change. We could say that the reverse transition that started in 1999 was successful. Perhaps the most notable aspect, in terms of Venezuelan history, is how long it’s taken for that to happen and the fact that the regime isn’t necessarily strengthened after May 20; during the republican period that started in 1830, transitions faced enormous difficulties, as can be expected in a country with great institutional weakness translated into dozens of civil wars. However, although regime changes in the 19th century were characterized by armed conflicts, this didn’t mean lack of respect for certain rules.

It was a process with several layers, starting with its bonapartist use of elections to dismantle the previous State and concentrate power on Chávez.

There was usually a committee in Caracas that awaited the triumphant caudillo while the defeated fled. After these committees, the new president started legitimizing his rule by holding elections for some sort of constituent congress, which ended up convening other elections which invariably resulted in the winning caudillo’s ascent.

When the State started having more solid institutions in the early 20th century, the rules of transitions were established by the law and there was practically no bloodshed after Juan Vicente Gómez died in 1935, and we could say that since then, aside from the military coup in 1948, all transitions (1935,1945, 1958) were framed within the Third Wave of Democratization. The line is severed with Chávez’ election in 1999: from then on, although elections did work for legitimizing the new regime, they’ve also been weakening democracy until, in 2013, Maduro’s election was challenged by the opposition, referendums were suspended in 2016 and in 2018, a sizable part of the international community disregards the validity of a presidential election.

Whether this reverse transition manages to establish a new system in the long term remains to be seen, but it certainly shows that life has a cruel sense of humor: we wanted a political change and we got it.

We’re pioneers in transitology, in the least desirable way.

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69 COMMENTS

  1. I have a very different view. Chavez/Maduro was not a “transition” but rather the final and expected outcome in a steady descend to Populist Anarchy which started after the Perez Jimenez regime 1958, powered by an electoral system that was basically a exclusive contest for Popularity, qualifications be damned.
    We can easily be stuck with this Klepto/Narco regime for decades to come, as some other Dictatorships around the world have proven.
    The current Democratic system based on Universal Suffrage (populism) have failed in many countries, (need evidence, check the historic record).
    Next in line: Irak, South Africa, maybe Mexico.

    • +1
      According to anacyclosis the next stop for Vz is mob rule. Throughout known history, the cycle has never been reversed. It appears to this observer’s untrained eye that chavismo drove the end of democracy and the rise of oligarchy. Beware of the overall downward trend apart from the cycle.

    • even if the system changes there are always going to be the same bolichichos , the militares and the Boulton/Cisneros/Mendozas de siempre controling all industry and monopolies, and politicians dance for money , so who gives a shit any longer? if privatization comes all industry is going to be bought by bolichicos and enchufados who have the capital for it and is always going to come back to the same bullshit.

    • “I have a very different view. Chavez/Maduro was not a “transition” but rather the final and expected outcome in a steady descend to Populist Anarchy”

      Frankly, while I am somewhat sympathetic to the overall gist of it, I disagree with the “Populist Anarchy” descriptor, especially on the latter term. Frankly, Anarchy of any kind would probably be an improvement over Chavismo, if only because it’d be that much harder for the regime to keep its jack boot over the nation’s windpipe in an anarchy. Even Adid didn’t starve Somalia so.

      ” which started after the Perez Jimenez regime 1958, powered by an electoral system that was basically a exclusive contest for Popularity, qualifications be damned.”

      Honestly, “qualifications” are overrated. That doesn’t mean people should not seek to elect qualified candidates, but many of the most important qualifications are intangible characteristics.

      “We can easily be stuck with this Klepto/Narco regime for decades to come, as some other Dictatorships around the world have proven.”

      Sadly, Agreed there.

      “The current Democratic system based on Universal Suffrage (populism) have failed in many countries, (need evidence, check the historic record).”

      Mate, you want to talk about evidence and the historical record? I interact with the historical record for fun and have done everything from commanding General Sucre’s troops in digital battle to learning the color coded clothes of Ryukyan nobility.

      And I agree that universal democratic suffrage has failed in many countries.

      However, I also know that All Systems can and do fail. HOWEVER, it has failed at a much, MUCH lower rate than literally any other system humans have conceived of. And that itself is remarkable. The problem is ultimately, humans themselves. We are a flawed, sinful species and to some degree almost everyone lives down to it. If men were angels, no government would be necessary as Jefferson pointed out.

      Democracy’s survival requires the public to either be ignorant enough to not know, or virtuous enough to not allow themselves to vote themselves bread and circuses out of the public purse or the blood of the minority in the ballot boxes. Chavismo preyed upon an absence of that. But then almost every system requires some degree of virtue.

      And frankly the ravages of an absolute monarchy, an oligarchy, or an artistic “meritocracy” run without virtue are much, Much worse.

      “Next in line: Irak, South Africa, maybe Mexico.”

      Mate, seriously?

      Irak/q’s main problems stem NOT from populist, universal suffrage democracy. They stem from it being REJECTED. One of the key points in any democratic experiment is the first transition of power, how the political leadership will react to a fair defeat.

      Thing is, Maliki and co NEVER HAD TO FACE THIS. Because the likes of Joe Biden and co responded to his electoral defeat by INSTINCTIVELY hitting the breaks, allowing him to ignore the election, letting him keep power, transforming him in essence into a dictator.

      And Maliki understood this all too well. Which was why he and his government rode a deep slide into tyranny soon after.

      Say what you will about a democratic, populist republic but this problem WOULD NOT Have happened if its premises were lived up to.

      Mexico likewise has been in the pocket of the PRI for decades, hence the “Perfect Dictatorship” and in need of some kind of deep seated de-PRIification process.

      South Africa’s just about the only example that fits.

      If we’re gonna talk about the problems of populist democracy, can we at least keep those criticisms anchored to Reality?

      • “The problem is ultimately, humans themselves. We are a flawed, sinful species…”

        Speak for yourself Tovarich…

        Seriously, I reject all original sin claims, be they religious in nature, or scientific. Human beings are as perfect as our thousands of years of evolution permit us to be.

        Our problems arise when we attempt to impose political systems that are not appropriate for our human nature. Communism appeared (to many) to be a scientifically valid way to organise humans, in a political sense. But, it didn’t work. Why? Because it was contrary our nature as individuals. To continue trying to impose Communism and then blaming the people when it doesn’t work is perverse and evil.

        Human nature was forged through many thousands of years of good times and bad times. A couple of times we almost went extinct. But, we survived and went on to build civilizations and dominate the planet. In nature, that is about as “perfect” as it gets.

        Don’t waste your time critisizing human nature. Instead, critisize our political systems and work to design the best possible systems that work for us based on our actual nature.

        • @Roy “Speak for yourself Tovarich…”

          A: “Tovarich” is not a term I am associated with.

          and

          B: I do.

          The problem is that I also speak for the likes of you and everybody else. And if you really, really think you’re not flawed or sinful I have a bridge in Manhattan to sell you.

          And that holds true even if we go with the idea that there is no higher or supernatural factor.

          “Seriously, I reject all original sin claims, be they religious in nature, or scientific.”

          You are welcome to reject all original sin claims, but you are not welcome to reject the idea that humans are perfect or infallible.

          Because it is scientifically demonstrable, impartial, and objective fact that we are not. We do not possess perfect knowledge, least of all out of the womb. We do not possess perfect morality, or perfect fairness. Or so on and so forth.

          And we are most definitely prone to arrogance, pride, and hubris. Including the refusal to accept or deal with the former limitations in a constructive manner.

          Quick: Without looking, who were the sides that fought the War of the Golden Stool?

          Answer: The Ashante and the British Empires.

          Now, on the off chance you knew that from the get go,

          “Human beings are as perfect as our thousands of years of evolution permit us to be.”

          Which is to say Not Perfect.

          If you understand evolution, you understand it isn’t a means of obtaining perfection, it’s a means of getting Adequate for Survival. At most it is a process of perfecting, but not becoming perfect.

          “Our problems arise when we attempt to impose political systems that are not appropriate for our human nature. ”

          Agreed.

          “Communism appeared (to many) to be a scientifically valid way to organise humans, in a political sense. But, it didn’t work. Why? Because it was contrary our nature as individuals. ”

          Indeed, among other things.

          Thing is, a lot of things are contrary to our nature as individuals, and our nature as social animals. There’s a reason why genuinely free human societies have been a rareity. The exception, rather than the rule. And we can see parallels of this with our closest relatives the Apes and Chimps. Human society seems to be by nature akin to a series of grooming gangs or strongarm societies.

          “To continue trying to impose Communism and then blaming the people when it doesn’t work is perverse and evil.”

          Agreed. Which is why I don’t.

          “Human nature was forged through many thousands of years of good times and bad times. ”

          Human nature began very early in our existence as a species, from when we began to break from our slightly upright ape cousins into possessing something else. Even before the many thousands of years of good times and bad began.

          The thousands of years of time didn’t create it, but it did shame it.

          “A couple of times we almost went extinct. But, we survived and went on to build civilizations and dominate the planet. ”

          Indeed.

          “In nature, that is about as “perfect” as it gets.”

          Maybe if we define it very narrowly. But we still have rooms for it.

          “Don’t waste your time critisizing human nature.”

          No. I reject that.

          You know why?

          Because if you bother to study the thousands upon thousands of years of human history, you’ll notice a little something.

          Self-examination and self-criticism are incredibly valuable tools in our evolutionary toolbox for survival. They are means of improvement, not just for the species or the community in the span of evolutionary time, but for the individual in their lifetime.

          And they can certainly be taken to ludicrous and self-destructive extremes (see: Maoist “Self-Criticism” sessions).

          But they are also key ways to promote genuine improvement. Asking ourselves how we can get better.

          And FAILING THAT, they can help us better understand ourselves and DESIGN SYSTEMS to better manage and restrain the problems in human nature.

          Hence why the US Constitution was written fo

          ” Instead, critisize our political systems and work to design the best possible systems that work for us based on our actual nature.”

          Which involves understanding our actual nature. And that in turn involves realizing it.

          Starting with the key basic freaking concept that We Are Not Perfect. Either perfectly good or perfectly bad.

          All criticism of human nature and political systems must stem from that key realization.

          It’s also why I condemn the Chavistas, and the whole idea that Torovolt has that if only we could find the RIGHT CREDENTIALED People, the WISE people, those who would be resistant to the Evil Populists all would be well!

          No. Sorry. Humans don’t work like that.

          • “Tovarich” is Russian for Comrade.

            As for the rest, I meant what I said. You may take or leave it as you choose.

        • @Roy ““Tovarich” is Russian for Comrade.”

          I am well aware.

          Butsuffice it to say, I am not a Communist or Socialist.

          “As for the rest, I meant what I said. You may take or leave it as you choose.”

          Unfortunately, human frailty is at least one point nobody gets to take or leave purely as one chooses.

        • “’The problem is ultimately, humans themselves. We are a flawed, sinful species…’
          Speak for yourself Tovarich”

          Roy: have you ever failed to live up to your own standards?

          “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”

          • Coñoooo gente!

            I didn’t say that I was perfect. Not even close!

            I said that I reject the concept of original sin and that humanity as a species is flawed. Individuals have a lot of flaws, among them being thick as a brick about listening well.

            Don’t read too much into the “Tovarich”. It was a “thing” in the sixties.

  2. Was our fall from a dysfunctional democracy to a horror dictatorship inevitable ??, could our democracy have hobbled along and endured with everyone whining and complaining but avoding falling into the abyss of misery we now inhabit ??Certainly our democracy was frail , its institutions were frail , its political leadership wanting in many of the qualities that a country needs to develop into something better , quite a few venezuelans lacked in the education and political maturity that democracies thrive on…..every thing hinged precariouslly on an economy dependent on a single product, oil and the vagaries governing the fluctuations of its price in world markets …..but still our fall could have been avoided but for an accident of history , the appearance of Chavez that snake charmer whose narcissism and ideological conceits and hatreds required him to destroy what made our democracy viable despite its many defects , if he had not been born we probably would have remained a dysfunctional democracy but very likely have managed to retain some normalcy in the way our life went on……not the ruin that we now have become…..
    Chance has a way of turning things around , we must acquire two notions , one that there are no absolutely sattisfactory govts , we are never to have the govt that we dream of , that perhaps with a bit of good luck we can have a tolerable govt , one that doesnt destroy our lives……the other that we can never be complacent about how unexpected events can change our situation for the worst……., we must exercise constant caution about how something fortuitous can change things radically and for the worse…!!

    • Though the historians do speak about Venezuela’s flawed democracy prior to Chavez, I think subsequent history demonstrates that nobody, anywhere, should be sanguine about the health of their democracies, or the institutions that support them.

      To pick up on your point about peoples’ expectations, the experience in Venezuela shows us how it is in fact difficult to make a pitch for reform (as opposed to radical change), for the rule of law and institutional independence (as opposed to sweeping away the barriers to change), and for managerial competence (as opposed to a distrust of experience and ability), in the face of a con-man who is prepared to make extraordinary promises, blatantly stoke people’s fears and prejudices, perpetually lie, and abuse the rules and norms of his position for advantage. We see that difficulty growing in many “civilized” countries, mine being no exception. People can be persuaded to apply a different and much less critical standard to their elected leaders than say, their dentist or their plumber. And not just people from tropical countries.

      The question is, when people’s expectations are brought back down to earth, when circumstances expose the con of the con-man, what have they lost by then, and is what they have lost irrevocably lost, or can there be a transition back? Possibly, the alternative to democracy is so inherently unstable, that in a country that has had a democratic tradition, even a very flawed one, people will eventually come back to what has worked better. But I don’t think much comfort can be taken in such hopes or generalizations. We need to keep an eye on our governments like we keep an eye on things like our health, or our personal finances, and not make wild bets on quick fixes.

        • I have. And the response is sometimes uncannily similar to a response I would get in the CC comments section, though generally a little more friendly and polite.

          It all leaves a person with a little feeling of vertigo.

          • Stupidity doesn’t deserve politeness.

            Seriously:

            What the hell were you trying to say in your post? Do you fantasize yourself as some great thinker?

            Because believe me and many others here.

            You’re not.

      • @Canucklehead Well said.

        We have differed and quarreled in the past, and I fully expect we will do so again. But you are right. The old refrain that “It can’t happen here!” is a siren song on the way to ruin. Nobody and nowhere is safe. Only safe-er.

    • My conclusion from this is that, if democracy is so fragile that a single charismatic charlatan can undo it, then there is some inherent flaw in the concept of modern “one man, one vote” democracy.

      I think that we can turn government into more of a meritocracy than a popularity contest. Furthermore, I don’t think that all that many tweaks to the original concept are needed to achieve it.

      • “My conclusion from this is that, if democracy is so fragile that a single charismatic charlatan can undo it, then there is some inherent flaw in the concept of modern “one man, one vote” democracy.”

        Of course there are inherent flaws in the concept of One Person, One Vote democracy.

        But that isn’t surprising. Because there are inherent flaws in every form of government and ideology if you look hard enough. Some of them are less grievous than others (for instance, Pork Barrel contracts for a Bridge vs. Gulags).

        “I think that we can turn government into more of a meritocracy than a popularity contest.”

        Maybe, but the question is: How do you do that?

        Because a lot of times “meritocracy” becomes a carnival for charlatans, elitists, corruption, and whatnot. Hence why I bring up the classical example of the old Chinese and Korean Civil Service Models.

        “Furthermore, I don’t think that all that many tweaks to the original concept are needed to achieve it.”

        Fair enough.

        But to which I go back to: what tweaks would those be?

    • “Was our fall from a dysfunctional democracy to a horror dictatorship inevitable ??…but still our fall could have been avoided but for an accident of history…”

      Just FYI, throughout history every democracy failed. Re: Herodotus and Polybius.

      • Not just every democracy… Every political system eventually fails. We should not judge political systems based on longevity. If we did that, we should try to recreate the Roman Empire.

        My criteria are long-term stability, prosperity, and individual well-being.

  3. Does anyone have a link to historical parallel Dollar exchange rates?
    One of the people that I help sold US Dollars last week for 1.2 million Bolivars per Dollar. The same person received 2 million yesterday from the same broker. 67% in one week.
    Dolartoday is showing 1,790,422.
    This value of the Bolivar is collapsing so quickly that it appears reference sites can not keep up with the changes. The paper currency in circulation is woefully inadequate. I saw the news that new Bolivar introduction has been delayed. Are there any new bills in circulation at all?
    A US $20 bill would be worth 400, 100,000 Bolivar notes.

    • An hour later, DT rate is 1,887,544. I recently watched a video of a woman paying for a chicken in a butcher shop using a huge bag full of what I believe were 100 Bs notes. For a 2M bs. chicken (probably 3M or 4M by today), takes twenty thousand 100 Bs notes. I have no idea how she got twenty thousand of them, or why she decided to use them all on a single chicken – maybe because the cash discount? I will try to find a you tube link to the video.

    • Bills in circulation today are the 500, 1000, 5,000, 10,000 (though I haven’t seen one in a while), 20,000 and 100,000 notes. The goverment says the 50 bs and 100 bs are still legal tender and must be accepted for merchandise but no one I know accepts them. I’ve still got a couple of sacks full of the 100 bs notes I need to sort and count for deposit, though I’d rather clean toilets.

      John, Crystal is in Caracas still and undergoing tests. So far everything looks good. Stepson called this PM frantically asking for his mother. His daughter Valeria, 3 years old, suddenly broke out in hives and then collapsed. She’s in intensive care somewhere in Tachira. Initial diagnosis is dengue and perhaps something else.

      It never ends.

      • Update: she’s got hemorrhagic fever, serious shit: a rare complication characterized by high fever, damage to lymph and blood vessels, bleeding from the nose and gums, enlargement of the liver, and failure of the circulatory system. The symptoms may progress to massive bleeding, shock, and death. This is called dengue shock syndrome (DSS).

        Crystal’s mother, Valeria’s aunt, just called and is arrecha right now because she says Valeria was sick a week ago, the “doctors” ran blood tests on her and found her platelets very low, in other words she had a weakened immune system, but sent her home anyway.

        “People with weakened immune systems as well as those with a second or subsequent dengue infection are believed to be at greater risk for developing dengue hemorrhagic fever.”

        • Jesus Christ!!! I’m praying for her, you, and the entire family. Also the ill equipped doctors trying to save the girls life. The madness in Venezuela knows no bounds and something has to give. God speed MRubio!

          • I do not have words, wishing you and yours the best.

            MRubio, this may seem like a stupid question, do you have a “red line” where you just say I am done with it? Yes, boiling frog and all that, every man/woman has their limits given other options.

  4. I would also blame the generation of the 60s, the Venezuelan counter culture version for its love affair with socialism and Fidel Castro. They had messianic expectations that REAL socialism would be great, if not see all those repented chavistas supporters that lay about the political scenario like Petkoff.

    The worship of false gods always ends in cruelty, and socialism has been one bloody choice for the last 100 years.

  5. Venezuela was invaded and seized by an external enemy, the completion of the invasion was achieved in 1998, almost 40 years after it begain in 1959 when Castro came to Venezuela demanding tribute from Betancourt’s government that had just taken over after Marcos Pérez Jiménez’s regime crumbled.

    It was not a random accident, nor it was a “desire for collective suicide”, understanding that the country was systematically attacked and destroyed by the real enemy is crucial to finish the problem and prevent it from ever happening again.

    • “understanding that the country was systematically attacked and destroyed by the real enemy is crucial to finishing (resolving) the problem and preventing it from ever happening again.”

      The first step is knowing your enemy, and that has been their strength all along, infiltrating, destroying, gnawing away at every aspect of Venezuelan culture little by little, playing the long game to get us where we are today. We need some radical surgery, like NOW!

    • I agree with Ulamog that no analysis of “what went wrong” can be complete without including that Venezuela’s democracy (and many other countries) was under constant attack by Cuban and Russian subversion since the sixties.

      This is not to deny the fragility of Venezuela’s democracy post-Jimenez. A truly functional and robust democracy should have stood up to the assault.

  6. Until it is realized that we were duped by Chavez, we will not recover.
    Too many still worship the man and blame the current problems on Maduro.

  7. I agree. Chavismo is in no way a transition but a methastasis if a crumbling clientelar populist corrupt system.
    IMO a key milestone in vzla’s history is the 1920’s oil findings and the windfall that ensured a rich goverment ruling over poor citizens. Generational transitions were also avoided by ancient leadership that resisted up and coming renovators in the 8o’s.
    PDVSA profesionalización and apparent nationalistic interests became uncomfortable for global big oil and yes, left wind ideologues and Cuban mendling resulted in a list of sovereignty.
    Chavez’s deeply resented and narcissistic psicopathtic made up made him an easy target to control, and the rest is history….
    Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, and big oil waiting patiently for things to deteriorate enough for their own interests and calculations and voila!

  8. Let’s see–We went from democratic populism to messianic populism to socialistic populism to dictator semi-communist populism to soon-to-be-attempted full Cuban communist populism (=serfdom).

  9. Solutions anyone? Everyone is just waiting for it to self implode. Until the hills surrounding caracas don’t come streaming down demanding someones head, no heads will roll.

    • THIS^

      Until the Chavist faithful start wanting Chavismo heads on a pike, nothing will change.

      Thousands will have to starve to death. It is a hard lesson for these easy dupes to learn, but they will have to learn it the hard way. The saddest part? The likes of Delcy and Diosdado and Nicky are more than happy to sacrifice them to stay in power just one more day.

    • i don´t believe there are any, no invation is going to happen and people would always rather emigrate or adapt themselves to the “new normal” than to risk their lifes fighting a loosing battle agains a military and colectivos that dominate all aspects of life and economy.

    • Are you gonna lead the charge from Calgary or Lloydminster
      Hi Marc. Did you my response on Sunday. I an not Russian . I have lived most of my live around Pasadena, CA (Cal Tech / JPL / Mt. Wilson / Carnegie Sciences) – You wonder who worked for. I spent the entire 43 years working for Parsons / Worley-Parsons (little bit for also) as process engineer helper helping remove and recovery sulfur (Sulphur for Canadians geeks) and ammonia from oil from / NG. (I spent 4 years (total) in Calgary / Edmonton / Nanticoke.

      And comment about how I phase things. I retired 3-1/2 yrs.
      then everything for changed
      One mornings 9 months later (late sept) . started to take a shower. – 10 seconds later a laying curled with shower running full blast at me. STROKE – I count not move , nor say anything. Gladfully my and youngest set home then. They got me the hospital in time for clot busted busting drug. I already had a messed Nervous system – I already MS and had two shingles attacks. The stroke was serious- it paralyzed my right of body (I’m right of-course). Left side was OK. The first part – we walk learn again. (you have to have good therapist to help you). It required six months. Arm – Still in process – Speech – I Have practice just a little kid.

      Then after the my stroke, something caught my interest – as I toured and worked (and witnessed too much crime) in Venezuela – Then I happened Caracas chronicles web – It keeps my mind alert. As appropriate, I will voice opinion in jest or seriously.

      • Thank you for the reply, I didn’t answer the first time because I felt stupid for the assumption I made about you being Russian and didn’t really know how to respond….I guess the moral of the story is: don’t assume because you make and “ASS” out of “U” and “ME”. Thank you for your interest in this country. Where were you touring here in Venezuela and at what did you work? Again if you don’t find my question too rude.

        • My Wife and five kids, 13 granddaughters, one grandson (youngest), and three great-grandkids are too mean to even give me a chance.

          9

  10. Leaders capable of changing for worse or better the fate of a country are not born everyday , they are very scarce , and they are also dependent on circumstances that dont always repeat themselves , so the chances of a new Chavez are remote indeed …..Venezuela has had six such men in its history : Bolivar , Paez, Guzman Blanco, Gomez , Betancourt and Chavez ……., the fist two left us an independent nation , Guzman a country that had some hold on civilization , Gomez made the Venezuelan state , Betancourt gave us a democratic state, Chavez destroyed both us as a State and as a country. We are back to the days before our independence because we are ruled by chaos and am totally dependent for our reconstruction on the help of other countries and international bodies…….(as is the case for any bankrupt failed state)
    What we know is that while democracy is desirable it is also capable of bringing destruction on the country , Chavez was a child of democracy and its failure to create solvent self sustaining institutions . I have no trust on democracys ability to improve things beyond a certain level ……, I have no trust on the average voter of the future getting it right next time , we cannot rely on democracy alone to rebuild the country , we must find a way to improve the operation of its institutions by making them less ideologically partisan . more non partisan professional , more autonomous , its not a job for individuals , but for groups or teams of people of high expertise working under a specific program , protected from the intereference of populist political dreamers or power mad ‘men of words’……., things can improve a lot but never will we have a perfectly just and happy social order …..something better but not devoid of some element of failed mediochrity. I have an idea that most of what governments do has nothing to do with ideological conceits or delusions but with plain practical mastery over the prosecution of complex tasks, thus that governement as a child of democratic politics should be shorn of many of the powers and task which it has no real capacity to accomplish , that we should create a bicephal state , one which deals with big big difficult subjects and allows an element of politics to intervene and another to just run things with competence and professionalism , meritocratic in style and autonomous from the first ……..can you VISUALIZE that ….!! Most people cant ……, so thats our first job imagining how that may be set up…

    • Your last hope for Venezuela already exists–the U.S, with a 200+ year Constitution, functioning Govt. institutions, capitalist incentives, and a relatively educated populace=same for most well-functioning world democracies today–the problem with Venezuela, apart from single-resource dependence, is its abysmally poorly-educated populace.

    • One of the very interesting books that I read was a collection of Bolivar’s speeches and letters published by the Venezuela Government. One of the letters, I believe that it was addressed to one of the constitutional conventions which were trying to establish constitutions after the breakup of the Grand Columbia. In the speech, he basically recommend against adopting a constitution that followed the pattern of the new US Constitution. He said that based on the personality and culture of the [people in the U.S. which he recognized as very different from his current country it would never work. He recommended creating a constitution consisting of three classes. The top group would a permanent ruling class that would be very well educated and bread for political leadership. The other two classes were to be similar to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

      I find it interesting that 200+ years ago even Simon Bolivar recognized how the issue of culture in the country would have a negative impact which we see playing out in today’s Venezuela.

      • That IS interesting.

        In a way, Bolivar was advocating an improved monarchy, like the British:

        The King had to accept a parliament with real power to save his OWN hide, but he was still the King. The Brits here of course know the history better than me, but gradually, it came to the point where the King/Queen had no power at all.

        But in my opinion, still served/serve a very useful purpose.

  11. Its much more complex than that , I once spent some time comparing the cultures and lives and ethnic composition of the english colonies in north america and the spanish colonies and the differences are enormous , wont go into how many but we are speaking of almost two separate planets !! belief that they are comparable is oversimplifying things quite a bit …., thinking what worked for the US then will work for Venezuela now is rather puerile ……….the US in fact was very lucky , things could have gone seriously wrong many times and didnt .

    • “……….the US in fact was very lucky , things could have gone seriously wrong many times and didnt.”

      This week marks the anniversaries of two major WWII battles: Midway, and Normandy. After Midway, Chester Nimitz asked the now-famous question, “Are we really better at this than the Japanese, or are we just very lucky?”

      And the fact that all of us, Brits, Canadians, and Yanks, were successful at Normandy, was no sure thing:
      http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=16515

      • Despite the obstacles and operational setbacks, it pretty much was a sure thing that D-Day would succeed. American military might was unquestioned. It scared the shit out of German commanders in the know.

        Whether the Allies chalked it up as a done deal? Of course not. Not then. But looking back on the history, there was no way it could fail.

        Success could have been DELAYED compared to the timeframe which actually took place, but victory was assured.

        Germany didn’t have a Luftwaffe at this point, and they were also fighting the Russians. And resistance operations in occupied countries sure didn’t help the Nazi cause.

        But failure of the invasion, looking at it in retrospect now?

        Impossible.

        • You may say that now… in retrospect. At the time, the men in charge did not have the full picture or the benefit of your 20/20 hindsight.

  12. Is this article seriously implying that democracy “started” fading after Chavez died?

    Democracy died in 98 when Chavez won, the dictatorship was more than consolidated in 2001 after the takeover of pdvsa. It was not Maduro who came along and ruined it like your bullshit armchair marxist narratives tries to portray

    As always, the editorial using leftist rethoric to excuse socialist bullshit and save face for their political affiliations. You forgot to add how it not longer is “true socialism” and how Maduro bretrayed Comandante´s legacy

    • The earliest you can argue that Chavez had complete control over Venezuela when he took over the Central Bank of Venezuela. That happened in 2005 or 2006 I believe.

      It was more of a erosion.

      I don’t think anyone here is saying Chavez isn’t too blame.

  13. Its not a question of attempting to do away with democracy , despite its many limitations and drawbacks its now part of the basic ‘idola fori’ of most western minds , the only source of legitimacy in any modern state , even authoritarian regimes simulate their devotion to it even if they really act thru coercion and fraud. Problem is that what it does best , stop the people on top from abusing their power and attempting to hold on to it for ever also makes it difficult for it to produce good governance , for once it makes the manipulation of popularity the key factor of politics , so they will attack a rival even when it does things well and keep mum about their own failures where it can hurt their popularity , no one can admit to a mistake as a first step towards correcting it because to do so is to help ones rivals destroy ones popularity ……people are overated in their capacity to reasonably judge on complex public issues, they are too easily swayed by intrigues and propaganda , antagonisms are artificially accentuated and glamorized because they fill people with self conceited passions making the building oc consensus decisions more difficult …….Churchill was quite right in saying it was the WORST sytem except for all others, meaning not that it was a good system but the least BAD of all systems , but we have learned to blindly worship it without looking at what changes need to be done to it so it functions better …..!! For one it is based on the premise that it fosters good govenance when we now too well that good governance often means doing things which are not popular , but which long term favour the life of future generations , that popular leaders seldom make the best most effective and honest managers of public resources , that for that you have to create a paraless system of organizations , meritocratic and politically neutral who just have the expertize and will to do a competent job of those public tasks where politics dont contribute anything of value to the result …., its a common belief in the west that the handling of an army , a central bank , the administration of justice and generally things like roadbuiding and education and economic growth are best left to the experts …..not to the guy who is best at making himself the darling of the populace with impossible promises, clientelar give aways and subsidies or the sponsoring of glamorous hatreds…..!! the question is how do you make a system that recognizes these basic truths of public management.

  14. Interesting post and opinions. My exposure to Venezuela started in early 2000’s, witnessed El Paro, the referendum and Tascon list, and then the elections that followed. One thing I saw, and heard about was the NiNi’s. I had friends and coworkers who thought election Sunday was a dia pa’ playa con una cava, hielo y ron. Fuck politics, that’s someone elses problem. Most I knew then now live elsewhere, and they still bitch about Chavez (and Maduro) but never stained a finger until it was too late, never accept responsibility for any of this disaster. If more NiNi’s had been mobilized earlier this disaster might have been averted. But I haven’t heard a word about NiNi’s in maybe 10 years.

    • One thing I saw, and heard about was the NiNi’s. I had friends and coworkers who thought election Sunday was a dia pa’ playa con una cava, hielo y ron. Fuck politics, that’s someone elses problem.

      You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you. Ignore it at your peril.
      (Based on Trotsky quote: “You may not be interested in war but war is interested in you.”)

  15. I am a bit surprised that in this long discussion hardly any mention was given to the very important even though fkr a lot of people not so obvious foreign meddling.

    We won’t move forward until the Russian and Cuban factors in Venezuela do not get neutralized.

    The Soviet attitude to the events in Eastern Europe were crucial for the fall of all those dictatorships, particular the dramatic fall of Ceasescu at the end.

    The current help from Russia and Cuba to the regime by means of Sigint, just good old spionage, sabotage, training is huge.

    I recommend reading Harari’s book Homo Deus, in particular about the fall of communism and similar religions.

    • That’s what I’ve been saying, though the biggest roadblock one finds most often is that a lot of people in Venezuela still cling to the idiotic fallacies that “communists are an invention of conspiracy crackpots who wear tinfoil hats”.

      One example was a discussion I had with someone online about the cara-coñazo (89 february 27 lootings), where he claimed that “it was a spontaneous burst of people against the mean capitalism” and whenever I told him the contrary, he would immediately claim that it was “anectodic tellings that don’t count as proof”, because the only proof he would accept as true would be a video of Fidel clearly and flatly stating that he planned all of it.

      The worst of all of it was that the guy considers himself as “hardcore opposition”, when he’s clearly fallen for the chabizta latrine of lies.

      • You won’t have to convince the Ukrainians. Or the people of the Baltic states.

        However, the threat really isn’t “Communism” any longer. It is the techniques that the USSR developed for subverting democracies that are the threat.

        The broad dividing line in the world today is Democratic states vs. Authoritarian states. No one is seriously implementing Communism any longer; not even the Communists!

        • Roy, are you a US citizen Democrat? Democrats are the worse threat to the world than Russian and Chinese combined.

          • I’m not a Democrat. I tend toward Libertarian policies. But, Democrats are more of a threat then Russia or China? You have been drinking the Trump-ade.

  16. Finally, this discussion makes sense. All this started well before 1830. Before Communism was invented, Simon Bolivar already built the conceptual basis, that he’d been taken from 1789 French Revolution (that French people have not resolved yet). When actual communism came to LatAm, more specifically during Zapata times in Mexico, Venezuelans could not sleep until they got what they wished for. But additionally, in Venezuela, there is the traditional ”viveza criolla” (Google it) that amplifies the problem – there will never be a win-win situation, all political-economical relationship is based on ”I win You lose” – plus every I can take without paying, has made the rich even richer. The difference now? There is no way back. Adios

  17. In terms of possible future scenarios for Venezuela, one model that I have never seen mentioned before is Burma (Myanmar). After WWII, Burma isolated itself from the world. It was run by a military junta for longer than Castro was in power. The relatively recent democratic government of Aung San Suu Kyi only governs so long as she does not annoy the generals too much.

    This junta stayed in power by controlling the sale of resources (oil and minerals), tightly controlling the population, and by not annoying any other countries sufficiently for them to complain too much about human rights.

    I don’t give this scenario a high chance of happening in Venezuela, but if I were the generals, that is the scenario I would be looking at as my model.

  18. Esto no es una transición ni una transición a la inversa, esto es simplemente el clásico “cambiar la supraestructura para cambiar la cultura”.

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