Photo: El Cooperante

José Manuel Olivares, physician and lawmaker for Vargas, was recently featured in this website’s young politician series, one week before being forced to leave Venezuela.

His exile is the consequence of continuous complaints regarding the collapse of the Venezuelan health system, as depicted in the 2018 National Hospital Poll (in which he took part), and his increasingly higher participation in the health sector’s protest agenda. He now joins a growing number of opposition figures that were driven away, as reported by Maru Morales in a post for Crónica Uno. The list includes Antonio Ledezma, Ramón Muchacho, Carlos Vecchio, David Smolansky, Gustavo Marcano, Delson Guárate, Carlos García, Villca Fernández, fellow lawmakers Julio Borges and Gaby Arellano and former chavista honchos Luisa Ortega Díaz, her husband Germán Ferrer and PDVSA’s president under most of Chávez’s rule, Rafael Ramírez.

José Manuel Olivares… now joins a growing number of opposition figures that were driven away

Vecchio left to the United States in 2015 (after spending over 100 days hiding), but most of the aforementioned were forced out in 2017, following a four-month long protest cycle that failed to oust Maduro and stop the National Constituent Assembly’s installation.

After playing a key role in the process against Vecchio, Ortega Díaz, then Prosecutor General, denounced a rupture in the Constitutional order, regarding the Supreme Tribunal’s infamous sentences 155 and 156. Almost five months later, she was boarding a speed boat to Aruba with her husband, accused of extortion by the newly named prosecutor, Tarek William Saab. Smolansky, Marcano, García and Muchacho, mayors from El Hatillo, Lecherías, Mérida and Chacao, fled days before, under enormous pressure and threats. On November 2017, Antonio Ledezma secretly left his house arrest, crossed the Colombian border and eventually made it to Spain (Delson Guárate fled to Colombia under similar circumstances). A few weeks later, Rafael Ramírez was dismissed from his post as Venezuelan ambassador to the UN. He now writes self-apologist posts in aporrea from an unknown location, trying to make people forget his responsibility in the economic tragedy.

Political persecution continued in 2018. In February, Julio Borges, one of the opposition leaders attending the failed Santo Domingo summit, refused to sign the agreement proposed by the Venezuelan government, considering it unfair. He hasn’t returned to Venezuela since then and Maduro threatened to jail him if he ever did. Gaby Arellano has been exiled since April, after learning of an arrest warrant against her following her attendance to a session of the Venezuelan Supreme Tribunal appointed by the National Assembly in Bogotá a year ago (this tribunal is also exiled, with three of its members detained).

Still, the cataclysmic decline of the economy threatens to create a serious governability problem in the short term.

Villca Fernández, a student leader who had been held at the Helicoide for over two years, was put on a plane to Perú in June, because “exile” is an actual sentence in revolution, it seems.

“During the last weeks, my wife, mother and brother have received threats again,” Olivares said in a public written statement. “They were threatened (with prosecution) if I didn’t step aside from politics and protests of the health sector. The evil and perversity of this government made them step up their prosecution strategy: They no longer limit to go against me, they now accuse my wife, who recently gave birth.

Mind you, as Morales points out, four other lawmakers still in the country (Tomás Guanipa, Luis Lippa, Adriana D’Elia and Freddy Guevara) also face charges.

In his zeal to keep power, Maduro follows the old Soviet textbook, going against dissidents until everyone’s either jailed or exiled. The strategy has been successful so far, sinking MUD, the Broad Front and the rest of the “traditional” opposition into a state of inaction during the worst economic crisis in Venezuelan history, creating a gap in the political spectrum that chavismo plans to fill with a tailor-made opposition.

Still, the cataclysmic decline of the economy threatens to create a serious governability problem in the short term. This has driven more chavista voices to detach themselves from Maduro, with people like Andrés Izarra asking for immediate regime change. With the mainstream opposition becoming irrelevant and dissidence inside chavismo gaining strength, the outcome of the crisis is impossible to predict. One thing seems sure: For Maduro, anyone who’s not with him, is against him.

And that won’t be tolerated.

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  1. “the outcome of the crisis is impossible to predict”. I don’t agree. I think the disgruntled chavists will find a way to dump Maduro and install someone who will ” put the revolution back on the right track” and the chavismo bus will continue on it’s merry way with a new “bus driver”. (Pun intended)

    • I agree that Maduro has to fear Chavismo itself, they will take him and are the only ones that can. I also agree we will get a third Chavista dictator in place, but I don’t expect him to be stable and last too long.

      The first reason is the dire need for capital to start the reconstruction of Venezuela. It is institutions like IMF and World Bank that provide such help and it would be hard for Chavismo version 3 to get the necessary funds to even improve the situation.

      Chavistas of the post Maduro regimen will try to whitewash their crimes and keep their wealth with the ‘liberation’ they have brought. Look at Ramirez and Ortega, they will offer Maduro’s head for theirs and and attempt to continue as a feasible political movement. Moreover, they risk being picked up by DEA and the like, so preserving their ability to enjoy their wealth in Venezuela is a pretty good deal (adios Miami!!).

      Finally, the people are going to be very agitated and emboldened after the fall of Maduro and I would dare say that after all this suffering, they are going to expect nothing but fair elections.

  2. If you know any person with” carnet de patria”……look at the serial numbers…..remove the 4 zeros from the start….go to CNE website…..whatch what happens when press enter…..anyone have a guess?
    The chavistas have a plan for Democracy…..they aint going anywhere.

  3. “With the mainstream opposition becoming irrelevant ”

    Correction: “When the PAID OFFICIAL AND FAKE pseudo-opposition stops being useful…”

    • If your in Barinas..where my contact lives…and you have the card…all the cards start with 4 zeros….up pops other peoples identity….you will notice the identification numbers become older….along with the likelihood of death certificates……check it out for yourself.
      .i can ony give so much…there is risk

    • @Tom……..i was also informed…by people who live in a mission……that no matter how they voted ….Maduro recieved the vote……i know that this is purely a political blog…..very few here are there..or been there…or living there….but if you had the pleasure….you know that its not beyond machismo.

  4. None of the current situation has much to do with an actual revolution, socialism, per se (though it seems always to be disastrous minus Norway’s wealth and acumen), Chavismo, or any of that, which are merely slogans at this point. The failed state of Venezuela is simple proof that Chavez, now Maduro and all of their fellow revolutionaries were and are vastly overmatched to do what they claimed they were doing: trying to govern a nation in the 2000s. An argument can be made that gaining power, NOT governing, was their aim all along, but if bilking the cash cow was also part of the plan, it’s hard to imagine bigger dolts in charge who literally never fed said cow. The poor gaffos are like reverse Midis’ and everything they touch turns to mierda. They basically have rendered themselves powerless on anything but a national level, and even that is slipping as rolling blackouts continue – and it’s only a matter of time before the grid, or a big part of it, goes down for the count.

    I swear the Devil could not have orchestrated a more profound and total destruction of a nation. This is a Phoenix situation now. No way to “recover.” Not till everything from the past goes up in flames can something new arise.

  5. When the history books are written, decades from now, I think that many historians will find parallels between the Iranian Revolution in the 70s and the Chavez Revolution. Both countries experienced a very rapid modernization in which many were left behind. In both cases, the modernization was financed with oil wealth. In both cases, the oil wealth engendered corruption and an entrenched elite. In Iran, of course, there was a religious element, although some might claim that Chavismo was quasi-religious in nature.

    In Iran, the religious zeal eventually cooled down, and gang in power holds on to that power now for profit and for its own sake. Sound familiar?

    Where the two examples really differ is that the ayatollahs never destroyed the production and the economy of Iran.

    Despite the differences in the two cases, I would argue that both countries simply created change and modernization too quickly, without allowing and assisting the marginalized sectors of the population time to adjust and assimilate the changes. Both revolutions were really reactionary in nature.


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