Photo: MercoPress retrieved

In my opinion, the possibility of a political change in Venezuela rests on a three-legged table: We already have two of them, and they’re strong, but the third’s missing.

The first leg is international support. Evidently, that’s present. The international community would sigh in relief with a political change in Venezuela. A new government in the country would have the diplomatic and humanitarian support of every country in the region, European governments, important Asian countries and powerful international institutions. There’s no doubt that financial aid would come abundantly and quickly from great multilateral bodies and those states capable of facilitating it. Not to mention avid investors ready to fuel various areas where Venezuela possesses enormous resources. Practically the entire world would smile with joy with the perspective of the Venezuelan suffering coming to an end.

The second leg is the desire of change burning in most of the population. The desire of every citizen, of common men and women who want change, who know or feel that what’s coming is going to be hard and that we must all cooperate, but that, only if we manage to remove this government something much better is waiting for us.  The desire of most of organized society: the business sector, unions, universities, academies, non-government organizations of all kinds, business associations, churches… Some elements in this list aren’t at their best right now, of course, but all of them together constitute an impressive mass.

If the national democratic opposition fails, all of that tremendous national and international demonstration against the country’s ruin lacks the required political leverage.

And then there’s the third leg, which seems to be missing: A civic, democratic, articulated opposition capable of governing or co-governing the country. The absence of this third factor weakens the presence of the other two. If this leg is missing, there’s not much the other two can do. Pensioners may take to streets to protest every day in the world, thirsty and blackout-scourged Zulians may block the Rafael Urdaneta Bridge for days on end, nurses may perform the greatest feats of courage, bus drivers may reject the census, Venezuelan emigrants may prepare the best aid or return plans, the Lima Group presidents may lose their voice speaking against the Venezuelan tragedy, Mrs. Mogherini from the European Union or the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights may raise the loudest alarms or the most heartbreaking complaints, Luis Almagro may move tirelessly… If the national democratic opposition fails, all of that tremendous national and international demonstration against the country’s ruin lacks the required political leverage.

Getting that leg to work shouldn’t be this hard. There are willing leaders—if only they wished hard enough—there’s an abundance of experts, international connections, there are well-thought programs in the drawers for the recovery of the main aspects of the country’s life,  the entire country’s crouching like a tiger waiting to jump on itself seeking its own freedom.

So what’s the problem? Lack of high vision, incapacity to leave mistrust behind, incapacity and unwillingness to truly find the formula that will make the leaders raise their eyes, overcome petty grievances, go beyond competition. With everyone entrenched on their side, believing themselves to be the embodiment of national unity, we’re not going anywhere. Apparently, there’s an inability to understand that neither parties nor aspiring leaders will have the chance to exercise power right after the regime falls. It would be the time for a united transition government, whose goal would need to be pulling the country out of the pit. Once that task is fulfilled, then parties and their leaders can prepare the scene for a democratic competition in people’s favor. The goal of parties, leaders, organized society and citizens is to reach a consensus about a transition program: the kind of people that would carry it out, the kind of leader that would head it provisionally—redundancy intended—the contributions each sector will have to make, the ways to design the relations between that government and organized society, parties and citizens. They will also need to announce it to the country and the world, so that everyone knows that the third leg is steady in place.

With everyone entrenched on their side, believing themselves to be the embodiment of national unity, we’re not going anywhere.

It’s quite possible that something like that would require an instance with rallying power and no political agenda, to make everybody see the need to take those steps, and discard anything that must be discarded in the circumstances. It’s usually difficult for those in the heat of events and all their interests in the game, to rise above the needless, endless back-and-forth struggle and negotiation.

The way I see it, that should be the third leg’s plan. So, a demand, a national call: What are you waiting for? What’s wrong with you? Can’t you hear an entire country shouting for leadership, all those actors, to do what they must do? Is it so hard to be up to the task? Will we have to resort to a badly thought solution, ignorant of where it could lead us?

That’s the only agenda there is. There’s no alternative. While we wait for them to come through, let both the organized and disorganized population keep fighting, resisting, condemning. Let the international community impose sanctions, denounce, accuse. Let everyone keep up the pressure, demanding political and social leaders to do what they’re supposed to.

Once the three legs are in place, we would’ve done everything a democratic society can do to remove a government like the one that’s ravaging Venezuela, and it would be a historical, universal injustice if all that effort doesn’t get the reward it deserves.

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Lawyer and political scientist. Founder of the School of Political Studies of the UCV, where he taught History of Political Ideas and the Venezuelan Political System. Individual of number of Venezuela's National Academy of History. Visiting Professor at St. Antony's College, Oxford University. Since 2000, he has been conducting the radio program La Linterna at RCR. He was Director of El Diario de Caracas and Deputy to the National Congress. He has published several books on Venezuelan political history, oil history, analysis of the Venezuelan political system.

45 COMMENTS

  1. There we go again blaming the opposition. I don’t understand what sort of purpose is met to by picking on people who have dedicated their lives to freedom and have been jailed, killed, or otherwise silenced. Maybe it’s the human, and very Venezuelan knack for picking on the one who’s down. How is it not clear to the author that one of the most (if not the most) important “leg” is the support of most of the armed forces, and that this has been the missing piece all along? We are all navigating uncharted waters. The opposition leaders especially. Descending like vultures to pick on them when they make the occasional mistake does nothing for anybody. If anything, we should all be protecting them, giving them the time and the space to pick themselves up and get back to the fight. If you don’t like the opposition, join them, and change them!

    • i disagree. i think we should be even MORE critical of our politicions, so they dont become corrupt but that isnt even the case here. Everyone knows that its to the point now where if you start actively rallying against Maduro, you are going to get a midnight visit from the secret police.

      • “…you are going to get a midnight visit from the secret police.”

        I have addressed this issue in the past. I have since dialed back the rhetoric. BUT the problem lies in the fact that the people are afraid of the red shirted colectivos, the GNB and the PNB.

        Until it is the other way around, nothing gets changed. When the guy who puts on the GNB/PNB shirt each morning is afraid to put on that shirt, then the people will happily take to the streets.

        Oscar Perez started something. Nobody has run with it.

    • I agree that “blaming the opposition” is counterproductive.

      The problem with the opposition isn’t just that they are not cohesive, but that they aren’t that much different from Chavismo. And El Pueblo wants it that way. THAT, in my opinion, is the real problem.

      What party in Venezuela stands for private property rights? Smaller, efficient government? Reducing the debt to zero and having a balanced budget?

      The problem with Venezuela is that the population is 70% zombie. It has a current zombie leader (Lord Zombie of the Bus) who is incapable of thinking outside the dogma of the zombie box. The opposition is made up of zombies from 20 different zombie-esque political parties who think they can “out zombie” the deceased High Comandante Zombie Galactico.

      Which is why the zombie opposition cannot be blamed. They just represent the will of the great zombie Dumb Masses.

      • The real election showing what Venezuelans actually want is the 1993 Election.

        70% Socialists voters plus cult of personality types and 25% crsitian democrats, Clasical liberals and Conservatives.

        And that’s being generous.

  2. “The second leg is the desire of change burning in most of the population.”

    Indeed the population wants change. It would love to have the current batch of Chavistas out and ultimately, a new Hugo Chavez to reappear to fulfill the promises he made to El Pueblo.

    That is the change they want.

    Face it. Saint Hugo did everything right by these people. He gave them free stuff while putting a knife in the ribs of the people that El Pueblo despised. The successful and achievers. A nation awash with people who want something for nothing AND can get a measure of schadenfreude. I don’t blame Venezuela for that. Half the United States would eagerly burnthe Bill of Rights in order to get the same sort of thing from Bernie Sanders.

    And it doesn’t matter a lick to them that the country lays in ruins. It was/is WAAY too easy to place that blame on the Evil Imperial Gringo! An easy out for Chavismo’s epic mismanagement. And throw in the fact that Saint Hugo could dialogue for HOURS (sociopaths have the empathy gene) and had the good fortune to die (a martyrs death! poisoned by the Gringos!) before the Chavismo train came fully off the tracks…

    Venezuela has international support. And it DESPERATELY needs opposition leadership with actual vision and A PLAN forward (I seriously doubt it can occur). But until El Pueblo suffers enough under Marxism (dead people piling up in burn pits), this Chavist tune will get replayed and replayed ad nauseum.

    • “But until El Pueblo suffers enough under Marxism (dead people piling up in burn pits), this Chavist tune will get replayed and replayed ad nauseum.”

      You’re the guy on the camping trip who in the middle of a bad storm says: let’s sink the canoes, and the food and tents with them, and then we’ll have a great plan.

      If Venezuelans want to unite civil society, don’t listen to that guy. He’s unintentionally helping the other side.

      • I’m the guy on the camping trip who warns the unwashed and unprepared campers who showed up in Che t-shirts and fair-trade Honduran flip-flops, “Things are going to get a lot worse for you before the storm passes.”

        Venezuelans want “Kumbaya”. They await their “savior” in the form of Saint Hugo 2.0. They don’t give the least shit about how unprepared they are in their leaky canoe, or if they should reverse course to the safety of a portage site… they are holding out hope that Chavez is going to come barreling through the pines at any moment with shelter and food and medicine.

        You name me the ONE Venezuelan oppo politician who thinks that a kinder, gentler version of Chavismo isn’t the way forward.

        Here is a link to help you out.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Unity_Roundtable

        • Sinking the canoe with all its contents may work for the “libertarian”, but we prefer just to get off the water (“Atlas Sank”).

          There are plenty of excellent and courageous Venezuelan leaders and activists who have sacrificed greatly and continue to do so. Why don’t you put aside your Wikipedia points and give the independent report on Crimes Against Humanity on Venezuela a gander? These are people fighting for democracy. By saying they are all complicit, you are insulting good people, and for what? A little internet buzz to feed your anger at something completely unrelated?

          You and your buddies should leave the blanket insults about the Venezuelan opposition to the experts in Havana, Miraflores and Moscow.

          To dream…

          • Ever been canoeing, let alone camping?

            Nearly every summer since 1980 I have been visiting the BWCA in northern Minnesota. Summer storms can get vicious. And what you do to keep your transportation (canoe) from getting damaged by the wind storm is SINK THEM. The same way people with pools throw their pool furniture in before storms.

            Clearly you know less about forward thinking and common sense than you do about Venezuela politics

        • Cucklehead would offer his fellow campers bright, shiney baubles with brightly colored ribbons attached to them. When the fellow campers quickly and greedily grab up the baubles only then do they discover, and too late, that the baubles have hooks hidden in them. That is the Marxist way!

    • I’ve been listening to Jordan Peterson lately. I believe the archetype that applies here is that of the Pentateuch. The people of God wandered 40 years on the desert for purification before being allowed to enter the Promised Land.

      Such wisdom in old books.

  3. The article is an exercise in sarcasm, right? The only leg present is the opposition which is currently either in jail or in exile.

    International support? We saw the letter declaring President Trump’s “all options on the table” to be “a bad idea”. The only international support is coming from countries taking refugees.

    The will of the people to want change? Haha. The change they want is embodied in “we demand our free stuff!”, which is precisely the problem to begin with.

    • El Guapo, Gringo
      Sadly, I believe you are both correct.
      If the people truly desired change, change would occur.
      The nurses that protested for higher wages demonstrated ignorance of the causes of hyperinflation that destroys their purchasing power. They didn’t want change. They wanted a raise.
      The people that obediently obey the regimes edicts and line up for whatever handout is available, aren’t fighting for change. They are trying to be the first to get whatever “free stuff” is being distributed.

  4. “The second leg is the desire of change burning in most of the population. The desire of every citizen, of common men and women who want change, who know or feel that what’s coming is going to be hard and that we must all cooperate, but that, only if we manage to remove this government something much better is waiting for us. ”

    Diego, I’m afraid you’ve overestimated the number of legs on your table.

    • MRubio
      I spoke to Waltz and explained how to get things to you.
      He would like to be able to contact you directly through e-mail. I will only provide your e-mail with your authorization. He also understands the difficulty that you have trying to access e-mails and will probably contact you through CC.

  5. Besides all the great comment by all of the Commenters above (Oppo Chavez 2/Zombie Pueblo free stuff dependency/all-talk no-action International groups/military Regime conchupancia/Colectivo-criminal domination), we have the international counter-weights (Cuba G-2 infiltration/massive narco Regime income/China-Russia growing vested interests). The author’s third leg united Opposition ignores the practicality of overcoming an entrenched/armed/internationally-criminally supported Regime, with whom no accommodation, even within a minority role, is possible if the Country is to get needed massive outside economic investment and is to democratically advance.

    • The oppo was trained in democracy and thus in tactics appropriate for a democracy. The ANC and the squashing of a Recall Referendum gave ample evidence that the regime is a dictatorship. What works to bring down a democratic government won’t work here.

  6. Rosales was once in asylum, but no longer.. why?

    Capriles isn’t in exile or jail.

    Falcon is sitting pretty.

    and Fucking Allup is just fine with his $millions.

    And this is the complicit “opposition” el pueblo trusts to take them from this crisis?

    This is a broken, crooked chair leg that will never stand. Anyone who goes up against these 4, and others, will always be blocked for petty BS political reasons. They don’t care about Venezuela, no matter how many die or flee. Nothing changes until some of these guys die first, which cannot come soon enough.

  7. Really strange, but Reuters is reporting that China never said it was giving VZ any more money. They were just buying an additional stake in an existing project.

    While I hear the figure $5 billion (loan) being bantered about in other reports.

    I think that China has truly turned off the money tap, and is just posturizing for Maduro to save some face. He’s gotta be beyond desperation now, and has lowered himself to begging for even just a few minor, worthless, and untrue talking points.

    China’s gotta save some face too…they know they blew it…and contrary to some opinions here, $5 billion is not chump change to them. They’re starting to hurt too, and they don’t invest without an expected return. They already got screwed.

    Interestingly, China’s business leaders are against the country’s position on tariffs. They agree with Trump, or at least they’re acquiescing to the inevitable outcome that Trump will triumph on this. They want a trade agreement that’s fairer to the U.S., because they know it’s better for their businesses.

    And what does VZ offer them? Oil? That they’re not even getting?

    • Maduro and his merry band of morons routinely make shit up. I remember reading about how they were going to open up the foreign exchange, and I thought to myself, “Wow… a step in the right direction!” Only to be hoodwinked. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…

      I think they pull the same slight of hand every other month now, and only noobs get suckered in. It is just the same recycled BS.

    • Ira, I have been trying to research this. Can you provide a link to the article?

      Man, it was a kick in the nuts when I originally heard this news. However, over the weekend I have been thinking that this is the usual bullshit of the regime trying to save face. Since very few actually read Chinese who follow Venezuela, there are lots of details that have not come out. All we hear are what Maburro and Omar Barboza (Chavista stooge) say about this.

      If there is no liquidity in the forex exchange and the black market rate continues to go up, we know this was all bullshit. If the shelves are empty for Navidad, we know that this is all bullshit.

      If this all boils down to investment in existing projects in oil, gas and mining sector, that could take a lot of time to come online (oil and gas guys pipe in if you know the time frame and costs for stuff like that).

      This is definitely a story that needs to be followed up on.

      The more I think about this, the more this fits into the Chavista marketing strategy that they have to keep the military and the ignorant pueblo thinking they are actually doing something. This could all about Maduro going over to China, bowing to a statue of Mao, getting his photo ops, and the actually nuts and bolts of this amount to very little.

      Again, this definitely needs to be followed up on.

    • The Chinese like the Venezuelans are not very transparent so do not expect any accurate numbers from either side. I am sure he did not get a state visit and meeting with the Dear Leader to return home empty handed. Even if it was $5billion it’s just a band aid when stitches are needed.

  8. Ira, from what I have read it sounds like Maduro got chastized for failing to make his payments on time. They also made him promise to buy a copy of Basic Principles of Economics for Dummies. And you are right, it is not entirely clear whether he got more money or not.

  9. The ‘third leg’ would be an opposition willing to match the violence that Chavismo is willing to inflict to stay in power. Dialog, negotiation and voting was taken by the established opposition and used to prove that Chavismo is but a naked dictatorship. So now, someone has to shoot Maduro out of power.

    As pathetic as it is, the Venezuelan dictatorship is a throwback to Latin America of before the 80s. Things only changed once the military realized that they were incompetent to run the country. So Maduro goes about the world asking for money and implementing crazy ass economic measures to mend the Venezuelan economy. It is a forgone conclusion that it will not work, but we will have to wait for las Fuerzas Armadas de Ocupacion Bolivariana to realize that they are defending something akin to the Third Reich in April of 1945. Those milicos are true Chavistas! Either of the true believer strain or the racketeer strain.

    • I just read Mr. Sanchez Garcia in El Nacional, and I must agree with him that the current political situation is a zero sum game. As politicians go, it is Mrs. Machado that understands this reality where Chavismo must be violently flushed down the toilet of history.

  10. Professor Diego here, “lawyer and Political Scientist”, UCV luminary extraordinaire is beyondy delusional:

    a/ Three-legged tables are as rare as perros verdes for numerous reasons.

    b/ The “international community” is all talk and no action. If that. Plus many actually fuel the Kleptozuelan NarcoRegime, as Russia, China and Cuba, no less, plus many others, (even the USA and India by purchasing oil and selling gas paying Cash), and just about every island and tropical neighbors of the region, including Nicaragua, Bolivia, even Mexico and Colombia, indirectly, by allowing the Galactic Drug Trade which supports the Chabestias.

    c/ El pueblo is clueless, ignorant as they come, uneducated as can be, and often complicit, often corrupt. “Most of the population” to use Diego’s term, is divided, semi-chavistoide in nature, “sosialista”, “populista”, with zero professional skills, abysmal moral values, and often Enchufados. To the tune of almost 5 Million pueblo-people in countless “ministerios” or “alcaldias” on Kleptozuela’s public payroll. That’s their “burning desire” for change, huh… Cuanto hay pa’eso? That’s all they think about. Not many, but most. Sure they’re unhappy, and somewhat pissed-off and even hungry, but the real pueblo-opposition left the country long ago, they gave up fighting long ago, or, like Cubans Zombies, joined the Chavistoide beast, one way or another.

    PLUS the real dangerous ones, the educated people, the really pissed-off people, the honest people, with strong moral values, most of those left, over 4 Millions of us, or more, since Chavismo was elected and re-elected by the “Bravo Pueblo” Diego suggests here.

    And here’s the kicker, the Tropical Table’s proverbial Third Leg.. “So what’s the problem? Lack of high vision, incapacity to leave mistrust behind, incapacity and unwillingness to truly find the formula that will make the leaders raise their eyes, overcome petty grievances, go beyond competition.”

    No Sir. It’s mediocrity. Abundance of Corruption. Low moral values. Lack or real education. Yes, among your so-called “Leaders” too. Except for very, very few (Leopoldo, MCM..) they are MUD – Tierra. Barro. Part of the problem, not the solution. Chavismo starting and got stronger under their watch. Over 20 years ago.
    Lack of high vision… they see their bank accounts up high in numbers, that’s their only vision. Cuanto hay pa eso y como quedo yo ahi, pa los frescos, that’s also their “vision’. For the most part. You think Capriles or Ramos Allup or Borges or the other clowns care? Wake up. They care about themselves, obviously, and that won’t change. Their low moral values and lousy education won’t change. There’s no 3rd leg on that table.

    Thus, it’s a Legless Kleptozuela Narco-Table, esteemed Mr. political scientist from the UCV. That’s what it is. And unless some covert military FORCE comes to aid a few mid-level military thugs from Kleptozuela, the Tropical Narco-Klepto Table is doomed. Think Drones, Snipers, Helicopters.. forget about the MUD’s blurry and corrupt, and ignorant “vision”. BRIBE some “generals” give’em guns. Then build your obscure “transition government”, hopefully under Marcos Perez Jimenez’s sons, or someone like that.

  11. “To what shall we change?” The question asks itself and goes unanswered, but until there is a good and clear answer it means nothing to talk of change.

    Remember that el pueblo will hate any change from outside and they will hate the agents of change much more.

    • Davy, remember, the pueblo that Poeta so eloquently rants on about is both bipolar and has an inferiority complex.

      That is, they know deep down that most of the pueblo people are drunk, lazy indios who are not competent enough to build a modern society. Chavismo just gave them an ideology to fuel their drunken rages against both internal and external enemies, and now they are waking up in a puddle of their own puke and a broken nose.

      El imperio, the middle classes, technocrats have their act together and now it is time to listen to the adults rather than be rebellious teenagers in Che Guevara tshirts.

      Yes, some will never learn. But others realize that we have to do things different here– and most everybody has friends and family members abroad who are telling them everyday how things are done in the real world.

      So put another way, once the people eat enough shit, they will realize that they were wrong (or at least deceived) and that only way out of this is to look up to El imperio, the middle classes and technocrats to get them out of this mess.

      • Guachi, I’m not sure the mestizos (real Indios a la Peru, even Bolivia, are more discerning) will ever really look up to the Imperio/educated middle class/technocrats–not only is it not in their nature, but it’s not in their comprehension. However, they MAY get tired of eating shit, as many Venezuelan street stray animals literally currently do to try to survive, but, even if they do, they’ll need a street leader (before he’s jailed/tortured/killed) to lead them in mass to effect any change against a criminal Regime which will stop at nothing to silence rebellion. Cuba is a shining example of complete Pueblo submission for the long-haul. The final Venezuelan solution continues be military, preferably even from without, because it’s the only way to effect the complete housecleaning necessary for Venezuela to move forward democratically/economically.

      • Refreshing comments to read here, well said. Indians need wiser Chamans and Caciques to lead them. Better educated, more intelligent. Elite. Sifrinos, yes. Burgueses, yes. Unfortunately. Leopoldo lopez, yes. From Harvard. MCM, educated y con ovarios, yes. Caprilito, no. MUDcrap, no.

        And wild, ignorant Indian tribes need tough laws and punishment, until they wise up. They need to be forced to work and learn. Or be punished. That’s where MPJ would have helped, but that ship sailed. Instead, you got corrupt, ignorant Indians leading corrupt even more ignorant indians. Result? Klepto-Narco Cubazuela.

  12. “They also made him promise to buy a copy of Basic Principles of Economics for Dummies.”

    Too bad Mao didn’t carry that around instead of his pequeño libro rojo.

  13. Whoever told you that the International Community or the United States or the European Union or Japan are going to come forward with substantial aid for the 6th Republic was putting you on. Investments? Well, are the Chinese going to come up with those five billion dollars that they never spoke of? Why would anyone else? Whatever it’s going to be a long tough slog. My heart is with Venezuela the people I care very much about who live there. I help them as I am able, and that is not enough.

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