Photo: Sputnik News retrieved.

It doesn’t matter how simple or complex a task is, you’ll always need the right tool. A neurosurgeon can’t open a skull with a scalpel, and you can’t hammer a nail with a screwdriver. It’s not different when trying to remove a government from power. In most countries, an election is the only tool it takes. But Venezuela is not a normal country.

A once-successful democracy was utterly hijacked by an authoritarian project that, in 20 years, took the country two centuries into the past, right in front of the whole world’s eyes. Few can understand how terrible it is, to live in a place where your two salaries won’t let you have pizza from time to time, much less “luxuries” like a car, a TV or even clothes. A place where every weekend there’s a farewell party for a different friend, where you see malnourished children and their grandparents fainting after weeks without proper food, and where the man responsible for all the chaos addresses the nation daily to remind us how lucky we are to have him running the show.

The Venezuelan crisis is the worst the Western world has seen in quite a long time, and its sole responsibles are Hugo Chávez, Nicolás Maduro and the ruling clique keeping the latter in power. As long as they stay there, not a single step will be taken to rebuild this heavily damaged country, and make no mistake: they’ll do all they can to keep it that way.

That’s why I can’t understand how some people still try to sell voting, in the current conditions, like the only miraculous tool to fix this mess.

I can’t understand how some people still try to sell voting, in the current conditions, like the only miraculous tool to fix this mess.

Don’t get me wrong; until last year, I had voted in every single election the National Electoral Council (CNE) called. I believe the right to vote is extremely important and deciding whether to execute it or not is a very personal decision that should be always respected. I just really can’t stand how the same people that saw Maduro bypass the democratically elected National Assembly in 2015, the same ones who heard the president of Smartmatic accuse the CNE of inventing over a million votes out of thin air for the National Constituent Assembly, the same ones who saw Maduro handpick a loser candidate to fight against on his reelection last May, are the ones saying that we all must go and vote, waiting for the government to steal the election again, like this is some sort of winning strategy.

They talk like we hadn’t done all we, civilians, could do, ignoring all we’ve learned during the last 20 years. Arguing that a massive participation is all we need, comparing us to historically and politically different countries like Chile or Poland, they tell us that abstentionists are the reason why MUD/Frente Amplio’s popularity fell in the latest opinion polls, avoiding comments about those organizations’ incapacity to stop Maduro’s pervasive social control scheme. They’re also continuously clumsy at PR, which hides the few statements that escape the State’s censorship.

But furthermore, they seem oblivious of how the scenario of Maduro losing an election under current conditions is extremely unlikely. Paradoxically, as the crisis worsens, the government grows stronger and the oppositions weakens. Contrary to what many AD philosophers may think, this happens not because some anonymous guy rants against Henry Ramos Allup on Twitter: as people grow poorer, they’re more dependant from the government, and the risk of rebelling (or voting) against Maduro gets higher, a vicious circle that the opposition hasn’t been able to break. Many hate Maduro, but they fear that if the opposition wins, it won’t have the strength to make any changes. To them, the risk of voting against the government and then lose the little benefits they need to survive is just too high. Migration is a safer bet, leaving the opposition with less votes every day, making a highly unpopular government more likely to actually win future elections.

Paradoxically, as the crisis worsens, the government grows stronger and the oppositions weakens.

There’s also the elephant in the room: the government doesn’t even need votes to “win.” The long-suspected fact was evidenced last year, first with Smartmatic’s speech (Ramos Allup, by the way, called that very same day for people to massively vote regardless), and after Andrés Velásquez “lost” the regional election of Bolívar, even though he got more votes than his adversary. But in case that wasn’t enough, chavismo can always accept defeat and then impose its will, like what happened after the opposition victories of 2007, 2015 and with Juan Pablo Guanipa a year ago, stripped of his recently-gained post as elected governor of Zulia for refusing to “bend the knee” before the National Constituent Assembly. Even those opposition governors who actually did it, saw many of their capacities transferred to parallel governments named by Maduro.

I’d love living in a place where a good candidate, doing a good campaign, could end this nightmare, but Maduro will never leave power through an election, unless he’s forced to.

Massive public outrage could pressure the government to make some concessions. The whole country is in tense calm since last year’s demonstrations, even though everything is falling apart at a vertiginous pace. The government has made efforts to dissuade nation-wide, coordinated protests, it uses subsidies as a bargain chip and, when that fails, it can always count on its miserable, but still efficient repressive apparatus. So far they’ve been successful, but sometimes it feels like all it takes is a little push for people to rebel. Yesterday, the horrible death of PJ councilman, Fernando Albán, while under SEBIN’s custody, shocked the country. Official conflicting sources quickly ruled it as a suicide, but opposition parties reacted with long-forgotten contundence, claiming Albán was killed by security forces and calling for public manifestations condemning the apparent crime.

Could this be the push needed to ignite a new series of protests? Would those protests be enough to pressure Maduro?

There’s also the elephant in the room: the government doesn’t even need votes to “win.”

A far less shocking event sparked the 2017 cycle, but the government survived, suppressing dissent with deadly violence and making no concessions at all. Considering how scared and unmotivated people are today, it’s unlikely that domestic pressure alone would ever be enough.

On the international scenario, the United States’ targeted sanctions against chavismo’s heavyweights add pressure, but so far have been insufficient. A greater involvement from both the U.S. and its regional allies is critical to achieve regime change. Such involvement, whatever shape it takes, may be driven by the massive flow of refugees flooding Latin America (and the pressure they generate from electors in receiving countries) or from the growing tensions between Colombia and Venezuela along their 2,000 km-long border.

To be honest, I don’t know what’s the right tool for this job, or if it even exists. But I’m sure that, under the current conditions, believing an election will bring democracy back to Venezuela is a pipe dream as delusional as thinking salvation will come from a U.S. Navy carrier off La Guaira shore.

So please don’t sell us those screwdrivers like they were hammers.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. What is this article even about? I thought we would get an analysis about if we are ever going to see another election, but instead this is a retelling of the events of the past two years plus some topics that have been discussed in CC time and time again and are kind of obvious…I mean, are we still debating the CNE and Ramos Allup and all this crap?

    • Well at least we got a Gocho to tell us what is up, rather than the usual Falsonistas and Adecos trying to convince us to go to the polls. Something that the Arepa kept slamming over our heads before M20. Ricardos anti vote article is a welcome change in the articles here at the Arepa.

  2. At this point, I who after 2015 became convinced voting was a waste of time, think that if there is such a thing as a “referendum” on a “new constitution” folks might as well go out and vote as long as they KNOW it’s a farce.

    If anything, just to screw with Jorge Rodriguez.

    Everyone knows it’s a forgone conclusion who or what is going to win. So might as well vote and also do something to make it clear this is a circus and not a serious vote.

  3. A nice review of the recent past

    But seriously. How many times do Venezuelans get kicked in the balls, only to wait patiently for the next kick?

    YOUR ELECTIONS ARE A FARCE. Your democracy is GONE. IT’S DEAD. There will be no “elections”, let alone a fair vote on your pending Cuban constitution.

    But that won’t stop the piss bucket carriers for “democratic change” in Venezuela. Always, the better way is, “This time, it will be different… we will not have a mandate unless it is by popular vote! Democracy is ALWAYS the answer!”

    How many times has it been since the elections of 2015? Your AN is neutered. Your TSJ and CNE are puppets. No legitimate opposition…. just Chavismo Lite. No governors. No mayors. No Constitution. The ANC farce. And all of this disaster because NOBODY** HAD THE BALLS TO SAY, “ENOUGH!”.

    So yeah, keep braying for more “democracy”. I am confident that the likes of Delcy and Jorge and Diosdado and Vlad have a good laugh at your expense.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    **Well, one guy did. But he is dead because Venezuela is chock full of people content to wait around for someone to save them without considering that they need to save themselves. Poor Oscar Perez. Died for ingrates.

  4. “The Venezuelan crisis is the worst the Western world has seen in quite a long time, and its sole responsibles are Hugo Chávez, Nicolás Maduro and the ruling clique keeping the latter in power. As long as they stay there, not a single step will be taken to rebuild this heavily damaged country, and make no mistake: they’ll do all they can to keep it that way.”

    WROOOOOONG. Dead wrong. As usual.

    Will you ever understand than Chavismo was merely a consequence? The logical result?

    The country, and it’s dumb, uneducated people are what bred Chavismo. The corrupt people are what kept it alive. Millions of clueless Indians. Most of them complicit and corrupt, decade after decade.

    Do you need vitamins or a new brain to comprehend something as simple as that?

    • “sole responsibles” are your dead brain cells, Ricardo.

      Now this remark is a bit less dumb:

      “To be honest, I don’t know what’s the right tool for this job, or if it even exists. But I’m sure that, under the current conditions, believing an election will bring democracy back to Venezuela is a pipe dream as delusional as thinking salvation will come from a U.S. Navy carrier off La Guaira shore.”

      Yet, again, you’re wrong. An election has ZERO x ZERO opportunity.

      Some form of military action has way more than that. Granted, no one gives a shit about Kleptzuela or Haiti or Zimbabwe, so no use holding one’s breath.

      The right tools were tough LAWS, and EDUCATION, son. But that ship sailed long ago.

  5. but Maduro will never leave power through an election, unless he’s forced to.

    ———–

    Like how. Retelling old news and summarizing same is at this point a curious path to take. What, exactly, are the options to “force” Maduro’s hand?

    • And if Maduro and Cabello leave, there are 2000 corrupt “generals” waiting in line, to avoid jail time, backed by the corrupt Cubans, Russians and Chinese. Retard.

  6. Tools for Change: How Far Will Elections Take Us Right Now?

    Judging by the December 2015 legislative elections, where the oppo won two thirds of the seats: not far at all.

  7. This article is just a sop by Management to keep commenters happy–Management KNOWS that Mogherini/et. al. dialogue, now being bandied about, once again, is the DEMOCRATIC thing to do, and, once Falson/Torino get really revved up, that VOTING DEMOCRACY will triumph in Venezuela….

  8. “A greater involvement from both the U.S. and its regional allies is critical to achieve regime change.”

    Did I read the word, “critical?” As in, “it ain’t gonna happen unless Uncle Sam makes it happen?” By us slack-jawed, right-wing, dumbass Trumpistas? Did Fransico Toro and the editorial board at CC see a draft of your article before it was published? Or do I notice a slight change in attitude here at CC?

    And just (ahem!) what kind of “greater involvement” do you have in mind?

    • By us slack-jawed, right-wing, dumbass Trumpistas?
      That came rather close to quoting Quico word for word. OTOH, compare Quico to the WaPo, where he occasionally writes articles. The comment pages, a.k.a. the echo chamber, at the WaPo incessantly say the same as Quico – and worse.
      But as I have pointed out more than once, you aren’t likely to to get much help from those you insult. Apparently according to Quico, the Reedies (Quico’s alma mater, where a fellow member of my high school Liberal Religious Youth group teaches) and Ivy Leaguers don’t need any help from the deplorables.

      One thing for sure: Chavismo isn’t exiting by the electoral route.
      ,

    • what kind of “greater involvement” do you have in mind?

      The greater involvement is for the US military to hand the Venezuelan people back the democracy that they willingly traded for a few trinkets, while the Venezuelan people act as spectators.

    • Can we stop claiming that “los Pepe’s” are somehow to be admired. They were not “local vigilante heroes”, they were murderous thugs who became the leaders of the AUC.

      • Internet’s a nightmare here right now Waltz. It comes and goes, going more than coming. I’ll do my best to get word to you tomorrow. My phone doesn’t have WhatsApp up and running by my woman’s does.

        • Waltz
          I will help you get your shipment to MRubio.
          The internet is working better as far as e-mail is concerned in Caracas than the outlying areas.

  9. The most informative content on CC is currently the comments provided by MRubio. I would love to see the troubles of Ven chronicled. I seriously can’t comprehend living in a hyperinflationary world ruled by incompetent leaders. There have to be better stories to convey the immense hardships and challenges. Where can I go to read about this. I have looked at TalCual, Telesur, Aporrea and even DolarToday. A ton of garbage. CC is still the best reading. Thank you MRubio.

  10. Read the title and came straight to the comments section to express my state of disbelief at CC still pondering the pros and cons of participating. When will they concede that elections are a sham?

    Is Quico preparing a master plan that would trick Chavistas out of office? I am sure he can, he is very, very smart.

    sigh… (here goes back to you Quico for all of your arrogant sighs when we told you that you were dead wrong). Who is sighing now, huh?

  11. Sorry to sound negative, but the only way to vote effectively in Venezuela is with your feet. Deprive the regime of the value of your labor. Only when all economic activity stops and the lights go out will this regime collapse.

    • Isn’t Venezuela already in a paro infinito? Unless PDVSA workers stop working, this will continue…I’m sure Chavistas would out maneuver whatever paro people throw at them.

  12. I will resume what elections mean in Venezuela today:

    60 years of electoral simulations for propagandistic purposes, with absolutely NO change of government.

    JUST LIKE CUBA

  13. Coincidence? Canucklehead commented on whether comments in this blog would stay or remain about a week or so ago.

    I don’t believe in coincidence.

  14. I imagine that some form of social media “commenting” will manifest itself. Such as Twitter or Facebook. At which many commentators will dissipate into the ether. Especially the ones still in Venezuela.

    Speaking only for myself, the reason I comment at all is due to the anonymity. I promised my Venezuelan wife that I wouldn’t offer up any identifying information about our family. I have offered up enough information over the years that a dedicated sleuth might be able to find out who I am and, by process of elimination, discover my identity. But in all honesty, it wouldn’t be worth it and the disappointment factor would be turned up to 11. I’m just a middle aged guy in Fly Over Country who gives a shit about SOME of the people left behind in Venezuela. The ones I don’t care about still believe in the myth of Marxism. Which, sadly, includes some of the leadership and writers for CC. And, they are getting their rewards for such belief.

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