Photo: Caraota Digital retrieved

The conversation about the implications of January 10 is taking place in a Tower of Babel of sorts. The 16-J fraction of the National Assembly (AN) says there won’t be a president come January 10, and that the AN has to designate a new president. The Supreme Court in exile concurred. The Group of Lima even asked Maduro to resign and let the AN establish a new  government and the European Union demanded a new presidential election. In turn, the AN stated that there will be a president come January 10, but he will be an usurper.

What will most likely happen on January 10? Maduro will go to the TSJ to be sworn in and the National Assembly’s deputies will make yet another strong stance to denounce the violation of the Constitution.

And then nothing.

By this time next month, the entire episode will be a distant memory.

If all this sounds weirdly familiar, it’s because it is. We had virtually the same debate, exactly one year ago. On January 9, 2017, the National Assembly declared the dereliction of duty of President Maduro. That call was later ratified in August in 2018. On May 2018, the National Assembly declared Maduro’s election non-existent.

We had virtually the same debate, exactly one year ago. On January 9, 2017, the National Assembly declared the dereliction of duty of President Maduro.

Actually, we seem to do this year after year. In May 2017, the National Assembly decided to create a commission to lead a political transition, but yesterday the National Assembly decided to promote a bill about, yet again, a political transition.

These decisions are a product of the pressure that national deputies receive in different ways: from some political parties and political leaders in the country, sometimes from former and current heads of state from other countries, and sometimes from people who have an influential role in public opinion.

The results are always purely symbolic, and lack any impact on the political situation because chavismo decided it would pay no attention to the National Assembly’s decisions.

The government has been fully successful in neutering the opposition, but some still fantasize about what the opposition could do if it really put its back into it. That’s why we get stuck in this cycle of hype, symbolism, frustration and despair… time and time again.

The results are always purely symbolic, and lack any impact on the political situation because chavismo decided it would pay no attention to the National Assembly’s decisions.

The opposition has never figured out what to do with a National Assembly turned into an empty husk by government power plays. Nothing will happen on or after January 10, it doesn’t matter how much some may want it to, because the National Assembly exists in the realm of the undead: perambulatory, but devoid of life.

The time has come to ask ourselves some really hard questions: is it good for the country to try to build upon expectations the opposition can’t achieve? What’s preventing the opposition from frankly accepting its powerlessness? Is it wise to expect a leadership that can’t grasp the reality of its own weakness to draft a credibly strategy to defeat the regime?

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Ok…wow. “The government has been fully successful in neutering the opposition, but some still fantasize about what the opposition could do if it really put its back into it.” – I think what a lot of us feel is that it is not a fair fight for the obvious reasons. Also year after year we sink lower. Maybe another question we should be asking is: have we sunk low enough yet to want a change? I think we are pretty close.

  2. Opposition: We won the election, so relinquish power democratically as you had committed.
    Chavismo: We only do democracy when Chavismo wins elections, so suck it.
    Opposition: World come and see the dictatorship that has set in Venezuela!
    Chavismo: What are you going to do about that, weakling?!

    Chavismo bullied Venezuela into submission.

  3. I think most have moved past the denial stage of grief and accept that chavismo has totally neutered the opposition.

    Maybe in two years, when Bolsonaro gets Brazil squared away and Trump wins a second term, an external coalition can be formed to take some real action to address the Venezuelan disaster. Until then, listen to your intellectual betters here at CC and be thankful you are not ruled by an, “alt-rightwing” government like Brazil, Colombia, and (shudder!) the U.S.A. Suck it up, count your blessings and stop whining!

  4. It may have neutered the official opposition by strong arm tactics and fraud but what it hasnt neutered is the state of total collapse of the country and peoples anger at the kind of precarious life they must lead now , that wound is still festering and they are incompetent to confront it . they cant coerce the economy to function by putting people in jail , or exiling them , or throwing them from the top of high buildings ……until they do they will remain a regime besieged by the chaos and anger that they have themselves engendered .

  5. Don’t know.

    After Maduro’s desperate warning to the Lima Group today, I think we’re now looking at his end very shortly, at the very least. If not the end of Chavismo in general.

    His “48 hours to reverse course or get out of town” threat makes no sense, with Lima, Caricom and the OAS now going after him at the same exact time.

    He’s scared shitless, and won’t be sleeping well tonight.

    • “I think we’re now looking at his end very shortly, at the very least. If not the end of Chavismo in general.”
      “He’s scared shitless, and won’t be sleeping well tonight.”

      What were you drinking last night?? What on earth made you write this statement? Nick is smoking one of his finest Cuban sigars tonight before he goes to sleep like a little baby. He knows he did well and has made a huge step towards eternal power for Chavismo in VZ. They are just getting started Ira, make no mistake about it!!!

  6. I’m still not sure I get the point of Mr Becerra’s article. After the National Assembly answers the hard question by accepting it’s powerless status, then what? Once the AN shrinks into silence then what. Maybe Venezuelan readers can decode this article because of their knowledge of the author but I am at a total loss This article illustrates my main frustration with CC. It well reports how bad things are in Venezuela but it has absutely no notion of how to bring an end to the reign of the Chavistas.

    • Mr Crispin,

      My agreement with the article is that the AN in particular, and the opposition in general, have not been true players in the grand scheme of things for longer than many wish to admit. They’re like toothless, posturing, old hounds all puffed up but with no real intention of doing any damage to those they menace. For someone here (caracas chronicles) to finally admit that, is considered a breakthrough by me.

      As for your questions about solutions, I believe those are covered in the pay-per-view section.

      🙂

    • You’re right, Mr. Crispin, in pointing out the presence of “code” that needs to be unpacked.

      The only difference this time around is that there is a hard deadline in terms of a presidential period that a great many countries are not going to accept if anyone other than the president of the National Assembly takes the reins (effectively) and leads the country through a transition to a clean election.

      The widespread opinion that the AN is toothless is one I agree with. It does not have troops, nor do I see “Venezolanos de a pie”packing the halls and streets around it defending it. They misused the trust and support they had fresh off their 2015 thrashing of chavismo and gave away the Supermajority they had when the congressmen from Amazonas were suspended by the supreme court (voter fraud, case has not been resolved of course). Since then it has been a slow demarche, one inch at a time, of exile, arrest, persecution and death of the opposition and rather than stay united, the “genius” pols preferred to each try to make a deal with the goons to save their own bacon in detriment of their “allies”. Always thinking that soon the thugs will be gone and they will sit in the Chair at Miraflores.

      Yet given all that, this time there’s a different set of circumstances. This isn’t 2014, or 16-17. There is more grumbling in the barracks than ever before, and the street is as you see it reported here. Somalia is a couple of steps away. There are US intelligence officials leaking a story of a Padrino Lopez (SecDef) – Maduro confrontation which basically says “You go or I resign”, which would really set the fox amongst the chickens if Padrino stepped down. Add in the bad blood between Godgiven Hair (Diosdado Cabello) and Maduro and you might start to reach for popcorn.

      We may yet see a transition, just one we don’t expect. I have the feeling that maybe not today, but pretty soon, it will unfold. This time what is happening in the military may produce this. This will not be full on Democracy. Forget that. Those days are done.

      “I’m turning Chinese, I think I’m turning Chinese, I really think so” is where this is headed. Relatively free economically, tight fisted politically, population under watch thanks to Big Brother.

      The AN, and its president Juan Guaido, will fulfill their role of “Jarron Chino” (Chinese Vase, only good for show but not practical at all, looks good in a corner) and give their blessings to the new kid on the block which will turn out to be some general or other fronting for the Narcos. Guaido will go down in history as this generations Ramon J. Velasquez, who finished out CAP2’s term and basically just held the rudder straight (or tried to) as a lame duck.

      Even so, the optimist in me hopes that I get the denouement wrong.

      The author is correct when stating that it’s time the opposition stop doing the same thing over and over. Time for a new approach, or changes in the existing one.

      I would include a change of leadership at the top, and the realization by those who WERE leading that they messed up and need to exit stage right, exeunt omnes and GTHOOTW.

      Perhaps the choice of Juan Guaido, a member of the “not a fossil” club is a stab at doing something different. But like Saint Thomas, show me the wound and I’ll believe.

  7. “The time has come to ask ourselves some really hard questions: is it good for the country to try to build upon expectations the opposition can’t achieve? What’s preventing the opposition from frankly accepting its powerlessness? Is it wise to expect a leadership that can’t grasp the reality of its own weakness to draft a credibly strategy to defeat the regime?”

    It isn’t a sign of weakness to acknowledge your lack of power. That isn’t the problem. As a matter of fact, it shows they are grounded in reality. Plus… its obvious. Humility isn’t bad.

    The problem is, the oppo either A. has no ideas, or B. the same ideas as Chavismo.

    The solution is tougher. Is the oppo willing to tell El Pueblo the truth (and offer up some bitter pills to get Venezuela back), or is El Pueblo so enamored with Chavismo that they don’t/won’t hear the truth?

  8. Doesn’t Maduro know that the stripes on that sash make him look even fatter?

    Not a particularly smart fashion choice considering VZ’s current hunger situation.

  9. Sorry, guys. Or maybe, cheer up guys. My thoughts are going in a different direction.

    I readily affirm the factuality of this article (is factuality actually a word?), but this all feels really different this time…just 18 minutes at the time of my writing here until Maduro’s latest and greatest illegitimate claim to the presidency.

    Don’t know what’s gonna happen (whoever does?), but one thing is certain:

    Some shit is going to hit some fans in the next few days, and it ain’t gonna be boring!

  10. I also think it would be incredibly helpful if we stop referring to all opponents of Maduro et al as the “Opposition.” Doesn’t even make any sense:

    Surely, opposition viewpoints are very varied, each a product of a fluid mix of all points on the ideological spectrum. Capitalism or death…socialism or death…hey guys, let’s compromise…and hey guys, let’s compromise just a teensy weensy bit.

    Just like every government on earth, so I don’t appreciate, nor have I ever criticized, the “opposition,” for being some disappointing, failed, behemoth monolith.

    I’m still pissed, really fucking pissed, that Leopoldo stepped aside for Henrique. That’s what your “opposition” got you.

    Just more Maduro mierda.

  11. Una de las cosas que podemos hacer al menos en el extranjero es algo que vengo pregonando desde hace meses:

    Debemos organizar manifestaciones frente a las embajadas de Rusia y Cuba exigiendo que dejen de intervenir en Venezuela.
    Debemos exigir que haya un CNE independiente y que haya un debate pùblico, muy público, para que el mundo entero vea cómo el régimen y la oposición deciden cómo organizar un CNE independiente.
    Debemos organizar exhibiciones permanentes en TODO EL MUNDO mostrando cómo la dictadura chavista es peor, mucho peor a la de Pinochet, cómo se han robado mucho más que los dictadores congoleses como Mobutu
    Esas son un par de medidas que podemos realizar.
    Otra es hacer un llamado para que fluya toda la información posible a un sitio centralizado fuera de Venezuela sobre los servicios cubanos en Venezuela, SEBIN, etc. Debemos promover que todos los ciudadanos que sepan algo de lo que hacen estos en Venezuela informen de todo lo que hacen esos servicios.
    Esas son medidas con un alcance limitado pero son algo. Y todos debemos pensar en otras, tratar de ser creativos. Es difícil pero es necesario

  12. Thanks RobertoN….that’s a better reasoned look at the future than I have read here in a while although MRubio is right I should break down and go Pay Per View to get the real CC analysis. I see the choice as Chavistas lite vs a military figure. Either way the great gift either could give to Venezuela is to clean up the narco state. I am still of the view that 2019 will be the year of transition.Goodby Maduro but who will come thru the door as his successor.

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