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Venezuela News And Views

A blog about life under, and resisting, a dictatorship


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Sat, 10 Feb 2018 20:05:25 PST

I am writing this as I am listening to Górecki #3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs". You have been warned. (1)The situation is simply impossible for the Venezuelan opposition electoral umbrella MUD.  Now that the "dialogue" is dead and that a furious regime has imposed a deadline for an advanced presidential election on April 22 what can the MUD do?  Participating would be incoherent with the dialogue since it broke on the matter of the election date that should have been December 2018 (2). Not participating is letting the field open for Maduro to be reelected with gazillions votes through a massive fraud that cannot technically be proven.Before we walk though scenarios let us understand a few key elements.To mount a successful campaign the opposition must breach at the very least these barriers:- hold primaries or some nomination process that gets a single candidate that can motivate the electorate back to the poll stations- organize a monitoring system on voting day strong enough to withstand the military pressure to commit electoral fraud in at least 3/4 of voting stations. If anything to compensate through massive voting there the fraud committed in the 25% that cannot be reached by the opposition monitors for a variety of reasons.- quell any idiotic campaign for abstention and transform it into a unifying rally to overthrow the regime.- be prepared for the day after.I do not see this happening by April 22. Amen of other necessary items for winning an election.So, can we do something?The basic questions the MUD needs to answer within the next week are "Are we or not in a narco dictatorship? Are we willing to face it down for what it is? With all the collateral damage that this will mean."  Only if we all agree on the answers to these questions do we have a chance to come up with a coherent strategy, either to win or to sabotage Maduro's happening.  Next a few possible scenarios depending on how well this is understood, or accepted.Scenario 1, the worst case scenario, the end of democracy scenarioSome inside the opposition decide to go for it against all odds.  Some go abstention and cannot come up with any other strategy than staying home and wait for the Marines to land.  Likely there will be several candidates, some financed by the regime itself (3).  The bulk of the opposition in urban areas will refuse to go and vote (4). Maduro will be elected without having to make major fraud and with perhaps no more han 40% of the vote (5) . He can thus pretend that he is legitimately elected and we are good for him as president for life. We just pack and leave the country.Scenario 2, the legitimization scenarioThe opposition decides to run and manages to put forward a single candidate rendering minor ones irrelevant no matter how well financed they are by chavismo.  However it seems very difficult that a unity candidate in such circumstances will be able to motivate people to vote. If, for example, Maria Corina Machado decides not to support the said candidate the opposition would be very hard pressed to reach 50% of the vote.In this scenario the regime would be forced to run a harsher campaign, and go to open cheating expecting a weak opposition response. Maduro would "win" but with no more than a 55/45 lead.  More would be too much and conduct to violence, maybe not on election day but surely after as the crisis gets worse.Unfortunately the result in that scenario is that unless fraud is not promptly exposed and the MUD refuses to recognize Maduro's "victory", the final outcome would be a grudging recognition of his regime. A "pariah state light" situation which is enough for Maduro to hang in until chavismo itself decides to throw him out of office.Scenario 3, collapse or recovery for chavismo?An inspired united opposition candidate does manage to rally the bases. In spite of all odds s/he gets 60% of the vote.  But Maduro and the illegal constituent assembly remain until January 2019.  The election can simply be annulled on any ground, or through the voting of a ne[...]

Open letter to Marco Rubio

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 19:47:33 PST

Dear Senator RubioI was directed to a string of tweets you posted earlier on today. They are below next.First let me congratulate you from your constant attention to the Venezuelan situation and your efforts in helping the democratic people of Venezuela.  We all have to thank you for keeping the Venezuelan crisis in the front burner of United States priorities.  I say that knowing full well that this approval alone is enough to bring me trouble as I reside in Venezuela.And this is why I write to you because something is doubly wrong with these tweets. Supporting these could actually get me into serious trouble, but for the wrong reasons. Let me explain.You did not say anything that I have not said at some point in the blog. So, the trouble for me here would come from relaying your tweets, not from their content.  Even your quoting Bolivar appropriately is trouble for us as it underlines the corruption of his good name perpetrated by the chavista fraud.The problem comes from putting your faith in the Venezuelan army.  Here, in Venezuela, we all know that there is not such a thing as a military solution. We all know, we have all suffered, we have all seen what the army has become under Chavez and Maduro: a corrupt and decrepit former institution. An institution, I should add, that was not in good shape when Chavez arrived in office.  What he did was to open progressively the doors to massive corruption inside. One by one the generals either went on to retirement or bit into the corruption cake, lavishly fattened by the decision of the Bush administration to let Chavez do as he pleased as long as he sent all the oil the US asked for during the Gulf War.  And oil price was high, so high these years!It is hard to read, I know, but it is the to the bitter point summary. Neither Bush nor Obama paid the required attention to Venezuela and that is why we have a much worse crisis than what it could have been.That is why I am dismayed to read that you are suggesting the military to intervene and boot Maduro out.  Are you that naive or is it part of a devilish plan you have concocted with your colleagues?  I would like to know.Look at the Maduro administration: military everywhere. Between retired and active military you have a majority of governors and cabinet posts.THIS IS ALREADY A MILITARY DICTATORSHIP. Maduro does not rule, he just has allied himself with the military. They let him figure while they pick up dry the bones of the country.The beauty, for the army, of the Chavez regime has been that they reached power, absolute power, without the need to fire a single gun, without the need to make a military coup.  Their only limitations has been to pretend that this is still an imperfect democracy by allowing a whole bunch of leftist civilians allied with a civilian kleptocracy to do their bidding. In fact that kleptocratic "elite" has been the one managing the corruption business of the generals.  Cuba understood this very well: they infiltrated the army so that those who aligned with Cuba would share the loot with Cuba while becoming the real power in Venezuela.  Helped along, of course, by Cuban expertise on SS controls: Starvation and Surveillance.This is why your tweet, the one where you address the military itself confounds me so much.  They, perhaps, even discredit you.Unless your diabolical plan is to encourage a group of the army to break away in exchange of an amnesty for them. In short a small blood bath to avoid the major blood bath of massive repression and civil war.  Is that so?Allow me to be skeptical of the solution.  Here, the army must be eliminated. It is beyond recovery, from the soldiers eating out of garbage to the generals that are almost all to a point incredibly fat.  The soldiers that allowed their commanders to make them eat garbage are not recoverable. And the generals so used to power, riches and free abuse at this point are unable to comprehend that they wronged the country. They are beyond the pale[...]

Venezuela dialogue bust and its chain reaction

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 20:55:53 PST

As expected the "dialogue" between the narco dictatorship and the civil opposition went nowhere.  Yesterday the chair, Dominican Republic president, said euphemistically that talks were adjourned for the time being, letting ooze slightly his disappointment at not having been able to help the regime get what it so sorely wanted. On the other hand the chosen mediator of the regime, former Spanish premier Zapatero, could not hide its bitterness at his failures, and revealed his profound bias by threatening the opposition for not signing down.  At least we gained something, Zapatero is now out of any negotiation after his words yesterday.It could not have been otherwise. The regime would not have signed anything that would have implied a loosening of its control over the country, and even less on anything electoral where the risks of losing were only too real. And the opposition could not sing anything that would have recognized the illegal Constituent Assembly, while not giving at least a true semblant of fairness to the Venezuelan "electoral" system.  It was wasted months for the opposition that had to prove again and again its democratic bent to the world for its support, while the regime at best saw the negotiation as a way to gain time. Right now the regime is winning at home and the opposition overseas, thus the real winner of this fiasco cannot be called yet.While the opposition is still far from recovered from the shock of July 30 2017, the regime forges ahead.  First the election was confirmed for April 22 (1). This way there is no possibility for the opposition to organize duly, for an international observation to organize thoroughly. In fact today I was told by contacts in such activities that an electoral observation mission needs at the very least 4 months to have some credibility.  I was also told that in such conditions neither the OAS, UN or EU would sign on an observation agreement. I suppose Chinese and Cuban electoral specialists will have to do for observation on election day alone, what in Venezuela is called "accompanying".Maduro signed the paper of the dialogue result that the opposition refused to sign, and rightly so if you read the draft. It is to be noted that the counter offer from the opposition was not even received/read by the regime negotiators that declared victory and promptly left.  Maduro also decided that on February 17 and 18 there will be a mass collection of signatures by "el pueblo" to prove that we are all peace hungry and accept elections under Maduro's terms.This did not stop the regime from other actions. One is the continuing saga of chopping the head of any credible leader, even if already discarded like Capriles. This one, already barred from running for even dog catcher, learned today that the new governor of Miranda, the ineffable young hope of chavismo Hector Rodriguez wanted to investigate Capriles for corruption and mismanagement. Interestingly when Capriles asked for the same, showing thick dossiers of corruption for his predecessor, Diosdado Cabello, the Venezuelan "justice" promptly field them on the dustier shelf available. Rodriguez did not even bother to show dossiers filled up with blank pages during his presentation.Populism of the crassest nature is something that is put to good use. Maduro is unable to provide any positive result for his rule in the past 5 years. So he just prints money that get worthless by the day. He throws that money to his constituency in yet a new "youth bonus", which youth will quickly find out it can barely buy them a few loaves of bread. That is, this month because the inflation for January has been calculated at 86% and thus whatever bonus Maduro throws today will be worth half of it in less than 4 weeks.  But heck, he owns the printing machine. More Monopoly notes are to come.But the blitzkrieg at home cannot hide another type of blitzkrieg overseas.  The forcing of the election in such a way is making other countries tone up their words[...]

Our daily abomination

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 10:07:01 PST

So we wake up this morning with another political arrest in the middle of the night.

This time it is particularly infuriating and it is driving political reactions from all sides of the opposition. See, the victim, Enrique Aristeguieta Gramcko, is the last survivor of a main group that fought actively to overthrow Perez Jimenez in 1958. Also he was a decent politicians in the years that followed, occupying different roles and as far as I know, no corruption in his dossier. In short, the kind of politician that had we had more of them we would not be in this deep shit.

As if that was not enough, at 85 years old he is taken out of his bed at 3 AM, no arrest warrant, political police action. But the goons were gentlemanly: they allowed him to pack some stuff, including his various medications.  I suppose that having 85 years had some privileges, the more so that the goons knew that above 70 the Venezuelan law only previews home arrest in case of committed crimes.

His crime? to have been a staunch opponent to Chavez, from twitter to helping organize new resistance organizations. And of being a living symbol.



His last video on January 23, anniversary of the 1958 overthrow, where he says among other things that the Maduro dictatorship has been the worse in our history.

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The Latin America crisis for 2018

Thu, 01 Feb 2018 17:58:28 PST

This what has been added to the brew:- Venezuela's corrupt narco dictatorship is imploding. Only two things can support it: the increased murderous repression that we are seeing, and exiles which are estimated at already 10% of the population gone since Chavez was elected in 1998. The flow seems to be increasing and it cannot be otherwise as the humanitarian crisis from lack of food and heath care is getting worse by the day. We may be allowed to whisper "failed state".A famous The Economist Chart to illustratehow central Venezuela has become to drug traffic- The regime refuses to negotiate seriously. Instead it has embarked in an election promising to be the mother of all electoral frauds.  Already many countries have announced that the result will not be recognized which begets the question as to what will happen when the president of a collapsed to failed state cannot even have an ambassador recognized for a relief negotiation?- Mexico is facing the very real likelihood that Lopez Obrador will be elected. He is friendly to the regime in place just as Mexico was becoming one of its fiercest critics.- Brazil has declared guilty in court ex president Lula da Silva who is running for office anyway and is leading in polls for the time being. His eventual election later this year would bring to the front a much more radical Lula, wanting to get back at his opponents just as Brazil shows it first tenuous signs of economic recovery. A Brazilia-Caracas-Mexico axis inspired on the Sao Paulo forum could spell havoc for all of Latin America. And not for good as we can watch how the offered polices have failed in Brazil and catastrophically in Venezuela.- And yet Brazil is already chaffing with the burden of thousand of Venezuelan exiles that will continue to pour in, with or without Lula in office.- Colombia has elections on its own and has already border refugee problems with Venezuela. As the situation worsens in Venezuela the folks that cannot afford air plane tickets to leave, those that have no family overseas that can support them, that have no valuable skills, but that have had it can only go to Colombia. And they can do that en masse.- Minor issues are also present, from Chile electing a more anti  Maduro president, to a Cuban transition that may not be as smooth as one would expect, just as Ecuador is about to throw Correa to the trash and maybe turn against Venezuela. Never forgetting that Evo Morales in Bolivia has clearly violated the will of the people and Honduras will become a festering sore in Central America.- Whatever the above, the main driving element in all of this is the Venezuelan crisis. Not only there is the refugee problem which may reach Syria levels, but the neighboring countries cannot accept an open narco dictatorship to consolidate itself in the Western Hemisphere, the more so if Russia and China back it upo, albeit reluctantly. This is the XXI century, the time of tinpot dictators was supposed to have gone away, and failed states were for Africa.Thus reaction has started. If anything can be done it is now, in the next 2 to 3 months. After that the electoral dynamics of Mexico, Brazil and even the US will make it more difficult to organize a common front for action. Even though it is probably too late, the regime already too entrenched, the country probably damaged beyond repair, something must be attempted, if anything to make sure it does not get much worse.OAS General Secretary Almagro had tried to warn folks. He has been working at it for about two years. But few supported him, not even the large chunk of the Venezuelan opposition considering it intolerable that Almagro would tell them that what they were doing was dead wrong.Now the chickens are coming home to roost. Almagro is no Cassandra anymore and people resent him even more for being right.That is why you are seeing the following in the last two weeks:- European Union sanctions.- French president daring to say that more [...]

Rex Tillerson all but declares war on Maduro narco dictatorship

Thu, 01 Feb 2018 12:19:15 PST

This video is self explanatory.EN VIDEO | Rex Tillerson: "El régimen corrupto y hostil de Maduro en Venezuela se aferra a un sueño falso y visión anticuados de la región que ya ha sido un fracaso para sus ciudadanos. No representa la visión de millones de venezolanos."— Alberto Rodríguez (@AlbertoRodNews) February 1, 2018Well, at least they did not smile whereas the regime had ear to ear grins.The tweetstorm this afternoon was nothing like I had ever seen before. Even for my time line where I avoid mega twitterers like the plague.HRA has been execrated by all, those who voted on October 15, the militant abstention who do not voted with a "I told you", etc, etc...  Even some politicians, not knowing what awaits them tomorrow, dared to criticize HRA.I am not going to speculate about the reasons for HRA to Break Up the MUD alliance, because this is what happened today even though no politico uses the B word yet.  I would note that actually the message of OAS secretary Almagro last week was probably directed at HRA, Almagro suspecting who knows what. It is more interesting to see where this whole mess is heading.I did write on March 21 that the MUD was going toward a division. Then the 4 months of protests happened, slowing down a process that may have arrived finally.  What would the realignment be?On one side we would have those that would never accept the regime. For them, negotiation is a negotiation to establish the conditions and time line for the regime to leave.  We already have the abstention party (who should not crow today, but that is another story) which comprises Maria Corina Machado MCM, Antonio Ledezma AL, their followers of course and a significant amount of Miami types and local opinion makers self calling "la resitencia". I can see VP joining them. After all the defense of Leopoldo López and his mayors now in exile has not been something on the top of the list for HRA.PJ, also a victim of AD and HRA may join them, or go it all alone. I think if forced to chose PJ would go with the above coalition if it is able to show some seriousness. That is, MCM and AL showing that they have a true organization and not only a loudspeaker.  Note that as I was proofreading this text I came across a communique from PJ condemning today's swearing in and thus, well, starting the MUD divorce proceedings.On the other side we could see flock to AD the remnants of Rosales' Un Nuevo Tiempo, what is left of Henry Falcon now that he lost Lara and some other small groups.  Maybe even the embers of COPEI, the once strong ruling party.  This group would start negotiating with the regime. What?  Who knows.....  And with no guarantees of course. Barely a couple of hours after the swearing in, a boisterous Maduro announced that he was naming "protectors" of the states he lost and no one else but the losing candidates. They are already establishing a parallel government!!!!!  And the corpse is not even cold....The best case scenario is that each wing procedes to its own choices, more or less prosecuted by the dictatorship. Sometimes middle of next year they'll compite in a a primary to have a unified candidate against Maduro. But by then the world will have forgotten about us. Or a new constitution be drafted and installed. After all HRA gave excuses to the murderer regime today. Wait? Who is the murderer here? Nico or HRA?Unless....   the economic catastrophe comes first as last week disturbing signs of economic collapse are piling. After all, the regime is only worried about political survival at all cost and as far as they are concerned the welfare of the country can go to hell.The dollar today gained 25% over the bolivar, in one single week after the governor's vote....  This is the next horror movie unfolding.  The real one. “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You c[...]

El error de regañar a Almagro

Sun, 22 Oct 2017 12:55:45 PDT

Ha circulado con amplitud por Internet un articulo de Milagros Socorro donde se queja del regaño que el secretario de la OEA, Luis Almagro, le ha dado a la dirigencia de la MUD.  Pues a pesar de que este blog ha expresado su admiración por la acuidad de Milagros Socorro, esta vez no solamente difiero de su opinión, pero me siento obligado a responder.Brevemente el argumento de Milagros se refiere a que toma de una manera algo personal la declaración de Almagro, como si este hubiese incriminado al elector venezolano por haber ido a votar. No lo entiendo así.Para mi está claro que el objetivo de Almagro es la dirigencia de la MUD que fue a una elección aparentando estar preparada. Los eventos han demostrado que no lo estaba. A la monstruosidad que perpetró la dictadura el pasado domingo no se podía preparar ni la MUD ni nadie. Sin embargo la impresión con la cual quedamos es que no estaban preparados ni siquiera para la trampa habitual que hacia el regimen con el CNE en elecciones anteriores. Mejor dicho, la MUD se confió en eso de la gente saliendo a votar por ellos en masa y que por lo tanto no había que preocuparse mucho. La quasi arrogancia de la MUD no le hizo entender el disgusto profundo de parte de su electorado natural, y por lo tanto no hubo esfuerzo mayor en explicar el porqué había que votar.  Puedo estar equivocado, pero que me corrijan entonces.Pero no es aquí que discutiré las fallas de la campaña de la MUD. Veamos parte de las palabras de Almagro:Es muy claro que cualquier fuerza política que acepta ir a una elección sin garantías se transforma en instrumento esencial del eventual fraude, y demuestra que no tiene reflejos democráticos como para proteger los derechos de la gente, en ese caso, el voto.Este tipo de acción no es nueva: sucedió primero cuando se anuló el referéndum revocatorio y se repitió cuando no se respetaron los compromisos de la consulta del 16 de julio.Esta es una importante lección para todos, para la dirigencia política de Venezuela y para la comunidad internacional.Solamente podemos esperar resultados como éstos -fraude y violación a los Derechos Humanos- si la estrategia y acción política se alejan de los principios y valores democráticos, y se conforman con acuerdos fáciles y circunstanciales.Resalto el párrafo que Milagros Socorro transcribió en su carta a Almagro. Pienso que los tres párrafos que siguen el controvertido explican muy bien, mas allá de matiz alguno, la intención de las palabras del secretario de la OEA, testigo de excepción de tres años de maniobras tanto de la dictadura como de la MUD. No se pueden separar.El secretario de la OEA no habla en vano.¿O es mentira que gente como Falcón o Rosales fueron acusados repetidamente de guabinosos y listos para negociar algo con la dictadura? Posiciones que por cierto fueron debidamente castigadas por el electorado con la perdida de la primarias por Rosales y la derrota de Falcón en Lara donde acusó la abstención de hacerle perder la contienda.  ¿Pero es que el no se esperaba a eso después de no haberse enfrentado debidamente a los abusos cometidos por la guardia nazional en Lara en los pasados meses? Hay alcaldes que salieron al exilio, o presos como el de Barquisimeto, de paso.¿O es mentira que fue Ramos Allup el que decidió lanzarse a las elecciones regionales a penas se declaraba el fraude de por lo menos 1 millón de votos de la "prostituyente" como la llamaba él? ¿Como es posible si el estaba tan pre-claro que no haya anunciado eso antes?  ¿No se tenia que pensar en las regionales mucho antes considerando la imminente imposición de la constituyente? Pero no, tal como hizo en el 2004 y en el 2005, el forzó la agenda de la oposición llevándonos a dos fracaso electorales, que ahora son tres.Vale la pena repetir el ultimo párrafo citado arriba:Solamente podemos esperar resultados como[...]