Last Days of Venezuela’s Cold Civil War

iranhague061509One way to interpret what’s happening now is that the inherently unstable balance of the last 14 years is breaking. For almost a decade and a half, Venezuela’s been sinking deeper into a Cold Civil War, a situation where extreme eliminationist rhetoric and over-the-top professions of animosity went alongside a kind of tactical day-to-day tolerance.

Chávez’s extremism, his dismal vow to turn opponents into polvo cósmico, stayed largely – mostly – at the level of rhetoric. Venezuela has dozens of political prisoners, not hundreds or thousands. Dissent was repressed sporadically and selectively, rather than systematically and comprehensibly. The result was something I’ve written about constantly since 2002: a yawning gap between extremism in speech and moderation in practice that was the defining mark of the Chávez era, and a constant driver of opposition paranoia and government dreams of final revenge.

While Chávez was alive, this tension was never going to be resolved one way or the other. The guy was congenitally incapable of dialling down the rhetoric and politically unwilling to ratchet up repression to the point of matching the extreme talk. And so, the cold civil war mindset developed and grew roots.

Chávez’s death destabilized all that.

Maduro doesn’t have any of the assets that allowed Chávez to make Cold Civil War viable over a period of many years. He doesn’t have the charisma. He doesn’t have the personal authority. And he doesn’t have the money. He doesn’t have the luxury that those assets extended to Chávez of leaving the underlying tension unresolved. He has to resolve it. And that, basically, is what we’re witnessing this week.

Any excuse was going to be good enough for Maduro to try to bring Venezuela to something much closer to the actual Cuban model of dictatorial control. For all his elaborate guarantees of representing continuity, what we’ve been seeing this week is something far more radical than anything Chávez ever tried to institute in his lifetime. Henrique Capriles merely provided one pretext, but any other would have been just as good.

We are, in other words, where Iran was soon after the 2009 election.

As opposition deputies are physically assaulted and stripped of their committee chairmanships, as groups of protesters are faced with buckshot and teargas, as people die and the government lies about how they died, as Leopoldo López and Henrique Capriles try to dodge the arrest warrants now out for them, the concern about actas and irregularidades is beginning to look outdated less than a half a week after the fact.

This is no longer, I’m afraid, really about that.

MUD’s options are closing fast, its supporters role reducing dramatically to a choice between cannon fodder and passive acquiescence. I’d love to tell you there is some magic thing Henrique Capriles can do at this point to short circuit the process that was unleashed late on Sunday night. But I don’t really believe there is.

145 thoughts on “Last Days of Venezuela’s Cold Civil War

    • O.T.

      Hola!!!

      Decidimos activarnos en Twitter CON TODO – Vamos a bombardear a los presidentes, organismos y personalidades internacionales con denuncias. Que el mundo nos escuche, ya que en Venezuela no nos están escuchando. Si hacemos bastante ruido, nos van a oír.

      Esto empieza YA. Deben escribir tweets mencionando a esta gente con el Hashtag #SOSVenezuela y alguna de las cuentas de twitter que están abajo.

      Vamos a darle duro, en particular a los latinoamericanos, que pesan un montón para el chavista promedio. Les mando ejemplos de tweets.

      – Que este vídeo recorra el mundo. Lo que le están haciendo en Venezuela a los congresistas de oposición http://ow.ly/kagGC #SOSVenezuela
      – No estamos de acuerdo con el apoyo de España al gobierno ilegítimo de Maduro #SOSVenezuela
      – El gobierno de Maduro es ILEGÍTIMO. Necesitamos que se pronuncien al respecto #SOSVenezuela
      – Lo único que exigimos es que se respete nuestro derecho de reconteo de votos #SOSVenezuela

      – We urge you to look at what our government is doing to the opposition’s congressmen in Venezuela http://ow.ly/kagGC #SOSVenezuela
      – ¿Why has Spain’s government changed its statement and suddenly supports Maduro’s illegitimate governmet? #SOSVenezuela
      – Nicolás Maduros’s government is illegitimate. We urge you to give an official statement on this issue #SOSVenezuela
      – The only thing we demand is respect for our constitutional right to have a vote recount #SOSVenezuela

      Recuerden copiar a alguien de esta lista:

      @AlvaroUribeVel . (Presidente de la República de Colombia 2002-2010)
      @EPN (Enrique Peña Nieto)
      @williecolon
      @OEA_oficial (OEA)
      @felipecalderon (Presidente México 2006 – 2012)
      @juanmansantos (Presidente de Colombio 2010 – 2014)
      @sebastianpinera (Presidente de Chile)
      @rmartinelli (Presidente de Panamá)
      @dilmabr (Presidenta de Brasil)
      @ottoperezmolina (Presidente de Guatemala)
      @laura_ch (Politóloga Costa Rica)
      @marianoarajoy (Presidente de España)
      @ollanta_humalat (Presidente de Perú)
      @Alejandro_Marti (Presidente y Fundador de organización Mexico SOS)
      @JoseAMeadeK (Secretario de Relaciones Exteriores México)
      @williamjhague: Secretario para asuntos extranjeros, Reino Unido
      @birgittaohlsson: Ministra para la Unión Europea Suecia
      @SAPresident: Presidente de Sudáfrica
      @JGoodlucktweets: Presidente de Nigera
      @PaulKagame: Presidente de Ruanda
      @Jmkikwete: Presidente de Tanzania
      @Avaaz: Avaaz, organización web global de derechos ciudadanos

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  1. I fear you’re right. All democratic spaces are being shut down. No right to dissent. No right to take to the streets. No right even to protest in parliament. The opposition is going to have to come up with a new way to fight this, and it’s going to look a lot more like a resistance movement than an electoral coalition. I think the other shoe finally dropped.

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        • Absolutely not! a split in the armed forces is a clear case of an inherently unstable Nash equilibrium in Asymmetric warfare game theory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asymmetric_warfare

          At this point , the armed forces have been compromised by 14 years of infiltration, so the chance of a winning strategy that begins in a ‘split of the armed forces’ at this moment is nil.

          A better strategy is for ‘allied’ military to keep their covers as long as possible, faking their chavista leanings as needed, and help in gathering intelligence, weapons, ammo and logistic whenever possible to revel groups

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      • Venezuela has been only about a quarter as deadly as Syria for years now… wouldn’t take much to make it as deadly.

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  2. así como lo predije, esta arrechera que tenemos no va a llegar a ningún lado. Sin plomo y sin derramar un poquito de sangre estratégicamente y con riesgos calculados, no habrá libertad y democracia. Si fuera así de fácil, los gobiernos no tendrían q invertir en ejercitos, bastaría twitter y cacerolas para defenderse de cualquier invasor

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  3. Its going to get much worse before it gets better but we all knew this was gonna happen. This authoritarian and entrenched ”Revolution” was never going to give up power peacefully. Paradoxically its easier to combat a full blown dictatorship then that hybrid of democracy that Chavez created. This week scares me and gives me hope me at the same time. It gives me hope because I knew this was the inevitable last phase of chavismo before we recovered our country but it scares me because theres no way of knowing if it’ll last a few weeks or a few years and a cornered tiger fights hardest. The repression will be widespread and devastating. I just hope its brief too…

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    • esta ‘ultima fase’ como tu dices, puede durar fácil, otros 6 años, o más, si seguimos aplicando las anti-estrategias actuales

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      • Yo no creo que dure tanto pero si pudiera durar unos 2 o 3 años en mi opinion. Yo creo que Capriles ha actuado de forma correcta. Cancelo la marcha de hoy que iba a ser la excusa para mas represion pero lo que pueda hacer el para evitar este escenario es limitado. Lamentablemente ellos tienen el poder absoluto. Lo acumularon durante 14 años de una pseudo democracia. Tiene control total del poder judicial, mayoria en la AN, 20 de 23 gobernaciones, mayoria de alcaldias, aparentemente la mayoria del ejercito. Chavez tenia todo este poder pero no lo usaba siempre porque era popular y nunca un candidato se le acerco mucho en unas elecciones ni Capriles. Maduro no es popular y tiene un adversario mucho mas fuerte comparado a el de lo que llego a tener Chavez. Da miedo Cathar pero si quieren instalar una dictadura sin pretender ser una democracia lo pueden hacer facilmente. La pregunta es que pasaria despues pero su habilidad de hacerlo no creo que la cuestiona nadie…

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      • “The beggining of the end” – We have been saying that for 14 years.

        The reality is: they control everything and will not let go unless they are killed or unless they FEAR for their lives. Things have gotten to a point were democracy is not viable for them anymore so it comes the time to exercise a dictatorship a la cubana. And the worset part is: we will still see half the country proudly waving a cuban flag.

        I foresee no way out. My recommendation, if you are still there, get out while you can.

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  4. “…as people die and the government lies about how they died…” – emm, can you provide a link or an explanation as to what the lies are about? How did they die, exactly?

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  5. This is the best post ever on the situation in Vzla. You are right- It would have happened with or without Capriles. Maduro is in bed with the Castros.

    Thanks for comparing to the Iranian experience. Amendinajad is likely mentoring Maduro.

    Chavez divided the country and endorsed hate as a political tool. Now the civil war begins.

    Is it time for the uprising to begin in Cuba?

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    • Yoani Sánchez earlier said a few weeks before this quagmire occurred that “Venezuela está entrando de donde Cuba está saliendo.” Or words to that effect.

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    • They are even creating their very own martyrs of the revolution… That translates my friends to at least three loyal generations of a whole family willing to kill or die for the revolution… Just as it is in Iran

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    • or stock up on supplies and essentials. Right now it swings on gringos and allies and nothing will happen. Brasil already cast vote….

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  6. Many Venezuelan sites are alteady blocked to the outside world. CNE site is an example. The reaminibg open windows are getting closed fastly.

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  7. I do not understand why a dossier with all voting fraud analysis, cases of irregularities and intimidation has not been properly prepared and provided to all national and international media and NGOs so that they may reach their own conclusions, perhaps pushing the matter further. Has a concerted media/communication outreach effort been done? Does anyone know?

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    • Seriously, I ask myself this same question every passing hour.

      Why hasn’t the formal petition for recount been submitted? And why hasn’t it been published to the world?

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    • Possibly because Capriles got bad info late night after an exhausting 10 days of campaigning and mouthed off to the whole world that he won?

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        • Not until it’s pummeled him publicly. Castro playbook. Destroy your enemy first then make a complete fool of them publicly. In a few weeks time there will probably be a well orchestrated recount of every ballot. They might even find some dead barrio kids to be fall guys as infiltrators from the CIA. We’ve entered Cuban propaganda territory here.

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    • Yes, I also had my doubts about it. But it’s not that easy. It’s been just 72 hours since the election. The MUD had to process ALL the data manually. They do not have an automatized system like the CNE. Plus, they need to be absolutely sure that they are not making any mistake. A quick count is one thing, but a full vote count is much more challenging. I guess that’s the reason they have been so mysterious about the numbers…

      Here’s Carlos Ocariz on Cesar Miguel’s radio show. He mentioned that they were working on that: http://www1.unionradio.net/exitosfm/visornota.aspx?id=12745

      I wish they were more open or informative about what they are doing, but we have to be pacient…

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      • Guys,
        Of course they’re preparing a dossier, it’s being presented to the CNE. Since when is “international public opinion” the target audience here? That comes afterwards. They’re preparing a lawsuit, not a PR campaign. That will come later.
        Right now, they’re meeting with the CNE following proper channels, which is the first thing any foreigner will ask when we go talk about fraud.

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        • International public opinion is a pretty important target audience at this point. External pressure and persuasion may be the only way to settle this thing or de-escalate.

          There is no independent tribunal that is going to sort this out. The first thing that foreign ministries in say, Brazil, Colombia or the USA are going to be asking themselves is: do we want to stick our necks out on this? They will be looking for excuses for not sticking their necks out.

          One of the excuses for not sticking our necks out is that this is an internal matter and it is being dealt with through the usual judicial channels, blah blah blah. Louisa just inadvertently gave a full answer to that excuse today. There are no bona fide judicial channels.

          Another excuse is that there is no compelling case on the merits of the claims of widespread or numerically relevant fraud, and that the opposition is just trying to provoke a confrontation. That’s a pretty good excuse to do and say nothing if it can be made. Foreign offices are not going to be cut and pasting through random You-Tube videos and tweets to make this call.

          Forgive the impatience, but people outside the country are in the process of deciding how to respond, and the contingency plan going forward, and this is important information. I’m glad to hear that it is forthcoming.

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            • Two interesting points from that article:

              1) “Mr. Capriles has refused to recognize the result, but has shown no hard evidence to back up his insistence that he won. He has also said there were numerous irregularities in the voting. On Wednesday, he formally submitted his request for a recount.”

              2)”Also on Wednesday, the president of the Supreme Court, Luisa Morales, rejected the idea of a recount, saying it was impossible.”

              from 1), Capriles has to be a little more open regarding his strategy (altough not necessarily spilling the beans)

              but from 2), anyone who reads that will immediatly think “WTF”.

              Let’s assume that what capriles said is not enough evidence to claim victory, fine, then let’s do the audit, but since la bicha* esa said that no recount was possible, then, it’s gato encerrado. Who is the one that has to lose if the cat is out of the bag?

              * I originaly wrote “empanadera”, as to keep in line with what I commented about her today’s “interpretacion”, but that would be an insult to all those honest hard working women that make a living out of making and selling the fatty deliciousness that we call empanada.

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              • “Mr. Capriles has refused to recognize the result, but has shown no hard evidence to back up his insistence that he won.”

                That’s the part I am concerned about. Anyone who reads that and is not following the situation closely will think: WTF.

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              • Just like Maduro is not fit to drive a bus, the president of the TSJ is not fit to make and sell empanadas: You can’t pretend to cook….good point.

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  8. Well put-
    guy was congenitally incapable of dialing down the rhetoric

    Venezuelans are choking in this silo,
    filled with turbulent explosive dust ,
    no vents –
    A single spark, something insignificant,
    and dreaded foreseen actions will be ours to bear.
    aka expat

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    • for the padres de familia,
      remember, we do have borders.
      with brazil [Santa Elena], boats to guyana,
      enterprising folks might be setting up businesses
      to ferry vital family members across our many borders
      and set up a pied-à-terre away from our wuthering tsunamis.

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      • mud will huddle, hem, haw and go back to the
        kickbacks. And that will be the end of the matter.
        EXCEPT this time the fifti-PLUS empowered by their
        vote, CHEATED & enraged, will not turn their other cheek.

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  9. I do not understand why a dossier with all voting fraud analysis, cases of irregularities and intimidation has not been properly prepared and provided to all national and international media and other organizations so that they may reach their own conclusions, perhaps pushing the matter further. Has a concerted media/communication outreach effort been done? Does anyone know?

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    • un militar q está del lado democratico debe hacer lo imposible para cubrir su inclinación. En la medida de lo posible, recolectar inteligencia sobre armamento y municiones, pero nunca imbolucrarse personalmente en ningun movimiento

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      • Carlos, a soldier as described, if he has half-a-brain, should get the f out of the army as fast as he can.Spare me sob stories about job and career.

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  10. Odalis Monzón @OdalisMonzon

    comencé a meter la lupa aqui en Vargas muchos que están en las Misiones Sociales e instituciones del estado tocando cacerolas no pidan cacao

    #democracia

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  11. People outside Venezuela: write your leaders. This regime has to understand that the world is watching, and that there are consequences for human rights violations.

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      • Serbians took it to the street in Belgrade and fought fiercely and violently to the defend their electoral victory until Miloshevich accepted his defeat..I fail to see how Capriles calling off today’s march to the CNE is the right strategy, seriously hoping he proves me wrong, but it’s scary just to be clinging on to that hope.

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        • Old Slobo was weakened considerably by the time those elections were held, he had lost the support of the army and the rest is history. It was riot more than a fight and, like Humpty Dumpty, Slobo came tumbling down. In this case , the PSUV still holds most of the armed forces and the dissenters are keeping a low profile. So Caracas will not emulate Beograd for now.

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        • While Milosevic may have stepped down after loosing at an election, do not forget the FRY had been subjected to NATO airstrikes throughout March-June 1999, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia had indicted him with genocide and other international crimes and had issued a warrant for his arrest which was binding, by virtue of article 24 of the UN Charter, on all states of the international community. In the meantime, the FRY had been excluded from the UN over doubts as to its international status. Milosevic’s position in power had already been fatally affected when the vote took place.
          There may have been more than just street protests behind the scenes to force Milosevic to resign (and it was certainly not just a few states questioning the accuracy of ballot counting…)

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  12. …the civil war arrived in Berlin. Some Capriles people treid to make a march from Brandenburg Gate to the Embassy of Venezuela. They were stopped by Maduro people by aggressive insults.

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        • That’s a reference to the Polish attack faked by Nazi Germany in 1939. An SS squad fired a a few shots around a radio transmission station on the Polish border, and left several corpses of concentration-camp prisoners dressed in Polish army uniforms.

          The code name for the corpses was “Konserve” (Canned goods).

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  13. THANK YOU! As for a solution, I agree with you that options are narrowing fast. :-/ I’m working on a guest post on a friend’s blog that gets a lot of traction in the crisis response community…but I guess that’s the extent of my power. And it feels pretty shitty.

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  14. Sorry if this sounds pessimistic, but it is simply my point of view:

    The band of criminals that took control of the country are not going to give up power peacefully. We all knew this. I mean we are talking about the Castros….

    The peaceful way that we want things to be solved is not going to work. They will use all their institutional power to hunt down dissent and possibly ban opposition parties. Capriles is a responsible guy and he doesn’t want people to die. However, I don’t conceive a way in which the castristas leave power unless it is an 11-A situation where they have no other choice than leave the country or be killied. If the opposition chooses the way of peace, then they will cripple them with their institutional control. If the opposition chooses to fight, then they will force the opposition to the “killed or be killed” scenario. Only under a reasonable fear of death will they abandon power. And I don’t see any important chavista or military peso-pesado turning.

    There will be no recount and I don’t expect any international support in favor of the opposition. They will all be bought with the petrodolares, and the rest dont really care. We are alone.

    I think in the short term castro will increase social spending to appease the masses. Maybe even temporarily fix the electric power issues and shortages. In the long term, things will continue to get progressively worse and I think Venezuela will end up just like Cuba. Sorry, I just don’t see venezuelans rebelling against the government. Somos gente docil.

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    • I think that a military strategy sketch needs to be developed, if possible

      soldiers or officials in strategical positions that believe in democracy need to mantain at all costs their cover, faking their chavista leanings as needed. Slowly gather information on weapons and ammo.

      Direct confrontation must be avoided: instead, asymmetrical guerrilla is the preferred approach in these situations. Also, the power hierarchy is so vertical, that the few nodes at the top are extremely vulnerable, so a concerted attack on individuals has a high change of success, even if a political nightmare to navigate. These are the kind of bets that are an all-or-nothing, so if the plan is not well laid out, it is better to put it off.

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        • Most Caracas Malandros can get hold of AK-47 and AR-15. If they can do it with the limited resources they have, why others wouldn’t be able to? It is not really a matter of resources, as much as a matter of guts := “bolas”

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        • then, maybe we deserve what is happening to us. Maybe this is how non-fighting societies disappear, evolution drives them away and replaces them with the fighting cultural memes of the invasor. We will eventually become those that oppress us

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          • “non-fighting societies disappear” ? Which one?
            Here you have a society split in two, one of which controls the weapons, the other doesn’t. One of which has the armed forces while the other does not. If anyone wants to commit suicide, by all means, just don’t drag anyone with you. Evolution does not select for the strongest predator, it selects for the best adapted to whatever evolutionary pressures exist at the moment, So, sometimes it is the small mammal trembling in the hole and not the T Rex that make it.

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            • The drop of water destroys the stone.
              Nobody thought possible to beat Maduro in an election.
              Here we are arguing about the consequences of a contested election.
              It is not as fast as we want but this thing is moving.

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          • Me, myself, I am a welder and I know a lot about metalworking, and also have military knowledge/experience. Lybians I mostly think all did mandatory military service and there were a lot of deserters too, so normal civilians have a lot of military knowledge. Start wondering how many sifrinos that go to the marchas claiming peace know their way around an AK-47 or a FN-FAL, know how to clean a pistol; and thats EASY. Operating artillery is not.

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              • Yes but arabs have been fighting since they where little boys. They are warriors by nature. we aint. You can learn a lot on Youtube, but putting up a war takes more than that. Not to mention the sacrifice and pain. People think that is a game. It aint so.

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              • I agree with you. Many do wrongly still believe that war is “fun” or “glamorous” or the perfect solution to whatever problem. Complete insanity. Nobody speaks about the price to be paid in the short and long term, in war everyone losses. The one that losses the least “wins”.

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              • People understand that sacrifices need to be made. Yes, i would probably shit my pants being in a real shooting, but i believe that i would do it anyway, just because i can’t imagine living like this for ten more years.

                Besides, what you say is why a direct confrontation is not the best approach to defeat a full-blown militia. We can do better with the guerra de guerrillas approach

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              • No you don’t. Providence has seen it that I witness and couple of wars, never as a combatant,one as a child the other as an adult. I there is nothing nice that I can tell you about it.

                One thing you should keep in mind is that a guerrilla was never really won a war. Additionally, guerrillas in Venezuela have a very poor record. It doesn’t matter if we talk about an urban or rural settings, at the end everyone ends up in a conference room y los muertos bien gracias.

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              • Fighting a guerrilla war is the most expensive and brutal kind of warfare, life-spending-wise. You can’t just call on it, specially when you have zero training, zero experience and zero logistics support. Financing and training a sizeable fighting force aint easy. I can defend my turf, and small groups can keep a fight. But a guerrilla? that takes a lot of cohesion and as Antonio said, guerrillas in Venezuela have always had a poor record. If violence ever breaks, you can take part in it. But starting a war is far over the heads of most of us.

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    • I agree up to the last paragraph. Things will blow in the relatively near future (1 da.-1 year) as the military takes sides. There will be bloodshed. The extent that the minority Maduro uncoerced electorate supports the Castro/Maduro/Cabello leadership is overrated. The longer it takes, the farther down Chavismo falls.

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      • I don’t agree that Military needs to take sides, this is an inherently unstable Nash equilibrium in Asymmetric warfare game theory: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asymmetric_warfare

        The better strategy is for ‘good’ military to keep their covers as described by my other post, and help in gathering weapons, ammo and logistic whenever possible to revel groups

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        • Of course they should keep their covers (as many haven’t in the past, pidiendo la baja), until the time comes. The first revolt against the Cuban/Maduristas doesn’t even have to be successful (as witnessed by the pre-PJ downfall), but will certainly be the forerunner of the end of this fragile Government (as it was in the case of PJ).

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              • Can you elaborate please?

                I fail to see how controlling all mass media, the AN, TSJ, CNE, FAN, PDVSA, all but 3 governaciones, most municipalities, the petrodollars, the support of about half the country, and most of the international opinion purchased to be on their side makes for a weak government. I think that this is rather a robust government that can steal a presidential election without any national/international repercussions.

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  15. I’m really concerned about the current situation. The stakes for the MUD are very high yet I have started to think that the MUD has no plan, or that Juan’s nailed the problem a few days ago (http://caracaschronicles.com/2013/04/11/la-cara-publica-del-fracaso-de-capriles/).

    The VotoAVoto claim is obviously valid both politically and practically but:
    If the MUD has SERIOUS allegations of fraud a-la-Kiko, then why that is not obvious and public?
    If the MUD has fraud allegations a-la-juan, then what is your t+1 move? Please note that even some readers of this blog are confused about the MUD’s strategy of this take-it-or-leave-it rhetoric.

    What I’m expecting is some kind of final rueda de prensa, where Capriles said something like:
    -Jamas hubieses ganado sin abuso
    -Jamas hubieses ganado sin tus cadenas
    -Destruiste el capital político de tu lider
    -Crees en pajaritos y no en resolver los problemas de Venezuela
    -En resumidas cuentas, ahora gobierna, nosotros no tendremos problemas en resolver los problemas que los enchufados como tu nos dejen.

    Or whatever JJR recommend.

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  16. Isn’t anybody able to go to Rouseff, Correa, Mujica, maybe Kirchner too to restrain them to endorse Maduro? At least Mujica and Rouseff should be open to if there are civil rights violations, I think… And there are, see p.e.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1sD1ZzlQRLY
    In Chile we tried “planchatones”, that is you will use your clothes iron at a defined time. Well, in Chile the electrical grid was robust enough, but I guess that will be otherwise there. Cacerolazos of course and then the street protests, not without a toll…

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    • Rouseff: brazil has too many wonky business going on in here, it’s not their interest to stir things up.

      Cristina: ditto, she has received a lot of money and owes venezuela A LOT of money, capriles pointed this out on the cnn interview

      Correa: really? that guy is just a more sissypantsy chavez,but a thug nonetheless

      Mujica:he goes where the money goes. and regarding that, maduro > capriles.

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      • You should at least try. I hope they are at least not so …§&$ß…, well, Christina probably, but somebody must at least speak to them for half an hour, Mujica had some distance to Chávez, I don’t think he will help an openly dictatorial regime. Rouseff could think that twice… Alone in South America you will go nowhere… But who is providing the chickens, the sugar…? If there is a solution it will be with help from abroad.

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  17. For those of you who believe in Dos Santos prophesies, he said that maduro was not going to last much and it would exit on one of these scenarios:

    a) audit that proves the fraud, but he said that it wasnt going to happen
    b) something big will happen at the end of this year or the beggining of the next that would change things radically and maduro would exit
    c) referendum (I think he means the recall)

    So, if he’s right, we’re up to, at least, a whole year of bananarama

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  18. All good points, but there’s a part of the equation that I think is being left out. Maduro’s popularity, if he ever had any, keeps going down in freefall with every t.v. appearance. The guy couldn’t be more erratic or pathetic. I think the camapign lasted just enough to convince the light chavistas to jump the proberbial talanquera, but at this point even the die-hards must be second-guessing him…

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  19. Chavez never took violent rhetoric beyond the words he knew well enough that people just feel that their freedom was threatened overthrow him instantly. 40 years of democracy did not go in vain, and Venezuela will not support a classical dictatorship that represses a large scale.

    No wonder the only time he dared to cross the “red line”, on April 11, was overthrown. So I think Sunday’s elections are the beginning of the end for Nicolas Maduro and possibly for the chavismo.

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    • I totally agree. Even the chavistas in my life want a recount. They do not like the lying about the violence. This is definitely NOT April 11.

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  20. The irony of it all is that a bloc of grass-roots chavista voters may also well consider these happenings as a split on Hugo Chávez’s doctrine.

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  21. LOL if it were buckshot they would be dead! Venezuela banned live ammo long ago, they were shot by rubber bullets.

    You people need to actually WIN an election, that is all.

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    • Step 1: Google image search buckshot injury (many small skin punctures as seen in Venezuela).
      Step 2: Google image search rubber bullet injury (a large welt).
      Step 3: Grow a brain.
      Step 4: Stop posting here and making a fool of yourself.

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  22. Brainstorming out of the box ideas, I can’t let go of two:

    A) Capriles hires swiss lie detector experts and takes a test then challenges Maduro to take it too.

    B) MUD starts a signature compilation for a forced referendum.

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    • “a signature compilation for a forced referendum.”

      Sure, because that has proven so successful in the past

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      • Aside from that, I also wonder why you imply it wasn’t successful. The referendum did take place. That in itself counts as success. And with the lesson learned, the request for referendum can be better worded to prevent the last failure.

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  23. Thinking about it my C) should be your A). Your A) maybe a B) and your B) suppose will be the new C).

    Shall I send that to Comando Simon Bolivar ?

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  24. I keep thinking about a referendum on a Constituent Assembly, maybe not at this stage, but as the crisis deepens, the illegitimate government turns more and more outright dictatorial, and the popularity keeps dropping, it’s an option that should be seriously considered.

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    • This is a crock of shit.
      There’s 2 sources for this “news”: PrensaLatina and AVN.
      If you dont know what those are google them.
      Btw, let me tell you how to spot newspieces written by cubans: their headlines Always, ALWAYS start with the verb.
      So if a headline about the OAS reads “Reconocen al Presidente Maduro paises de la OEA” you’ll know it’s a headline written by a Cuban.
      Now, go on, be on your merry way to read about PL and AVN.

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  25. The other shoe may indeed be dropping and that is a scary thought. Some will say that this clarifies the situation for the opposition but I would be careful what you wish for. I also can’t shake the feeling that Capriles has played his hand poorly here.

    It seems to me that in these situations the opposition has two reasonable choices:

    1. Disregard institutions (which are presumably stacked against you) and launch a full blown “people-power” driven struggle to topple the regime. This is basically what happened in Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. They anticipated the fraud and literally mobilized hundreds of thousands of people into downtown Kiev within 24 hours of the election then kept those people there, and all the international attention that this gathered, for two weeks until the regime caved and agreed to a new election.

    2. Take the higher ground and use the fraud as an opportunity to discredit the regime more forcefully. This involves refraining from open confrontation while systematically compiling evidence of fraud and abuse. The goal here is not to win power – domestic institutions will never give you a fair hearing – but to deal a heavy blow to the regime’s international standing, such that allies in the region walk sideways and there is no longer any question about its authoritarian character. The hope is that this strengthens domestic and international support for the opposition while taking away the veneer of democratic legitimacy upon which the regime has previously depended.

    My fear is that Capriles and the opposition have essentially chosen a middle ground – confrontation but not complete confrontation, alleging that he won the election without providing real evidence for that claim – that accomplishes few of these objectives, while potentially triggering repression against innocent people. I’m not blaming him, because events moved really fast and the results were likely very surprising to his camp, leading to some serious improvisation. But I’m not necessarily encouraged by how things have developed (other than by the mere fact of the opposition getting so many votes, which is obviously encouraging in general).

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    • Hey Juan,

      Care to explain why your beloved candidate is telling complete lies to international media to try to make them think he has evidence of fraud when he really doesn’t have any?

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  26. As always, Quico’s whole argument revolves around the central notion that the root of the problem is Chavismo. (except for when it revolves around the root of the problem being oil, another doozy!)

    When one is wearing blinders, it is just inconceivable that part of the problem might be a bit deeper, something structural, entrenched interests that react hysterically when confronted by structural changes demanded by certain sectors of the population.

    Nah, couldn’t be. It’s more comfortable if we just point the finger at Chavez. It’s all his fault. That way we don’t have to actually reflect on the contradictions of the extremely concentrated wealth that our daddies and mommies have long enjoyed, and that we now enjoy as we live abroad.

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    • GAC, that is the problem, the 5th Rep. is just as bad as the 4th. The protagonists changed, but the problems are the same. After all these years of the Chavez experiment we have an industrial sector that does not deserve the name, our infrastructure is collapsing, the country is deeply divided and a heart beat away from civil war. The economy is unstable (understatement), a significant part of the population depends on government handouts and job creation occurs in dreams. To make things even worst the PSUV is between an inept politician and potential neo-fascist.

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      • “GAC, that is the problem, the 5th Rep. is just as bad as the 4th. The protagonists changed, but the problems are the same. ”

        You’ve just proved my point. The problem isn’t Chavez. It is deeper than that. Yet none of you can seem to grasp that.

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    • Interesting, you just repeated what this blog has been saying since 2002. No one say you are quick on the pickup, but better late than never.

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  27. Was in Puerto Cabello today and just back in Caracas now. Saw 12 Russian make tanks being moved by transporter towards Caracas as well as a good number of Russian make APC’s this morning.
    Also in Puerto Cabello there were next to no ships and very few vessels due in the next 10 days. No ships equals no food in a country that imports between 70 or more perccent of its food. This is the fewest number of ships I have seen in Puerto Cabello in the more then 15 years I have been going there. That alone has me very worried.

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    • That is interesting, you don’t use tanks and APCs for crowd control. If they are coming to Caracas… the PSUV leadership must be getting paranoid, that would make them even more dangerous. If you add to that the antiaircraft weapons also being moved to CCS… I wonder, are they starting to believe their own fantasies or do they believe that the armed forces might split sooner that later…

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  28. ‘you don’t use tanks and APCs for crowd control’..

    Tienanmen Square ..? At least two Sukhoi 30s made a couple of low passes over Caracas this afternoon too. Are they trying to remind us who has all the hardware?

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  29. Things obviously cooled down after Capriles cancelled the march to CNE. I wonder: if they would have been 150% certain that they had won the elections – and by a landslide- would his attitude have been the same?

    To me Capriles is not willing to risk too much because he is not totally sure that he won. It’s different to claim a recount on grounds of doubt than claim a stolen victory.

    But what will happen when the latter is the case? Eventually the opposition will win by a lot of votes. Will we say no to marching to CNE because we are afraid of the thugs? You see, if this is the case then, forget about ever getting rid of the delincuents that govern the country.

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  30. Quico, I think we are moving towards a military coup headed by Cabello. To me it is clear Diosdado is trying to show that he is the strong man of the situation and the only one that can deal with the country. His fascists statements in the last two days have a clear purpose.

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  31. …And remember, a Civil War requires people willing to take up arms. I don’t think the opposition has the guts to do so, not now, not ever so the likelyhood of future elections being stolen is highly likely.

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  32. Anybody see the 4 helicopters and fighter plane flying low over east caracas this afternoon , those are for intimidation , to make people feel the regimes armed might , those tanks moving from Pto Cabello will be be paraded sometime the next days , also for purposes of intimidation , Diosdados brutality in the Nat Assembly , the bloody violence against the oppo deputies, also intimidation , its a rule of politics that the less legitimate you are the more you have to rely in coercion and fear to sustain your rule . Legitimacy is rooted in a regimes credibility , in its capacity to make itself be obeyed without having to rely on threats of force . The regimes ‘democratic’ credibility is being struck a strong blow by Capriles firm paced persistent claims that the regime has resorted to tricks and threats to come up with voting figures that just barely manage to surpass Capriles votes even with the massive help of government institutions . He can only do this because the results given by the regime show , despite all manipulations that its popularity has fallen so drastically in only a few weeks that it is vulnerable . that come some continuation of the current situation they will shortly become a minority , a strong minority but a minority nonetheless , and once they know themselves to be a minority then they cant believe in themselves and the innner rot will begin. The regime is hemorraging popularity , and by pushing a show of force and violence they may feel they are distracting peoples attention from this all important fact. Popularity is the life blood of the regime and when it falters it knows thats its rule is in danger and they respond with violence threat and brutality . I think Capriles is engaged in a very cunning game of cornering the Regime psychologically , step by step , hoping for a break that it can use to bolster its cause . There is always the risk that the regime in desperation will kick the playing table and transform itself in a full fledged tyranny , the political costs would be high but so is their fear !!

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    • Excellent comment!
      There are too many doomsday scenarios playing in the comment section lately. Too much black and white thinking.

      I also believe Capriles is very smartly forcing the government to show their true colors at a moment when all Venezuelans and the whole world is watching. In just a few days he’s dealt several blows to Maduro’s government:
      – A Pyrrhic victory despite all the power of an illegitimate incumbent.
      – Chavismo’s telling behaviour by first accepting and then rejecting, all “institutions” in lockstep, a recount of a very close election
      – Country wide protests
      – Police brutality against protesters
      – Spurious accusations of opposition violence
      – Parliamentarian violence
      – Unhinged threats by Maduro
      – Diosdado threatening a parliamentarian coup
      – Jail threats against Capriles and other opposition leaders over basically nothing

      In just a few days the carefully crafted international (and national) image of a popular democracy that Chávez tried so hard to maintain for years came tumbling down.

      Chavez was a circus ringmaster, today Venezuela is governed by the clowns.

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  33. Normally this blog is amazing, but until this article i was beginning to fear.you’d lost track of where venezuela has got to. Welcome.back!

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  34. Lets not forget that the official results in themselves represent an existential threat to the Regime , they show that they are quickly losing that popularity that made them seem invincible and which was the cornerstone of their legitimacy before their own eyes , before the country and before the world. Capriles move in bringing out claims that make even that tiny margin of mayority suspect or spurious makes the threat even more menacing , specially at a time when poor mediochre Maduro is trying to establish himself as a leader worthy of respect , an extension of his legendary precedecessor , when they feel weakest after the loss of their leader . The response is savage because they know that those claims go to the heart of their political survival even if these complaints and claims dont prosper before the institutions they control , just by simply bringing to peoples attention the fact that they no longer enjoy that overwhelming popular following they used to have and which they were so proud of . Maybe the recount never get to happen , but that still leaves in peoples mind the impression that the regime cheated , that they are losing their popularity , that they are no longer able to command the grand mayority that’s the first thing the regime defenders mention when trying to justify its abuses !!

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    • That is indeed probably, all the world has now seen that it was very, very close and probable not that clean. And then the response from the government (while that is not as wide reported, but at least the journalists saw that themselves and that will not be easily forgotten). It is not like the popular Chávez anymore…

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    • Chavismo is now forever tarnished. The behavior of Maduro, Cabello, Luceno, etc clearly leaves an impression of fraud and quite likely outright theft of an election. Any mandate they had to rule dissipated completely in two weeks. Maduro might last six years but expect no positive accomplishments from his rule.

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