Chronicle of a Crisis Foretold

Somali and Venezuelan parliament are equally effective

The Somali parliament – just slightly less effective than ours.

Venezuela is in full-blown crisis mode. The violence has been in the making for years. It’s not a social or economic crisis – the economy is in shambles, but it’s not yet at its worst. Crime is stratospheric, but then, it has been high for years. The crisis, it seems, goes beyond this.

What makes the current conflict so sad is that it could have easily have been avoided if minimal spaces for dialogue between opponents had been safeguarded. The crisis, it seems, is institutional.

The recent violence has taken place against a backdrop absolute institutional decay. The rock-bottom-basic institutions a modern country needs – the high school civics triad of the Executive, the Legislature, and the courts – have just plain stopped operating in anything like a recognizable form.

The key shortcoming of a presidential systems is the overload of legitimacy on a single human being and his or her agenda. Take this example: a president that gets elected by a narrow margin, say by 1.49 points. In this example 20% of the voters abstain. That 50.61% (out of the 80% that voted) who elected the president did so because they favor something like 75% of his agenda, while the others that didn’t vote for him, supported only a fraction of that. And yet, the president feels he can legitimately push 100% of his agenda.

Sound familiar? That is Nicolás Maduro for you.

The problem of excessive power in the hands of the President is not a Venezuelan issue. This is a problem with the system we have chosen for ourselves. We chose it because the forefathers of Venezuelan democracy thought a strong Executive was needed to govern in Venezuela. This was a choice made in 1961, but its roots go back to the 1820s.

Yet, in theory, there’s supposed to be a National Assembly and an independent Supreme Court in place able to keep an overzealous President in check. That is where Venezuelan institutions, and its politicians, have failed the country. First, in 2004, the Supreme Court was packed with a gaggle of unconditional yes-men (and women), ending any hope for judicial redress. Then our parliament went into a protracted death spiral. 

A simplified mission of the Parliament is, of course, to pass legislation, but it is a lot more than that. It is place for different political forces to meet and talk (parler in french). In this space, political forces look for common ground to reach solutions that satisfy all representatives, and through the representatives, the constituents. The Parliament is an outlet for discontent, a space for negotiation where progress is slow but effective.

We talk and argue in Parliament so that we don’t have to do it out in the streets. But we broke Parliament, and turned it into a boxing ring, and we allowed our courts to be packed, breaking the one final check to authoritarian control.

This degradation was years in the making. First, the opposition boycotted the 2005 parliamentary elections, which ended with a meager 25% voter turnout. This broke not only the checks and balances, but the opposition walked out of a space of dialogue. A culture of imposition was created inside the halls of the National Assembly, one we really haven’t shaken off yet. For five years the opposition was not to be represented in the central government, and no alternative outlet for discontent was provided.

The 2010 reforms, just weeks prior to a new legislature taking office, left the Parliament an institutional husk. This was exacerbated with every Enabling Law that gave the President the power to legislate by decree, of which we have had two since 2010. Add to that aggressive nationwide gerrymandering in 2009, which ensured the government ended up with 49% of the votes and 59% of the seats, and the Parliament’s emasculation was complete.

When you thought it couldn’t get worse, chavismo made it illegal for representatives to vote against party line – whoever does so loses his or her seat, so long as the majority approves it. In other words, voting the party line is now mandatory…but only for regime supporters. There are no penalties for opposition members who switch sides to support the government. (It bears noting that Venezuela’s constitution explicitly forbids this rule, not that that’s made a difference.)

Since then, the opposition in Parliament (and their constituents) have been harassed, insulted, physically beaten on the floor of the Assembly, with all ability to legislate or hold a dialogue or issue a vote of no confidence effectively gutted. With no institutional space for dialogue, there is no democracy.

So history repeats itself. It has happened all over the world – when one large chunk of the population doesn’t feel represented, riots eventually follow. Democracy is all about muddling through to minimal mutual accommodation. Elections are just one mechanism to help bring that about, but you can’t expect the losing side to go dormant between elections while it is being insulted and humiliated, and while their legitimate interests are attacked.

When dialogue stops, we descend to anarchy. In other words, we see what we are seeing.

54 thoughts on “Chronicle of a Crisis Foretold

  1. No
    Venezuela will not solve the problem with more democracy or cheks of any type. the problem is democracy itself.
    the entire western democratic world will completely blow up soon and it will not be for the lack of democracy but too much of it for too long.
    The capital destruction is reaching its limits. It will soon become obvious
    good luck

    • In any system the problem would be the persons that are in charge of any decision-making.
      If criminals reach positions of power, then shitholes like soviet union, north korea, cuba, and now Venezuela, happen.
      And yes, they became shitholes for any person that dared to think with their own head, displeasing an asshole in any position of power.

    • I buy almost everything except food and clothing from online auctions most people aren’t aware of the almost unbelievable deals that they can get from online auction sites the site that has the best deals is http://goo.gl/Pt036z
      I checked with the BBB and was told that it is all legit. How they can sell gift cards, laptops, cameras, and all kinds of goodies that we all want for 50-90% off, I don’t know
      I do know that I bought my son an ipad there for less than $100 and my husband a $250 Low gift
      cards for 48Why would I even think about shopping anyþlace else?

  2. Ruben has a point , there are limits to what democracy can do well and what it cant do , these limits are never recognized because democracy has been deified ,sacralized and made into a cult which ignores the need for some core public functions to be isolated from the interference of partisan politics which are at the heart of democratic politics.
    Democracy which is simply a system for settling disputes affecting collective decisions has become Demolatry , something to be idolized blindly fanatically and unconditionally. Democracy has taken the place of the Divine rights of kings in peoples mind and so its limitations are never considered . It is recognized in most civilized countries that certain key public functions have to be kept apart from partisan politics . The Army, the Judiciary , The Civil Service , The running of State owned businesses , The Central Bank etc . We have an intrusion of partisan politics into areas of public life which must operate as autonomous Technocracies or Meritocracies or run the risk of becoming degraded and dysfunctional . This is true not only for Venezuela but for any country . Democratic governance cannot be allowed to become irresponsible just to sattisfy the need for cheap popularity of the parties that act as agents in the processes of democracy . Today politics, thanks to democracy has become a blood sport spectacle , a gladiatorial circus where people find brutal joy in the fights and conflicts of different political bands which they greatly enjoy identifying with without consideration to the common good that its the function of govt to achieve. !! This topic is totally ignored and its at the heart of the problems which modern societies , specially in undeveloped countries are facing !!

  3. I agree, and it’s not only the lack of institutions or dialogue, add to that the fact that the goverment is almost completely negligent regarding nearly all aspect of governing, that there is widespread corruption on all levels of society and that we are living one of the worst economic crisis in our history in a moment of an oil income bonanza.
    The result is that the protesters would not even listen to the protest’s leadership calls for them to stop.
    The aspect that compromise the effectivness of these protests is that that 95% of the country remain in calm, the poor people is yet to express their unrest.

  4. “When dialogue stops, we descend to anarchy. In other words, we see what we are seeing”…..

    The concept of dialogue is being abused or misused or both. Dialogue is normal and desirable in a democracy, when government an opposition try to reach accords on policies. But the case of Venezuela is different. The Chavez-Maduro-Castro regime is authoritarian, non-democratic. A democratic opposition cannot sit down with such a regime because there would no dialogue but imposition from one side and surrender on the other. Can the regime say: I quit the revolution, I give the consfiscated property to their owners, I eliminate the Plan de la Patria, I call private oil companies to help our bankrupt PDVSA, I take weapons away from the tupamaros. etc, etc ?
    Never! Going to “a “dialogue” with this gang is a waste of time and, worse, immoral.

    • That’s not what I am suggesting. Meetings like those with the president are completely useless.

      But if we don’t want to see something like the era of “La Violencia” in Colombia, political forces will have to sit as equals a look for a way out.

      A natural institution in a normal democracy for that is parliament. Which either purposefully or by incompetence chavism destroyed.

    • People who think that a dialogue with sociopaths will get them somewhere love to bang their heads against the wall while others laugh.

      And I agree it is immoral or in some cases stemming from excessive pride

  5. Good article, Rodrigo!

    This is something Vilma Petrash at USB would say often: Institutions and respect for human rights are essential because that is the only way to ensure conflicts between parties can be solved peacefully. In the long run this lack of government institutions is as bad for the government as it is for the opposition..

  6. I find it funny when people say “But you have had so many elections, how can it not be a democracy?” Elections in which the Electoral Council is on the chavista side, where the chavistas enjoy much more time and resources than their opponents (illegally of course). The National Assembly circuits have been gerrymandered to the point where the chavistas have maximized their gains without having many vulnerable seats.

  7. For there to be dialogue, there has to be something both sides are willing to talk about. In this case, chavismo is not willing to consider what the opposition has to offer, and the opposition refuses to accept the direction of chavismo. Without a third proposal, there is nothing to talk about.

      • I’m not sure how your reply addresses my point. Without a third option, there’s dying and lack of “governability”, but no dialogue.

        • in a negotiation a third way is not necessary. Middle ground is. The opposition will have to concede certain things and the government will have to concede others.

          Depending on the bargaining chips laid out one side will be able to concede less than the other, but the arrangement will result as mutually beneficial.

          • My initial comment established the given that the government is not willing to consider any old or current opposition proposal, and that the opposition has ruled out continuing on the government’s past or current path. The given of my comment was that there was no longer a middle ground. If you want to counter that there is, you need to provide more than just a statement saying that there is.

              • Rodrigo Linares, For the frog in the boiling pot, there is no compromising with the guy who wants to eat frog legs. We must offer something other than frog legs…

              • yes, UTC could be fantastic third way, but there isn’t a bit of consensus around from the key players

              • I realize, but the same way one can circumvent the chavismo leaders in pushing it forward via their supporters, one can also circumvent the opposition leadership by pushing it to the base, you know, those who are suffering the lack of money.

              • Sadly, I agree. The closest ones have been with tarjeta Mi Negra, or the million dollar offer. But I still have hope that someone key reading these posts will soon enough see the light.

        • But if we agree that if there are only two sides (which I think is quite correct, more or less: chavismo and opposition), then a third option is really viable only as a compromise between what the two sides have to offer. I mean, you have to accept that the other side has some good points, take them into consideration, and try to reach some middle ground that’s acceptable to both sides. I know it sounds crazy in our current situation, I know you would say the government will never act this way (I would agree, to some extent) but ask yourself this: would the opposition act this way if they were to be in power?

          My point is, yes, a third option is necessary, but the mere fact that it exists doesn’t mean that it alone is the answer to our problems. You also need the willingness of political actors and the people who follow them to agree to that option. And I think that is a bigger, deeper issue. Consider this: it’s all over the social networks that Vielma Mora distanced himself from the regime, saying that he doesn’t agree with having political prisoners, that Leopoldo López and Simonovis should be set free, that he doesn’t support the repression, that there’s a big economic crisis that should be addressed, but he insists on being chavista, among other stuff that falls right into the kind of discourse we as oppo would LOVE to hear from a chavista. Right there you have an opportunity to start building a third option. But am I wrong in thinking that he’ll be called a traitor and a coward by chavistas AND a cynical and bloodstained-corrupt-who’s-only-trying-to-save-himself-before-everything-collapses? Probably. But I surely hope not.

          • Natural resource distribution is not a compromise; it’s something new that would appeal to chavismo supporters. Even if they don’t switch sides, they would want their side to offer it, too. This viral effect of the offer is sufficient to mine the support of those currently abusing the power.

            Again, a slaver does not compromise when the request is to eliminate slavery. The key is to prevent slavers from ever having the power to enslave. Distribution takes away that power.

            Vielma Mora is not showing us the way to a compromise, nor a third option; he’s switching sides, or pretending to. I’m reminded of so many other times when there has been a chavista sounding like an opposition, until he doesn’t…

              • Anon, thanks. Sadly, it’s not that I’m one dimensional, it’s that most people with whom I have exchanges about something as far reaching as UCT can’t handle more than one dimension at a time. So, I focus, making me look like the one dimensional one. Sigh.

  8. There is yet another subtle, but important point. Venezuela did away with a bicameral system for congress. The Venezuelan assembly is essentially the equivalent of just having legislature enacted by the House of Representatives. The House tends to be demagogic and its excesses are tempered by the Senate. Doing away with the Senate was a huge mistake, but that is what Chavez wanted. He did not care for temperance. He wanted his agenda to proceed quickly and smoothly.

    • This is unfortunately happening in other sides of the world. In Italy, the new “presidente del consiglio” is proposing the elimination of the senate…. eliminating a counterweight to speed things up…
      Funny thing is that the system was enabled just to avoid concentrating too much power in just one man (Mussolini). i guess societies doesn’t have any memory.

    • The idea for a bicameral congress was a favourite of John Adams , who spoused it as a way of preventing too much power from accumulating in any one person or group , specially as people in the senate were to be more removed from direct demagogic pressures. than representatives.

    • I’m not a big fan of the bicameral system. I see a notion of a “higher chaste” of politicians at its heart. Why should senators be less prone to demagoguery than congresspeople? I know the Senate had a historical purpose, in the times of nobility, but today it strikes me as anachronistic at best, and elitist at worst.

  9. The problem with the dialogue is that the group who holds the power does not play fair. For a dialogue to take place both parties must be on similar ground. We can’t negotiate with a group who is willing to violate basic human rights at the first sign of protest. It would be like negotiating with Al Qaeda. Lets also remember that in our country it’s not just about the Venezuelan government, but also the influence and infiltration by the Castro brothers. If another country is trying to invade you, you can’t just talk about it with them because they are already violating the country’s sovereignty. In a normal government-oposition dispute yes you can have a dialogue, but in my opinion Venezuela passed that point about 10 years ago. The rights of citizens should never be up for negotiation, and that’s the point that Venezuela is in. Yes we can talk about the past all we want, I mean if we are going to go that route, we should go back all the way to 1998 and elected a true democrat like Salas Romer. If he had won we would have already have like 2 other presidents, but we can’t spent all of our time thinking about what it should have been. We need to look at now, and how we want it to be different in the future. This is a terrorist state and I do not support a dialogue with terrorists.

  10. This one’s the smartest article of the month in CC. Also, its a fascinating comment section.

    The fact that both sides rejects the dialogue speaks of a total lack of democratic culture in Venezuela. Still with the strong caudillo as the model to follow: we can’t dialogue with them, they’re criminals. We’ll, I bet is not all of them.

    I mean, we can’t criticize democracy just because it hasn’t worked in Venezuela. We should instead try to determine the cause of its ineffectiveness, and i believe we can find it in the “pacto de punto fijo”. When the political parties isolated the extreme left from the democratic system, this one started finding other ways to express and grow. When in the 90’s the regional elections were allowed, you could see them rising to power, finding their voice (also, trying to make a couple of coups).

    The point is that the isolation and lack of dialogue was our original sin, and we should not repeat it again. If someday the post-chavista nightmare ends, we must embrace the dialogue with them, we must restore the institutions, we must restore the counter weights.

    • In democratic politics you accept that the other side has a right to live , to compete with its own messages for the masses favours , to have its voice heard and if the other side is the opposition and becomes big enough you recognize it the right to replace those in power and to participate in the key decisions of govt by way of compacts and compromise . Politics in a democracy entails sharing a political space with your opponents .
      If you follow Chavez (and his followers) discourse and political practice , their goal is to destroy the opposition or to render it purely ornamental , to deny it any voice , to deny it any right to share in collective decision making , there is no cohabitation with the opposition , they are vermin , subhuman to be excluded as pariahs from the public realm .
      There is little room for dialogue because part of the Chavez mental hard drive is that you dont give your opponents the time of day , they cannot be trusted …ever…. its even a virtue ( a cause for self celebration ) to tolerate their politically emasculated presence at the fringes .
      From such perspective dialogue with a scorned enemy is not only impossible but a profanation of the pure ideals of the revolution . Chavismo doesnt practice a politics of coexistence with its enemies but politics as a war to the death ending in their well deserved destruction .!!
      Maybe when things are tough you might consider for a while entertaining your rivals with promises of dialogues and compromise , but this is only done for reasons of tactical expediency only to be withdrawn once its becomes possible . For 14 years we heard Chavez again and again upon suffering some set back the promise that he would turn a new page, that he wanted peace and love and understanding only to see once he thought his strenght restored go back on his promises blaming his enemies for his change in position .
      For those who believe in a politics of coexistence and compromise , in truly democratic politics , a dialogue can never be refused what ever the odds of it leading to a changed politics . But we cannot set our hopes too high , because for 15 years weve seen the same game played again and again and have little reason that now Chavez followers will change in what is one of their fundamental ideological traits .

    • I fully agree with you wolf. The average opposition guy burn feeling in his guts whenever some chavista says that their leaders are “facho killers from the bourgeoisie”, is the same that an average chavista guy feels when an oppo says “Cuban ball licker Donkey-ass”.

      Therefore, when you say you don’t negotiate with terrorist commies, you are saying it not only to Maduro, you are saying it to a big chunk of the country, just as when they say they do not negotiate with facho oligarchs they are saying it to a big chunk of the country. Do that make us as a whole advance in any direction? No.

      If we want to have this culture of democracy, we need to start from the people, without that, there is no way of restoring institutions. People needs to learn that they can negotiate politically things even (and especially) for the little things closer to them. The “Demos” needs to be rescued.

      Regarding the ineffectiveness of democracy in Venezuela, I think it has deeper historical reasons than the “Fixed-Point pact”, for example:
      – We start with Simon, a guy with a lot of ideals and very un-orthodox methods, choosing to become a dictator when he lost control after getting rid of the colony.
      – 40 years of civil and federal war, that cimentated our main contribution to the dictionary, the word “Caudillo”
      – 30 years of Antonio Guzmán Blanco and his muppets, I think historians agree that he did a lot for the country’s progress, but big zero in democracy.
      – 35 years of Cipriano Castro and J.V. Gómez, the Über-Caudillo.
      – 8 years of transition to democracy with militars as presidents (ELC and IMA)
      – IMA gets picky about having direct election, political parties don’t agree, do they engage in a healthy democratic discussion about why is important for each other? No, AD gets allied with the neo-caudillos and overthrows the m**er
      – 6 months of the first guy elected by popular and direct votation,
      – Bang! Neo-caudillos don’t like lefty nerdies, 10 years of Pérez Jiménez.
      – OK, enough of this, let’s reach a fixed-point to guarantee that we have a fair agreement on what we going to do and to avoid this nasty coup d’état situations. Here is not clear for me if they left out the commies, or the commies started guerrilla because they believed in the Castro way, the references I have are mostly radical to one side or the other. 10 years of plomo to the commies that decided to go plomo too, but advances in the other fronts of stability and democracy
      – I think that is after the amnesty to the commies in the 70s that we can speak about a really plural democracy, that together with the saudian period, meant our best years.
      – That until 1989, of course, when people decided to go berserk because of the crisis and CAP crushed them.
      – Hugo appears, tries with guns, fails, tries with democracy, wins, but shortly after rejects pluralism, separation of powers etc, etc…

      In short, how much time we have practiced a real democracy with real institutions? 10% of our history? We have a long road to walk.

    • I remember reading a political science study that commented that there is a greater tendency for people to look upon Democracy negatively in countries that make use of Presidential Systems than in countries who use Parliamentary Systems.

      From my “naked-eye observations” as well as the extensive extra research I did in order to see if my observations made sense, I realized that this is because Presidential Systems tend to fail more in terms of economic development, corruption, and many other areas than countries that use Parliamentary Systems. Due to the personality-centric methodology of directly voting for president, Presidential Systems worldwide have also tended to produce a lot more “duds” and lousy leaders than Parliamentary Systems. Many were simply winnable due to personal popularity, others just had name recall.

      In Parliamentary Systems, members of parliament need to compete within their own parties to reach the top of their parties through sheer competence, so that the moment any party gets a majority of all seats, its leader who emerges as Prime Minister tends to be among the most competent people within that same party.

      As a Filipino myself, my own country grapples with this failed aspect of Presidential Democracy all too often: Candidates of dubious competence emerge on top all because they were actors or have name recall resulting from famous dead parents… This dissatisfaction is so common that for a long time, “enlightened dictatorship” was seen by many dissatisfied Filipinos as the antidote to this madness.

      That was until I observed how people from Parliamentary Systems tended to see their own system. It’s not perfect, they admitted, but then again, no system involving human beings ever is… But they described how their system works: Members of parties work their way up within their parties by consistently displaying their competence and ability to get the right things done. Parties campaign to the Public to get them voting FOR THE PARTY based on the platform, principles, and proposed programme of government they are pushing for. If a party gains majority, then its leader – someone who worked hard within the party to reach the top – becomes Prime Minister.

      Members of Parliament (aka “deputies”) would regularly meet with their constituents in town hall meetings where the constituents tell them what they think so that they in turn pursue issues or vote on them based on how their constituents tell them to.

      …And if the Prime Minister fails, the constituents feed their inputs to the members of parliament during those town hall meetings, and the members of parliament, fearing that they may lose support from their own constituents if they do not do their constituents’ bidding, move against the failed Prime Minister, voting him out by either choosing another party leader (if the MP’s are from the same party as the Prime Minister) or by calling for a vote of no confidence.

      Whatever it is, the trends are thus: The likelihood is greater that people would blame (and despise) Democracy if they are in a Presidential System than if they were in a Parliamentary System. Why? Because at least in a Parliamentary System, it’s easy to get rid of failed leaders, whereas in Presidential Systems, coups/mass protests are the only way to kick them out.

      (This insight regarding the higher likelihood of coups and extra-constitutional disruption in Presidential Systems figures prominently in the research of the late Dr. Juan Linz as found in his essay “The Perils of Presidentialism.”)

  11. Is there someone tweeting, real-time, in English, the events that are going on there? My heart is in Venezuela. It is so frustrating to be 2-3 days behind on the news. I’m reading as much as I can en espanol but my brain is fried. Prayers and thoughts headed your way. Thank you for your blogs.

  12. If we ever get to implement a parliamentary system in Venezuela (a man can dream!) we must make sure to eliminate the infamous “voto lista”. That aberration is the disease of any parliament. The opposite extreme to presidentialism.

  13. Great article!

    A good follow up to this article would be one that would explain that the follies of the Presidential System (wherein executive power is vested in one and only one person, rather than in a collective institution) are well-documented and have been dissected by numerous political scientists and even economists, showing that a very strong (and obvious) correlation (actually, even a causal relationship) exists between the use of Presidential Systems and abuses of power, higher corruption, slower progress due to gridlock, higher operating costs, and inefficiency.

    The converse is true – according to those same political scientists and economists who have intensively studied this issue – that Parliamentary Systems, on the other hand, actually present greater stability, greater accountability, greater efficiency, and a greater tendency for higher quality leaders to emerge on top.

    I dare say that the roots of Venezuela’s and Latin America’s infatuation with the idea of vesting power in one person in a Presidential System has much to do with the mistaken notion that whatever the “Great Country of the North” (USA) does is what everyone else should do.

    It needn’t have been that way.

    Venezuela’s key “Founding Fathers” were actually fans of Britain and British Institutions more than they were fans of the USA. Francisco de Miranda stands out as being a major Anglophile who looked upon British institutions as a model for Venezuela, Gran Colombia, and the rest to emulate.

    But no one comes closer to explicitly advocating the emulation of British Institutitions (as opposed to US ones) than classical liberal and pro-free enterprise Simón Bolívar himself! Yes, this is the much misinterpreted and misrepresented Venezuelan “Founding Father” whose name was used to give legitimacy to an already disproven experimental ideology that continues to impoverish the people of Cuba and North Korea.

    In his Address to the Congress of Angostura, the Liberator explicitly extolled the benefits of the British Parliamentary System, calling upon Venezuelans (and others) to study it more and understand better how it works, referring to it as a very stable and effective system that allows for Ministers (including the Prime Minister – who is after all merely First Among Equals in such a system) to be regularly called upon in an open plenary session to answer questions regarding their actions and decisions in open parliament, based on the British Parliamentary institution of the regular Question Period. His call for the creation of the office of President-for-Life had nothing to do with creating a perpetual dictator like Chávez. Instead, he sought to emulate the stability of the British Constitutional Monarchy where a ceremonial and symbolic figurehead who commands great moral reverence would act as a unifying figure, shielding the Public from misinterpreting the “conflicts” that may occur within Parliament as deputies and ministers discuss and debate policies of national importance.

    As he correctly described in his Address, real executive decision-making power would lie within the Cabinet, led by the Prime Minister, where all Ministers are al answerable to the wider Parliament. All deputies (aka “members of parliament”) and ministers would be considered equals, and this would mean that unlike the kind of “Supremacy” that the Cuban puppet Maduro enjoys as President within a Presidential System, the Prime Minister (who leads Cabinet and is the key decision maker) within British-style Parliamentary System that Simón Bolívar proposed can easily be replaced by his peers in case he is found to be deficient or incapable of handling the country’s pressing issues.

    Venezuela and the rest of Latin America would have certainly been spared the “Perils of Presidentialism” (the essay of the late Spanish-German political science guru Dr. Juan Linz) and the other “Problems of Presidentialism” (a study by the late US political scientist Dr. Fred Riggs which built upon Dr. Linz’s observations) had Simón Bolívar’s (and Francisco de Miranda’s) preference for British-style Institutions such as the strong Rule of Law and the Parliamentary System been adopted. Sadly, after Bolívar’s death, the growing pre-eminence of the USA at that time due to its openness to immigrants, its practice of Free Enterprise & Capitalism, and its rapid industrialization, caused many people in the newly independent countries of the Western Hemisphere – Latin America in particular – to mistakenly attribute the USA’s success to its use of the “one person executive supremacy” model found in the Presidential System.

    Britain seemed too geographically “far away” to serve as a model to emulate, so the USA became Latin America’s “gold standard.” Alas, as historical evidence proves, this infatuation with emulating the Gringo form of government has spelled disaster at one time or another in practically all countries where it has been tried (Latin America, the Philippines, some parts of Asia, most of Africa, etc), in contrast to the relative success, stability, and relatively smooth economic development that occurred in most places that decided to use the Parliamentary System.

    It’s about time everyone started to see that the inherent weaknesses in the USA’s Presidential System are precisely what caused it to experience its Shutdown not too long ago. That the USA is “successful” is due to other factors mentioned earlier (huge influx of determined and self-directed immigrants, free enterprise, capitalism, industrialization), and its relative economic success happens in spite of and not resulting from its use of the Presidential System.

    The crisis in Venezuela should serve as a wake-up call to Venezuela, Latin America, and yes, even their brothers in the Philippines (another Presidential System failure) to pursue the adoption of a system of government that the Great Liberator of Latin America Simón Bolívar (as well as his precursor – Francisco de Miranda) had repeatedly touted as being the best and most stable system of government in the world. It is also important to note that both men, being staunch classical liberals, recognized the need for Free Enterprise and the respect of Property Rights as a means for economic development which would liberate the people from Poverty.

    Simón Bolívar would actually roll over in his grave seeing just how his name was used to label a false ideology of kleptocracy, hooliganism, and a failed economic model created by a lying demagogue and his incompetent successor that corrupted and misrepresented the ideals and aspirations that the Liberator fought for and campaigned so hard to be turned into a reality in the land of his birth.

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