Trapped

whitemazeIt’s now been five weeks since the protest in San Cristóbal that set off Venezuela’s latest revolt. Time to take stock.

Outside the Andean states, protests remain largely confined to the better-off areas of the larger cities. Are there exceptions here and there? Certainly. But they’re just that: exceptions. The sites of ongoing unrest remain solidly concentrated in the middle class enclaves of the bigger cities, i.e., precisely where the government wants them.

Large, peaceful daytime demonstrations are followed every night by running battles around makeshift barricades, or guarimbas. This night-time ritual of improvised road-blocks, burning garbage, plastic pellets, tear gas and armed bikers in plain clothes involves many fewer people than the daytime protests. And yet, inevitably, the guarimba has come to define the current protest movement, giving it its flavor, its distinctiveness, its identity.

The peaceful daytime marches have broad public support, but only when they’re seen as demanding redress for failures of government rather than agitating for regime change. In the country at large, support for a coup is practically non-existent. 

For the communicational hegemon, it’s easy to disappear the large, day-time protests and paint the entire movement as the outcome of a tiny, violent guarimbero clique.

The cabin fever of the guarimba has given the protest movement a blinkered, inward looking, tribal flavor that guarantees its failure. The radical fringe that runs it is entirely indifferent to the need to reach out to the politically unaffiliated people the opposition needs to win over to really challenge the government. To this minuscule but determined hard core Robert Alonso is a master tactician, and Reinaldo Dos Santos is illuminated.

With its image increasingly defined by its least appealing members, it’s little surprise that the protest movement has failed to build meaningful alliances outside the opposition base. People in working class neighborhoods, whether urbanizaciones populares or barrios, see the protest movement as something alien, different, not about them, not by people like them and certainly not for people like them. (Yes, there are exceptions, but again, they’re only that: exceptions.) People in the towns and villages see nothing at all, because a concerted blackout has disappeared the peaceful side of the protests from the TV and the radio. (Yes, there are exceptions, but again, they’re only that: exceptions.)

The guarimbification of the protest movement fits neatly into long-established government propaganda lines. For years, the government has sought to brand all dissidents as power-mad fascists willing to burn down the country to turn the clock back on the revolution. Over five weeks, a minuscule radical fringe has systematically gone about confirming every aspect of that attack. And the mainline political opposition has proven totally unable to call rein in its wingnuts.

To be clear, this is a godsend for godgiven: the ruling clique grasps that it can’t fix the underlying sources of social discontent. Its hopes are centered instead on manipulating how people apportion responsibility for the mess. That’s been their plan all along. And they can’t believe their luck.

What the guarimbero mindset fails to grasp is that so long as there’s no contagion to working class areas, the ruling clique has every reason to be relaxed about the protests. Chavismo’s guiding principle is simple “a barrio in flames threatens us; an urbanización in flames strengthens us”.

A steady stream of images of better off people burning down their own neighborhoods is all SIBCI needs to apportion blame for every problem in the country on the fascist bourgeois onslaught. It’s ludicrous, of course, but the drip-drip-drip of repetition across the state’s sprawling propaganda empire, over years, will do the trick.

Don’t believe me? Ask the next 10 Venezuelans under the age of 30 you meet in what year the oil industry was nationalized.

By 2017, all chavistas and a good many politically unaffiliated people will “remember” what the propaganda state will have spent years telling them every single day: that things were fine in Venezuela until February 2014, and that that’s when the shortages started, when the inflation started, when everything went to hell. SIBCI will not rest until things you and I know are untrue seep into our collective “common sense”. They’ve done it before. They’ve already started doing it again.

The governing clique knows what it has to do to leverage the mindless radicalism of the guarimbero fringe into a key buttress of its power. That’s why it feeds that radicalism every single day. The governing clique knows the mainline opposition can’t reach disaffected chavistas with an attractive pitch so long as this madness is ongoing. The guarimba is like a guaya strung across two posts on the path of the mainline opposition’s longer term hearts-and-minds strategy.

So the protest movement has set in motion a real political crisis…it’s just that that crisis isn’t in the government, it’s in the opposition, where a toxic wedge now separates factions that had managed a grudging cooperation for the last six years.

So, for all the ink spilled about how Nicolás Maduro doesn’t have Chávez’s political chops, he’s done remarkably well out of this crisis. In some ways, he’s done better: he’s has suffered no high-profile defections, at home or abroad, of the kind that made the political crises of 2002-2003 so combustible.

Internationally, his stint as foreign minister has served him well: he’s had no trouble neutering the old timey Inter-American system and deftly moved discussion to fora he comfortably controls. And domestically he’s pulled off the remarkable feat of semi-convincingly portraying the opposition as more dangerous to domestic peace and stability than the government.

The last time this happened, it took the opposition years to pull itself back together into a coherent political force. It’s time chavismo was not about to waste. While we were off in the wilderness, a new, far more hostile media and institutional environment was put in place.

With every guarimba that goes up, we renew our determination to tread that miserable path anew. Only the starting point is different. The last crisis brought us from hobbled-democracy to hybrid regime. This is the crisis that eases the passage from hybrid regime to Cuban-style dictatorship.

180 thoughts on “Trapped

  1. You make it sound like Chavismo had a Bruce Lee fight, he kicks serious butt and doesn’t even ruffle his hair.

    I think this was more wearing on Chavismo that you let on. For starters Chavismo has shattered it’s democratic patina, it is clearly seen around the world as a bully dictatorship. The idea of XXI Century Socialism is as popular as leprosy in other parts of Latin America.

    The opposition has flexed its muscle and there is enough anger seething to power the endemic blackouts they suffer. It now has to be channeled… smartly. If anything, they know they are fighting for their right to live in their country or become a “Marielitos”.

    And then there are the macro economic issues that are exploding on the scene. Yes they can blame ‘la guerra economica’ and ‘los guarimberos’ and ‘el imperio’, but hunger, hyperinflation, and fear, are real scourges on the society and what then? Pueblo, wait a little longer! Socialism will take care of you? Because la paatrrrriaaa…!!!!! I think a little higher of the people en ‘el barrio’.

    • “Se le cayó la mascara”?
      Con ese cuento me dormían a mi…

      I’d like to meet some of these mythical foreign observers who thought chavismo was a model democracy on February 3rd, 2014, and think it isn’t today. Seriously, where are they? Can you point to one? Even one?

      Chavismo has suffered no significant defections at all from this crazy. Not one.

      Even Vielma Mora went back to the fold.

      • The ‘don’t know/don’t care’ crowd around the world now know that in some banana republic out there is a Castro like dictatorship but with a lot of oil. Think of the post in this same blog that went viral a few weeks ago.

        The cafe lefties in Europe and Latin America (a few of my uncles, for good measure) are having a hard time romanticizing chavismo to Allende’s government under threat by the ‘fascist right’. I stand by my comment that “Socialismo del siglo XXI” is as popular as dengue in the rest of Latin America.

        As for Vielma Mora, I am sure there is a pound of flesh to pay for his indiscretion. This crowd is not one to ‘forgive and forget’.

        All the while, sitting on top of the tectonic macro-economic disaster…

        • OK, I see what you mean.

          I sort of analyze it differently. I don’t know and don’t care what the dk/dc crowd around the world thinks.

          My concern is with people with some sort of power to do something.

          Journalists. Academics. Diplomats. Business leaders. Intellectuals. News editors. Politicians. Opinion leaders. Generals. Congressional staffers in DC, Brasilia, Brussels, Quito and points beyond.

          In that world, everybody already knew what the Maduro administration amounted to before this whole thing started. Those who supported him before it all started, still support him today. Those who didn’t, still don’t. Those who could see through the bullshit but keep quiet due to economic/diplomatic interests still see through the bullshit but keep quiet.

          Nothing has changed.

          • “Nothing has changed”.
            Wow, how smug you sound from out there… Where is it you write from now? Japan? Or was it South Sudan?
            Erre que erre, muchacho: que la realidad no te despeine el peluquín.

            • Quico está como algunos académicos venezolanos que prefieren que el movimiento de protesta fracase sólo por que quieren “tener la razón”. Estás equivocado con eso de que “nada ha cambiado”. Además el desastre económico sigue su rumbo directo al precipicio de la inflación, la escasez y el desempleo. El gobierno no ha hecho nada significativo por detener la profundización del desastre económico. Solamente ha tomado unas medidas superficiales, como el Sicad II, para que “Damírez” y su combo sigan haciendo negocios con los dólares. Caerá Maduro mañana? Seguramente no. Pero tiene el papagayo enredado. Esa arrechera que hay en la calle no se apaga a tiros. No confundamos la frialdad de Montreal con las calles del trópico. Por cierto, cuando el verano llega a la “Paris du Nord” las cosas también se calientan por allá. Mes salutations distinguées.

      • Francisco maybe you understimate the impact of the protests on many fronts , not that this impact is earth shattering but it certainly never has the world outside latin america been more explicitly responsive to the plight of Venezuela . Examples The UN response , the language of its Communique issued just BEFORE the Jaua meeting with the Secretary General took place , The latters insistence that the meeting include the UN organization directly involved in Human Rights issues , The UN relators insistence that reports of human rights abuses be investigated on the ground. The resolution of the EU pairlament , the unanimous resolution from the Canadian Pairlament , the more assertive tone of the US Govt in response to the Venezuelan situation , the statesments from many US congressman regarding the situation , The different supportive statements from so many Entertainment figures in well seeing forums . The only disspointments , that initially the international press being so spooked by the Ukraine situation didnt pay Venezuela all the attention it deserved ( which they made up for later with many excellent articles on Venezuela -some of which you and Juan wrote ) and the attitude of Official Governdom in Latin America , which didnt go uncriticized by people from each of the countries involved . The very scandalous tiff with the international press ( the response to the closing of NTN24 signal and the hounding of CNN reports ) which make absolutely clear the level of press repression which exists in the country. Add to this the absolutely unnecessary tiff with Panama calling attention to the govts intemperate abusive behaviour when dealing with its critics even at a sovereign level .

        In general the voices which condem the govt as despotic have become more numerous , spread and LOUD when before they were muted and isolated . This represents a change in the visibility of the govts tyrannical nature which before did exist but hadnt become so viral . These consequeces of the protests by themselves dont lead to a govt change of course , but they go a long way towards further eroding its interntional public image to levels where its abuses cant be so easily ignored .!!

        BTW Francisco I do share your view that the guarimba phenomena should be first toned down and ultimately stopped for reasons which are close to those you mention . However I dont discard the usefulnees of future cyces of protests cnducted in a more focused orderly fashion .as conditions make them necessary !!

        • Well, of course there’s been some response. As far as I can tell, though, every organization you list was already on record questioning chavista governing methods.

          I want to hear about defections. I want to know which thought leaders were broadly pro-government on February 3rd and are publicly questioning the government now.

          As far as I can tell – maybe I’m missing something – there are just no defections. At all.

          • Well, of course there’s been some response.

            Quico: one thing was to question chavista governing methods, in the past, but bury the queries for mercantilist or other reasons, and go about business as usual. It is QUITE ANOTHER THING (as your dismissive self may not want to account, for reasons of style and argument) TO HAVE THE EYES OF THE WORLD FOCUSED — WITH NO DOUBT LEFT — ON VENEZUELA’S DE FACTO DICTATORSHIP, never mind *elections*. Sure, Ukraine gets top billing, as do other global issues. But the see-saw effect in the past is OVER. The optics now pay little mind to the warblings from diligent foreign enablers of the regime, who once backpedalled as hard they could to sway international media opinion in favour of the colour red, especially when the few questions arose.

            BB has stated all other matters with greater detail, if not eloquence.

            P.S. Defections is your measuring stick?? In a non-election year? You don’t make sense. That is, in a political sphere.

            • A curious difference between what is happening in Venezuela and Ukraine is how Russia continues to treat Ukraine as its “back yard” (a term which will annoy many here no doubt) and events in Ukraine as its de facto business, whereas the USA has not done much at all about Venezuela. You could draw up a list of differences that explain this – a border between the countries, a long history of mutual dependency (occupation), a large ethnic minority, military and economic interests – but I can’t help feel that the USA response has been thoroughly toothless in comparison. Strangely enough, I feel a pang of jealousy, like a forlorn lover – why can’t Venezuela get this degree of attention?? Putin should be admired for his willingness to play ball despite global opposition. Is the USA response a reflection of the utterly irritating trend toward political correctness? Would a little machiavelianism hurt?

          • Last weeks I saw more critical articles in eastern german marxist newspapers. Not about repressing protests, but fully about economic situation and that it is Maduros fault.
            I am kind of proud, that even our marxist get that, well at least the more realistic ones from the ex-GDR.

            Does it matter? Absolutedly nothing.

            And I find it quite shocking, that in your region a politician like Marco Enríquez Ominami kind of defended Chavismo in a recent interview I downloaded. And that matters definitely more.

              • well, of course its not Mario Vargas Llosa, but this is “Neues Deutschland”.
                http://www.neues-deutschland.de/artikel/925924.die-revolution-bedarf-der-erneuerung.html

                in the interview with MEO. he just said one very tiny sentence about Venezuela. “Hay que recordar, que en venezuela hay más medios de oposición que de Gobierno”.
                And he says it in the context of putting forward his argument, that the right is overrepresented in Latin American media.
                Can’t find the link. Cambio de switch from end of february, this year.
                It shows a mindset.

              • Well, Lemmy, I am not so optimistic with these blokes. I have read similar tiny tiny criticisms from Die Linke politicians and from very lefty German newspapers years ago, when Hugo was still around. They haven’t changed a bit, in my opinion.
                They still don’t even bother to reason why those economic policies have failed other than mentioning the currency control, which was present before and which cannot be lifted without Madurismo’s collapse.
                They don’t really discuss why there should be those shortages… “Versorgungsengpässe” they call them. They would never use the term shortage economy, although they should know better.
                And of course: their despise for half the population is typical.

                For the others: Neues Deutschland is in part own by the Linke, which is the party that supports Chavismo and got a little bit over 5% during last Bundestag’s elections.

              • We kind of switched point of views. Four years ago I talked very bad about Eastern Germany and you kind of defended them, which from my part was kind of schizophrenic, because the people I trust most and enjoy work with in the office often are from the east. Of course, very few of them share the positions of “Neues Deutschland” 100%, but in most cases at least some and in any case more than me.

                I’ve read a lot of articles about Venezuela in “Neues Deutschland”, but admiting that “The system of control of foreign exchange aggravates the potential of corruption and personal gain” is something I’ve never read there.
                But it doesn’t matter, anyway, what people in the Northern Central European lowlands think. For the venezuelan opposition its about winning a decisive share of the hearts and minds of the venezuelan lower middle class.
                Found also this article from the often good chilean political analyst Patricio Navia. http://www.buenosairesherald.com/article/153555/maduro%E2%80%99s-unintentional-allies
                It goes in a similar direction as Quico, though less detailed.

      • Great Post, Quico. It is certanly good to have you back, as more often than not you are the guy in CC that says the unconfortable truths that the radical opo dosent want to hear. For all the drama, all the ink and all the blood we have acomplished nothing…

        Venezuela`s protests has acomplished less than in 2002-2003, maduro is less afected and our country gets less artime than a Missing airplane.

      • Hi Francisco, I did not see this article (the one published in the New Republic) till recently and I was looking for a version in Spanish. Nevertheless I live on Margarita Island near Parque el Agua. In municipo Antolin del Campo it is primarily Chavista. Life goes on as normal here yet there are more people walking around in red shirts and the local Chavista alcalde has been throwing weekly “rumbas”. Last week it was for the fisherman here on the beach in front of my apartment. However, I have to go to Porlamar 3 times a week for rugby practice and pass right through the heart of the protests in municipo Maniero. Two weeks ago a kid on my rugby team was arrested by the GN (national guard) for allegedly possessing a molotov coctail (he has been released on bond for about 10,000 bsf). Last week I did a walking tour of the protests from Los Robles to Rattan Plaza and took pictures of all the barricades as well as the guarimberos. A group of 30 or so guarimberos passed by in the opposite direction while I was taking a picture of them. One masked protestor holding a stick and molotov coctail raised his hand in the air towards me (and I obviously I am a gringo) and I was like “oh crap” but then just raised my hand in the air and yelled “ESTUDIANTES!!” and they all started cheering and I walked on in the other direction. But yet this youthful factor cannot be forgoten. It is a rebellion fueled by monster (redbull) and cheap rum and many of these protesters do not remember 2002. Furthermore they do not realized that their strategy will not work, for all the reasons you noted in your great article (that I have shared frequently). The protests are isolated and they are only vandalizing their own neighborhoods and making life difficult for everybody living there (though many in those neighborhoods are blinded to the reality that this will ultimately fail and are banging pots and pans in support and cheer the guarimberos on).

        I teach online courses in human geography for a community college in the States and I will be writing a paper for an academic conference on the geography of protest in Venezuela and it would be good to communicate with you personally. Again, spot on criticism in your article because this is actually what is going on here.

    • While it is true that now internationally there is a clearer view of the real nature of the situation in Venezuela than say 3 months ago. I believe that makes little difference for Venezuela and Venezuelans future. Just like Cuba was once the darling of the international left and slowly but surely was revealed as an unscrupulous tyranny that hasn’t help the Cubans one bit.

      You have to understand that international outrage only happens when there is turmoil, as the turmoil dies down or becomes routine so does the international outrage. If things are relatively calm they don’t care and can’t be bothered much. They don’t really care if there is oppression or injustice somewhere else, they just react to the news. No more news, no more international community.

      Venezuelans like the Cubans are alone in their plight. We have to liberate ourselves, only when the government is about to collapse will the international community “intervene”, until then though lets not put too much of our hope on them. There is no knight in shining armour

  2. Oh my, I really wish I disagreed with you, I really really wish I hadn’t been saying that over and over to everyone I know. All in all I wish you -and I- weren’t right. But what really brings me down is the fact that there are going to be people that disagree with this point of view, that are going to say that the guarimbas are the way out, cuz we need to fight and stand up to torture, to tyranny, to the debauchery of everything good and sacred. And although I understand where they are coming from, although I sympathize with what they feel, and even with wath they think, I cannot escape from the knowledge, from the certainty, that they are our main hindrance in our shared goals. And they don’t even see it! not only that, but it turns out that we are traitors for calling out their neivete. It seems as if the only way we can be heard is if we lose an eye to buckshot coming from GNB, or have our hands burned from molotov cocktails gone wrong. Only that will give us the credibility to say that we got it all wrong.

    We cannot win this through sheer force. It’s a real pity that this message does not get across, because it may cost us again.

  3. Dont know of any one in the Opposition leadership who has expressly sponsored the setting up of Guarimbas , and there are some (like henry falcon ) who have publicly opposed them . It thus appears that guarimbas are a grass root movement , they were not planned for , they arose spontaneously from people who are fed up with the regimes many failures and abuses . If they favour the govt its not because the Opposition leadership has deliberately called on them to exist , but because ordinary people, mainly but not exclusively middle class, needed an outlet for their pent up anger .

    One of the main arguments of the Guarimberos is that they fear the visit of armed pro government Goons in Motorcycle squads come to terrorize their nighborhoods with the flagrant connivance of the official police and that guarimbas are meant to protect them from such threats . Not sure thats always the reason but for some guarimberos at least state thats the primary reason . Somehow the existence of govt sponsored paramilitary goons and their violent behaviour are part of the motives that make people set up guarimbas .

    The paramilitary squads are as violent as the guarimbas , perhaps more so , with the difference that while the guarimbas have no encouragement from the Oppo leadership ( who always insist on peaceful protests ) the squads are sponsored . celebrated and maybe organized by the Regime .

    The argument I hear in these pages against the guarimbas is not based on principle but on reasons of practical expedience , on the usefulness or futility or political harm that guarimbas cause the Opposition cause. If the guarimbas extended more deeply into the barriadas then presumably it would be Ok to have them . Perhaps the principle of the thing should also be discussed !!

    About the political practical effects of the guarimba , the information is a bit mixed . some say that they rile up chavistas class hatreds favouring the regime at a time in which many of its supporter are beggining to get dissapointed with the regimes performance . Others point out to the fact that most chavistas in the barrios ( except for the most fanatized which you are never going to bring to the Oppo side anyway ) are not furious at the guarimbas and the protests but simply annoyed at them , they are largely indifferent to the kind of political motives which arouse the protests but can identify with those motives which have to do with issues directly affecting their welfare such as inflation , crime growth , shortages .

    Father Alenjandro Moreno has pointed this out ,he says : people in my barrio are annoyed but they are not particularly aroused to anger by the protests , he further underscores the fact that while they have not joined the protests neither have most of them gone to the streets to ‘defend the regime’ from them . Only the most fanatized , those forming part of a motorcycle goon squad have done so and they dont represent by far a mayority of barrio inhabitants . This he thinks is important because the barrios are becoming increasingly dissapointed with govt failures and while msot of them are not ready yet to join the opposition protests becaue of lingering sentimental attachment to what Chavismo used to represent , He believes that some point in time they may start to do so.

    Saverio Vivas the oppo leader from Catia ( following Father Moreno) says that people in a barriada are largely uninterested in what happens outside their barrio so although they dont support the protests for the most part they are not necessarily incensed or frothing mad at their existence . He mentions that he is able to call people to protest inside the barrios provided he makes clear that they are protesting not under a political banner but under the banner of dissatisfaction with the many problems that are blamed on the government such as inflation , rampant crime and the like .!!

    Lets keep in mind that the regime will make propaganda from anything they can ( including the guarimbas portrayal as a blatant attempt to tumble the govt) . Even if the oppo leadership went all out in a highly publicised effort to attemp to quell the guarimba protests the regime will still claim that the gurimbas represent a concerted oppo efferot to tumble the govt , so they are going to be held guilty of that charge whatever they do !!

    Sorry to bother my fellow bloggers with these too lengty reflexions ( which of course being so long most will skip reading ) but the blog left me unsatisfied with all that it didnt say and needed saying !!

    • I think any people in the world is entitled and should (again, should) fight against a dictatorship that is oppressing them. And I think that it’s interesting when some here use this stream of thought that the guarimbas would “annoy” or “anger” the poor, what would eventually lead to worsen the situation of the already “weak” opposition. Well, if those people don’t get mad with waiting in line for hours to buy milk, 56% inflation rate, the highest murder rate in the planet, low economic growth etc, etc, why the hell would they be angered or annoyed by silly guarimbas located in neighbourhoods far away from them? I really can’t comprehend. Anyway, I don’t think that Venezuela was any better without the guarimbas. When the guarimbas end, I will know for surethat Venezuela is a new North Korea.”Peaceful” and “stable” for ever.

      • Marc,

        Just one question: How often do you talk – and above all- listen to friends or relatives currently living in Venezuelan municipios where Maduro got the majority in April? (I am assuming you are Venezuelan or at least have strong links to Venezuela – other than “we are all Latinos” kind of link).

        Thanks for your answer.

        • I am quite sure i have more friends and family in the barrios that quicito does, and i can tell you that he will be eating his words …or at least he sould be…he has it all wrong, as usual…but hey he gets attention…hmmm mm

      • Marc: Do note that im not saying that the guarimbas are good or bad because of their impact on common barrio opinions ( which in any event are not as extreme perhaps as some argue) . Im putting on the table the question of whether protests, even violent ones, may be justified regardless of their favourable or unfavourable practical political consequences . A point which no one appeared to be addressing . Your opinion is clearly that they are justified even if they are inconvenient ( apparently because they piss off the regime leaning people in the barrios we want to ‘turn’ and convert into oppo followers ). I respect your position . I myself see these kind of judgments as fundamentally equivocal , both good and bad things have resulted from the guarimba protests , exactly where the balance lies , has no straight conclusive answer ; i may have my own preferred judgment , but by no means can I declare for certain that mine is absolutely correct. Sometimes the honest thing is to assumme or embrace the ambivalence and uncertaintly surrounding certain difficult questions !!

        • “Your opinion is clearly that they are justified even if they are inconvenient ( apparently because they piss off the regime leaning people in the barrios we want to ‘turn’ and convert into oppo followers ).”

          Actually, I said that the guarimbas hardly piss off the poor. If you read again my post you will see. Furthermore, I think it’s justified because those people are fighting for their own survival (for God’s sake, the colectivos are randomly shooting their houses). It’s as if we were in the WW2 and some Jewish citizens were complaining that some Jewish ghettos were rebeling against the Nazis. “It will annoy the other Germans that support the regime”, they would have said. I think the Venezuelan opposition is pretty much suicidal and incredibly naive. All my hope is with those brave youngsters and I pray for them. They should simply ignore the Venezuelans in exile (who are becoming a copy of the Cubans in exile) and the oppositionists who think that this situation can be solved in the 2019 (!) elections.

          • Marc , I read you right , you read me wrong (or maybe I wrote it wrong) What I meant to say was exactly what you state as your position , i.e. , even if the guarimbas are politically inconvenient , they are justified because people cant help but fight for their freedom . . the phrase ‘apparently ..’was a reference to the view of those who believe it is inconvenient , I understand thats not your view. !!

    • There is also a lot of fear. A lot of people in the barrios don’t want to make their discontent public because the consequences can be harsher for them than for middle or upper class zone residents.

      If you live in a residencia apartment or an urbanización house, a tupamaro is a goon who comes by night in a motorcycle and shoots up the place, breaks everyone’s windshields and occasionally sets a couple of cars on fire. But, if you live in the barrio, the tupamaro is a neighbor who knows your name and the names of your loved ones…

        • O disagree that the govt is ensuring tha tonly the middle class áreas burn. The reason is that the paid agent provocateurs do not have the wherewithal to go to Catia and burn tires in the road as they would be swept away.

    • I think I agree with all of that, BBass. The question for me is about the opposition’s ability to serve as a vehicle for the aspirations of people in Catia, say, or Acarigua, or San Francisco (Zulia.) The Guarimbas reinforce those people’s feeling that the opposition is something totally alien to them, unconcerned with their problems, not “for people like me”. They entrench that feeling, solidify it. And that makes any attempt at cross-class coalition building that much more difficult, and doubly so with no media, and triply so with not enough financing.

      • “The question for me is about the opposition’s ability to serve as a vehicle for the aspirations of people in Catia, say, or Acarigua, or San Francisco (Zulia.) ”
        The answer to that, sadly seems to be “NEVER”, and that’s because yet another mouthfull of too many venezuelan brains the communicational hegemon has munched, they did it a long time ago, and that idea is reduced to basically : “Everything that’s not chavista is an adeco-copeyano, and thus, is GUILTY of EVERYTHING that has gone bad since FOREVER.”
        That idea is carved in stone in many venezuelan minds, every “willing” chavista has that hole in the head, and many opposition, or the so-called “niní” have it too.
        The way chavismo has eroded venezuelan minds in this country ensures that every person, regardless of her age or background, that stands against this regime, will automatically be seen as just another “son-of-mommy-and-daddy-sifrino-adeco-copeyano-that’s-guilty” and so will be branded, as a fascist rabid… non-person thing by chavistas, and as “another thief, great” by every single niní and many non-chavista venezuelans.

    • “Most of them are not ready yet to join the opposition protests because of lingering sentimental attachment to what Chavismo used to represent ”
      Yes, this is where it’s at. I am familiar with one very Chavista area (not in Caracas), and the general opinion is that Maduro is incompetent, with each new thrashing around he simply makes their lives worse, and of course they wish Chavez was back because life was better then. The sheer incompetence of the government bites, even in those neighbourhoods: empty Mercals, no cooking gas for a week over the extended Carnaval, trips to Caracas to find oil, butter, and harina pan in Excelsior, which when you’re living in a rancho is not much fun.

      They’re not yet ready to take to the streets. If there was an opposition leader who could empathize with these people this would have been over long ago.

      • Frank, I remember seeing a very mad Chávez on Globovision screaming about the food shortages that according to him were created by “greedy” private supermarkets, he was specially angry with the Casino owned supermarket chain in Venezuela (I forgot the name), he accused the owners of “hidding” the products in warehouses. The chain ended up being expropriated by Chávez. That makes me curious about what you wrote about the Mercals. How does the government justify the empty mercals? Do they simply ignore the subject? Or do they accuse Uribe and the usual suspects?

        • “Do they simply ignore the subject? Or do they accuse Uribe and the usual suspects?”
          The do both, and much more.
          It’s almost funny to watch them making excuses to escape the responsibility of their screw-ups.

  4. “The last crisis brought us from hobbled-democracy to hybrid regime. This is the crisis that eases the passage from hybrid regime to Cuban-style dictatorship.”

    That is my biggest fear regarding this crisis. That Chavismo won’t waste it.

    “So the protest movement has set in motion a real political crisis…it’s just that that crisis isn’t in the government, it’s in the opposition, where a toxic wedge now separates factions that had managed a grudging cooperation for the last six years.”

    The wedge is between the opposition constituency and the leaders. Like I’ve said before, there were multiple student protests since January on the issue of crime on campus. There was also some discontent in the opposition base that saw how the government kept pushing the model (Cadakazo, 30% profit margin, more controls and distorsions) and MUD leadership only spoke to say things like “there’s no need to devalue”, “there’s no need to raise gas prices”, “we are also opposed to speculation and usury”.

    Some oppostion leaders sniffed the discontent, and can be quoted as saying “someone has to get on top of this, if we don’t do it, someone else will steal our lunch”. So #LaSalida was born.

    The time came and students in ULA-Tachira were outraged at a attemtep rape against one of their fellow students, they were detained and sent to Coro. The protests took more strength, and some politicians began to attack #LaSalida, thinking incorrectly that it was responsible for the newfound street outrage. Then came 12F and 19F.

    For all the references to God’s timing being perfect, when the conditions for a mass civil disobedience campaign were all in place, most of the MUD leadership decided to sit this one out.

    • The Cuban-style dictatorship process has started. Las comunas and the racionamiento con targeta electronica are here. What is left? Shutdown the rest media outlets and eliminate private property/commerce.

      • Cuban-style is a tricky reference.

        Politically, I think PSUV is aiming at something more along the lines of PRI’s perfect dictatorship in Mexico. They may try and dissolve VP, but I don’t think single-party system is in the works.

        Economically, they are most likely aiming at a system of most large company in state hands and a medium sized archipelago of cuentapropistas, which is the Cuban economic model right now. But I think Venezuela will retain several chavista-aligned holdings in private hands: Vargas, Cisneros, Ruperti and other boli-bourgeois

        Socially, rationing and misery wages are here today. A minimum wage of USD 60 and people queuing to buy price-controlled food staples, with a limited per-person amount.

        • I agree economically, for as long as the boli-bourgeouis do business in the country. Some are already starting businesses somewhere else.

          On the social, people are still able to find some food and even stock extras (when available) by going to multiple places and by networking with family and friends. But when the targeta comes in it will be much much much more difficult. Also, imagine the government giving away “preferential” targetas. If you’re in the Tascon list you will not get one; or will have to go through hell to get one. Can you only imagine the additional level of corruption that this will generate?

          • On the reviled 4th republic, every government action was done with one thing in mind: How many votes could that action net to your party.
            On the chavista regime, every movement is done with two purposes: One, how many money can I extort using this? And two, how much this will screw those “hezkuakas” I hate so much?”

      • I hope that all these things happen – plus nationalizing the banks – but they will not as the constitution prevents it. So………….no need to get too paranoid.

        • Hey Arturo, did you read Michael J. Totten’s latest dispatch on Cuba? Here is a juicy excerpt:
          http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/only-way-out-exile

          In 1971, Garland Grant, a member of the Black Panthers, hijacked a flight from Milwaukee to Washington DC and demanded to be taken to Algeria, a Soviet-style military dictatorship and a client of Moscow’s. But the plane didn’t have enough fuel, so he said “Take me to Havana” instead.

          He was arrested on arrival for air piracy and thrown into prison. Guards beat him mercilessly and he lost an eye.

          Grant would never have gone there had he known he’d be sent directly to jail, nor would he have gone if he had the first clue what the place is really like. He swallowed all the bullshit about the island being a worker’s paradise and was shocked to discover, when the authorities let him out, that he’d been released from one prison only to discover the entire country is a prison.

          “I just want to get back to the United States,” he told a reporter in downtown Havana. “I’m living like a dog in Cuba. There are more racism problems here than in the worst parts of Mississippi. I’ve been in the place six years and I’m out of my mind. Believe me, I’m all for the United States now. I’d even wear a Nixon button.” He did finally return home and spent more time in prison. He lives now as a chastened free man in Wisconsin and will not speak to the media.

          *

        • Oh and By the way, Arturo, have a look at the page https://clg.portalxm.com/library/keytext.cfm?keytext_id=197

          It explains why certain world views (collectivist values/authority orientation/social dominance) have the potential for turning ordinary people into genocidal killers.

          Those are the EXACTLY values of a typical Chavista zombie.

          The book goes into detail into how it happens. Many of the steps have already occurred in Venezuela.
          Waller, James E. 2007. Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Killing. London: Oxford University Press

  5. “The last crisis brought us from hobbled-democracy to hybrid regime. This is the crisis that eases the passage from hybrid regime to Cuban-style dictatorship.”

    That is my biggest fear regarding this crisis. That Chavismo won’t waste it.”

    It would happen anyway. With guarimbas or not. Venezuela is a ful dictatorship (not a hybrid regime) since the last presidential elections.

  6. The interviewed on the previous article to this one that you signed and published on this very blog should serve as a reply to everyone that asks ‘what are guarimberos looking for’, and it seems to match with the pattern we’ve seen. ‘Guarimberos’ don’t even acknoweledge themselves as such. They didn’t intend to go ‘overturn the government’, they are just defending from armed colectivos, and they decide to begin doing barricades the day they saw the police in open cooperation with the aforementioned groups.

    So, I don’t get how in the next article, you basically say that they are not defending themselves, they are just being violent? just trying to overturn Maduro from their urbanizaciones? so what is it? are you ruling out that they are being honest about being forced to do this to repel the colectivo forces?

    • Isn’t it obvious?

      The main reason the guarimbas exist is to keep the colectivos out
      The main reason the colectivos keep coming back is to keep the guarimbas in place

      It’s a closed circle!

          • And because, ultimately, the guarimbas lack the resources that the colectivos have..

            If they do get them, would they become something different thatn a guarimba? an Army? A Guerrilla? Not unlikely. And that does not bode well.

            Mainstream opposition -and the mainstream of its voters and supporters- will be caught in the crossfire.

      • Francisco, it sounds closed, but it isn’t. What’s missing is the time factor. Over time both sides get tired out. They start questioning their reasons for what they are doing. Think Groundhog Day. People don’t want to repeat the same story every day; they make changes to make the story change.

        Another angle is the one that rats will bit a hole through steel if they are hungry and they think food is on the other side. People may be hiding themselves behind barricades, today, but as resources keep getting scarcer, both the need to bite through steel gets greater in coming out from behind the barricade, as well as the incentive to colectivos to keep causing barricades keeps diminishing.

        Aside from the circle, you’ve mentioned in another comment the lack of people changing sides. Well, I’d point out that before people jump the fence, they have to approach it. Perhaps what has changed with these protests is getting more people to consider jumping the fence, even if they haven’t already done so.

        Regardless, time passes, and the economy worsens, while the need to tighten controls increases. Something will give. The question is in which direction will it give. I would be presenting, now more than ever, proposals that make people want to consider our side. As things stand, there are no political offers out there that are helping things give our way, while Maduro is moving to get new loans from China and Russia to do make things give his way.

        You’re right about one thing: we’ve learned nothing…

      • You have yet to show any evidence that the colectivos are acting i9n any way to maintain the guarimbas. Don’t fall into the El Nacional trap.

  7. Here in Valencia, efforts are being made to go to the south of the city, which contains the poorest parts of the city (and the most chavista ones) to do what you said. Because so far the protests have been done in the north of the city, which is overwhelmingly pro opposition. I don’t think the government cares much for protests in a middle class parish where only like 12% is chavista.

    • José,

      We need other strategies. Go South? Fine, but how?
      It is not in order to move right now, tomorrow or in less than 1 week people to march to Miraflores. We need to go there to inform people for a middle term goal. We have spent 15 years trying everything with pseudo-plans for today or for the next election.

      Opposition people need to go not to march but to inform with concrete stuff and they need to disappear as soon as the thugs come to shoot at them.

      But firstly, they need to do some mental work first and that is where we are miserably failing:
      we need to think out proposals and denunciations, write them down, edit and re-edit them, produce concise and yet detailed messages – not just slogans-.

      The oppo needs to distribute material providing

      1) really detailed information about governmental abuses, government corruption,
      2) very clear proposals – the proposals already distributed need to be made more specific, explained succinctly but with concrete points –
      and
      3) information in general about what really pluralism means and how Venezuela is getting isolated, how it is lagging behind the rest of Latin America.

      They need then to promote networks of middle-term campaign to keep the information rolling – and wait until the moment is ready.

      Before the guarimbas started and beginning in January, a much higher amount of people from the South were going to El Trigal, Prebo and other such areas to queue up for food they could resell elsewhere.
      This is something that we had had for years now but the situation was becoming out of control.
      Actually: I wished the situation would have continued like that because it was not sustainable and they would sooner than later see how there was something really wrong with the whole economy.
      Unfortunately, the upper-middle class exploited firstly and Chavista thugs have seen to it to keep radicalism in the North. They have even infiltrated people on several occasions – once they were discovered right on time at the University.

      Now those places are blocked and people in the North have much more trouble to find food and those in the South who are still chavistas or ninis think shortages have more to do with guarimbas than with anything else.

      We need other strategies.

      When students marched on the Avenida Cedeno – which is not even South-South but just 5 streets from the Plaza Bolívar, they were shot at from the Western side of the avenue by thugs coming from the Southwest. As we know, one girl was killed. Now official government media (yes, that) said “the bullet came from behind”, as if this were proof we did it ourselves. A few hours earlier students had tried to show up in Tocuyito and they were shot at right away, several ended up in hospital and then the cops picked them up. Ameliach declared right away we couldn’t go to the South “for security reasons”. The Isabelica fights have been pretty grim.

      Now students are mostly active in Northern Valencia and San Diego.
      And even people there are tired. A GN was killed recently and that was not good for us. It was incredible, I saw even the GN’s brother seemed to be from the opposition and after his brother’s death he must have had a hard time to say what he then said (asking Maduro for real dialogue etc).

      • Forgive me, as I was not clear in what I meant. What you said, about the real proposals and all that has been done, as friends of mine went with a group of 20-so to Santa Rosa (Maduro 52.9-Capriles 46.9) to talk with the people over there. It isn’t cheap campaigning. I don’t mean we have to go there in big rallies and all that, but in coordinated groups to really talk about the issues with the neighbors over there.

  8. I’ve been wondering about these oppo hooligans.

    The PNB and GN are the guys in charge of public order, but they are more focused on repression than prevention. Just take a look at Plaza Altamira. Everybody knows that riots will happen every night. That’s just a frigging fact. It’s a no brainer that the PNB/GN should stay there 24/7. As simple as that. But no, they just show up when it’s time to maim, abduct or shoot. Government want hooligans. It’s crystal clear. And the same goes for guarimbas in many other places.

    As for the opposition, they are powerless. Ocariz, Aveledo, Falcon and many other leaders have distanced themselves from these guys. But the hooligans/riooters just did the same. Just like the guys in Merida stated, they are not taking orders from anybody and will not stop just because Capriles orders so. These kids do not recognize any authority. How are we supposed to deal with them?

    I know some oppo older guys (in their mid 30s) have tried to talk to the “Altamira Revolutionary Movement” (that’s what they call themselves) and they just won’t listen. We, the moderates, are traitors and cowards.

    What about the common moderate opposition members? How are we supposed to deal with our hooligans? Could it be possible for the moderates to take control of Plaza Altamira? I’m not talking about confrontation. I am talking about occupying the space. Could it be possible?

        • So, if no solution exists, who cares? Turn your neighborhood into a warzone after your attempts are protest are met with repression, at least you are doing it with a big eff you to the colectivos and corrupt bullies who make up the national guard. They may have destroyed the country, made a state religion basically worshiping the man who was out of the architect of this rot, have left you with no future or hope, mock you as they have the audacity to call you a fascists, blame shopkeepers for having no food, columbians for the crime that you see every day, but you’ll be damned if they are gonna run roughshod over your neighborhood. If I was a student, I would absolutely do the same (if I had the balls).

        • If this impasse convinces the stateless “apatridas” that absolutely no solution exists, they might look in the direction of bombing the wells and refineries…Really, why not? If the Oil infrastructure remains unscathed, the future of the “apatridas” is guaranteed squalor and hunger. However if it blows up, something might change…

        • There is no solution to the hate and ire in the middle classes. I hate to say this but I am gradually coming to the conlusion that people will only come to their senses and become deprogrammed if there is a huge killing spree and the shock is so great that it has a sort of El Slavadors peace effect.

          • “deprogrammed” from what exactly? Not wanting to get up before dawn to make the line for one bag of Harina Pan? “Deprogrammed” from not being happy with the worst crime in South America, the worst corruption in South America, increasing media censorship, armed gangs attacking their neighborhoods with open support from the government, and the worst inflation in the world? “Deprogrammed” from wanting a real democracy with independent institutions, fair elections, and checks and balances as promised in the Constitution?

            I don’t know when the last time you’ve been to Venezuela was, but outside of middle class neighborhoods things are not the same as they were, at least not below the surface. There are friends of mine who have always been ‘ni-ni’s’ who are now adamantly and passionately against this government, some of my working class relatives say their neighborhood has gone from almost totally enthusiastic chavista to barely any open chavista support. There would be more protests in those places if not for the fear of the colectivos (certainly the case in my uncle’s neighborhood, after their first ever cacerolazo last April the next day they were paid a visit the next day from armed motorcylcists, with severe warnings of the consequences of further disloyalty. A local chavista helpfully pointed out which houses needed ‘special attention’) and fear of losing government assistance.

            When the shortages get worse and the economic situation deteriorates further, which it will, who knows what will happen? I fear what this government is capable of when it starts to feel truly threatened. You may just get your wish of a bloodbath of the middle class in an attempt to divert anger away from the real cause of the rotten state that Venezuela finds itself in. .

          • Since the opposing 49.9% of the population voting against Chavismo cannot be reprogrammed, they need to be rendered “apatridas” (stateless). Hey, the new rationing card as a new lista Tascon, if you don’t sign up, you starve. Ha ha!!!

      • Well, some here will reply “buy plane tickets and go to exile”, and others will say “go back to your normal life and just accept living under a brutal dictatorship, Eastern Europeans managed to live like that for decades, and they didn’t even had the largest oil reserves in the world, if they could, why can’t we?” And the more delusional will say that they should wait until the 2019 elections, when Venezuela will make dictatorships like the North Korean pale. Well, that’s the Venezuela opposition.

        • Those in East Germany (for example) did not deal with anywhere near the crime, corruption, incompetence, or general decay as what is going on in Venezuela. And they had no collective memory of when times were better.

      • Sorry if that sounded like a criticism. I was going for a matter-of-fact description of the situation here. I think we have a hooliganism problem in our ranks – i.e. opposition ranks – and we should address it. Normally it should be the PNB or GN, but they are just adding gas to the fire, so that won’t help.

        Dialogue with radicals seems to be fruitless, so I think moderates should use their larger number to displace hooligans. Occupy Plaza Altamira in a peaceful way. Will that work? Dunno. Is someone crazy enough to give a try? I have no idea. But nobody else is proposing anything, so there I go. I am willing to listen to ANY proposal.

        I appreciate the effort and the international press attention that guarimbas have brought, but a bunch of hooligans will not overthrow a merciless totalitarian regime… They will only get themselves killed and give the government another red herring.

      • Rob, there are solutions. There are two sides right now, each with its proposal. But both sides reject the proposal of the other side. A solution necessarily will be something that neither side currently supports. The question then is, are you going to be willing to support something that is *not* what you currently support?

  9. I think that Chavismo is adding fuel to the fire because REALLY SOON when the real shit happens,i.e. massive scarcity/shortages of food and goods, and the lower classes begin to protest. They will blame the guarimberos and repeat ANOTHER controlled looting (aka Dakazo) but this time against the “oppressors” of the mid-upper classes, los apatridas acaparadores, spearheaded by the colectivos.

    A quasi civil war that they hope could control, because well that is what they do, they are experts manipulating people and destroying shit.

    That is my theory and I hope I am wrong

  10. Can anyone confirm what is going on with schools/day to day business. Are things open everywhere or is the country in a stand still?

    • Dave – the country was never at a standstill. The violence strated in 18 muncipalities out of the 335 in the country. Now it is dwon to about 6. So almost all businesses are open, kids go to school and so on.

      What you read abraoad even on the BBC is manipulated. The protests have descended into pure vandalism and destruction of public property in middle class áreas.

      The protesters trapped people for days in their own irbanizations for days and they could not even go out to buy food. This will not cause any political change in Venezuela – just resentment and a hige splut in the opposition as it did in 2004 – 2005.

      These “protests” have done Naduro a huge favor.

  11. Here’s what I think is strange about the rift within the opposition.

    If you think PROTESTING will bring about a change in government…you are seen as Strong. Tough. Realistic.

    If you think that you actually need to reach out, to PERSUADE current wavering supporters of Chavismo to bring about change, you are seen as Weak. Accommodating. Comeflor. Traitorous, even.

    It’s the first group — the ones who think expressions of rage-against-the-machine are sufficient — who are actually very, very naive about how power works.

    They are secretly shocked that the photos they are tweeting around the world have not had more of an effect.

    Their “plan” was to “expose” the government as brutal and repressive…but echoing Quico, those who were going to be moved by democracy and human rights concerns already had enough evidence to work with. Those motivated by self-interest or blinded by ideology are still….motivated by self-interest and blinded by ideology.

    It’s those within the opposition who believe in the day-to-day hard work of changing minds, reaching out, making the case….they are the ones who understand how power works. They understand that in today’s Venezuela, an extra-constitutional Salida would be extremely unstable, without the support of millions of Venezuelans.

    What an upside-down world — where having the courage to confront the truth about your country gets you labelled weak…by those too weak and scared themselves to see their country clearly.

    • “They understand that in today’s Venezuela, an extra-constitutional Salida would be extremely unstable, without the support of millions of Venezuelans.”

      Who is calling for an “extra-constitutional salida”?
      Maduro should resign and call for new elections, with observers from all over the world watching very very close. How would that make Venezuela “extremely unstable”? Pay attention: Venezuela IS extremely unstable NOW! You should want to change that, and not fight to maintain the horrible status quo.

        • And do you think that this is a good or bad thing? Because you seem to be more worried with those unarmed garimberos than with Maduro possessing all the money, guns, and institutions in the country. Btw, dictatorships tend to be unstable/shaky in the short term and very stable in the long run. Venezuela is entering this second stage now. And I’m afraid that you will prefer a very stable Venezuela that resembles North Korea than a shaky one where people are stll fighting for their freedom. Please note that dictatorial countries are places where “extra-constitutional salidas” are not possible simple because there is no constitution to abide by. The constitution is what the dictator says it is.

          • You’ve really misunderstood me. But more importantly, if you think Maduro is on the verge of resigning, you’ve really misunderstood Venezuela. I don’t really understand all the folks who decry Cuban involvement, the corrupt officials in the army, the drug deals, the ruthless takeover of all institutions, the self-interested behavior of neighbors and the OAS…and then think that burning down trash in some streets is enough to lead to resignation.

            And for the record, I think the status quo is tragic.

            • Well, it might not make Maduro resign, but at least those people are difficulting the lives of the colectivos and GNB who want to harm them.

  12. The Opposition doing nothing is the option the Government most desires, as it gives them time to make its poor downscale base more dependent on them (freer food/tarjeta electronica, May 1 minimum wage/Pensiones/Misiones increase, etc.). The barrios are not openly for the guarimbas per se (yet), because of their Government dependence, but more importantly because of reprisals by armed colectivos and those consejos comunales controlling some of their meager Government handouts. The Government road to the poorer classes’ (further) serfdom is very clear to the educated outsider looking in, but not to the poorer classes themselves until real hunger strikes. The Ukrainian resistance gained strength over time in large part due to the disruption of the economy , rather than to the representation of a large majority of the population at the outset. The Opposition doing nothing except waiting for future rigged elections is the surest path to their own future serfdom.

    • I second Marc. The realities should not be difficult to understand by anyone who follows more than one news source from Venezuela, irrespective of any hissy-fit generating lapse, or geographic distance. Nor should realities be difficult to understand by those who communicate — more than superficially — with friends, families and associates at various income levels, from the middle class on down, in Venezuela. Those who can’t won’t understand are too busy reading airy musings from the left (Oh Teo, how I love thee), when not moving from afar, the goalposts to provoke salon discussions on this blog.

    • “The barrios are not openly for the guarimbas per se (yet), because of their Government dependence, but more importantly because of reprisals by armed colectivos and those consejos comunales controlling some of their meager Government handouts”.
      Oh, that’s just silly. When were you last in a barrio? Reprisals by armed colectivos? Against their neighbours? Bueh. You must live on another planet.

      • Your comment is so out of sync with the reality of the Venezuelan situation, it doesn’t even deserve a response. I pass through the barrios every day. Stick to your surrealism painting, “Frank”.

  13. Maybe the criticism of our “hooligans” as we now call them, the negativity towards the barricades and the lack of any real answer to the problem other than demonstrating is all part of the irreversible failure being played out in slow motion.
    The lack of any signal that would indicate that a brighter future is imminent suggests that maybe we are in denial and outright failure, ie cubanised, is a done deal.
    A number of people believe outside support will be appearing over the horizon soon. Forget it. Too many outsiders have an interest in sucking Venezuela dry, literally so. Even the Jamaicans are winners when we go down.
    And our glorious military ? Surely our army will do the right thing ? Problem is they have all been pre- cubanised and under the command of cuban generals too. And let’s face it they were never that good anyway.
    And I agree, the MUD has been outplayed at every turn over the last few years. And the trend being your friend I see no end in sight. Whether or not the Guarimberas are part of a problem, as seen by many, maybe their reaction is one that indicates they will only go to their demise kicking and screaming. Maybe they are more enlightened than our Political leaders and our intellectuals who appear to be keen to “talk” Maduro in to a corner and thereafter peacefully become cuba’s servants.
    When a government sponsors armed criminals on motorbikes and supports them with trained military forces and police and so on things can only get worse. And that was always
    the intention.
    As Fidel said, before he completely lost his marbles – there is no revolution without war.
    I hope I am wrong, I really do but it would appear that the Venezuelans have given their country to Cuba without a fight. Not even Fidel can believe that, or Raul I suppose.

    • “Whether or not the Guarimberas are part of a problem, as seen by many, maybe their reaction is one that indicates they will only go to their demise kicking and screaming. Maybe they are more enlightened than our Political leaders and our intellectuals who appear to be keen to “talk” Maduro in to a corner and thereafter peacefully become cuba’s servants.”

      Well, there’s a Nobel prize in literature (Vargas Llosa) backing them. I think it’s enough. They should not hear anybody else.

  14. 1st.Question: Venezuela is a Republic or a Monarchy?
    Republics have powers, ethic, constitutions and law. I would say that this guys have converted the republic into a Monarchy, being Raul the King and Maduro just a kind of mayordome who manage the courtesans…
    2nd.Question: How do you finish a kingdom and start a republic again?
    With only exception of Dom Pedro II, the only method is rebelion, and the most effective: armed…
    To be or not to be, that is the question…

    • “With only exception of Dom Pedro II, the only method is rebelion, and the most effective: armed…”

      Armed rebelion? I don’t think so. Venezuela’s army is probably the second strongest in Latin America right now. These students would certainly lose. They should just keep doing exactly what they have been doing: civil disobedience day by day.

      • “Second strongest”? Wtf??. When I was in Vzla in 2010, I stayed for several months in a former luxury hotel in Sabana Grande ;-). It was a time of tension with Colombia, and at the same time I had the opportunity to observe how not just heads of state and rock stars but also Chavez, his blood-wagon, and his various “civico-militar” officials, bodyguards, escorts and assorted hangers-on inhabited the hotel. My conclusion, based on the FANB’s predilection for air-conditioned comfort, was that should the Colombians ever choose to invade, they would be in Caracas in 3 days.

        • Wow while I disagree with Marc and think the army itself is behind Chile and Brasil. Its not really what matters it is the personnel to quell an insurrection the Colombian army with half a million men is the most prepared and have shown it this past decade.

          But in a conventional war Venezuela would mop the floor with Colombia. We have MBT and IFV and they don’t. We have advanced fighter jets they have kafeteras. Long range rocket artillery. Modernized marines with top of the line equipment. Attack below when they only have assault helps. And the best surface to air equipment than even the US (in terms of quality not quantity).

          Colombia would lose the Guajira peninsula in 3 days. They would probably never set foot in Venezuela barring special forces attempting to bomb refineries, bridges and dams.

          Again only Brazil and Chile are stronger, Colombia is only good for COIN, traditionally they compete with Ecuador.

          • Long time not seen.
            Flanker,

            The Fat Man on the Palace made Venezuela import the most weapons of Latin America in the last few years and YET: all those nice airplanes and tanks are nothing when you take into account Venezuelan troops are basically fat, badly trained guys who focus on profiting from different scams than from anything else. Venezuela has the hardware, not the people.

            • Well Kepler the US is pretty fat too and I would not be quick to dismiss their ability to take territory. Holding on to said territory is their permanent problem.

              The difference in hardware between Venezuela and Colombia is nowadays sufficient enough that they are behaving like a normal nation. Back when they had Bush backing them 100% and Venezuela was recently embargoed militarily they had their shot. But even then we still had the Flankers making air superiority impossible for them.

      • “Venezuela’s army is probably the second strongest in Latin America right now.”

        As a military force? No. But as a bunch of potbellied narcotraffickers? Yes, they are in the elite.

  15. Here comes the cold reality, as somebody that was this close to supporting the opposition they go out and do these things. Capriles as the biggest loser showed a complete lack of leadership that may have done him in for good. Now it appears Henry Falcon is the only hope for the oppo. You did not kick MCM out of the MUD despite her being an open Pinochetista(signing the carmona decree as a political nobody should make anybody pause) you may claim to be superior without the cloak and dagger but what MCM and Lopez did was a MUD coup first and foremost.

    Maduro went loco trying to control the PSUV but the conciliation after the local elections where the real way. Now the worst case scenario is that the same coup happens in the PSUV but it is unlikely because they are disciplined.

    As for cubanization it is crying wolf like always. 21st century socialism is dead. The new model is what China is doing. Hopefully only economically. That is why Lopez struck when he did shortages will return to “normal” levels once the parallel rate returns to a manageable level. Disappear if the transition is pure.

    • “As for cubanization it is crying wolf like always”. Oh the nerve…

      (begin of sarcasm)
      - There’s not going to be scarcity in Venezuela like there is in Cuba
      - People aren’t going to have to line up to buy 1 kilo of cornmeal, 1 kilo of powdered milk and one chicken
      - There’s not going to be a rationing card
      - Political parties like VP, don’t have to fear their leaders being arrested arbitrarily or the political police breaking into their offices
      - People won’t have to fear paramilitary groups going into their neighborhoods and shooting at their apartments just because they are banging pots and chanting slogans
      - Security forces would never kill two students on 12F, nor the two young women in Carabobo, or any of the other protestors.
      - Marvinia doesn’t have to worry about a female GNB beting her up savagely.

      (end of sarcasm)

      • Hyperbole, by that argument the fourth republic was basically the Third Reich. Not even Cuba is really Cuba going forward. This boogey man was always just that.

          • The communist party was banned in Venezuela just like the Third Reich!

            Protests were met with live ammo just like the Third Reich!

            So on and so on. Whatever inconveniences wasting half a day looking for your usual staple don’t even compare to the actual kilocalorie count and contents of the Cuban rationing card. They are not starving but Ven is much better off. Particularly when it is a distribution problem and not related to a blockade.

            • You don’t know what a blockade means, do you? Cuba is free to trade completely unimpeded with the rest of the world besides the USA, and can even trade with US in food and medicines (but they have to pay dollars because their credit is awful). The US is actually Cuba’s 5th largest trade partner.

              The real problem is Cuba produces next to nothing of value to trade with, which is the reason why it was utterly miserable when between patrons (Soviets and Venezuela). Anyone who went to Cuba in 1990s can attest to the state that country was in.

              • Foreign nationals doing business with Cuba are penalized under Helms Burton read up on it, the risk that a president will not sign the extension and a foreign company can have their assets frozen is enough to hike up fees. Not to mention if you can’t sell and if you can’t borrow then you can’t buy cash.

                That is why the oppo is so distatefull the entire world repudiates the blockade. THE ENTIRE WORLD sans US and Israel and here you are defending it.

              • Flanker: your tremendous knowledge should help us. Please point out exactly what section and sub-sections of the Helms-Burton Act is so distasteful to you, in light of what you’ve stated. Surely you’re not again spouting hot air without foundation?

                Thank you.

              • @Flanker:

                Pray tell us why can’t Cuba develop a working economy without US investments, US products and US clients? For a political and economic system that demonizes the US, it is contradictory to blame all woes on lack of access to the US economy.

                Cuba can sell any of its products to every other country, and buy from any other country. They can buy from Russia, China, the EU, Latin America, etc. In fact, the even buy from the US, using the numerous exceptions. By all accounts, the US is in the top 10 of Cuba’s trading partners.

                And as of 2014, only the rabid Cuban grandpas in Florida support the embargo, more than half of Cuban-Americans disagree with it.

            • 1st Part: I was asking you to point out the hyperbole in my post. I’m still waiting on that.

              2nd Part: PCV supported Wolfgang Larrazabal in the 1958 election where Betancourt got elected, it was a perfectly legal party who didn’t enter the puntofijo coalition. It only got banned in 1961, after they rose in arms with MIR in the Carupanazo. Banning a political party for taking up arms is pretty kosher.

              3rd Part: Cuba’s problem is not the blockade, but the fucked up economic model Post-Batista and Pre-Raul (Fidel’s). The Venezuelan economy today is closer to the 1998 Cuban economy than it was in 1998.

              Bonus: I’m not a 4th republic apologist, for the simple reason that I was in primary school when I was in primary school. I do agree that every military officer involved in El Caracazo should be tried on crimes against humanity, and the same applies for any massacre or violation from that time, including the likes of Rodriguez Chacin.

              On the other hand, I find it extremely hypocritical that the likes of Jaua, Jorge Rodriguez and Vanessa Davies criticize guarimba so hard, when they were tirapiediedras de oficio in their youth. Tirapiedras constantly burned rubble in front of their universities, threw molotov coctails at police, vandalized and burned buses and trucks, hid weapons in the university campus, etc.

              • #2
                Banning an entire party is kosher now? So the entire MUD should be banned because of 2002? Sometimes I wonder if you people listen to what you type.

                #3
                I already answered about the blockade look at a previous post.

              • ETA can’t do politics in Spain, IRA couldn’t do politics in Northern Ireland, FARC can’t do politics in Colombia, Parapolítica isn’t kosher in Colombia (but isn’t as investigated as it should be), etc.

                By and large, political parties in democracies aren’t allowed to participate in elections if they have an armed wing, specially if said armed wing is trying to depose the government in an armed insurgency.

                PCV was allowed to do politics once it demobilized during Caldera I. So it was only banned while it had an armed wing of insurgents fighting to depose a democratic government.

                MUD isn’t a party, and none of the parties that joined MUD rose in armed insurgency, guerrilla style against the government. Some of the leaders, cooperated with the military, Carmona, and other factic powers. That was wrong. Incidently, there was an amnesty, and it should be as valid as the amnesty that allowed Arias, Chavez, Jesse Chacon, Diosdado Cabello and others to do politics after participating in a coup. You can’t have it both ways.

              • There is no ‘blockade’. American navy ships are not surrounding the island and stopping any and every ship from getting through.

                The word you are looking for is “embargo”. And it’s only a partial embargo.

      • Tsk tsk no wonder you can’t change anybody’s mind. For all the talk of plurarity I have never been shit on by a Chavista except for Steve La Hevre but I never figured if he was a troll.

        For the record your personal opinion is meaningless to me. My reasoned opinion will always be facts based. Not ad hominem based don’t fret.

        • “I have never been shit on by a Chavista”…Well, that’s obvious… mapurite sabe a quien pea, GAC, or equivalent. As for facts, those Opposition students are pretty good at shooting–head and eye shots, in a good number of cases.

  16. Quico’s article leaves me pretty cold. We can rail against the guarimbas as much as we want, and I agree with most of what Quico is saying, but can anybody really control this thing? The protests have taken a life of their own, and they are apparently not going anywhere. It’s much more productive to channel them, or to use them in exchange for some sort of dialogue process, or even to use them to draw distinct lines within the opposition – Capriles, for example, has come across as clearly anti-guarimba.

    At any rate, nothing we did or didn’t do as opposition amounts to much in this whole scheme of things. I have a hard time buying the guarimbas as a tragedy or a huge mistake when, in fact, we have no power to change the outcome, and we’ve never had it.

    • I remember Guarimbas last year that Capriles controlled. The thing is that concessions were coming in Dec and Jan. These violent protests are pure tragedy. The people protesting are brainwashed now. They honestly think people are being killed by the GNB, when only one did out of crowd control ignorance.

      • Only one? off the top of my head: Alejandro was killed by GNB in la Candelaria, and Geraldine was killed by GNB in Naguanagua.

        Crowd control? Alejandro was alone and unarmed, Geraldine was banging a pot in front of her house.

        • Your biased account of the events aside. If the GNB wanted to kill people they would be firing live ammo like during the Caracazo where hundreds if not thousands died from full metal jackets. Instead we have rubber bullets cruelly fired at somebody’s face and a fractured skull from what is likely blunt impact. The amount of GNB being killed probably outnumber those they have killed ( and are being prosecuted for) you are still romanticizing your own colectivos that are killing more people by far than the police establishing order. And even the red colectivos. 50% of the dead are barricade related.

          • Only 2 GNB have been killed. At least 16 protesters have been killed by either SEBIN agents (12F), paramilitary groups (like Genesis), or GNB officers.

            • No, and this is the brainwashing that I was talking about the SEBIN (well really one person) Killed an opposition and the leader of the colectivo that first day. If you read through the list CEPR made of the people killed out of the 21 or so, the guarimbas are the biggest killer by far not the SEBIN or GNB but people are naive enough to believe they are using live fire.

              You are romanticizing people that could be killers like Colombians did with the autodefensas.

    • I think you are on to something when you say “the protests have taken on a life of their own”. The guarimbas are a symptom, they are not a strategy. If you control prices, you will get shortages. If you take away or erode the means by which people settle their disputes peacefully, you will get violence. I happen to think that the guarimbas are largely a defensive response to violent intervention in protests by armed and violent gangs supported by the regime. But even if I am wrong, or partly wrong, what you see is a symptom of something that has been brewing for a long time, not a strategy unfolding. To blame the guarimberos for a lack of strategy or alienating people is sort of like blaming shopkeepers for food shortages.

      I do think the criticism is valid that the opposition has room to grow, and has probably been slow in recognizing those areas of growth. But I don’t necessarily think what the opposition needs is a flood of protesters coming down from the hills so to speak. I think there is an issue of trust, and I think there is an issue of safety for groups who live in gang-run neighbourhoods.

      What I don’t understand is where organized labour and professional organizations are in all of this. To bring the regime to the table, economic force, not violence, has to be brought to bear. If the playing field is violence, the regime will always win. Its weakness is its inability to sustain the economy it has built.

        • The autodefensas in Colombia don’t burn garbage, put up barricades and throw rocks. They pick people up at night in their houses, they threaten family members of journalists and civil society leaders, or they shoot opponents of the government on their way home from work. That sort of thing. If we are going to play ‘one of these things is not like the other’, I think you have got it backwards, or maybe I misunderstood your reference.

    • “Quico’s article leaves me pretty cold. We can rail against the guarimbas as much as we want, and I agree with most of what Quico is saying, but can anybody really control this thing? The protests have taken a life of their own, and they are apparently not going anywhere. It’s much more productive to channel them..”
      If you were an engineer, it would be time for a “lessons learnt” excercise: Why were there no marshals and organization to control the initial marches? Why was Ledezma and everyone else left cluelessly standing around after the “assumption” of Leopoldo? There was an opportunity to, if not control, at least steer this thing into a more productive path. That’s not to say it would be easy, but for now… dead end.

  17. Here’s one thing the guarimbas *have* accomplished: derailed the government’s agenda on the economy. Can you think of a significant new policy initiative that they have announced in the past five weeks? (Aside from using the colectivos to kill people) It’s hard to try and solve problems when you have to be on TV 24/7 hosting some fake “peace” conferences or talking to Amanpour, particularly if you work five-hour days like Maduro supposedly does.

    • Well, since their policies are always terrible I will say that the guarimberos denying the government the opportunity to launch new failed policies is a great accomplishment.

    • Speaking of – is there an article for Sicad II on the pipeline? It’d be great to read something other than Luis Vicente Leon’s “podria oxigenar la economia.”

  18. Quiero agregar a mi comentario anterior que percibo en el escrito de Quico (y de otros que opinan como él) un cierto “complejillo” de clase media, ese que tanto alimentó Chávez con su discurso sobre el supremo valor moral de la pobreza, como si los pobres tuvieran siempre la razón última y fueran esencialmente buenos. La protesta de la clase media, aunque te parezca “sifrina” y confinada al este de Caracas, es tan legítima como cualquier otra. Que esa protesta debe conectar con el país pobre? Obvio. Pero el país pobre tiene hambre, miedo y muchas necesidades que los malandrines del gobierno explotan. Eso cambiará? Y porqué no habría de cambiar. Tu escrito tiene mucho de determinismo. Y no me repitas que todo se repite. No estamos en 2002. Chávez está muerto, y el “sueño” de aquel entonces se volvió una pesadilla de la que muchos quieren despertar.

      • Tienes que salir de tu gueto mental de Altamira cuando haces el análisis. Si te fijas en el TL de @caracaschron, verás que la protesta se ha extendido prácticamente por toda Venezuela. Efectividad? Depende cómo la definas y cómo la midas. Una cosa es cierta: una parte de la sociedad salió de la modorra post-electoral del 8D. Eso ya es una medida de éxito.

  19. We have scoured the Internet looking at photographs. My wife pointed out that a number of young girls seem to be sandwiched between GN, apparently, on top motorbikes being driven somewhere.
    The girls are young, pale complexioned and not unattractive. I know, It’s Venezuela but why arrest a young girl, why so many ?? The fear on their faces.

    I know there is not a lot of sense when GN are mentioned but from what we have seen in the photos the majority of those on the barricades are boys, males anyway. I accept it may be easier to catch someone who may not be as physically adept as others but it makes the wife very uneasy.

    • I’ve seen this pic you are referring to, the age of the girl is probably around 15. In another similar pic I’ve seen a pretty woman wearing small shorts (adult) being arrested. It’s an old fascist strategy used to scare away the men from the protests, something like: “You may bring your female relatives to protest against Maduro, but be certain that we will take your pretty daughters and wives with us.” This same strategy was used during the last protests in Iran.

    • The sad part is that many in the opposition are praying to God that the “unstability” ends too. But they will have decades of stability now. No more guarimbas, right, Quico?
      I just wonder if Miami can absorb 1 million Venezuelans entering there in the coming years.

      • Why would anyone go to Miami? Is it an industrial power house? A start-up hotspot? Does it have anything attractive for Venezuelans except offshore banking? Like really… this is just naive. Chamito, all the Venezuelans I know are going to Mexico City, Bogotá or maybe Dublin. Miami is for Crockett and Tubbs

    • No – Maduro stated that the coup had been defeated but that does not mean that the guarimbas will end just yet.

      • I didn’t say guarimbas, I said crisis, because there never was any coup.

        A coup is when a bunch of soldiers go take over congress, the presidential palace and other institutions, to forcefully depose the elected officers, like Chavez and his henchmen tried to do on 4F 1992 and 27N 1992.

      • Yet they have centered most, if not all, of the crisis on the guarimbas. Dante Rivas for instance is now blaming our shortages for them. Gabriela Ramirez went ahead and labeled them as the single most lethal thing ever in the protests.The guarimbas are Maduro’s idea of a coup, and if the guarimbas have not ended, the “coup” has not ended. I think we can at least agree that it was good of him to say that the coup ended because there never was one in the first place. Now can you please stop being a fool?

    • Because of the protests he is in arrears on some very important measures he needs to take as soon as possible to ensure the regime a chance of financial survival , for example the increase in gasoline prices which he as already announced but not detailed , moving on to execute the new foreign exchange model etc To do that he hast to move on by declaring victory on a totally imaginary war and start implementing those difficult decisions .

      He knows the protests may enter temporary recess but they are going to come back some time latter as conditions worsen , his challenge now is not political but a desperate attempt at putting the finacial house in enough order so that the next protests dont extend beyond the middle class areas into the barrios .

      They are really paranoid on getting toppled by street protests , thats for sure !!

  20. Will guarimbas alone “bring down” the regime? Obviously not. Should they stop? Imho, not until a leader in the opposition, with enough gravitas to convince the guarimberas to cease and desist, first demands and then gains the release of LL (at least) as a minimum condition before any stoppage.

    In regard to the guarimbas and their effect on so-called “soft” chavistas, think of the “strong horse/weak horse” dynamic.

    The opposition may have earned a good deal of respect from some folks in the barrio due to their show of numbers and more importantly – their bolas – in the face of daunting odds.

    Showing their determination, willingness to hit the streets and actually rage against the machine in physical confrontations just may be what’s always been needed to turn “soft” chavistas and ni-ni’s to the cause and give them pause to think that there really might be another way to go. Lord knows all the political posturing, speeches, op-ed’s, hand-wringing and (I’ll toss in ‘electronic voting) hasn’t been all that effective so far.

    Sometimes a punch in the face is the only way to treat a bully in the schoolyard, and when it does happen the ‘other kids’ certainly take notice. The regime knew this years ago, it’s time the opposition clued in.

    Going forward the guarimbas may prove to have been a very important factor when (note I say when, not if) the opposition gains the critical mass it needs to be a formidable foe of/ alternative to the (friggin’) status quo.

    My 2 cents.

  21. We are engaged in a war , wars are long drawn out complicated affairs , even when you think you have everything figured out something unexpected happens and the game changes . The oppo has to be in for the long haul , opportunities will come , mistakes will be made , defeats will be experienced and feel terrible but they are just battles on an long on going struggle that can end in months in years or end up in situations which no one expected . The thing is to be prepared and ready for when any opportunity arises to improve ones strategic situation whenever it comes . The thing is to keep the spirit of resistance and opposition alive beyond the inmmediate horizon .!! To mop about how terrible a mistake we ve made at any one time is defeatist and for some demoralizing . The regime has many problems , its popularity even its natural constituency is eroding and becoming incresingly frail , the economy is in shambles , we assume their supporters are dumb and can be manipulated endlessly by cheap tricks and media conniving but maybe they arent so dumb , and once things happen they can happen very quick Lets stick to a strategy so long as it proves potentially profitable , but if doesnt work lets try another . We need resilience not just ‘made to order’ hopes !!

  22. Good perspective. Echoing Toro: time to cut the losses. Let the government fall by his own doings, don’t help it survive. As it is apparent, we are still far from a civil war. We are though much closer to a widespread Cuban dominance of our own affairs. The protests conducted by sectors of the middle class, even though intrinsically valid, are not going anywhere and they feel pretty much like tantrums rather than the serious deal. The protests in the country are dominated by an adolescent & immature spirit. Demonstrations outside the country also come across as childish tantrums and rootless complaints. “Mommy, mommy, he hit me…” type of deal. The opposition is broken and not capitalizing on anything. But, of course, this is a country of cuatribolieados and pseudo-guaramo, so here we are…

    • “…Let the government fall by his own doings…”
      I hate to spoil it for you, but this “plan” has been the one running since the abstention-and-then-doing -nothing fiasco from 2005.
      Three whole months of protests and strikes weren’t enough to even topple the regime, it won’t be that easy.

  23. The economy will likely be the next impetus for change. People have asked about the impact. I can tell you that my families business is on the edge. They only maintain a partial schedule. It has been months that there has been an opportunity to exchange bolivars for dollars. This means that there is no way to buy new inventory to continue manufacture. His customers have canceled orders since they have no inventory of their own to sell. I’ve asked what do the employees think. Most of them are still trying to live their lives. They are living in denial. They are afraid and unsure of what the long term prospect is. Some don’t care and believe that their job will last forever. There is hope that the business could survive for another year. At that point there will be no more money. We have the good fortune of having family in the U.S. That is plan B.

    • “We have the good fortune of having family in the U.S. That is plan B.”

      I believe that the Venezuelan version of the Mariel boatlift will not take very long to happen. And when it happens, I think that this mass exodus will make more than one million people abandon the country. The ones with more money will go to the US and Europe, the poor will go to the neighbouring countries, of course many who will flee will be chavistas too. People can bear anything, but chronic food shortages are just too much, and the shortages and political repression will get much worse, with guarimbas or not.

  24. What is happening now is not what has been named Guarimbas in the past. The Colectivos, the Police and the GNB are attacking people inside their buildings. If you didn’t have the option to leave the country how bad does your family’s lives need to be directly at risk for you to put up a Barricade in your street.

    If you wonder what a coordinated attack looks like, please watch this video in full.

    Picture yourself with your wife and daughter in those buildings. Who are you going to call for help ?

        • Quico, just buy a documentary about the SA or any other paramilitary fascist group from the XX century and after being lectured try to make a mental comparison with the videos of the colectivos and GNB abuses that you probably watch every day. I’ve just seen videos of these groups destroying private property of their political enemies and shooting their home’s windows in Táchira tonight. People were killed.That’s exactly what the SA used to do, the exception is that the colectivos and GNB are still not killing as many people (but they will). Have you ever heard about the Kristallnacht? But what do I know? Quico is the guy who thinks that someone like Vargas Llosa is an idiot and that writing an article complaining about a minor newspaper error that would not have been noted not even in a country like Sweden, while the country burns and almost enters in a civil war is the “correct thing to do”. Talk about priorities. But he is Francisco “Fair and Balanced” Toro. He always have to show the two sides of the story! lol. I’m anxiously waiting for your one-line reply.

          • You are not only ignorant but an idiot.
            How old are you? Mentally you are 8 years old.

            And by the way, you don’t get to know history by watching some silly videos. You start by reading a couple of books by real historians, not by school book writers. Your whole discourse doesn’t look like you read a single one. Kristallnacht? SA. Give me a break! Your whole idea of history seems to have been constituted after you watched 10 HBO and 2 National Geographic documentaries. You are so incredibly ignorant!
            Go talk to a couple of Jewish survivors from then – there are few but they are still there -, go read dozens and dozens of books, first of general world history, then of that time, of South American history, past and recent.

            It’s pointless to talk to you. Seriously: piss off, you are trolling. Go look for another blog about Brazil or the USA, just stop annoying people here with your stupid comments.

            • I will understand that as an outflow of someone who is very stressed and in complete denial, and delusional, about what is happening in his home country. I think I would have reacted in the same way. But if you care to explain, tell me how the colectivos are any different from the SA. Please try to avoid the name calling and the “you should study history” argument. All you and Quico can do is call me names, Quico loves his one-lines in where he writes things like: “oh marc, marc, marc, marc” (?) Well, try to be objective this time, how the colectivos and GNB modus operandi is any different from the one used by the camicie nere in fascist Italy? Finally, if I should go write about Brazil or the US and forget Venezuela, you should go write about Scandinavia and forget Venezuela too. Actually, I am much closer to Venezuela and my country is a hell more affected to what is happening in Venezuela than the country where you are exiled, what makes me more entitled to speak about Veneuela than you. You should be reading about Sweden’s new policies on Women’s rights or Denmark’s strategy to curb immigration!

              • I’ve been watching videos of what is happening in Táchira during the whole night and I’m just speechless! Seriously! Where is the UN, the OEA, NATO? WTF! The ones in denial and delusional say that the colectivos who are SHOOTING people and BURNING buildings with people inside have a very different nature and mindset from paramilitary fascist groups like the SA. But what do they think that the SA used to do? Well, guess what, they used to shoot people and burn buildings with people inside. You don’t have to do much more than that to kill human beings. The more I read what the oppositionist Venezuelans think, the more I understand why Venezuela is in such situation. Thank God there is a brave oppositionist minority that understand the true nature of chavismo and know what the Foro de Sao Paulo is. My heart is with them!

              • Marc, just for the record, you are not alone.

                I agree with most of what you say, defend your right to say it and am miffed big-time that, apparently, straying from the company line here at CC (if you’re in the opposition) is now considered ‘ignorant’ and ‘trolling’.

                (I now return you to the ever-so-politically-correct, well-reasoned, intellectual and (mostly) dispassionate discourse brought to you by the smartest guys in the room)

  25. Reblogged this on Implied Inference and commented:
    Agree or disagree, this is a real concern. The Maduro mass-media machine is doing an (unfortunately) effective job of convincing the world that the opposition is a bunch of wing-nuts. Obvious parallels to the way the USA’s Tea Party was portrayed aside, this is a serious concern that threatens to derail the entire movement. Guarimberos must NOT become Occupy Wall Street.

  26. After giving more thought to the matter, I wonder if the USA would really have anything to lose by taking more vigorous action against Maduro et al. After all, their popularity is certainly not going to improve in the region. From my point of view the USA is a shackled gorilla. It is willing to send troops to the other side of the world but won’t do what it takes a short flight from home. I’m sure this has been debated to death, but could someone remind me why o why the USA should not intervene more actively in Venezuela???

    • I guess the only people who would support such an action would be Venezuelans from the extreme right who’d rather be US Americans than anything else, Miami Cubans and…that’s it. About 400 million other Latin Americans in Latin America plus the rest of the Latino population in the US would be virulently against that.
      Apart from that, the US is overstretched.
      Finally: I believe Chavismo is not that bad for the USA. Chavismo has contributed a lot to dividing South America and slowing down cooperation movements there.

      • USA backed off from cuba post missile crisis.
        (Incidentally unbeknown to the Americans there were nuclear war heads primed and ready to launch from the island. Recent documented evidence in Russia confirmed Fidel requested direct to Moscow permission to launch. The Russians realised they were backing an unstable character. Fortunately they built in a safety factor by not allowing Fidel full control).

        USA policy was to wait for the natural process of regime change. Problem is that did not happen and unfortunately the Castros are genetically primed to outlive their peers !
        USA also got its fingers burned with the Bay of Pigs fiasco which in many ways entrenched Fidel’s position in Cuba and wider. So much so Fidel was seen to be someone who could challenge the military might of USA and win. In fact Fidel is a product of USA policy.

        He is or was a formidable foe. Best to be avoided at all costs.

      • I’m asking more pragmatically, in terms of the interests of the USA, what is holding them back? Their oil lobbyists? Lack of popular sanction? The lack of a UN mandate? Any type of aggressive tactic would naturally impact oil prices, but beyond that? The USA has much to gain and a little to lose, but the argument “it wouldn’t resonate with most in the rest of the continent” seems mute when the rest of SA is sitting quietly on the sidelines tolerating this tyrannical regime, which is profoundly unethical. They’ll end up with an oil drenched zimbabwe at their doorstep before long. It’ time the USA took action. I cannot see the opportunity for intervention getting much clearer. Hell, i miss Reagan!!!

        • There are way bigger strategic concerns for the U.S. -> Iran, North Korea, Syria, Crimea, Ungoverned Spaces (Somalia/Yemen/Tribally Administered Territories in Pakistan). Venezuela is not even top five in a list of places where a compelling National Security interest could force gringo military engagement. In those circumstances, my sense is that Venezuela looks like a giant distraction to gringo military planners. A distraction with quagmire-y potentia. (Te imaginas a unos Marines tratando de apagar una insurgencia in Antimano? They better bring a bunch of body bags.)

          I also think Libya weighs pretty heavy in the memory. There, too, they acted on the basis of “pragmatically, it’s such an easy win.” Today, most of Libya is ungoverned and Libyan oil exports are 90% down on the Ghaddafi era. Is it *impossible* that a PSUV insurgency following a gringo invasion would shut down the COL? I don’t think that’s impossible at all. Is it easy to imagine any government the gringos helped install being legitimate enough to keep Venezuela stable? I think it’s not.

  27. I am a chavista and this article only confirms what I know. That the opposition represents the interests of a few wealthy people trying to turn Venezuela into a corporate state like the USA.

    The opposition is much like the Republican party here in that we have an extreme Tea Party wing and a more level headed wing. The Republicans also do not have much public support so their extreme wing carry out protests in hope that someone cares.

    In reality we just end up voting for Obama (or in this case Maduro).

    The revolution will never be defeated by some middle class protests!

    Viva Chavez!
    Hasta la Victoria Siempre!

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