The Bottom Line: Instability

Chávez’s speech last night was so weird, so specifics-free, so strangely delivered, it has made an already uncertain situation much more so. The speech is compatible with a wide array of scenarios – most of which share one key feature: they’re unstable in the short-to-medium term.

Whether Chávez really is dying or whether he’s heading towards a long, debilitating treatment, it’s hard to see how he can play the role of Final Arbiter of Disputes that he’s held, unquestionably within his movement for so many years.

But because the revolution’s formal institutionality is so shallowly grounded and devoid of authority independent from his, it’s hard to imagine them filling the breach.

Chávez’s fills a unique role in the chavista state’s dispute settlement system. When Elías Jaua and Rafael Ramírez come to loggerheads over some matter of policy – or, more likely, over who gets to control a given slice of petrostate cake – they don’t go to court. They go to Miraflores.

For the foreseeable future, they won’t be able to.

How stable an arrangement do you think that is?

11 thoughts on “The Bottom Line: Instability

  1. Absolutely! Who can keep those with higher ambitions in check now? And how satisfied will they be taking their instructions from Cuba/the Cubans?

    Interesting times ahead. I wonder whether whatever scenario is forthcoming we’ll see an election in 2012.


  2. All I know is that right now the chavistas are stealing EVERYTHING that was left to steal.

    The MUD should move the primaries closers and buy a truck of red bull to the winner so he could campaign like a mad man from that moment on, so people could compared him to a weak HCF.

    HCF dying of natural causes is the best case scenario for Vzla, but with the guy in Cuba controlled by Fidel, the scenario is not as good! I cannto believe that Vzla is controlled by the ‘imperio’ Cubano, what a shame.


    • A knocked-out Chavez that nobody can rally around is the best case scenario for Venezuela. Before all this, I only speculated that a psychiatric condition of Hugo Chavez would be the easy way out for Venezuela but did not count on it.

      I agree with you. The opposition should continue with primaries, ASAP. Some Red Bulls for the opposition candidate and an active campaign. No sickness leave for Chavez nor respite to chavismo. They can, at least in principle, quit and retire.

      Besides, the wavering chavistas, ni-nis, military and such shall need a presidential figure and a system (democracy) to support, movements to defect to, and an event to wait for (election results).


      • “Besides, the wavering chavistas, ni-nis, military and such shall need a presidential figure and a system (democracy) to support, movements to defect to, and an event to wait for (election results).”

        My sentiments entirely, but HOLD that language about a new presidential Caudillo. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have given more attention a few months ago to defining a structural vision of the new Venezuela: with a stronger constitution, built to withstand your now-inevitable new Caudillo? Your amy would love it as much as you would, if you could bury the habit of thinking in terms of right vs left. No nation or group right or left benefits from unchecked one-man rule. NONE!

        I hope I’m wrong, but it doesn’t look good for you good guys.




        • I did not mean caudillo. I did mean Presidential Figure.

          Like a person who is in a post of responsibility and acts according to the dignity of it and respecting the limits of his power. An example of what the Chief of the Executive should be, to oppose the anti-example we have seen for 12 years.

          Chavez has NEVER, repeat, never been any of the above. He was elected President. Never bothered to BE one.


  3. I agree that HChF dying or being out of the picture because of illness gives way to a power struggle with results that are not easy to foresee (although Cabello seems the best positioned for a power grab, fulfilling the profecy of those who saw him as playing the role of HChF’s Gómez to el Cabito). Looking at our history, these kinds of power vacua tend to resolve themselves quite quickly. Think of Castro/Gómez or even Gómez/López Contreras; perhaps it is because of oil, but our political classes seem to dislike instability. Or rather, they seem to get their act together quite quickly to avoid it.
    On the other hand, we are facing an atomisation of Chavecismo with paralels in the Peronista movements and their broad ideological spectrum. Now, they represent between a fourth and a third of the electorate, and given a rather difficult coexistence among themselves without HChF, I would venture to predict very grim electoral scenarios for them. That is, if we get elections…


  4. I know we have some major clowns playing high government-related roles, but do not think for a second that an even worst-case-scenario Chavez (dying) will completely relent power. He will try to hold on to power as long as possible as he obviously doesn’t fully endorse any of the rojitos as possible “heir”. He will write letters, statements, poems from Cuba a-la Bolivar to feed into his deity-status delirium but also to dictate what is going to happen…or maybe use his children as messengers of what is to be done, scoldings, etc… I just can’t see Chavez totally disengaged…but this is undoubtedly a deathly blow to the Bolivarian “revolution” as viable to the country.


  5. You know, it’s weird but if Chavez should croak quickly (and I hope he doesn’t) we might be in for some serious unrest as the different factions go for the gold.

    One the one hand you have Jaua and his Miranda brigade.
    On the other you have Godgiven Hair (Diosdado Cabello) and his band of military brothers.

    On the third hand there are those Military not behind Cabello or Jaua. The rest of the players are either too weak or have no place in the shenanigans that would occur.

    I fear that should an armed power struggle ensue due to Chavez buying the farm before the elections next year, we’re going to head for unknown, uncharted waters that we may not want to sail upon. Can you picture a junta composed of Generals and Admirals whose sole reason for taking over would be to preserve the status quo of perks and advantages they now get? Protecting their fiefdoms at the expense of us. Not good at all.

    Therefore, the best scenario I see is a weakened Chavez that cannot campaign effectively, but nonetheless goes for it. If the PSUV field any other candidate, their chances of winning go south big time.


  6. Instability, or as it is known in Venezuela: La misma vaina de siempre.

    Chavez will fight an election campaign to the end. If Joaquin Balager did it over and over…


    • Julia_1984 had an interesting comment over in her blogpost

      1992- 4F
      2002 11A
      2012 – ???

      Hay que jugarse el 12!


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