21 thoughts on “Tough act to follow

  1. From an outsider’s point of view:

    As part of a project, I was recently asked to assess and report on the DFI risk in Venezuela given my familiarity with the country. Probably the single greatest risk factor (among the many) I identified in the short-term is the current electoral cycle and the best/worst case scenario involved Chavez passing before October. While I believe Capriles would be an upgrade and would improve immeasurably the direction Venezuela is headed, I don’t think he can beat Chavez, healthy or sick; the deck is simply too stacked against him.

    Chavez dying prematurely, or entering a more or less moribund state with no obvious recovery, however, changes everything and I think Capriles could top any of the Chavista candidates thrown against him (something of which everyone reading this is aware from previous polls). At that point, it will likely come down to the whim of whichever “successor” the rojos have selected and whether he will go gently into that good night and allow a relatively peaceable transition to take place. It will also hinge on the support and bellicosity of the army, since the expensive perks they have acquired in recent years would likely fade away under a new regime.

    Personally, my successor bets are on Cabello due to his visibility, and given his ties to the military, this could make him a very, very dangerous individual, simply because I don’t think he would relent and surrender power when it could easily be taken (from his point of view, anyway). Especially in light of the “support” of the military for the Bolivarian Revolution and their continued perquisites. As much as I’d hate to see it, the transition wouldn’t be peaceable and the camisas rojos would probably earn a more sinister application of that name. Even a promised “easy” transition would not be smooth, nor, I fear, peaceable. (I’ll hedge this a bit further by stating that I think Maduro has an outside shot as well, and should he lose, he’d be more likely than Cabello to walk away from power, but even so, that’s still a big question mark.)

    Should Chavez die, Capriles has a Gordian knot to untangle to ensure any sort of chance for a bloodless shift of power. If he hasn’t already, he should make conciliatory gestures to the military to at least try and sideline them from political involvement, despite the fact they’ve been heavily politicized. He should do the same with the fragmented factions of the chavistas offering them some sort of olive branch that at least offers them the hope of survival in a post-Chavez world. One way or another, it will be a mess of pretty epic proportions and it will require any equally Herculean balancing act. (I say this given that most of the chavista functionaries I know, excluding the rabid red side, are very, very pragmatic and would look to cover themselves as best they can if they can see which way the wind is blowing. Whatever else might be said, I’ve never met a Venezuelan who didn’t seize an opportunity when it was presented to them.)

    As much as I love Venezuela, I just don’t see this ending well, regardless of the intermediary outcomes.

    But, this is just my .02 VEF and, after all, I am just a pitiyanqui


  2. Jorge Rodriguez not a possibility? The man looks…ambitious. I really don’t know- just asking.


    • I really don’t think he has the national recognition you need to be elected President. At the end of the day, the best choice if Chavez is not candidate will likely be another Chavez to take advantage of the Chavez name.


      • I sort of agree, there is no Chavismo,no PSUV and no Revolution without Chavez. Maybe without Hugo.


  3. Now some of us are imagining that Venezuelans are going to a. pass through this situation as any other day with Chavez winning the election, b.something unusual will happen to suddenly change everything and there is no election, c. Capriles wins the vote against a very sick, disabled Chavez.
    Given the possibility of b. something unusual happening between now and election time makes it even more unlikely that Capriles will be the next President of Venezuela. I think most people know this-or feel it.
    Poor Capriles -he’s done his best, is increasing his following every day.But as pitiyanqui says and the title of this article implies-Chavez-dead or alive- the deck is double stacked against Capriles..


  4. Quico: I keep hearing the simplistic argument against Cabello that Capriles beat him handily in Miranda. I just don’t buy it. Capriles did beat Cabello by 7% points in the Gubernatorial race, but Miranda is a State where the opposition wins handily, look at the results for the National Assembly: The opposition beat PSUV by 16% points!!!!

    To me this shows that Cabello is more formidable as a candidate that people make him out to be. yes, he is not charismatic, but who is? Jaua? Ramirez? Adan? Even Maduro is very stiff.

    But take the Assembly election results, lower the oppos results in Miranda by 9% and you can see that Capriles could have troubles beating Cabello nationwide. I could hear a Chavista doing the opposite argument: Cabello is great, he lost to Capriles in Miranda by only 7%. And he would be right!


  5. I don´t see how you can discuss succession plans without mentioning the newly activated ¨Consejo de Estado¨.  

    While the Constitution may have a procedure for the transfer of power in case of his absence, the truth is that these people have no respect whatsoever for the rule of law.  We may think that power will naturally flow to the VP, because it is law. However, when the moment arrives they may decide on a completely different course of action than what is established in el librito azul.  

    Take the example of el Contralor.  He died. The Constitution has a procedure for electing a new Contralor.  It would force the AN to reach a two third majority which is inconceivable in the current poisoned atmosphere.  Instead Chavismo has decided to simply not replace the Contralor.  

    I could see a scenario where the CDE may end up morphing into a junta with JVR ¨coronando¨por fin!

    Btw, I hope you meant ¨thin resume¨instead of ¨humble beginnings¨.  Surely you are not saying that growing up poor disqualifies Maduro from being Canciller.  


    • Obviously he meant humble as in his professional track record, in the same way that being a third league player is a humble track record for an aspiring first league football player.


  6. Another interesting article by Caracas Gringo
    Disturbing to say the least.


    “Here’s one scenario:

    The Chavez regime withdraws Venezuela from the CIDH without bothering with any statutory formalities, even if that implies it gets cut off from the OAS. The presidential elections are held this year, if not on 7 October then in December, with or without Chavez, and Chavez or whoever the regime’s replacement candidate might be wins even if exit polls show Capriles with 80% of the vote. The MUD protests, the “international community” protests, there might even be street protests, but the regime stays in power. There will be an increase in street violence before the elections, particularly over the 90s days from thestart of July to the end of September, followed by a substantial spike in violence after the elections (if they’re not postpone to December). The Bolivarian armed forces won’t save the day for the good guys. After 14 years of Chavez the military is utterly destroyed as a professional institution that respects the constitution and rule of law in a civilian representative democracy. Venezuela will become more ungovernable, more unlivable, more uncivilized. Those who are not with ‘the process’ will have the option of surrendering, or else joining the Venezuelan diaspora. There isn’t room in one national territory for two irreconcilable visions of Venezuelan, as Saade noted. Venezuela is mired for years in economic stagnation and political violence.”


  7. OT – have you guys seen that idiotic video that is causing so much buzz, “Caracas, ciudad de despedidas”?
    Honestly, quite embarrrassing (note the exagerated use of “o sea”, “m’entiendes”. Estos bobitos se la pusieron bajita a los chavistas.


    • Why should this be embarrassing? There are people like this in our country, and they have a right to be heard, as much as anyone else.


      • For once I agree with Juan Nagel – they have a right to be heard. It’s a pity thatthey have zero idea of real life and I bet that not one of them lives in Caricuao. Best for them to go and live in Miami or Madrid.


        • Arturo,

          What do you propose we do with rich clueless kids? Send them to special camps to work?Remove their citizenship? Better yet, imprison them for 2,3, 6 years,starve some of them to death, torture the others.

          Just what exactly do they deserve?


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