If you were in Maduro’s position, wouldn’t you be recruiting inside the MUD?

6a00d8345295c269e20120a53712e7970bDark suspicions have long clung as to the deeper MUD’s loyalty. This is one of the longer term effects of Henrique Capriles’s botched messaging following his April 2013 election loss: his simultaneous claim of fraud and refusal to call his supporters out into the street in protest scrambled everyone’s circuits, leaving many to wonder about secret agenda’s in their attempt to square the discursive circle.

I grant that, in almost all cases, these allegations are more argumentative gambits to delegitimize Capriles than serious statements of reasoned position. “La MUD está vendida” become a kind of shibboleth of the radical opposition, an identity marker, one way that we know for sure that we’re we and not they. Seldom are any such allegations presented with evidence.

But we do have evidence, clear evidence, that the government uses monetary incitements and other perks arising from proximity to state power to peel off opposition supporters and get them to jump the talanquera and start supporting the government. Ricardo Sánchez, William Ojeda, and the bit players from the Diputado 99 saga speak clearly to this fact. We know that government connected business players will give opposition-politicians suitcases full of campaign donations – at least to film them and then publish the film.

Some other things we don’t have evidence for, but can speculate about with a reaonsably high confidence that we’re not a million miles off. We do know there are large numbers of Cuban intelligence officers in the country. We know Cuban intelligence is notorious for seeding informants throughout dissident circles in Cuba, and have long experience recruiting spies among anti-castristas both in Miami and in Havana through large payments and/or threats and intimidation. You’d have to be terminally naive to believe they’re not looking to buy off people ostensibly playing for the other side. I mean, really.

Now, think about the incentive structures facing a mid-level opposition politician associated with the MUD. Where’s that guy going to raise the money to buy the killer Coral Gables condo he went into politics to secure?

His Plan A, skimming it off the top of some contract once he got into government, he can forget about: the flow of funds to oppo-dominated institutions is massively restricteed, and what money the opposition does get is scruitinized with a fine-tooth comb.

So…what do you think he’s going to do when an old leftie friend of his from college calls him one day and invites him to meet in an out-of-the-way arepera in a part of town he’s not familiar with, and turns up decked out all in red, with 15 bodyguards in motorcycles, and with “an offer he can’t refuse?”

Is this speculation? Sure.

Do I have reason to believe Capriles personally is compromised? None whatsoever.

Is it likely the government has agents working at different levels within the official opposition? It’s virtually certain.

Is MUD’s top leadership seriously committed to the kind of counterintelligence operation it would take to ferret out the turncoats and expose them? The question answers itself.

25 thoughts on “If you were in Maduro’s position, wouldn’t you be recruiting inside the MUD?

  1. I can attest to the large amount of resources spent in countering espionage and debugging offices and meeting-halls, untampering phone lines, encrypting messages, losing police tails, and paying legal fees. It s a serious issue, and it gobbles up funds. A sort of anti-dirty-tricks effort…

    But as Quico has said, actual turncoats are in the mid-level range: not high enough as to alter political strategy (that is contentious as-of-itself): some are enticed, and some have been blackmailed by threats to their families -Hernan Nunez, formerly of VP- or to their standing (say, by exposing a gambling problem, and promising to fix it) -Aldo Cermeno-, but just high enough as to create that impression. Can you “unmask” it before it does that kind of damage?

    Alas, most critics point to actual high-end interests, and since innuendo-like accusations of corruption stick (and as such, cannot be unproven), they do have a deleterious effect. It was not uncommon during the 1959-1999 to make a media career out of that sort of “periodismo de denuncia”, because of its perceived verosimilitude, and politicians of all major parties trumped-up charges. I know enough politicians lifestyles to see that, in general, it s an exaggerated claim. However, that is just my word…


    • I must correct something: mid-level recruitment has another effect beyond scandals… It delivered the AN floor to the Government. As far as I know, any weak link cannot be easily rooted out, but some cases were averted.


  2. This happened too during the first Sandinista administration in Nicaragua. A good part of the committed opposition left the country, while well-behaved opposition figures were somehow able to live in nationalized villas which had belonged to members of the Somoza regime.

    The government definitely needs a “loyal opposition” they can point to as proof of their democratic credentials. “Why, even opposition figures think Lopez brought it on himself!” Is a valuable meme.


  3. I consider every email sent to Venezuela without proper encription as read by the regime. I remember Rojas Müller was bragging very openly to a Dutch journalist about how the Cubans were helping the regime to spy on us. Chávez got a bunch of people on training in Minsk (at the same institute where the current Belorussian KGB trains its people). A friend working for telecommunications told me a couple of interesting things about the Chinese in Venezuela as well.

    But: even if we had the equivalent to a counter-intelligence system, what are we to do if we know relatives of Capriles do business with the government? (I just heard of that, I have no proof), or that Allup’s wife (was it Allup’s wife or another adeco’s?) is “encompinchada” with the Boligarchs?

    I have often thought why our people don’t insist on inquiring about what has happened to Arné Chacón or how come the minister of Interior’s brother has a 500 hectare hacienda or the like.

    Is it because even those who have nothing to hide were told by their party leaders there ARE things to hide among their comrades?

    I have thought: is it better to have closed door meetings as Ledezma asked or to go full Monty and have an exclusive, absolutely open debate about these issues? Only a Gandhi would survive something like that.


  4. We can be sure that bribery and extortion are part of the tool bag of our Cuban tutored Regime to covertly or overtly turn some vulnerable mid or low level oppo figure into regime collaborationist. Dont believe that any characterization of mid level oppo leaders as being generally in the oppo camp to pursue eventual corrupt gains or advantages is accurate for the great mayority of active oppo leaders. . There are a lot of people who spontaneously care for the country without need for any corrupt inducements . But we Venezuelans enjoy being malicious and attributing to people corrupt venal motives everytime we can . makes us feel more knowing (smart) than we are !!.

    Definitely Francisco is right in that the oppo top leadership should be careful of Regime recruiting excursions into its mid level leaderhip . Glad that GTA Aveledo clarifies that the MUD and others are not precisely unaware of this danger and have taken steps to address it .

    About the money filled bags which purported govt loyalists or enchufados or even foreign companies of friendly countries may be handing to opposition figures, it wouldnt surprise me one bit if it is being done . Its a common business practice by companies or interests who depend for their business on governamental good will to hedge their bets by making contributions to both sides in a political battle ground. , just in case . Suspect that there are quite a bit regime friendly interests that fall under this category.


  5. I don’t need to proof from others to see certain things with my own eyes.It is very difficult to prove something to other people and usually that sort of proof comes way after it is too late.

    When Capriles told the Venezuela people that it was not yet “God’s Perfect Time”, I saw his narcissism and his dishonesty.That was enough for me to suspect that he is not quite above board.The rest is unimportant detail.

    “An excuse is worse than a lie, for an excuse is a lie, guarded.” Alexander Pope


    • Or if you prefer funnier verbiage, pick anything out of DolarToday..

      “ESCANDALOSA ESTAFA DEL LADRÓN MAYOR: Informes revelan grotesco desfalco en cuentas de PDVSA”


  6. OF COURSE the MUD is a corruptible mess. You bet many, many have been bribed, just as thousands in the “independent” Military or other “opposition” have been grotesquely hosed. Remember los Adecos y los Copeyanos? They were no Saints either, were they..


  7. Preface: This was written in a flight of fancy. I don’t really believe it is realistic. However, I think that the idea is interesting. Take it with as many grains of salt as needed.

    One of the results of a corrupt system is that it corrupts everyone in contact with it, to some lesser or greater extent. After decades of corruption (note, I include pre-Chavez), there is not a single adult in Venezuela who has not cheated the system in one way or another. The more wealthy or powerful someone is, the more they have cheated to become that way, or to stay that way. In Venezuela, the truly honest person would be steam-rolled and destroyed. Nothing can be accomplished or produced without cheating in one way, or another.

    One of the reasons the student protests gained momentum so rapidly was that being so young and not having had so much time to compromise themselves, the students had the moral superiority to demand reform.

    The people in power, Chavista and Opposition alike, are all dirty and all have skeletons in the closet. They all have secrets to protect. There is no one without guilt.

    So, what to do? How do you fight lies?… with truth. How do you fight darkness?… with light. If the Opposition wants to regain its moral authority to lead, I propose “Operation Full Disclosure”. Every leader in the Opposition should sit down and, with much soul searching, write an exposé of their lives and careers, including every way they ever cheated the system and why. They should include full details including the names of all others involved. All of these should be published as simultaneously as possible. Anyone who refuses should be banned from the MUD. Any who hold back, will be exposed by the others. The ones who publish first set the tone and lead.

    Let the chips fall where they may, but someone has to start breaking the cycle. Venezuela has gone too far down the rabbit hole for anyone to emerge unscathed. The country is bankrupt and its infrastructure and institutions destroyed. It will have to be rebuilt from scratch. With this gesture, perhaps it can be built on a far more principled foundation than the one before it.

    “And the truth shall set you free.”


      • Actually, immigration IS the most rational choice. I have often thought that the real free-market solution to poor governance is population mobility. When it becomes relatively easy for people to immigrate, nations will have to compete with one another for the most productive (and tax paying) citizens and corporations. Obviously, relying on popular vote isn’t working very well.


        • The catch is economically-driven migration doesn’t guarantee that common values are maintained.

          Europe has received immigrants from the Muslim world, who sometimes disagree with Church-State separation, equal rights for women, free speech, etc. As seen in the Mohammed cartoons controversy in Scandinavia, an apparent rise of honor crimes in Europe, the burqa controversy, etc. This phonomenon can be seen even with internal migration: after Schengen, countries like France have sought ways to prevent gypsies from settling in their territory, as their lifestyle isn’t palatable to some of the French citizens.

          This isn’t a clear cut issue as guilds have a vested interest in limiting the supply of new competitors, employers have a vested interest in reducing wages, and xenophobia often polarizes the issue beyond a the point when a constructive debate is possible.


    • ‘If the Opposition wants to regain its moral authority to lead, I propose “Operation Full Disclosure”.’

      I wholeheartedly agree.

      I can think of one way to demand transparency by example: elected officials from the Opposition should volunteer their tax declarations, and then demand that every other elected official does the same.

      Capriles proposed it a while ago, and I think it was a good idea. MUD should lead by example, de la boca para afuera gets you little moral authority.



  8. I’ve been living outside Vzla since some time ago. I moved with my family to Europe, mainly because of our 2 passports alowed us all to have a new beginning out of Vzla. But, it happens that I was working with and deep inside the venezuelan government. I made my career in one former technical venezuelan institution, and my arrival wasn´t beacuse of recommendations, relatives, cards, bribes or anything else. I arrived there by contest against almost 100 of my colleagues. And, after +15 years working there, one day a direct threat against me arrived. In one white envelope: one bullet. And the text: “Yours”. I’ve been thinking since a long time ago, that chavistas are still alive because killing them is just loosing a bullet. Nothing more. Well, so many questions came to my mind, but I didn’t say a word about it. Indeed, the bullet, the envelope and the message, went directly to the bin. I keep doing my job, and then suddenly, another one came in, few weeks later. 3 bullets inside. I get the message, since that adds to my wife and kids. I’m not surprised at all that the vzlan goverment is spying inside the opposition parties, or even better, that they’re having business together. Few days from our departure of Vzla, my wife’s car was stealed, with she and one of our kids inside. That was another warning for us to leave the country. These post make me remember one thing the walking dead said: “Los tengo infiltrados hasta los tuétanos” (To the bones). I have to said this: I don’t like Vzla. I don’t love that country. I don’t hate it either. But I don’t have any feelings whatsoever about Vzla.


    • interesting, but why would someone chase after you like that? someone looking to replace you, or someone looking to keep you quiet?


      • The mans story is pretty weird , unless somehow a lot of money was involved in the threats , then ..anything goes .

        Quite sure that the regime does a lot of spying on its enemies but to spy on the millions of messages people send each other every day even if possible is probably not all that useful because there is 1000 kilos of garbage of every ounce of potentially useful information .Also quite sure that there is a lot of spying going on between different regime factions and groups looking for things to embarrass their rivals or destroy them !!

        On the other side I suspect that people friendly to the opposition and with a lot of resources could also be spying on everything important happening inside the ruling clique and have heaps of information they dont divulge . Sometimes its useful to add some false data to the information you send to keep the spies confused or demoralized or even to get them to uncover themselves as they act on that information .!!

        It helps in this country is you are a bit paranoid , but only if you dont ejoy your paranoia because then you cant help but lose your sense of reality . !!


        • You don’t need to “see” individual messages. This is something even Iranians have tried before…with German basic technology from Nokia Siemens. The Venezuelan regime has now more advanced stuff from the Chinese (more advanced as these things evolve a lot in a couple of years).

          You have the list of all the MUD deputies. You can get software to automatically search for you those people who might be sending interesting stuff to those deputies. The system analyses the network flows.
          Patterns are detected. A couple of people can detect when possible movements or transmissions are important.

          The amount of people that “matter” in Venezuela are not that many, anyway. Chavismo also has full access to CANTV.


          • That story itself might be a fib or not, but it is very likely Chavistas are able to monitor a large amount of connections with people who might be relevant to them: politicians, journalists, state employees of a certain range. They don’t need to be geniuses or have NSA capabilities at all. Rather conventional monitoring hardware and software as most nations have are enough…and no rule of law.


            • Quite sure you are right Kep in your belief that there are groups within the regime with the capacity to “monitor a large amount of connections with people who might be relevant to them” , in fact theyve shown their capabilities in this area again and again.!! Funny though how sometimes they appear to concoct misinformation wholecloth ( when it suits their interest to create a particular impression no matter how false) The Burelli revelations with Google are an example of this . . Maybe the information they gather isnt enough for what they would like to discover so they invent it as needed. Quite certain also that much of this monitoring is done on people inside the regime which some inner rival wants to keep tabs on or embarrass . Mario Silvas explosive recording is a case in point !!

              Precisely because it doesnt take a genius or extraordinary resources to engage in this kind of monitoring I suspect that there may be groups friendly to the opposition with a similar capability to get inside the regime connected networks even if they have to be careful to choose what they ultimately disclose of what they find out.!! If the US govt or that of any friendly govt for example decided to engage in this type of activity there is little they wouldnt know about whats going on inside the inner circle..


      • Why?… Well, I was working on the entire process of the gold bullion repatriation. Among other things. As I said, two weeks before leaving Vzla, my car was stealed by 6 armored man with AK47’s. Mr Bill Bass find my history “weird”. What could be “weird” in my story? Well, to have my wife and one of my sons killed because of someone’s ignorance, basically. Weird? Raise my other son alone. Weird? Is Vzla’s present and future. That’s All Folks.


  9. I’ve written this before: the chavernment is at war. It is using state power to suppress the oppo. That almost certainly includes spying and infiltration.

    The oppo must recognize this and take appropriate measures in response. This includes gathering intelligence about the chavernment and its allies; it should include infiltrating or at least monitoring the chavernment’s muscle (police, military, colectivos).

    Also, defending against infiltration. The poster mentions mid-level political figures. I would be at least as worried about staff at all levels. Aides, secretaries, even cleaning staff. If Cuban professionals are running it, the danger is severe. For instance, the parent of a teenage child could be told to cooperate, or else the son or daughter will be arrested with planted drugs and thrown into a prison.

    I would assume there are infiltrators and moles. The oppo should not only try to locate them, but establish double agents, which is the best security, or at the very least “encyst” them, to keep them away from sensitive information.

    In short, the oppo must adopt some of the methods and structure of a Resistance force in an occupied country.


  10. Quico what’s your point? So what if some mid level MUD members have turned? They don’t affect policy and other than in the asamblea, their vote doesn’t count. There are bigger problems facing la MUD.


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