Thursday, February 27, 2014

Maduro and the Military

Reading about WWI is a potent reminder of how even logical assumptions can go terribly awry. Germany could affirm a secret agreement with Austria-Hungary because it wasn't in Russia wasn't likely to go to war. There were very solid, yet ultimately erroneous, reasons for believing so.

This is relevant when thinking about the Venezuelan military. A question that keeps popping up is whether Nicolás Maduro maintains its support. Without cracking the black box of the military, which is impossible for anyone outside the institution, you can only go by outward appearances and logical assumptions, knowing full well they are correct only until they are wrong.

But here's what we know, or at least what I claim we know:

1. The military publicly affirmed its adherence to the government, and has not made any public sign to the contrary.

2. The military is chavista and therefore is very unlikely to impose regime change if there is any chance of the opposition taking over.

3. If the military overthrew Maduro and installed another chavista, the protests would get far, far worse as the opposition smelled political blood. The military knows this and therefore it is not a likely outcome.

4. The protests have continued but it's hard to argue they've gained momentum, which leaves the military less likely to get nervous.

Things can change, and these assumptions are not permanently applicable. If there are months of protests, they will change. If Maduro intensifies repression, they will change. But for now that's how I see it.


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