Monday, May 02, 2016

Maduro's Call For Rebellion

Venezuelans are gathering signatures to push for a recall referendum against Nicolás Maduro. In response, Maduro said that if a recall happened, people should rebel and launch a general strike.

Just stop and think about that for a moment.

Chavistas have controlled the state for 17 years, which of course includes all electoral institutions. The opposition can't cheat--there is no way for them to do so. Therefore he is basically saying that opposition may be so overwhelming that his own officials will not be able to stem the tidal wave. In other words, if a recall effort is that incredibly strong, then apparently you should rebel against the obvious strength of democratic processes.


shah8 11:21 PM  

A recall during a period of critical crisis was never a good idea. No matter how stupid Maduro is. It's long since time that the West insists that the people it supports actually be able to win elections.

There is nothing the opposition can do, directly, to alleviate most of Venezuela's serious problems. In a sense, the opposition has always obstructed the better instincts of the Chavistas, and polarization sustained by foreigners has created an utterly toxic situation. I certainly can imagine that soft capital strikes will end, and there will be loan packages when the right sort of people are in power. However, incredible economic damage has occurred, and my personal guestimate is that Venezuela needs a package on the size of what Mexico got in '94, at a minimum, and whatever the package that happens, it's not really money, so to speak, that's needed, but an end to the extreme, at all level, cynical corruption that disappears resources in the blink of an eye. Venezuela resembles the Ukraine or Yeltsin's Russia more.

That is, it faces a fundamental institutional crisis that is ultimately deriving from the slowly eroding Eurodollar economy, and not truly tied to one party or another. I think it's very dangerous to treat Maduro's comments as another piece of evidence that he's a buffoon. He is an inadequate politician and leader. However, a good fraction of Venezuela trusts the opposition no better, and they are well armed. The opposition is also going to be operating from weak legitimacy, and as in Egypt, Thailand, and Ukraine, they may well kill and dispossess their political enemies in order to rally what base they have. And in all three of those other countries, the fundamental raison d'être is not a willingness to reform, but as a defense of the traditional elite's privileges and perogatives, and trying (and sort of failing) to get regional hegemons and Westerners interested in funding their broken systems. Which isn't going to work. The West has gotten more and more sick and tired of Ukrainian politicians stealing every bit of aid they can get, and I do think eventually Kiev is going to get cut off and dumped to the mercy of whomever. That's horrible for Ukraine! Japan is not interested in helping out Bangkok's little game and acted accordingly. Of course the junta turned to China--and then have the nerve to turn down Chinese funding for parts of their little railway development. Hmph. Thailand should check out Egypt, always asking those GCC for cash, even as they denigrate the leaders in (recorded) private. But when Egypt was asked to contribute soldiers for Salmon's little get tough adventure in Yemen, they had the nerve to say no. However, there was a price for that, and Egypt lost islands in the Red Sea that Egyptians died for--and which directly impacts al-Sisi's legitimacy.

shah8 11:23 PM  

Second half:

Again, with my hands raised to the skies, I protest "This isn't going to work!!!" Venezuela can barely function at all, right now. What is it going to do for getting a recall going? How will any caretaker government even get power for the voting machines to do the new elections? With Uncle Sam's help? Even with help, do you think that recalls or elections are going to stop any sort of full fledged meltdown and the nasty consequences that follow?

Public intellectuals are either serious about democratic governance or they are not. And playing games by saying that Venezuelan elections are as meaningful as Azerbaijan elections has been totally toxic in hindsight. Full stop. The right and the atlanticist can easily have managed to win Venezuelan elections in the past. They just didn't want to do the effort and, more importantly, the social bargaining it would take to win. That social bargaining, by the way, is not optional, no matter how much market liberals call them bribes to undeserving people. Anyone new will have to do the *same* thing, and everyone doing stuff like raising petrol prices--GCC, Indonesia, etc, does so with full care of what happened when Assad eliminated subsidies. Effective reforms have to happen with the confidence of the masses, and that pretty much does mean a mandate, either from Heaven (and not Uncle Sam), or from the ballot box. A recall will undermine, and not promote, a reform process.

Sorry about the rant, but I'm just angry and frustrated at this path and the probable catastrophe to be...

Greg Weeks 4:52 PM  

No, I have no illusions about what the opposition will be able to do. As someone who has no impact on what happens in Venezuela, as an informed observer all I can do is watch, read, and evaluate. If you read past posts, I've criticized all sides. Right now, though, I think the government deserves more criticism.

Alfredo 8:31 AM  

be careful what you wish for (it might just happen..........

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