Friday, October 28, 2016

When Protests Turn Violent in Venezuela

Jonathan Pinckney, a doctoral student at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, has an interesting post at Political Violence at a Glance about how protests turn violent. He doesn't mention Venezuela, but one part of his discussion caught my attention.

2. Concessions also present challengesGovernment concessions are also associated with more breakdowns in nonviolent discipline. While data limitations kept me from digging into the mechanisms behind this in this piece, previous scholarly work suggests that concessions may split movements between moderate and radical factions, pushing radicals to “prove themselves” through violence.
Periodic concession, especially dialogue offers, have vexed the Venezuelan opposition, which cannot agree on whether to participate. There are clearly moderate and radical factions, with the more radical members wanting more action.

What I wonder, however, is at what point the moderate factions become so disillusioned with concessions that they accept the radical side's plans. In Venezuela this has not yet happened, but as legal avenues of change are choked off, it's not difficult to imagine it developing.


shah8 3:09 AM  

Gotta raise an eyebrow on this. What's the constituency of "moderate" and "radical" here? Is the group of people inclined to actually do anything in a both a coherent and ideological manner even all that big? I mean, I think of the largest such unrest--2008 in Bolivia, and it was relatively easily contained because the country was, and is, so polarized. No matter how many others didn't like how Morales played the game, they also weren't inclined to help the rebelling departments. And if it's going to be on the scale of the "la Salida" unrest...fuggeddabootit.

My personal estimate/sentiment, liberally applied against the latin american blogosphere, is that the regime is a lot more secure than external observers/supporters of the opposition wishes to believe. The fundamental issue is whether the machinery of government sympathizes with the opposition. My impression is that they do not. Not because many love Maduro, or just don't hate him, but because 1) There is a simple narrative for the government failure from the perspective of the bureaucracy, oil prices are down and we don't get enough money. Advocating change on the basis of "we'll do things better/less corruptly" would seem besides the point. "we need a new money tree, where's the money tree? Otherwise you lot are talking about reshuffling who gets what with the money we have now, and I like my position at the feeding trough, thankyouverymuch..." 2) A perception that the opposition is not a loyal one, firming up a nationalist based resentment of said opposition.

And again, I keep saying this and hinting here and elsewheres, but what happened in Brazil had a lot to do with the regime's loss of interest with keeping any sort of appearances about democracy, and increased it's willingness to go the full Mugabe. Most importantly, Temer's willingness to entertain the idea of arresting Lula on top of his efforts to roll back all of PT's efforts.

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