Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Blocking Change in Venezuela

David Smilde has a pretty devastating op-ed in the New York Times about Chavismo.

Hence Chavismo has come full circle. From a movement that showed how nonelite actors could use the instruments of electoral democracy to upend an entrenched elite, Chavismo has itself become an entrenched elite preventing those same instruments from upending it.

That sums it up. It sums up so many governments over the years that came to office with a message of change, which becomes impossible once you are the one in power defending your own interests.

His conclusion is also true:

Any dialogue that occurs should not be seen as an alternative to the referendum but should focus primarily on restoring the people’s right to choose their leaders. Debate regarding the economy, education and crime would serve only as a red herring for a government that is doing whatever it can to prevent change.

The government's refusal to allow a vote has delayed things to the point that if a recall is held, it will be too late for a new election if the government loses the vote. Instead, the Vice President would take over. The opposition will have to decide whether this is an acceptable alternative. If it is, then the dialogue has a logical goal. If it isn't, or if the opposition is too divided even to decide, then I'm not sure what dialogue will accomplish.


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