Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Taking Stock in Venezuela

3 days since the constituent assembly vote.

In terms of the hemispheric response to the Venezuela vote, there's a sense of taking stock.

--Chile announced that two Venezuelan judges had taken refuge in their embassy and might be granted asylum. 

--Overall, the hemisphere is largely critical but cautious (see this post at Global Americans). It's worth noting, however, that criticism is more widespread than it has ever been since Hugo Chávez first took office.

--Rex Tillerson continued the administration's blustery response with ill-advised words:

The situation, from a humanitarian standpoint, is already becoming dire. We are evaluating all our policy options as to what can we do to create a change of conditions where either Maduro decides he doesn’t have a future and wants to leave of his own accord or we can return the government processes back to their constitution. 

Talking off the cuff about regime change doesn't help anything.

--Smartmatic, which made the voting machines used in Venezuela, said the vote total was false.

This is going to be the sort of situation that involves a lot of small factors gradually coming together. As more evidence of fraud and human rights abuses emerge, more governments will feel empowered to be critical and perhaps even more Venezuelan government officials will feel empowered to speak out against their own leader (which, incidentally, is precisely why you have to be careful about imposing sanctions on lots of people in government).

At this point, the Venezuelan government will get the assembly together as fast as it possibly can to impose change before more of the hemisphere becomes more critical. Nicolás Maduro says it'll happen soon.

Finally, here's a nice look at the issue of the military, which has to keep order throughout all this. As I've written, Hugo Chávez become prominent in large part because of resistance to Carlos Andrés Pérez using the military to attack the people. Now we've come full circle and at some point one has to wonder whether the rank and file like to keep repressing fellow Venezuelans.


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