If Chavez were to win....

"My work here  is done"  Forward comandante
Now that this pick up from the web set the mood, before I start this post we need to distinguish between Chavez winning and "winning".  In the "winning" scenario Chavez steals the election and we can all imagine more or less what would happen next: a profoundly destabilized country and the road toward an Arab-like spring at best and a civil war at worst.

What interests me today is the possibility of an actual Chavez win next October 7 even if in previous posts I have discarded it. But elections are full of surprises.

We need to start considering what electoral scenario would lead to a Chavez victory. It requires major blunders in the opposition camp. It requires the chavismo electoral machine to find its groove. And even if Chavez were to win, it would be a weak victory, a far cry from 2006, no more than a 52 to 48 score, and a sick president that I am willing to bet would not be able to finish his term. In other words, such a victory would not be a sign of strength but a proof of animalistic survival instincts.

We need to assess the mood of chavismo on October 8. This is important because a victory would be kind of a surprise for them.  You do not believe me? Look at recent events, from Chavez himself warning that a Capriles victory could lead Venezuela to a civil war, to accusations that the opposition is preparing a coup (how, with what, I would like to know) and even a neo-liberal economic plan. Such is the despair and self doubt inside chavismo that they have even hired the services of people that used to be inside chavismo, that went to the opposition, and that went back to chavismo when the opposition did not want anything with them (compare Lara Governor Henri Falcon and a failed activist William Ojeda and you will understand what I mean). And two Sundays ago armed goons were used once again to block a Capriles rally in Western Caracas. Clearly, a government that feels a genuine victory around the corner does not resort to such primitive and violent strategies.  This is a dictatorship in decline and it shows.

We do not need to be Cassandra to guess what would happen if Chavez wins. After that big scare that they almost lost office, seeing that their numbers keep going down and that a final defeat is just a question of time, the only option left will be chavismo sponsored violence.  There will be arrests. Capriles and others will be jailed or sent into exile (see what happened to Rosales). Expropriation of people suspected to have supported the Capriles campaign will be sped up. Globovision will be closed once and for all. The "poder comunal", that lame excuse to make all dependent from Caracas while emulating Cuba's spying CDR,  will be set up without bothering with laws to this respect so as to eliminate any power in local elected officials. And I assume that scheduled local elections still go on. Centralization will reach a further paroxysm. All will be designed to erase the political power and resources of the opposition, as it happened in Iran after last elections.

And then civil war will come anyway. The reason is simple, the economic disaster that Chavez has courted will finally arrive and Chavez will be unable, unwilling, incapable of facing it. Around that time he probably would be near death or dead and thus without a democratic opposition willing to assume the challenge of recovering the country there will be only one option left, a succession war inside chavismo. The factions will be united at first in a violent repression of economic victims but that can only lead to a deeper division inside chavismo that would lead us to a civil war of sorts, or an outright one, starting from inside chavismo.

Sorry, I have lost patience with polite discourse.  This weighs heavily on my heart. More than ever it should be clear for us that there is no possible recovery of Venezuela as long as Chavez is in Miraflores.  Removing him certainly carries risks, but leaving him there carries worse risks.  Your pick.