Saturday January 5, when the chips start falling

OK, so I will be on the road tomorrow and I will not be able to follow what will happen in the all important installation of the National Assembly. Thus I figure out I should write my best possible educated guest before I take off.

What will happen tomorrow will depend on one thing only, whether Chavez can return to Venezuela at some point to take office. However the decisions are taken in large part in Cuba as it befits the head of the colonial empire that the Castros have established through the exploitation of Venezuela. That explains a lot of the trips made to Cuba by a lot of people who went there not necessarily to visit Chavez.  Brazil needs Chavez  and Venezuela as it scarecrow while it keeps building its empire quietly elsewhere. The ALBA clowns are too afraid of a post Chavez era when they may not have access anymore to political money which ensures their reelection. In short, with Chavez out there is no guarantee that the anti US crusade in Latin America can keep flourishing (as a matter of speaking if you forgive my choice of words).  Because in the end this is all that is, and anti US crusade that explains even why some government that should have known better did not condemn the Chavez regime when there was still time to do so. You know who you are.

This was not a digression if you forgive me: there is a well orchestrated plan by many in South America to ensure that a Venezuela without Chavez keeps being run by Chavez "heirs". Brazil needs its bill in Venezuela paid. The ALBA needs still financing. Cuba is of course in a survival struggle where Venezuela is it lone hope. The US could not care less, Venezuela will keep sending oil and its best professionals as cheap immigrant labor. The Chinese just want their bill paid and some raw material insured. In the lot they may even be more honest brokers than Colombia which wants Chavez out more to take over us than to create a new stable democracy.

We have no friends. Thus the decisions that will unfold as of tomorrow, decided in Havana, probably long ago. That they may not work out in the end is another discussion.

The first case is that Chavez will not come back, period. Besides the shame of dying in another country with the immense psychological consequences that this will give to the country, the death of Chavez in Havana is scheduled to support the Castro's interests. They are not long range, they are until Fidel and Raul die or find a place to hide safely. 2 years? 5? As such the objective is to ensure that the 6 year term that Chavez collected last October is "respected" and fuck the constitution if needed.

In this scenario it is important to secure a political climate that ensures an electoral victory when convenient, if indispensable. Note that the regime as been sending signs that it is not going to respect the Constitution which is strict on at least one crucial point: if January 10 Chavez does not show up the new president is the head of the National Assembly at the time.  We are thus headed toward a bi-cephalus system where Maduro will be the visible head of state while Cabello will remain at the head of the National Assembly with some kind of secret deal that insures he will hold a significant portion of the on paper powers of "president" Maduro. It is convenient for him as he can have Maduro take the nasty economical decisions that need to be taken without suffering as much of the political consequences.

In this case expect tomorrow a surprise winner for the leadership of the National Assembly, someone that within a week will be propelled to the presidency of Venezuela while Cabello having been named vice president of the Assembly will recover his chair without any trouble. Within 30 to 50 days new elections will have been held where a victory of Maduro is 99% certain as of thus typing (Capriles went on vacation, let's hope that to recover and get ready for a new campaign).

The second case is that Chavez actually may come back, if anything to hand down himself power to someone else (supporting that person openly from his death bed would do).  This becomes quite complicated because the constitutional violations that chavismo is planning in Cuba probably include some artifact to justify the return of Chavez at a later date for his swearing in. So many hypotheses are possible that there is no point speculating on those. Let's just say that if Cabello remains as the chair of the National Assembly tomorrow it is because either he knows he will hold to it for a while or because he knows that becoming president on January 10 is important for him to retain office through some form of, well, something.  That something depends on the possible date of Chavez return.  Let's not forget that whoever is sworn in to replace Chavez on January 11 will have one of the shortest presidency of Venezuelan history and then nothing else to do for quite a while.

You need to understand one thing: if chavismo falls a lot of people will be in judicial trouble. If chavismo does not fall quite yet, the economic problems coming real soon could do it in. Thus, in my very humble opinion, the Castros and chavismo have only two options: elections ASAP or no elections at all.  The opposition knows that very well and that explains why, for example, Aveledo was saying tonight that one could explore ways to postpone the searing in of Chavez......

In a few hours we will start having some serious hints.

Do you want to support more transparency in Venezuela?

Check out the Esdata site. They are doing a very valuable work. This year we will go back to the election centres and they will help us count the votes.

Dieterich: Chávez won't be president again

You can read an interesting interview with old-hat, German socialist Heinz Dieterich published today in a Brazilian newspaper.

He thinks, as we have said already, new elections are coming.

I will later comment on this article, I have things to do right now.

Ps. meanwhile, Venezuela is importing 10 thousand tons of black beans from the Dominican Republic because that country cannot pay with anything else. This is as if Russia were exporting gas to Germany and getting wheat as payment....such a waste.

Las inseguridades de Villegas

El recién ministro de comunicaciones, Ernesto Villegas, que fue en su día algo de periodista, se picó con Globovisiòn. Aparentemente no le gusto que llamen a Maduro presidente encargado.

Supongo que de una manera perversa es verdad: Maduro no está haciendo un carajo en su cargo sino ver como asegura ser el próximo presidente de Venezuela, congraciándose con quien tenga que hacerlo menos el pueblo de Venezuela cuyos problemas aparentemente no lo afectan de sobremanera.

Pero lo que refleja ese comunicado más que inútil, desatinado, es el desasosiego de los que pusieron toda su alma en un caudillo que no se lo merecía. Y ellos también mueren cuando muere el caudillo.

Que me perdonen los lectores pero Ernesto Villegas es un güevon. Ofuscarse por un exceso verbal de Globovisión que sin embargo refleja la cruda realidad, es una idiotez. Que Villegas empieza a ofuscarse por hechos como ese de que en Caracas se asesinaron más gente en Diciembre que en Nueva York, en todo una año, y con una población doble de Caracas.  El fue periodista alguna vez, ¿no?

Epiphany is coming one day earlier in 2013

Epiphany is January 6 and commemorates, supposedly, the three wise men that went to adore Jesus, even though by this time he was probably in Egypt already. But I digress...  The fact of the matter is that a true epiphany is coming to Venezuela on January 5.

There is a whirlwind of rumors about what the hell is going on with Chavez in Havana.  I do not share the theory that is is all a mere conspiracy theory and that Chavez is suddenly coming back on December 9 as the conquering hero, ready to be sworn in for a bright presidential term on January 10. I think the guy is rally sick and I am not willing to cross him out quite yet. But I have strong doubts that he will show up on January 10. Heck, we have not heard peep squeak from him since December 11 (I think). If the guy was indeed preparing himself to return to Caracas this weekend I am sure that we would have seen either a picture of  him or heard at least a short from call on the air through VTV.

We must thus work on the 99% hypothesis that he will not be in Caracas on January 10 (note, I give it a 99% because there is always a 1% with these crazy guys, drama queenized to the tilt).

There is a huge "constitutional" debate about what article so and so means if Chavez does not show up. Well, first the Constitution says what chavista say it says.  There is already significant concern about that as today we heard that from Brazil and the US that the Constitution should be applied din Venezuela. True, at least from Brazil that may mean they will recognize as constitutional what is convenient for them and ensures that Venezuela will pay its big debts to Brazilian companies.

I personally think that there are ways to manipulate the Constitution as to when new elections may have to be held if Chavez does not show up and a replacement is required.  However there is one thing that apparently chavismo will not be able to by pass: if January 10 Chavez is not in Caracas to take office, then the provisional president is the chair of the National Assembly until elections are held.  thus the date of January 5 (which can be postponed as late as January 9 I suppose) becomes crucial as it is the date when the National Assembly elects its chair for the 2013 legislative year.

Let's assume that chavismo is not going to be crazy enough to flout through and through the Constitution and that indeed a new National Assembly chair is sworn in before January 10.  This will be our political epiphany because, well, the post Chavez era will officially start.

In case Diosdado Cabello retains his seat it may mean that indeed he will not seek to replace Chavez just yet. He will name a new government on January 10 (probably 90% recycled from the current one), Maduro will be out of office but the official candidate of chavismo and though some excuses that the calendar and the TSJ will provide (there is a holiday week in February  we will have elections late February at the latest (because a month is too short but chavismo needs them ASAP anyway, so I am betting 40 days for election).  Then again there is always the option of Diosdado deciding anyway on January 11 to run for office, or start some coup.

The second hypothesis is that Diosdado is not reelected chair of the National Assembly. Then, everything goes. If one of his minions is elected we can expect him to announce his candidacy even before January 10. If a Maduro loyalist is sworn in it may mean that the downfall of Diosdado has started and that the army has decided to abandon him and side with Maduro.  And more craziness that I care not proceed with.

At any rate, we can now measure to its large extent the mistakes of the MUD and Capriles since October 7. Recognizing Chavez victory as they did, letting governors fend on their own without any basic program, only lead to a major sweep of chavismo on December 16. As a consequence of that sweep not only Capriles is now a faulty candidate but there is no easy replacement for him in sight and the opposition has less means, if any, to oppose even a candidate as lacking as Maduro.  In short, we are woefully under prepared for the challenges that come as of today.  Chavismo would be foolish not to seek an election that they could win with relative ease if held by March 15.  But then again, the disarray within chavismo can offer us some surprises, from an outright "coup" alleging that after all a reelected Chavez does not need to be sworn in, to more simply a fatal division among chavismo that gives the victory to an opposition that will be unable to deal with the inheritance of Chavez and probably unable to hold to office for long.

Oh well, back to my vacation.....

Venezuela: the Threshold

I was a child when Brezhnev died. I was fascinated by Russia and thus I used to read and listen to anything coming from the Soviet Union. I remember how I would try to read between the lines what the Soviets were saying and used to compare that to what US Americans, Russians in exile and others were saying.

Consider this:

Brezhnev was ill for years but his situation became really grim at the start of 1982. He refused to relinquished power until he died of a heart attack 10 November of the same year.

The Soviets elected Andropov right away. His term in power was very brief. He was elected on 12 November of the same year, suffered total renal failure in February of the next year and in August he had to be kept in a clinic from where he never left. The ones around Andropov had a facsimile of a signature attached to all documents that Andropov was supposed to sign. He died in February of 1983.

Chernenko came to power 11 April 1983. He was already ill, so ill people could hardly hear what he said during Andropov's funeral. Early in 1984 he had to be hospitalized for a month but kept working. Then he was so ill that his people did the same they had done with Andropov: fake his signature.

He died 10 March. Only then did the citizens of the USSR really understand how bad his situation had been.

Chavismo is hardly an ideology, even if it uses tactics and symbols of authoritarian socialism and communism. It's just petro-caudillismo with a stronger military stench as before, riding on the longest oil-price boom - I'd rather say oil price and not oil as oil price and feudal mentality are the keys to a lot of Venezuela's ills.

Chavismo is in a quagmire: what to do without Chávez? While Lenin was alive, no one and definitely not Lenin, were talking about "Leninism" in the USSR. When Stalin ruled, "Stalinism" was never a word used by the government or officially tolerated by the Soviet regime. They talked about Marxism or Marxism-Leninism. When Stalin died, "Stalinism" didn't become a good word in the Soviet Union. That was for the strictest useful idiots abroad. They kept talking about Marxism or Marxism-Leninism or simply communism. Outside the Soviet Union hippy commies did talk about all kinds of big-guy-isms. 

The Soviets had strong cults of personality, but there was at least some real structural and ideological transformation going on in the country.

In Venezuela we only got more petrodollar-driven clientelism and even less accountability than before. We got the revival of a completely irrational cult around Bolívar and the military.

Some clever Chávez oligarchs know that. And they are worried.

Happy 2013 to all!

As expected, I was so taken by other matters that I have not read a paper or watched a news cast since last Friday.... I am sorry I could not post my best wishes to readers of this blog and talk some about what to look for next year.

First, it seems that Chavez is doing really bad. Apparently all went to Cuba to spend the New Year Holiday. and left in charge Navarro whose only merit is to have been one of the biggest sucker up to Chavez that ever existed.  He certainly has no charisma nor ideas to conspire and take over.  In short, no one is in charge. Then again, does it matter?

Fireworks for the new year were plentiful  much more than last year in San Felipe. I commented to the SO that maybe people were cracking the fireworks they could not crack the day the news come from Cuba. Sure enough as I open a computer for the first time in 4 days I read that, well, news may be coming...  People did not go in as large a number as hoped for to the prayer vigils, preferring fireworks.  Ingrates!.

13 is a good number, it never brought me bad luck.  In fact, if I play lottery I am sure that 13 is included.  I even won once, enough to pay the half dozen lottery tickets I may buy in the year (you know, those sold in the streets by kids on drug addiction recovery programs).  I thus trust that this year overall is not going to be any worse than the recent ones. Things being what they are in Venezuela, not getting worse is already a bonus....

And that is all because as far as Venezuela is concerned all will depend on the how, when, which way, if, and etc. of El Supremo.  I never thought I would have to live in a country that passed through the traumas of transitions like Spain, Yugoslavia, etc...  but here I am.  Now back to that left over Foie Gras and Ribera del Duero from last night.  You gotta love some left overs.....

Chávez Schwiegersohn und Minister der Volksmacht für Technologie sagt

Jorge Arriaza, Schwiegersohn des Hugo Chávez und - ganz ganz zufällig - auch "Minister der Volksmacht für Wissenschaft, Technologie und Innovation", erklärt nun, dass alles, was in Twitter über die Gesundheit des "comandante-presidente" steht, Lug und Trug sei, denn der Führer habe einen ruhigen Tag verbracht.
Die ägyptischen Pharaonen haben zumindest nachhaltige Werke unterstützt

Arriaza befindet sich zur Zeit in Cuba, genauso wie der Vizepräsident Nicolás Maduro und seine Frau Cilia Flores, die ganz ganz zufällig die Procuradora der Republik ist.

Arriaza hat vor vielen Jahren an der öffentlichen Universidad Central de Venezuela Ausländische Studien studiert und konnte dank des damals schon vorhandenen Stipendiumprogramms Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho im Ausland studieren. Zur Zeiten sagen die useful idiots des Chavismo im Ausland, das alles sei zu Zeiten des Chávez eingeführt worden.

Nun zurück zur Gesundheit des Comandantes: was wir schon vorahnen können, ist dass er am 10. Januar bei der Nationalen Versammlung nicht auftreten wird.