A Dialogue To Nowhere

So it is with Venezuela and this blog, which basically always has been a part-time hobby back when spare time was in surplus to write about Venezuela-related stuff my real-world editors aren’t interested in.

But I put Gringo to sleep for a year because writing about Venezuela had become by the start of 2013 about as interesting as kicking a long-dead horse, then revived it briefly last February when the student protests started.

Couldn’t help myself, got caught up in the general excitement over the outside chance that perhaps, maybe, possibly after 15 interminable years there might still be a bit of Bravo Pueblo somewhere deep inside the collective soul of the Venezuelan people.

But I have too much work, too little time and I’ve been too long engaged in Venezuela, since 1973 or almost 41 years now, which makes me substantially older than over half of today’s Venezuelan population and skeptical about superficial appearances.

As one reader noted recently, in Venezuela there are never any coincidences, only arrangements… indeed, “una sociedad de complices,” as Jose Antonio Gil Yepes put it way back when he was still teaching at IESA.

So I paused again to watch things take their course as Venezuela burned from Carnival to Holy Week. But some 84 days after the protests started, their daily intensity and associated violence appear to have eased somewhat.

After 84 days the anti-government protests and simmering conflict between the regime and the growing numbers of Venezuelans who want to be rid of Maduro and hope/pray that their country will rebound quickly après Maduro is very old/stale news even if the Venezuela-centric social media continues to boil.

A “dialogue” of sorts is under way between some opposition figures and the regime. The dialogue isn’t going anywhere, but it does buy more time for Nicolas Maduro’s regime and lends credence to his lying claim that he only wants peace while his goons continue to gas, beat and detain the regime’s critics.

The opposition MUD coalition figures at the “dialogue” are definitely more knowledgeable and coherent in their arguments than the regime’s goons. That much was clear from the televised public dialogue that the regime now wants to continue in private. But Maduro isn’t making any concessions and has made it clear the MUD can leave the “dialogue” whenever it wishes because the regime won’t make even millimetric concessions.

It’s also clear the MUD is fractured. The fracture fault lines can be perceived by comparing the MUD’s united membership in 2012 before the presidential elections that year to the list of oppo figures presently participating (or not) in the so-called “dialogue” with the regime.

What’s the purpose of the regime-MUD “dialogue” anyway?

Polls show a majority of Venezuelans oppose violent protests and repression and want to be rid of Maduro democratically, which won’t happen until April 2019 at the earliest because it’s guaranteed the Supreme Court and CNE will make it so.

Forget about a presidential recall referendum. The Maduro regime will cheat successfully to guarantee his continuity in power. It happened in August 2004 with Chavez and it will happen again.

So for now there’s a “dialogue” – or at least there is the outward appearance of a dialogue between mortal enemies. The regime’s mouthpieces talk about “deepening successful models” and the oppo is demanding (fruitlessly so far) a political amnesty law to free all political prisoners.

But Maduro refuses to make any concessions/reforms whatsoever and the MUD “leaders” at the table do NOT remotely represent the full spectrum of the groups, sectors, institutions, organizations and individuals that oppose the regime.

The “students,” a mass of rightfully furious youth, aren’t led by anyone in the MUD and more/less spontaneously have become a potentially potent political force in their own right – hence the regime’s vicious repression tactics at hundreds of protests over the past 84 days that have taken some 42-43 lives and injured hundreds more.

But while the “dialogue” lasts it gives Maduro political cover, making his assurances of only seeking peace more credible to a world that doesn’t give a hoot about Venezuela anyway. It also could buy more time for the Maduro regime to contain and eventually snuff out the protests; while the “dialogue” lasts it diffuses public opinion in the camps opposed to Chavez. Most Venezuelans do not support violence, so let’s give the “dialogue” some time, and maybe something good will come of it.

The Maduro regime will make sure the “dialogue” drags on indefinitely, never going anywhere while the business of “consolidating the revolution” deepens quickly – witness the new education curricula aimed at brainwashing “Bolivarian revolution” into the minds of innocent children. And when the MUD finally walks out, Maduro will immediately accuse the “fascist” opposition of continuing to plot coups, wage economic war and provoke violent street clashes.

The “international community” won’t do anything to help Venezuela. Forget Washington, Brussels, OAS, UN, Unasur or whatever. US President Barack Obama has no time for Venezuela, what with bowing to robots as Russia prepares to seize all of Ukraine, snapping selfies and playing golf. It’s good to be king, yea?

But Beijing and Moscow meanwhile are quietly doubling down on their support for the Maduro regime and preserving the political status quo in Venezuela.

Putin was a tad peeved with the Venezuelan regime’s penchant for not paying its debts on time, but his annexation of the Crimea restored Venezuela’s importance to Moscow as a global strategic ally.

The importance Beijing assigns to Venezuela’s current regime likely will be confirmed soon when China’s President Xi Jinping visits Caracas during his second official tour of Latin America. PdV’s recent lease of storage and deepwater terminals facilities at nearby St Eustatius confirms the failure of PdV’s Orinoco expansion plans (fodder for another post), but also hints at potential new oil-backed loans from Beijing that PdV supposedly would pay with increased oil shipments to China.

Supposedly…because PdV desperately needs to boost its oil production and hard currency revenues very quickly, but it doesn’t have sufficient cash to invest more in raising oil production in traditional areas it has neglected deliberately for the past 15 years. Venezuela’s dollar drought since 2012 is the clearest symptom that PdV no longer generates the dollars the country needs.

A second key factor in the disappearance of Venezuela’s dollar supply was the regime’s deliberate destruction of the non-oil economy at all levels, which made the country dependent on imports for about 60-70pc of its basic needs, though some say it could be 80pc or even higher now that supplies of food and everything else are steadily disappearing.

The “dialogue’s” days are counted, but it doesn’t really matter. Venezuela is sliding deeper into a slump unlike anything its people have experienced in recent memory. The Maduro regime can’t halt the economy’s stagflation, lacking both the will and intellectual capacity to address the crisis anyway. But it’s clear that Maduro and gang will not relinquish any political power or reverse expanding efforts to control everything and everyone.


About Caracas Gringo

Representing less than 0.00000000001515152% of the world population as of 31 December 2011.
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3 Responses to A Dialogue To Nowhere

  1. P. taylor says:

    I agree with you on all points. First being MUD doesn’t represent the people protesting. MUD has actually allowed Maduro to play his “peace” game. I believe that the people will eventually just be beaten into submission while China, Russia and Cuba take what they want. Yes, as King Obama takes selfies and the US goes down the drain also. I think the picture you have painted, is to be. How sad to see the demise of so many nations due to corruption.


  2. val says:

    It amazes me that you would call Barack Obama “king”. If Venezuela is to get rid off Maduro and his mafia it is strictly up to Venezuelans to do it. You guys elected Chavez 15 years ago and let him ruined the Constitution and the country, now that is hard to get rid off the cancer that is Chavismo you think USA is gonna do it for you?


    • Caracas Gringo says:

      First, I’m a US citizen, so personally I didn’t vote for Chavez. Second, I’ve never thought the US is going to do anything to fix anything in Venezuela. In case you haven’t noticed, the US govt since Bush (paterfamilias) has consistently fucked up absolutely everything it has attempted globally, only making things worse wherever it intervenes. I dearly hope the US stays the hell out of Venezuela. As an American who served in the Marine Corps at the tail-end of Vietnam I think it’s an atrocious crime that so many thousands of young American men and women have lost their lives or been maimed forever in places like Iraq and Afghanistan FOR NO GOOD REASON EXCEPT TO ASSUAGE THE EGOS OF THE FILTH THAT POPULATES THE GRINGO POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENT including both Dems and Repubs.Third, you think Obama doesn’t behave like a king? Read the attached news report today from DC on Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuit re Obama/Biden trips, or do you think it’s perfectly OK to spend $2.9 million of your tax dollars and mine so that pair of sleazeballs now serving as Prez and Vice-Prez can go play golf in places faraway from DC? If you DO think it’s OK, well, you must be in that sack of hair I refer to now and again.

      Washington, DC – Judicial Watch announced today, it has obtained records from the U.S. Department of the Air Force revealing that President Obama’s February 2014 Palm Springs, California, and March 2014 Key Largo, Florida, golf outings cost the taxpayers $2,952,278 for flight expenses alone.
      According to the Department of Air Force documents, the flights to and from, Palm Springs for the February 17 – 20, 2014 trip totaled 9.8 hours at $210,877 an hour, which comes to a total of $2,066,594.60 in flight expenses. The records came in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of request filed on February 18, 2014.
      Also according to the Department of Air Force documents, the total cost for flights to and from Key Largo, Florida for the March 7 – 9 trip totaled 4.2 hours at $210,877, which comes to a total of $885,683.40 for flight in expenses. The records came in response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act request filed on March 10, 2014.
      Though the administration billed the President’s Day weekend trip to California as an effort to highlight the state’s severe water drought, the White House official schedule showed the president spent just four hours at three drought-related events on the afternoon of Friday, February 14. He then spent much of the next three days playing golf at some of Coachella Valley, California’s, most exclusive golf courses, which, according to Fox News, “consume roughly 17 percent of all water there, and one quarter of the water pumped out of the region’s at-risk groundwater aquifer.” Each course uses nearly 1 million gallons of water a day.
      During March 7 – 9, the First Family spent Spring Break at Key Largo, Florida’s, exclusive Ocean Reef Club, where members must have a minimum net worth of $35 million to join. According to its website, “the Club boasts two championship 18-hole courses, a rarity in the Florida Keys … a salon and spa, more than a dozen restaurants, a 175-slip marina, a private airport, and so much more.” The costly Spring Break vacation took place on the heels of Obama’s State of the Union Address in which he focused on income inequality.
      According to records obtained by Judicial Watch, through FOIA requests and subsequent lawsuits, the Obamas and Bidens have spent more than $40 million taxpayer dollars on trips since 2009, beginning with the Obamas’ much-publicized New York City “date night” in 2009 up through the president’s most recent Palm Springs and Key Largo golf outings. The most lavish expenditure so far on record was for the Obamas’ 2013 Africa trip and Honolulu vacation, which cost taxpayers $15,885,585.30 in flight expenses alone. The single largest expense for accommodations was for Michelle Obama’s side-trip to Dublin, Ireland, during the 2013 G-8 conference in Belfast, when she and her entourage booked 30 rooms at the five-star Shelbourne Hotel, with the first lady staying in the 1500 square-foot Princess Grace suite at a cost of $3,500 a night. The total cost to taxpayers for the Obamas’ Ireland trip was $7,921,638.66.


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