Archive for March 14th, 2013

The Future Of Venezuela…

March 14, 2013


Got you with the title, no?

But now that I have your attention, let me tell you, I have no clue…

Because I think it is hard to predict even the next month, barely thirty days, leading up to the April 14th. election. Yes, logic says Maduro should win, sentimentality and all. But…

Maduro has turned out to be such a lightweight, that despite the short time, anything might happen. In fact, if he is dumb enough (he is!) to accept a debate, he may lose, simply for the fact that all TV stations will carry it and Capriles will say:

“Nicolas, you are no Chávez”

Beyond that, I am getting a little bit sick and tired of the Peron-Chavez analogy. Everyone seems to argue that Chavismo without Chávez will be like Peronismo after Perón.

Sorry, Perón is to Chávez like Salazar is to Chávez.

Really, because the Peronismo analogy is simply a terrible one. First of all, Perón had Evita, Chávez did not. Second, and more importantly, Perón was overthrown, Chávez was not. The Government after Perón persecuted Peronistas, which only helped the legend grow. By the time sixteen years had gone by, Perón was a legend, a mystical figure. When he came back , over 3 million people were there to meet him.

Chávez died and his followers will not be persecuted and his successor has turned out to be a light weight, that were it not for the short time, could be defeated.

Unlikely, yes, but if Capriles convinces the 6.7 million that voted for him to go back and vote and Chavsimo abstains, it could happen.

But let’s assume Capriles loses and Maduro wins. Maduro ain´t Chávez. Look at history. Tell me one successor of an autocrat that managed to hold on to power by maintaining the status quo. So, either Maduro shakes up the boat, or he is toast.

And by shaking up the boat, I mean to change course and try to fix what is wrong with Venezuela’s economy. Unless he changes his attitude after being elected, but it simply does not look like he will.

Which implies that Maduro will be in trouble in a very short time. Let me give you some examples of what bother me:

Corruption: Maduro is likely to get rid of Jorge Giordani in the Ministry of Planning and Finance and indications are that this will happen. (Like Giordani nowhere to be seen in all these announcements)

Well, this is a case of good news, bad news. The good news is any reasonable rational economist will be better than Giordani. The bad news is that Giordani managed to stop some of the corruption or “guisos” by detecting them (which he wasn’t too sharp at) and going to the big boss and stopping them.

Except that the big boss is gone and so will Jorgito the way it looks today.

Which means anything goes. Think arbitrage on steroids. Think raping and pillaging of whatever is left. You will be right whatever your guess may be. The only two “checks” and “balances” left, Hugo and Giordani will now be gone.

Anything goes…

-Stability: So, Maduro is elected, but everyone will be going after him. Maduro is trapped. If he becomes more moderate, he may find resistance form the true revolutionaries like his new Vice-President, Chávez’ Marxist son in law. Or Diosdado Cabello, who is likely to prefer to stay at the National Assembly, so that he can set his own course.

So, Maduro is in a tough position, he is not popular or even simpatico, but he better get results, or else..

He is also not very competent, as  to when he said that April 14th. was resurrection day, except it isn’t and you would not want to have an election on that day that everyone is traveling in Venezuela. And the resurrection analogy is a bad one, it could be Venezuela that will rise from the ashes.

So, be careful what you wish for.

And in contrast with Argentina,  Maduro’s problem is that he can stay in power forever, which means he will have no friends among likely contenders. I mean, Maduro could aspire to repeat in 2018 and why not? 2024

Which does not please his buddies.

And why you may be thinking of the obvious candidates, many aspire to replace Maduro and they will not skip a beat if Maduro fails them.

And when I say that, I think a very left wing military may try something, or a more moderate one could try something to, what Chavismo will call “right wing” and may also try something. But neither will survive long. Because I don’t think any of the sides in Venezuela is ready to accept any form of a military Government.

So, we may have lots of instability. Lots of changes between here and 2018.

Anything goes…

So, can Maduro survive six years if he wins?

Well, I doubt it. I don’t think the various Chavista factions will allow it. Each and everyone of them is likely to undermine Maduro. Each and everyone of them is likely to challenge any attempt by Maduro to change the course.

Including the Cubans.

So, things look bleak, even if you think you know what will happen at every turn.

Which in the end is bad for the future of Venezuela, because the path is likely to be full of instability and unpredictability.

In fact, I contend that we will not be able to recognize Venezuela’s political landscape in 2018. For Chavismo, the best likely outcome is to have Capriles deal with the economy. For Capriles, the best likely outcome is to have Maduro beat him, which may be the best outcome for the opposition, but not necessarily for Capriles.

Which only goes to show how uncertain the future is for Venezuela.

Unless oil goes to US$ 200 per barrel, which is possible, but unlikely.