Who Is In Control In Venezuela? By Paul Esqueda

March 8, 2014

My good friend Paul Esqueda, a very distinguished Venezuelan, with a career in science and science and education management, asked me if I could publish here his article expressing his concerns about where Venezuela is headed. I do so with great pleasure.

Who is in control in Venezuela?

Paul Esqueda

The recent events in Venezuela suggest a very concerning trend. The Government seems to control the centers of power (the Military, Congress, the Supreme Court, the National Elections Board and most of the governors and city mayors). However, a critical piece such as the economy is completely out of control. Inflation is at an all times high (55%), the parallel market rate of exchange of the national currency is ten times that of the official rate fueled by an obvious shortage of US dollars, and the supply chain of consumer goods is completely disrupted with the consequent shortages of vital consumer goods in the supermarket shelves. There seems to be a mix of improvisation and ignorance with the end result of very poor management of the economy. In addition, oil production seems to be declining, which is the most important source of revenue of foreign currency. Furthermore, the Government has not be able to honor the debts to most suppliers from neighboring countries and the international airlines. These are just some of the serious imbalances of the economy that may lead Venezuela to be a failed state.

Since Chavez came to power he began the creation of a “militia force” to defend the revolution. At the time, most public figures warned that this type of paramilitary forces presented a huge potential danger for our society. They have no clear chain of command, they are not trained to apply the rule of law, and most important they could get out of control at any time with their fire power. This is actually happening as I write these lines.

The Movement of Democratic Unity (Mesa de la Unidad Democratica, MUD) gathers most of the opposition groups. They have made every effort to turn things around by pointing out the economic imbalances with very little success. As a very democratic movement, the MUD is a heterogeneous group with many critical thinkers and very strong intellectual power. The MUD has promoted peaceful protests with rallies that have had massive attendance. However, things are getting out of control because the protests have taken root in many neighborhoods in Caracas and in most large cities in Venezuela setting up barricades (guarimbas) and progressively paralyzing the economy. The student movement, mostly from higher education institutions, are leading the guraimbas together with the local residents in each neighborhood. By the way, the MUD has very little control over the student movement. The MUD has constantly called for peaceful protests and have condemned the guarimbas as a violent and improper approach. The Indeed, one of Venezuela’s most important political analysts and economist, Luis Vicente Leon, referred to the guarimbas as a “path to a cliff.” Most importantly he claims that there is a “lack of leadership” and no clear way to funnel the powerful street protests.

The Government has opted to exercise all its power to crush the guarimbas by massive repression and shear use of military and paramilitary power. The consequences are evident, blatant violation of human right and a fake approach to power. Nicolas Maduro would call for a peace conference and dialogue only to turn around a few minutes later and order his militias to “wipe out” all protesters. Words definitely do not follow action, a clear lack of integrity that does not contribute to generating trust.

The Organization of American States (OAS) has been called to intervene by invoking the “Democratic Letter.” This is an agreement signed by all OAS members with a commitment to enforce democratic principles such as respect for the diversity of ideas and freedom of speech as we understand it today. OAS is moving at a snail pace arguing that Nicolas Maduro was democratically elected and that Venezuelans should resolve their issues among themselves. On the other hand, Nicolas Maduro argues that the protesters are a minority that only represent the upper class in Venezuela. Nothing further from the truth, the protest and barricades have taken root in all neighborhoods. Those low income neighborhood that stay quiet are under the rule of the militia thugs that violently repress any sign of dissent. Two important conclusions: the guarimbas need leadership badly since they are out of control and democracy is extremely lacking in Venezuela.

The whole argument of this article is that the Government is not in control of the economy (the main source of the problem as admitted by Chavista Governor of Tachira State, Jose Vielma Mora) , the militias are out of control, and the guarimbas are out of control. So who is in control in Venezuela? Is Venezuela at the verge of becoming a failed state? Is chaos going to reign in Venezuela? That is why the help of OAS is badly need in Venezuela. The human rights and freedom of speech pieces are pale next to the real challenges that Venezuela faces.

25 Responses to “Who Is In Control In Venezuela? By Paul Esqueda”

  1. NET Says:

    Who’s in control in Venezuela?–Anarchy and chaos, which hopefully could lead to real constructive change, perhaps faster than future rigged elections could. Who was in control in Venezuela before the street protests?–Anarchy and chaos, which destroyed the economy, democracy, Government institutions, and is in the process of destroying private enterprise and human rights.

  2. VJ Says:

    How to cope with Chavism


    Is it really possible, in the short term, to oust the Chavist government? Can what has just happened in Ukraine, and happened recently in the Arab world, happen in Venezuela? Has the Bolivarian system reached the end of its social and political tether? Is Maduro’s situation similar to that which brought down Fujimori in Peru, and other governments throughout the continent? Reports coming out of Venezuela, especially from the opposition, give the impression that Maduro’s government is about to fall as a result of the protests in the street. But to bring down a government by means of civic protests is no easy task.

    The polarization that prevails in Venezuela has contaminated political rhetoric with the logic of good and evil, impoverishing the political debate about what is really going on. After a decade, the denunciations of the undemocratic aspects of Chavism have become repetitive and irrelevant. It is common knowledge that it is not just social discontent that is present in the street protests, but also a struggle between the strategies of the two chief opposition leaders about how best to confront Chavism. That of Leopoldo López is aimed at bringing about the fall of the Chavist government in the short term; that of Henrique Capriles, at building up strength with which to confront and defeat Chavism in future elections. Who has the better plan?

    Continue reading:

    Joaquin Villalobos, 63, exguerrillero salvadoreño, jefe militar del FMLN. Villalobos al percibir el estancamiento de la guerra civil en El Salvador le propuso a Fidel Castro, principal soporte y aliado de la guerrilla izquierdista, la necesidad de buscar una salida politica al conflicto por medio de un acuerdo de paz y la convocatoria a elecciones libres .
    La respuesta de Castro es celebre “Los revolucionarios solo hacen elecciones cuando estan seguros que las van a ganar”.

  3. Gustavo Says:

    Almost out of milk and other basics at home. Where Maduro or the opposition stand from a political point of view will not matter soon. People will want answers for their perils and needs. Economics explains, but does not full peoples bellies !

  4. hgdam Says:

    Failed state, BS, my friends. This is no Somalia, not even Ukraine. Were Maduro to go (say, resign), he would be quickly replaced by someone from within the regime, legitimately (ahem, by elections I mean) or otherwise (a coup from within Chavism).

    Yes, the economy is a mess, but unlike Somalia and Ukraine, there is plenty of the devil’s excrement to go. Venezuela might well be mortgaged for generations to the Chinese and others, but we are far from becoming a failed state. On the contrary, we seem to be proceeding smoothly down the soft dictatorship of the civic-military cabal that has been just endorsed by the OAS.

  5. Ira Says:

    Really can’t agree with this analysis at all, and it started with “oil production seems to be declining.”

    SEEMS to be declining!?

    Next, if you don’t think that Maduro still controls, TIGHTLY controls, the colectivo militias, I have a bridge to sell you.

    Finally, I don’t know what kind of leadership or organization of the opposition is going to be more effective than what’s happening now. Counter-revolution is rarely organized, neat or pretty. More important, those kinds of tactics may work in bringing an administration to the table, one that’s sincerely interested in bringing about positive change for the people.

    But Chavismo? Forget it.

  6. Marc Says:

    “the guarimbas need leadership badly since they are out of control”

    Funny that Venezuela is totally out of control and you are annoyed with the last vestiges of civil disobedience that the brave Venezuelan people can almost miraculously still show. And congratulations for giving more ammunition to the Chavistas to beat the students, I can already envision your “out of control guarimbas” argument being used by them to justify the mass killings of those students.

    When Venezuela turns into an exact copy of Cuba (it will be soon, don’t worry) you will miss the guarimberos. Unfortunately, the streets will remain silent for decades, just like it is in Habana. You will probably enjoy. Sure, there are no guarimbas, but you can still hear the muted screams typical of a dictatorship echoing through the streets.

    • Alexis Says:

      He isn’t against the guarimbas, did you read the whole post?

      I think we can agree that the resistance could use better leadership and organization, it’s a disorganized mess at the moment. Everybody is acting independently with very little strategy for the whole situation.

  7. […] An article posted on Saturday at Devil’s Excrement notes,  […]

  8. Alex Says:

    I don’t want to be a part pooper but hey, the government is still in control, that is, Nicolas and all the thugs that stand with him.

    • Zoraida de De Gregorio Says:

      I fully agree with you. The opposition has sacrifies too much to advance very little. Maduro keeps playing the part of the devil or the angel to his advantage.Just watch the Amanpour´s interview at CNN and he fools everyone even Amanpour who acted candidly this time. Zoraida de De Gregorio

  9. Noel Says:

    I don’t think that Maduro or the Cubans want a failed state a la Haiti as it doesn’t serve their purpose. Freeing Lopez may be the best decision these people could make.

    Yes, it would cost them dearly, but if things continue on the current path, the cost to them is likely far higher.

    • When Maduro declares that the chaos, caused by the opposition is too much, out come the heavy boots. Then Venezuela can be cleansed and made into Chavismoland, from ground up.

  10. captainccs Says:

    >>>By the way, the MUD has very little control over the student movement.<<<

    Thank god for that! MUD does not substitute for BLOOD in the fight against tyranny. Fifteen years of peaceful protest begat Maduro, the criminal motorcycle bands, the brutal PNB and the treasonous GNB. We don't need more MUD with a bunch of "thinkers" who only want to share a pie that does not belong to them. First we need to take the pie back. Then we can think about what to do with it (besides keeping it out of the hands of adecos and copeyanos).

    Enough of platitudes. We need action. How do you knock the motorcycle gangsters off their bikes? That's what we need to figure out. How to fight back without weapons? That's what we need to figure out.

  11. Fantastic summary!

    This ‘failed state,’ unfortunately, is probably what the Chavista Regime is aiming for.

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