Venezuela’s Dictatorship No Longer Cares About Appearances

May 13, 2014


For two and a half months, the Venezuelan Government had been extremely careful with the students and their protests. While it was aggressive and repressive at attacking those protesting in the streets, it had been respectful of the student camps set up in various parts of Caracas and other cities. The strategy by the students had been clever, they could not be accused of being violent, while camping near where many of the protests were taking place, allowing them to “feed” into the protests and retreat back to the camps when required. Moreover, the camps were in front of the United Nations in one case and near the OAS in the other. It seemed improbable that a Government involved in an internationally mediated dialogue would attack the camps. It would simply damage the image of the Government and tell the world what an outlaw Government Maduro’s has become.

Except it did not work out that way. Instead, the Government or someone decided to attack and raid the student’s camps. And the raids had many surprises:

-It was a military operation led by the Minister of the Interior Rodriguez Torres.

-It was an illegal raid, as the Prosecutors office was not only not informed, but had no representatives present at the raid, as required by law.

-The military raid arrested everyone in the camps, those sleeping on the streets and/or the sidewalks, with no legal justification for those that were simply protesting, without blocking the way, as guaranteed by the Constitution.

-Students were held incommunicado for longer than twenty four hours, without the Government releasing their names, allowing them calls or legal representation while they were mostly accused as a group, without being individually charged.

-The students were all subjected to drug tests, without any legal reason for it. In fact, only a small number were found to have traces of drugs.

-Minister Rodriguez Torres, who acted as prosecutor, policeman, investigator and judge in the operation, accused the students of being armed, despite them not using weapons once, including the night of the raid. Contrast this with the paramilitary groups who support the Government are usually seen publicly with their weapons.

-Most students were eventually released, those that were kept in prison were simply accused of “leading” the protests via intelligence evidence gathered prior to the raid. There is nothing illegal about being a leader of a protest.

While all of this is going on, Maduro keeps trying to talk dialogue, while Diosdado Cabello makes wild accusations against opposition figures, many of which are members of human rights ONG’s or are involved in the dialogue process.

So, can anyone understand what is going on here?

Well, I am not sure I can and that is why I have been silent on the whole process for so long, because the change in strategy not only took me by surprise, but I truly did not believe the Government would go and frontally attack the students like it did.

The question is whether the Government changed its thinking and decided on a new strategy, or whether this was an individual act by Rodriguez Torres. Or whether there is agreement on which strategy to follow.

My interpretation is that this was not a unified strategy, but that Rodriguez Torres acted on his own, after many discussions not leading to anything within the Government.

The camps had actually been quite successful. Within the Government there were, and are, large divergences on to how to handle them. Not doing anything was to many simply a sign of weakness. Doing something was an act of future intimidation to others, which was badly needed. While Maduro favors the dialogue that he agreed to internationally, he also believes that intimidating the opposition is the way to go, while Diosdado does not believe in the dialogue at all.

Thus, Rodriguez Torres acted on his own or tried not to involve Maduro in the whole operation as a way of having the President save face, and his image, while at the same time acting in the intimidating fashion that he had always favored. As the leading enforcer of the Dictatorship, Rodriguez Torres cares little about appearances, as his raid clearly demonstrated, while defending the empty revolution is all he cares about.

Meanwhile Maduro can welcome the Foreign Ministers arriving on Thursday and argue that he was unaware of the plan as there had been no agreement on strategy, but the protests had created an untenable position for him.

Of course,the raid and the way in which it was carried out completely (and finally!) destroys the image that Chavismo has tried to build and defend over the years of a democratic Government, respectful of the rights of others, while twisting and perverting the laws and its interpretations to have its way. To the UN, it was an unexpected slap in the face. And now Maduro will try to blame the break in the dialogue to the intolerant opposition, something that the Unasur mediators are unlikely to buy, but Chavismo believes that it can sell anything to what they think are the naive Foreign Ministers of Unasur. (After all, they have so far)

Unfortunately, this bodes badly for the Venezuelan opposition, whether students, MUD, anti-MUD, pro-Salida or whatever. Rodriguez Torres stepped over the line and got away with it. Next time he will push further. And the one after that even further.

Dictatorships are like that. They push the line and then they push it again, until they find themselves at a point where human rights abuses and appearances are simply irrelevant. Where the important thing is, as Rodriguez Torres said, the survival of the Bolivarian revolution, however failed it may be. And if next time it requires jailing dozens of opposition politicians, so be it. Or killing a few dozen protesters. Oh well! they were being too violent. An explanation will be found and we don’t care if you don’t believe us, we are a sovereign country.

There are too many games being played at once within Chavismo, that of appearing as a Democratic Government respectful of others, is simply no longer a priority. Human rights are simply not a priority for the revolution. Not even the appearance of respect for them. Neither are the students, the universities or the young.

You have been warned!

36 Responses to “Venezuela’s Dictatorship No Longer Cares About Appearances”

  1. […] What nego­ti­ated solu­tion? The so-​called “nego­ti­a­tions” fell apart already. […]

  2. […] What negotiated solution? The o-called “negotiations” fell apart already. […]

  3. Latulla Says:

    Que dirá Chavez!

  4. Latulla Says:

    Nigerian girls! donde esta?

  5. […] In fact, Venezuela’s Dictatorship No Longer Cares About Appearances. […]

  6. Juan Largo Says:

    He wrote: At a minimum, Why not demand that the illegal incarceration of Leopoldo Lopez by lifted as a precondition to face to face negotiations?

    This is an excellent point. But how much do leading MUD leaders really want to share the table with Lopez? Wouldn’t he steal the show single handed? One wonders why the opposition has not made a hard push to get the man out of jail unless vested interests say let him stay out of the picture. Sounds cynical, but hey . . . these are crazy times.

  7. m_astera Says:

    Venezuela is my country, if any country is. We will see this done. Have faith and belief.

  8. Lecherous Drunk Says:

    How do you enter the United Sates in 2010 broke, and then own 60 racehorses by by 2014?

    Simple: his father Tomas Sanchez Rondon was named as head of the state-run insurance company Bolivariana de Seguros y Reaseguros SA.

    Then you can own:

    The colt Social Inclusion, a phrase frequently invoked by Chavez to describe his policies to help the poor, is projected to be the second betting favorite in tomorrow’s Preakness behind California Chrome, with Pimlico Race Course forecasting that he’ll have odds of 5-1.

    Horses named after catchphrases of Chavez’s 14-year political program — Red Constitution and Peace Militant are others — have emerged from a stable in Pembroke Pines, Florida under the management of Ronald Sanchez.

    A regular critic of capitalism and the rich, Chavez jailed about a dozen brokers for their supposed involvement in money laundering, an effort led in part by Tomas Sanchez. In 2010 Chavez assailed businessmen for drinking Scotch at country clubs, playing golf and traveling to Miami, saying they were trying to be like Americans.

    Then you can steal their money and buy racehorses!!!

    • Ronaldo Says:

      In a perverse way, I wish that Social Inclusion wins the Preakness and all of Venezuela learns of the great triumph by a Chavista thief.

      Sanchez calls himself a financial advisor.

  9. […] The Chavista regime has not engaged in meaningful dialogue with the opposition and will continue to evade it. The regime has also increased its attacks on those who demonstrate against its repression. According to The Devil’s Excrement, Venezuela’s Dictatorship No Longer Cares About Appearances. […]

  10. Noel Says:

    Correction: first para. after “everybody stays” insert “home”.

  11. Noel Says:

    There is no point discussing whether the government violates this or that law: that government is in power, does whatever it needs to stay there and will never leave except by force. Venezuelans face a grim choice: fight or leave. Maybe a general strike where everybody stays can work.

    The opposition is divided and inept: why engage in negotiations when you are in a much weaker position than the government? At a minimum, Why not demand that the illegal incarceration of Leopoldo Lopez by lifted as a precondition to face to face negotiations?

    As Miquelina correctly argued, there must be a union of the people and (at least some in) the armed forces. Help will not come from abroad, although should Rousseff in Brazil and Santos in Colombia not be reelected, Maduro will feel some pressure; then again, if you look at North Korea…

  12. Roy Says:

    Got a message from a friend on Margarita…

    Sitting in a cafe in the morning a couple of days ago, someone walked right up to him with a 9mm pistol, pointed it at him and robbed him of everything, including his money, watch, keys, papers, etc. Everyone in the cafe was simply paralyzed watching it happen. He then just walked away with all my friend’s stuff. No fear of being caught or punished whatsoever…

    • Charly Says:

      I will up you one. Our nephew was held at gun point in the bank in Barquisimeto. Right in the freaking bank in front of everybody.

  13. Juan Largo Says:

    The internal situation is getting grave. My daughter, an MD, is doing her residency at a prestigious hospital in Ven and because of the spectacular debts owed foreign pharm companies, and the inability to get the dollars needed to square that debt and replenish supplies, hospitals are oftentimes working without even the bare minimum per medications. Surgeries are being postponed for lack of everything and the gov. is refusing to pay residents a wage till “next year,” believing as they do that all doctors save for Cuban imports are rich and spoiled fascists. Needless to say, the bulk of young doctors are looking to immigrate. My sense is that this is happening across the board in all the crucial civic services and that at some time, quite possibly soon from what I understand, they will reach a tipping point that will trigger a quick melt down where even basic services will grind to a halt. Matters are made worse because of Ven’s dependency on imports of so many basic staples. And when the gov. continually defaults on payment, or makes repatriating funds basically impossible, as is happening with airlines, foreign companies will simply stop shipping product. And if that’s not enough, I have a nephew who is a jefe at one of the big ports and he’s says that the majority of port bosses are interested in only one thing: how much dough they can glean off every container landed. Because in many cases the ships are owed millions, few if any are coughing up the old kick backs and shipping has basically stalled out completely. This is not sustainable – none of it is. I fear that the whole mess is going to have to melt down completely – which looks inevitable at this point – before any rebuilding can take place – not by common vote, but out of a need to simply survive.

  14. captaincs Says:

    You speak of the “government” as if it were a unitary entity. But, is it? Or are we seeing some form of power struggle between the various Chavista top figures? If the former, we are in trouble. If the latter, they might self destruct.

    In any case, Venezuela is suffering from brain drain and youth drain, no longer just capital drain.

    • Tom ODonnell Says:

      Good point. Here is what I responded, in light of Miguel’s post today, on the CC blog::

      “It could be that the suppression of the student prostest camps was a rogue act (see Devil’s Excrement blog today) by the Interior MInister Torres, as part of a PSUV faction’s intent on scuttling the discussions …. especially with all their recently reported talk/rumors in the ‘technical’ tables of officialismo promising to take some pragmatic/reform steps soon”

      If Miguel is correct about this being a non-sanctioned act (by Minister Torres), then this is another possible explanation?

      Pero, quien sabe…

      • Ronaldo Says:

        Don’t waste time trying to place blame on anyone besides Raul and Maduro.

        It may be a rogue act but Maduro and his government are not condemning it. This means they are complicit.

        Just like the Tupamaros who may not get direct orders but nonetheless know what the government wants them to do.

      • Dean A Nash Says:

        Or, it could be Torres playing to his Cuban taskmasters. Perhaps he figures that the Cubans would rather have someone in power with a firmer hand. If so, then he’s letting them know that he’s their man.

  15. Virginia Laffitte Says:

    Simply , HASTA CUANDO????

    • Hasta que la gente se termine de cansar.. mas escasez, mas desempleo, inseguridad, la economia todavia peor, y peor, y peor.Y hasta que no se callen los imbeciles de la Mud.

  16. Kepler Says:

    I think you are naive with regards to Unasur. These guys have every interest so far in Maduro staying in power.
    They will now state how worried they are the opposition is not into the dialogue, that only with much much dialogue we can bring about some peace and who is against peace? That’s what they will say because they want to keep having the trade surplus they are having with Venezuela.

  17. Roy Says:

    What is happening is that events are moving beyond the power of the either the government or the opposition leadership to control. The population is becoming ungovernable and the government is simply reacting without a true plan. All of the analysis and pontificating on these blogs is nearly pointless, because we are past the point at which leadership can control events.

    Sounding a little negative today? Yeah, I guess so…

    • Dean A Nash Says:

      Roy, I see it completely different. With shortages, the general population actually becomes weaker and more compliant. The people who could really fight – the ones with brains – have already abandoned ship. Not that I blame them. That is the premise of Atlas Shrugged.

      If there is any hope for VZ, for sure it rests with the students. I wish them all the best.

      • Dr. Faustus Says:

        Again, this is the plan, always has been. You don’t like what’s going-on? …LEAVE! …and soon. People had better understand this before it’s too late.

        • Dean A Nash Says:

          Exactly right. If you’re a Venezuelan, and not familiar with Operation Pan Pedro, you need to be, and right quick. It’s entirely possible that Chavismo is still leading VZ in 2054.

  18. FrankPintor Says:

    Well, in the students, Chavismo has taken on one of the few groups with little to lose, as well as with unlimited time on its hands. By beating, tear-gassing, and arresting the students, it’s providing them with all the motivation they need to keep protesting, and it’s pretty clear they are beginning to respond to the PNB, GNB, and “colectivo de la paz” thuggery in kind. I think there’s a good chance now that this will escalate into open and continuous street violence.

    Then you factor in things like water rationing in Caracas (this in the city with the biggest storm drains I’ve ever seen), electricity rationing in Miranda (I don’t think it’s been formally announced, but there are 4-6 hour power cuts daily in Higuerote now), shortages of everything from contraceptives to toilet paper, plus acute scarcity of flour, pasta, oil, butter… even in Chavista-inclined areas people have to queue for 5 hours plus to have a chance, any chance, of getting their stuff at Mercal. And they have to witness the scuffles and fights between people desperate to get food.

    The government is wholly incompetent and it can’t hide it any better than it can hide the megahuecos that are appearing around Caracas. Everyone knows, no matter what lies and distractions the various goverment showmen provide on their TV and radio shows (it seems like most of top Chavistas have a show of their own by now?). It looks to me like the game-playing within Chavismo will be overtaken by crude reality. I can’t see how this can continue indefinitely.

    Unfortunately, the opposition (outside of the student movement) is nowhere to be seen. The opposition have failed to capitalize on any of this, they’ve pulled all their punches so far, and also they’ve failed to build bridges to the important Latin American countries with a stake in Venezuela. Difficult though this last item might be, it’s crucial and needed to be done. All the government’s misfortune is self-inflicted.

    • Tony Says:

      No foreign government will react to the excesses of a “socialist revolution” unless and until the people take matters into their own hands and shoot the dictator (i.e. Romania’s Ceaușescu). Then everyone will talk about how bad the guy was, etc. I know I’m being uncharitable when I dream of the Castro brothers ending their miserable existence not precisely resting on their luxury beds. But the people of Venezuela have to make up their minds to get rid of this lot before international public opinion turns in our favor.

      • FrankPintor Says:

        I’m not talking about foreign governments reacting, I’m talking about the opposition doing some preparation for the future.

  19. m_astera Says:

    Umm, Cuba? As a model?
    I don’t think we need to look any further.

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