A Not So Subtle Change In Venezuela

August 4, 2015

I just came back to Caracas and my conclusion is simple: Things changed so much in five weeks, that everything seems to be happening at a faster pace, prices going up, scarcity at all-time high levels, people fed up, conflicts growing within the Government, violence increasing and Maduro focused on his war on the “Economic War” which all it does is make him the most popular Chavista, but not necessarily very popular.

But the two most significant factors are the rate at which prices are moving up (previous post) and the ease with which angry mobs  (above) have decided to loot and riot at the smallest excuse. Yes, the problem is the Government controls the media and few people see what is going on, but the looting is taking place in traditional Chavista strongholds. And they don’t occur because people are fed up of lining up to get something, they take place because people are fed up of standing in line and getting nothing: Neither bread, nor Harina Pan, nor diapers, nor contraceptives. It used to be a moment of triumph to find something, now the moments of victory are few and far between.

And every day, there is a new item that can´t be found, last week, as I came back it was bread and toothpaste. Great for my diet, no sandwiches for the Devil! Nor Cachitos, nor bombas, nor palmeras.

We are talking serious scarcity here!

Like there are also no Bills to pay things for. Despite an 80% increase in monetary liquidity (M2), the largest Bill is still Bs. 100, US$ 15.9 at the official rate, 50 cents at the Simadi official rate, but a scant 14 cents at the parallel rate.

To say nothing of the fact that when you call abroad you have to choose your carrier, as most have stopped carrying calls to less “popular”countries, in order to make it less noticeable that they are not paying their counterparts. That is why with a carrier I use, Switzerland is unreachable, while Spain and the US are still connected.

And people know who to blame, from Barinas to Apure. Oh yes, Maduro is popular among the 17% of the population that thinks of itself as Chavista. But the rest? They are looking for a leader and the prize is there to be taken.

Because inflation is not going to subside at a time that M2 and scarcity are accelerating. So, for the first time, I think the probability of “something” happening this year is not small. In fact it is quite significant. (30%?)

And what I mean by “something” is some form of Chavista cabal deciding to ask Maduro to step aside, get sick, move away and let someone save Chavismo. The “Patria” is another matter, for  now, it is only Chavismo that requires to be saved.

In fact, doing something like that may be exactly what Chavismo needs to spice up the Parliamentary elections. Otherwise, they act, but the elections  get postponed in the name of stability and peace.

What evidence do I have for this? The fact that a General was removed for killing some leaders of the “Colectivos”a few months ago, but these days the Government regularly carries out “Peace campaigns” in which 20 or 30 members of the Colectivos are simply killed by police or military.

Or the fact that military officers resent some of the recent promotions to Generals for the new (BoliGenerals 2.0) even richer Government officials, which have stepped down to enjoy their riches while controlling the purses of their former positions.

And you may ask: Why hasn’t something happened yet? Easy, no single group within the military feels they have control or they will be backed in their actions…yet. So, they wait in the shadows ready to save the revolutionaries, if not the revolution.

And perhaps the biggest signal of how bad things are, is that that the payroll in many companies is a couple of thousand dollars a month for many small and medium sized companies. Why close then if you are losing money? Wait it out, keep your employees fed and hope for the best. It is only ten grand a year and the reward could be big.

And that is why on the thirteenth anniversary of this blog I can stick my head out and suggest that there is some light at the end of the tunnel before the end of 2015, even if that light is still looks very red to me. The pace of change is just too fast. And if I am allowed to extrapolate even further after thirteen years, those that may force the change may find out that their own actions  may accelerate change in a direction different than the one where they want to go. You see, if people think there is going to be change, they will probably ask for more than those forcing the change may be thinking of.

A not so subtle change is taking place and things are sure to accelerate in the months ahead…



53 Responses to “A Not So Subtle Change In Venezuela”

  1. Ira Says:

    Will the stores be closed on Dec. 6th?

    I bring it up because the opposition is blaming Saturday’s beyond dismal rally numbers on the fact that everyone was on line looking to buy stuff.

    So could the government use this as a tactic to suppress turnout?

  2. Floyd Says:

    So the beer runs out and they want to invade Guyana… despots

  3. […] A Not So Subtle Change In Venezuela […]

  4. moctavio Says:

    Fernando Leanme: I have a cousin (female) who says that the Venezuelan man that does not want to be President does not exist. She also says that the Venezuelan military officer whose only goal is to become President is 100% of all military officers.

    Having said that, I think Maduro and the military are not happy with Cuba. They have had lots of issues recently, from Cuba backing Guyana, to Cuba making friends with the US, to the many deals in which the Cubans make money.. In any case, these military officers probably want to get rid of the Cubans.

    • Are they sending oil to Castro with discounts? Do Cubans get privileges like they did when I lived in Venezuela? Who runs the notaries? I ask because I got the feeling Chávez half bakedly handed control to the Castro machine. And one thing is to dislike the monkey on your back, the other is to do something to get it off.

      • moctavio Says:

        The animals that want to get rid of Maduro, are not the same animals. If they get what they want, there will be a lot of planes leaving for Havan. Remember, what they dont like is Maduros’ indecisiveness about everything which is leading to the country running down the tubes. And yes, imports to Cuba are down. And if it is true that some of the gold went to Cuba and they dont want to ship it back, maybe it will be none.

        • Ira Says:

          I’m posting this as a reply to you, Miguel, even though it isn’t. But it’s on the subject of Chavistas getting on planes to Havana when their party is over:

          What the hell is going to happen when a future, RATIONAL VZ regime starts laying down indictments and extradition requests for Chavistas who fled to Cuba? And what position will that put the U.S. in?

          How can the U.S. justify normalizing relations with a Cuba regime that now of course employs reciprocal extradition treaties with VZ, but will most certainly NOT, if the opposition ever gets power?

          I can’t imagine how stupid it will make the U.S. look, but I’m also curious how some other LatAm countries will react to extradition requests, even those now “friendly” to the Chavista regime.

          • Island Canuck Says:

            I suspect that Cuba will not be so willing to accept Venezuelan criminals.
            What’s in it for them?

            There is no upside.
            I think they will just tell them no, find somewhere else.

            They will still have options like Nicaraugua, Bolivia or North Korea.

  5. M Rubio Says:

    Though I own a home in the city of Maturín, I rarely go there so I don’t get to see the conditions there first-hand. My daughter-in-law tells me there are long lines everywhere to buy the few ítems that arrive at the markets.

    Here in this pueblo, little arrives these days by truck. Most of what’s sold in local bodegas is brought in by bachaqueros.

    Interestingly though, while most everyone complains about the conditions, I don’t sense much anger, almost none really. There is no sense of seething just below the surface as though something’s about to explode. It’s more of a sense of resignation that the situation is bad and getting worse but there’s absolutely nothing they can do about it. Most seem to take the stance that someone else will have to be responsible for making changes, not them personally.

    If, when, the explosion comes, it’ll come from the cities as best I can tell and I imagine that, as usual, it’ll start with the youth. When fathers and mothers join in with force, then maybe finally something will change. Until then, I see more of the same piled higher and deeper.

    • In Poland it was shipyard workers. I believe in Rumania it was miners. If Venezuelans expect students to accomplish anything they sure got it wrong. And given the circumstances the best solution is to do absolutely nothing and go vote in their rigged elections. That’s very hard to do, but right now the Maduro regime wants street action. So the best so,union is to avoid it, and do nothing. Don’t even go to work, don’t go to school, don’t go to the movies. Sit around and wait for the elections.

      • M Rubio Says:

        Not going to work and sitting around and waiting? Venezuelans generally have that in the bag.

      • Tony Tan Keng Yam Says:

        Most people don’t have a savings account to eat from, in Petare Guatire or Barlovento. They live de la mano a la boca, dude, if they lose their jobs would you support them while they wait and do nothing?

        • M Rubio Says:

          Dude, most Venezuelans don’t have jobs now and haven’t for almost a generation. As long as they have something to eat today, and can get drunk on the weekend, then everything is peachy. This is why socialism is tailor-made for Venezuela. The problem is that the Chavistas are so inept they can’t even figure out how to steal from the rich to give to the poor.

      • Lalo Lalona Says:

        Mr. Lameme do you work? I get the feeling that you spend your entire days spouting opinions about everything on blogs – probably while wanking in your mothers basement.
        Commenting on blogs will not start the revolution that’s for sure.
        Give you hands a rest, please.

  6. Ana Says:

    30% chance of something happening? How the blogger came up with such optimistic figure? He is obviously disconnected from the Venezuelan reality. The situation is indeed quite explosive right now. Will the unleash of events lead immediately to a gov change? This one is harder to know. But something that is amazing to see is how every gov action becomes a big screw up. Even the most straightforward decisions are taken to match the worst outcome. Is this just plain incompetence or something else? Is the intention to accelerate the crisis and then come out swinging with the most repressive reaction to suppress whatever is left of the meager opposition movement and instill fear in the angry population? Not to mention getting an excuse to suspend elections. I hope they know what they are doing otherwise the grenade that will explode on their faces will leave them in such a bad shape that whatever money they have stolen will all be needed for reconstructive surgery (Assuming that they survive).

    • Ira Says:

      Ana, the blogger Miguel is Venezuelan, living in the states now, but visits about every other month.

      I would hardly say he’s disconnected from the Venezuelan reality.

  7. shrillary clinton Says:

    to bad you all cant eat all that second rate Russian military hardware El Mucho Macho Mucho Jefe Grande bought….maybe you can sell it to Zimbabwe

  8. M Rubio Says:

    A question moctavio, and perhaps a response almost needs its own blog entry. Suppose the Chavistas are thrown out of power. What does the next government do to bring some semblence of normalcy to this economy?

    From where I see things, this economy has been so twisted, manipulated, distorted, and screwed with, I can’t see it recovering using the same currency. What viable options are there to right the ship without increasing the already crushing economic burdens felt by the general public?

    • Ronaldo Says:

      Have free markets with safety nets to protect the poor. Bring industry back to Vzla. Respect ownership rights. Stop stupid labor laws. Take the government out of the economy.

  9. notiven Says:

    Standup comedians, like Emilio Lovera Laureano Márquez, where maybe a year ago they made you laugh with the whole ting like lines and difficulty to obtain things, now their jokes are not funny.


  10. But Mark Weisbrot said….

  11. M Rubio Says:

    I’ll be amazed if the elections are actually held, unless the results have already been tabulated showing a smashing victory for Chavismo.

    • Ronaldo Says:

      Chavez predicted many of “victories” down to the percent weeks ahead of time. No tabulations are needed when you have near perfect forecasting.

      • bhood11bhood11 Says:

        I see even the Carter Foundation has closed shop in Venezuela. They don’t want to be publicly embarrassed by association with any upcoming elections”. The more honest among them must already be privately embarrassed by their endorsement of the 2012 farce and what has followed on from it.

  12. Wanley Says:

    If it blows up and the military “formally” take over the game changes. It’s different to fight against an “elected democracy” than a formal dictatorship.

  13. Tony Tan Keng Yam Says:

    I was also wondering if Vzla could wait until the next elections fraud before it finally explodes and all hell breaks lose.

    People really seem to be way too pissed off to wait 4 long months now, many probably realize it{s gonna get better anytime soon next year with any MUD, either. If the shit hits the fan before Capriles and even LL and all expected it, it will catch the MUD unprepared, while CapoCabello and his Militares already have plan B and plan C underway.

    Even el Tonto Util and his crowd seem to be comfortable, almost inviting further turmoil, ready to declare Estado de Excepcion and cancel the elections. If Cabello decides to kick Masburro to the curb, backed up by the most powerful corrupt military thugs, Vzla is really, really screwed. The Guardia Nazional, Police and Sebin are also deeply corrupt, ready for much worse repression.

    Light at the end of the tunnel, yeah.. a huge truck coming at full speed, as Laureano Marquez says..

    The only solution would be if somehow an anti’chavista Military could grab the power, an MPJ or a Pinochet of sorts. Some right’wing authoritarian Regime, blood will be spilled anyway. But in 17 years Pinochet killed about 247,000 LESS people than Chavismo has killed in the same 17 years, and that s only violent murders, not counting tens of thousands thousands more dead due to the lack of medicines and horrible hospitals. Look at Chile now.

    The coup the Devil is suggesting here, or the one many observers like me would much prefer, are highly unlikely now.

    “You see, if people think there is going to be change, they will probably ask for more than those forcing the change may be thinking of”.

    How so? The Military, Police, Guardia, Sebin are ALL utterly corrupt Chavistas, and they would even be persecuted for multiple crimes, plus the nasty DEA for drug traffic. They won”t let go without a fight, and it will probably be a bloody one..

    My best advice for anyone still in Vzla.. Get the hell out now, before the shit really hits the fan.

    • Ira Says:

      Interesting perspective! And I particularly like your comparison of deaths under Pinochet and deaths under Chavismo, so which is actually worse?

      Like, the medicine may be painful, but it’s the medicine needed to save the patient’s life. But like you said, there’s no one in the picture ready to take on the job.

    • Ira Says:

      Second paragraph, you meant to write, “Many probably realize it’s NOT gonna get better anytime soon next year with any MUD…”

      • Tony Tan Keng Yam Says:


        Whatever happens next, a bloody popular explosion, some military coup, or a somewhat “peaceful” transition to the MUD, through fraudulent “elections”, it’s going to continue to be a complete Mess for decades to come.. unless the coup were to come from a somewhat benevolent, constructive faction of the military, that would bring some order, extremely tough corrective measures, and then give up power for a better Republican Democracy in a number of years. Highly unlikely.. but one can always dream, look at Singapore or Chile.

    • Boludo Tejano Says:

      The only solution would be if somehow an anti’chavista Military could grab the power, an MPJ or a Pinochet of sorts. Some right’wing authoritarian Regime, blood will be spilled anyway.

      Not likely.
      1) Chavismo has had 16 years to promote Chavistas and cull out any anti-Chavista tendencies in the military.
      2) The Chilean military was fairly united. Not likely that behind the scenes the Venezuelan military is mainly anti-Chavista: too many are raking in drug money. There would be substantial opposition in the military to a milico who wanted to “clean things up.” Why get off the cocaine gravy train, say many in the military.
      3) The likelihood of a competent military government is about as strong as the likelihood of a competent Chavista government. For every Pinochet, there is a Videla or a General-President Lucas-Garcia [Guatemalan- who died in exile in Puerto La Cruz..] Sorry, most General-Presidents are woefully incompetent. You may wish for a Pinochet, but you are much more likely to end up with a Videla or a Lucas-Garcia,

      4) Another difference with Chile and Venezuela is that there was strong civilian support for the coup. Three weeks before the coup, the Chamber of Deputies passed a resolution by an 81-47 vote, a strong 63% majority, which stated that Allende had repeatedly violated the laws and Constitution of Chile, and requested that the military perform its duty. Allende correctly saw the resolution as an invitation to a coup.

      • Tony Tan Keng Yam Says:

        Agree. Kleptozuela is completely screwed for decades to come, whatever happens, more hard-line Chavismo or a new ad/copey/vp/chavista-light MUD, after their “amnesty”.

        Esa vaina se jodio….

      • Boludo, I have the suspicion that, below the rank of general, there are few who support Maduro. They may be Chavistas, but they are unhappy with the turn of events since December 2012.

        I agree with the comments that it’s likely to get worse. Elections won’t solve anything. And the only way out I can think of is for the USA to avoid taking off the economic sanctions on Cuba, because that’s the only viable card they have to get Raul and his son Alejandro (the future dictator) to allow Chavistas to talk Maduro into resigning. The Cuban people are in for more dictatorship if Alejandro inherits the dictator throne from Raul, but that’s something the people have to sort out. We aren’t about to get help from the Israel lobby, that’s for sure.

        Which brings up an interesting idea. If Celia is in the National Asssembly, can she take out Cabello and take over if Maduro has to resign “for health reasons”???

        • moctavio Says:

          No, if Maduro resigns for health reasons, the VP takes over and she can not be VP. Cabello could have become President, only because Chavez absence was absolute and the law says that an absolute absence requires elections and the President of the Assembly becomes President while there are elections.

          Maybe she wants to be Deputy to have immunity…

          • Ira Says:

            Are you telling me that certain officials are immune from prosecution, regardless of the alleged crime(s)?

          • In this case (if Maduro resigns), Arreaza becomes president and this puts the Chavez clan back in the Presidential throne, with a Chavez Princess as First Lady….. And the former First Lady retains the National Assembly presidency.

            Do you think Raúl Castro prefers Arreaza & Flores to Maduro & Cabello? I think he does. All he needs to do is convince Maduro to resign for health reasons, have cash secured to flood stores with food in November, and knock off the required number of opposition candidates….hell, I bet Raúl is going to discuss this plan with the Head Illuminatus when he visits Cuba.

            • moctavio Says:

              The VP becomes President, I dont think they would leave Arreaza as VP, it would be a military or former military. And Cubans will not influence much the decision…

            • Which former military would volunteer? I understand the Venezuelan president’s bodyguards are Cubans, he flies a Cuban plane. And I hear Maduro was chosen by Raul, who had Chavez doped to get him to designate Maduro.

    • Joe Says:

      Venezuela is the second most deadly country in the world according to the UN http://globovision.com/venezuela-es-el-segundo-pais-con-mayor-mortalidad-por-el-hampa-segun-estudio/ . Average: 68 deaths x day. This violence is directly and indirectly caused by the government, so, in 19 years Chavismo has killed more people that Pinochetismo.
      I think Venezuela´s future is nor better or different; is going to get worse, but then it will get better. Why? Because there is nothing that can stop the implosion (if Maduro resigns and Mendoza takes the wheel in one day, it will implosion-ate faster everything) and at the end, people will not tolerate any other ideology or shit story that not pulls back Venezuela out of the shithole. If you don´t give results, you will be strongly force to step aside. Sadly, Venezuela has to die, to reborn again. There is no middle ground. On the bright side of the story, Venezuelan has already learn that corruption will eat out alive any amount of money, leaving behind corpses and desolation, so this will be the base to create strong institutions that will not bend with the desires of any president.
      This will take time. The amount of time will be determined by the amount of time it takes to destroy everything first, and create a solid legal structure and a huge prison policy. As soon as this is built, large amount of millions of dollars will pour in Venezuela to rebuilt business, services and products.

      • Boludo Tejano Says:

        in 19 years Chavismo has killed more people that Pinochetismo.

        As there are 68 murders a day in Venezuela, versus 3,000 killed by the Pinochet regime, it is more accurate to say the following: In two months, more people are murdered in Venezuela than the Pinochet regime killed in 16 years.

  14. Tony Tan Keng Yam Says:

    “Oh yes, Maduro is popular among the 17% of the population that thinks of itself as Chavista. ”

    Mr. Devil, can you please elaborate? Latest poll I saw had about 30% still supporting Maduro/Government, 30% for the MUD, and 30% “undecided” or “independent”, most of whom still love el Comandante Pajarito Eterno.


  15. alejandro Says:

    My sentiment indicator is Luis Vicente Leon’s weekly comment. And on the economy, finally, he has lost all hope that something will happen. He has thrown into the bin his economics 101 text and has adviced everyone to be brave because things are going to get worse.

    Although economics is the way forward for a diagnosis, unfortunately resilience and peace are dependent of the political process. There’s no reason at all to believe that the regime will let go and allow somebody else to handle the crisis. Thus, we will reach the bottom when a curfew will be declared and Cota905 will take place in the National Assembly and Miraflores.

    There’s anarchy and chaos, and that means that it is uncertain.

  16. Island Canuck Says:

    I honestly doubt that they can afford to let an election happen.

    There are just not enough tricks they can pull that will avert a disaster for them.

    If you live here you can feel the increase in tension growing.

    Yesterday we drove some 30 km to go to one of the main supermarkets in Porlamar & to do the week’s shopping and returned home empty handed.
    A few bars of soap and a Head & Shoulders small shampoo had arrived. There were so many people in lined up outside & the check out lines were so long that we just gave up. I don’t do lines – no patience.

    That’s the second time that has happened in the last month.

    Prices are jumping 20% to 30% from 1 week to another.
    Every store you pass has zamoras (vultures) waiting outside to snatch up any missing products that arrive. As soon as something arrives the word goes out & in minutes hundreds of people show up.

    The pressure in the bottle is close to an explosion point.
    It won’t be pretty.

    • Dr. Faustus Says:

      A very interesting post. It would appear that the level of sophistication in this arbitrage economy is increasing by the day. Every store is watched. Every shipment monitored. Even if food shipments were scheduled to increase in any food pipeline, those actions will be quickly defeated by the newly-acquired knowledge of the Zamoras. They now know what they’re doing. Cell phones bring about instantaneous communications in a so-called ‘war zone.’ They’re gonna have to shut down that cell phone network to even have a chance at succeeding. Wow. Scary. Unreal.

  17. Dean A Nash Says:

    There’s a reason that we say “love is blind”. I’m sorry, Miguel. I wish things were as optimistic as you imply. What comes next is what always comes next – brutal repression. You yourself stated that this is already happening on a small scale. If you’re killing your opposition, morally there is no difference between killing 30 and killing 3,000.

    I can see that happening at one of these protests, and if they persist, in one or two more. Quickly the population will figure out that if they want to survive, they must keep their heads down.

    Anyone left in VZ, reading this, should GET OUT NOW. Cross into Colombia, whatever it takes. (I hear the U.S./Mexico border is particularly porous if you’re a rapist.)

    One thing I’m sure of, this doesn’t end peacefully. The Chavistas have committed too many atrocities to go quietly in the night. The end of Chavismo means their destruction.

  18. Ira Says:

    Well, putting aside what happens between now Dec. 6, on that day, there will be a substantial opposition win.

    One PSUV option is to accept defeat and carry on with reduced power, which will hopefully bring policy improvement.

    Another option is that they will play the role of spoiled child, trying to hurt and thwart MUD every step of the way, causing MORE chaos.

    Or they can simply deny the results and claim they won, which because the people KNOW is bullshit, would finally bring about the Civil War, or violent uprising, that VZ has been flirting with for so long.

    Now, knowing Chavismo, do you really think option one is a real possibility?

    So I don’t share Miguel’s optimism that because of the recent acceleration of events, that things will get better. DIFERENT, maybe…and different in an ugly way…but not better.

    • Ira, the Chavistas won’t lose the elections. They have been mentored by Castro’s guys. The mentoring includes the firm belief that “within the revolution, everything, against the revolution, nothing”, and “democracy is a bourgeois idea, we can’t allow the people to decide if they will decide to oppose the revolution”. Those are Fidel Castro’s words taught to Cuban dictatorship trainees like Maduro, Chavez, Flores, Jaua, etc.

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