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.
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…