6/20/2014

The Revolting Chairs in Caracas

This week President Nicolás Maduro named Ricardo Menéndez his brand new Minister of  Planning. Ricardo has a Masters and Doctorate in Urban Planning. Comrade Menéndez will plan Venezuela´s budget an economy under President Maduro´s  guidance. Or will he? It seems Chavista ranks are having serious doubts about Maduro´s ability to lead the country.  

 Photograph: Nicolas Maduro (from Runrunes)

The new planner in chief   has been a member of the Bolivarian Leadership since 2009, when he became Science and Technology Minister. He also worked as the President of the Bolivarian Agency for Space Activities in 2010 and 2011.  From that job he moved to become the Minister of Industries.  Earlier this year he became Minister of Higher Education, a thankless job made very difficult by the strikes and demonstrations  by student bodies across the nation.

Photograph: Menendez shows off his planning skills 
(Correo del Orinoco)

Menendez´s  performance as Science and Technology Minister was heavily criticized by a Chavista-controlled National Assembly Commission in 2011, which called it “negligent”. In those days the National Assembly was led by Soto Rojas, an old communist guerrilla known to have close ties to Chávez and the Castro brothers.   Therefore, I have no reason to doubt Menéndez was negligent. And this doesn´t bode very well for whatever he does to try to pull Venezuela out of its current economic and social mess.

Photograph: Bolivarian Guard  "controls"
 protest at La Isabelica (Taringa.net)

The Planning Minister job was previously held by Jorge Giordani.  Giordani was fired from his post a week ago and proceeded to publish a letter in which he criticized President Maduro mercilessly. Imagine the man´s lack of respect for the Supreme Leader when he  accuses Maduro of  “a  lack of understanding of economic fact”.

To top it off Giordani claims “It is painful and alarming to see a presidency that does not convey leadership”  and adds  Maduro is  “destroying the work of institutions such as the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank”.

So what are we to make out of the “revolting” chairs in Caracas? It seems to me the regime is facing  the mother of internal crises. They have a communist faction pushing in one direction (Giordani, and other communists are in this group?). The other, what we may call fascist faction seems to include a motley crew….Rafael Ramirez, Diosdado Cabello and the Cubans are probably together forming  an odd arrangement of corrupt, pro-Cuban, and revisionist capitalist roaders. The opposition, which has  support from over 50 % of the population but lacks weapons and organization, sits outside the regime´s inner circles watching warily as Chavista factions line up for a dirty war.

In a recent interview on CNN, Dieterich said “the people´s dissatisfaction will force Maduro out of power, it won´t be the opposition, the people will force Maduro out”. What Dieterich didn´t describe in detail was the means “the people” could use to force Maduro out of power.  I don´t think the Cubans will let Maduro walk out of the Presidential palace voluntarily. They have put too much into Maduro, and this means violent opposition by Chavista ranks will be met by an even more violent response. This is why I mean by a dirty war. These guys are getting set up for an internal struggle which may mirror what happened in Argentina in the 1970´s, when the military dictatorship defeated the communist resistance movement.

Does this mean we may see “communist versus communist” dirty war? No. It has to be perfectly clear that Raul Castro is no longer a communist. Raul Castro is an old fascist dictator who fakes being communist. When the time comes, the Cubans will not hesitate to get rid of Venezuelan communists to make sure Venezuela returns to a semblance of normalcy with a more or less functioning economy. And this may have been the reason why Juancho Montoya was shot at La Candelaria on February 12th.

Photograph: Colectivo leader Juancho Montoya  complaining 
about Chavista corruption in a  video  made in his hideout 
 in 23 de Enero, Caracas (Reportero24)

Remember,  Maduro is Raul Castro´s puppet. The Cubans are in Venezuela up to their necks, and they have a lot at stake preserving Maduro in the presidency. And the Cubans know a lot about repression. So the key to Venezuela isn´t really in Caracas, the opposition, the protests, Maduro, or his supposed sidekick Cabello. The key is what happens in Havana.

And what do we know about Havana? Fidel Castro is dying of throat cancer, his influence is waning.

Photograph: Fidel Castro with Raul and 
Chavez in better days (The Guardian)  

This leaves Raul and his backers in charge. And Raul wants to copy the Chinese. Raul is a capitalist roader, and also wants to preserve the dictatorship. He also wants to control Venezuela so he can keep squeezing Venezuela´s oil fields. But for Venezuela to get squeezed and yield the cash flow Castro needs, it can´t be run by people like Maduro, Cabello, Menéndez or the others. The Cubans need a productive Venezuela, and that´s not going to happen with Maduro in charge.

 I suspect we will see the Venezuelan regime undergo drastic changes. Maduro may be kept as nominal head, but Raul Castro (or his designated viceroy) will have the last word. The Venezuelans will have to decide whether they live in a Cuban colony ruled by a fascist dictatorship in Havana, whether they want to fight, or whether they want to emigrate.  

Photograph: Cuban refugees arriving
 in the USA, now it´s the Venezuelans´turn 

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