For Venezuela’s opposition, dawn broke on Tuesday with a jolt of political lightning and an auspicious photo-op. Interim President Juan Guaidó, flanked by heavily armed soldiers and the country’s best known political prisoner, Leopoldo López, announced the time had come to oust Nicolás Maduro.
With the help of rebellious troops, Guaidó held out the promise that 20 years of single-party rule — first under Hugo Chávez and now Maduro — could end with a military-backed popular uprising.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN that Maduro had even been prepared to flee — that he had a plane parked on the tarmac ready to take off to Cuba.
But as the day wore on, Guaidó’s army of defectors never appeared en masse. And rather than leading a colossal march on the Miraflores Presidential Palace, as some were hoping for, the push devolved into running and brutal street battles that left at least 60 wounded, according to local reports.
The answer is simple but the explanation is not. Venezuelans do not understand the concept of uprising. It is not in the collective DNA. Venezuelans also have an ingrained teaching that violence is bad and it is used as shield to cover the other problem: Cowardice is not seen as a shameful thing but as a survival skill. And they lack the stomach to do what needs to be done.
Venezuelans talk a great game. You see them in Twitter, and they are Cortez reincarnated ready to take the empire with a handful of fellas. But then when things fo down, when Evil goes out for a stroll. the talk ceases and they retreat to their little caves.
I love to give them shit in the Twitterverse. When they talk about how they are winning, I ask them about how many bodies of National Guard or National Police are stacked in the morgue and they suddenly go with the “This is not this kind of revolution” or our eternal favorite “Violence does not solve anything.” When I ask them about how many from the opposition end up in hospitals wounded or dead they get all babbly about sacrificing for the cause, of course it is OK as long as it is not their hides getting sutures.
And then, you have some who say they wish they have a gun so they could excise some justice against the regime’s goons. I tell them that despite the tough gun control law they have, guns can be found. I mean, the criminal sector has plenty of guns! I get told that they either do not want to deal with the bad guys or they can’t afford to buy a gun in the black market. I continue and tell them about not needing money to get a gun but maybe an ice pic or a very sharp Philips screwdriver. After that go on with the story of the Liberator pistol and the strategy behind it.
Horrified and scared, they usually block me after that.
Not since the Independence from Spain in 1821, Venezuela had any popular uprisings. They were usually created by some local big guy in the Interior of the country, pissed off at something or other and decide to wear the hat of a Strongman (he was already a major local asshole) gather some soldiers with the promises of women, booze and gold and set off to conquer Caracas. If successful, he becomes “President” and the corrupt circle that covered the deposed Strongman is now cooing at his ears, fine women in between his legs and delightful spirits coursing down his throat while his pockets got stuffed. The little fellas that came with him get stuffed and return home with broken promises. Wash, Rinse, Repeat and you have the next Strongman.
By the time the 20th Century arrives, people are sick of the failures of the uprisings and don’t follow anymore. By now, there is a strongly Prussian-trained military and officers who seek the highest rank possible: Comandante en Jefe de las Fuerzas Armadas, a title that can only be bestowed to the President. So they gather loyal troops and knock down the jackass in the palace and call themselves Presidents.
This is pretty much what happens for most of the 20th century till the 60’s when democracy finally wins and only because the Military was continuously bribed to remain faithful to the process. The couple of coup attempts that happened during that time were put down hard, but unfortunately, sometimes not hard enough or somebody would have shot Hugo Chavez in the back of the head when he tried his revolucion armada.
To make a short story long, Chavez went the democratic way and won. Took his time and did a Soft Stalin with the armed forces by retiring the upper echelon that did not swear allegiance to him and brought up totally useless officers who swore for the Revolution and are being paid Oh-So-Very-Well. Add to that Cuban Security services keeping an eye and ear on everybody and what you have is both a population without testicles and armed forces officers who will not risk death or loss of privileges, specially in these hungry times.
Guaido bet on the soldiers rebelling. He is an idiot because that does not happen in the Venezuelan Army. Yes they are hungry, but it is easier and less riskier to sell grenades and ammo to the criminals than take up arms against their superiors. Most of the officers would not risk their access to military supermarkets and food for their families and the Civilian population is unarmed and without the testicular fortitude to actually go to the mattresses.
Guaido also gambled on the civilians and in part it paid off with a small crowd showing up. But when armored cars started to play Death Race 2000 with the attendants and Less Lethal nd plain Lethal ammunition started to fly, a lot of them remembered they had other things to do somewhere else fast.
I still cannot understand how Guaido and the Opposition made this obvious blunder, unless they were looking for a Lusitania moment trying to bring the US Military into the conflict. I may be totally off the mark, but I just don’t like the bastard: he is a Socialist Light which means he won’t get anything fixed and is willing that others take the hit.
The Opposition march allegedly prepared for today should be like any other march in the last decade: Useless waste of time. A day off walking and waving flags with occasional bouts of Colectivo violence. Maduro will eventually leave, but God knows when and what Country without Extradition will take him. About the only way he’ll move fast is with a full immunity deal from both Venezuela and the US so he can spend the rest of his life enjoying the billions he stole.
I know, it is a pessimistic outlook but I think close to what will happen.