July 6th, 2017

There’s real tyranny going on in Venezuela

Not fake tyranny.

This:

A mob stormed Venezuela’s opposition-dominated National Assembly on Wednesday with the apparent acquiescence of government troops and carried out a startling attack on lawmakers and journalists.

Bloodied lawmakers were treated for broken ribs and head injuries, and journalists said the attackers had stolen their equipment. The episode in Caracas, which coincided with Venezuela’s Independence Day, was a sharp escalation of lawlessness in a country roiled by a failing economy and daily street demonstrations.

“We’re here to defend Venezuela; that’s what we were elected to do,” Armando Armas, an opposition lawmaker wearing a bloodied white shirt, said in a video as two people cleaned what appeared to be head wounds. “Even if it costs us our lives.”…

While National Assembly lawmakers have been assaulted before, the attack on Wednesday was remarkable because the throng of assailants appeared to face no resistance from National Guard forces charged with securing the compound.

Another chapter in the sad sad recent history of Venezuela, a country that used to be relatively prosperous and relatively well-functioning—that is, until the socialists in the name of Hugo Chavez took charge. It’s been downhill ever since. Chavez is dead, but his successor Maduro lives on.

And this is especially ominous:

The assault came amid an intensifying political fight over Mr. Maduro’s effort to convene a constituent assembly that could render the elected National Assembly powerless…

In recent days, a rift has widened between Mr. Maduro and his attorney general, Luisa Ortega, who sharpened her criticism of the president’s plan to let a constituent assembly of handpicked loyalists write a new Constitution. The effort is widely seen as a ploy by a deeply unpopular leader to consolidate power by disbanding the National Assembly, which is controlled by his opponents. Ms. Ortega has denounced the plan as an affront to the country’s democratic principles.

The Supreme Court, which is loyal to the president, held a hearing on Tuesday that was expected to lead to Ms. Ortega’s removal; she refused to attend.

Enabling Act, anyone?

I would wager that Maduro is well aware of the history, and is determined to repeat it. Will the people of Venezuela be condemned to experience that repeat?

37 Responses to “There’s real tyranny going on in Venezuela”

  1. Cornhead Says:

    I hope Venezuela implodes soon. If the rebels want to win they need to sabotage the oil infrastructure. But they know that.

  2. J.J. Says:

    What is happening in Venezuela is a warning to all who long for socialism/communism. Venezuela was well on its way to being the most economically successful country in South America – until Chavez took over. He managed, beginning in 1999, to raise the country’s social welfare spending while he appointed his cronies to manage the national oil company that provided most of the money for his programs. When oil prices were sky high($80-$100/bbl), all was well. However, as prices fell, the neglect of the oil production infrastructure by his cronies became evident as well. Very quickly the government’s ability to pay all its bills and promises became evident. They had killed the “Golden Goose,” run out of “other people’s money,” made promises they couldn’t keep, and are now paying the price. Maduro and his henchmen are trying to maintain their positions through brute force. Maybe they will succeed and Venezuela will become just another failed Banana Republic with a beaten down citizenry living in poverty.

    Venezuela is like any bankrupt company. They need new management who will reintroduce sane fiscal policy and a plan to revitalize their oil industry by bringing back the experts they need to maintain and improve it. Will that happen? Doubtful.

  3. Gringo Says:

    In the “Picture Worth a Thousand Words” Department, consider the lead photo from this WaPo article: Government supporters attack Venezuelan congress, injure opposition lawmakers.
    Venezuelan lawmaker José Regnault, his face bloodied, leaves the National Assembly with Deputy Luis Stefanelli after a clash with demonstrators in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 5, 2017. (Miguel Gutierrez/European Pressphoto Agency)

    From the article:

    The attack left at least 15 people injured, according to opposition leaders, including one lawmaker who was rushed to the hospital with broken ribs and a head wound.

    Scenes of the melee shared on social media showed masked pro-Maduro assailants kicking and punching lawmakers in the chambers of congress and in the streets outside. Reporters inside the building were also attacked and robbed of their equipment.

    In the last week. Maduro said, what Chavismo couldn’t achieve with the ballot, Chavismo would achieve by force of arms. Just like what Mao said- “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

  4. vanderleun Says:

    “Rivers of blood.”
    “I tried to tell you.”

  5. Gringo Says:

    J.J.
    When oil prices were sky high($80-$100/bbl), all was well. However, as prices fell, the neglect of the oil production infrastructure by his cronies became evident as well

    Actually, the neglect of oil production infrastructure was evident years before the price of oil dropped. Chavez took over PDVSA in 2002, and by early 2003 had broken the strike, which gave him undisputed control of PDVSA. In 2007, a Chinese drilling rig near Anaco (Eastern Venezuela) burned down. For assistance in trying to figure out what happened, I e-mailed a former professor. His reply in part:

    I have been in Venezuela various times during the past 2 years and have noticed a significant deterioration of their equipment and infra structure so I would not be surprised about the report of rig losses.

    This was 10 years ago. It has only gotten worse.

    Some tin-foil-hat types have posited that all this unrest is the result of the CIA scheming to get control of Venezuelan oil. My reply is that the best way to get control of Venezuelan oil would be to destroy PDVSA- which before Chavez was one of the few well-run government-owned oil companies. Chavista control of PDVSA has destroyed PDVSA. Do we then conclude that Chavez was a CIA tool? 🙂

  6. parker Says:

    Deja vu all over again. Collectivism always ends in blood and terror.

  7. Gringo Says:

    The Supreme Court, which is loyal to the president..
    That is the understatement of the day.
    What’s the 45,475th stripe to a tiger?

    As we digest the unwelcome return of the chavista strategy to partially overturn the December 6th election results by leveraging its control of the Supreme Tribunal, let’s take a moment to recall the government’s record in that august body.

    Since 2004, chavismo’s batting 1.000 at the TSJ. The government has lost not a single case out of 45,474.

    It bears repeating, because clarity on this point will be crucial to how things play out: Venezuela’s Supreme Tribunal is a straight-up farce.

    It’s not that its “flawed”. It’s not that its impartiality is “suspected by critics.”

    It’s that the government literally never loses there because its decisions are decided at the Vicepresident’s office, again – and I hate to overuse the word – literally.

    You know that. I know that. Anybody who’s looked into this semi-seriously knows that. There are, after all, 45,474 reasons we can be sure.

    That is loyalty, albeit not loyalty to the law. One would think that Judges of the Supreme Court would be loyal to the law. But this is Venezuela.

    From 2006, there is a video of TSJ/Supreme Court Justices chanting “Uh, ah, Chavez no se va” (Uh, ah, Chavez isn’t leaving)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqhGverE-98

  8. Ed Bonderenka Says:

    An unarmed populace.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9lo0OxrXLo

  9. Frog Says:

    This always happens when one side plays by the rules and the other does not. Always.
    We have seen it here in the good ol’ USA and it will continue, ever-worsening. See Perez and Kamala Harris using the F-word in speaking of their opponents.
    Until we put the MotherF*ckers down, call them the criminals they are and put them away in camps like the NORKs do, or bury them. Even if they’re Neo’s lib friends who mean well, but are in fact enablers.

    “Maduro said, what Chavismo couldn’t achieve with the ballot, Chavismo would achieve by force of arms. Just like what Mao said- ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’.” Replace Chavismo with Democratismo, Obamismo or Clintonismo(a) and you’ll have it right for the USA.
    It was Democrats who were cool with Mao and his “struggle”, if you’ll cast your minds back to the good old anti-Vietnam days of yesteryear, with its urban violence, homemade bombs, and scampers to Canada. Who let those return uncharged, no penalties? Jimmah, I believe.

  10. Gringo Says:

    Consider what Telesur, a.k.a. Chavista propaganda outlet, had to say on the matter. Venezuelans Explain What Actually Happened During Congress Spat.

    On Wednesday, a group of government supporters entered the building of the National Assembly and confronted opposition lawmakers.
    Venezuelans who were outside of the National Assembly on Wednesday when a group of government supporters clashed with opposition lawmakers and security personnel have spoken out about their experience.

    The clash, which occurred during an event to commemorate Venezuelan Independence Day, left eight people injured and property damaged

    Those who were “outside of the National Assembly” and were thus unable to view the “spat” inside the National Assembly, “Explain What Actually Happened During Congress Spat.” Talk about double speak!

  11. J.J. Says:

    Gringo, thanks for the dating on the deterioration of the oil infrastructure. As Eric Hoffer said in his book, “The True Believer,” (paraphrasing) you can tell how a country is doing by asking to see the records of the maintenance of the infrastructure. No records or sloppy records means trouble.

    Those with a socialist mentality are prone to believing that maintenance will get done – mañana. But mañana never quite comes.

  12. Gringo Says:

    J.J.
    As Eric Hoffer said in his book, “The True Believer,” (paraphrasing) you can tell how a country is doing by asking to see the records of the maintenance of the infrastructure.
    Those with a socialist mentality are prone to believing that maintenance will get done – mañana. But mañana never quite comes.

    VDH informs us- and he should know- that California has neglected maintaining its freeways.

  13. Somebody Says:

    So when we talk about Chavez and Maduro being like Clinton and Obama, which parts are we talking about? The military dictatorship? The nationalization of industry? The wage controls and price freezes? The total collapse of the economy and imports? The security forces murdering protesters? The rigged elections and constitutional manipulations to hold on to power? Because there seems to be some pretty sharp distinctions between the nightmare in Venezuela and whatever problems we have in America.

    And when you say that Democrats were keen on Mao, did you mean that time Truman sailed the 7th Fleet into the Taiwan Strait to preserve Taiwan against Mao, or that time well-known Democratic president Nixon went to China, reopened ties with Beijing, and switched our recognition to the communists?

  14. Ymar Sakar Says:

    But that can’t happen here in America, right. After all, America is exceptional and protected by divine providence, right.

  15. Ymar Sakar Says:

    call them the criminals they are and put them away in camps like the NORKs do, or bury them. Even if they’re Neo’s lib friends who mean well, but are in fact enablers.

    Right, even if Hillary is Trum’s friend, she would be in jail if he was President, right…

  16. Gringo Says:

    Somebody:
    And when you say that Democrats were keen on Mao, did you mean that time Truman sailed the 7th Fleet into the Taiwan Strait to preserve Taiwan against Mao, or that time well-known Democratic president Nixon went to China..

    You have reading comprehension problems, as the anti-Vietnam War movement era was quite explicitly mentioned.

    It was Democrats who were cool with Mao and his “struggle”, if you’ll cast your minds back to the good old anti-Vietnam days of yesteryear, with its urban violence, homemade bombs, and scampers to Canada.

    Moreover, the mention was not of big-time pols, but rather what was going on at the movement level- at the grass roots level, one might say.

    Back then there was a bit of Mao-worship, courtesy of publicity about the Cultural Revolution. Getcher Little Red Book. Recall the lyrics from Revolution, the Beatles’ song:

    But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
    You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow

    I will give you a personal example of what he was referring to. My senior year in high school, back in the ’60s, a journalist with an interesting background spoke to my LRY group. He had been one of the few Korean War POWs who chose to not return to the US. He told us that he always intended to come back to the US, but wanted to see what China was like. Several years later, he requested a return back to the US, and the Chinese let him go back.

    When he talked to us the Cultural Revolution was in full swing. He had an interesting comment. He told us that he viewed Chairman Mao as a poet. Decades later, after I lived with Chinese who had lived through the Cultural Revolution, I concluded that the Cultural Revolution showed the folly of letting poets rule the world.

    In recent years, I found out there was a fair amount of information online about Korean War POWs who chose to remain in China- most of whom later returned to the US. I tried to match what I found online with what he had told us of his history, but I couldn’t find a match.

  17. n.n Says:

    It could be a liberal legacy coup. A progression from the Obama/Merkel-backed violence in Ukraine.

  18. Eric R. Says:

    I feel sorry for the 40-45% of Venezuelans who never voted for these scum.

    The rest — well, the fact is that their votes are the reason they had to bury their 2-year old child who starved to death and their 75-year-old grandmother who couldn’t get her diabetic medication.

    They can stand over the graves of their dead loved ones and apologize to them.

    But they won’t. Being leftists, these morally depraved idiots will blame Colombia, bankers, hoarders, America and Jews — anyone but their beloved Chavistas and themselves.

  19. Stan on the Brazos Says:

    Also, the Canadian oil moving to the Gulf Coast via the Keystone pipeline will displace a lot of Ven oil in the USA and the Caribbean, Ven’s oil industry is in a lot worse shape then people think.

  20. huxley Says:

    I don’t know if I would say Democrats were keen on Mao back then, but the American radical left certainly was.

    There was a political bookstore in Cambridge, MA just one subway stop before Harvard, named 100 Flowers, for the 1957 Mao quote, “Let one hundred flowers bloom” in which Mao encouraged open criticism of the communist government.

    Of course that openness lasted about fifteen minutes before the government began cracking down on the critics and sending them to labor camps.

  21. Ymar Sakar Says:

    But Leftists here and elsewhere Feel your Pain. Why can’t you compromise with the liberals of humanity?

    Just talking to them is compromise enough. That is why humans need an Absolute leader to tell them what to do. Even if they hate the Left and want to fight it, they refuse to do anything to actually fight. They need to be told when and how to fight by a leader. Otherwise they sit around chatting it up with Leftists as if they were equal humans in this nation.

    Sheep and shepherds.

    They feel your pain, so O care was for your benefit too. Let’s all sing a circle dance together, hold hands, and drink the Kool Aide at the end, right.

  22. Gringo Says:

    huxley
    I don’t know if I would say Democrats were keen on Mao back then, but the American radical left certainly was.

    Yup. Many of the radical left morphed into Democrats, leaving open the question about how much they had moderated. Think Tom Hayden.

    There was an SDS honcho on my campus whom I heard gushing about how Lenin should be made the focus of college curriculum. Not as in “Know your enemy,” but as in “Comparable to Plato or Shakespeare.” She didn’t go the Weatherperson route, but after graduation worked in a humble but challenging job related to her major- for which I respect her. After getting her doctorate, she became a state legislator, a position which she has held for several decades. I wonder what she now thinks of her Lenin-gushing. I suspect she would deny it. But I heard her gush.

    Having once camped out around the radical left, I have a mistrust of those who, once having been on the radical left, do not today regret in some way their radical stances. The Lenin-gushing I witnessed was a decisive factor in my turning away from the radical left. I had grown up among too many peers with Iron Curtain refugee parents to countenance Lenin-gushing. My taking a Politics class in 9th grade, where I read Ivan Denisovitch and wrote a paper on Soviet agriculture, didn’t exactly increase my tolerance for Lenin-gushing, either.

    Regarding Cambridge radical bookstores- I don’t remember 100 Flowers, but in the late ’80s I took a picture of my sister in front of some Marxist bookstore in Cambridge. “Marxist Bookstore” may have been its name.

  23. Brooklyn Boy Says:

    Venezuela voted for Chavez and now she deserves anything that comes with it from Maduro.

  24. Mike Says:

    I did business with Venezuela from 1980-1998 in two companies involved in aviation support for an oil company that became a component of PdVSA (Petroleos de Venezuela). Having traveled extensively to Caracas during this time, I can assure you the seeds for a Chavez-Maduro dictatorship were planted long ago. The serial corruption and mismanagement of the affairs of government, resulted in a huge population that never achieved a standard of living commensurate with the great oil wealth taken in. A friend of mine once remarked “the streets of Venezuela should be paved in gold”, as we looked upon what appeared to be a vacation castle made for the former leader CAP (Carlos Andres Perez) while vacationing on Margarita island in 1994.

  25. Gringo Says:

    Mike
    I can assure you the seeds for a Chavez-Maduro dictatorship were planted long ago….The serial corruption and mismanagement of the affairs of government, resulted in a huge population that never achieved a standard of living commensurate with the great oil wealth taken in.

    Around the time of the 2004 Recall Referendum, I worked for a company that employed a fair number of Venezuelans. When I remarked that Chavez got elected due to corruption- and his 1998 campaign promise to stamp out corruption- the reply came that corruption was worse under Chaves. That reply was correct, it turned out.

    Corruption and mismanagement are much greater today than they were under the Fourth Republic. In 1998, Venezuelan oil sold for ~$11/BBL. Today, Venezuelan oil sells for around $40-$50/BBL. Yet the food supply was much greater in 1998 than it is today. Infant Mortality went up 30% in 2016. Yet in 1998, with $11 oil, Infant Mortality went down.

    A friend of mine once remarked “the streets of Venezuela should be paved in gold”.
    That is a fantasy that many Venezuelans have. The truth of the matter is that per capita oil income in constant dollars is less than it was in the 1950s, due to a population that has nearly quintupled since then. This was true even when the price of oil was around $100/BBL in 2013. I will search around for the graph.

    CAP was a piker compared to the enchufados– those with connections to the Chavista corridors of power.

  26. huxley Says:

    Many of the radical left morphed into Democrats, leaving open the question about how much they had moderated. Think Tom Hayden.

    Gringo: Or Barack Obama.

    It still astounds me that Americans elected to the Presidency a man who was mentored by Rev. Wright, a Black Power advocate, who had visited Gaddafi in Libya with Louis Farrakhan, and by Bill Ayers, one of the top leaders of the Weather Underground.

    Back in 2008 when I was coming to grips with this new candidate, Obama, I ran across the names of Wright and Ayers and I knew Obama was a radical leftist at heart.

  27. Gringo Says:

    Gringo @ 12:20

    The truth of the matter is that per capita oil income in constant dollars is less than it was in the 1950s, due to a population that has nearly quintupled since then.

    “We’re Rich!” and Other Myths.
    Go down to Oil Revenues per Capita ( $ of 2015). Oil Revenue per Capita was higher in 1965 than in 2016, and not much lower than the figure for 2013, when oil sold for around $100/BBL.

    So my claim is pretty much documented from this graph.

    The fall in Oil Revenue per Capita from 1980 to 1986-1998 gives a much better explanation why Chavez was elected in 1998 than corruption. Juan Bimbo, the Venezuelan John Smith, has tended to judge his government on the amount of oil income it distributes.

  28. Mike Says:

    Gringo:

    You certainly write a lot and have some figures to offer up but:

    Obviously you cannot compare the level of corruption during what is perceived to be a democracy and the outright theft and seizure of monies and other assets during a dictatorship can you? And your numbers regarding food and infant mortality support my assertions well. You mention a quintupling of the population, but don’t point out that Venezuela allowed uncontrolled immigration for many years from other countries in SA creating the huge underclass referred to do you? The corruption and mismanagement was not during CAP’s time only, obviously cumulative of several leaders.

  29. Thomas Hazlewood Says:

    Look, folks, Venezuelans asked for this! They VOTED for this, repeatedly! Even this Attorney General who is now resisting WANTED this government.

    Both Illinois’ and Puerto Rico’s peoples (not to mention several other Blue states) voted themselves into their present insolvencies. Their peoples WANTED the governments that they have.

    As long as people are willing to vote for this type of ‘Death by Chocolate’, they will always find themselves afflicted with indigestion. TANSTAAFL

  30. vanderleun Says:

    Instalink.

  31. Gringo Says:

    Mike

    Obviously you cannot compare the level of corruption during what is perceived to be a democracy and the outright theft and seizure of monies and other assets during a dictatorship can you?
    You brought up the issue of corruption during the Fourth Republic, and I replied, correctly pointing out that corruption has been worse under Chavismo. Recall that Chavez campaigned in 1998 on the promise to stop corruption.

    And your numbers regarding food and infant mortality support my assertions well.
    What assertions?

    the corruption and mismanagement was not during CAP’s time only, obviously cumulative of several leaders.
    I never claimed that corruption was unique to CAP’s time in office. You used CAP as an example of corruption, and I replied.

  32. neo-neocon Says:

    Thomas Hazlewood:

    Do you think Venezuela has held free and fair elections in recent years?

    See this, for example.

  33. Gringo Says:

    Thomas Hazlewood
    Look, folks, Venezuelans asked for this! They VOTED for this, repeatedly! Even this Attorney General who is now resisting WANTED this government.

    Venezuela’s Upcoming Election Won’t Be Any Fairer Than the Last One. (2013) Consider the following:
    1) State funds used for Chavista campaigns, but not on opposition campaigns.

    The electoral campaign process, meanwhile, was patently unfair. Chavez had unlimited use of state funds and state infrastructure to carry out his campaign. The campaign was overwhelmed by a cult of personality that rivals Middle Eastern tyrants. Chavez billboards across the country touted the promises of the revolution and the supremacy of the lider unico. The ruling party campaign was lavishly and freely financed with state funds, while the opposition was denied any public financing whatsoever (and Venezuelan businessmen knew they faced expropriation, or worse, if they openly supported the opposition campaign).

    2) Media dominance- a dominance which reflects government interference, not the free market.

    Then there was perhaps the most critical element of a modern election campaign: access to the mass media. Via the arbitrary issuance and withdrawal of licenses, Chavez enjoyed the support of all but one TV channel in the country.

    RCTV, an opposition TV channel, did not have its license renewed in 2007. Chavismo took over 34 radio stations. Another way is to levy fines on media outlets, rendering them unprofitable- and then have a government friend purchase the media outlet.
    3)Another unfair media advantage is the use of cadenas,whereby the President can be broadcast on all channels .

    On top of all this, during the campaign Chavez regularly commandeered all of the airwaves, citing presidential privilege. The process is aptly named cadenas (chains) and compels all TV and radio stations, no matter the ownership or their politics, to broadcast the president’s speeches in full–no matter how long the tirade. Chavez’s “chains” had the effect of crowding out any significant news regarding the opposition. For instance, on September 17, 2012, during one of the largest rallies in the Capriles campaign, hundreds of thousands turned out to hear him speak in a Caracas park. The event was broadcast live all around the country on radio and TV. However, shortly after Capriles began to speak, Chavez abruptly cut him off by declaring another cadena, in which he extolled the virtues of the current Venezuelan state and the benefits of socialism. The opposition network Globovisión (which had limited national coverage) was alone in resuming broadcast of the Capriles rally after Chavez finally finished speaking.On top of all this, during the campaign Chavez regularly commandeered all of the airwaves, citing presidential privilege. The process is aptly named cadenas (chains) and compels all TV and radio stations, no matter the ownership or their politics, to broadcast the president’s speeches in full–no matter how long the tirade. Chavez’s “chains” had the effect of crowding out any significant news regarding the opposition. For instance, on September 17, 2012, during one of the largest rallies in the Capriles campaign, hundreds of thousands turned out to hear him speak in a Caracas park. The event was broadcast live all around the country on radio and TV. However, shortly after Capriles began to speak, Chavez abruptly cut him off by declaring another cadena, in which he extolled the virtues of the current Venezuelan state and the benefits of socialism. The opposition network Globovisión (which had limited national coverage) was alone in resuming broadcast of the Capriles rally after Chavez finally finished speaking.

    The article mentions mistrust of the anonymity of the vote. Some well-informed oppo journalists, such as Franciso Toro of Caracas Chronicles, are of the opinion that the vote is anonymous, even with the capturing of fingerprints. I would consider this unproven. Unproven or not, a lot of Venezuelans believe their vote is not anonymous. The oppo did win big in the 2015 legislative elections, which may indicate the fear factor is much reduced. However, it is documented that Chavismo often has “helpers” accompany voters to voting booths.

    4)However, what Chavismo did to those who signed petitions in support of the 2004 Recall Referendum is beyond dispute.

    Secondly, Venezuela has a sordid precedent of violating the democratic principle of ballot secrecy from the 2004 referendum petition, which sought to remove Chavez from office in a recall election. Chavez famously warned: “Whoever signs [the petition] against Chavez… their name will be there, registered for history, because they’ll have to put down their first name, their last name, their signature, their identity card number, and their fingerprint.”

    This registry of names was later published by a chavista congressman, Luis Tascón, on his personal website. The “Lista Tascón” was used to create an apartheid-like system, dividing Venezuelans into those who “had signed against the president” and those who were loyal to Chavez. Public employees lost their jobs, those seeking employment were instantly disqualified, and identification papers became hard to get for those who had dared sign the recall petition. Citizens seeking loans from state banks were told they had opted out of any assistance due to their disloyalty to Chavez. Although no law was passed making discrimination statutory, every government official knew they had no incentive to treat declared opponents of the regime in a favorable manner. To the contrary, many ministries circulated instructions to bureaucrats as to the wisdom of engaging in discrimination. It is worth underlining that the social programs instituted by Chavez in the poorest neighborhoods of Venezuela use the capta huellas machine to register the beneficiaries of the programs, thus creating an even stronger psychological link between fingerprinting readers and benefits from the state.

    5) Use of militia and National Guard to “get out the vote.”

    The third systemic advantage of the Chavez campaigns that has made elections in Venezuela unfree is the blatant use of the National Guard and the Milicia in a nationwide effort to mobilize and oversee voting in favor of the government party by every state employee and every beneficiary of the government’s handout schemes. Brigades are assembled not only to ensure that voters turn out, but also to remind them that voting against the regime would have consequences. In a horrific betrayal of the concept of a free election, last October many state employees were accompanied to polling stations and monitored. And while not a secret to anybody, few people have dared to risk all by formally denouncing the ways and means by which their will was twisted.

    I have read that in the latter hours of voting on election days, Chavismo will send crews to bring to the polls those who haven’t yet voted. Chavismo couldn’t do this unless it had access to data on who had and hadn’t voted- which is again unfair use of government resources.

    I will stop my comment here.

  34. Gringo Says:

    A further example of Chavista manipulating of elections would be gerrymandering. When there is gerrymandering in the US, at least each gerrymandered district has about the same number of voters or inhabitants. When Chavismo does gerrymandering, we are talking about much fewer registered voters in Chavista-leaning voting districts, with correspondingly more registered voters in oppo-leaning voting districts. From the 2010 legislative elections.

    In Miranda-3, which went oppo, there are 321,909 registered voters.
    In Miranda-7, which went Chavista, there are 137,843 registered voters.

    Registered voters/Assembly seat
    Broken down by victors in Circuitos/Circunscripciones/voting districts, not for statewide winners.

    Miranda State
    Oppo 255,104
    Chavista 170,144

    Carabobo State
    Oppo 267,524
    Chavista 179,382

    All votes are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    Eection results are from links from the Election Results Main Page.

    Registered voters numbers from esdata.

    Not all voting districts are so egregiously gerrymandered. These are extreme examples. They help explain why Chavismo won ~64% of the seats in the 2010 legislative elections with only about 50% of the votes.

    In the 2015 legislative elections, some of the egregiously gerrymandered chavista-leaning districts ended up voting oppo. Sweet to have gerrymandering blow up in Chavismo’s face.

    A further example of Chavismo in action. Capriles, the oppo’s candidate for the 2012 and 2013 Presidential elections, was recently not permitted to leave the country. He was going to speak abroad on human rights violations. IIRC, at the UN.

  35. Gringo Says:

    For further Chavista manipulation of elections, consider the Dakazo.

    Dakazo refers to a set of actions taken by the Venezuelan government forcing consumer electronic retail stores, with Daka being the most prominent, to sell products at much lower prices on 8 November 2013, weeks before municipal elections.[1] The forced Daka price changes helped Venezuela’s ruling party, PSUV, win in some of the municipal elections,[2] though the massive sale of goods caused further shortages in the months following the initiative.[1]

    There was also looting of the stores. Chinese refrigerators have also been handed out.

  36. Big Maq Says:

    “Thomas Hazlewood:

    Do you think Venezuela has held free and fair elections in recent years?

    See this, for example.” – Neo

    Of course you (and Gringo) are correct in the most recent elections.

    Maybe Hazelwood was referring to those.

    IDK enough of Venezuelan history to say that its citizens ever had a free and clear election, with real choices (one can argue that is the condition of most of the non-western nations).

    As Mike said above, the seeds for Chavez were sown long ago.

    Theoretically, on a longer timeline, if they did have free elections, that they ended up here, knowingly or not, it is at their own hands.
    .

    Now referring to Illinois and Puerto Rico (and one could throw in several other examples within the USA – e.g. Detroit), these are very different animals, where we know there has been much freer choice and fairer elections than in recent years (~2 decades?) in Venezuela.

    Thus, it becomes much clearer the link between the peoples’ choices in government policy sets and leaders, and the outcomes.

    On this, Hazelwood does have a good point.
    .

    Incidentally, I wonder if the people of Venezuela initially thought they sorely needed change and that they needed a man like Chavez because he was going to be a “fighter” for them and “drain the swamp” of corruption?

  37. Gringo Says:

    One more from the abomination well that just won’t run dry: coercion of state employees, which has been a feature of Chavismo for years. Edition 2017: Venezuela’s Maduro orders state workers to vote for assembly,

    With many Venezuelans angry at the government and planning to sit out a July 30 vote for a new superbody assembly, President Nicolas Maduro has ordered all state workers to take part, seeking to avoid an embarrassingly low turnout. ..
    “If there are 15,000 workers, all 15,000 workers must vote without any excuses,” he told red-shirted supporters in the jungle and savannah state of Bolivar on Thursday night. ..
    Roughly 2.8 million state employees, a sizeable part of Venezuela’s population of around 30 million, are often obliged to attend government rallies. Some have said they have already come under pressure to vote on July 30.

    “This is crazy. (They’re saying), workers who don’t go to vote will be sacked,” said one employee of state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A.[PDVSA.UL], asking to remain anonymous because he is not authorized to speak to media.

    “I’ll vote, but null. I’m not going to vote for any of these nuts running for the assembly,” he added.

    Chavismo created the Perfect Consituttion in 1999, but now it isn’t good enough. 1999 Constitution: You must do A, B, C in situation D. Chavez and Maduro response: we will do what we want. 2017 Constitution: Maduro, you can do what you want.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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