2018: Facts and effects

By Luis Manuel Aguana

I could take exactly the same text I published 3 years ago, December 31,2014 (see in Spanish The year of truth, at http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2014/12/el-ano-de-la-verdad.html)  changing the reference of the years and situations and you wouldn't even notice it. The same paradigm still remains: it is not clear what we are dealing with (we play chess while they play Chinese checkers) and a completely surrendered opposition to the regime. On the last day of 2014, it was a proposal at all costs: “We urgently need to change the players who represent us because they are an important part of the problem”. Now it is an unpostponable necessity in the face of a reality that overcomes us.

If something distinguished the year 2017 was in being a corrected and increased version of 2014 but with more deaths, more prisoners, more hunger, more inflation, more repression, more destruction of our country. But with one difference: Venezuelans now know much more about those responsible for the disaster, including the surrendered opposition. 2016 was the year of hope by believing that the official opposition would do something about the National Assembly, but it did not. 2017 was the year of protest, but frustrated by an opposition surrendered in unworthy dialogue. What will 2018 be? Will it be the year of change?

I will not go in here to speculate on what could happen in Venezuela, among other things because nobody knows that. But what I could do is comment on some of the key facts that I consider to have occurred in 2017 and their possible effects on Venezuelans, which in the end will determine what will happen in 2018. That may help us to visualize the most probable scenarios we will be moving through next year.

Fact: Open violation of human rights in Venezuela and the reaction of the international community

Following the violence unleashed by the regime as a result of the protests for having kidnapped the 2016 Revocatory Referendum, resulting in the deaths, arrests and violations of all kinds of human rights in our country, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report on the observation of human rights in Venezuela entitled “Violations and Abuses of Human Rights in the Context of Protests in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela” (see complete report in Spanish at http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/VE/HCReportVenezuela_1April-31July2017_SP.pdf).

The publication of this report by the UN's highest representative on human rights marks a turning point in the fight against the tyranny of Nicolas Maduro from the perspective of the international community. The highest body of world diplomacy, the UN, certified the dictatorial and bloodthirsty character of the regime that governs Venezuela.

Its effects were not long in coming and a torrent of sanctions began, not against the country, but against Venezuelan officials who violated and still violate our human rights in Venezuela. The proceedings for crimes against Lesa Humanidad from Nicolás Maduro are accelerating, reaching all his clique, in the International Criminal Court, for being responsible for the death of young Venezuelans, torture and political repression. These crimes do not expire and will not escape these sanctions even if they leave the government tomorrow. This is without counting the accusations of drug trafficking and money laundering made by the world's main agencies in this area.

Fact: 16J Popular Consultation

The official opposition was in a dead end, prisoners of its own clumsiness. They began a crusade of protests on the streets without a prior structured solution, beyond the hope that the regime would fall apart with the presence of the people on the streets alone, forgetting that we were repeating the same situation in 2014. The 4 conditions demanded (leaving political prisoners, humanitarian channel, respect for the National Assembly and general elections) were rampantly ignored by the regime at the expense of the blood of more than 150 young Venezuelans and thousands of political prisoners.

In order to stop Maduro's unconstitutional call for a National Constituent Assembly, the Alianza Nacional Constituyente (National Constituent Alliance) proposed to the MUD a way out of that alley through a proposal: a Consultative Referendum without the CNE conducted by civil society and based on Article 71 of the Constitution, to ask the people whether or not they wanted a Constituent called from the government (see What part of question No. 3 did not understand the MUD, in Spanish at http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2017/07/que-parte-de-la-pregunta-no-3-no.html). Hanged and unanswered for a population dying in the streets, they agreed to the petition, but without fulfilling the mandate of the Popular Consultation finally decided.

I have the theory, proved by the later facts, that they agreed to go to that consultation to stop the movement on the street, promising us something that they had already negotiated not to comply, by a surreptitious agreement with the regime. That is why Maduro allowed this consultation, as he rubbed it in our faces in one of his later speeches. In other words, the result of 16J had been negotiated by those traitors before it was accomplished.

But the MUD and the regime forgot something very important: the people made a powerful political pronouncement and the whole planet heard it, so the National Assembly was given the carte blanche to proceed with the mandate, which they ignored to do to everyone's surprise, because they had already agreed with the regime. The mandate remains in force even though they are in the Dominican Republic surrendering the country.

Fact: Elections of an unconstitutional National Constituent Assembly with legislative functions over and above the National Assembly

The regime continued its course of calling for irritating and unconstitutional constituent elections. But the real intention was to negotiate them with the opposition. The intermediary José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero came to this negotiation before 30J. By rejecting that negotiation, you return to zero. The opposition is left with nothing because street pressure had stopped. In this way the official opposition wastes the bloodshed of more than 150 people from the April-May-June-July protests and the regime fulfills its purpose of electing a 100% pro-government constituent that assumes the constitutional functions of the National Assembly to legislate. That is clearly impossible to accept.
Fact: Smart sanctions in major countries and Venezuela hanged economically

The regime manages to control the protests but at a very high political cost. From now on, they will hardly find collaboration from any country outside the socialist-communist orbit. Direct sanctions are imposed on the main officials of the regime, including a fundamental one that impedes "negotiations on new debt and bond issues by the Venezuelan government and the state oil company PDVSA" (see article in Spanish at  http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/bbc-mundo/impone-sanciones-financieras-contra-gobierno-maduro_200568). This hanging does not allow Maduro to continue indebting our next generations in exchange for financing himself to remain in power. This is the strongest of the sanctions because the entire international financial system passes through the United States.

Fact: Hyperinflation

With no more money and PDVSA in financial bankruptcy and the lowest production in its entire history, the regime's Castro-communists force the country into the most brutal inflation ever experienced in Venezuela. By the end of 2017 economists estimate inflation to be above 2,000% (see Econometrica’s figures in Spanish at http://www.el-nacional.com/noticias/economia/econometrica-calcula-que-cierre-del-ano-inflacion-superara-2000_213359). No matter how many salary increases the regime decrees, it will be impossible to buy food at the end of the year and early 2018.

Fact: Opposition engaged in dialogue and willing to recognize the ANC and help them dismantle sanctions

The desperate regime negotiates early elections for February or March 2018 but without dismantling their unconstitutional Constituent. Here, the two main actors - MUD and Maduro - who have led us to this hell on earth are at stake. The opposition proposing an “outsider” in the political corrillos (see Please, enough of saviors, at http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/p/please-enough-of-saviors.html), and trying to convince voters to return to the polls after two successive electoral catastrophes, with an arranged casino and ministry of regime elections, the CNE; and a Maduro desperate for there to be queues to vote again to steal the elections like 2013, but this time with many people in the polling stations and their "Red Points" on the outskirts, thus validating another mega fraud but with the help of the population. That is what awaits us in those elections with the consent of the official opposition. Venezuelans must reject that trap.

Let's get this straight: Maduro can't leave Miraflores, so by cheating he'll never allow an opposition candidate to win those elections. If he comes out, the rest of the non-Maduro chavismo swallows him up alive. And if in the allegedly denied that the opposition “wins” as the MUD is selling, the country would not be led by “the opposition” but by the Rodriguez Constituent. Result: We lose the Venezuelans so we can buy all the numbers of the raffle. That is the business that Borges and Florido are trying to sell us, who are willing to recognize the Constituent of the regime and help them dismantle the sanctions because “now there is a democratic government in Venezuela”. If they think the North Americans are going to eat that shit, they better quit.

Fact: Hunger and popular discontent

We finally reached December 31,2017 without food, medicine, light, gasoline, spare parts, purchasing power, cash, and nothing. That is why an outraged and hungry population of a people of all political tendencies looks for those responsible and violently removes them from their comfortable ministerial offices. And that's what they're really afraid of. How to avoid it? We have already said it, “The solution lies with the sovereign people” (see 4 questions for the destiny of Venezuela, at http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/p/4-questions-for-destiny-of-venezuela.html). The regime has no alternative but to agree to that and give way to a peaceful, democratic, constitutional, truly electoral solution with international observation. If they agree, they will have some control over the penalty for that sentence and who will pay it. Either they come out with their hands held high from the kidnapping of Venezuelans or they will have to submit to the trial and sentence that the same indignant population will give them, as is already happening with justice, taken in their own hands in the neighborhoods against criminals. They don't have much time left to decide.

Effects: Fled forward politically and economically

The facts described led Venezuela to this hole from which we will not leave without a clear perspective of the problem. This explosive situation has been brewing since the unclarified death of the Galactic and apparently does not allow any more waiting because it is no longer cured by elections, as those who from the official opposition believe that they are trying to play along with the regime. We arrive at the moment when the wrinkle has reached the end and its most important effect is synthesized in only one word: chaos.

The regime needs to give the impression that agreement has been reached on the "opposing" factors and build confidence that the problems are being fixed. That is why it will once again flee forward, as it has always done, with an early election.  But as this is yet another cheat to the population because they will not be attacking the structural problems of the country, there will be no more in Venezuela because socialism needs someone to maintain it, as we have maintained the Castro-communists of Cuba since Chávez decided to surrender the country.

In economic terms, the regime will try to flee forward with a technological mirage: the "Petro" crypto-currency. This bet that will seek to deepen in 2018 by finding no way out of the destruction of the country's economy, will not solve the problems of food production or income, but it will be a good "red" rag that will keep analysts and technicians busy while the regime seeks oxygen to stabilize. This strategy deserves a full story that I will dedicate more deeply next year as that is a natural theme of this blog.

In all this context, Chaos Theory tells us that anything can happen. It is impossible to predict anything in Venezuela given that the number of sensitive variables that can take this system anywhere has multiplied. That is why it is not an option for anyone to let events flow without any control, with us in civil society being the most interested. That is why the concrete proposals that we have made are coming out, trying to extend them to the rest of the sectors in order to make them a general common demand of the Venezuelan opposition in a very broad context.

The year 2018 should be built without further delay an opposition in which Venezuelans can believe and which we definitely deserve. That purge must be given ourselves because it is a fundamental prerequisite for an orderly eviction from the regime, without violence and without exclusions, but with justice. It has been a constant message from this scribe confirmed by the events of all these years, that without a truly consubstantiated opposition with the country, no matter how small it may be, we will never leave the regime.

If you got this far, I apologize for the unusually lengthy nature of this last note of the year, but I think it was necessary because of the equally extensive nature of our problems. May you have all my dear friends and followers of this blog, the best possible year 2018, hoping to achieve in it, the change in peace and prosperity that we all long for....

Happy New Year 2018!

Caracas, December 30, 2017