If Chavez was authoritarian, he was careful enough to appear as a democratic authoritarian. His political project, the Bolivarian Revolution, has shown quite a lot of undemocratic principles, but all of them under the “participatory democracy“ means: each time a chavista candidate lost an election, the President would name a chavista as a sort of shadow, like Jackeline Farías, the Chief of Capital District, whose major is Antonio Ledezma, member of the Opposition. It has been a recurrent action, with Chavez and now with Maduro his handpicked successor, to adapt their decisions into law, so they can fit somehow in a respectful manner. Credibility is not necessarily an asset for them to be enforced, there have been annoying circumstances with judiciary decisions driven by the Executive, like Chavez requesting thirty years of prison for Judge Maria Afiuni, but a highpoint must be last night‘s Supreme Court ruling to strip the Major of San Diego [a suburb of Valencia, the industrial enclave in the center of the country] of his tenure, because of his contempt to a precautionary decision previously ordering him to enforce the prohibition of barricades in his municipality, sentencing him to 10 months in jail, and no certainty of his future as Major, at this point. At the same time, the Major of San Cristobal, where all this civil protest began, was detained in an unclear procedure, with no search warrant available, in what seems another measure of Opposition cleansing by the government. These steps follow tuesdays request by the President of the National Assembly, to strip Congresswoman Maria Corina Machado of her parliamentary immunity, in order to seek probe of her involvement in the protests throughout the country‘s most recent unrest, accusing her of treason.
This behavior does not seem one of a democratic government, and the decisions outline a very fragile, if not inexistent, rule of Law with no evidence of checks and balances, considering the expedite results of the high court in pleasing the President‘s request, that in any case, should have been made by the corresponding authorities, not the Executive. One has to wonder, what does the Government and principally, Maduro, pursue with these string of decisions that clearly do not contribute to ease the unrest that appeared to be diminishing. If that were the case, why does the Government put their bet on violence? What could possibly be the purpose in this course of action?
Given that we ignore the government‘s plans, this erratic behavior gives little hope of an agreement or even the very much spoken of dialogue. It seems clear, at least for the Government, that repression in all forms is their preferred communication channel. The response to Governments repression has been more violence; therefore their intention is to keep the people in the streets, in this political disorder, away from the forthcoming economic crisis, because the repression contents not only the middle class stressing for the oust of Maduro, but the possible upsurge of lower classes to join the fray. It is a high risk, but if you were the government, and had to deal with the highest inflation rate in the region (56%); a scarcity rate of 47%; high violent crimes rate; unemployment rising, it‘s not such a wild card, because it transfers the rage to a field the government is in control of and with the support of the military, has nothing to fear for, or so they think.
It is premature to elaborate, beyond this hypothesis. The government is having trouble, presumably internal power struggles. The incapacity of solving problems, threatens popular support. It is clear that the slums are not joining the protests, but they are not expressing support to Maduro, and that speaks volumes of a very much popular regime, as it used to be. In economical circles, there is little doubt Maduro can recover, it seems the situation can only do worse. In that case, we can presume repression will be in the country, in the months to come. The forecast is grim, next years parliamentary elections may turn out to be a reproduction of the 2005 boycott, that may well be in the plan of the government with the undermining of the Opposition, by stripping their popular voted terms. So they may just be preparing the field, giving the Opposition motives to abandon, once more. We‘ll see if this time they have the same outcome, or the Opposition learned the lesson.