Reports from Venezuela: Pax Chavista

By Rodrigo Linares in Caracas Chronicles:

Pax Chavista
Sen?tus Populusque Chavista

The government has been pushing hard the idea that they want peace. I don’t doubt it. But it’s a very particular type of peace. It’s peace through domination. It’s the peace that comes after war. It is the subjugation of its opponents.

Let’s recap last month’s “peace offensive.” A series of peace conferences were launched on a nation-wide cadena simul-broadcast, beginning with The Economic Peace Conferences (I kid you not).

On that occasion most of the air time went to Maduro, though he did allow brief speeches by Lorenzo Mendoza (CEO of Polar) and Jorge Roig (President of Fedecamaras, Venezuela’s largest umbrella business group). What was the outcome? More meetings. What else? Well, Mendoza got some greenbacks the government owed him. Relaxation of the currency exchange controls (some doubts persist) … and that’s it.

But are these really the outcomes of the meeting? In other words, would thesenot have happened had it not been for the meetings? Or were merely things the government intended to do anyway to deal with empty shelves and solve a balance of payments problem, and why not, get some political capital while they were at it.

The talks then hit the road, going on just about all over the country. The set up is always the same. Some government rep blasts away, usually led by Arreaza on a stage talking, but no one really talking back. None of the key stakeholders present.

Then, UNASUR came. A delegation filled with foreign ministers, ambassadors and other lesser bureaucrats, they came, stayed for a whopping 48 hours, and then left. They met once with the MUD’s Secretary General, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo. In the end they promised a report (don’t hold your breath) and said they were really satisfied. This is code for “Maduro may be a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch.”

While all this talk about “peace” and “dialogue” was happening, the death toll kept rising. The number of detainees kept rising. Two mayors from the opposition were detained on charges that roughly translate into ”not doing enough to fight the protests,” regardless of the fact that constitutionally it’s not the municipal’s authorities role. Opposition congresswoman Maria Corina Machado tried to present the Venezuelan case to the OAS, and failed to do so. She was welcomed back with the news that she wouldn’t be in congress anymore since Diosdado Cabello, President of the National Assembly, decided he didn’t want her there. Since he can’t actually do that, a kangaroo court took care of the paperwork in a closed doors trial, in which the defendant wasn’t there to defend herself. Unsurprisingly, she was found guilty.

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