Venezuela

To survive, Maduro must dismantle the Chavismo model

 

adelgado@elnuevoherald.com

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, pressured by the most radical wing of Chavismo, has been forced to maintain a formula of totalitarian control that only accelerates his own collapse, analysts said.

The aspirations of deepening the “Bolivarian Revolution” have led Maduro to a dead end. He is trapped between the clash of forces in Venezuela and he must make a 180-degree turn to be able to stay in power, the experts said.

This would be a step that Maduro could be considering to escape the political labyrinth he is in, the analysis said.

“I believe he began to realize that Venezuela is not Cuba and that the country cannot isolate itself from the world simply by shutting down the media,” said political analyst Orlando Viera. “Maduro might have already understood this.”

Still, the most important question is whether Maduro would be willing to produce a change that would dismantle the “21st century socialism” built by the late President Hugo Chávez.

It is a step that would have been difficult even for Chávez and it is more so for a weaker Maduro, said Jesús Seguías, president of the polling firm Datincorp.

“I sense that Maduro is aware of the need to turn around, but to be able to do it he needs to distance himself from the ‘taliban’ of the PSUV [the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela],” Seguías said in a statement from Orlando.

“I discern that he knows that his game is locked and that the only way to change the game is by making a U-turn,” he added.

The perception that Maduro is considering the possibility of making a political turn is based on the schizophrenic situation of Venezuelan politics, with a government trying to engage in a dialogue with the United States by sending a new ambassador to Washington while expelling three U.S. diplomats a few days before.

It can also be seen in the attempts to engage in a dialogue with the opposition amid the government repression against the anti-government demonstrations that have left 22 dead, more than 300 wounded and more than 1,000 detained, including opposition leader Leopoldo López.

And particularly in the feeble attempts to find a common understanding with the country’s private sector to reactivate a catatonic economy while at the same time insults businessmen and threatens them to confiscate their companies and arrest them if they sell their products at prices higher than what he considers fair.

Those situations are the result of efforts to change course by a boat captain who does not have the same control of Chavismo as Chávez himself had, Seguías said.

“Chávez was an excellent survivor; when he had the noose around his neck he would wriggle,” the political consultant said. “This case is different. Maduro operates under a great disadvantage, for Chávez did not have to consult anyone to make his twists. He made his own decisions and everyone obeyed.”

“Maduro, however, before he makes a decision he must confront 40,000 internal factors that don’t allow him to twist,” he added.

Yet those twists seem indispensable for his survival, at a moment in which he faces large demonstrations on the streets. His national approval rate does not exceed 20 percent. More than 62 percent of Venezuelans openly reject his government and the rest prefer not to answer.

According to the latest Venebarometer (opinion poll performed by the firm Croes, Gutiérrez and Associates), 77.8 percent of Venezuelans acknowledge being affected by the deterioration of the economy, while 57.8 percent express fear that they could end up losing their jobs.

The acute problem of scarcity, which economists attribute to more than 14 years of hostile business policies, is affecting virtually all Venezuelans, with only 2.1 percent of those consulted saying that they can buy all they need in the supermarkets.

To insist on deepening the “21st century socialism,” as Maduro had been doing until very recently with the implementation of his fair-price law, only leads to political suicide, Viera said from Montreal.

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