The volume of protests in Venezuela is constantly increasing and more organized actions begin to appear especially from union groups. Initially it was just the oil workers and this week the teachers had their protests. The latter also did it at the national level and had to face aggresive paramilitary groups. Over more than 20 years the regime has developed a successful strategy to dismantle the protests. For this it has used threats especially from paramilitaries groups, but its main weapon has always been negotiation and the promise of future response. These promises have been related to making offers and possible solutions for which economic capacity was decisive.
The economic restrictions profoundly affect the regime’s actions and a clear example is the fact that this week it has converted subsidized service stations to payment in dollars. And of course this magnifies the difficulties for the majority of the population to access fuel. This condition has been an important component of the increase in protests. We are rapidly approaching the next barrier, that of hunger and, it is already being reported internationally, food crisis in Venezuela is worse than in Sudan or Ethiopia. The regime is also moving towards the implementation of its anti-blockade law. This law will allow it total control of the economy and has the unanimous rejection of the opposition for reasons of opacity, but also from within the governing coalition, because of the ideology where the main chasm is associated with privatization.
Capriles and Opposition
Henrique Capriles’ position is now up in the air. His decision to at first participate in the legislative elections was accompanied by rumors, not corroborated, that somehow the regime had elements that had forced him to do so. The mystery surrounding him included that the lists of his candidates were never made public. In any case, the Borrell-Maduro impasse allowed Capriles to now renegue on the commitment he had made. Capriles risked a lot of political capital, breaking with the G4 and supporting participation in questionable elections. Now we have to see what happens in the next six months. What will his position be when Guaidó and the AN decide to extend their term in January 2021? If the congressional elections occur in the first half of 2021 will he participate? Will Primero Justicia and the G4 rejoin him in their ranks as if nothing had happened? Many awkward situations for the man who was once the darling star of the opposition.
What remains of the G4 and Guaidó are focusing on promoting the call for a popular consultation approved by the National Assembly with the risks of not moving the public to support him. Vente insists that it is necessary to concentrate on the departure of Maduro and sends this message to Guaidó: The popular consultation is not necessary to achieve the cessation of usurpation.
The regime and the European Union
It seems increasingly clear that the plan for holding parliamentary elections and its accompaniment by the EU was worked out jointly by the international socialist left and the regime. That ideological left took advantage of its share of power in the EU, through Borrell to open a path to the regime but also, to finish dividing the opposition that was grouped around the G4 and Guaidó. They created hope for all those who have bet exclusively on electoral solutions and facilitated the decisions of the Caprileses and the Stalin Rivases.
However the international and the local objectives did not coincide. For the international left, this EU presence in the elections was a lifeline for Maduro and for the Europeans a way of reducing the US role. For the regime, the main objective of the elections was to eliminate the AN and Guaidó. Preparations to achieve the collapse of the G4 took too long and when it proved impossible for the EU to prepare to participate in the elections in December, Borrell sent a mission to Venezuela to convince the regime. The regime was not prepared for an extension of the election date and Maduro rejected the offer of the European Union and ratified the date of the electoral fraud.
The regime also announced a popular consultation in the face of congressional elections seeking to reinforce its position and counter that of Guaidó. Maduro and his accomplices are better prepared to do this than the opposition. However, their actional capabilities are increasingly limited and violence becomes more and more the relevant option. Furthermore the pardoned head of Guaidó’s Office was prevented from traveling to Madrid and reports appeared related to pacts with narco guerrillas and the exchange of nuclear fuel with Iran.
For Borrell his management of the Venezuelan crisis could not have gone worse: After organizing a semi-clandestine mission to try to convince the Venezuelan regime to open a space, not only has it obtained a rejection from it, but the request has been processed in the European Parliament to appear in the next plenary session, with the possibility that a majority ends up asking for his resignation.