martes, 25 de octubre de 2016

Venezuela: The failed coup d’état and the return in extremis of Nicolas Maduro from the Middle East

President Nicolas Maduro has narrowly escaped a coup d'état today, operated by the parliamentary opposition along with mass rallies on the streets. The president had been travelling to OPEP and Non-OPEC such as Azerbaijan, Iran, Saudia Arabia, Qatar, amongst other capitals. He started his Middle East Tour on the 23rd of October 2016 and added a leg, by meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican on his way back to Caracas. 

His presence here was of great importance, as the recent activities of the self-proclaimed Coalition for Democratic Unity (Mesa de Unidad Democrática, MUD), and its member and current Chairman of the National Assembly (Parlament, NA), Henry Ramos Allup, was promoting not less than a political impeachment process, alike the one that hit his former Brazilian counterpart Dilma Roussef. The title of the document could be understood in the following terms: The NA agrees to start a proceeding aiming at declaring the political responsibility in the major breach of the constitutional order. Meant was the statement made by the CNE, the Venezuelan electoral tribunal, which determined that the second phase for gathering of signatures for the revoking referendum was to be cancelled. The reason being that there were irregularities among the first 1% analysed by the latter. Henceforth the revoking referendum could not possibly be held before February 2017.

With the president on his way back from Europe and Middle East, possibly aware of the activities happening at the NA, Maduro landed in Caracas and met with a massive pro-government rally receiving him at the Miraflores Palace. There he held a speech, where he emphasized that the opposition shall never accomplish their goals, of turning Venezuela into the next chain of successful coups in the region, in which centre-left oriented governments were toppled among other strategies, through parliamentary ways; namely Honduras, Brazil and Paraguay. His country would resist and overcome any attempt to destabilize his socialist government.

While the political hit is underway, it has not had any real chance on the side of the Armed Forces. The Commanders have reiterated their loyalty in regard with the constitution and the president. Still the streets are filled either by pro- or anti-government rallies, which have filled the avenues of the capital today. This shows just how polarised the society stands today.  

Maduro finds himself in a quite complicated situation. He finds himself with several fronts at the time. First is the internal opposition, which clearly have pushed more and more aggressive moves to force him to leave office. Then again the petrol prices are not being the most helpful in his fainting economic situation. With an astronomic inflation affecting the economy and falling revenues from oil, he could soon be short of funds for his vast social expenditure. This could also be the reason of his trip to other oil-exporting countries.

The membership of Venezuela in the Southern Common Market (Mercado Común del Sur, Mercosur) has been called into question lately by most of its members. The most keen have been Paraguay and Brazil, who by now are leading the bid to expel the South-American nation out of the economic block. Also Argentina, now run by Mauricio Macri has blended into the side of the foes of Venezuela. The recent visit of Uruguayan president Tabaré Vázquez to his Argentine counterpart at his residency at Buenos Aires, shows that even the strongest ally of Caracas has been drifting away from their original position. As it seems the recent events in the nation have raised concern, even to the leftist president Vázquez. Thus all members of Mercosur, except Venezuela herself, are agreeing on invoking the democratic charter of the organization.  

Formally speaking Maduro is the pro-tempore president of Mercosur. Despite that all other Foreign Ministries of the group have largely ignored any statement made by Caracas, Uruguay “handed over” the presidency to Venezuela. Notwithstanding the efforts made by Foreign Secretary Delcy Rodríguez, to maintain the fiction of that, reality shows that far more than that is at stake. More than the pro-tempore turn, their full membership seems to be called into question.

The stakes are high for the Venezuelan government, confronted with falling approval rates and a bad economy. Back then the revenues of oil could balance the lack of any activity not linked with petrol. It seems as if oil is the only business in town, or at least the major one. After more than a decade under the rule of socialists, the economic structures of the country remain poor, as the dependence upon oil money for the government budget is overwhelming (above 90%). So when this pillar collapses, the whole system gets out of balance at once.

The arrival of the Pope’s Envoy Monseigneur Emil Paul Tscherrig to Caracas on the 22nd of October comes on behalf of the Pope in order to foster the dialogue between the MUD and the government. Not only has the private interview at the Vatican between Maduro and Francis shown the good spirits on both sides in achieving a climate of dialogue among the Venezuelans.

Time will tell whether the opposition will rather orchestrate a coup d’état via the parliament or the Army, or sit at the negotiating table with the government, under the mediation of the Vatican and the presence of former heads of states within a Unasur-Committee. The question remains also on how long this status quo could possibly last, before bursting into some form of chaos.

Could this be the major and definite push of the inner and outer enemies of the Bolivarian Revolution, perfectly aligned in their final hit, to reconquer Venezuela back to the Washington Consensus, and put an end to this socialist regime?

There are many reasons this regime could crumble as fast as a house of cards, but some mistakes are definitely accountable to some sort of mismanagement on behalf of late president Chavez, and later on Maduro. Others are clearly signs of foreign intervention, such as the pressure groups, non-existent in the past, or the recent shift of the NA into the hands of a majority of the MUD. These cases would have not been considered even possible under the administration of late Hugo Chávez.

Until then the normality seems to be restored while the ever going negotiating rounds and confrontations between government and opposition continue. This analysis will have to be continued, as soon as new events come to rock this South-American nation.