At this point is very clear that Nicolas Maduro will not be able to get the “legitimacy” he hoped from a hasty presidential “election”. Much less one that violates all of Venezuela’s time-lapse laws and is organized under an electoral mediator without credibility and lacking in international recognition. So why is he going through with this farce?
It seems clear that the UN won’t endorse it; neither will the United States nor the most important countries of America or the European Union. To the contrary, sanctions will likely get strengthened. And it’s painfully obvious that Henry Falcon, after his trip to the U.S. with the Rodriguez’ brothers, is not remotely believed to be the “opposition candidate”. The “legitimizing effect” that Falcon could offer Maduro is simply no taking place.
The prospects for Venezuela are now terrifying. The country’s public services are in a phase of collapse. Power failures are beginning to make daily life unbearable and the food shortage is making people turn to fighting like animals and searching for food in the garbage. Hyperinflation is out of control and thousands cross the border to the neighboring Colombia and Brazil. People are dying of something as basic as the lack of common-use antibiotics.
To make matters worse for Nicolas Maduro, the repudiation towards him, and everything that he, Diosdado Cabello, and all the other Chavista’s leaders represent, is deep and unfathomable even for most polls. They could broadcast 24 hours a day, talk themselves up, and falsify all the “elections” (non-competitive) they want, but the sham ends where the streets begin. Where the comments favoring the regime are taken with contempt, anger, even with hatred. Chavistas are aware of this but they keep on keeping on, and not only using propaganda: They are prepared to repress more harshly now than they did in 2017.
Maduro promises to “restart the economy” if he “wins” the “ballot.” He’s been making the same tired promises since 2013.
Let’s suppose for a moment that the path the chubby boss follows is the opposite that everyone expects: Let’s imagine (to dream is free) that on May 21st, Maduro announces a free-trade economic program, ends price controls, frees the exchange rate, and privatizes national industries.
Is this viable? Of course not. Maduro lacks all the resources (beginning with the intellect) to make this kind of decision and the necessary authority among the mob that holds him in power to take on such change in direction. He will regain neither from this so-called presidential “election”.
For at least three years, Venezuela has not had a president, but instead a man clinging to power.
Is there another way? Can Venezuela dodge the collapse endured by all other communist countries, and with it, the riots that without a doubt will come from those living here? Will this happen before or after May 20th? Is there a way to stem the tide that starving people could create?
The “repression window” is also closing
Why then does Nicolas Maduro want to be reelected? In several opportunities he has talked about a “mandate re-establishing his legitimacy”, that, as we have seen, cannot impose from outside his administration, and inside it, he finds it harder to justify each day.
At this point, the only thing that Maduro can achieve with his sham of elections is trying to unite his depleted troops and with the sole purpose of clinging to power by fire and sword. But even this eludes him now, no matter many saber-rattling shows he puts on.
It is clear that the military caste now seems less eager to sacrifice for Maduro. And while he and his closest group continue to describe the US and its sanctions as a “paper tiger”, the remainder of the caste towards the middle ranks is listening with fear. They have more to lose and many years to endure losing it.
The fear of “a reelection that could implode” is not even concealed among countries still supporting Maduro (Mainly Russia and China, because Bolivia or Saint Vincent and the Grenadines don’t count in the international arena). And all are concerned with finding a Plan B.
And not only Maduro’s friends, but also Venezuela’s neighbors.
Because the alternative will be, simply stated, unbearable for the region. Maduro and his close circle, which feels entrenched inside the 900 thousand square kilometers of Venezuela, are not aware of the dozens of cases in the history of rulers whose demise was overdue and who couldn’t be saved from the fury of their people. Unaware that hiding will not do because the crocodiles that will eat them are already hiding with them. Through this ignorance, they can subject the country -and themselves- to a destiny worse than the one they are living today.
But the truest shame is that at such a crucial time for the country there is even less of a glimpse of coherence or leadership in Venezuela’s opposition.