Sunday, October 30, 2016

Not this shit again

Julian Assange and James Comey have delivered all the October surprises that we did not need.  It didn't matter to me; I was done with my ballot last weekend, and signed, sealed, and delivered it last Monday.  If everything goes well, on the evening of November 8th, the world will breathe a sigh of relief that the US dodged electing the guy who could be the greatest recruiting poster for all the disaffected crazies in the troubled Islamic countries.

The American elections have been one heck of a reality TV show around the world.  But, there are far more compelling human dramas unfolding in real time.  Tragedies, with no end in sight.  No, this post is not about Syria. Nor about the migrants. Nor about Yemen. Nor about ...

It is about Venezuela:
a relatively large, relatively sophisticated major oil producer just three hours’ flying time from the United States has just become the second all-out, no-more-elections dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere.
The courts have suspended what would have been a referendum to recall the "loathed authoritarian president, Nicolás Maduro."

A referendum that Maduro would have lost; there were eight voters lined up against him for every supporter, according to surveys.  Given such intense opposition,
how does Maduro retain enough support going forward to hang on to power? Where is his genuine source of support at this point?
You want a nanosecond to think about it?
People with guns. That includes the military of course, which has been given enormous privileges during the last 18 years. [It has] been put in charge of mining businesses, been part of the oil industry, and smuggling, and cocaine, and a lot of other things.
"Includes the military" because it is not merely the military:
It’s the paramilitarization of the ruling party. So [the] PSUV, or Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela, has what are called colectivos. [These are] sort of grassroots supporter civilians who are armed and organized. What they are is paramilitaries. They are armed civilian groups that support the government. The degree of tactical cooperation between the armed security forces and these paramilitary groups is shocking now and really, they’re not trying to hide it. And these days there’s Twitter—you can’t hide things even if you want to. 
So, ... what next?  If life in Venezuela has already gone from bad to worse to worst, ...?
We are in deeply uncharted territory here, so to try to forecast it now is really, really dicey. There’s a sense in the opposition now of learned helplessness. [A sense of,] “we’ve done a lot, we’ve done a lot to try to get rid of these guys and they’ve worn us out every time, and we’ve failed every time and the country has gotten worse and worse and worse.” So in a way, that’s the hardest thing to get over. Part of the reason that people reacted to the offer of the Vatican mediation the way they did is precisely that: Not this shit again.  
"Not this shit again" can equally apply to the presidential campaign here in the US too.

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