In one of those posts, I referred to,
a "slow motion coup" underway in oil-rich Venezuela by which Chavez/Maduro take apart the institutions of democracy bit by bit in the name of fighting "imperialism" and giving a level playing field to the poor (Bernie Sanders, are you there?) Opposition leaders who were too pesky suddenly found themselves afoul of the tax authorities, or accused of participating in vague gringo-backed plots against The Revolution. The opposition had a hard time getting its act together: first, because of the oppression aimed against it; second, because of the lack of international support--especially from the US--for democracy in Venezuela; and third, of course, because of its own bad strategy and tactics. It seems this time the opposition got its act together just as the regime implodes along with oil prices. Maduro simply does not have the loyalty of the "revolutionary" elites--e.g., in the military, in Hollywood, in Cuba--in the same way as did the much more charismatic, smart, and devious Chavez. The Congressional elections held yesterday have produced a sweeping victory for the opposition which has taken at least 99 of the 167 seats in the legislature. Pre-election polls had shown some 85% of the population fed up with the direction of Venezuela and dissatisfied with Maduro.The phrase "slow motion coup" (golpe a camara lenta) I used quite a bit in my speeches at the OAS in clashes with Chavez's representatives (one bout is partly reported here and here, and a complete text of one of my remarks is here). I noted at various times, on this blog and when I was at State, the difference between Venezuela and other dictatorships, such as Castro's, was that Chavez took his time building the dictatorship, slowly and carefully taking apart the institutions, but keeping the facade--oh, and playing the Hollywood dolts and other progressives to perfection. While the path there was slightly different, the end result, of course, has proven the same as in Cuba, USSR, Romania, etc.
There are many stories you can find describing that end result, and I won't repeat it all.
Simply put, however, the Venezuelan economy has disappeared. There is not even enough money to pay for the printing of money--the ultimate triumph of socialism. Mass starvation and riots loom as it is now apparent to all but the most fanatical chavista, that Venezuela's fabulous oil wealth has been squandered by corruption, mismanagement, and, above all, by the consequences of the belief that trust in government is the solution to life's problems. The Venezuelans are discovering what millions of others have: let your liberty get taken away in exchange for promises of safety and porridge, and you will end up with neither liberty, safety nor porridge.
Can the looney socialists on the rampage in America and Europe learn the lesson? Nah. Why should yet another example of socialism's failure deter them . . . ? Feel the Bern . . .
BTW, for the best commentary on Latin America, including Venezuela, go to the excellent Faustas Blog.
UPDATE: Interview by Australia's ABC of the last US Ambassador to Venezuela, my good friend Patrick Duddy.