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Eight Signs that Show the End of Venezuela’s Regime Is Near

By: Guest Contributor - May 20, 2016, 10:42 am
the end of venezuela's regime is near
Closed roads in Caracas come in response to domestic gas shortages. (Runrun.es)

EspañolBy Ángel Oropeza Z.

Anyone paying attention to the news in Latin American can see that Venezuela’s MaduroCabello administration is soon to be no more, as it is headed down an irreversible path toward self-destruction.

But how sure can we be about this?

Reviewing the literature about the topic of failed regimes allows us to identify eight symptoms of a ruling party’s terminal phase of power:

  1. A breakdown of the moral authority to govern. 
  2. A significant weakening of popular support.
  3. A deteriorating international image and difficulty in achieving support and understanding for other countries.
  4. The inability to guarantee public peace and the security of individuals
  5. Symptoms of ungovernability (understood as the inability to control the economic or social trajectory of the country).
  6.  Internal fracturing.
  7. Systematic violation of the Constitution to hold on to power and maintain privileges.
  8. Recurring repression: threats and fear tactics as a last resort to keep society under control.

There is no doubt, upon reading through this list, that the Venezuelan government already qualifies. Even though the regime is in its death throes, that does not mean that an end to the crisis is certain or that it cannot keep itself alive artificially.

Yes, the Maduro-Cabello admnistration is in “terminal” phase, but the word conveys a set of conditions — the eight symptoms — rather than a point in time or a concrete result. The outcome will depend on the regime’s response  to the crisis, and above all on the opposition’s response along with the people’s support of that political alternative.

In accordance with the last symptom, the ruling elite has just announced that the country will be entering into a “state of emergency” that is nothing more than a desperate attempt to take refuge within the last redoubt of power remaining to it: the ability to repress.

When a government resorts to repression and militarization, it’s usually a sign that none of the usual democratic mechanisms based on voluntary obedience and legitimate authority are functioning.

This strategy can certainly be effective with part of the population, who may wrongly believe that the barking threats are a demonstration of strength. But one must remember that dogs bark from fear, too.

The most important symptoms, and which we must continue to monitor, are the repression and the constant violation of the Constitution — the traits that currently define the Maduro-Cabello administration. These measures are being rejected not only by the ruling party’s grassroots, but by army officers and other members of the state bureaucracy.

Many of them resent having to play the role of the sad henchman and endure, like the rest of us, the tragedy brought upon by the ruling elite’s delusions of power.

Ángel Oropeza Z. is a Venezuelan psychologist. He holds a PhD in Political Science and teaches at the Simón Bolivar University and  at the Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas. Follow him on Twitter: @angeloropeza182. This article was originally published in El Nacional.

Why Do Hispanic Voters Prefer Big Government?

By: José Azel - May 20, 2016, 10:21 am
Hispanic voters prefer big government

EspañolRecent surveys by the Pew Research Center reveal that eligible Hispanic voters will reach a record 27.3 million this election cycle, an increase of over 19 percent since the 2012 election. As a "category," the Hispanic electorate will make up a record 11.9 percent of all US-eligible voters, nearly the same as black voters, who make up 12.4 of the electorate. Youth is a bigger defining characteristic of Hispanic-eligible voters than for any other group. And though specific interest-group issues such as US immigration policy are often offered as the main drivers for the Hispanic vote, there is a more fundamental sociopolitical factor at play. Interestingly, Hispanic support for large government declines after more time immersed in American values. For the Hispanic population, the post-colonial experience of Latin America has created a vastly different understanding of the role of government than the one embraced by the US founding fathers. According to the Pew Research Survey, “When it comes to the size of government, Hispanics are more likely than the general public to say they would rather have a bigger government providing more services than a smaller government with fewer services.” Read More: As US Interest in Cuba Grows, Airline Prices Nosedive  But the difference is not small. Overall, 75 percent of Hispanics prefer bigger government, compared with only 41 percent of the general US public. Interestingly, Hispanic support for large government declines after more time immersed in American values. For 81 percent of first-generation Hispanic immigrants, a bigger government is more desirable. For the second generation, the preference drops to 72 percent. By the third generation, only 58 percent prefer bigger government. Hispanic preference for bigger government prevails regardless of party affiliation, and Hispanic Catholics are particularly supportive of a larger government. Overall, 56 percent of U.S. Hispanics either identify with the Democratic Party or are independent but lean democratic, while 21 percent identify with or lean toward the Republican Party. Parenthetically, Cubans are somewhat of a political anomaly. Cubans who are registered to vote are closely split in party affiliation: 47 percent identify with the GOP, while 44 percent tilt toward the Democrats. // Clearly, the political philosophies of classical liberalism that limit the role of government are not nearly as ingrained in Hispanic heritage as they are in the American sociopolitical historical discourse. Classical liberalism does not come naturally to Hispanics. To some degree, the Hispanic sociopolitical heritage undermines the pluralistic participation of Hispanics in the civil institutions of free societies. The Hispanic preference for a larger, more intrusive government is a manifestation of collectivist and statist political tendencies that seek a uniform societal common end. In contrast, the Founding Fathers understood that a free society is also a pluralistic one championing individual rights without a universal common end. The Founding Fathers' vision necessarily leads to people achieving unequal results since individuals differ in ability and interest. A society seeking to implement collectivist policies cannot protect individual freedoms, since the pursuit of socialist egalitarian goals necessitates the coercive action of big government. Read More: World Leaders Shut Eyes to Venezuela's Hunger Games Latin American political thought has been historically seduced by the siren song of “social justice” and has trouble accepting the unequal results of the marketplace — that is, the unequal outcomes of economic freedom. Unhappy with the results of freedom, Latin American political thought invokes the power of the state to restrict freedoms. This political philosophy ignores the Kantian precept that laws must be based on the protection of rights, and not on an attempt to create happiness. Characteristically, Hispanic politics lead to some form of messianic strong man collectivism or other ideological mystical grotesqueries. On the other hand, small government capitalism is rationalistic, anti-heroic, and anti-mystical. Free markets, with all their warts, are the economic system of free people. In the Hispanic electorate, if we peel off most dogmatic arguments against free markets, an intellectual discomfort with freedom itself becomes obvious. This discomfort is what the preference for bigger government reveals. The Hispanic intellectual uneasiness with freedom is dismaying, because freedom is the only enduring foundation for improving the human condition.

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