By Beatrice E. Rangel
Isaiah Berlin taught his pupils that planning a given policy or political outcome was rather challenging given that human beings tend to love unpredictability. Venezuela seems to provide the perfect case study for Sir Isaiah.
Twenty years ago the country was showcased as the society that had overcome authoritarianism to create a free and thriving democratic society. Eighteen years ago the ascent of a former paratrooper and failed coup leader was heralded as the arrival of the great democratic healer.
Democracy in Venezuela had failed to include the poor. As a result, 40% of the population felt disfranchised while corruption had become the greatest stumbling block to development.
A leader with no ties to corrupt elites and who would truly represent the best interests of the poor was necessary.
And this democratic Messiah was embodied in one Hugo Chavez Frias.
Eighteen years thereafter the country finds itself immersed in abject poverty with a destroyed institutional framework, organized crime reigning supreme on the streets, record breaking corruption and a productive platform mired in total paralysis given that economic policies were designed to yield bankruptcy.
More recently it was the expectation that the clear rejection by the population in an election which was lost by the government in a 10-2 proportion would open a period of democratic revival.
Surely, the Assembly led by the opposition with the Executive in hands of the Bolivarian regime would rebuild the nation's democratic fabric. Both powers were to balance each other so as to begin the long and complex process of rebuilding rule of law in Venezuela.
With this in mind, the international community gasped and decreed a period of democratic rebuilding for Venezuela.
By the end of the first quarter of this year it was quite clear that the regime was not about to lose its hard won totalitarian status.
All decisions by the Assembly have been declared unconstitutional by a crony packed Supreme Court. Political prisoners were subject to renewed mistreatment. Students have been harassed and persecuted. The request to organize the constitutional provision of a recall referendum has been frozen in spite of the surrender by opposition forces of 3 times the number of signatures needed to petition the provision.
At that point the Inter American community decided to step in. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro not only wrote a report recording all democratic deviations of the Venezuelan regime but also Human Rights abuses and corruption.
And while Almagro's report has had the virtue of revealing the totalitarian nature and proceedings of the Venezuelan Government, lacking any teeth to the OAS compliance tools, it most probably will fail to remedy the situation.
Cornered by the weight of external debt, lack of foreign exchange, rampant crime, drug trafficking and pervasive lack of food and medicines, the government of Venezuela has now chosen yet another means to keep power.
The Minister of Defense, Mr Padrino has been the joyful recipient of all executive powers while Mr Maduro and his Vice-President Mr Isturiz become decorative characters good enough to attend rallies and stage press conferences.
It is the expectation by Mr Maduro that Minister Padrino will not only secure the completion of his mandate but could become an effective successor should the international community insist on the deployment of the recall referendum.
Indeed, should the Electoral Council fail to set the recall referendum this year, its occurrence next year would result in the effective termination of Maduro's mandate given his award winning unpopularity.
But it will also mean that the Vice President would take over -- and nobody better than Padrino to take up such role.
Mr Padrino would have had eight months to prepare for the presidency. But it could also mean that Padrino is the transitional leader that everyone was searching for and could not find in government, the opposition or abroad among the diaspora leaders.
Mr. Padrino could indeed be well suited for such a role, as he could at the very least achieve two goals. First by ending decade-long organized crime takeover of the streets of Venezuela. He could also reign in drug lords, a move that could lead the U.S. to losing the seal of the alleged indictment against Padrino.
Second, he could do an economic adjustment. But should he do both perhaps he could become the next elected leader. This would codify Venezuela's status as the land of the unexpected.Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.
For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.
You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.
Also by Beatrice Rangel in her Latin America from 35,000 Feet seriesBeatrice Rangel: On Dialogue and the Rules of Geopolitics in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: The Ides of Wisdom in Venezuela
Beatrice Rangel: On the Discreet Charm of Populism
Beatrice Rangel: Three Ladies in Distress
Beatrice Rangel: Trump, Lula, Kirchner and the Last Tupi-Guaranis
Beatrice Rangel: Time for Departures in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: A Contrarian View on the Panama Papers
Beatrice Rangel: Brazil's Lady in Her Labyrinth
Beatrice Rangel: Back to a Divided Home!!!
Beatrice Rangel: A Historical Take-Off in the Americas??
Beatrice Rangel: A Skipped Journey, a Reaffirmation and a Clearing of Path in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: The Demise of Civility in the Americas!!
Beatrice Rangel: The Americas from Boutros Boutros-Ghali to Ban Ki Moon
Beatrice Rangel: The Pope's Difficult Stopover in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: Farewell to The “Diplomacy of Reason”
Beatrice Rangel: 2 Diseases in Latin America -- Different Prescriptions, Very Different Outcomes
Beatrice Rangel: On Health Alerts and the Long Arm of Justice in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: When Crime Meets Glory
Beatrice Rangel: Playing Hansel and Gretel in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: Good News/Bad News Starts The Monkey Leap Year
Beatrice Rangel: The Gifts of Christmas!!!!!!
Beatrice Rangel: Crying Wolf in Venezuela
Beatrice Rangel: A 21st Century Tale of Two Cities
Beatrice Rangel: Are the Americas Ready for President Trump?
Beatrice Rangel: On Predictions of War & Global Confusion
Beatrice Rangel: Paris and the Return of Fear
Beatrice Rangel: Marijuana & Latin America's Next Trade Corridor
Beatrice Rangel: Of Burning Airplanes & Argentinean Tsunamis
Beatrice Rangel: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in the Americas!!
Beatrice Rangel: Buena Vista's Magic Covers the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: Pride and Perjury in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: Trompe L’oeils Proliferate in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: The Economic Consequences of Peace in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: Colombia, the FARC & the Makings of Gangland in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: When Extreme Weather Meets Extreme Politics Calamities are Bound to Happen
Beatrice Rangel: When Ladies Hit 70
Beatrice Rangel: About Uninformed Elites and Gullible Leaders
Beatrice Rangel: On US-Engineered Soft Landings in Cuba and Venezuela
Beatrice Rangel: On the Many Ways Cecil Matters
Beatrice Rangel: Blue Moons Lead to Extraordinary Happenings in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: On Why Embassy Openings Do Not Necessarily Herald Different Policies
Beatrice Rangel: When Jupiter meets Venus
Beatrice Rangel: When Markets and Manners Crash
Beatrice Rangel: From Grexit to Exit, Contagion is in the Air
Beatrice Rangel: An Infuriated God & An Environmental Crusader Mark the Summer Solstice
Beatrice Rangel: Between Ionesco & the Falklands Syndrome
Beatrice Rangel: The Ugly Americas
Beatrice Rangel: How FIFA Corrupted the Beautiful Game in the Americas and World
Beatrice Rangel: Could the US RICO Act Be Applied to Latin America?
Beatrice Rangel: On the Discreet Charm of Commodities for Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: The End of the Chinese Free Lunch in the Americas!!
Beatrice Rangel: The Crooked Twig of Democracy in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: Of a White Knight for Three Latin American Ladies in Distress
Beatrice Rangel: Withdrawal Symptoms?
Beatrice Rangel: The Un-Mannered Summit
Beatrice Rangel: Easter Miracles in Latin America and the World
Beatrice Rangel: Two Islands, Two Legacies & One Challenge - Modernity
Beatrice Rangel: Killing Me Softly -- the Obama Administration’s Legacy in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: Of Upcoming Dynasties and Exhausted Ideas in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: Of Thunderous Silences, Quiet Noises and Flash Backs in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: Latin America's Dangerous Exports to Europe & the Demise of an Old Fox
Beatrice Rangel: Of Sweet Deals, Sugar Daddies, Direct Mail & Obama’s Care
Beatrice Rangel: Of Latin American Singing Birds, Femme Fatales & Empty Shelves
Beatrice Rangel: When Flying Dragons & Rage Infusions Turn Against Their Latin American Masters
Beatrice Rangel: Holy Haberdashery!!! Is Fire Building Under the Surface in the Americas??
Beatrice Rangel: 2015 -- A Year for Balance in the Americas???
Beatrice Rangel: Pope Francis Looks at the Americas In His Christmas Remarks
Beatrice Rangel: The Paint Brush Hanging from the Wall in Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: A Future for the Americas??
Beatrice Rangel: Going Forward, Going Backward -- It's the Americas!!
Beatrice Rangel: An Eerily Familiar Week in the Americas
Beatrice Rangel: Tale of Two Walls
Beatrice Rangel: Across the Americas, We the PEOPLE
Beatrice Rangel: Across Latin America, The Populist Beat Goes On!!
Beatrice Rangel: Oh My, The Patron of the Eternal Feminine Has Left Us!!!
Beatrice Rangel: Communism from China to Cuba Finds Corruption!!!
Beatrice Rangel: From Rio to Hong Kong Discontent Taps the East to Find a New Way
Beatrice Rangel: Will Latin America Miss the Broadband Development Target?
Beatrice Rangel: Kissinger’s World Order and Latin America
Beatrice Rangel: The Third Attempt -- Will Modernity Prevail in Latin America?
Rangel: While US is Away, Latin America Rethinks Development Paths
Rangel: In the Midst of Riots, a Star is Born in Brazil
Rangel: In Mexico Cinderella Gets to the Ball while Colombia Gets a Chance at Peace