Jennifer McCoy and Michael McCarthy
Venezuelans are facing a great deal of anguish and uncertainty as they enter the holiday season. Supporters of President Chávez, especially those who have worked closely alongside him for many years, are surely feeling a sense of loss and bereavement with the return of his cancer, along with much hope for his recuperation. Those who have opposed his government are surely also feeling demoralized after two electoral losses and unsure of how to move forward.
Our article in World Politics Review “Despite Uncertainty, Venezuela’s Political Scenario not all that Bleak,” (access here) describes our prognosis for a generally messy transition scenario, but not a violent one. Our sense is that Venezuelans are accustomed to adapting to changing circumstances, hardship, and general frustrations that other people would not put up with. They do know how to talk and to negotiate, and they are creative are finding alternate paths when the first one is blocked (whether that is a caved in road or a shortage of dollars).
If the president’s illness lingers, there will eventually be struggles for position and power within chavismo in particular (as the sector that currently holds the reins of power). But in the short run, the president’s supporters will show their loyalty by uniting around him. The opposition will need more time to reorganize and build up momentum again.
In the meantime, while the country waits and watches the president’s battle for his good health, we hope that Venezuelans can take a much deserved respite during this holiday season.