Nicolas Maduro becomes the new Venezuelan Foreign Minister
This is quite a piece of news, of the astounding sort. For me, the shock is the incredible realization that Nicolas Maduro, a general failure in life has managed to reach two of the highest offices in the country strictly on his servility merits to El Supremo, a.k.a. Hugo Chavez. But also, as a strange relief of sorts, we are left to admire how a totalitarian regime sets itself in place.
There is really nothing positive to write about him. He is a failed union leader, from the Caracas subway system if memory serves me well. He never did anything smart in his life, and since the press got him as a source of news in 1998, there is nothing I can point that he did that showed creativity, originality or even hard work. He gained weight and got known for his escapades to visit his guru in India, first class ticket of course, at tax payer expense one may presume since he never bothered showing the receipts and even for an assemblyman paycheck, first class tickets to India is quite a bundle.
However he is a semi gifted opportunist and in a political movement full of nullities carried by Chavez own charisma (plus the general management of Cuban advisers) that was a big advantage. He understood very, very early that the way to go was to accept anything that Chavez will do or order. He was handicapped at first because he comes from labor, from the civilian sector that Chavez wanted to destroy the most at the start of his rule. It took Chavez quite a while to trust Maduro. To gain the trust Maduro did several things. One was to live maritally with Cilia Flores, a talibanic pasionara of limited intellect but vociferating abilities and overly dyed red hair. She also was one of the few lawyers that volunteered to help Chavez in 1992. Reports of their trips to the US for shopping sprees, kids on tag, have been numerous.
The second thing Maduro did was to choose wisely his revolutionary career. I suppose that we can give him credit for his self knowledge on his limited managerial skills. That would explain his choice of a parliamentary career, never trying to go elsewhere. Not for him to exert in running for governor, mayor or indicating a wish to work in the executive branch. Maduro knew that for someone lazy, with little interest in day to day management, a seat at the newly formed national assembly was the way to go, in particular with a regime that primed the executive more and more. A sinecure so to speak.
The third thing Maduro did was to organize the “civilian” group within chavismo. In this meaning, “civilian group” meant organizing non military folks that were willing to be as devoted to Chavez, no questions asked, as the military that Chavez so obviously favored. Which admittedly was not much hard work either as all were only too willing to imitate Maduro. Leadership by example if you please. He kept gaining weight.
But Maduro always failed to shine, failed to reach higher positions. This started to change some when he sat patiently at the negotiating table in 2003 to nail the conditions for a recall election. We know what happened, but at least Chavez grateful that his delegates took the heat for him started rewarding them. Maduro abilities for stone walling (due to his poor intellect contrary to what people might believe) were certainly handy for an increasingly authoritarian regime who did not want to discuss any parcel of power.
Maduro started moving up and for the last year of the assembly he became the speaker of the house. By then of course the national assembly had become a redoubt of chavismo where the main objective was to stall the remaining opposition, something that Maduro had shown interest for and some ability in doing. In all fairness under the baton of Maduro things did function better in the assembly in that the opposition was less able to start discussion on law projects as a parliament is supposed to do. Chavez appreciated the lowered noise from the National Assembly and the passing of several controversial laws that one had to pinch one's nose to vote for. Maduro surely noted who did pinch his or her own nose and those ones did not get the nod to seek a reelection.
Of course after the assembly became monochromatic in 2005 Maduro was confirmed as speaker and speedily made the National Assembly into the Notary Public of the executive, a place where law projects are sent to be speedily voted, no questions asked. Maduro was now a star of the regime, always starved for people who do as told, without any discussion.