Thursday, August 07, 2008

It takes a judicial coup to wake up the Venezuelan opposition

I was planning to write as a title of a follow up post last night "Ooops! Time to do a plan B!". A little bit dispirited that what I had expected had finally arrived, I sort of wanted to revive recent grudges such as the one I have against Leopoldo in refusing to accept the need for a plan B. Indeed, I could not believe that Leopoldo for some obscure reason hoped to have his "inhabilitacion" voided. Tonight I have to admit the possibility that Leopoldo all along knew he would get screwed and that in fact he was preparing his day after reply.

And boy, how did he reply today!

First a sizable group of people gathered at Plaza Brion and decided to march to the Ombudsman office, you know, that woman that only defends chavismo and is trying to get a right to reply at El Nacional because she was told that she is a useless hypocrite, and why. As far as I know neither was the gathering nor the march that followed authorized. Sure enough a demeasured police show of force took place in front of a pacific march, and they never reached the Defensoria. But the political goal was achieved nevertheless as Leopoldo completed his transformation form a country club scion to a bona fide martyr, right words and all (although as usual he tends to speak way too long, but that is a common disease in Venezuelan politicians).

Leopoldo went further than he has ever gone calling Chavez a coward for hiding behind the TSJ to make sure he could not win in Caracas. And he was convincing at that showing who is the lesser man. He also did not forget to attack the enabling law result. Thus today Leopoldo went from ex-candidate to martyr and to putative director of a nation wide campaign against the regime. Was that his "por ahora" moment? Is Leopoldo the hero we had sought for so long? And more importantly will he rise to the challenge and opportunity that opened up for him today?

But that was not all. Primero Justicia woke up in ways that I would not have thought possible 24 hours ago. First, on the practical side, Capriles the candidate for Miranda State made a point to say that the new 26 laws will limit the actions of the new governors and basically wreck decentralization. So you know that at least in Miranda this will be a major campaign point and in Miranda it might work quite well for the opposition which is already in a favorable position. But it got way better when the leader of PJ, Borges, called for a boycott and more against the 26 new laws. He did not call for violence, of course, but he seemed quite determined and we can expect initiatives coming soon from that quarter.

Of course the student movement, slowly reviving, probably got the final shot of its treatment. Today they also launched strong declarations, accompanied Leopoldo and all in all seem to look ready to go to the battle, 2007 style.

I would be willing to bet money that if a quick flash poll was taken one week ago and tomorrow, chavismo must have dropped 5 points at the very least.

And yet, those were not only the good points gained by the Venezuelan opposition. Early this week, as some in the oppo kept up their useless and dangerous inner fights while the TSJ made its judicial coup yesterday, the opposition announced that it had reached agreement in 17 states and 154 town halls, just as inscriptions started. OK, so it is not enough yet, but two weeks ago many, including yours truly, were wondering whether we would reach at least 15 unity candidates. Though we can probably add two more as of yesterday since now the front runner in Anzoategui is out and Miranda will go to Capriles as the lone candidate. There is Caracas, Yaracuy, Bolivar, Tachira and Merida to settle, three of them very close to be settled. Paradoxically chavismo and opposition are about at the same stage of their "unity" progress as actually chavismo went down in 4 states where it is now official there will be two candidates.

And yet there is still more good news. The Mercosur is in town to investigate the human right violations of the TSJ yesterday. All the threats of the National Assembly and even today the foreign ministry were not enough: Adriana Peña landed today. Not that she can do much, I do not think so. But what is notable is the efforts made by the government to make sure that no one comes here to investigate!!! ¡Quien se pica es por que ají come!

And more before I leave you: the Interamerican Court for Human Rights is hearing tomorrow YET ANOTHER case on Venezuela. I think by now there are at least 5 cases going through so soon we should start getting decisions form that OAS associated courts.


-The end-

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