I do not want to criticize Daniel Lansberg, a polished writer in English or Spanish, with interesting ideas. But his entry in the NYT "We had our Tamarrod, and failed", fails. And it is not the good recommendation of Moises Naim that will save it.
Good article comparing Egypt &Venezuela's youth movmts by the great Daniel Lansberg: We Had Our Tamarrod, and Failed http://t.co/gqp90REllDIn his article my tocayo compares the successes of the youth movement in Egypt and in Venezuela, assuming that it is prospering in Egypt and failing in Venezuela. I will just quote his misguided wistful ending:
— Moisés Naím (@MoisesNaim) July 23, 2013
Seen from this position, Tamarrod’s successes to date are inspiring. The movement has already accomplished far more in Egypt than we ever did or, frankly, ever dreamed of in Venezuela: Twice now, Egypt’s youth has played a critical role in stripping power from governments it thought were keeping the future from it.
Our youth revolution fell short; may yours be realized.
I truly do not understand why Lansberg thinks that the youth movement in Egypt is winning and the one in Venezuela is failing. I suppose that in parts it is the wish of so many to compare situations that cannot be comparable in any way, outside of the generalities that Morsi and Chavez acted more like intolerant religious leaders than democrats. And that is far from satisfying, even to start a line of thoughts.
The youth movement in Egypt (or rather Cairo?) is indeed a youth movement in that it spilled over from campus to working districts, a youth that felt it had no future. From the start the youth of Egypt showed a unity of purpose across social groups that was never present in Venezuela. As such in Egypt it was a powerful motor for political change, at a grass root level, and better comparisons could be found in Paris in 1830 or Vienna 1848. In all cases, sooner than later, the old regimes came back in "gattopardian" ways, just as it seems to be coming back in Egypt.
In Venezuela the youth movement was rather, at first, a Caracas intellectual elite campus, as Lansberg himself admits. I write intellectual elite because it was not a social elite even if those do overlap greatly in Venezuela. The campuses that started the anti Chavez movement were those campus from the private or autonomous universities where the best and brightest, those that actually like to think and hold personal thoughts, want to go. The parallel system of higher education that chavismo has tried to established attracts those that are unwilling or not able to join these campuses and satisfy themselves by going to campuses where ideology is rampant, where party cadres are formed and where a degree is earned more by steady attendance and accommodation rather than technical or scholarly work. As such the university youth movement was handicapped from the start, with a a group of students seeking a true future and freedom on one side while those following the national temperament after decades of handouts were only too willing to play by the regime rules to land a dead end job in some obscure public administration, their skills being mostly useless in the real world.
As such I beg to differ from the pessimistic tone and ending of Daniel Lansberg piece. I think that the Venezuelan youth movement has accomplished a lot, besides being the main motor for the defeat of Chavez in 2007. That its leaders are managing slowly but surely to infiltrate the political parties is actually a victory, it is the seeds of political renewal in Venezuela. Those things take time, perhaps annoying those that want a quick fixes to our political and economic woes.
If anything, the "failure" of the Venezuelan student youth movement comes from the failure of a society who since the times of Gomez is used to the notion that a few banknotes are enough to paper over any difficulty. As such too many prefer to bitch at Chavez's regime from Twitter than actually do something about it. This, of course, as from another window of the same lap top they negotiate subsidized dollars to go on vacation or import what they cannot produce anymore.
I do not mean to belittle Daniel Lansberg for his rather unfair conclusion. I congratulate him greatly for reaching the pages of the New York Times and make aware people of the situation in Venezuela which, no matters how you write about it, is always depressing. What I wish for him next time he has such an opportunity is to think things through a little bit better, a little bit deeper.
PS: sorry, this post had a part eaten up while I did a minor editing and I had to rewrite a paragraph which maybe different from the previous version but the cache was cached.... This is the fault of chronic internet faults inside Venezuela and blogger simply cuts communication or saves wrongly.