The end result of this week may be unexpected. Both sides accumulated failure after failure and yet, the opposition may have come on top significantly with the real tool it needs most: a strategy.
The regime accumulated failure after failure, clearly. The undeserved prosecution of representative Mardo was perceived by most in the country as a at best a distraction move from dire reality and at worse an unspeakable abuse of power from people that had no moral grounds for that. Then, as a knee jerk reaction, the most corrupt regime in Venezuela's history called for a rally against corruption. This rally this morning was by all accounts a failure, as seen on TV. And to complete the day it was announced at the post march rally that the communication minister, a charismaticless journalist, has been named the candidate for Greater Caracas Mayor without consultation and even less of a primary; with the added contradiction that the regime has wanted to destroy that position for the last 4 years and that suddenly it wants it. The accumulation is synergistic and we may have a major political mistake from the regime, a mistake that may be of major consequences.
The opposition errors come more for their erratic organization and centrifugal forces. Mardo may have seen as a victim but he did not raise by himself major sympathy. After all, no politician that keeps bouncing from any elected office to another one rarely garner respect except perhaps from his constituents that know him better. The national attention he garnered was from what was done to him more than any martyrdom essence. A normal opposition would have been divided on that matter but the aggressiveness of the regime had the opposite effect: it showed quite a united front this week. Yet, once Mardo was done in by the Assembly the opposition hurriedly and unwisely called for a few actions across the country.
I can verify that in San Felipe the local rally never reached 100 people. It was ill planned, in an unsuitable spot, at a terrible time for the habits of the town that has Saturday morning as THE shopping time of the week. Mardo counts of little when your chance to get scarce goods coincides with the rally. That small group was so out of place and out of touch with the concerns of San Felipeños that it probably was counterproductive. The Caracas event was not even a march, but as a gathering it got a respectable attendance. Though not worth writing home about. What saved the day was that it visibly had a bigger draw than the one from the regime, who, by the way, did nothing worth noting outside of Caracas. The opposition carried the day because it failed less. Much less in fact.
The result of all this, of the clear intention of the regime to erase the opposition as needed, is that finally this one is getting is ideas in place. Today Capriles officially put himself behind a constitutional change call but with the cleverness of putting a condition: the opposition needs to win the mayor elections in December if it wants to have a chance to effect those constitutional changes. Thus the strategy is set: bring in the radical vote by telling them that unless they rally first for December their proposals will be put moot after. That way the hope is to minimize opposition abstention while the individual teams for mayor and councilmen candidates should be more efficient to limit the regime's fraud. Then, obviously for all, with a 100+ mayor it will become much easier to raise the signatures needed for constitutional reform and get the votes after.
I personally think that it is the lone way to avoid a new disaster in December. As long as the concerns of the more radical groups inside the opposition, or the mere disgust of people like me are not taken into account there is no chance to perform decently in December no matter what the polls say today. It even works to attract some chavista that are disgruntled enough to vote for the opposition in December just to force the regime to sit down and negotiate an agreement with the opposition to avoid a constitutional conflagration. And the beauty of it is that there is enough time to make this strategy prosper until December.
Let's not be blind to the reality: the hysterical power show of the regime this week, the crass attempt at creating a good corruption versus a bad corruption cannot hide the inherent weakness of this one. The regime suffers already of two strikes against: no leader able to replace Chavez and a terrible economic inheritance that the lack of leadership makes it impossible to tackle. To this the regime adds a major error: no primary to decide mayor candidates, and worse, to decide councilmen candidates where many want in. All will be appointed from Caracas. In current political language in Venezuela this means a probable fatal abstention for the regime in December as this one comes along as self serving, as defending the privileges of those already in office, not making room for new ones, not sharing the now scarce benefits. And this just at a time when the opposition may have found a way to minimize its own losses.
Even though on a foul mood through the week, tonight I find myself surprisingly optimistic.