The appearance of Diosdado Cabello on the front page of the WSJ along a few others such as Aragua governor Tarek el Assaimi with a detailed list of all the investigations underway for their links to drug trafficking and what have you reminded us that there is no happy ending in sight for Venezuela. In case you doubted it this week brought us a few examples. I suppose it all started with the rather successful rallies last Saturday in support of Leopoldo Lopez. I was there and I took the panoramic below (Samsung feature).
Some wrote that it was a fiasco, some exaggerated the success. I think all missed the point: this was the first attempt at mass rallies since we are truly in a dictatorship, since the regime has started killing people in earnest, since the opposition has splintered into those willing to call a spade a spade and those like Ramos Allup much more inclined at some form of status quo. Besides the era of massive marches for either side is over: chavismo even under coercion cannot fill up more than a couple of street blocks and the opposition is tired ans scared and its charismatic leaders jailed or discredited.
Thus for me it was a success. I was there last Saturday and if the attendance was not huge there was an interesting phenomenon: there was a constant, steady, significant flow of people in and out the rally. With insecurity, fear of repression of any type, fear of aggression, need to go somewhere to stand in line to get any good you can put your hand on, the turn out was, well, good. For any count that could be done at the rally place, I would guess the total "visitors" may have been 4-5 fold more. If not more. And this without counting the more than a dozen rallies reasonably well attended around the country. Not only chavismo is unable to hold simultaneous rallies across the countries, but no opposition leader is today able to do so. As such Leopoldo Lopez is now probably the top Venezuelan leader.
Does it do him any good?
This week not. The hunger strike that Lopez and Ceballos (defenestrated mayor of San Cristobal) is turning ugly and Ceballos health is already in trouble. The Venezuelan regime has already let one hunger strike die (Brito) and there not much hope from outside as "democrats" like Thatcher or Lula have had no qualms at letting hunger strikes run their course. Many are trying to remind this to public opinion in the hope that Lopez and Ceballos will come to their senses. In totalitarian constructs, hunger strikes are useless, and in fact, welcome. In a country were media is controlled by the regime nobody speaks of the hunger strike. If you are not on twitter you would not know much about it.
Two mayors of Voluntad Popular have been under attack. Lumay Barreto from Apure has been booted out and Guarate from Aragua had its town hall attacked by colectivos who had no qualms in throwing from the second floor journalists. It seems that the regime has decided to step up the pressure against Voluntad Popular now that it is clear that his leader , Lopez, is top dog. And it seems that many in the opposition MUD umbrella are happy to oblige though either their silence of lip service in support of Lopez.
Of course this division of the opposition is of great concern but then again its origin, for me anyway, is in the lameness of many inside that are only too willing to compromise with the regime for a few crumbles, and, most importantly that are denouncing electoral fraud after electoral fraud and yet do nothing about it. Eventually those with principles get tired of those that are, how should I put it nicely, less principled. This all started in May June 2013 when the evidence for fraud in the election of Maduro was clear and yet Capriles in the end decided to wait for yet another opportunity, not wanting to spill Venezuelan blood. This one is being spilled anyway.