No, this is no bait title. Whether Leopoldo Lopez is freed or condemned today has become almost irrelevant for the coming history. As I type this a small crowd of opposition leaders (small on purpose, by the way) is barred from the court building where the final sentence on Leopoldo Lopez is supposedly to be pronounced at any minute. And whatever the result is, even if I learn it as I type, it does not change much the coming text.
I think the regime will condemn Leopoldo Lopez. They are crazy enough to do that and make Lopez the "great" leader of the opposition. Capriles has been fading steadily and even went into ridiculous having to fight a silly battle on Tweeter to pretend that he did not say what he said on some of the fallout of the Colombian border crisis. Maria Corina Machado seems to have realized that Primero Justicia and AD, and others, prefer to keep chavismo at Miraflores before giving her a chance at anything. Thus she seems to have decided to support Lopez until better days come for her. Henri Falcon is now fatally flawed as he is trying to position himself as a transition figure that would allegedly draw in a chavismo dissidence. And there is no one else, really, that can even pretend at disputing the leadership to Lopez.
Whether the leadership of Lopez is what the country needs is now irrelevant. The regime not only has made this to happen, but it is speeding up the final outcome by its inability to face to the economic and political crisis of Venezuela. Recent polls are lapidary and even "pro Chavez" pollsters give a double digit advantage for the opposition, big enough that one can hardly see a way for the regime to reduce it. Somewhat it will shrink some as the campaign goes on but 2 years of mismanagement and long lines for a little bit of food and toilet paper cannot be forgotten easily.
The regime has tried all sorts of tricks to distract public opinion and try to create excuses that would allow it to at the very least postpone elections. The latest attempt, by manufacturing a crisis with Colombia is going nowhere. The alleged victory at the OAS was notable not by its narrowness but by the fast shrinking influence of Venezuela there. Next crisis vote and the regime will lose at the OAS. After a weak to dismal initial reaction of Colombia's president Santos, this one has taken successfully the initiative. The "defeat" at the OAS has allowed it to criticize Brazil for its lack of leadership and to wave away the UNASUR empty shell, an humiliation for it considering that an Colombian ex-president is at its helm. Then he went to the border with lots of international guests to hold a cabinet meeting with the victims of Venezuela's abuse. Then the foreign minster Holguin described with details the duplicity and web of lies weaved by the regime in its failed propaganda.
In contrast not only Maduro has failed to call an equivalent meeting on the Venezuelan side, knowing full well that he would be booed loudly, but the wannabe conquering hero went to China to ask for survival cash for the elections of December. In short, the border crisis seems to have brought him zero benefit on the Venezuelan side.
What is left to do for the regime? This one cannot afford to lose elections because a real government will send a few of its members to jail. So a new crisis has to be created and what better than giving Leopoldo Lopez a maximum sentence. Heck! Why not have him murdered in jail to see if the opposition rise in protest so it can be brutally crushed and elections outright cancelled.
That would be a terrible mistake for the regime, the last straw internationally to force many into recognizing its rogue nature, and speed up the economic downfall: the easiest way to undo the regime, fast, without military intervention. The writing is on the wall. US Secretary of State has posed a few days ago with the wife of Lopez. Thomas Shannon, the political operator that posed with Diosdado Cabello a few weeks ago posed a few days ago with a second fiddle at Lopez party, thus equating him to Cabello in importance, a terrible insult for a narcissistic rogue like Cabello, The Spanish Senate has had a nearly unanimous vote to demand that the Spanish government do more for Venezuelan political prisoners. Last but not least, under internal pressure the weakening Roussef government has had to admit (accept?) that there is a need for international supervision for the December vote in Venezuela.
Truly, can the Venezuelan regime be so blind? It is, because it is a rogue regime, because Maduro obeys Cuban orders, because Cuba cannot give up under any pretense whatever alimony it still cashes from Venezuela. Because, very simply, it has run out of ideas and has only violence left in its belt.
In the end it does not matter. If Lopez is not condemned, and freed, the opposition gets a boost. If Lopez is kept in jail, the injustice will be too flagrant and the opposition not only will also get a boost, but it will get another one from overseas. My guess is that the regime will go ahead and condemn Lopez anyway in the belief that it will radicalize its base and bring out the vote. Or the violence.