I am happy about yesterday annulment of the Recall Election. I know, it is perverse but I have my reasons.
First, there is no need to discuss anymore the dictatorial nature of the regime. Under Chavez there were elections at any turn. Now, there will not be elections, not even for dog catcher. The last argument that chavismo could use internationally "we never lost the boatload of elections we do" only works if you have regular elections.
The consequence of this is that any opposition group that does not call the regime for its true nature will lose quickly its supporters. These simply will fail to understand how faced with the truth their "leaders" do not react more assertively. I agree that increased polarization is dangerous, but at this point, what else can we lose?
Second, as a consequence from the above, the opposition alliance MUD needs to purge itself of its wishy washy elements. Either you support the regime (silence counts), or you oppose it. Again, dictatorial regimes can only be dethroned through unity (or foreign disaster like invasion). See the examples of Chile where all allied against Pinochet. Or even Mexico when all rallied behind the right wing PAN to kick out the eternal PRI and its "perfect" dictatorship. Never mind the exit of Fujimori where the unity of the opposition behind Toledo allowed international sanctions to be effective.
Third, and surprising, any negotiation to get out of the crisis is now more likely to be successful if the opposition unifies better, becomes more assertive. By blocking any election the regime in fact traps itself into a repression must that is not acceptable today in Latin America, at a time where even the Castros are starting to be questioned. Through negotiation we may not get quick regime change but a true negotiation which includes a real progressive release of the tools of power by the narco regime may be a better outcome for the country than ousting suddenly a corrupt elite that will immediately sabotage whatever the incoming administration will try. One reason why some inside the opposition are not as assertive as others is that they simply do not want to deal with the mess.
[NOTE: I am painfully aware that Venezuela is a neutered country. The sacrifices seen in Chile or Peru are not going to happen here. There are too many of us that can only be deranged for a looting party. There is a perfect French word without direct translation to characterize what I think of the bulk of the Venezuelan population: veule. a mix of spineless and coward. And I include there those that are keyboard warriors, calling for all sorts of action from the MUD that they have little intentions to lead themselves. Never mind the chavista colectivos who only attack under pay and military protection. Certainly there are steel soul heroes like Lopez but the indignation only goes so far.]
In front of all this what are the options?
It is time for the MUD to put its neck forward. It has been 24 hours since the CNE did what was foretold. Last night the only minimally acceptable answer for the MUD was "We are not accepting this. We knew it was coming and we have plans. We will not reveal them now because we needed first the details to complete them. Tomorrow we will tell you".
We had to wait a couple of hours until finally someone said something without any further immediate perspective. In short, the MUD is not sure what to do. I assume, hope, they have an idea, that the delay is part of a strategy.
Clearly, if the MUD does not react we are in for a full Maduro term with utter destruction of the country. Never mind that the regime will use the two years left to destroy physically the opposition and plan for a totally fraudulent presidential election in December 2018. Or later, as the crisis is an open door for all sort of excuses.
Today, for good measure the high court TSJ annulled yet another key vote from the National Assembly. And yet this is where the resistance comes from. The National Assembly needs to vote the illegality of the regime, just as the regime decreed its irrelevance. How to do that? A few things, in no particular order.
Refuse to discuss the budget. Once this one is passed by a TSJ fiat, vote a resolution that any lender is going at its own risk, that the Assembly will not recognize debts contracted through that budget that are not duly monitored. Bankrupt the regime. You may say that the propaganda of the regime will put the blame of the famine on the opposition but I doubt it at this point. And the MUD can always say that they refuse to give money to thieves.
Reduce taxes, in particular sales tax and see how the regime can finance itself.
Claim article 350 of the constitution and start an organized campaign of civil disobedience. The beauty of that is that you do not need to obey the TSJ anymore.
Vote the destitution of the latest TSJ appointment as illegal and announce that the rulings do not need to be followed anymore by anyone in the country.
Vote the destitution of the current CNE board. That it will delay future elections? At this point who cares!
There are means that can be acceptable for the international community while the regime would be either pushed to capitulate or become a new Cuba.
But for this you need a unified opposition willing to face down the regime and stand the risks that come with such a fight. I do not see it, or at least not the unity required for this. Nor the vision.
I hope to be corrected, to be proven dead wrong.