|What a difference a "revolution"|
makes! Maikel from truant to boss.
The vice president of Venezuela, albeit a by-appointment office but second in charge nevertheless, his worthiness Tareck El Aissami, was put a few weeks ago on the OFAC list by the Treasury Department of the US of A for drug trafficking, capital laundering, terrorism abetting through fake passports or what not. I cannot keep up.
The newly sworn head of the TSJ, the high cum supreme court of Venezuela, Maikel Moreno has a police mug shot from previous criminal offenses for which he was declared guilty. I mean, one may believe in second chances but there are limits.
So, what can a democratic opposition do when it has in front of it a publicly recognized criminal state? A state that has no intention whatsoever of relinquishing the faintest parcel of the power it accumulated? A state that does not blanch at the sight of the extensive misery it has created? A state which now wallows in gratuitous cruelty, by the way.
And what can that opposition do when it is, well, falling apart? Because that is the real drama today, the opposition common front is barely held together by an increasingly weaker electoral alliance. In truth there are centrifugal forces inside it that are skilfully exploited by a Fascisto-Mafiosi regime for which duplicity is a second nature.
That does not mean all is lost. For example this week, showing some spine, the opposition controlled but castrated National Assembly seems ready to ask openly for the application of the OAS democracy charter with the implied sanctions against the regime if it is voted up. Also it decided to keep as its main electoral presentation card the "Unity" political label as a common political party, regardless of whichever parties constitute the MUD alliance. No mean feat considering that the regime is trying to annul political parties under silly requirements. This way the regime thinks it could run unopposed.
But for every step in the right direction there seems to be so many steps backward, or at least side ways.
The problem comes from two visions of the political country inside the opposition. On one side are those who do not have the stomach to confront the regime as it should be done. Thus they are willing to "negotiate" some kind of deal where the regime would recognize them as the official opposition. The idea is that crumbs would be thrown at them in exchange of the continued lease of Miraflores Palace to the regime. Charitably, so as not to sound too cynical about it, we could say that this opposition thinks that a long transition is needed but that they have no time to wait for a transition that will come one day or the other. As such they want to secure something, albeit weak, that would place them in better position when the said transition finally comes.
In short, that opposition is not pro regime, it loathes it actually, but they sort of gave up. They prefer to wait for the "right" opportunity. History tells us that there is never a "right" opportunity after a Munich episode. In fact, waiting for that opportunity makes things worse when the time comes when it is not possible anymore to wait for that opportunity. But what do I know? It is certainly not me having read dozens of history books, educated in scientific ethics that would qualify me as a better strategist than the cheap Venezuelan politicians in that opposition wing.
The two main negative leaders in that opposition are Manuel Rosales and Henri Falcon.
For Manuel Rosales the case is quite clear cut: he is a politician from Maracaibo and that is that. We can add that he knows that he will never win the opposition primary to become Venezuela's next president. He probably knows that he had his chance and he blew it. For that matter I suspect that he cannot be bothered dealing with a country in such a crisis. For him it became a matter of negotiating his freedom in a way that he could carve back for himself a Zulia state political niche. Most of what his political party has done since Maduro came to office seems to have been aimed at that, free Rosales from exile and jail. Period. With that success the party is about to lose any national relevance; but they are probably fine with that, 90% of the "leadership" being from Zulia. And ex-AD to boot. The regime will find a way to pass a regional party as the official opposition if needed.
Henri Falcon is a tad more complicated. I do not think he is the cynic that Rosales is. But his pet idea is that he embodies the presentable chavismo. He was more booted from chavismo than really leaving it. I suspect that he thinks he can recover enough disappointed chavistas, those that are unable under any circumstance to vote for the potential presidential leaders of the opposition. That way his political vehicle would gain more national significance than the one of Rosales. And heck, he could even win an opposition primary, provided there is no second round ballot. But his strategy takes a long time to peel of chavista vote by chavista vote. Hence his desire to negotiate something with the regime, to gain time for growth but also to become the only palatable option for the chavista backbencher.
The other opposition is more decided against the regime, but with shades. We do have the most radical ones like the followers of Leopoldo Lopez or Maria Corina Machado. Those of historical AD and upstart Primero Justicia are not as decided, or at least, do not agree on the same radical strategy. What truly unites them is that they all have suffered from the regime in the ways that the "negotiation side" has not. And that is what ties them together in ways that are not shared by Falcon and Rosales. The regime has always known that and exacerbated it at will. The jailing of Leopoldo Lopez is certainly a fate that neither Rosales nor Falcon is willing to consider. No Mandela in them.
But that unity through violence is hard to keep as the most noted possible next presidents of Venezuela are all in that group and none wants the competition to win at its own expense. The regime has been skillful in one respect: by fudging the electoral system the opposition can win only being united under a single electoral banner. And thus the fiction that X party thinks it is bigger than Y party persists since there is no way to settle that at the polls. Thus the regime abets division.
The major problem for the opposition is that as the fight drags on, it is more and more difficult to glue it together, there are more and more temptations to go it along. And in my opinion at this point the forced unity may start to become counter productive. The country situation has changed. The regime cannot win any election and thus there will be no elections for the foreseeable future. Could it may just be, just so, that a clean division inside the opposition may actually help it to find its way out of the morass? Note, in my scenario I retain the idea of the electoral alliance and only that. Each party will have its proposals but the final candidates will be under the MUD label after extensive primaries (even though the regime would not even accept primaries, but that is another matter).
There is a mantra that only through unity we shall prevail. It is true that only through unity the opposition started to recover. But those were under Chavez days when he was guaranteed 40% vote without cheating. Times have changed and now even cheating Maduro cannot get pass 30%. That leaves 35% for each of the two possible opposition blocks. And my money is on the radical block to pull out 40%+ without much trouble, in spite of electoral fraud. IF they preserve some unity among themselves, that is.
I am not advocating a division of the opposition here, I am simply stating that a MUD division into 2 or 3 groups may not be such a bad thing. At any rate the MUD alliance seems unable to recover from last year failures. A new system has been settled, etc, etc, and yet we have not seen any message come out of the alliance, only individuals. The system may eventually function but in my opinion it will work only as it is convenient for Rosales and Falcon who have been placed, though no merit of their own, as the deciders.
And that is too bad because the opposition finally has a few trump cards in hand. For example, as long as Tareck is the vice president no company that does business with the US can now do business with Venezuela if Tareck has to sign at the end of the page. As long as the National Assembly is neutered it will not vote the credits that the regime so badly needs. And nobody will lend money to Venezuela if there is no parliamentary legal certification. The price of oil is low enough that the regime populism cannot feed adequately, but high enough that any management improvement under a new government will be seen fast.
And last but not least, there are enough countries aware now that Venezuela is about to unleash millions of refugees over the world. The best and the brightest of Venezuela have long gone and were well received, but now those who are about to leave were probably chavistas and thus spoiled and useless immigrants. Let's not be afraid to say it, as un-PC as it may be. Most of those that were willing to break their back for a new future have left already, the lumpen has been left behind (not including the brave souls like yours truly that do not want to leave or cannot leave for real reasons). Thus the recent stirrings at the OAS, the support of Trump, etc... This is not out of their good heart, it is reality knocking at the door, and thus bringing renewed prospects for real political help for the opposition.
Now think about it for a second: who inside the opposition is better suited to take advantage of the new situation? Rosales? I think not. In fact that brave new world probably scares him. So why keep unity at all costs, including the cost of silencing the opposition as it happened late last year?
Just a thought.