I keep postponing writing on what to do about Venezuela, the more so now that international pressure is growing in earnest. But everyday here I get new evidence that Maduro's domination (not strength, that is another matter) is at least based on half his wiles and a good portion of the opposition willingness to play bull to its matador.
The unconstitutional assembly decided that those parties that did not field candidates in December elections were cancelled and had to prove again that they did exist and had following enough to deserve a voting ballot. Not only this was a stupid (and illegal) reason, but it betrayed how upset the regime is when it "wins" by default. There is no pleasing these psychos....
Amazingly after a few twists two parties decided to "re-validate" their status. It is to be noted that the party of Henry Falcon and Manuel Rosales, heavily criticized among the opposition electorate, did not need to go through that hoop. Voluntad Popular having its leadership in jail or in exile did the sensible thing not to seek a renewal that they could not prepare for, and even less in the allotted time. So, in appearance they look ethical and uncompromising (which they are more than many, but still....).
So Accion Democratica and Primero Justicia decided to go for it. AD that has been preparing its structure for a while since it is the preferred opposition option of the regime had no problem renewing its credentials today. PJ failed and may be allowed to try again.
Let's examine the extent of Maduro "legal" victory against the political parties of Venezuela:
- Voluntad Popular of Leopoldo Lopez, the up and coming party that scared everyone has been wiped out. Its leadership is in jail or in exile. And we see no one anymore bothering shedding crocodile tears over VP. They have been left on their own, with many a secret jubilation from chavismo to opposition.
- Causa R, the winner of governor election in Bolivar state saw the election nakedly stolen even as the candidate Velasquez showed the clear uncontroversial evidence. But the military decided that they were not willing to let anyone examine the network of corruption and environmental disaster that they are perpetrating in Bolivar. So now we may suppose that since Causa R is not a party anymore there is no need whatsoever to verify those election results.
- Other parties like the one of Maria Corina Machado were not approved last year so they did not even have a platform to cry foul.
- The only danger for the regime after Voluntad Popular was PJ. Having barred Capriles from running and now annulling PJ so no other candidate can be fielded, that threat is gone.
- Rosales, the 2006 candidate against Chavez was humiliated in Zulia in December. The humiliation is so strong, the resentment from so much inside the opposition about his less than responsive support in the hard months of 2017 basically have annulled him once and for all. I think anyway. The sad part is that he thought that by dulling the opposition strategy so that the recall election failed as well as the nomination of a new electoral board would have gained him from the regime the governorship of Zulia where he could finish his political career in peace. But no, the devil's payback is his. He lost it all, from dignity (if he had one) to political clout (never that great and only in Zulia anyway).
So there are only two political partes left and allowed to field a presidential candidate, the two that chavismo wanted. Success through and though.
Avanzada Popular with Henry Falcon is despised by chavismo as they see him as a traitor. As it happens to traitors the other side never trusts them and demand proof of loyalty. Not only he never quite gave them but his attitude in the harsh events of 2017 killed any good will that he may have gotten in the past. Further more, his absolute tone deafness as to why people "abandoned" him in Lara in October, costing him his governor seat, just left many of us in awe. Self-criticism is not a word in his dictionary, as the good chavista he used to be. Against Maduro, without this one cheating, he will be beaten 2 to 1 at least. And 70% abstention minimum.
And we are thus left with AD. The strategy of Ramos Allup, its unchangeable and unchallengeable leader, has been all along to recover slowly the chavista electorate, the bulk of them having been AD before 2018. He has met some success, at least in the provinces where only VP was the option. VP gone, Ramos Allup picked 4 states in October. Not that it matters much, the effect going more to his arrogance than anything else. The fact of the matter is that Ramos Allup, is unelectable, and even with a full rallying of the opposition behind him there is no guarantee of the smashing victory needed which is the only way the regime would collapse.
I will give you an example of his hubris. The international pressure is moving against the opposition fielding a candidate. That is, foreign countries are ready not to recognize Maduro as president which will put him in an impossible position, enough that probably even China would drop him least it perturbs its brisk business with other LatAm country. Asked about it, Ramos Allup sarcastically answered something like "What if we win? They will not recognize us?". Tone deaf he is, and thus unfit for president, in my book.
Of course, that AD is the only allowed party does not imply necessarily that Ramos Allup is the unity candidate: X can be named by AD and we will see what new trickery the regime imposes. But, is it worth to fight the way that has failed us 3 TIMES in 2017?
I am really wondering what the opposition can do in the next weeks to convince me to go and vote.
PS: for good measure the regime annulled the MUD electoral alliance card. And yesterday it registered without any signature a new chavista party. Just to make the point that they do as they please. Here and overseas.