Sunday, February 02, 2014

My recipe for the Venezuelan opposition (for what good it does...)

So tomorrow Lopez and Machado and, rather unexpectedly, Ledezma are planning to gather for the the first formal street activity to force the regime to do....  whatever. The regime will of course do as it pleases since its directions come now from Havana, military barracks and drug cartels. None of them have much use for any proposal from the opposition, finding increasing creative ways to silence it before guns start talking in earnest. But that is not really the issue discussed here.

The opposition is basically divided in two camps: those that think that the economic situation will play by itself and that within months Maduro will be forced to resign and a new chavista government will sit down and prepare a transition. And those that want to speed up the process and are in no mood to negotiate anything besides a speedy transition.

Clearly Primero Justicia and the old guard (AD, COPEI, MAS...) are playing the card of wait and see. Many reasons for that. They all see Voluntad Popular as an upstart that does not deserve what it got last December. They think Machado is a shrill. They think that after their failed tragedy for 2013 (admittedly with major success but a failure in the end since in theory Maduro is now in for the next 5 years) they need to regroup and try to make some agreement with the government so that they can remain a viable political option since they believe that Maduro ain't Chavez. They think Capriles has still some pristine appeal and that his flip backwards triple somersaults are not noticed.  They think Santa is for real.

On the other side you have a coalition in formation, of those who think that the time of principles have come, that the role models are Aung San Suu Kyi and Vitali Klitschko. This is the opposition that has a clearer idea about the fascist/commie lot in front. That coming coalition has its starting point tomorrow at Plaza Brion of Chacaito in Caracas; where interestingly 12 years ago was held the very first large scale protest against Chavez over his plans on limiting private education and parents role. I was there, at the very start, for the record.... But I will not be tomorrow as I am with health obligations and the like.

Whether I attend is not the issue, whether lots or few show up tomorrow is not the issue. This is just starting and I doubt Capriles could rally more people behind a "no short cuts [to unseat Maduro]" slogan while he sits down to negotiate as if nothing with a regime that he used to claim was illegitimate. I am sorry, he is sounding more and more like a loser. But I digress.

The thing is that the opposition needs to settle a new strategy on the fast, within weeks, and certainly before chavismo holds its summer congress and gets a major propaganda boost. The opposition needs to be on the offensive before, well before the regime starts pretending all is fine. And thus I agree with the group that wants to bring unrest to the streets, that wants to try to capitalize politically on shortages, insecurity, lack of jobs, inflation, etc...  And Capriles needs to decide once and for all if he wants to be governor of Miranda or leader of the opposition because clearly he can't be both.

The problem is that there is no easy way for that. The primary option is not an option after last time. The regime will make sure this time around to find out who voted for the primary and the Tascon list will be seen after that as a child game. Unless of course we limit the primary at a game set by SUMATE and limited to declared political activists.  Right now, under an open dictatorship, electoral options to settle internal opposition problems are limited. So what can we do?

Well, as I pointed out it is time for a major face-lift for the MUD, or to move ahead with a more dynamic and combative grouping, even at the risk of having the collaborationist to remain outside. Which, if you think of it truthfully may be a good thing. There are ways to do that. You could call for example for a political congress that can include all the opposition elected officials, or a delegation of them anyway. You can supplement that with organizations that can prove they represent something. Since there is no way to know what the political parties truly represent today we could commission a series of polls and allocate a political representation to that congress according to the average poll result (to be represented you need to accept the poll and pay for your share so empty parties are eliminated, sorry). Etc.

Then that congress needs to go beyond the MUD who has served well its time but who has reached the end of its road. What I would propose is a shadow cabinet of sorts, leaders clearly identified in charge of countering incessantly the regime in a given area, and organize a continuous political pressure at all levels. We are going the Ukraine way, whether we like it. I chose Ukraine for comparison because over there we can say roughly that half are ethnic Russians (chavistas) supporting the current president while the other half supports Western values and may or may not be ethnic Ukrainians (the variety of the Venezuelan opposition).

Either that or go the Cuban way.


  1. Anonymous12:17 PM

    No, please, not the Cuban way —perish the thought— That would be cruel.
    In Ukraine you could more or less divide the country (geographically) between what you call Russian "chavistas" and the rest (with the help of some minor ethnic cleansing). In Venezuela, the chavista lot dwell in our midst. Kicking them out of Miranda, where their concentration seems to be at its lowest, would not be a decent option. A certain degree of accommodation and tolerance will be inevitable in the long run. Sadly.

    1. Here's some of the Vz populace opinions the Washington Post reported on Saturday

  2. Perhaps the appearance of Capriles in Ven. Politics has only delayed the confrontation with the regime in a way that has not been very beneficial for the opposition.By giving the government the benefit of the doubt and by believing that elections could be made to be honest, Capriles sold an impractical tactic of pressuring an undemocratic government to act in a democratic way.

    It looks like a line is finally going to be drawn in the ground by the non Capriles opposition.I hope it is not too late, and I wish them the very best in resisting the inevitable government reaction.


  3. The "Cuban Way" is for everyone in the Opposition to escape to Miami.

    1. Anonymous7:18 AM

      Miami is full of chavistas.

  4. Anonymous9:36 AM

    In 2005 you supported the vote abstention, the failure of which you vaguely blame on the opposition " for not having a follow up strategy ". May the saints preserve us, well preserve you anyway; you will need that or greater help when you support such a stupid strategy. Dumb as a bag of hammers. Now you support taking the opposition to the streets, which, even if peaceful, will provoke a response that may well not be peaceful. Then what, more marches provoking more non-peaceful response ( violence anyone ? ), some deaths, serious injury, more obvious presence of Venezuelan military force on the streets, then what Daniel, what's the brilliant follow up strategy ? More marches, more violence. Arrests, imprisonments and deaths as the regime, or elements in it, attempt to intimidate, to crush. What little economic activity presently taking place will cease entirely. Wrong move entirely.
    Try patience, try humour, try education. Allow Maduro to be challenged, and likely overthrown from within, allow even more time to pass between the death of St. Chavez and whoever is ruling 'in his name ", allow more time for consequences of the economic stupidity of the regime to manifest and for a higher percentage of Venezuelans to become upset. In other words, for time being, let the unraveling of the government and the economy tell the story to all Venezuelans.

    1. "vaguely"? I cannot rewrite the history of Venezuela with each entry. There is in the lower right column an archive section which will lead the interested reader to dozens of post written in 2005 on that matter.

    2. Anonymous1:47 PM

      The patience game is exactly the reason why Venezuela is where it is today. People are patient with a GANG OF THUGS. You can't be patient with these type of people. Dreaming of their regime crumbling on it's own is the dumbest thing I have EVER heard.

  5. Daniel,

    I disagree with yet again more humour as bdy says. But we need networks of people effectively educating about economics, pluralism and how the rest of the world is really right now.
    That's what we need. I keep communicating with average Venezuelans in Venezuela and I am shocked at the level of ignorance about very simple economic matters, even among so-called oppos. With this we cannot make any opposition.

    Go to the streets for what now? If you don't have a plan for the afterwards, it's going to backfire. If you are not aware of how Chavismo will infiltrate people and create a lot of violence and blame it on us, you have a problem. Look at what happened in Valencia now. It will get worse and people are naive. I don't say 'let's not go to the streets' (well, I am in comfortable Europe, anyway) but I do say: if you do, do have a bloody plan A, B and C and do take the measures to prevent infiltration.
    Above all, learn from the past. Education is urgently needed, now not later.

    1. I am afraid education time is passed. I deal daily with Venezuelans at many different socio economical levels. Unfortunately most do not care to educate themselves. Something also observed in other societies such as with bible thumpers in the US or old commies in Europe or even now in France with an unexpected strong vocal homophobia. I am afraid starvation will be a better teacher.

    2. Daniel, let me be clear: I do not mean through education as in "courses" or the like we will turn the tables.

      I mean this: things will turn when starvation comes BUT if and only if we start educating people now.

      That is: neither education nor starvation are enough but both.

      And by education I mean really at this stage almost clandestine networks of people training
      other people about those basic concepts.
      I am pretty shocked when I see that probably even people like Capriles haven't got a clue about what it takes for real development (even if he probably would find some of the people who could help him). It seems to me that people like Capriles studied to become tax law experts and only that and that people like Borges studied to become law experts in whatever he is expert in...a grasp about the economy is something only a tiny fraction of Venezuelans seem to have.
      Starvation after brain washing equals Cuba.

    3. One thing Venezuelans need to be educated about is that the USA is in the same struggle of rich vs poor!

  6. Venezuelans have a lot of defense mechanisms, especially primitive ones like denial and distraction.Humor is a distraction.This keeps people from feeling more appropriate emotions that might be conducive to becoming aware of the situation and facing whatever it takes.

    Pain makes people change.

    The problem with Capriles is that he is a feel good leader.


  7. An opposition that is invisible and fuming in the background and waiting for Chavismo to self-destruct, is not an opposition. However, the regime clearly has unfettered fascist tendencies, could over-react to an opposition that gets more active! There are no good choices! Certainly, confrontation could aggravate the the regime's already difficult and weak control, which could help them with a raise oil prices, or could cause a political collapse, when the opposition is not in a position to assume control. On the other hand, waiting could go on too long, until it becomes too late to do anything! So, I don't have any ideas... do you?

  8. When I'm told that older and seemingly educated Venezuelans console their young with the words "you'll get used to it", I despair. If you guys in Venezuela don't have an escape plan, I suggest you get one fast. You already have significant anarchy. This is going to end in tears. Other peoples have abandoned their countries for a lot less.

  9. This morning, I woke up with an epiphany. Life is a journey on a road of failures. The opposition is stuck, because it is afraid of failure.

  10. Anonymous6:29 PM

    Todos los politicos estan tratando de asegurar su proxima mensualidad, Por eso Capriles no dejara su trabajito de gobernador tambien para el y otros la "apariencia" politica es lo que les quita el sueno. Yo, desde mi iletra postura politica y finaciera, creo que nadie quiere arriesgarse a "perder" lo que no tienen. Eso si se perdieron la libertad de comprar en los mercados, se pierde la libertad de caminar por las calles a cualquier hora y ellos, los politicos perdieron toda credibilidad de la poblacion. Los venezolanos somos emotivos, por lo tanto, no hay mucho que aconsejar. Las estrategias saldran empiricamente, sin muchos manuals de procedimiento que seguir y con la conviccion de que los estudiantes y manifestantes aguerridos son los verdaderos lideres. Que capriles no se equivoque y trate de aprovechar protagonismo cuando desde hace meses atras le dio la espalda a todos y cada uno de aquellos que creimos en el. No es y no sera mas nunca un lider serio en el que volvamos a creer, por lo menos yo, mi familia y mis amigos ya somos un grupo que no lo vemos como una opcion de cambio, al contrario de lo presenta El Sr Arria, a mi parecer tiene mejor sentido de orientacion, y credenciales que aprueban con hechos q es el indicado para replantear la situacion. Tiene experiencia en gobernabilidad, es economist y curtido por los problemas que afectan la sociedad civil venezolana en estos momentos, obviamente necesitara de un equipo de trabajo y es ahi donde Leopoldo y Machado pueden aportar sus ideas frescas, me explico un equipo de trabajo consolidado; de lo contrario Diego no lo podra hacer solo. Requiere de riezgos mas que de sentarse a "conversar" con el regimen, ya se ha demostrado por los ultimos 14 anos que no hay una manera loable y sensata de que por medio del dialogo civilizado "ellos" accedan a dejar el "coroto" Han demostrado con hechos y acciones que no son los mas apropiados para arreglar las cosas de la manera mas decente possible. Resistencia civil sostenida, paro nacional ilimitado es una estrategia. Que mas dano le puede ocasionar un paro nacional al pais del que ya le ha hecho el regimen? Seamos mas onjetivos y dejemonos de tantos sentimentalismo. Los regimenes dictatoriales en el mundo no salen con conversaciones ni mucho menos con VOTOS., para muestra un boton y CUBA es el broche de arriba del cuello de la camisa.


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