Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not that it helps him much, but Leopoldo Lopez was right

I was wondering what I could write for today when we reach the first one month mark of the jailing of Leopoldo Lopez. Fortunately there are all sorts of videos made for the circumstance and this one, in black and white contains the last public words of Lopez, in a dramatic black and white.

It is not subtitled in English but I trust that soon there will be a version that I will add. But still, listening to his tone of voice today with the selection of all the gripping pictures of that day is quite enough to illustrate today, in full impact, the dictatorship we suffer from.

What can we say? Lopez was right. In his surrender he finished to unleash the deep anger that exists across the country and across social classes even if there are variations in those feelings. The monolithic support of lower classes for the regime is no more. It does not matter if 10 or 20 or 30% of the "E" sector of population has dropped chavismo, what matters is that they are doing it because after 15 years many are starting to realize that things are simply not going to get any better. Whatever Chavez brought them is done, Maduro or Cabello are not able to improve on it, and not even able to preserve it as inflation has already eaten whatever improvement in their lives existed.

Keen observers knew, not how, but knew for certain that arresting Lopez was a major mistake for the regime. And we were right, along Lopez who also knew that in jail he would do more damage than outside. Through this month the regime has been absolutely exposed to the tropical fascism that it has become, where the only arguments are repression and abuse because they think they can get away with it. A military retrograde and corrupt regime, in short. Even some accomplice UNASUR countries now express their lukewarm support though communiques, not wanting to be seen to openly siding with what is now a despicable regime that they have supported or put up with it for only too long, to their historical shame.

I suppose that being in jail is not necessary a great comfort to be proven right, but for those outside we do not forget about him and expect great results from his sacrifice.  Hang in there Leopoldo, we already owe you so much!


  1. Boludo Tejano7:25 PM

    The Spanish subtitles were very helpful for those of us who are out of practice with listening to Venezuelan/Caribbean Spanish.

    Very good speech.

  2. Anonymous8:24 PM

    English...bring it on!

  3. "I suppose that being in jail is not necessary a great comfort to be proven right, but for those outside we do not forget about him and expect great results from his sacrifice. Hang in there Leopoldo, we already owe you so much!"

  4. Charly10:43 PM

    Apparently not only keen observers knew it was a mistake. Maduro and Cabello also and they had a fit when they found out Luisa had screwed up big time. At the end of the day this clampdown on information does more harm than good to the regime. All kinds of rumors and urban legends start flying around. Lopez is starting to lead those disappointed by Capriles and they are a plenty.

  5. Anonymous10:46 PM

    I can see why he's earned your admiration...but there's a big leap between where he is and any kind of proven ability to lead a broken, screwed-up country forward.

    I'm not actually sure it's a great thing you've said about him -- that he could do more damage from the inside of a jail cell then the outside.

    A symbol is a different thing than a leader.

    And a little time in a jail cell does not make you Nelson Mandela.

    He saw the student protests growing...jumped on the bandwagon...channeled the rage...turned his arrest into a highly staged theatrical event (very effective)...but:

    That is not the same thing as proving yourself a grand strategist or thinker or someone who can unite the nation...

    Do not mistake your own feelings for those of the general public, or even the broader opposition.

    1. He couldn't possibly do worse than what we have now! And besides, he is a U.S. educated economist and does have a track record as a political executive. He will probably be the next president of the Venezuela after the dust settles. As for uniting the nation, that will be the work of many years. You can't just undo that kind of divisive hatred and distrust overnight.

    2. Anonymous 5:16 pm,

      People can criticize Leopoldo all they want...after all it seems to be what the opposition does best, but it certainly does not help the opposition to criticize Leopoldo by saying that he has not proved himself as a thinker or planner, when they do not know how it could be in the future should he have the opportunity.

      Now is the time for another kind of leadership.Now it the time to show a little bravery which can serve as a role model....the opposition (until lately) has been sorely lacking in what is needed most:


      without it there is no hope...with bravery there is always hope


    3. anonymous 5:16

      Let me start by saying that if you are a PJ lover your opinion would carry more wait if you would bother, say, to find a handle like "pedro". Heck, I would settle for Anonymous666...

      This being said your analysis is unfortunately flawed because Lopez has shown to be a leader, from starting a small party in 2009 to be the holder today of the most opposition town halls. that is right, Voluntad Popular is arguably today the lone party that can claim national coverage (San Cristobal to Maturin), and more town halls than any other party.

      I suspect that you are not a regular reader otherwise you would not have written such a comment as this blog has followed close the formation of Voluntad Popular and no matter what my feelings may be towards that political group, I am also writing form the facts that I have observed close and personal in the past 5 years.

    4. Anonymous1:14 AM

      I could call myself Pedro or Pablo...but that would still be anonymous...for security reasons...so anonymous is more honest.

      I do happen to believe that Capriles is actually showing more courage and long-term thinking -- it is easy to feed red meat to people who want only to hear their rage reflected back to them (and notice that red meat does not = an actual strategy) and much harder to continually keep your eye on the big picture challenges and share uncomfortable truths -- ie the only viable leader from the opposition's ranks will be someone who can credibly appeal to a much broader range of Venezuelans. Capriles is getting attacked like crazy by those in the opposition who can't stand to hear anything other than a prediction their desired outcome is right around the corner...they don't even demand a credible story about how that might come about (see Roy below as an example: "there is a sense...people don't know how...")...they just want to hear that.

      Leopoldo talks to and appeals to people who already agree with him...

      And he talks to them...not for them...if he emerged tomorrow from jail the student movement would still be directed by the students...not Leopoldo.

      More town halls has never translated into higher support in polling for VP.

    5. I am sorry but you still do not cut it.

      First, you do not want to be "Pedro" for reasons of security? Why not Anonymous666? Really....... And pray, do tell me why your security reasons are stronger than mine who has been attacked by many including JVR, who stands to lose his business and what not?

      Second, I addressed the capacity that Lopez has had to build a new political party and already harvest preliminary but significant successes. You do not reply to that and go on some other tangent that is irrelevant to the main entry.

      Third, for coherence sake, this blog has never been a supporter of Capriles even though I supported him as much as possible through the campaigns and noted duly his merits, along his demerits. Trust me, I am sorry to have been proven right.

    6. William2:54 AM

      Anonymous wrote: "He saw the student protests growing...jumped on the bandwagon...channeled the rage...turned his arrest into a highly staged theatrical event (very effective)...but:

      That is not the same thing as proving yourself a grand strategist or thinker or someone who can unite the nation..."

      Does not your first sentence describe a strategy? And apparently, it has been a very effective strategy, as that watershed moment, no matter how theatrical it may have been, elevated the protests to a new level.

      Contrast that with the Capriles approach...patient, measured and largely non-confrontational. Where was that taking the country? Every day we sat by and watched el pais sink further into the abyss.

      At least now, many can see the first glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel. This is not going to end well for Maduro, and there is no way someone like Diosdado or Ramirez are going to be able to salvage Chavismo by dumping Maduro. The tipping point is past, and I for one have gained tremendous respect for Leopoldo for putting himself at risk to help get us to this point.

    7. Anonymous8:36 AM

      No, no, you misunderstand. My point is that Pedro is just as anonymous as Anonymous...so it's more honest to use Anonymous instead of a fake name.

      I think you have a serious need to believe in Leopoldo and I don't want to get in the way of that...

      But I do want to address your haste in dismissing Capriles -- whose losses at the ballot box should be put in context. First, his loss to Chavez represented the smallest margin of victory for any incumbent in the region in many years. And we all know the conditions under which that battle was waged -- hardly free or fair. In his battle against Maduro, conditions were even worse, and he managed to win, I think we'd agree. Your problem is you thought that (with an evenly divided country, a very emotional Chavista base, the guns on the Chavista side) he should have protested in the streets rather than in legal fora. You're entitled to that opinion. But what cannot be denied is that under extremely difficult conditions, he has proven he can attract millions of votes.

      Capriles isn't entitled to your automatic support...he should have to earn it anew at each stage...but to treat him with such contempt because he differs on strategy...

    8. Anonymous8:37 AM

      William....glimmers of light? tipping point has passed? what's the evidence?

    9. I am not replying anymore because I cannot deal with discourteous people that are unable to put at least a number on their anonymous. Because this is what it is, spoiled brat behavior. If you want replies, grow up.

    10. Anonymous5:06 PM

      Hi, my name is Daniel. I am at the moment so emotionally fragile that I take even a disagreement over a commenter's anonymity policy so personally I cannot possibly respond to the substance of that commenter's arguments. I do not want anyone who disagrees with me in the slightest to read my blog. I want the comments section to feature only adulation or polite questions. I cannot possibly at this time tolerate robust discussion or debate about tactics, even with people who agree with me about the overall picture of this country. I am only interested in creating an echo chamber for opposition radicals. That feels so good to me; it makes me feel things will go the way I want in Venezuela. Finally, I now understand the Chavista mindset where disagreement is considered heresy. Please, all readers who disagree -- go elsewhere. This is not a place for you. If you have the temerity to challenge me on any point, I will send you away.

    11. Anonymous7:14 PM

      This "anonymous" comment is directed at "Anonymous 11:36 AM" who is apparently too thick to discern why it's courteous and makes sense to "sign" comments that are submitted anonymously.

      The short answer is that it provides a semblance of continuity in the comments section and helps differentiate anonymous commenters from one another.

      I currently use the 'anonymous comment' functionality because I haven't set up a 'profile' with the other options available (yet). That said, I wouldn't mind if the anonymous comment function is disabled, especially considering the stupid and ignorant comment made by who knows who at 11:36 AM.

      Mike Nelson

  6. There is a sense on the streets that this is coming to an end. People don't know how or when, but they sense that it is soon. All that is waiting is the right spark, or for someone in some type of authority to say, "Now!" The only thing that could derail it is the application of extreme brutality and fear, and I don't think the military will go that far.

  7. Before López 2.0, I would have agreed with most of what anonymous @ 5:16 pm says. López displayed an exuberant boyishness that lacked applied seriousness, or, fundamento, puej. That has changed in the past year or two, for reasons explained by others, above, especially Daniel who notes the popularity of Lopez's party VP -- across the nation.
    I've also seen personal-political growth reflected in Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori. Where much earlier, she came across as undisciplined, I really take my hat off to her, now.
    Yes, LL may not be a Nelson Mandela (other than in a country that loves to stretch drama). But I think he's worthy of the mantle of leader, if not yet, the opposition, certainly in good time, ceteris paribus and may God help him survive the ordeal.

  8. Laura1:27 AM

    For those who would like to see the full text of his speech in English - see:


    The video is still very powerful, even with a few sentences edited out. I hope the above can also help someone who is technically savy to more easily do the English subtitling! :-)

    Gracias Daniel, this blog is always a beacon of light....

  9. Island Canuck2:25 AM

    Excellent video - impressive leader.

  10. If I could brush upon what Charly said for a moment. How did Luisa mess up in the context of arresting Lopez? How would have Maduro preferred to silence Lopez?
    I am a Bostonian women, first generation here in the USA, my mother being from Zulia. I spent my youth in Venezuela and have an immense love for my family and mothers land. Venezuela is in my thoughts and prayers daily. I wish my president had a bigger set of balls, unfortunately Obama need to grow a pair.
    That being said I read your blog daily and find it to be a great source of information in English. Keep up the good work.


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