For days I have been pondering on how to answer Ken Hagler on the comment he made on his site on my story “Woke up in a dictatorship today”. Ken’s comment was direct and simple, and coincides with my gut feeling when I see what is happening around me:
“I think at some point, perhaps now, the people of Venezuela should stop relying entirely on protests and exercise their right to “vote ‘no’ with the weapon of their choice.”
You see, I have always seen myself as a pacifist. Never shot a gun. Never considered reacting or acting violently in my life. During the last year, I have gone to marches, demonstrations, and protests believing that the sheer numbers of people involved would convince the Government that the only way out of our crisis was some form of an electoral solution. It is in the Constitution, which Chavez himself created. That is what Constitutions are for, they are there, you have to respect them, and you look for the protections that it provides for you, even if you don’t like the Constitution. But it has not worked. The control that Hugo Chavez has on what are supposed to be the independent powers: the electoral commission, the Supreme Court and the National Assembly are such that we are further away from any election at this point when we were on Nov. 4th., when we submitted the petition to have the consultative referendum.
I also believed that the OAS mediated negotiating table, while useless in the end, would keep Chavez in check. It would stop him from going beyond what civilized rules call for. At that time it appeared as if Chavez and his Government were at least afraid of international opinion, which they had masterfully managed to their advantage. But Chavez is simply a user. Whether it is “the people”, his collaborators, international opinion or even his wife, Chavez uses people, gets the most out of them to his advantage and then disposes them at will. And he moves on.
And I marched, I blogged, I e-mailed, I chanted, I screamed and I did all of the things that I thought would inevitably force Chavez to come to terms with the fact that his mandate has been cancelled. He is no longer popular. His supporters are a minority across all social strata. The revolution is dead, it was simply not viable under his primitive and incompetent leadership.
But what has not been viable was my belief in decency, fairness and rationality. That is not how Hugo Chavez’ minds works. So, instead of the rosy electoral solution we have slipped further and further into this violent dictatorship. And if last week it was the shock to see the deaths of dissident military officers, followed by the order to capture the two most important opposition leaders, this week it is the shock of huge C4 bombs exploding at diplomatic missions four blocks from my home.
And thus we come to Ken’s suggestion to stop the protest and start relying on our weapon of choice. And I do want to march to the presidential palace. And I hate it everytime our marches are cancelled or stopped because Chavez’ violent supporters are there waiting for us. And I think it is time to prove to the country and the world that there is no space that can be banned to us. But at the same time, I believe that the only reason we are right, the only reason we are truly superior, the only reason why we are the honorable and decent opposition to an outlaw Government, is simply that we refuse to go and fight under their own terms. I prefer to blog tonight and then go to tomorrow’s march with my flag and whistle and get shot at by Chavez’ supporters, than to go armed and shoot somebody. Maybe that is why we are losing, if indeed we are. But I still feel we will win in the end, because we are indeed morally right, we are morally better. We have proven it!
Will this change if we start getting shot at daily? I don’t know, and I hope I never find out……