When someone in the Court where Rosales was to have had an audience yesterday leaked his sentence ahead of the audience, Manuel Rosales decided to go into exile in Peru in what is likely to become the death of his career as a relevant politician in Venezuela.
Rosales’ attitude is understandable, the sentencing papers contained information only the Judge knew and they were ready to jail him, but what else did he expect? A fair trial? Understanding? There was no question in anyone’s mind that this was to be Chavez’ revenge, so for Rosales to expect any fairness was naive to say the least.
But the move is truly shortsighted politically. Rosales is not a reporter, a second rank military officer or a two bit swindler, he happens to be one of the main opposition politicians in Venezuela and as such it was his job to stay and fight. He should not have considered any other option: Leaving represents playing into Chavez’ hand, giving up the fight, sending a signal that he may even be guilty. Staying would have represented an honorable and political battle against all odds. It would have made life difficult for Chavez and his Government. He now becomes an irrelevant problem. A has been. So long Manuel!
Yes, it is the human solution. Nobody likes to go to jail. Nobody likes his or her freedom to be restricted. But when you become a politician, more so in a country like Venezuela, it is part of your fight. It is your responsibility.
Just think if Rosales had been jailed yesterday and sent to a prison with Pedro Carmona, Eduardo Lapi, Carlos Fernandez, Raul Baduel, Carlos Ortega and a couple of military officers now in exile. Much like when Hugo Chavez was jailed in 1992 after staging his coup, the jail would become a fertile ground for conspiracy and political noise. An uncomfortable source of news for the Government and a constant distraction from Chavez’ well orchestrated challenges to the opposition.
People would visit the jail and meet not only their friend, but others, would help them and would send a signal to the country and the world that something is not right with Venezuela’s justice and political system.
Instead, Rosales will have been forgotten in a month and his stature will have been diminished in the eyes of Venezuelans. Not because he will have lost it, but because he will no longer be part of Venezuela’s daily political fight.
And in a country with mediocre and weak opposition, the people will have witnessed the death of another opposition leader because he chose the exile option. In the end, Rosales chose his own political death.
It may be the right decision for him, but the worng political option for everyone.