Venezuela Marches, People Show Frustration

May 31, 2015

Lilian-Tintori-Lopez-encabezo-venezolana_MILIMA20150531_0018_11Lilian Tintori, Lopez’ wife addresses marchers

Yesterday, Venezuelans marched all over the country, and also abroad, to protest against the Government, in favor of political prisoners and asking for more democracy. The marches were peaceful and attendance was quite nice, given the fear that people have of a repeat of last year’s repression by the Maduro Government. The success of the protest was a tribute to Leopoldo Lopez, who seems more attuned in ail with the opposition than most of the opposition leadership. In fact, it was remarkable that from his cell and using a video, Lepoldo Lopez could accomplish what he did, thousands of people going and protesting, knowing the dangers that they were exposed to.

But what it showed is that people are fed up and ready to protest and Leopoldo has understood that quite well ever since last year. In contrast, the leadership of the opposition unity group, the MUD, really blew it, rejecting the march openly, rather than staying quietly on the sidelines.

What the MUD does not seem to understand is that at this point in time, there is need for many different ways to express opposition. Elections are a nice goal, but here we are May 31st. and there is no scheduled election to take place in 2015. Oh yeah, there should be parliamentary elections before the end of 2015, but what if the CNE does not call for them? Does the MUD have a plan B?

In fact, I find it very hard to understand why the MUD did what it did. To me, it really had only two choices: One to simply shut up, the other to back the march and incorporate demands for an immediate announcement of when the elections will take place into the protest.

It is as if 16 years of dirty tricks and subterfuges have not convinced the MUD that this is not a fair game, this is a game which is loaded with radioactive dice that do whatever the revolution wants and needs. And at every step, the revolution has had weapons, plans and tricks, while the opposition has always had a naive plan A, but no Plan B, or let alone any possible dirty tricks.

But dirty tricks is all the opposition will get from here on, from gerrymandering (here is a simple explanation from today’s twitter): CGP2yuiUgAIofyt

to faking census data, to fielding fake opposition candidates, to cheating on the elections, Chavismo is, as always, ready to pull all of the dirty tricks in the Universe. Including changing laws so that an opposition victory becomes meaningless.

And in the middle of this, the MUD can not even back a protest promoted by one of its leading members who happens to have a very vested interest in all this, given by the fact that he has been in jail 14 months for his strong stance against the Maduro Government.

And the MUD strategy was not to support the march? Gimme a break!

Well, in my humble opinion, they did more to damage their reputation with the rank and file with this decision than with any previous one, at a time that they are trying to promote the vote among the member of the opposition. In the end, it may not matter, Leopoldo will call for people to go and vote and they will follow his wishes. But why waste so much energy in non-existing problems?

What yesterday showed is that the people want leadership. They want to do things, but they do not want to sit passively until the CNE or Maduro or Cuba, whomever calls for elections in Venezuela decides to. They want to put pressure. They have many issues, from democracy, to Human Rights, to crime, to lines, to shortages, but they are being told to stay home till whenever some hypothetical elections take place.But they want action now, and they know now that Leopoldo and Capriles, who smartly backed the march, are the leaders. The rest are just living room politicians taking the supposedly safe road.

But that road does not include the people’s frustration and one day, the people may simply overcome the leadership and act on their own, unless somebody, whether in jail or not, is capable of leading them they way they want.

Elections and Protests are not two different strategies. They are part of an array of weapons that the opposition needs to use. In fact, marches and protests are the way to motivate and promote the vote, when and if, the Government decides that it will finally take place.

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46 Responses to “Venezuela Marches, People Show Frustration”

  1. Ira Says:

    Have you seen this one yet?

    Chavismo media reports that White House spokesman Jim Leurs says VZ officials are innocent of drug smuggling, that accusations are all false.

    The problem?

    Jim Leurs doesn’t exist:

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/venezuela/article23239719.html

  2. bythefault Says:

    A bit off topic but today Maduro attacked Colombia saying that Venezuela was under invasion by Colombians. He stated that there were 5.6 million Colombians now living in Venezuela and that in the past year some 180,000 had arrived. Now Venezuela is a country of 30 million people. Do the math. 5.6 million out of 30 million is nearly 20 percent or one in five. Does any Venezuelan actually think that one in five people living in Venezuela is from Colombia? So I looked it up. The Pew Research Trust did a study just last month on global migration patterns. They found 860,00 Colombians living in Venezuela and noted a reverse migration pattern in the past decade down from 1.4 million in 2005. How is it that no one in the media calls Maduro for his loose grasp on facts?

    • Ira Says:

      I’ll never understand this, because aren’t untold numbers of VZers going to COLOMBIA to make a living?

      • bythefault Says:

        There are perhaps 50,000 Venezuelans living in Colombia. Not many really but more than have been here historically. Many came right after the takeover at PDVSA and they tend to be either energy professionals or well-to-do commercial types. Average Venezuelans, no very few.

    • Island Canuck Says:

      “How is it that no one in the media calls Maduro for his loose grasp on facts?”

      If you spent all your time and available news space refuting things Maduro says each day you wouldn’t have any time or room for other news.

      I think most Venezuelans just ignore what he says.
      It’s a continuos outpouring of lies, hate, fabrications and inuendo that never ends.

    • Island Canuck Says:

      Here’s a prime example:

      Maduro: “La MUD paga a jefes de bandas para asesinar gente de pueblo y así crear confusion”

      Maduro: The MUD (opposistion unity group) pays leaders of gangs to kill people of the pueblo and thereby creating confusion.

      You would think that if the president of a country makes a statement like this that there would be proof, people behind bars, etc.

      But no. In the world of Fantasyland that is Venezuela we’ll hear this statement repeated by numerous PSUV members but nothing of substance will appear.

      Every day there are dozens of comments like this by Maduro & his ministers with absolutely no proof.

      • 'Palante Says:

        It’s all related to the Ignorant Target Audience, if that’s what you are wondering about.

        A vastly under-educated populace, capable of believing such crap, and worse, like Imperialistic Wars, etc.

        This can only happen in Dictatorships catering to very uneducated masses. Not even in Colombia or Brazil could such bullshit fly happily unattended.

        • Kepler Says:

          That is not quite correct. As much as I plead for a real improvement of Venezuelans’ educational levels, I know that is not the key.
          Think about Germany in 1933-1945. Think about Russia even now.
          Think, on the other side, about Ghana and Rhodesia, among other cases of better performance nowadays.


    • I think Maduro got confused. He probably meant Venezuela was being invaded by Cubans? That’s more likely.

  3. Ira Says:

    OT, because I need a lesson here:

    With VZ running around like a chicken with its head cut off to cut oil production…both OPEC and others (hah!) in order to bring prices up…is their assumption that VZ itself won’t cut production at all, and only others?

    Or even if VZ et al were to cut production and bring prices up, that VZ would realize gains because of lower production costs? (Lower quantities pumped meaning less costs? With higher prices meaning a better position for them after you do the math?)

    I just don’t get it, because I can’t understand why VZ is fighting for cuts in outputs, unless they think the cuts wouldn’t apply to them.

  4. alejandro Says:

    I am surprised how the exchange circles around the situation as if the political crisis in venezuela is a normal one. I am not disagreeing with any of you, but i do strongly believe that we are for a schock. The only legacy of Chavez is that he left a structure of power that will survive or at least kick for a while withour being democratic. There’s discipline (impunity), financial backers (chinese) and they are strong and willing to do anything.

    Therefore, political cost is zero, and what is collapsing, unfortunately, is Venezuela’s hope of democracy and capitalism. They are destroying it, and the crisis weakens society and makes them more robust.

    Everything has been done, it is all on the table, they are bluffing with the election but its something they are not willing to do because it jeopardizes the revolution.

    China, is indeed an issue, and it is acting as the IMF but with a clear interest. They don’t care about human rights, repression or coercion.

    Conflict resolution is about positions, and it will be naive for any analysis not to recognize that this regime will keep its position against anything. There’s too much to lose.

    I believe that the irony is that la salida was radical, well calling for elections will be as radical.

    This situation in venezuela is without precedent in the region and probably worldwide. It is only comparable to the weimar republic. It is so bad that Italy in the eighties had a prime minister kidnapped and murdered by the so called Red Brigade. A european crisis was needed to get rid of it. In Venezuela the Red Brigade (Maduro) and fascism (Cabello) are in power.

    I think that the actions taken by the USA, the peace process in Colombia will have an effect eventually in Venezuela.

    • Ira Says:

      The Chinese aren’t stupid, and I refuse to believe they don’t see the writing on the wall–that they’re betting on a losing horse.

      I think the last ambiguous announcement, several weeks ago (or more than a month?) about further Chinese investment shows that. Because here we are a month later and still, that announcement about Chinese investment is still ambiguous and means nothing.

      VZ needs CASH, tons of it, and it’s obvious the Chinese didn’t offer that. But as always, the Chavistas tried to spin this new “deal” into something positive.

      I guess that the Chinese expect the country to implode, and that they know they’re going to lose $ on past deals with a reasonable administration in place, even if that new administration is committed to honoring past debts.

      You can’t get blood from a stone, and if VZ doesn’t have it, they don’t have it. So what are China’s options?

      • alejandro Says:

        Of course from an economics 101 point of view the country is a mess, but not necessarily from the regime point of view, remember they are fighting a war, as all did previously in history, against the empire, the right. Thus, the country needs structural reform but that is a capitalist or free market point of view. Instead, the regime has the resources it needs, and it still has options to defend themselves, stay in power and have capital.

        That is precisely what i am trying to convey that our needs and ideas aren’t necessarily theirs and unfortunately they are the ones in power. Therefore i am baffled when commentators talk of the weaknesses of the regime, when they have managed to do whatever they want with a minimum of political cost. There’s no room for irony here, this is the crisis of our lives.

        I am with the church on this, they are the only ones who are worried of what is going on.

        You are right China is not stupid but they are no irrelevant and they have a very strong influence and have resources. There idea of stability and power is a different one to what we have been educated and unfortunately venezuelans are learning. And from a risk/reward point of view venezuela is an excellent bet for a country with plenty of reserves. Is it unethical, of course it is, it is abhorrent. But keep this in mind betting against the regime has been a terrible bet. It has been so bad that we punish the opposition with silly remarks when they are at the receiving end of the most callous politicians. Is it capriles, is it lopez, maria corina or whoever, it doesn’t matter they have skin in the game and that deserves admiration.

    • Ira Says:

      And oh:

      With the bombing of the power plant, I think you can forget about any peace process in Colombia.

      Santos has it all wrong, and Uribe had it right.

  5. Bruni Says:

    Why Leopoldo and Capriles, Miguel? Why not include Maria Corina? If someone has stood and fought that is MCM, why is that she has to be considered a lesser leader?

    The feminist in me is wondering…

    • moctavio Says:

      She continues to be an individual without a party. She has stood up and fought, but she is a single person.

      Even her old Sumate fund raisers have understood this and are supporting Leo or Enrique.

      • Bruni Says:

        If that so, it is a bit unfair. Both Leo and Henrique are personal leaders to their parties, with no short-term intentions of letting it go. So even if they have a party, it is still a personal thing.

        • moctavio Says:

          Sorry Bruni. He is a one woman candidate with no party and little organizatio. That simply does not work.Has nothing to do with her sex, it is the way it is. If you have no organization, it is only about you being elected to your position, Capriles and Leopoldo field candidates everywhere and mobilize the vote everywhere. yes, it is about their own future, but there is a collectiveness she just does not have. if you dont get that, sorry.

        • syd Says:

          Agree with Miguel. To go for the brass ring in politics requires more than oratory. It requires a coalition, a unity of like-minded political supporters, a figurative army if you will — and all that has to happen well before canvassing potential electoral support.

          MCM has a gifted voice that she has put to excellent use. She has matured over the years, become less self-conscious about her looks and persona. But she hasn’t taken sufficient risk to build a coalition, or perhaps as a woman in a predominantly male world, she knows she doesn’t have the guáramo to build what she needs to take her to the next step.

          This is politics, Bruni. It’s reality. And it has nothing to do with unfairness or anti-feminism. You either have the royal jelly, or you don’t. MCM doesn’t. (I believe that presidential aspirations are likely not her destiny.)

          • Ronaldo Says:

            Syd,
            I strongly disagree. I have met MCM and believe she is presidential in every way. Recall the many times she challenged Hugo Chavez face-to-face. Chavez only responded with insults; he could not give a respectable rebuttal. MCM is brave–She does not need a military uniform and beret to stand her ground. MCM truly cares about families and the future of Venezuela. I would vote for her but I am not Venezuelan.

            • moctavio Says:

              First, she needs a party. Second she needs to improve her popularity. In the 2012 primaries she got 3.6% of the vote even though Leopoldo had withdrawn…She just does not connect well with most Venezuelans.

            • syd Says:

              Thank you, Miguel, for the ABC of political candidature. Why can’t people get that?

  6. Dr. Faustus Says:

    The corruption in the Venezuelan electoral process goes deeper than just gerrymandering. Russ Dallen noted this during Congressional testimony:

    “In 2003, when Venezuela’s opposition launched a campaign for a referendum to revoke Chavez’s term, Venezuela had 11.9 million registered voters. Chavez managed to delay the vote for a year and a half, which gave him time to add more than two million voters, and by 2004 Venezuela had 14 million registered voters, Dallen said.

    Angered by his defeat in a 2007 referendum to change the constitution and allow him to run indefinitely, Chavez once again ramped up registration of names, and added several million new registered voters. By the time of the 2013 elections, which the government-controlled National Electoral Commission awarded to Maduro by 1.5 percent of the vote, the registry had 18.9 million eligible voters.

    “So, the voting registry increased by almost 60 percent in 10 years. Quite a population boom!,” Dallen said in his prepared testimony.”

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article16515473.html

  7. 'Palante Says:

    Not just the manipulation of seats. If necessary, they will use bribes, intimidation and other Fraud methods, even Smartmatic programming ruses.

    If they are not excessively stupid, which Cabello and Rodriguez are not, they will concede a small “defeat”, say 55% for the MUDcrap, which of course means nothing. There is no real “Parliament” anyway, no separation of powers, plus the Bribes of new “diputados” will continue, and Cabello will crush anyone like he did with MCM.

    So nothing in the laughable “Parliament” will change, it will get more repressive and ineffective, even if people vote 80% against the Dictatorship.

    Hopefully, after they realize that next year, people will get even more pissed off and hit the streets more and more, as the Escasez, inflacion, and Apagones continue.

  8. alejandro Says:

    Totally agree with you Miguel. It is such the uncentairnty and state of affairs that everything should be on the table.

    I would like to bring to your attention this video
    http://www.wilsoncenter.org/article/elections-preview-political-fallout venezuela%E2%80%99s-economic-crisis

    Whoever watches this video would think that in Venezuela everything is normal.

  9. Boludo Tejano Says:

    Your gerrymandering lesson forgot one that Chavismo occasionally uses: have districts with smaller population dominated by Chavismo, with districts with larger populations dominated by the oppo. Proportional representation, my foot. Miranda state has some examples.

  10. Noel Says:

    I think that MUD leadership has always been divided and the government has probably an easy task keeping it that way. Furthermore, there is some jealousy towards L. Lopez which the government and its Cuban helpers/handlers, again, is likely exploiting. Finally, MUD leadership doesn’t want to end up in jail like Lopez.

    Whether liberation comes from Lopez or whether we have complete chaos is unclear. But one thing is clear, institutionalized parties, MUD and Chavismo, have lost popular relevance. But since elections are either rigged or not happening…

  11. Ira Says:

    I thought Capriles was wishy washy about this march, in the week or two preceding it.


    • He was, but when Mud went the other way, hesupported Leopoldo and did the “right” thing

      • firepigette Says:

        I dislike Capriles.Don’t trust him…..an opportunist only if you ask me.Never liked him from day one.

        A Chavez lite if ever there was one.

      • Roberto N Says:

        Well, I don’t know about that, Miguel. He decided to go to San Juan de Los Morros where Daniel Ceballos is.

        Why did he not also go to Ramo Verde where LL is?

        • Floyd Says:

          EGO

        • 'Palante Says:

          more days on hunger strike or ego?

        • syd Says:

          both, plus a third: Ceballos is now more isolated, with a greater need to know that he was being supported close by.

          The two, LL and HCR are two very different types of people with some shared similarities in their backgrounds, including jail time. Both are pols, aiming for el coroto. That makes them competitors. In a quasi-ideal scenario, I’d have no problem voting for HCR as an interim president; I think he’d be a good caretaker, a good manager, emotionally steady. I think LL’s a rainmaker, just wish he had more in-the-field experience.

  12. syd Says:

    “What yesterday showed is that the people want leadership.”

    I would also add, people need leadership, not by committee but via a face. To that end, I think that the MUDs time in history was appreciated but is now pretty much over.

    Speaking of faces, I’d like to congratulate Lilian Tintori. Both she and Leopoldo have grown, politically speaking, over the years. Lilian went from voicing her shrill, albeit infrequent complaints to a dignified, hemispheric representation of her jailed husband. She has also reached out with sincerity through twitter, etc. I wish them well during these more recent years of trial.

    • Ira Says:

      Ohhhhh…be careful:

      It’s kind of sexist to call a woman “shrill!”

      • syd Says:

        I’se a wummin. And she sounded to shrill to me, back in the day.

      • Roberto N Says:

        Ira: When a woman says whatever about herself, wise men nod appreciatively and either congratulate or commiserate as appropriate.

        Never TELL a woman anything. Always “suggest”.


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