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):
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.