Archive for January 6th, 2016

A Bright And Hopeful Day For Venezuela

January 6, 2016

byebyechavezWorkers remove Chavez’ giant poster from National Assembly building

While I am far away, I could not help but be glued to the events in Caracas today. While it was certainly not a smooth day, it was a great day for Venezuela. A day of hope and possibilities, a bright day for the future of democracy in the country. A very important day for Venezuela’s history and the image above clearly shows that change is in the air. The statues have yet to fall, but it’s coming. The beginning is here, let’s see how long it takes to get to a good point.

I will start with the most important signs of the day:

-The National Assembly controlled by the opposition was allowed to be sworn in, almost with no violence. This was not clear would be the case a couple of weeks ago.

-The Press (from all sides) was allowed into the Assembly freely for the first time in years to report what was happening. Reporters need not be afraid anymore.

-The opposition had presence in the media, beginning to restore its practical ban from TV, radio and print. The “people” will be able to see and hear the other side like it has not happened in years.

-The opposition managed not to be provoked by Chavismo, maintaining a serious and peaceful tone. A new tone of democracy and conciliation.

-Chavismo showed its true autocratic colors. It refused to have a dialogue, resorting to the usual insults. Except some the insults were elegantly returned by the opposition. Perhaps nothing exemplified this more than the very direct reproach of the use of Diplomatic Passports for drug dealing, which must have stung the First Lady, who is now a Deputy for Cojedes State.

-The first steps towards more institutionality were taken. No more rubber stamps, no more legislation from the Executive branch, no more hiding behind the revolution. The message was clear, the Assembly will call on all powers to explain what they did, do or plan to do. There will be accountability for all Government officials

-Chavismo looked bad. From an apparently inebriated opening speech by the oldest Deputy in the Hall, to their use of expensive watches and jewelry, to Chavismo abandoning the Assembly, they sent the wrong signals to voters that clearly indicated that they want change. Blaming the opposition for the country’s problems is simply not working, the change is coming, but from the other side.

The negative part was that the opposition did not manage to swear in all the Deputies, but it still has a two thirds majority. Clearly, there is a force behind the whole day taking place the way it did. Someone told Maduro and his cronies to avoid violence, to allow the voice of the voters to be heard. Chavismo wanted to question 22 Deputies, but it did not happen and the case in Amazonas is extremely iffy. It would have been nice to have all of them sworn in and impose the authority of the Assembly.

For me, another negative is the Presidency of the Assembly. A new Venezuela deserves better than Ramos Allup there, no matter how realpolitik it may have been to name him. He represents the old guard, tied to lies, corruption and protection of relatives. If he is the best the opposition has, the opposition has a long way to fill the shoes it wants to fill*.

A good beginning. A bright beginning. Many Chavistas must be trembling after today. They can no longer hide. Checks and balances look like they are back in Venezuela. So is the press, which will have access at least to ask uncomfortable questions. It may be time to carefully decide whose side you are on or how strongly you support Maduro. Red shirts are out. Suits are in. If Chavismo keeps screaming and acting like cry babies, the demise of the revolution will simply accelerate.

There is a long road ahead, but it seems as if each day it looks a little shorter…

*For those who are not convinced of this, I invite you to reflect on what Ramos did to Alek Boyd and why he did it. Is that the Venezuela we want?