Newsflash: AD toes the line!

I think I just saw the most significant event of the whole strike, and I bet most people missed it. Rafael Marin, Secretary General of Accion Democratica, gave a press conference. At one point, a journalist asked him if the strike would be extended beyond 12 hours, or if other protests could be added. He refused to answer, saying AD had made a commitment inside the Coordinadora Democratica – the opposition’s umbrella group – to refrain from making any statement on such questions until agreement could be reached with the whole opposition.

Now, this is significant for a number of reasons. Accion Democratica has consistently been the most strident, radical party in the opposition. The bigger of the old, traditional, hypercorrupt political parties, AD sadly retains a large membership, a well-oiled party machine, and over 400,000 party activists committed enough to vote in its internal elections. For the first few months that the Coordinadora was in existence, AD managed to dominate it and impose its line, which was an immature, immediatist Chavez out NOW line. But for about the last six weeks, the more moderate voices in the Coordinadora have taken center stage. There was a lot of concern that the adecos would just walk away from the Coordinadora if they felt they could no longer dominate it. People feared they’d strike off on their own, walking away with a major opposition constituency, rather than follow the more moderate parties’ line. We’ve had some bad experiences with radicals in the opposition pulling this kind of stunt before, and it makes the opposition look disunited, shambollic, and generally hopeless. Avoiding on-the-spot announcements for new protest actions has been a priority for the Coordinadora, and Marin’s refusal-to-answer strongly suggests that AD has finally been made to understand that this is important.

Marin’s statement seems to me like a pretty extraordinary event. AD, in a moment of high tension, publicly shuts up specifically on the grounds that it has pledged to do so at the Coordinadora. I’ve never seen AD act this way before, and I think it’s a real sign of just how strong the moderates are getting inside the coordinadora. It strikes me that the time for stridency in opposition is passing, that AD finds itself more and more isolated in its Chavez-Must-Be-Toppled-Anytime-Anyway-Anyhow line. Not only are they outnumbered in the coordinadora, but they realize this and they accept it. It’s a very un-AD-like way to behave, that’s for sure. And it’s very good news indeed.