Mubarak should have called Fidel

I woke up this morning wanting to write a post on how much the situation in Egypt resembles the situation in Venezuela in 2002 and 2003.

Back then, our country was also in the midst of chaos. Thousands of protesters filled the streets demanding the resignation of a leader viewed by most as authoritarian and incompetent. The economy was at a stand-still. Military leaders, one after another, called for the President to resign.

And yet Chávez held on.

I was itching to write about how we’d seen this picture before, how Mubarak would hold on despite media assurances to the contrary. After all, if we learned anything from that struggle, it’s that marching and protesting and demanding someone leave right now does not always lead to a change in power.

As any Venezuelan who lived through the 2002-03 crisis, I was profoundly pessimistic about the chances of Egypt’s opposition, particularly hearing the BBC this morning about how rifts were beginning to appear, about how people were starting to get antsy and wanting to get back to work.

And yet, before I could type anything, bam – Mubarak has just resigned.

Perhaps Mubarak should have called Fidel, and Carter, and Gaviria. Perhaps his downfall came because the opposition is not led by Carlos Ortega, holding press conferences at swanky hotels, full of allusions about how “el rrrrégimen” had its days counted, but instead by, among others, an organized political party and a Nobel Peace prize winner.

Or perhaps there are no easy parallels to be drawn. History, after all, may just be random.

At any rate, the protesters in Egypt are clearly enjoying this moment. Perhaps we can allow ourselves to enjoy it with them.

It’s the release we never really had.

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