Putting the "present" in Representative.

I wish I could say this was shameless sensationalism…

So you know I think Capriles’s strategy is not only dead on, but being handled with sublime political finesse. Where I do depart from the opposition’s strategy is on its decision for opposition members of the National Assembly to boycott Friday’s “innauguration” of Maduro’s term. There’s no less effective way to protest than by not showing up!

Let’s put this in context.

Last Tuesday’s ordinary Parliament session began with physical assaults directed at Opposition MP’s, perpetrated before cameras were rolling,  leaving opposition assemblyman William Dávila (AD-Mérida) bloodied courtesy of a microphone-hurling to the forehead (pictured above.)

Once the debate was opened, amid a tense and hostile climate, AN Speaker Diosdado Cabello proceeded to bully and interrogate MPs who requested the floor as to their personal convictions regarding last Sunday’s election. Each time an MP voiced his or her dissent over Maduro’s victory, and/or preoccupations over electoral transparency, Cabello would cut off his microphone and yielded to the next representative on the speaker’s list. Cabello only allowed procedural debate to flow if, and only if, the speaker previously recognized Nicolás Maduro as President of the Republic.

I could go into how Art. 99 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech for all members of parliament to voice their opinions and vote according to their conscience, or about how the official Internal Debate Procedure does not allow for such a measure to be unilaterally imposed by the AN President, but that would be besides the point (capacidad de asombro, remember?).

The next day, Cabello’s tyrannical icing-on-the-cake involved effectively removing all opposition MPs from their parliamentary committees chairmanships. Bear in mind that this whole time we’re the fascists.

While all this was going down, Capriles and Comando Simón Bolívar were busy playing chess with the CNE and that whole contesting-the-Presidential-election thing.  And, although opposition MP’s are clearly aligned with Capriles’ cause, and Capriles did condemn AN violence as part of the Government’s provocation agenda, there was no further articulation between such incidents and the opposition’s strategy that could’ve only solidified Capriles’ case (especially in media terms).

Yesterday, representatives of the opposition’s parliamentary bench announced that they would boycott Maduro’s swearing in, in protest over the recent jailing of opposition activists, the State-sponsored repression of peaceful rallies, political purges in public administration, and, basically, Cabello just acting like a dick.

And that is a grave mistake.

Of course opposition MP’s are right to boycott a forum where their mandates have been gravely abused, not to mention a legislative branch which is doing its part in exacerbating, not resolving, our current political crisis.  But Capriles’ whole spiel is based upon the empowerment of a previously ignored electorate that, thanks to the close margin, now feel emboldened to own their dissent. Part of this relies on knocking the illegitimate President down a few pegs, underscoring his lack of  gravitas, turning him into the butt of a joke, showing  the world that he’s just not that big of a deal.

But if we want to effectively repudiate the madness we’ve been witnessing, we need our elected representatives right there doing it, not sixty-odd empty chairs as a backdrop to resounding chavista applause.

Even showing up just to stand up and leave when Maduro’s turn at bat comes would be more effective than not going at all. If María Corina brings a skillet, and Julio Borges brings a pot and soup spoons, and they start banging those, that would be even better. If they could only do a Harlem Shake to the sound of Willy Colón’s latest salsa hit while Nicolas is being read his oath of office, well, that would just be bad ass.

And I think Capriles would approve.