Faced with old-style dictatorship, your only real choice is old-style resistance

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What we need now from Capriles is coherence between discourse and action.

Because, at the moment, he’s caught in the same incoherent stance Miguel Henrique Otero’s sophomoric Comando Nacional de la Resistencia was caught in back in 2006: spending all morning denouncing the regime as illegitimate, then all afternoon honouring the same. regime’s institutions by filing suits and complaints with them.

This schizophrenic stance by reference to the need to “show the world” the regime’s unfairness. But it doesn’t strike me as a serious posture, because this imagined audience – an honest outside observers still working to make up their minds whether the regime’s institutions are minimally fair or not on the basis of the evidence -seems entirely phantasmagoric to me at this point.

There isn’t anyone like that left, at home or abroad.

“Tutti sanno tutto su Berlusconi” is how Nanni Moretti used to put it. In Venezuela too, everybody already knows everything about the regime.

The truth is that we’ve seen more than our fair share of prematured (and therefore cheapened and unserious) discourses of resistance over the last few years, but virtually none of the real thing.

The rhetoric of non-recognition will always ring false when it comes hand-in-hand with continued de facto recognition in the form of appealing to the same authorities you claim not to recognize, filing suits with the same tribunals you call illegitimate, and trying to prove a point by acting as if you believed things you – and everyone else – know are not true (e.g., that the TSJ can rule impartially).

I’m painfully aware that the Venezuelan opposition is, by its mode of life, of thought, by its supporters’ education and by our ideology, painfully ill-suited to the task at hand. I think we made the right choice by avoiding this path for as long as it was possible – arguably longer.

But it’s really not up to us.

That fast fading speck in our collective rear-view mirror? That’s the Rubicon.

1 COMMENT

    • I never thought I’d write it. That I’m forced to write it is its own kind of tragedy. Resistance is not something you sign up for if you have a choice. I just think it’s clear: we don’t really have a choice.

      • Capriles is doing the right thing. The institutions are losing their legitimacy one by one. The process will reach its critical mass and then change will be inevitable.

          • There has to be a tipping point.

            If Capriles and Co, and all Venezuelans that want change, keep on putting pressure and more people keep realizing that we are not in a democracy. Plus the economy, plus insecurity, plus shortages, plus the electricity, plus crumbling infrastructure, plus….

            Then, at some point, something will happen that will trigger it. When you are right on the edge, all you need is an empujoncito para irte por el barranco.

            Anyways, dont be a wise ass cause nobody knows how it will happen, or when…

          • The next elections (municipales and in 2015 parlamentarias) will be the ones that will punish the PSUV for their arrogance because the people will hold them responsable for everything that is going wrong right now….In essence….Maduro and especially Cabello are leading the PSUV right to its destruction

          • It will be sudden. When the soviet block was collapsing Ceasescu called for a big concentration in Bucarest to support him and a big crowd gathered at his request. But all of a sudden, as Cesaescu was speaking, the multitude began shouting at him and he and his wife had to run for their lives; they were caught and were summarily executed.
            Did you see how Maduro was challenged in Los Teques yesterday night?

          • “The mass meeting of 21 December, held in what is now Revolution Square, began like many of Ceaușescu’s speeches over the years. With the usual “wooden language”, Ceaușescu delivered a litany of the achievements of the “socialist revolution” and Romanian “multi-laterally developed socialist society.”[19] He had seriously misjudged the crowd’s mood; around 8 minutes into his speech, several people began jeering, booing and whistling at him; as the speech wore on, more and more people did the same. Others began chanting “Ti-mi-șoa-ra! Ti-mi-șoa-ra!” Ceaușescu’s uncomprehending facial expression as the crowd began to boo and heckle him remains one of the defining moments of the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe. He tried to silence them by raising his right hand, and when that did not work, he announced that they would receive a raise of 100 lei per month.[8] Failing to control the crowds, the Ceaușescus finally took cover inside the building, where they remained until the next day. The rest of the day saw an open revolt of the Bucharest population, which had assembled in University Square and confronted the police and army at barricades. The unarmed rioters were no match for the military apparatus concentrated in Bucharest, which cleared the streets by midnight and arrested hundreds of people in the process.

            Although the television broadcasts of the “support meeting” and subsequent events had been interrupted, Ceaușescu’s reaction to the events had already been imprinted on the country’s collective memory”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolae_Ceau%C8%99escu

  1. Ok, I interpreted this a sutil call to action. More specifically you are talking about resistance.
    This piece rightfully calls for ceasing the fight through government institutions and does not offer any insight as to exactly where the fight should go, or how it should take place. Impossible government institution: obvious.
    But to what end? A true conundrum is writing a piece about plausible solutions. That Mr. Toro would be masterful.
    Is the solution boycotting? History tells us absolutely the opposite
    But if you were Borges, what would you do? “Go to the mountains (or youtube)?”
    This piece of writing helped me conclude ONE thing: You, me, the opposition, and nearly half the country are running out of viable ideas.
    We need advice

        • Nonviolence works to a point, and in certain cases in circumstances. What annoys me is the absolute certainty and faith that nonviolence is the only way we can sort this out, and i think that is preposterous, but apparently very popular!

          • Either nonviolence will or will not work.

            As the studies show, across a broad range of cultures and regime types, nonviolence is a more robust and effective way to bring about democratizing regime change.

            So nonviolence is a very wise place to start, and there’s no reason to assume that the conditions that obtain in Venezuela are qualitatively different in a significant way from those that exist in other autocratic regimes where nonviolence has proven successful.

            To start apriori with violence discards the available evidence. And, whether it works or not, violence is a guaranteed result.

            To take an option that (1) guarantees violence and (2) has a lower probability of success is not the wisest choice on the payoff matrix.

    • Here’s some advice. How about realizing that you are closer than ever to winning the elections, and that next time around you will probably win… unless you completely discredit yourself with lies and extremism…

        • Cat,

          Next time try to inject a little bit of intelligence into your response. Your idiocy is boring me.

        • Oh, right, I forgot that the reason the opposition has lost dozens of elections over the last 14 years is that they’ve all been farces. Do you get an ID card or something when you join the extreme fringe of right-wing conspiracy theorists?

          • God, what an imbecile. For a moment back there, I thought Get a clue might have begun to view the realities beneath the madurista-chavista paint jobs, beneath the national rate of homicides, beneath the macroeconomic decay, beneath the urban chaos, beneath the disrespect for the rule of law. But no. He’s simply an immature man with a keyboard and a chip on his shoulder. Too much personal crap in there.

  2. Filing a lawsuit does not legimate a government or its apparatus. It is a statement, for the record, of the rights that are being violated. It is a claim for those rights to be recognized. Like peaceful protests, it is an act of defiance which at the same time exposes the corruption of the system. Read Havel on the “Plastic People of the Universe” trial and you will get some undertsanding of the force of these events. Protest and using legal channels are not contradictory. Bring the protest to the courts. Expose the judges. Expose the prosecutors. When they lie, they expose themselves. Expose everyone who is complicit in this dictatorship. Have it on the record.

    I think you might be more convinced of the seriousness of the opposition’s posture if you were in the AN, watching people claiming their right as representatives of the people, getting their faces kicked in. Being there was not a contradictory stance by those diputado(a)s. It was an exercise of a right. It was a demonstration to people, as well, that their leaders will insist on their rights, and that they should to.

    Venezuelans are up to this, and they are doing the right things.

    • Yes. Exactly.

      The regime may be illegitimate, but the rule of law is still sacrosanct.

      It is not theater to go through the legal motions — it’s the core philosophical difference that separates us from them.

      • The judiciary is under the control of the PSUV, the law will be interpreted under the guidance of their political masters, the rule of law is not sacrosanct in Venezuela…

        • If the law affords you a right , as a matter of dignity (not of expediency) you never renounce it , you assert it even if you know that ‘the powers that be’ will violate the law to deny you the benefits which that right grants you . You do not make a ‘present’ of the right to the regime , you stubbornly force it to violate the law , to dirty themselves in exercising their abuse . There is of course no Rule of Law in Venezuela , the more patent this becomes , the more clear it will become now or in future that the Regime is illegitimate. Illegitimacy is a poltical category not a strictly legal one . It designates a regime which resorts to force and coercion , intimidation and deceit to enforce its rule . Rule of Law is one of the 3 pillars of legitimacy among moderns states . the other is of course Its accountability to those it rules ( Democracy) and its capacity to rule effectively and accomplish the goals of good governance . On all three counts the current Regime is outright illegitimate or dithering on the border of illegitimacy.

          • “It is not theater to go through the legal motions — it’s the core philosophical difference that separates us from them.”

            “If the law affords you a right , as a matter of dignity (not of expediency) you never renounce it , you assert it even if you know that ‘the powers that be’ will violate the law to deny you the benefits which that right grants you .”

            Bill, you and Lucia said it better than I did.

            Make no mistake that as Lucia says, about the “philosophical” difference, that this difference has profound practical implications. Behave as a person with rights would behave. That is at the core of fighting oppression and that is the path to securing those rights.

          • It is like this: truth always prevails if there is courage to assert it and Capriles has it!

          • The 3 pillars have never been very strong in Venezuela and today a new low is being reached. Yes, assert your rights, but that is not going to impress one bit the shock troops that will continue to beat up members of the opposition. The government is presently not loosing any sleep about being considered illegitimate or violating our interpretation of the law. They own the courts (all of them) as well as the Parliament, they can write and pass any law they need to justify their actions ( a la Nuremberg laws). In the long run I believe you are right, but by then it may be too late for an opposition that has to survive and overcome the onslaught that the PSUV and Co. is unleashing against them today.

          • “The government is presently not loosing any sleep about being considered illegitimate”

            Oh they are losing a lot of sleep. Look at them running like headless chickens.
            An illegitimate government is like a building which structures are corroding. On the outside it may look strong and solid right up to the point before it collapses.

            Legitimacy like Bill Bass says is a political category. It’s about how the people view the government and it’s institutions, how much authority they believe it has. Not only the people in the streets but also those who work in those same institutions.

            When the opposition in Yugoslavia called for a massive rally in Belgrade the government blocked the roads to the city with big trucks and police. As the farmers reached the choke points they simply removed the trucks pushing them with tractors. The police didn’t oppose them, Milosevic had lost his legitimacy in their eyes.

          • The PSUV is a long way away from where Milosevic was when that happened. How many years and corpses did it take for Milosevic to loose his political base and be deposed by a riot in Belgrade? .

          • You’re right. It’s a political process and no one said it was going to be easy or quick.
            There are no short cuts but ‘old style resistance’ is not a solution.

            Having said that, lately things are moving at great speed because of the incompetence of Maduro y Diosdado. So anything can happen if they continue making gross mistakes like the ones today. Under Chávez the process was much more difficult because of how good at political maneuvering he was but these people do not understand the political game.

      • It’s also a necessity to legally go through the local legal institutions for recourse before appealing to the relevant international institutions.

        • True. But I must say this, most people seem to believe international institutions can do something to bring down an authoritarian government. In reality there is very little they can do. The work has to be done in Venezuela by Venezuelans.

          In that sense going through the legal institutions is for the benefit of the Venezuelans. To help delegitimize those institutions. A government is like a building with different structures supporting each other. You can’t just delegitimize the presidency without delegitimizing the AN, the TSJ, the CNE, the DA, the military, the police and all the other institutions that support it. When you go through the legal institutions you’re challenging them to either do the right thing or lose some legitimacy as well.

          This argument is very important because contrary to what Quico says, not everybody KNOWS that those institutions are corrupt and unfair. Many people still cling to the hope that the revolution is good and has good intentions, in their eyes there is still some legitimacy in the institutions, some more than others. By ramping up repression in the streets, the AN and the judicial system, the government is helping the opposition tremendously in destroying that legitimacy.

        • agree. what global legitimacy would a Capriles government have, in future, if Capriles had not plied pacific means, nor played by the rules, in spite of the mounting legal distortions by interested parties, including top brass in Cuba?

          Let the record show ….

          The fact that a ever growing majority backs Capriles should tell you, Quico, that he’s proceeding correctly.

    • Yes, Venezuelans are doing the right things!

      But without the international community also doing the right things, all could be lost for Venezuela. So, by putting the pressure on reasonable South American countries, by following these phony procedures, is the correct option. There is a tremendous fear in these countries of Chavism(or whatever it is) of spreading, and a I believe Capriles has, and is gaining even more of that support.

    • supreme judges have in the past singed the chorus of ‘uh, ah chavez no se va’, so is not like ‘being exposed by their blatant lies’ will be able to reach that level of cinism or anything

    • I would add one major fact to this argument: the last election didn’t illegitimize anything outside the executive branch. The action of calling the executive illegitimate while appealing to the judiciary isn’t the least bit inconsistent, because there is (on paper) a separation of powers. I would argue it wouldn’t make sense to do otherwise.

      Now, is the judiciary illegitimate? Sure, we all know it, for reasons cited in response to this same comment and elsewhere. But they were illegiitimate in fact BEFORE the last election, so changing your approach to them based on the most recent votes is entirely inconsistent. If you’re going to ignore and discredit that branch, do so on its own “(de)merits.”

      And one more thing: give them enough rope…

      • There are to ways in which people exercising a public function can be deemed illegitimate , one because they never met the conditions for them to be invested with the authority they exercise ( they were elected through the use of fraud) or because they exercise that authority in a manner which violates the institutional purposes which such authority was created to serve ( a supreme tribunal which acts against the law to unjustly favour a partisan goal) . Maduros presidency is illegitimate in the first sense , the decisions of the Supreme tribunal are illegitimate in the second sense.

      • Hmmm, bringing us back to Honduras, where the legitimate Supreme Court was ignored by the international community.

      • Exactly, Pasquin. Different circumstances, different responses.

        extorres, that’s a good point. But what do you do? I think adding to the case, little by little, may make a difference in the end; it’s a straw that may break the camel’s back. I just don’t know when that end will be.

  3. Until we start to talk specifics, this line of argument is not very helpful. I don’t buy the thesis that Capriles should not file an election complaint with the TSJ, which we all know will use it as toilet paper. Every opportunity to demonstrate the regime’s utter moral bankruptcy should be taken, and one form of resistance does not rule out others. Going to the TSJ is a step on the way to taking this to the Inter American Human Rights system, and that obviously needs to be done too.

    As for parliament, I can think of few more valid forms of resistance than showing up in the hemiciclo every time there’s a session, despite the real and evident risk of getting beaten to a pulp. Those who have seen the movie Gandhi may recall the sequence in which silent lines of protesters against the Raj’s salt monopoly moved slowly forward as those at the front were beaten to the ground by uniformed thugs wielding bamboo sticks. This is the precise equivalent.

    Clandestinity? No way. Why shift the battle onto ground the government already dominates? The opposition is at its strongest when its leaders are out in the open, peacefully and democratically facing real risks of imprisonment and physical harm, even death. That is leadership, and for my money the MUD is doing a remarkable job. There is nothing Diosdado Cabello wants more than for the opposition to act like an ‘old-fashioned’ resistance movement. Five minutes after that we would see an ‘old-fashioned’ state of emergency, with civil rights suspended de jure and not just de facto.

    I would remind you that even Fidel Castro (not an unsuccessful resistance fighter, we may all concede) took Batista to court and used the opportunity to build support. The regime’s resort to thuggery and its decision to close down as many democratic spaces as possible is a sign of weakness, not strength.

    • Continuing the fight in the international arena makes good press but goes nothing to weaken the the PSUV hold on the government. Syria comes to mind, Sarin gas and all.

      • The fact that demonstrating your case internationally doesn’t always produce enough outside pressure, or that outside pressure in itself is not the whole answer, is not an argument for inaction on that front. For every Syria I could cite you a South Africa, where international pressure was crucial to the peaceful resolution of what looked like an intractably violent conflict. And bear in mind that history shows it may be the regime’s allies, not its adversaries, that provide the most important pressure. So Brazil, for example, not the United States.

        • I agree with you, the point is that a multipronged approach is always needed. The anti-apartheid actions by the international community (UN and others) put a lot of pressure for decades but it was the internal resistance of that forced the government to negotiate. Sadly, in many cases the whole thing ends in a violent conflict.

    • I agree with you. Every time the opposition uses an institution it shows how biased those are and political ground is gained.

      Clandestinity would be the last place we want to be at. We want to be a very visible movement of the masses.

      Do you argue that we are oppressed? Let’s show it.

      • Quico’s whole point is that we already have shown it, thoroughly, and nobody gave a toss. It’s the “Oh my God, that’s horrible… Hey, what’s for dinner?” effect.

  4. Take a hint from the Ukraine, boycott, protest, strike, stay in the streets for 3 months, bitter cold and all, shut the country down. They prevailed.
    Such sacrifice will never happen in Venezuela, after all partying on the weekends trumps everything.

      • But it didn’t work because the Ukraine is basically occupied by a foreign superpower. It is a colony of Russia, again. Venezuela is occupied by a tiny, sick, moribund, ossified and soon to collapse marxist dictatorship.

        • It’s a bit more complicated than that, Canucklehead. There are lots of people who speak mostly Russian in the Eastern side and Crimea and in the capital above all those more related tot he East.

          • Of course, a key distinction with the Czech Republic is that Russians form a large, politically and economically dominant minority within Ukraine, and their allegiance is to Russia and “the east”. I call that a colony. Maybe it is just my personal bias.

          • It’s both things. Ukraine has been Russified a lot since before the Soviet Union.
            I have two Ukrainian friends and I know a few others. Those friends use Ukrainian and Russian with their relatives, depending on several factors.

            In any case: Ukrainians have it more difficult than Czechs and Poles to depart from old ways. Also, bear in mind that Poland and Czechoslovakia knew to some extent what capitalism was when communism was forced upon them at the end of the forties. Ukraine, definitely Central and Eastern Ukraine, was a feudal society in 1917. Venezuela is more of a feudal society that became a petro- state than anything else.

            In any case: the Czechs and Poles were not only more homogenous but their movements were very very home-grown. They didn’t get any “manos blancas” and US/German brochures about how to carry out resistance, it was something that came from a long standing and very national feeling…of course, everything connected to the whole evolution set free by Perestroika and Glasnost’ in the USSR. Havel and others became stars abroad once the Revolution was in place.

            All in all, I don’t think we have done it so badly in the last year or two.

            I think

            1) we need to realise more effort is needed to support national networks of protests
            2) our leaders should spend more time educating people on basics about the economy, sustainable development, the principles of pluralism and real local power (decentralisation is Chinese to them, or they – very justly – associate that with “local caudillo instead of national caudillo, and not with what it should be: local responsibility and accountability)
            3) we should be aware it’s not only about Capriles but about a national team and about making people from outside the main 3, 4 urban centres feel part of the change
            For that we need less Caraquenos (or Valencianos/Maracuchos) at the top.

            Capriles has done a good job trying to learn about the other Venezuelan regions. We all need to do that.

            We also need to learn about the guys in power now. I have said it before: these guys may not know cross-multiplications but a few of them do know how to infiltrate and how to create chaos and how to provoke violence.
            That’s what they basically learnt. We should not imitate them but we should be aware of their methods and make them public.

      • It didn’t work because the country was divided between supporters and opposition to the government. To go with indefinite strikes and demonstrations you first need to undermine tremendously the support of the government. In 2002 the government enjoyed a lot of support and they didn’t need to do much just pit their supporters against the opposition. The moment was not right for such a terminal action. All the government had to do is to weather the storm.

        This is why the ‘resistance’ needs to be a political resistance not an old style resistance. The objective is to gain the support of the Venezuelan people, not of the international institutions or the military like others are suggesting somewhere else.

  5. If Capriles had followed this line of thought, he wouldn’t have run against Maduro and we wouldn’t have known we’ve become 50% of the population.

    • Good point, it’s very likely more than 50% by now. Better chance for TRUE resistance etc. to be successful.

  6. I think everyone here is dillusional. What we all fail to realize is the reason why it is necessary to appeal to the government institutions (even when we know what the answer will be). In politics, the reason why you argue is not to convince someone you are right. Instead it is to convince everyone else who is watching that you are right. There are 3 audiences that are watching all of this take place (I will let you guess who they are)…we need to win the hearts of all of them to make this work…

    HCR has this all under control…RELAX!

    • You are very right JSP.
      And I’ll add the international audience and the military is not one of them (although they’ll be watching and can help somewhat). It’s the Venezuelan people specially the undecided and the soft chavistas the need to be the witnesses to the failure of the institutions.

  7. – Unlike an old-style dictatorship, this one has important -if not massive- popular support, ready for mobilisation, and faithful to whatever is fed to them by the official media.
    – Unlike an old-style dictatorship, this government is seen as either legitimate or tolerable by neighbouring countries. After all, if there was a Coup, no one flinched.
    – Unlike an old-style dictatorship, this one does not have the support of businessmen (unless they are boliburgueses) or the Church (which has been very prudent as of late). Any cleavages in the current coalition are not to be seen nor easily fostered (unless we become allies with narco-generals or the boliburgeoisie).
    – Like an old-style dictatorship, there is piecemeal repression, targeted mainly against the opposition figures; not against.

    As for resistance, what does it mean?
    – AD tried full on sabotage and bombings against the Military Junta of 1948-1952. It failed miserably.
    – The PCV-MIR tried a full on guerrilla war against the Constitutional Government. It failed even more miserably.
    – URD became the legal tool for AD and the PCV against the Military Junta, but it did not have any force against the electoral coup of 1952.
    – Copei became, in its rejection of AD and its mistrust toward the military government, as well as URD’s failure, the only force in an almost silent opposition -which was effectively purged from media access and State offices-.

    BTW, URD+Copei (and the adeco and communist vote) were the largest plurality even in the trumped up results given by the Junta in 1952. There is no safety in numbers.

    The main duties of an opposition are to oppose government measures and survive, ultimately being in a position of reaching power. Capriles is the main leader of the opposition, and he has to show resilience and stave off the government’s provocations, while enduring repression and, well, being part of the State. Alas, while the opposition has an ear into many important foreign forums and parties (CDI, SI) these forums are not linked to most of the governing parties in the region. If MPJ had its “internacional de las espadas”, Maduro has its “internacional de la antipolítica”. There is international media, which lends credence to the opposition’s demands.

    Strong repression, without any violent overtures by the opposition, might be an important asset. Sadly.

    • It seems to me that there should be targeted actions to regain certain institutions. Make reasonable demands such as to have permanent judges in the TSJ. To name a Contralor General. Start there. In the “interim” judges the exec is able to maintain control of the TSJ which is one huge pillar of the Chavismo’s power. A permanent judge is more likely to be a independent thinker judge.

      The battle is not only electoral, but we have to knock down the pillars that support chavismo’s legitimacy.

      • What legitimacy?

        The only legitimacy that supports them are:

        1) The sale of petroleum. These are the same kinds of people that buy minerals from child-eating warlords in Africa. They will not be impressed by dictatorship.

        2) People who always felt like second-rate citizens under the historical period where your ideals were upheld by the government. They will not be impressed by dictatorship.

        Consider this moment the government’s paro. A strike on democracy. It is designed to hurt and oust. How will we react?

      • Don’t forget an independent CNE.
        But this is not going to happen without first an opposition show of force that makes the government back down. Of course prior to that Diosdado y su combo need to recognize they are going down into a big crisis that they cannot solve with more repression. The opposition needs to demonstrate that they hold the initiative and the key to the solving the political crisis.

    • Yes! Very well put.
      It is also refreshing to hear someone acknowledge that this dictatorship “has important -if not massive- popular support”. Because one the main oppo goals has to be to erode that support as much as possible, day by day by day. Which they are doing very well, with considerable help from Diosdado and Co.

  8. When has “Darle-Una-Patada-a-la-Mesa-ism” ever solved anything? When has losing your moral authority ever been a strategically advantageous move? When has “I´m not playing this game because its rules are inherently unfair, so I´ll just sit this one out” ever been a winning strategy?

  9. How much of this is a distraction or outright excuse for the voting fraud, food shortages, inflation, insecurity, and other lack of accomplishments of Maduro and Cabello? They want to “Blame it all on the opposition”. Their biggest accomplishment so far is a $1 billion giveaway to Cuba.

  10. Kiko, cant we just sit and wait until the whole country turns his back on Maduro and friends?
    Sooner or later we will have to pay for all the idiotic ways in which they handled the economy and then the average Venezuelan, who cares and understand nothing about democracy or freedom, Impartiality in the institutions or separation of powers, will be hurt in the only way he can care and understand: in his pocket. After his popularity drops below 80%, everything will crumble on its own: to win this time, the only thing we have to do is nothing.

    So the only thing we have to do is wait. Time is on our side.

  11. First of all, the veneer of democracy is gone, at last. Next, the veneer of popularity will go, especially as the economy deteriorates, although it has already popularity has deteriorated massively! Thirdly, responding with violence will backfire giving the government an excuse for the economy. A better approach is to have demonstrators wearing red shirts! It is harder for the government to explain why they are attacking demonstrators in red shirts!

    An economy in trouble is vulnerable, and easy to hold hostage. Capriles apparently tried to reach out but was banned from meeting with a workers union. The fight is not over!

    • “A better approach is to have demonstrators wearing red shirts! It is harder for the government to explain why they are attacking demonstrators in red shirts!”

      This, right fucking here, is what I will begin doing. Hope y’all will join me.

  12. Quico’s advice, which I respect, is based upon the assertion that “thereis no one left” either internallyor abroad, who is honestly trying to decide if the regime is democratic, whether its institutions are fair, etc.

    This is an empirical assertion; if it were true, Ithink Quico would be right. But I am not sure that it is. In the circles in which I move, people tended to support Chavez because they were convinced he actually did something for the poor, whose sufferings they sympathize with. Maduro and Cabello have not yet been defined in their minds; but the word “dictator” is starting to settle around Maduro’s head.

    I tend to think Capriles has been pretty good at removing the Chavez’ mantle from his successors; repeated demonstrations of opposition mass support will undermine him further.

  13. Of course the government cannot produce a clear account of what occurred during the election. The problem at this point strikes me as technical: who here believes the government truly competent enough such that, even if the vote had been in favor of Maduro, they could produce all the paperwork to show as much? I certainly don’t.
    Was the government even competent enough to carry out a clean election?
    Was the government interested in a clean election?
    My answer in both cases is NO.

    Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps recognition is not the end of the world? I haven’t seen the first post bringing clearly up the question of if or at which point the opposition should simply relent. Make your case, make it clear for all to see, that they cheated, then move on. Did Al Gore sit and mope for 4 years? There is value beyond in continuing to play along – WITHIN – the government, particularly at this particular time when it seems evident that things are turning in favor of the opposition. Whether or not the opposition won the election, persistence in playing the non-recognition card ultimately comes across as being a sore loser. This is not a zero sum game, as has been emphasized here, the point was not just to win the election but to make evident the size of the opposition. That has been accomplished.

    Economic and political apartheid are a persistent problem, but a solution is to find a way to continue to integrate the disgruntled into the ranks of the opposition, ideally without repercussion, and to survive despite the stupidity of the government.

    Learn from the government: set up a parallel system of services. Even if they could legally oppose it, how could they ever enforce it without retaliation?

    • “Learn from the government: set up a parallel system of services. Even if they could legally oppose it, how could they ever enforce it without retaliation?”

      If things are as dictatorial as they now seem, this is our only weapon that has any chance of success.

    • I remember well the Orange Revolution, actually.

      I don’t think we should think about that as something to imitate. Do you know a where it stands now? Have you followed a little bit of Ukrainians news?

      Ukraine is back to square 0 or worse now. Why?
      There were many issues, corruption, and so on, that happened afterwards, but even from the start, that process was bound to fail.

      Those who were leading the “revolution” were – very much unlike those in Eastern Germany, in Czechoslovakia or in Poland – more keen
      to speak in English and talk to foreign journalists than to move and merge and share
      with their own people, specially with those coming from outside the capital.

      This is a major difference. Those leading the “Orange Revolution” were too linked to western groups. This is no secret or Eva Golinger conspiracy: politicians and public organisations from the West, not just the US but also Germany and other countries,
      were literally helping the Ukrainians even with logistics at the moment of putting up their tents in the centre of Kiev. If you read German, you can get a rather decent account about that in a book by old German (and rather conservative) Scholl-Latour, who is not precisely a lefty and who is a friend of old Helmut Kohl.

      Ukranians have, like Venezuelans, more isssues regarding US Americans or Western Europe than, say, the Czechs, but, I repeat, even the Czechs, who were so pro-US and pro-West, brought about their Velvet Revolution by themselves, by groups not spending too much time talking to English or German speakers or the like, it was not a movement of expats either, it was something very much produced from inside and with people completely busy with interacting with their own people.
      I know that because I actually had several friends in Czechoslovakia at that time, they were among the most “connected” to the outside world and yet they were not the ones leading things.

      Havel, who was quoted here, was not even very proficient in English, to say the least.
      The same thing could be said from many of those intellectuals leading their movement.

      in Ukraine there were things the “revolutionaries” didn’t pay attention to.
      -a) they did not pay too much attention to the support they needed from outside the capital
      -b) unlike the Velvet Revolutions and other events that did change other countries, Ukraine’s protests were led mainly by people who spent more time speaking in English to foreign journalists than to the local population. They came up as mostly too close to the US and the West in general. This plays differently in different countries, so in the current Czech Republic or in Poland versus Ukraine or Russia, but even in what was Czechoslovakia the leaders were not primarily spending time in the USA or on German TV, they were people who were mostly getting traction from their own population.

      If you really want to follow a better example, you should pay attention to what the Czechs and Poles did.

      And even so, we would be naive if we tried to copy too much from them. Czechs/Slovaks (the Czech/Slovak divide was not an issue during the Velvet Revolution, both groups felt as affected) and Poles have not just generally other cultural background and education levels than Venezuelans but they were and are rather homogeneous societies, much more so than Ukrainians or Venezuelans.

      Venezuelans really have serious identity problems. This has a lot to do with our ethnic mix but also and primarily with the very general historical amnesia, our ignorance towards where we all come really from: either we believe we are “indios/afroamericanos víctimas peremnes” or we think we are the descendants of Conquistadores or some other stupid simplification of our actual history, we fight with complex of one or the other kind or our neighbours do and this is something we still haven’t dealt with very appropriately.

  14. I get what you’re saying, Quico.

    The opposition is trying to respond to an old-style autocratic and dictatorial government via democratic channels that aren’t democratic anymore because of who is in power. Is the only option to hope for mass mobilization that will eventually justify any “illegal” actions by the opposition as long as the MUD can attain national (i.e. presidential) power?

  15. I suspect this is Quico’s version of reverse psychology. Either way, I’m gratified by the pushback he’s getting over these last couple of posts. I see Havel references and no 350 o Pinochet. Progress!

  16. The regime is using a “rope-a-dope” strategy. They allow the opposition to contest elections – but under unfair conditions. They let the opposition file legal objections, which will be ruled down by kangaroo courts.

    In short, they allow the opposition to expend its resources and psychological energies in areas where the opposition cannot win, no matter how close they seem to come.

    The phrase “rope-a-dope” was coined by Angelo Dundee, trainer of the boxer Mohammed Ali. In the 1974 heavyweight championship match with George Foreman, Ali allowed Foreman to drive him against the ropes, and seemingly punch him at will. But by leaning back against the ropes, Ali avoided most of the force of Foreman’s blows, and avoided blows to the head, while Foreman exhausted himself trying to knock out Ali. Then Ali went on the attack, and eventually put Foreman down for a 10-count.

    The analogy isn’t perfect – but it has some relevance. Like Foreman, the opposition delivers many blows, but nothing decisive, and it becomes exhausted.

    The strategy can be even more effective for the chavernment.

    Foreman was the incumbent champion, and “the champ never loses a decision on points”, so Ali had to put him down. The chavernment is in power, and can stay on as long as not clearly discredited or defeated. It’s the opposition which needs the knock-out.

  17. Quico is wrong here. The correct strategy for Capriles is to take every inch of institutional space he is allowed to. That means filing lawsuits, even if he doubts they will be heard or the courts are impartial. That means continuing to compete in elections, even if the CNE is unfairly pro-government. It’s rarely useful to give up institutional space for symbolic gestures like boycotts.

    If you want proof, look at how hard Cabello is trying to push out any lawmaker who rejects the legitimacy of the government. Cabello, like Quico, is demanding “coherence between discourse and action” from the opposition. He knows that the opposition’s positions in the Congress matter and wants to force them into the position of choosing institutional space or symbolic rejection. Don’t fall into that trap. Continue to push on both fronts.

  18. Partially Agree.
    1) The current equilibrium is not sustainable. –> Agree
    2) “Old-Style Dictatorships” don’t need to pretend that they are democracies via democratic elections (so this anything but “old-style”) –> Disagree

    Can you really find the “go to the mountains” solution feasible? useful? normative the correct solution?

      • The government tries to make you feel there’s no other choice which doesn’t mean there’s no other choice.

      • Oh come on Toro, this whole all-powerful dictatorship discourse is pure fantasy. This is a state that is so weak it can’t even protect its own health clinics from attack, or protects its own supporters from being murdered by right-wing violence. Hundreds of peasant organizers have been murdered in recent years, dozens of indigenous activists, and the state has been incapable of doing anything about it.

        If anything, this is a weak state that has a quite precarious hold on power, and will likely lose the next electoral contest unless the opposition goes bat shit crazy (which right now is looking more and more likely, especially as rich kids from Montreal talk about “going into the mountains”) Good lord, come back down to planet Earth…

        • When you start addressing the repression, we will start taking that kind of advice seriously. Until then, we are all just assuming you are here on a payroll.

          • This from the same Hector who advocated that the only way to deal with the opposition was a fist to the face?

            Next thing you know, 9 Diputados get beaten up in the Assembly.

            Get your lies straight Hector, even you are getting tripped up.

          • ‘Children’ is right, you people remind me a lot of a classroom of particularly immature third graders, who needs to learn about discipline and obedience.

          • No, Faust. You start adressing the crazies who murdered 10 chvistas after the election results were announced. Repression? Come on. All the methods used by the GNB are allowed under intrnational law. The problema is the people in the video want to cause havoc but are not courageous enough to take the flak when it comes back at them.

        • If you are going to use personal backgrounds as attack fodder (“rich kids from Montreal”) then surely you will agree to share yours with us, too. Name and surname “get a clue”, please?

          • Get a Clue is one of Wilpert’s boys at Venezuelanalysis.com, Chris Carlson, I believe. He’s a PHD candidate PSF who discovered Venezuela a few years ago.

          • the glorious products of american higher education, seemingly made with the sole purpose of proving HL Mencken right.

      • Oh, stop whining. You made that choice yourself. You and your buddies have been complaining and trying to undermine the revolution since it started 14 years ago.

        Don’t complain now that you’re getting exactly what you asked for.

          • You asked for the repression when you decided to oppose the revolution. If you don’t want to get harassed, then vote for the revolution and stop writing anti-revolutionary propaganda.

            Venezuela doesn’t have the luxury of allowing people like you a place in the public square.

          • Thanks Hector- you perfectly encapsulated the circular, self-defeating and fascistic nature of that other Hector idiot’s line of argument.

          • Well, who knew that “As the World turns” had a psycho pseudo revolutionary character in it?

          • LOL. If it wasn’t for the similar posts you’ve made on this and the previous blog entry, what you are saying is so comically entrenched and ignorant that I would have taken it as a joke.

            Actually nevermind. I’m taking it as a joke anyway.

          • lol, are you one of those guys who think that scantily dressed women deserve rape?

            because, you know, it’s pretty much the same argument.

          • Thus demonstrating, that you’re big believers in ‘free speech’ as you’ve always claimed. It’s amusing how the opposition is so unwilling to deal with opinions that might make them uncomfortable.

            Maduro or Death!

          • If you want to ban me, go right ahead. It says a lot about your purported tolerance for the free exchange of ideas, but I don’t really care one way or the other.

          • Hector, I’m not sure that you understand the concept of free speech. The same way that the right of Venezuelans to travel anywhere in Venezuelan territory does not mean one can walk on someone else’s private property at will, so does the right of free speech does not mean that you have the right to keep speaking in someone else’s blog. Everyone here would most likely respect your right to free speech in the sense that we would all support your having a blog of your own, or any legal venue of your own through which you could express your speech freely. That does not preclude your right to limit who posts via your venue.

            In short, this is not your venue, so you have no right here. What you have here is a privilege, which you see to be stretching to its limits in a self defeatist behavior so that you can then claim that those who ban you are the bad guys. We’re not fooled…

          • Well said ex Torres , free speech in the public sphere is a fundamental right all must respect , but in the private sphere , in groups where people of kindred inclinations or ideas join together to exchange views between each other , intrusive deliberately offensive speech from people with contrarian views or ideas is a privilege which the group may restrain or condition as it sees fit . This principle is set out in Hannah Arendts ‘famous article ‘ Reflexions on Little Rock’ . If you wish to preach Christian messages besmirching Islam inside a Muslim temple you must be invited to do so, otherwise you stay outside or avoid any comments which the muslim audience may find offensive inside their own social space . Aporrea does not welcome people with opposition views to participate in their blogs and they are within their rigthts , so are members of this blog in restraining bad faith interventions from people who are scornful of what they beleive and think .as free men..,

        • Maybe if things go bad, Capriles can put on a mask, start smoking a pipe, head to the mountains and write bad detective fiction and op-ed pieces on alternative democracy for La Jornada.

          On second thought, no, wrong idea, wrong country….

  19. First time commenting here. Just wanted to share an anecdote to confirm what we all know needs no confirmation. Still: a lawyer I know was slated to present a case before the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia yesterday morning. Upon arrival he was told that the hearing was to be rescheduled, as the justices had been invited by the President to the Cirque du Soleil show.

    • Glad you chose to chime in. That is an awesome anecdote — should win an award for Most Succinct Explanation of Today’s Venezuela.

    • Heard this was supposed to be a show for El Pueblo but no one could get in because it was filled with government officials. Guess Maduro was the only bus driver there.

      • I see the regimes leaders gathering to see an innocent circus spectacle at the precise moment in which Parlaimentary freedom was being violently attacked as the kind of thing which gangster do when they wish to create an alibit for themselves while their underlings, are committing a crime on their orders . See how innocent we are , watching in child like awe these marvelous circus act together with our children and family !! How lovey dovey in our domestic simplicity of spirit !!

  20. The more I think about, I think I even object to the title of the post.

    Maybe old-style dictatorships are more vulnerable precisely because it’s, you know, 2013.

    Meet old-style dictatorship with new-style communications and organizational capacities.

    I mean, picture the leaders of some historical resistance movements being told about what blackberries and twitter and satellites can accomplish….you think they’d be stock-piling rifles in some barn if they had had another choice?

    • Right, our weapons will be cell phones. We’ll use them to catch on camera all forms of abuse.
      The way I see it, this would work beautifully if Capriles managed to prevent violence on our side and to keep the opposition focused on documenting. We could also have a media team gathering videos and using them effectively.

  21. According to the Rules of War, the opposition must not counterattack, because the government has superior strength and has been planning for this confrontation. They are ready. However, time is an ally for the opposition. The economy is deteriorating, and it is inevitable that the popularity of Chavism has been eroding and will continue so. Furthermore, repression is a burden on government resources, and it will dilute attention needed for ordinary governance. They are doomed, and they probably know that. Therefore, I agree that this is about Cuba and their short-term interests.

    • There was a cadena tonight…where they showed a briefcase and the opposition talking with each other and using their cell phones. I think they said they inflicted the damage on themselves? Can someone better summarize what happened & whether it was at all convincing?

      • I think the idea was to blow horns, whistle and shout abuse until they got a reaction. Without pictures of injuries, the whole stunt would have been a pointless.

    • It’s the oppositions fault for running into the fists and boots of the revolutionary diputados. Those poor revolutionaries had to have their hands looked at afterwards.
      Disodado set aside some discretionary funds for manicures.

  22. The regime is attacking the opposition using a pincer movement ,on the one hand a discourse based on the methodical blaring manipulation of the truth to blame the opposition for what is actually the regimes own violent and unlawful mode of behaviour second by unleashing an institutionally sanctioned and protected violence against the opposition and its representatives in all public spaces where it retains a presence . They are engaged in a war , partly a communicational war partly a war of targeted violence which seeks to discredit the oppostion’s democratic credentials and justify its suppression . This is pure fascism , If they take this attack to its ultimate consequences then 50% of Venezuelans will become pariahs in their own land , subject to open persecution of their persons, freedoms and interests by a regime that finds proud perverse joy in bullying them as subhuman . Venezuela will become a new version of apartheid South Africa , and members of the opposition will become Palestinians in an occupied West Bank , or jews in one of nazi germany’s protectorates .It is not certain that the regime will go this far because of the implicit threat of desligitimization that such measures will ultimately entail . In such event it will be necessary for the opposition to create a clandestine web or organization to carry on a program of active resistance to this oppression. Moreover it will be their duty to do so as free human beings . What is bringing the Regime to make these attacks is .the threat of democratic deligitimization that the Oppositions contesting of the electoral process implies and the fear that such deligitimization may become ever more obvious as the consequences of the regimes misgovernment worsen in time . What Maduro seems to be saying is stop your attack on our legitimacy and we will tolerate your presence in Venezuelas political life , provided you dont behave too proactively in the defense of your rights.

    • Re: What Maduro seems to be saying is stop your attack on our legitimacy and we will tolerate your presence in Venezuelas political life , provided you dont behave too proactively in the defense of your rights.

      That seems like a remarkably generous compromise, but I doubt that you people in the opposition will accept it. You lack the capability to accept charity in the spirit it’s given.

      • Hector, no seas pendejo. We are actually fine. The sad thing is for the poor who will go through something more dramatic than the nineties in view of the cleptocracy and incompetence in power now, the economy is slowing down very fast and what will come is pretty bad. Don’t think oil prices will keep on increasing 10% a year. You must have had a very frustrated life that all you care is for replace other people while not caring for the great majority of the population.

        I haven’t got any fist on the face ever, but over 100 000 innocent people have been murdered because of the incompetence of the thugs you support…no other country in South America has gone through such a disaster when it comes to social development.

          • Yeah, I noticed. You’re the same Hector from Yglesias’ blog. Funny because some of your posts there were quite decent (I don’t like him/his followers either).

            Now I “see” where you’re coming from, but it shows that your picture of Venezuelan reality is far from complete, given that you’re not Venezuelan yourself and haven’t had the experience of seeing things as they actually are. I’m telling you this as someone who isn’t even invested in this whole thing and struggles to take the opposition seriously every day.

      • I see, political life is defined as a place where people do not defend their rights but depend on the charity of the dominant class.

        Hector, are you some mad english aristocrat who has escaped the infirmary?

    • Re: Venezuela will become a new version of apartheid South Africa , and members of the opposition will become Palestinians in an occupied West Bank , or jews in one of nazi germany’s protectorates

      What a disgusting comparison.

      The obvious distinction is that you CHOSE to be opposition, and you continue CHOOSING to oppose the revolution today. It isn’t a category like race that you are born with. It’s abhorrent that you would even dare to make this comparison, and says a lot about the moral quality of the opposition.

      Personally, I don’t see why I should be concerned by people like Francisco Toro and his crew being treated like pariahs, they certainly deserve it.

        • Barreda , What poor hector is really saying is that people have no right to exercise free choice in the election of their political beliefs , that they must all toe the line of the tyrant , become his submissive slaves , be grateful that he gives you his boots to lick or face persecution and the defenestration of ones human dignity , he has really dropped his trousers on this one . I was hoping that some troll would be innocent enought to fall for this one , but hectors comments go beyond the most optimistic of my expectations !!

          • Me neither. I’m too old for cool stories like whig history.

            But really, man. You’re not Venezuelan, so you should come here and spend some time looking at our reality, which is very different from what you’ll read in a chavista blog. It is also more complicated than the “liberal/bourgeois/capitalist/secular/cosmopolitan city dwellers vs. socialist/working/popular/christian/nationalist countryfolk” image you’ve built for yourself. Not only there’s plenty of all that on both sides, I can also assure you that our current govt. leaders are no paragons of order, discipline and piety — but you don’t need to believe me, just buy a plane ticket and verify it yourself (and fall in love with the country, like everyone does).

      • lol, look at these mental gymnastics.

        “see, guys, there is nothing wrong with repression/apartheid in itself. what matters is the intent, so make sure you tell them they could’ve avoided it!” — hitlor, 2013 AD.

        • Well, no, of course there’s nothing wrong with repression/discrimination in itself, what matters is whether the victims deserve it. You folks assuredly do.

          • something tells me you wouldn’t be saying this if you were the one being repressed/discriminated against. not even in the face of convincing evidence that you “deserved” it.

          • Look, the choice for you is very simple. Stop opposing the revolution, and you won’t be harassed anymore.

            If you continue acting in the way you’ve acted for the last 14 years, then you’re asking for repression, and you deserve every bit of it.

          • i’ll take that as a “yes, i wouldn’t be saying that, but i’m not going to admit it because i’m in power and that’s not a possibility for me.”

          • Hector is personally repressed. That’s why he finds an outlet for his anger on this blog.

  23. What the opposition needs is to show the government in its worse light, repression. You want a solid reaction, then state that when the opposition comes in power it will not recognize international loans made by an illegitimate government. The see what happens next. The bull will charge.

  24. Quico, as a journalist you must be well aware that showing beats telling. Clearly, the way towards continued growth of support for a cause and continued erosion of support for those against a cause is to continue showing the benefits of the cause and the detriment of its lack. What better way to demonstrate the lack of instutionality than by continued demonstrations of its failures by precisely continued attempts at using the instutionality the way theory dictates?

    As to trolls, I’ve developed a new theory. Perhaps Get a clue, and the others are actually CIA operatives. Hear me out. It behooves USA that other nations remain behind economically so that it can remain ahead. So perhaps the CIA has paid a bunch of PSFs to help support the tinpot rulers so that the economies over which they rule keep lagging behind. Looking at it this way, these guys are the ultimate right wing capitalists pretending that communism is a good thing, for everyone else, of course. 😉

    • Right conspiracy, wrong country. The US doesn’t really need to keep Venezuela held back. Brazil, on the other hand, benefits greatly from a weak Venezuela. Supporting Maduro to maintain a weak Venezuela dependent on Brazilian food and construction contracts was brilliant policy on their part.

      • So, Get a clue works for the Brazilian intelligence agency, but pretends to work for the CIA as a disinformation tactic? I like it. 🙂

  25. Black eyes and broken noses are yesterday’s news and until the people take to the streets it’s game set and match to the Cubans.

    All of the Opposition are individuals of independent means. Therefore maybe the best thing they could do is hop on a plane bound for Miami and let Venezuela hit rock bottom sooner than later. I’m sure many on here could advise them on how to leave the country to its own demise. Albeit that may indicate the morals of a peasant culture maybe now is the time we should be true to ourselves.

  26. “Therefore maybe the best thing they could do is hop on a plane bound for Miami and let Venezuela hit rock bottom sooner than later.” Lord, no. Folks need to keep some skin in the game. That mass exodus didn’t work well when it happened in Cuba.

  27. You can’t guarantee that with an institution like the CNE, it is just rotten the way it is now, no one trusts it, what makes you think we will trust it again to go and vote thinking it will matter; they just did what they pleased with the will of the people. This is a really difficult situation, non-violence is a safe route but we don’t know when it will show some actual results, an “opposite” solution is a gamble it might bring a quick solution or it might just do the opposite and completely destroy what the opposition in the country represents.

  28. Yes, Quico go for it! Protest and try and overthrow the rrregimen whne they have all the arms and you sit in Montral comtemplating people having their heads cracked open. I always knew you were an armchair golpista.

    • Hey, if a lawyer and a doctor can fight for years in the Sierra Maestra then a consultant and economist can surely do a few months in the Avila!

    • Arturo, are you on the one hand suggesting that the regime would use “all the arms” against Venezuelans, and on the other hand suggesting that opposers would have their “heads cracked open”, yet, to someone who is suggesting that hiding is the option, you are replying by namecalling them “golpista”, which, in fact, is an opposite option?

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