After having the privilege of spending some time listening to Henrique Capriles in Chile (more on that in future posts), I have a better understanding of what the strategy is. Or, at least, for what he thinks the strategy should be – whether or not he leads it is still very much up in the air.
Capriles was crystal clear in that the strategy requires patience – lots of it.
He believes the TSJ will rule against him, and will validate last April’s election. He also thinks the case will inevitably end up in multilateral institutions such as the Interamerican Court of Human Rights and the United Nations.
But he harbors little hope that this will be the solution. Venezuela’s enchufados will not leave via court order.
Capriles talked and talked about “growing the majority.” He obviously believes that, in order to change Venezuela, the opposition will have to continue growing – in popularity, and in elected positions. In his mind, continued participation in elections in order to consolidate growth is the only way to go. Presumably, the crumbling economy will be one of the ways in which the opposition will continue growing.
The end result of all of this … is a Constituent Assembly, but a particular kind of one.
He is gearing up for a Constituent Assembly that represents the newly consolidated majority in the country and removes all of the country’s institutions, presumably including the President. While he thinks it would be a mistake for a circumstantial majority to impose its Constitution on a minority, he is fine with the belief that the only way to change Venezuela is by changing its judges, electoral arbiters, comptrollers, and other elected officials.
In other words, we’re going to have to govern … like it’s nineteen ninety-nine.
Only then, he thinks, will we have a level playing field. Only then will we be able to put this nightmare behind us.
As for shortcuts, he clearly stated that “a military coup would be a tragedy, the worst thing that could happen to Venezuela.” “Look at Egypt,” he warned, “a lot of people were saying that we should hit the streets just like the Egyptians did, and look at the place now. Is Egypt a model?”
“Brazil,” he also said, “is not a good example either. In Brazil, the authorities listen to the people on the streets.” He stressed the case that while marching in Brazil leads to dialogue, in Venezuela it leads to target practice for government thugs.
Capriles is right in that street protests are not the way to change governments, but a means to an end. Street protests are a tactic, a way of forcing a change via other mechanisms. None of those mechanisms are called for in Venezuela.
No, the streets are not the goal. The Constitutional Assembly is.