Visualize May

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What kind of monster wouldn't be on these kids' side?
What kind of monster wouldn't be on these kids' side?
What kind of monster wouldn’t be on these kids’ side?

Look, I know it’s easy to get caught up in the YouTube videos, easy to cheer on the unbelievably brave gochos. Facing down a budding military dictatorship is no child’s play, and no one with a feel for liberty can failed to be moved by their derring-do. A mi tampoco me da la gana una dictadura igualita a la cubana.

Still, some things need to be said, and said forcefully: enough nodding-at-winking at violent tactics. No more molotov cocktails. No more wires-across-the-road. No more fireworks-as-weaponsNi un muerto más, coño.

We can’t let our judgment be too clouded by the dopamine rush we get from those YouTube videos. This movement either gets serious about non-violence or it will fail.

The sugar high of the guarimba will dissipate, as it must. When it does, will we be left with a Venezuela that’s closer to democratic transition, or further away?

Long-term thinking isn’t exactly the forté of a movement that is genuinely auto-convocado, and just doesn’t report to any of the traditional structures of what’s conventionally called “the opposition”. But we need to dismount-that-cloud and face it: putting up a barricade and setting it on fire is violence, not a political strategy. Having no one in overall charge is not an asset, it’s a liability.

A movement that can’t be led is a movement that can’t maneuver, can’t make smart choices, can’t retreat tactically when that’s what’s needed or sacrifice a short-term protest dopamine-rush for a more sustainable longer-term goal.

Asking the people setting up guarimbas to try to envision the country we’ll have three months from now shouldn’t be too big an ask. So let’s give this a try. (We can come back in May and see how far off I was.)

If violent tactics aren’t stamped out now, by May chances are:

  • Some version of calm and normality will have been restored to the streets.
  • Several high profile student movement leaders will be in jail, perhaps alongside some additional, household name politicians.
  • San Cristobal will be under ongoing, tacit or explicit, military rule.
  • State media will blame each new item of bad economic news on the instability caused by “Februuary’s fascist coup attempt”.
  • That propaganda line will be broadly believable to many of the people whose support the opposition will need to help begin to steer the country towards democracy again.
  • This month’s new discursive standards for what is acceptable reporting by local and international media operating in Venezuela will have become “the new normal”.
  • You’ll have largely forgotten about Leopoldo López, except for the one or two VP activists in your Twitter stream daily putting up reminders that he’s still unjustly jailed, and “no lo dejemos solo”, which only other VP people will retweet.
  • Any budding sign of an attempt to protest about anything at all will be crushed far more brutally than was the case even in January, using “the need to avoid a repeat the events of February” as an all-purpose pretext for due-process violations.
  • Opposition minded people in majority-chavista areas will find it even more difficult to speak out.

Listen, I hate to be The Grinch Who Stole the Intifada. I’ve spent half this week crying because it’s so painful to see people you admire so much get things so wrong.

But Maduro isn’t repressing these protests because he’s threatened by them. He’s repressing them because he actively believes a good society does not include the right to protest.

He isn’t censoring the media because the media threaten his hold on power, he’s censoring the media because he’s openly hostile to free expression.

Dictatorial control isn’t a means to an end for these guys, it’s an end in itself. And creating chaos on the streets strengthens the hand of those who’ve always sought to impose it.

I know it’s hard. I know nobody’s in overall charge. I know there isn’t any one person in a position to call this off, or to declare a change in tactics, and I know that makes it all the harder. But the next time I see a kid with his face covered talking about pacífico this and pacífico that while manning a guarimba ‘m going to have an aneurism.

Cease and desist.

There’s too much at stake to keep digging. 

1 COMMENT

  1. A man on a blog once said to me. LOOK. UP. FROM. YOUR. NAVEL. I suggest you do the same. We all have the ability to choose our future no matter how grim things may seem.

    • Indeed.

      I’ve spent half this week crying because it’s so painful to see people you admire so much get things so wrong.

      Me too, I have been worried about your obliviousness.
      It’s happening FT, it is really happening and blog crying isn’t going to help.

  2. You are right, this is too grinchy. Why, for example, do you assume that “the new propaganda line will be broadly credible, etc? ” Propaganda isn’t all-powerful, and unstated reservations eventually add up. Authoritarian dictatorships look invincible until the day they collapse. Their processes of disintegration are mostly invisible, but we know they exist. It won’t happen tomorrow in Venezuela, but this month’s events are hastening the day.

    • We’ll come back in May and review. I hope to God I’m wrong.

      But the reason I think the Guarimba strategy strengthens the government’s propaganda line is that people hate chaos, and this week has turned the opposition into the agent of chaos.

      This line about the opposition-as-agent-of-chaos may be preposterous to you, but to the broad middle of the Venezuelan electorate – people who’ve always liked chavez, been lukewarm about Maduro, disdained the government’s uselessness but been receptive to propaganda claims demonizing the opposition – portraying the Guarimba as the demonstration that the other side really is fascist won’t strain credulity. And repeat it often enough loud enough – and you can rely on SIBCI to do that, if nothing else – and it’ll slowly merge into the fabric of common sense, one-of-those-things-everybody-already-knows.

      I hate it, but it’s like that.

      • You are 100% right, however I believe you are missing an important point, which I wrote this morning to my friends, and I copy here: As I have said before in many of my emails, the real crisis lies ahead where the street individual does not see it. There are, and will increase in magnitude, shortages or lack of supplies in every aspect of modern life. Shortages in food, medicines, spare parts. ……. first the regime is incapable to restore supplies, second threads of looting food stores is on the increase. This bubble will burst soon. Everybody take care

          • Well, my mother used to tell me “cuando el hambre toca la puerta, el amor sale por la ventana” in english “when hunger knocks the door, love jumps out the windows”. I want to see if Venezuelans will love shortages…Giordani’s style. Be back in May.

      • Im sorry Toro, but chaos is having your cerro under malandro control, not enough milk pa’ los chamos and a constant loop of propaganda on tv, which is the reason the pirate dvd market is thriving. the government can say whatever they want, but Chavistas need Harina Pan too and my take is that El Cerro will repeat this show come May. Which will make this protests look like child’s play

      • “people hate chaos”.
        Rightly so. Chaos is 25,000 murders last year, 97 % crimes unsolved. Chaos is hours on a line each time you have the preposterous idea of buying a bottle of milk. Chaos is cancer patients dying because of lack of proper medical treatment. Chaos is electricity and water shortages, day in night out. Chaos is…
        So d’you mean this is what we’ll have in May? OMG! How awful!!

  3. It is very difficult to be optimistic about any of this knowing the type of brutal killers that communists are. You can only rest assured that economic and social decline in Venezuela will continue and that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time with ridiculous lies and playing the blame game. Cuban soldiers are on the ground in Venezuela and everyone can see now what is really happening-a Cuban takeover led by a senile idiot who has already ruined his own country in cahoots with chavista traitors.

  4. Francisco, don’t be short-minded. It has taken the chavistas 13 years to destroy the country, It will take 20+ years to re-constructed it. May is not the objective, freedom it. Cancer needs to be extirpated from the body, the body will heal and recover after that. While the Cancer is alive, the body will never get well. We should not expect the students to re-state the democracy, it will be thousands of people with good intended mind that this government has been forcefully silent.

      • The same thing could be said about Washington crossing the Delaware River in December 1776. It was a stupid idea at the time. Also, they’re celebrating in Kiev tonight. Was it worth it?

        • Dr Faustus,

          I wasn’t born in December 1776. but I was already a grownup in 2005. I have been following the news from Ukraine (and Russia) perhaps a little bit closer than most in the West. I have several friends from there. Ukraine’s mood 2 or 1 1/2 years was more similar to that of Venezuela today. I believe we should have focused our forces on reaching people in secondary cities, informing them about corruption and about how life is abroad. And next year we should have gone with this kind of protests.

      • Are you there in Venezuela, sitting down with the students and asking them?

        Explain to us in 45 seconds how you intend to win this

      • Neither could the Eastern Europeans under the USSR at the time, nor the Ukrainians, nor the ….The timeline isn’t May, it’s the end, whenever, which is just now dramatically beginning…….

  5. Venezuelans repeated for years the mantra that we were too indolent and mansos, que nos dejábamos montar la pata. I never thought that was the case. Venezuelans have indeed been protesting tirelessly for years now. And I think that now we see that the problem is quite the opposite: we are too anarchical and have a strong propensity to celebrate people taking justice into their own hands. A lot of Venezuelans don’t want a leader, they want the proverbial gallo (ese es mi gallo, carajo). Therefore, anybody who steps up now and asks people to calm down, to change the strategy into a more long-term one, is immideately disqualified as a coward or a even collaborator of the regime. I think it’s so hard to find someone now trying to call this off. In principle, it should be MCM’s duty (since LL in in jail) as the most visible supporter of this whole thing, although she is probably for keeping the radicalization. In any case, if she wanted to prove how coregeous she is, I think the moment is now by assuming a much more prominent position in leading the situation. Si no, está tirando la piedra y escondiendo la mano.

  6. Long term semi rational planning is what the technocrats have been using to no avail for 15 years.This movement has very much needed the greater input of those with greater knowledge of human interaction and motivation.I think that if these protests fail to reach their goals, they will at least get the right kind of attention, and start things moving.

  7. Amidst the economy shitstorm things could very well go very wrong for Maduro & Co. all the while keeping people on the street. The political price to pay for repression is continually more expensive. The repressive elements of the Government might as well decide that they won´t take it no more and chavismo as a whole might break up. Could things turn out badly? Of course they might, but they don´t have to. We are very aware of our many weaknesses, but we´ve been dealt lemons so I guess we´ll try making lemonade.

    Now really, who´s gonna ride the guarimbero nation? who´s gonna tell the student rebels that their whole strategy is wrong, and that it might even be counterproductive? If you were somehow able to do this, what would your credibility look like when you do ask them to go out and slug it out once you´ve already told them to pack it in?

    I think that most in the oppo are keenly aware that we could do things better, but at the same time we are also aware that just agreeing on what should be done would render us unable to do anything at all.

    Things are complicated, and messy, and blurry, and confusing, very hard to understand, sometimes embarassing, but we just have to deal with it I guess.

    In any case thanks for the heads up. Deep down I know that you do have a point and are probably right, although I hope you aren´t.

  8. Yup you are the Grinch. If you flip the coin, or look at the other half of the glass, the thing about planning, unity and long term thinking principally is the problem and weakness of this dictatorship.

  9. If we keep with the guarimbas (which in my opinion have become a menace) then the outcome will probably be as you say. I hope leaders are smarter and change the direction this is taking. Let’s see what happens today with the marches.

      • The problem with Venezuela is that it traditionally wants to depend on one strongman to lead…but now many are becoming leaders in their small communities…they are Democratizing leadership which is far far more powerful,and it is only through this kind of spreading of the power,can the ‘Pueblo’ truly empower itself.

        • Problem is “leaders” in small communities have it wrong in some cases. What good is isolating your neighborhood from the rest of the city?

          • Leaders of the entire country also get it wrong.People acting on their own behalf are more powerful than people following a weakened Central authority. If I act on my own behalf it empowers me.It doesn’t matter if there are differences in the expression for each leader, it only matters the general direction they are headed in and the power of their conviction.

            Capriles was unable to motivate or confront the situation even when he was unanimously elected.

            We are only the sum of our parts

      • Well, in Valencia guarimbas originated because the “leadership” stopped calling for rallies and protests and the people began thinking “Hey, isolating our communities with barricades and aggressive people is a good idea”. My neighborhood resolved to block all entrances this Monday – no way in our out of here, that is. What good does that make? Nothing.

        • Venezuelans have for a few years now been constructing walls and barricades around their streets to defend themselves from criminals who have the support of the authorities.

          • Right but Quico pretends that people not defend themselves because barricades are violent?They are not violent, they are one of the least violent options.

        • Jose,

          It is true that some people do not want to sacrifice , but maybe it is good for them to learn how to do it.

          The barricades make the country ungovernable by limiting the movement of the authorities.

          ojo: So much criticism has always been the Venezuelan boon.

          Disputing the different tactics is not relevant….what is relevant is to apply the tactics we believe in to reach our common goal..

          • Barricades blocking the access of middle class neighborhoods that only have like 2 entrances is not limiting the movement of the authorities, it’s limiting our own movements.

          • My daughter lives in front of a barricade and has no trouble getting food, though it is a slight inconvenience.

            Great sacrifice cannot be made to save Venezuela from a far worse fate?

  10. I find it very moronic that we continue to blame ourselves for the authoritarianism of the government. Sadly, all you say will most certainly become fact, but not because we´re fighting for a change the only way we can, but because you pundits and your politicians would rather be criticising us and feeling oh so wise instead of standing up to an evident dictatorship once and for all. I can´t believe my eyes when I see Capriles stepping on his own people instead of demanding a negotiation from the government. You guys need to stop drilling into our heads that every authoritarian move the government makes is somehow our fault and you need to realise how close we are to having no shot at an electoral exit.

      • I picture enough crisis, political and economical, so that the government has to sit and negotiate in serious terms. I would go for early parliamentary elections and a return to real proportional representation (http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/caracas/08793.pdf), I guess it´s a long shot, but it´s a way in, and I think I can say it in 45 seconds. Also, I don´t believe we have many more choices and nobody from your camp (against la salida) can seem to come up with one other than “build a majority” which we supposedly, according to the same people, had a year ago. Thank you for the space.

        • The real choice is the one that everybody likes to talk about and nobody likes to do: active non-violence.

          Don’t kid yourself. Setting a barricade on fire is not active non-violence. What’s happening in San Cristobal right now is not active non-violence.

          Long shot? Sure. But hell, they’re all long shots at this point.

          • Please, let’s try to avoid emotional reaction, impressions, fears, etc. This is what I’m observing: 1. In spite of all the violence, it might be that the number of deaths and injuries could have been much worse. My suspicion is that the repression has been muted. Maybe so, because the number of military and even the number of thugs who are really interested in killing demonstrators are actually just a small minority. If this is so, the governments repression has been just an attempt to frighten the demonstrators and consolidate the revolution. If so, it didn’t work. Not yet, at least. 2. Maduro may be realizing now that the military and thuggery are not really committed very much to the revolution, and there simply are not many who are willing to go all out in violent repression. 3. If all this is true, the demonstrators’ resilience may have already won the battle! 4. If the regime falls, the US will come in with lots of aide, and there will be time for reconciliation. However, there will be elements on both side who will not consent to reconciliation in any form, at which time it will be up to leaders to restore hope and a compelling vision of the future. If the leadership fails, and the extreme elements continue to sabotage political and social reconciliation, it will certainly be a long-term disaster in store! There needs to be a new “third way” that can create a future that wins the peace!

  11. What do you expect people to do if they get attacked every night by thugs protected by the national guard, they shoot you, destroy your cars, attempt to enter your buildings.

    There is no rule of law and therefore shit like this gets out of hand and out of control by the politicians.

      • No, what you are suggesting amounts to little more than waiting until the dictatorship buries alive all opposition before they should start digging themselves out. The fallacy of your argument rests in the notion that, once in total control, the regime will allow ANY protest, anytime, anywhere, by any person, for any reason. Your suggestion leads ultimately to a country like Romania under Ceausescu or Cuba under Fidel. Let the young and the disenfranchised fight for their own freedom, it’s their right. Obviously, you won’t be among the bloody.

          • Err if i remember well, Ghandi died violently and before him there were somo violent rebelions that fractured the British Raj in india (like punjab rebelions), and MLK? come on, USA even with racism in the south cannot be compared to venezuela. Civil desobedience really doesn’t work, because usally changes are made by the force and leverage you have

          • Let’s just think about this. They have the National Police, the National Guard, the Army, the militia, the colectivos, the tupamaros, la piedrita, Automatic Rifles, Machine Guns, Mortars, Artillery, Armored Personnel Carriers, Tanks, Sukhois, F16s. We have some kids with kerosene, some tires and some matches. And you think violence is the way to go here.

            The derp…it stingsssss!

          • “Civil desobedience really doesn’t work, because usally changes are made by the force and leverage you have”

            Both Ghandi and MLK succedeed. Neither of them used forced or even condone it.

            Ghandi’s actions were non-violent. His non-violent campaign succeeded where violent rebellions failed. After his non-violent civil desobedience campaign succeded, came the question of the partition of India along religious lines, which he opposed wanting hindus and muslims to get along, even visiting riot prone areas to quell the mood. He was shot dead by an Hindu fundamentalist, who blamed Ghandi of favoring the creation of Pakistan. Violence from another faction killed him.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahatma_Gandhi

            MLK was, actually, deeply inspired by Ghandi’s success and even traveled there in 1959. He was instrumental in the fight for Civil Rights for non-whites (at the time known as coloured) in the USA.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.

            The way I see it MLK had it worse than Venezuela. At least opposition symphatizers have, in paper: the same rights as chavista sympathizers. And no equivalent to the Jim Crow laws, as the Lista Tascon abomination is actually against our written laws. Otherwise, the south had vote-elected-yet-not-without-irregularities intrasigent regimes as we do (although ours is politically instead of racially motivated), the south had the KKK and we have the armed colectivos, the south imposed an education filled with their propaganda as does the chavernement, the elections were filled with irregularieties like ours… It’s not and exact match, granted, but you’re not explaining why you think they’re too different for it to work.

          • Two things, India and pakistan born in inestability, even if ghandi tried to get the independence by pacific means ( remember, if the other people had not faced the East indian company and the authorities of the British RAJ and reduced their military capacities, as well as its influence in punjab or Sikh regions (dominated by fear to other ethnic groups) ghandi’s efforts would have done nothing (call it an smart way: violence plus a message) and also you can’t compare India and venezuela (here are not ethnic tensions, we are not dominated by a foreing power that can be used as an element to unify).

            And please, you’re being minimalist about MLK, True, black people have not the same rights in some parts of the south. However there was a full.-support in the north (since the underground railroad days) and also by federal government to MLK movement. An also, there, we were talking about actions against black people carried out by the KKK (heirs of the golden circle) and STATES ( with an authority limited to the state jurisdiction), In our case, is the federal government that acts against group of citizens, with full support of the institutions and to the violent groups. Finally, you forget the violent side of the civil right’s figt, you don’t metion malcoln X and the Black panthers, and the other groups. Did not jefferson say: “El arbol de la libertad debe ser regado con la sangre de patriotas y tiranos”

          • The India independence and the India partition are separate problems. They gained independence from Britain as a unified nation, but the Hindu majority wanted a strong central government while the muslim minority wanted strong regional governments, so they could have their own laws and customs. The Hindus wouldn’t budge, thus precipitating the partition of India, as muslims not being able to get autonomy then sought independence.

            I reiterate. Ghandi succeded in gaining (pre-partition) India independent where armed appraches failed. But he was killed just as the partition problem began to emerge, so we wasn’t able to succeed or fail at it. He was dead.

            You are in the smallest of minorities if you think that Malcolm X, the Nation of Islam and the Black Panther are the main contributors to the victory of the Civil Rights movement, and later racial integration. Most likely that victory was achieved despite the organizations that pursued a violent approach and thus played into the racist narrative that black people were dangerous and had to be kept in check.

            I already said Ghandi’s and MLK’s struggles were not an exact match to Venezuela. They had to deal with northern politicians having to pander to the south to win their electoral college votes for the presidency, and with the large representation the south had in congress. We have to deal with oil rent populism, class identification and other hurdles.

            Non-violence is a flexible approach that has worked for Ghandi, MLK and others like:
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_Power_Revolution
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singing_Revolution
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peaceful_revolution_(German)
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet_Revolution

            Yes, none of those countries is Venezuela. And no, those countries didn’t have it easier than us.

        • Exactly. The alternative to acting now and using the few tools we still have at our disposal like the internet, is accepting our destiny and becoming Cuba! We already don’t have ANY independent media. There is no reporting of what is happening in our country! We have to be informed via twitter!! There multiple national TV networks, and not ONE OF THEM is showing the protests! NOT ONE!!

          Violence will always be there, because they just don’t accept dissent. It’s BS that closing a street is violence. Violence is paramilitary groups shooting indiscriminately against people protesting. THAT is violence. AND IT COMES FROM THEM!! And they will use it against ANY type of protest, guarimba or non-guarimba. Pacific or not-pacific. MLK style or Comecandela style!

          Hay que ser pendejo, no joda!

      • Next week we’ll see another result of “active non-violence”, as Capriles plans to attend the 2nd “Consejo Federal” convoked by Maduro in Miraflores. The 1st “Consejo Federal” resulted in: 1) A widely-distributed photo of Capriles shaking hands with Maduro, generally interpreted as him recognizing the legitimacy of Maduro’s presidency, in spite of his public contestation of it in the Venezuelan courts and internationally; 2) Those Oppo governors/mayors present humiliated by singing the himno nacional “Gloria Al Bravo Pueblo” to the voice of Chavez; 3) Capriles, then bearded, being the butt of a Maduro jokje recently, that he had attended incognito so that he could walk the streets in West Caracas without being recognized or subject to reprisals; and 4) Maduro saying that he had, upon the rumor that Capriles had vacationed outside the country in December, “mandado” a Capriles to work for his state of Miranda instead of loafing off. Yes, active non-violence is alive and well and working in Venezuela, faced with Communist thugs and liars, orchestrated from a 50-year old successful/experienced Cuban regime, and with 30-40% of the Venezuelan population willing to sell their birthright for a miserable devalued minimum wage/pension/government job and too cowered by government threats of intimidation/reprisals to complain.

        • I was replying to this question posted above:
          “What do you expect people to do if they get attacked every night by thugs protected by the national guard”

          Guarimbas and nocturnal demonstrations do not save lives. They are an unnecessary risk.

  12. I strongly agree with you Quico.

    Finally, we have have amassed some international goodwill on our side. If the violence starts stealing the spotlight from the peaceful protest, Maduro will be legitimized again in the eyes of the international community, if not as a “rough leader”, at least as gendarme necesario or necessary evil.

    There’s just been such a drought of leadership. There’s some MUD politicians taking care of reporting human rights violations at the Proscutor General’s office, or the Ombudswoman, there’s also some mayors who’ve been keen on protecting kids from paramilitary forces, and that’s good and I applaud that.

    But too little politicians reminding engaging with young people and defuse the rise of the guarimba. I don’t mean just disowning violence on TV. I mean seeking out the kids, with peaceful concentrations near university campus, or going to the affected neighborhoods and hold a people’s assembly, to exorcise guarimba, to calm down the radicals. Or accompany the people in peaceful vigils to pray for the fallen, instead of cacerolazos, with proper municipal police protection.

    To summarize, I think oppo politicians have to try harder to put the peace back into the peaceful protests. But they just won’t be able to do that from twitter, or with weekend demonstrations. They did choose politics as a full time job, this project needs for them to put some overtime.

  13. Backing down now would set the democracy movement back to a position worse off than before the protests started. Violence must be shunned, except for self-defense, but what is necessary now is the need for someone–preferably someone with credibility–to come forward and the side of the protesters with a list of concrete measures they want to see implemented. You cannot have a negotiation over empty ideals like “decreased crime” and “better economic management.” You need to have specific measures that are tied to these goals. Backing off now would give the regime the ability to consolidate its hold over every aspect of society and the economy, punish the perpetrators at its leisure and ensure that no new guarimbas y manifestaciones take place ever again, by which time it will be next-to-impossible for people to speak out. Force the negotiations now while the eye of the world is on Venezuela and people still keep in mind what happened in the Ukraine.

  14. Ukraine had International support and the opposition has a higher level of violence than in Venezuela, applying Molotov cocktails thrown at government forces, better and larger barricades that the government has not been able to penetrate.

    This whole argument is absurd, and typically I end up wondering what is the intention of it ?

  15. Only way to win is to show that maduro’s power is fading. That will give confidence to those who may switch sides. Only way to do that is to somehow stop his propaganda machine – occupy the TV stations and knock out the power to radio and TV stations. Protest and block access by his TV meat puppets – protest at TV anchors homes. They are trying to block the students message, so block theirs! A dictator is usually abandoned when he no longer can use his media hegemony.

    • Don’t forget to destroy the apparatus of the government. Hitting low value government buildings housing unimportant government ministries is a good way to divide the enemy and cause panic in the government. Hitting symbols of the government, ie: Statues of Chavez, tearing down gates to a government park. Removing the approach lights and beacons to an airport. They’ll have to start guarding everything and divide their resources.

  16. Thank you for keeping such a great blog. This is better than journalism in a lot of ways, or similar. You are inspiring me to do something similar of the sort. Keep it up, I wish you the best. Stay well, I will keep reading!!

  17. Not sure I understand why the oppo should be called upon to reject violence , except for some isolated cases of small maverick groups the protests have been non violent. Violence has all been on the other side , the protesters have no arms , no weapons of any sort . What do they do?: , they take to the streets and temporarily block some streets , thats it!!. The public messages of oppo leaders are mild and peaceful compared to those of the regime and its supporters which are wildly insulting and violent . The regime has movilized armed paramilitaries , GN , Sebim and Police forces to repress the demonstrations . Used fireweapons, savage beatings and smoke canisters resulting in the death of some 10 people (of which one belonged to its own partisans) and the injury of some hundred of oppo protesters .
    Those cases where some maverick groups have incurred in violence are of course to be regretted and should not be encouraged . the motorbike fellow who got killed from a cable set across a street is very sorrowful , it shouldnt happen again! , not because it counterproductive but because its just plain wrong!!
    In May things will be worse or better depending on how people take the increasing hardships that the govts failures and corruption impose on all and how much control the govt exercise over its own paramilitary partisans and police forces. As Francisco and Juan have told us repeatedly , the oppo leadership have no real control over the future course of events, its up to the chance workings of fate and how people both inside and outside in the streets react to changing circumstances. !!. . .

    • “Not sure I understand why the oppo should be called upon to reject violence”

      Because violence breeds violence. Read the comments cheering the attack at the Firework as weapon video. Read at the comments right here calling for violence. Throwing rocks or molotovs or fireworks is already violence and incites a response of the same kind but augmented. The whole thing can spiral out of control very rapidly. Someone has to put a stop to it and since violence is the ally of the government it has to be the opposition that has more to lose. Two deaths, a man and a woman, can already be directly attributed to the guarimba barricades.

      Everyone in the opposition should call for a stop on the violence, from leaders to everyone.

      Those acting violently or inciting violence from the opposition are either infiltrators from the government or inadvertently doing the same deed.

      • Amieres : Thanks for your response . Maybe I was underestimating the extent to which the oppo protest was becoming more violent as the violence of the repression scalated , Until yesterday all victims where on the opposition side ( except for the colectivo shot by friendly fire at Candelaria) so the oppo violence seemed tame compared to the one which the regime was doling out.

        • True and there were also some cars burned and buildings vandalized. That incites a violent response from the police forces which leads to more escalation.

  18. The first step to winning an insurgency is to demoralize and kill your enemy. If Molotov cocktails and wires across the road is all you got than make the best use of them. Kill one communist bastard they retaliate. Kill more commie bastards they flee. A favourite tactic against the USSR invading Afghanistan was to simply take down road signs put up other ones to confuse the solders and than ambush them.

    Hopefully instead of studying Liberal arts some of these students learned war game theory. If you’re preaching half measures than the communists have already won.

  19. We are all calling for non violence, but is that even possible? Will the opposition EVER be left alone to protest without violence? When the protests are being viciously attacked, should they just lay down and take it? I don’t believe the “government” will ever allow for any protest to be non violent, not for a second, they haven’t yet, what makes you think the colectivos and tupamaros will stop attacking protests just because we want them to be violence free?

    But sadly you are probably going to be right come May, because unfortunately that’s the way things always end in Venezuela. This is not the first time this has happened (the level of violence is unprecedented tho), and it never amounts to anything. I don’t know what pisses me off more, that everything will die down and it would’ve all been in vain or that violence continues to take lives on a daily basis. Either way the problems remain and will become worse in the coming months.

    #LaSalida is not a real exit, I sincerely believe that a way out through elections is next to impossible because there is no fairness or impartial justice in the electoral system. Sure, Venezuela has had 19 elections in 15 years, how many of them were really fair? I don’t believe non violence protests are an option, not because I don’t want them, they would be the ideal way, but because the government has clearly proven they will not allow them. So are we screwed?

    I do believe that there needs to be a clear focus tho and specific requests as well, which is sorely lacking right now. How about asking for the list of the CADIVI thieves to be published? Concrete requests.

    We shall see……………

    (PS: Carnaval is next weekend, I don’t know if the protests will make it till then, people are tired, I’m not convinced it will make it past today’s massive protests to be honest. If it survives one more week and the 4 day weekend, then we’ll know how strong all of this really is).

    • Adriana
      Is non violence possible?
      Yes, it is definitely possible to conduct a non violent campaign.
      Is it possible to prevent the other side from using violence against us?
      Not really. Not at the beginning. That is actually one of the first goals of the non violent campaign. In other words, it is something that needs to be achieved by putting all possible pressure on the government. This is not possible if violence comes from both sides, because then on side can not be singled out as the promoter of violence.
      Ideally the presence of the military and police should be a guarantee of the integrity of the protesters against the rogue bands of paramilitary. That should be one of the first goals of the opposition because that would ensure the possibility of more public manifestations.

      “I sincerely believe that a way out through elections is next to impossible because there is no fairness or impartial justice in the electoral system.”

      The thinking should be: We cannot defeat the regime with a fair election because there are no fair elections. We need to first defeat the regime to then have a fair election.

      “I don’t know if the protests will make it till then, people are tired”

      And that is why I keep insisting that protests are fine but not indefinite, continuous protests. People need to rest, work, study, relax and live a little, whether they are in a democracy or a tyranny. Trying to do constant massive protests is like trying to run several marathons one after the other, it is impossible even for the best athletes.
      Giving the protests a rest doesn’t mean the whole thing died down, it means the opposition is pacing itself, administering their energies for the long haul. Besides there are many other non-violent methods that can be used:

      http://www.aforcemorepowerful.org/resources/nonviolent/methods.php

      • Very valid points Amieres, and I agree that would be the ideal way to go for all of this. I agree that violence is coming from both sides and it has to stop. The question is how do we get to that point? How do we transform this into a non violent movement if we can’t trust the police and the military to protect the integrity of the protesters? That’s the biggest challenge I see in this!

        • Very good question. To transform OUR MOVEMENT into a non violent movement we, all of us in the opposition, must repudiate all violence specially the one that appears to be coming from our side. No guarimbas, no molotovs, no barricades, no stone throwing, no fires and no cars, buildings or any property destroyed.

          If violence still happens they must be regarded as infiltrators:

          Of course that does not mean that the violent groups that support the government will do the same. The only way they are going to stop (or be stopped) is if the government pays a price for that violence. This may already be happening: http://www.noticierodigital.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1017700

          In the meantime the only protection is in numbers and organization. Small protests are easy target for those violent groups. Big protests in turn will make it harder and more risky to incur in violence because there will be more cameras to document what is happening. Well organized protests that bring large numbers of participants and make necessary the deployment of security forces, as long as the protests remain pacific, are safer for everyone involved.

  20. Martin Luther King’s Six Principles of Nonviolence

    1. One can resist evil without resorting to violence.
    2. Nonviolence seeks to win the ‘‘friendship and understanding’’ of the opponent, not to humiliate him.
    3. Evil itself, not the people committing evil acts, should be opposed.
    4. Those committed to nonviolence must be willing to suffer without retaliation as suffering itself can be redemptive.
    5. Nonviolent resistance avoids ‘‘external physical violence’’ and ‘‘internal violence of spirit’’ as well: ‘‘The nonviolent resister not only refuses to shoot his opponent but he also refuses to hate him’’ The resister should be motivated by love in the sense of the Greek word agape, which means ‘‘understanding,’’ or ‘‘redeeming good will for all men’’.
    6. The nonviolent resister must have a ‘‘deep faith in the future,’’ stemming from the conviction that ‘‘the universe is on the side of justice’’

    From Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Research and Education Institute

    http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/encyclopedia/enc_nonviolent_resistance

    • On the other hand MLK Jr. got assassinated and you’re sourcing his non-violent stance from one of the most communist learning universities in the USA

    • Martin Luther King was never in Venezuela. The opponents of Civil Rights for the most part, were civil persons and parties. It was the ignorant few and a slow moving democratically elected government composed of relatively intelligent and compassionate persons. Martin Luther King did not organize marches again gun toting, low level intelligent hired thugs and killers who considered themselves as having a right to shot and kill at will if provoked beyond a reasonable level.
      Rule 1. The United States government could hardly be considered as being ” evil ” when compared to Chavez and Maduro. Lets be fair and honest here !! There is a level of being resistant to change and down right Lucifer style evil.
      Rule 2. Again, you can not be serious in comparing the two levels of parties MLK wished to win over. If, for one second, you can consciously think of comparing Kennedy and Johnson to Chavez and Maduro, then you need serious help. There is no chance of winning the ” friendship and understanding ” of those repulsive human being and I assure you, I am giving them the credit in loose terms.
      How long do you think that MLK would have lasted if he was targeted as being opposed to the parties in authority. In Venezuela, he would have been arrested or shot within 48 hours. Instead he lasted 6 years and brought forth great long lasting and endurng changes.
      Oh, and one other very important thing to remember, MLK was fighting for the change of people’s vision of human right, he never advocated or was fighting for the overthrow of a dictatorial corrupt government composed of hired thugs and killers that are propping it up.
      Rule 3. Thank you, I agree 200 % with MLK. Evil itself is what needs and must be opposed. Cut the head off an evil chicken and see how long it lasts running around.
      Rule 4. That was al well and good some 50 years ago. The world was a much better place than it is today.
      The resistance to retaliation must be countered by the level and degree of force that is perpetrated by the aggressors in the beginning. It was not the unarmed demonstrators who caused the killings and beatings, it was the Maduro thugs and government army that escalated the violence and resistance. There was an old saying that went like this: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me !” That was back in a better times, now, as a result of technology, names do hurt and are very destructive. An old 80 year old lady marching for freedom and a ending to starvation and inept and repressive government is not a threat at any time to a heavily armed thug, but that is how Maduro looks upon it. MLK lived in a world that’s no longer exists !!!!!!
      Rule 5. Looking down the barrel of a high powered AK47 held by a thug who has as much conscience as a rattle snake, is no consolation when trying to reason with the gun totter. That killer will not be invited to my place for tea or coffee at any time and I would not be condemned for hating a person who has no qualms for killing anyone for very little reason at all. Again, another time, anther place and another circumstance than what MLK faced. Yes, he faced adversity but never to this level of hatred by a vengeful dictator.
      Rule 6. Did those who first opposed the Communists in Hungary, Poland, East Berlin and Germany and the rest of the Communist held nations have faith in the foreseeable future of their countries. Please, do not bring that up !! My dad helped in his own little way hundreds of Hungarians flee Commuinists on the 56 revolution. Take a look at those who were reunited with family members in the north and south Koreas after 50 years of separation. Is 50 years long enough to endure that pain in order to enjoy a few moments of reunification ??? I am sorry, but 15 years of this dictatorial, failed, socialist government is long enough !!

      My Rule 7. A PERSON CAN ONLY TAKE SO MUCH SHIT THROWN IN THWEIR FACE, AND THERE IS A TIME WHEN ONE HAS TO STAND UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT !! A PERSON MAY DIE AND THERE MAY EVEN BE THOUSANDS WHO MIGHT DIE, BUT IT IS FAR BETTER TO DIE AND BE AT ETERNAL PEACE THAN IT IS TO LOVE UNDER TYRANY AND OPPRESSION FOR THGE REST OF ONE’S MISERABLE LIFE ON THIS PLANET OF WORLD MORAL DECAY !!

      • “Martin Luther King was never in Venezuela. The opponents of Civil Rights for the most part, were civil persons and parties.”

        There’s the obsession that other’s had had it easier, when it’s just not true.

        In segregated southern US, there were organizations like the KKK (parmilitary to a degree) that lynched black people for sport, specially black leaders, and also harassed white activist that sought to bring attention to the plight of black people.

        Southern democrat politicians were, for the most part, rather adamant in their racist views. To the point that the first black students (children, teenagers, young men) to be integrated into white majority schools, had to be escorted by police or the military.

        There were laws designed to make it hard, if not impossible, for black people to vote and get elected. When a black person committed a crime against a white person, the jury would be white. The black population received worse public services (like education and healthcare). These were the Jim Crow laws.

        Read a little. Watch a movie. Maybe “Burning Missisipi” or “The Great Debaters” can give you a wider view of what segregation in the US meant, and what black people had to deal with.

    • “4. Those committed to nonviolence must be willing to suffer without retaliation as suffering itself can be redemptive.”

      So 15 years of that is NOT enough already?. That resembles an essay on masochism.

      “6. The nonviolent resister must have a ‘‘deep faith in the future,’’ stemming from the conviction that ‘‘the universe is on the side of justice’’ ”

      Yeah, full steam capriles on that one. With a little bit of conny mendez

  21. I think the problem is that the movement is mostly led by students. And no matter how intelligent they might be they still lack experience, and that makes a big difference.

    At this moment they don’t know they are making a mistake, they just know that there are shortages of basic staples, insecurity, lawlessness, etc., and nobody is doing anything about it, and it’s getting worse by the day. They think that opposition politicians are worthless and corrupt, and I tend to agree with them, their tactics have failed again and again, this is the only way they can make themselves be heard.

  22. Well, I’m not from Venezuela but based on the news I’ve seen so far, the only ones using real violence is the goverment. It seems so far that almost all the people dead or arrested were from the opposition. So you’re blaming the protesters for the violence of the government? Going backwards now will only legitimize the government actions. For each person killed by the government and its militias there must be thousands of more people in the streets. This is not about winning of losing elections. This is about demanding the minimum from the government. The right to not to be killed, tortured or arrested by it simply for doing opposition.These conditions must exist regardless of opinion polls.

    • Gustavo, if I get Francisco’s message right he doesnt oppose protests as such ,i.e the movilization of large group of protesters inside a city , but the so called ‘guarimbas’ which is the name given to barricades built by neighborhood people to shut their streets from traffic. and which remain manned by spontaneous neighborhood groups that fight to keep them closed !!. They are the ones which provoke the strongest govt reaction both from police and the armed bike riding thugs supporting the govt .
      Capriles has called for a stop to night protests which are the ones which are usually associated with the guarimbas !! So in fact Francisco is supporting the official oppo leadership position !!
      The hope is that by lessening the violence ( the govt violence) it will become possible to attract to the oppo band some Chavistas which are getting fed up with the govts many failuresa and which when exposed to oppo regime confrontations viscerally tend to reinforce their feelings of loyalty to the regime .!!.

  23. The students are great. They are truly innocent. They follow their gut. They have everything to lose and keep at it. Really admirable. All along my only worry has been, what will the government response be? What instructions are they giving their colectivos and who’s holding their leash? How many people will they hurt?

    I think you should be careful about your definition of violence. Violence can be a punch in the face or a twist of the arm. The government for one is surprisingly careful about how it applies violence. That is why they can play their fascist game of doublespeak with a straight face.

    The best analogy I can come up with for what you are witnessing is biblical: this is David vs Goliath. That is why it is so exasperating to watch. You know the kids are outgunned, that their chances are slim to none. But that is the beauty of youth, the excess of time and energy, the willingness to take on injustice without calculating the costs, the lust for change. Your bread-winning middle-aged father of two will not change Venezuela except at the elections. The students might trigger change sooner then that.

  24. Holding onto hope for “democratic transition?” is insane. Take those huge crowds and invade the Presidential Palace and Legislative buildings and throw the bums out. That is the only way you are going to stop them from killing a lot more people.

  25. There is a saying ” if you expect to be triumphant, you never take a knife to a gun fight. “. The army owns the guns, the army owns the resources, the army owns the infrastructure for winning. The people do not have any of those weapons of defence. The worst part being their lack of a realistic plan or tactic to come out on top. Just like a baby must first learn to crawl before it can ever expect to eventually run, so it is with the demonstrators.
    Tactic for success:
    Retreat, let things calm down, gather in small groups,( 500 – 1000 ) choose a spokesperson or leader for each area that the group comes from, draw up various tactics of revolution, set out to accumulate the means to defend and later fight. ( guns, ammunition, vehicles, heavy arms, anything can be stolen, uniforms of fallen army personnel, communication devices of all sorts, anything that can disrupt the armed forces, infiltrate the ranks of the government forces, become like sleeper cells in and outside of the present armed forces, accumulate power and set up diversionary incidents at the right time, then and only then set up a strike plan that only a few leaders know about so that there are few chances for leaked plans. Figure out what the weaknesses of the enemy are and play to those weaknesses.. You have the numbers, you have the cause, and you have the right to a decent life, living without fear.
    Then, at the right time, attack, take no prisoners, give no mercy. You cannot reason with dictators, you can not reason with low level intelligent thugs. Your purpose is just, Your purpose is true. Yes, people will die and those that do, should never be forgotten.
    Long live Venezuela and swift deaths to Maduro and the tyrants who are repression the populace of Venezuela. .

  26. The reality is people can only take so much until they fight back, violently if necessary. I hear what you say but how many bullets and beatings do you take until you shoot back. It’s human nature. As for the future, I don’t they are thinking about that. They are just fighting in the now. Somebody will inevitably step in and fill the void. It is crazy and chaotic and scary but I’m not sure there is any other way. I hear you but I have to disagree. Violence is merited in this case,

    • I’m afraid that’s the way it will be.

      Especially in the leadership vacuum. I still can’t believe that after Leopoldo Lopez gave himself up, everyone who went with him on Tuesday was left standing around, nonplussed, all dressed up and nowhere to go as it were. It makes him seem as big an egoist as he’s reputed to be, obviously he didn’t share his plan or coordinate with any of his colleagues in the opposition.

      The problem is that if they five up the guarimbas, roadblocks, nightly protests and go back to university or work, the supermarkets are still empty, the hospitals still have no drugs, and you still can’t go out at night or take out your mobile phone in the street. There’s still nothing to show for all the effort.

  27. Unless the government makes a credible demonstration of wanting to talk and negotiate, stopping now would be a mistake. Credible signs of a sincere disposition toward dialogue would be things like:

    Agree to naming new INDEPENDENT rectors of the CNE
    Appoint an opposition politician in the government
    Free all political prisoners
    Prosecute those responsible for human rights violations

    I hope Capriles will take these or similar demands to Miraflores next Monday.
    If they continue to see us as slaves, if they continue to deny our right to live free in our country, then there can be no end to the protest. They want to be the masters of us all, and there never was a dialogue between masters and a slaves. There are no pacts between lions and men.

    • I would tweak your proposal a little bit. I don’t like signs or promises from the government, I would like to see actual results. I don’t like dialog, that implies a negotiation with the government. That means concessions in exchange for promises. The opposition should not negotiate the right to protest. They can agree in a framework for pacific protest free of harassment from the “colectivos” and with protection from the police, instead of repression.

      Apart from that the opposition must continue to demonstrate with protests and other non violent actions as long as there are grievances but in a rationed way. Not an all out protest until the government falls.

      About the four points, I like 3 of them although not as promises but as real actions.
      1.- Instead of just agreeing to naming independent rectors I want to see the actual independent rectors named through a transparent process and taking their posts.
      2.- I DO NOT like having an opposition politician in government. In my view it muddies the responsibilities.
      3.- Free All political prisoners. Like.
      4.- Prosecution is fine as long as the process is transparent and conducted by independent judges. I’ll believe it when I see it, not before.

      I would put a more immediate demand: stop criminalizing and repressing the protests and start protecting them.

      In my view stopping the guarimbas and continuous street protests is not the same as stopping the non violent struggle. Instead it is akin to pacing it so that it can last in the medium and long term without paralyzing the whole country which is undesirable and unsustainable in time.

      Now that there is no opposition media and no elections coming soon, the non violent struggle has a different character. Before, the election made the disgruntled society pause in their actions to give a chance to the politicians to do their campaign and hopefully sway enough people to break the electoral gridlock. Now when that possibility doesn’t exist then the disgruntled cannot wait and need an outlet for their frustration. So protests and other demonstrations are the result but they cannot burn all the energy in just one try. The opposition should organize for the long haul.

  28. Wait and see? What a joke. That kind of posturing is exactly what got us into our current predicament. How long have you been waiting? Five years? Ten years? Fifteen years? So much armchair politics is nauseating while students are being brutalized and the GNB is shooting into residential areas. Don’t compare apples to oranges. Stones aren’t bullets.

    El que se cansa pierde.

      • Fíjense, se que es fácil quedar embobado con los videos de Youtube, es fácil emocionarse con la increíble valentía de los gochos. Enfrentar una dictadura militar no es juego de niños, y ninguno con gusto por la libertad puede dejar de sentirse conmovido por su heroísmo. A mi tampoco me da la gana una dictadura igualita a la cubana.

        Aún así, hay cosas que hay que decir y decir con fuerza: basta de coqueteos con la violencia. No más cócteles molotov, no más trampas de alambre en la calle. No más uso de fuegos artificiales como armas. Ni un muerto más, coño.

        No podemos dejar que nuestro juicio se nuble con el chorro de dopamina que nos dan esos videos en YouTube. Este movimiento o se toma la no-violencia en serio o fracasa.

        La excitación momentánea de la guarimba se irá diluyendo, como es inevitable. Cuando eso pase, ¿tendremos una Venezuela más cercana a una transición democrática, o más lejana?

        Pensar a largo plazo no es exactamente el “fuerte” de un movimiento genuinamente auto-convocado, y que no espera ni reporta a ninguna de las estructuras tradicionales de lo que se llama comúnmente “oposición”. Pero necesitamos bajarnos de esa nube: poner una guarimba y prenderle candela no es una estrategia, es violencia. No tener un liderazgo unido y claro no es una ventaja, es una desventaja.

        Un movimiento sin dirección es un movimiento que no puede maniobrar, no puede tomar decisiones inteligentes, no puede replegarse tácticamente cuando sea necesario, o sacrificar una meta sabroza de corto plazo por una meta más sostenible a largo plazo.

        Pedirle a los guarimberos que se imaginen al país que tendremos dentro de tres meses, no debería ser demasiado. Vamos a dale, (Podemos regresar en Mayo y ver que tanto me pelé.)

        Si las tácticas violentas no son eliminadas de inmediato, para Mayo lo más probable es que:

        1. Alguna versión de normalidad y calma haya sido recuperada en las calles
          Algunos estudiantes líderes del movimiento estarán en la cárcel, probablemente al lado de algunos políticos locales importantes
        2. San Cristóbal estará bajo tutela militar, implícita o explícita
        3. El SiBCI le echará la culpa del desastre económico entero al “intento de golpe de Estado fascista de Febrero”
        4. Esa línea de propaganda del SiBCI será ampliamente creíble para muchos cuyo apoyo a la oposición, será necesario para conducir el país hacia una democracia de nuevo
        5. El estándar de lo que es aceptable reportar por parte de los medios locales e internacionales que se ha impuesto este mes, se convertirá en “la nueva norma”
        6. Se habrán olvidado de Leopoldo López, excepto por uno o dos activistas de VP en su timeline de Twitter que pongan recordatorios diarios de que está encarcelado injustamente y que no podemos dejarlo solo, y que será retuiteado solo por otros partidarios de VP
        7. Cualquier mínimo conato de protesta por cualquier cosa será aplastado de manera más brutal que como era en Enero, usando el argumento de “no podemos repetir los eventos de Febrero” como un pretexto multi-uso para las violaciones al debido proceso.
        8. La gente con visión crítica en las zonas chavista tengan muchas más dificultades para expresar sus ideas.

        No quiero ser el malo. Llevo toda la semana llorando porque es doloroso ver a gente que uno admira tanto, cometiendo errores tan graves.

        Pero hay que entender que Maduro no reprime las protestas porque se sienta amenazado por ellas. Él las reprime porque cree activamente en una sociedad que no incluye el derecho a la protesta.

        El no censura a los medios porque amenacen su estabilidad en el poder. El los censura porque es abiertamente hostil a la libertad de expresión.

        El control dictatorial no es un medio para ellos, es un fin por sí mismo. Y crear caos en las calles le da más fuerza a quienes siempre han buscado imponerlo.

        Se que es difícil, porque no hay un líder único. Es difícil que alguna persona que pueda ordenar que todo este caos acabe, o cambiar de táctica, y se que eso lo hace más difícil. Pero la próxima vez que vea a un encapuchado hablando de que esto es pacífico, aquello es pacífico mientras atiende su guarimba, voy a tener una aneurisma.

        Cesen y desistan.

        Hay demasiado en juego.

  29. So its now that Toro comes out against violence? After half a dozen people are dead and the country is in flames, it is NOW that Toro decides violence isn’t a good tactic? Hmmm. But he still supports the unconstitutional overthrow of the democratically elected government, a government that has won 3 elections in the last 18 months, by the way. How many other governments can say that? Glad you are staying consistent to you undemocratic convictions at least.

    Way to stand up against the violence after your political leaders provoked it. Same as last year’s post elections protests right?

    Oh, and just to preempt your idiotic response about the unfair balance of power between the police and the students. Guess what…. THAT’S HOW IT WORKS IN EVERY COUNTRY ON THE PLANET!! Can you name a country in which the police do NOT have disproportionate level of force over street protestors? This is how democratic societies function. This is how order is maintained and how violent protesters who are breaking the law, and burning things in the streets are dealt with. Or did you think police wouldn’t respond with force if you started burning things in the streets of Washington DC?

    • Can you name a country in which the police do NOT have disproportionate level of force over street protestors?

      Can you name a country in which paramilitary goons, a.k.a. “colectivos,” DO NOT have a disproportionate level of force over street protestors?

      My answer: nearly every country, except Venezuela.

    • First of all, it would be great if it was only the police breaking the protests.

      Second, I guarantee you that much larger protests in civilized countries rarely result in casualties among protesters, specially casualties caused by firearms. In my country, Brazil, which is hardly the most civilized nation in the world, there were much larger and long protests that caused much more property destruction. Even the palace of the foreign ministry was attacked. Not a single protester was killed by the police. No one was ever arrested under charges of simply calling the protests.

      • The size of the protest is not what matters. The violence does. When people among the protestors are armed, then it inevitably results in cross-fire between police and civilians. How else do you think people on both sides have been killed? How do you think 11 Chavistas were killed by opposition protesters after last years elections?

        • As far as I know only one chavista was killed in last week protests. He was a well-known member of a colectivo. I imagine he wasn’t distributing flowers to the opposition. So I don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • Of course you don’t know what I’m talking about because you’re immersed in opposition propaganda. There have been several chavistas killed, including some decapitated by opposition groups hanging wire on the roadways. There was also a chavista shot and killed two days ago in Barquisimeto as he was removing rubble from the roadway. And what about the 11 dead after the elections last year? Those peaceful opposition protesters! I guess the Chavistas are just killing themselves.

        • Provide any evidence of a protestor shooting. There are dozens of videos and pictures of colectivo and state forces using and wielding guns from the last week. Ultimas Noticias, not exactly an oppo newspaper, documented clearly who was doing the shooting on 12F. Their pictures/video plainly show the colectivo that day was killed by the same person who also shot a protestor, a plainclothes govt gunman. That’s why Maduro was forced to say on TV that the intelligence services were acting against his orders by being at the march.

          Regarding last year, 11 Chavistas killed? First of all, get your propaganda straight, your man Maduro himself said it was 8. Among those 8, the father of the only one who was ever named said his son was not a Chavista and had been killed protesting against the stolen election.

          Those on this blog are well informed on what is going on in Venezuela. Take your lies elsewhere, somewhere where you might have better luck, maybe the comment section of CNN.com or some other place.

  30. It is not necessarily true in all cases that violence generates violence: if it were always true then it would be impossible to have peaceful demonstrations when the Tupamaros are shooting at an unarmed population

  31. The colectivo guy was shot by an off uniform govt goon part of the bodyguard detail of the Interior Ministry who also shot a protester ( the govt says the same gun shot both) , the guy got found out through a filmed report by a local newspaper owned by private interests with links to the govt . understand he is in jail. Another protester by the name of Redman was shot in La Castellana by a collective on a motorbike who shot a loose machinegun barrage hitting 4 people, at least two injured and one death from a shot in the head. One was an engineer who was protesting in La Calendaria and got shot by a GN , he had just got hired by a german firm to work in germany. Yet another victrim was a young girl who was protesting in front of her house and who was chased by a GN riding motorbike with two metal shrapnel shots, one which felled her and another right in the face . (died this morning) , Another protestor was killed in Carupano by the driver of a govt vehicle who run him over. The rest I have no information.

  32. Quico lets be honest here for a second: To expect thing to go other wise would violate Nash equilibrium; you cannot possibly expect for the angry masses to think strategically. They have been saying “Chavez vete ya” for 15 years, it should be painfully obvious right now that we as an opposition are incapable of long term thinking. Thus we are trapped on an eternal prisoner’s dilemma, there is the long term goal, but those who betray it and who offers dreams of quick solution are bounded to get short term gains: Hence the Leopoldo Lopezes of this country will run at the opportunity to tell the base what they want to hear in exchange of quick recognition: that we can get rid of these people right now by protesting and burning and that we- will -win-very-soon-so-hang-in-there .
    Capriles tried to stick to the plan, and he was called a coward and a queer. We cannot even stop our own members from sharing obviously fake tweets from diosadado: when are infinitely drawn by our own confirmation bias, rational thinking becomes impossible.
    What ever you do or say, there will be more burning of tires, more molotov cocktails,more deaths and then May will inevitably come.
    If we are to win, it would have to be from the bottom of Nash pit hole of hell, not after rising above it.

    • It has happened in the past. The angry masses may not be able to think strategically but the leaders can.
      Think Gandhi for instance. Breaking the cycle of violence is not easy but not impossible either. Venezuela has not fallen into that cycle yet.

      • Not sure Ghandi is a good example because in India the mass of the population was united in its pursuit of independence against a foreign colonial regime which after all belonged to a culture which prized fair play and having a goody goody puritan conscience. In Venezuela today the country is evenly divided and the govt has absolutely no respect for fairness and instead idolizes violent abuse and absolute power . Maybe a better example, one closer to our situation is Ghandis failed effort after independence of trying to unite the muslim and hindi factions into one united Country.

        Not sure that at some future point in time some measured violence will not be needed to push for a regime change , its just that currently conditions dont make it convenient. However much we oppose violence and put our faith in passive resistance with a regime such as governs us , we cant totally rule out that at some point in time people will just have to act to achieve the restoration of their freedom.

        I fervently hope that we never get to that !!

        • “a foreign colonial regime which after all belonged to a culture which prized fair play and having a goody goody puritan conscience”

          You don’t create an empire where the sun doesn’t set by not being ruthless against dissension. I posted a link to the movie Ghandi below check the time bookmarks I posted later. Specifically look for:

          1:25:15 But the British were civilized, not brutal at all.

          • The ruthlesness that created the empire in the XVIII and XIX Century had by the 30’s and early 40’s of the XX century weakened quite a bit , so much so that by the mid 40’s and 50’s the Brits pretty much decided to dissolve their empire on their own initiative . Dont think that in a few years time the Chavista regime will declare itself defunct from a conviction that people should be allowed to lead free lives !!

          • Right and there were two world wars that contributed to that.

            But the original point is the assertion that you cannot expect the masses to act strategically and in India they did. Regardless of how much you think that contributed to their liberation, the fact remains that a population of 350 million people, most of them very poor and illiterate, with profound differences between them, with high propensity for violence, they managed to act very disciplined and very strategically because of their leaders.

            That is why I think that Ghandi is a good example that it is possible to break from that Nash equilibrium. The Nash equilibrium is based on the presumption that all players are maximizing their benefits based on the equilibrium strategies of the other players. So no player has any benefit in changing their strategy and they reach an equilibrium. But Ghandi found a different strategy that broke that equilibrium, the reason is he thought outside the box, when everyone was thinking violence is the most powerful weapon, he discovered non violence can be more powerful.

          • Amieres: Im always a bit doubtful about the rationality of the masses or of most common people for that matter , Moreover passions and irrational thinking are specially prevalent whenever religious or political issues are concerned . Only very smart people on lucky occassions will act smart and even then they will be prone to errors and misjudgements .!! Not saying that violence is the only way nor that Ghandi’s ideas are impracticable in all circumstances only that they are not an infallible ‘cure all’ formula for whatever conflicts arise between a ruler and part of those it governs , specially where the rulers is ruthless , totally unscrupulous and has a third of the people fanatically on its side .

            If Ghandi would have had to fight against Stalin or Hitler NOT likely that india would have gained independence solely from following the ideals of civil disobedience, specially if all muslims had given their total alligeance to their colonial rule .

            Power as Hannah Arendt taught has nothing to do with violence but with people uniting together in pursuit of a common goal . To the extent people unite in forming a strong critical mass of militant opposition to the Regime , violence may be avoided and the regime defeated . Unity is Power and thats where Capriles message comes in.!!

          • “Ghandi’s ideas … are not an infallible ‘cure all’ formula for whatever conflicts arise between a ruler and part of those it governs”

            Of course, there are no magic bullets. Non violence is not a recipe and results are not guaranteed. Just like with violence proper strategic and tactical use of the different tools is necessary to obtain good results. In that sense there are good and bad ‘generals’ of non violent struggle.

            “…specially where the rulers is ruthless , totally unscrupulous”

            I don’t know about that. I tend to think is just the opposite.
            I mean in a struggle situation you have 3 options:
            1.- Use violence
            2.- Use non violence
            3.- Do nothing
            Against a ruthless unscrupulous tyrant maybe 3 is the best option. But if you do decide to fight, I think you would have much better possibilities with non violence than with violence. I mean violence against someone ruthless and well equiped will translate into a massacre (think Siria or even Lybia).

            (This quote is from your previous comment)
            “However much we oppose violence and put our faith in passive resistance …”

            Passive resistance is not non violence, is more like option 3.- Do Nothing.

            Watch the movie Ghandi (below) at 1:16:42 “I for one have never advocated passive anything”

          • “Power as Hannah Arendt taught has nothing to do with violence but with people uniting together in pursuit of a common goal”

            Correct, and that unity is only possible through non violence. When a conflict turns violent the majority of active supporters suddenly withdraw and cease their active support.

  33. Let’s all go and march and deliver a letter with our demands.
    Let’s ask for the release of 5 guys who shouldnt be in jail and lets let them keep falling and crumbling for another 15 years.

  34. Non-violence is only effective against an oponent with some moral feelings. Gandhi and Martin Luther King were not fighting hardocore commies.

    • It is a common misconception but not true. Non violent struggle has been waged successfully against brutal regimes.

      Even the Soviet Union fell in one swoop in 1989, government after government, all brutal, fell without violence.

      from: http://www.nonviolent-conflict.org/index.php/what-is-icnc/icnc-frequently-asked-questions

      “4. Can nonviolent conflict work against brutal opponents and in highly oppressed societies?

      Some of the 20th century’s harshest oppressors were removed through nonviolent conflicts.

      In Chile, General Augusto Pinochet tortured and killed thousands of dissidents, but a nonviolent movement developed a way to topple him.

      The apartheid regime in South Africa made public assemblies in black townships illegal and threatened or even assassinated nonviolent organizers, but the indigenous nonviolent resistance was still able to shatter the regime’s internal and international support.

      In the Philippines, over 70 opposition workers were killed before the 1986 election, but people still successfully organized and nonviolently dislodged dictator Ferdinand Marcos from power soon afterwards.

      And the Solidarity movement in Poland opened up oppositional space where little had previously existed, both before and after the communist regime imposed martial law.

      One of the key reasons why these and other nonviolent movements were effective against their brutal adversaries is because they undermined the reliable support that many of the key groups in society—including the state’s security forces—had provided to the oppressive regime. Once a nonviolent movement is able to do this, a society can become ungovernable for the existing regime, and a transition to new rulers or a new system can begin.

      Those who do not understand that nonviolent conflict works in this way tend to dismiss its achievements, but millions—who no longer live under dictatorships, or under other oppressive systems dissolved by nonviolent strategies—would not agree.”

        • I tried to paste the Gandhi movie links starting at the proper time but I do not think it worked.
          Anyway there are great lessons in this movie:

          0:55:00 Meeting room politicians: “Here, we make speeches for each other…”
          1:11:48 Defiance and public and international pressure
          1:16:42 “passive nothing”
          1:22:00 When the non violent campaign turned into riots
          1:25:15 But the British were civilized, not brutal at all
          1:34:30 “Negotiations” Gandhi style: “it is time you left”
          1:44:45 A stupid provocation turns into major violence
          1:55:52 On trial and jail again: “Non cooperation with evil is a duty”
          2:04:15 Salt, a show to provoke a response: “they are not in control, we are”
          2:12:50 Another massacre (just mentioned): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qissa_Khwani_Bazaar_massacre

          You’ll notice many of the nonviolent actions were creative, provocative, for public exposure, for show, but at the same time they implied great risks and sacrifices, because the opponent had no problems using violence. Also the struggle was not quick or easy but it was mostly peaceful and eventually succesful.

  35. Reasons to avoid a passive strategy:

    1. We don’t know for how long will we still have relatively unrestricted access to the Internet, our only means for communication and coordination

    2. We cannot wait until the government succeeds at taking full control of the direct importation of foodstuffs and medicines as they are planning to do; they most definitely will use this power to punish political dissent

    3. It is OBVIOUS this government is NOT prepared to handle the imminent economic crisis. We should take this opportunity to turn our movement into a generalized expression of outright rejection that includes all sectors of society. “Never let a serious crisis go to waste”

      • I agree, but that requires a level of discipline and organization that we just don’t have. We should have started YEARS AGO building the capacity to implement that strategy. It took Otpor at least 5 years to overthrow Milosevic. We did not create that capacity. At this moment, we have neither the organization nor the time nor the leadership to achieve that. They, instead, are in the very last stages of their plan to turn Venezuela into another Cuba. This is a critical moment. It is now or never. We either reclaim our country or we resign.

        • And I suppose an insurgent guerrilla army doesn’t take years in training?

          We don’t have the training for either option. But armed rebellion requires weaponry we also don’t have and armed struggle put us on a stronger disadvantage towards a state with army, navy, air force, national guard, national police and some regional and local police too.

          Armed rebellion is also harder to symphatize with, and doesn’t end all that well look at Syria: the rebels stared too long into the abyss and now the choice is secular dictatorship (Bashar al Assad)vs islamic dictatorship (Al Qaeda affiliated rebels). Sandinismos was also an armed solution to dictatorship. Castro-Communism was an armed solution to dictatorship. Once they win, you may not like what they guys you support have become.

          On the other hand, non-violence is what made the current inroads into the international media, not guarimbas and certainly not wires around poles.

          • That’s the ultimate violent approach. I don’t suppose burning tires and playing hide and seek with the military is a viable non-peaceful strategy for regime change.

            Or do you think we should go with a mixed approach and, paraphrasing Che, create two, three, many Tachiras for the government?

        • We have to start sometime. The proper leadership is the hard part to find. I think Capriles may be it. Discipline seems hard but if the Indians could do it I don’t see why Venezuelans couldn’t. Indians were not pacifists they were 350 million mostly illiterate peasants and were very divided between themselves and yet were able to do it.

  36. The only one able to stop the protests is the government itself. I hope they realize this and do the right thing. It is in their own best interest.

  37. Quico, have you changed your mind about not having a leader to steer this movement in the right direction, rather than stopping it, after Capriles’ speech yesterday?

  38. I guess Im for trying anything that works , If active non violence works then lest try it, see where it leads us . If it doesnt lead anywhere , then other strategies may have to be examined , I suspect that many different approaches may have to be used at different times under different conditions . Protests in any event are here to stay , they will subside for a while , rise up again, (as living conditions worsen) , be repressed , reappear again and again and again until something happens . Protests will take different forms , be more peaceful , more aggresive, depending on results . Dont believe in magic recipes for a changing unpredictable future , time will tell , the thing is to never give up !!

  39. A few more comments:

    1.- Those who propose “active resistance” should be forthright about the fact that such strategy DOES NOT rule out violence. On the contrary, it invites violence from the repressive forces to be effected on those who participate in demonstrations. “Ni un muerto mas” will not happen just because we follow “active resistance”. Far from it.

    2.- The argument that the government has all the guns is deceptive. The American army was infinitely better equipped than the Viet Cong. They still lost the war…

    3.- There is no reason why resistance and “agency” should not be used together. Actually, there is reason to believe that using both would be more effective than using each exclusively. This approach could be used to set the context of negotiations.

    4.- Although there is no clear or undisputed leadership in the opposition, effective coordination may occur spontaneously under certain circumstances. Oppo leaders should read well what is happening. I have a little bit of hope that everything that is happening has been anticipated.

  40. There are some fascinating posts coming out about what happened on the streets in Ukraine. Here are two that might provide some food for thought in Venezuela:
    http://euromaidanpr.wordpress.com/2014/02/22/eyewitness-account-peaceful-march-turned-bloody/#more-2747 – Discusses government violence against a peaceful protest
    http://euromaidanpr.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/one-rebels-story-from-hrushevskiy-street-in-ukraine/ – Account of street fighting, some comments on violent confrontation vs. peaceful protest, demonstrates how many citizens came together — all fulfilling different roles — to win the fight
    Suerte

  41. If any of the things you say will happen in May do happen, then we failed in maintaining “el que se cansa pierde”. Once we’ve started, we can’t stop. Informational campaigns have to be also added to the movement to get more people into it.

    • Oops… A so called fascist coup attempt (bwhahaha), o en cristiano, la nueva y flamante excusa que acompañará al régimen hasta el final de sus días (?) junto al Paro Petrolero, el Golpe de Estado de 2002 y, quizá, el Descubrimiento de América y el Natalicio de un tal Adam Smith…

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