In the middle of a heavily repressed state of civil unrest that has been both magnified as a continued coup and minimized as a handful of trouble makers not worth missing a holiday for, Maduro launched his National Peace Conference. The conference was of course forcefully broadcast by every TV and radio station. In this conference, not a single one of the key stake-holders attended. If the goal is to achieve peace, then this is a terrible start. But of course, it is not peace what the government seeks – it is all a PR matter.
On the government side, the PSUV Troika, the President, the President of the Supreme Tribunal and the President of the National Assembly, among other lesser bureaucrats. The Minister of Interior and Justice and the General Prosecutor did not attend. On the opposition side a a couple of deputies, a mayor, and two major businessmen: Jorge Roig from Fedecámaras, and Lorenzo Mendoza from Polar.
No victims. No political leaders. No students.
What makes me so frustrated is that dialogue is the only way out, but dialogue must be sincere, and it has yet to be. Just a few days after this conference, 41 students were detained for protesting.
If honest dialogue is what the government wants, then they should bring it to a parliament geared for that or perhaps, appoint a national unity government.
Instead, what we saw was a show. It was the Troika looking for a picture to show Maduro’s “magnanimity.” And in this tasks both Roig and Mendoza were useful fools.
First, these guys are nothing but symbols. The first represents private interest, while the second represents a brand. Polar is not even close to being the most important company in the country, but it does have brand recognition. Chavismo’s elite has made sure that both Polar and Fedecamaras are seen as the root cause of all evils, has blamed them with no evidence for causing the people all kinds of perils, insulted them, and demonized them. In spite of all that, these two fools go along and lend themselves for a photo op, not for peace.
What makes me even more frustrated are the demands from the students to willfully participate on this show: a debate with Maduro on national TV.
Dear students: let me give you some advice. You will be conceded your meeting on national TV, and be sure that the setting will be such that your probabilities of success will be next to zero. Because like with Roig and Mendoza, you will get a few minutes, while the media hegemon will be blasting the government’s version 24/7.
And so, with no clear prospects for peace, with no actors willing to bog down and engage in peace, the violence continues. It continues in the form of physical repression and verbal aggression. As Barrera Tyszka brilliantly puts it:
“The repressive actions we have seen these weeks its on its [chavismo’s] speech. There, they sum 15 years of verbal violence that power has exercised against diversity. That body of words that has dominated the official language for years. That sign of chavismo, the fist that repeatedly hits an opened hand, is expressing itself today in a natural way trough the actions of the National Guard. We have to turn them into a soothing lotion. Hit them with the fist. Hit them with the helmet. Hit them with the gun. The deserve it. They are escuálidos. They have no fatherland. They are murderers.
I am going to hit you hard and without mercy, but I am going to talk about love. Power’s language seems incoherent and confused, its statements make no sense. But they legitimize day by day what their mortal, direct actions tell us. It can’t be a dialogue in Miraflores while there is deafness in the streets.”
And it is all logical. It is a show to maintain governance with next to zero concessions.