Venezuela's perilous path to dialogue


Maduro saluda CaprilesWhen The Daily Beast asked me for another post, I decided to touch upon why it is so hard for Venezuelans from different sides of the aisle to sit down and talk. Much of it has to do with the toxic rhetoric that lies at the heart of the revolution, as I explain.

The value added:

Chávez defined the revolution both in form and substance. While he could be a chameleon on the international stage, he was never a man of dialogue on the domestic front. The instances when Chávez actually met with opponents were few, and some were rarely publicized. There are only a handful of pictures of Chávez and his opponents online. The tone that he set was that the opposition was not a force to engage with, but “fascist” “pigs” who had to be “crushed and pulverized.”

Now, human beings are rational. But even the most rational politician will find it difficult to deal with an opponent who repeatedly vows to “crush” you. While the lack of dialogue has many roots, the dehumanizing rhetoric at the heart of the revolution is one of its main causes.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. The moment the government goes down to true dialogue, it will not be in good faith; it will be because the circumstances forced it to do so. That’s what most people need to realize.

    • Exactly, and for the same reason the opposition should never sit down to dialogue with the government. Except to convey their grievances and demands, the people demands. No negotiated concessions.

  2. I totally agree, Juan. That is the core of the problem, and Chávez was the first to install that type of behavior.

    BTW, if my memory serves me well, that picture with MCM corresponds to him saying the sentence “Ávila no caza mosca, diputada”, to belittle her comments…..

  3. A truly revolutionary movement, be it communist, nazist or fascist, per definition, will desire to erradicate the opposition. While social-democrats will desire to “dialogue” with the opposition, fascists (Chavistas) won’t. To believe that they will some day is naive. Under a dictatorahip, what “others” (oppositionists) think is irrelevant. The dialogue in a dictaorship should always be held INSIDE the nomenklatura, never outside. The ones who start “dialoguing” with outsiders will be seen as “traitors plotting”, and will also be crushed by the ruling elite.

  4. Maduro thinks a 51% electoral win (under conditions skewed in his favour), entitles him to rule Venezuela as if opposition supporters do not exist. Defining his opponents as “fascist Chuckys” rhetorically removes them from the human race, and consequently from any expectation that they should be afforded “human” rights.

    Annihilation of one’s opponent in speech-acts does not always precede episodes of physical annihilation. But sometimes it does, and is intended to.

    • “Annihilation of one’s opponent in speech-acts does not always precede episodes of physical annihilation.”
      Almost more than 200.000 murders in the last 15 years don’t tell you that we’re been butchered by the regime?
      Dude, the dehumanizing speech started the very day the wax doll took the power, and the same year the murder rate started to soar in Venezuela, it’s not a coincidence.

      • No, you cannot say that the general murder rate resulted from Chavista rhetoric, directed at “escualidos”, ie. mostly middle class people. The general murder rate isn’t targetted in this way, but includes many many people on the Chavista side of the divide.

        Of course the Chavista government is politically responsible for the rise in the murder rate, but that is mostly because of policy failures, not rhetoric.

  5. Sure, I also agree with you.

    What really frustrates me the most with all this stuff is the absolute, astonishingly immense wobbliness of the concept “dialogue” and the related concept of “debate” in the Americas…and actually most of the world most of the time.

    One thing we need to speak out: every single movement that has come through violence and there I include groups that go from Lenin to Pinochet to Idi Amin and Chávez have always eschewed open – I repeat – OPEN dialogue with clear rules of discussion and a real public.

    This happens even within the European Union institutions themselves.

    Chavismo has dehumanized the opposition time after time. It has emasculated the National Assembly.

    What worries me the most on our side are two things

    1) our opposition leaders haven’t known how to explain this to the outside world in clear terms. They would only need to show how the state channels, the president of the National Assembly and other state officials portray them, for instance

    2) we haven’t put forward a public proposal of what requisites there should be for a dialogue to take place (not prerequisites like liberation of prisoners and so on, which is another topic).

    The reason for this, I think, is that Venezuelans hardly got experience with real debate. Hell, even Spaniards have been learning about it in the past few decades.

    • Kepler, forget debate. What is going on is a new generation decides to take its future in its own hands. Scary stuff my friend. They have no respect for the PSUV, the MUD and all others over 25 year old drooling over politics. Will they wreck the country as it is? I hope so. Time for serious change.

    • Keppler,

      Very interesting point! I totally agree, “Venezuelans hardly got experience with real debate” Would add critical reasoning to that!

  6. Bravo, Juan. And I agree. I have long agreed. Why haven’t more leaders of oppo and business stripes figured that one out, before now?

    I don’t even think a third way, or a third-party mediator is possible. Los ánimos están muy caldeados. And we are yet close enough to a horizon with Maduro and his combo out of power. Or so I think.

  7. Dialogue requires peace and peace can never be had without justice.Where there is no intention to establish justice , there is no intention to establish peace, and no possibility of dialogue.

    A truce is something else.

  8. I totally agree with Juan on this one . Juan has hit the nail squarely on the head , Chavez never held to any view other than his goal was the destruction of any opposition so he could establish absolute rule over the country , He might give them a bit more rope or give them a bit less rope but ultimately the idea is to use the rope to hang them . Thats still the view of his succesors They dont do politics or dialogue , they do war , war to the death , thats their ration d’etre and to delude oneself into thinking that they will engage in any consequential dialogue is folly . Maybe they will sweet talk people to collaborate with them temporarily, in order to gain time in difficult circumsntances , but once they feel strong enough they will go ahead with their plans to bury the opposition . Dialogue might lead to a kind of truce but thats it .

  9. A friend of mine just said this morning something that I quite like:

    Impriman tarjeta que diga “disculpe Ud., pero me parece que está hablando mucha PAJA”. Plastificar y mostrar discretamente para ahorrar energías

    • I had one as a teenager, which read, “I’m a bit of a BULLSHITTER myself, but go on with your story, I”m listening.”

  10. Dialogue in this context connotes bargaining among unequals. Until Maduro and co understand that their fates may depend on negotiation, dialogue will just be talk.

  11. In addition to any other conditions for dialogue, the Opposition should insist that it be televised “en cadena”. Closed door talks produce nothing.

  12. Dialog is not always a good thing. Those that internationally espouse dialog right now is because they want to see things calm down. They don’t care about a positive resolution of the issues in Venezuela just that things stop being so difficult… for them. While there is turmoil in Venezuela they feel they are obligated to do or say something and that makes them uncomfortable.

    Negotiations are only possible from a position of power where you can enforce the agreements. With chavismo that is not possible and they have no honor. For them a negotiation is just a pantomime with the purpose of gaining time and whitewashing their image, to comeback later and counterattack. Is the famous two steps forward, one step back of Chavez.

  13. Maduro just told a joke on national TV & radio about a gorilla in Africa that raped Capriles. I no I’m not making this shit up.

    • I ask this, not of you personally, ErneX, but in general: do you think Maduro REALLY wants a dialogue??

      Leonardo Padrón ‏@Leonardo_Padron
      Se cansó de insultar a @hcapriles y luego dijo que sólo lo recibía si iba con respeto. En fin.

      • This is what Capriles gets for continuing to be a “nice guy”, and to think that talking to them will get anywhere substantive.

        • Remember that movie Chucky of the evil doll that comes to life and kills? well he made up this name for Capriles.

          chuki loco = Leopoldo
          chuki loca = Maria Corina
          chuki luki = Capriles

          • The Chavista allegory for our times of the 20,000 lb. gorilla (Maduro), and the Three Chukies (sic) (fascist sifrino hijo/as de papi y mami that destroy all in their path): Chuki Loca (loca.because she thinks she can achieve real change, be it in the Asamblea, or in the streets) ; Chuki Loco (loco, because he turned himself in, confiding in the impartiality of Venezuelan justice); and Chuki Luki (lucky, because he barely sqeezed by in the last Miranda Governorship elections). BTW, as for Maduro’s Capriles/African gorilla joke, Capriles wasn’t raped, since he voluntarily gave himself up, in order to save his (presumably political) life….

  14. Dear JC THE ONLY part that I take LOTS of umbrage with in your art for the daily beast is “and some even say, tortured” it sounds/ reads extremely iffy in the face of the at least 59 cases of documented torture cases in the hands of el Foro Penal Venezolano. And in the hands of Geneva. UN
    PLEASE CONTACT delphine patetif @dpatetif a human rights lawyer in Geneva interested in Venezuela.
    Gonzalo Himiob @himiobsantome and @alfredoromero.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here