We have learned nothing [UPDATE]

we have learned nothing, not in 12,000 thousand years"
we have learned nothing, not in 12,000 thousand years"
“we have learned nothing, not in 12,000 thousand years”

As Venezuela slides deeper into the dictatorial morass, the protest movement is setting off a major political crisis. It just happens that that crisis isn’t inside the government, it’s inside the opposition. Don’t believe me? Then let me tell you about the the epic PJ/VP tantrum of last Saturday.

It came in two three parts, both of them off-script.

First, a group of so-called-students managed to get around the tarima’s security set-up, take the stage, grab the mic and launch into an sad, embarrassing rant featuring lines like “With this glove we take the tear gas canisters and throw’em back”.

Secondly, Lilian Tintori hustled her way through the crowd and within her Voluntad Popular’s entourage, no other than, the “fugitive” Carlos Vecchio.

[UPDATE] Third, for some reason Capriles didn’t follow any of the pre-established plans and instead of leaving from the original location, he left from his headquarters in Bello Monte, much later.

The rumor mill has it that Vecchio’s presence upset Capriles. Legal implications and what not, or maybe just too much thunder stealing. Others speculated it was the guarimstudents that ticked him off. The guy felt ambushed or he simply didn’t want to be there after all.

Surprises are great. Who doesn’t love a surprise? People loved to see Vecchio on stage. Nothing like flipping off the government. But in the very delicate situation in which we are at surprises are dangerous. PJ should have been informed of what was planned. Tintori may be hurt that Capriles didn’t call. Well, boohoo. LL has way more chances to be freed if HCR gets on that bandwagon. Why are the guys on the orange platform such performers? Why put on such a show?

One issue here is that the MUD is not a party. It is a coalition. One created for electoral purposes. A space in which competing forces would pact and let the better person compete, and then muster the resources to win. The MUD though seems lost in its ability to round people up to put their differences behind when there isn’t an election.

Part of it is lazy politicking. Caracas-centrist party are spending all their energy and resources trying to poach oppo voters from one other in El Hatillo instead of trying to win over supporters from the mass ranks of the lower-middle class and politically orphaned. When you’re fighting for the 5% oppo radical fringe, no amount of anti-government posturing is too much. But if you’re thinking about the 35% of people who hate the government but don’t trust the sifrino elite, that’s a dead end.

You’d think we’d have learned that lesson by now. As PSUV advances towards absolute political control, now with what it seems like a much more viable economy, Venezuela is on its way to become some sort of petro-tropicalized-religious-cursi chinese mock up. Resisting this onslaught would tax the political resources and maturity of the most talented of politicians. Certainly, now is no time for atavisms, for going back to the bad old days of posture-driven Coordinadora Democrática style amateur hour politics.

Let’s just remind ourselves where we were some nine years ago. Here’s Ibsen Martinez writing about the 2005 National Assembly election boycott (as translated by Quico),

This is a country where, in just one recent day, Chávez can hold a friendly meeting with Felipe González, prince of the modern European social democrats, at the same time as the police raids and closes down the newspaper El Impulso on a flimsy tax pretext. A country whose Public Prosecutors openly intimidate opponents, and whose head of government, at the same time, spends his time designing continental integration strategies based on oil diplomacy; where the prison overcrowding crisis and extrajudicial executions, which today have reached their highest level in decades, coincide with acts revindicating the human rights of afrovenezuelans and indigenous peoples; where the electoral registry has been used to call almost a dozen elections in the last seven years and to institute, in parallel, a political apartheid that violates the right to work…To combat this diabolical complexity we will need a politics that is more realistic and assertive than the sifrino hissyfit of staying home on election day ‘because Jorge Rodriguez sold out’.

We are deep into the trap of competitive autocracy. While we fight for crumbs, the other is grabbing the cake.