Show up, save face, and enjoy the canapés

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"¡Cualquiera que dialogue con el enemigo es un traidor a la patria! ¿Cuánto le habrán pagado a esa gente que habla con un rrrrégimen dictatorial?"
“¡Cualquiera que dialogue con el enemigo es un traidor a la patria! ¿Cuánto le habrán pagado a esa gente que habla con un rrrr-égimen dictatorial?”

Memo to Maria Corina, Ledezma, and the rest of the Intransigents: who ever said that sitting down and talking with the government meant abandoning the streets? Can’t we do both things?

The Israelis and the Palestinians have always sat down while their forces on the ground were doing their thing. It’s the way conflicts develop. And if the lady in the picture can talk to her enemies, why can’t the MUD? Closing yourself off to dialogue is silly, and only feeds the intransigent and irrelevant voices such as this one that spew conspiracy theories. As long as you’re fighting it out, what harm is there in listening to the other side?

I know where you are. I’ve been skeptical about dialogue from the start. I also think sitting down can be a trap. But after two months of protests and scores of people dead, it’s become a matter of preventing a greater loss of human lives. The greater good calls for putting skepticism aside. The pressure to show up is simply too large to ignore.

You might feel good by saying that “el diálogo con el rrrrrrégimen es traición a la patria” – I sure do! But the last guy who talked that way to the end ended up exiled in Peru, and his movement is in tatters.

Let’s get real here: we might dislike it, but there is no loss in sending Omar Barboza and asking him to sit down and talk (does he have anything better to do?), in sending Ramon Guillermo Aveledo to ask for conditions to be met for dialogue to continue (he won’t get anything, we save face by saying we are open to dialogue, and no harm is done). There is also the off chance that we might get something in return.

Otherwise, how can we possibly expect to, say, get the students out of jail? Is there another plan? Is there another hashtag that will get us out of this mess?

1 COMMENT

  1. Beyond this, I don’t understand what exactly is in the hand of the opposition to put so many conditions. I tend to compare this to a kidnapping. The kidnappers request something e.g. money, the family of the victims request something back i.e. proof of life. However, what is exactly the opposition giving back to the government? Stopping the protests? I don’t know: 1) Various protests are being driven by non-MUD opposition, they are sort of spontaneous. They probably are not gonna hear the MUD leaders 2) People are expecting this dialogue to fail. So they probably won’t stop protesting because they would think they have not accomplished something.

    If we try to act as the kidnappers, do we really have something to give to the government? At the end of the game, in all dialogues both parts have to “dejar su brazo torcer”, we cannot go empty handed. On the other side, there has been something that could be an advantage to the opposition: public opinion. It seems that the government is in a reeeeeally bad position as we saw in both IVAD and Datanalisis polls. If the government do not care about this, then they will lose everything eventually but it will take a lot of time

    But it bothers me a lot hearing Maricori saying that we shouldn’t let the dictatorship to stabilize. I seriously need someone to explain me from A to Z how the scenario where Maduro et al quit is going to happen. I don’t see this happening at all.

  2. Voy a decirlo en cristiano porque creo que es importante que se diga en nuestro idioma.

    Estoy de acuerdo con Juan Cristóbal aquí.

    Respondiendo a Harodani: los prerequisitos de la oposición deberían ser pan comido y absolutamente realizables en un sistema democrático. Eso lo entienden fuera de Venezuela y es por eso, creo yo, que se exigieron. Me parece bien que se hayan establecido esas condiciones. Habría preferido que definiesen mejor cómo debería ser el mecanismo de conversaciones, pero cualquier persona en un país democrático reconocería que eso es algo que ni siquiera debería ser necesario exigir. Uno de los principios de la democracia, por ejemplo, es la separación de poderes.

    Es curioso pero no sorprendente que Lula le haya propuesto a Maduro que entre en un gobierno de coalición, pero que evite el debate. En los países demócratas con sistema parlamentario semejante declaración habría sido vista con sorpresa. ¿Cómo es posible una coalición con un partido regente que no quiere debatir? ¿Cómo se come eso?

    Hay que revelar lo que realmente quiere Lula: propone un sistema parecido al sistema que ha mantenido en el poder a Mugabe. Al final, un gobierno semejante solo va a servir para quemar al partido o grupo minoritario. En ese sentido y aunque estoy en desacuerdo con Machado, sí creo que el gobierno madurista querrá sencillamente usar cualquier negociación para conseguir su estabilidad.
    Nosotros, por nuestra parte, lo que debemos conseguir con ese diálogo es provocar la inestabilidad…pero una inestabilidad a través de medios viables, que involucren a toda la población. Nosotros queremos que caiga el gobierno…como cae en un país democrático.

    Lo menos que quieren los gobiernos extremistas es un debate real…con debate real me refiero a
    una lucha de ideas que sea vista en tiempo real por el público en general. En nuestra América parece que no nos damos cuenta de esto: estos debates, desde tiempos de las polis griegas con sistemas democráticos, no se realizan para convencer al contrincante propiamente, sino para que el público juzgue y tome una u otra posición.

    Es este tipo de cosas que debemos propiciar. Y es este tipo de cosas que el régimen va a tratar de abortar a toda costa.

    • Si estoy de acuerdo y si creo que las condiciones, teoricamente son lógicas, pero creo que el problema es el contexto y la historia: el gobierno sencillamente no está interesado en dialogar. Las pocas “muestras” de apertura que han dado son tan meh que mira…

      Me recordé del artículo sobre el CNE hace unos meses. Que si el gobierno nos diera el CNE sería otra historia. Si se garantizara la democratización de las instituciones no electas: CNE, Defensoría, Fiscalía, Contraloría; podría haber bases para construir un estado juntos.

      Again, that’s not gonna happen.

    • Por una vez estoy de acuerdo contigo. De cualquier manera, el “dialogo” con los malandros estos no va a llegar a ninguna parte. Eso no significa que no puedan ir, hablar (…) tomarse el cafe y comerse los cachitos que (supongo) acompannaran este historico evento…..

    • Kepler, what Lula said was probably lost in translation when it was translated from Portuguese to Spanish. Lula’s exaclty words were: “Maduro deveria tentar diminuir o debate político para se dedicar inteiramente a governar, estabelecer uma política de coalizão, construir um programa mínimo e diminuir a tensão.”

      As you’ve pointed out, it would be truly impossible to start a coalition process without talking with the guys you want to form a coailtion with. But Portuguese can be tricky. I have no idea about how to properly translate what Lula said to Spanish, but in English it would be something like: “Maduro should talk less about politics in order to dedicate himself fully to govern [Venezuela], develop a coalition process [with the opposition], set minimum goals [with the opposition] and reduce the tension/antagonism.”

      This “deveria tentar diminuir o debate político para se dedicar inteiramente a governar” literally means [in Portuguese] that Maduro should talk less and do more!

      Not surprisingly, newspapers are saying that Maduro has rejected the advice.

      http://www.infolatam.com/2014/04/09/maduro-dice-a-lula-que-si-esta-gobernando-y-que-no-participara-en-pactos/

      “De acuerdo totalmente con Lula que es lo que estamos haciendo, gobernando, a pesar de la guarimba (protestas con barricadas) no hemos dejado de gobernar ni un segundo”, dijo Maduro durante su programa semanal “En contacto con Maduro”. “No tengo nada que negociar con nadie (…) ni negociación ni pacto, aquí lo que hay es un debate, dialogo, que es diferente a una negociación y un pacto”, señaló tras apuntar que en Venezuela “hay una revolución” y existe una coalición de partidos de izquierda, movimientos sindicales, obreros, campesinos y “sexo diversos”.

  3. Maria Corina tiene tantas ganas de ser presidente que no le importa lo que le pase a Simonovis y a los demas presos, ella apuesta a una escalada violenta que le permita robarse el show. Sabe que ella no tiene mucho chance en una salida negociada y pacifica. Esta estrategia de “la salida” esta condenada al fracaso, desde el primer dia

    • Los ataques sin base de siempre.

      Maria Corina ha insistido en al liberación de los estudiantes y de presos políticos (como Simonovis y LL) http://www.notirapida.com/?p=10441

      La crisis no la generó #LaSalida. La crisis venía, desde los autoconvocados, las protestas estudiantiles de enero, el asesinato de Mónica Spear. MCM, LL and AL simply tried to get on top of it, to channel the outrage, instead of having it dissipate, Ledezma himself said so in a pre-crisis interview http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140127/ledezma-maduro-ofrece-descuento-de-80-en-boletos-para-la-luna .

      Uno puede estar en desacuerdo o no, con el enfoque de MCM, LL y AL de montarse en esa ola de descontento para dirigirla. Yo sí creo que se hizo bien en darle respaldo institucional al descontento, y creo que ya Moisés Naím lo dijo bien:

      “En el mundo de hoy, una convocatoria por Twitter, Facebook o mensajes de texto para protestar contra un abuso o algo que nos indigna atraerá seguramente una muchedumbre. El problema es lo que pasa después de la marcha. A veces termina en confrontaciones violentas con la policía y otras veces no. Pero en todo caso, lo más frecuente es que no exista una organización con la capacidad de dar seguimiento a las exigencias y llevar adelante el complejo, muy personal y más aburrido trabajo político, que es el que produce cambios en las decisiones gubernamentales.[…]”. (http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2014/03/29/actualidad/1396121925_343703.html)

  4. Internationally, it’s pretty obvious that “we tried to negotiate” works better than refusing to do so. The international community demands negotiations between the most disparate parties, including Al-Assad in Syria and his opposition, with 100,000 civil war deaths standing in the way of a settlement.

    • Indeed. And let me be clear: the more under close door those “negotiations” take place, the more likely they are going to fail and be just an excuse by the more powerful party. Closed doors might be relatively less painful within such systems as the EU Commission or some Swiss body, but they should be avoided in our case of parallel stories and dialogues.

      As I expected, the regime is keen on keeping the open debate live for only one session. It will restrict by all means the chances of all Venezuelans to see a live discussion of the different arguments.
      And we should insist on that as 1) this is good for pluralism and 2) this is something the regime will hate but true democrats the world over will welcome.

  5. Fear–based decisions make people lose power in the end, especially when they are dealing with psychopaths as in the ‘thugocracy’ .The thugocracy is not a legitimate government .We should never, never do anything to save face( this is fear based) ….we should do something out of consistency with our own moral values.

    Capriles has been trying to dialogue for 10 years already with zero results.Only recently he made another effort around the time the LL was arrested, only to admit that no agreement could be reached.The government is always calling for negotiations as a propaganda ploy and then refuses to budge one inch. Capriles is definitely not the most rigid negotiator, so if anything could be attained he would have struck a deal.

    Los esfuerzos conciliatorios de la oposicion no han logrado ningun beneficio para la democracia sino mas bien permitio al gobierno disfrazar el robo de las elecciones.

    • “Capriles has been trying to dialogue for 10 years already with zero results”.

      That is a lie. He won the past elections by putting over 5 million people together through dialogue.

      • Carolina,

        Perhaps I should qualify that statement better.He had zero results dialoging with the government( not with the opposition).. The problem is to negotiate with the ruthless repressive illegitimate government that is unwilling to budge one inch.The fact that his other negoctions with the opposition were successful ljust goes to show that if you are not negotiating with the party that is in good faith, there is nothing to be achieved.

        Every time the elections were lost he tried to have government do a recount and accept there was fraud to no avail.The opposition just had to back down, except the election fraud and hope for more luck next time….and next time was the same pattern and so on.Utter defeat.

    • Ok, this is tiring, and a great many people have tried to talk some sense here, but some ears seem to be closed to anything that does not sound radical enough or that entails enough deaths. Let´s be clear about our objectives. WE ALL WANT a regime change. The thing is that there are some of us who beleive that we can do several things at a time, just like what JC stated above. The fact that we sit down with the devil itself does not mean that we have to leave the streets, or your beloved guarimbas or anything else that may procure us a better negotiating stance. Not sitting down is just plain stupid. We have nothing, so we have nothing to lose. Whatever we get is a win, and even if we do get to walk away with bounty, that does not mean that cannot sit down again and demand some more.

      For the time being one of the very precious things we have going for us is moral high ground and credibility. Sitting down with these people plays to our strengths, it drives the message that we are the good guys, willing and ready to negotiate, willing to go to any length necessary to preserve human lives and enforce human rights. If our demands are not met we will be left in the same position we are today, but with even more credibililty and more authority to denounce this regime.

      Again, we sit down and at the same time we keep protesting, this is not an either/or situation. I really cannot begin to understand why or how someone can be opposed to this…

      • What moral high ground can anyone claim here? I see none.

        Everyone knows we can have ‘guarimbas’ while at the same time dialoging…this is NOT the question.

        The question is why dialogue? And personally I don’t think dialoging with criminals makes anybody look like a ” good guy”, and it is far better to BE a good guy rather than just look like one anyway.

  6. Juan’s position here is sensible and impecably reasonable , cant think of anything to add to what he has written and yet we musnt forget that we are not talking here about totally rational thinking creatures, we are talking about lots of people who have become very passionate in their hatred of the Regime and in their disbelief in whatever it proposes , who moreover are enthralled by their own valiant gestures of defiance .!!

    The leadership should be responsible and support the attempt at a dialogue , if only not too appear too fanatical before the eyes of the world (which would be giving the Regime a propaganda point to use against the oppo movement) but then again they are human and afraid that they will be pilloried if they are seen as too soft and complainsant with the govt .

    Maybe they are playing a waiting game so that if the discussions do indeed become productive they will support them with whatever reservations they feel will keep their image of hot blooded warriors before their more radicalized constituencies. The thing is to explore a possibility that can yield some good results for both sides of the political divide and perhaps for the country as a whole . The polls say that there is widespread support for some kind of compromise initiative . In the end this should count for something . Lets hope it does !!

    • Western consensus has required at a minimum popular sovereignty, free and fair elections and legally binding citizens’ rights.

      • This will be a good time to tell the world what the opposition wants from their government. The international press will be following these talks.

    • If you love unity, set it free. If it comes back to you, it was always real. If it doesn’t, then it never was.

    • I see your point, but so far there has not been any kind of negotiation of anything – not to mention the fact that Omar-frickin’-Barboza has absolutely zero leverage with the people protesting on the streets. How does the meeting undermine the protests? I know what *does* undermine the protests: the hysterical over-reaction to the MUD’s decision to show up.

      • Sure, it’s just the same old trampa caza-bobos they’ve been running since 2002. The government’s strategy is pretty straightforward. They ask themselves: “so, what can we put on the table that half of them are likely to accept and the other half likely to freak out over?” And then that’s what they put on the table…

        • No only that, but those in the table carry no legitimacy whatsoever. Who is Omar Barbosa to be talking on my behalf? Same old cogollito that has been making the wrong decisions for the last ten years.

          • Henri Falcon is one of the most popular opposition leaders in Venezuela. Perhaps not as widely known as Capriles or Leopoldo (who is?), but a popular figure nonetheless.

            Barboza leads a party in crisis, but one of the stalwarts of the opposition (and the student movement in Zulia sure knows him, for almost all is from UNT).

          • I know who he is. But again, a self-assembled cogollito that have been calling the wrong shots over and over and over…. And in calling the wrong shots UNT leads the charge.

        • In a way, the MUD has done the same too. They laid the desarme de colectivos en table. That’s something moderates in Chavismo agrees with (83% of the population according to LVL), but the radical fringes of chavismos will reject. It will be interesting to see how the manage that. They can’t continue denying that these groups are armed.

      • Your question is really the most important point of this discussion, so I will try to address it at risk of being perceive as bold:

        1. The Regime is trying to buy time. The olive branch is only a tactical pose and the MUD put its foot on it. The Regime’s strategy is the same, stay in power at all cost.

        2. In the last 2 days, while the country is distracted by the prospect of a “dialogue”, the Regime has increase home search and arrests with no warrants in Caracas, Miranda, Carabobo, Merida, Tachira, Zulia, and Bolivar. Last night only more than 40 people were detained in the popular Montaña Alta neighborhood nearby Caracas. These arbitrary detentions seek to behead the local protests at the street level, and terrorize the people who was taking to the street.

        3. The repressive PNB and GNB are now in recovery mode after 2 months of exhausting activity. They are also being re-stocked in anti-riot gear which was nearly depleted. As a matter of fact and as we talk, rumor is new paramilitary are getting ready to get to they streets if needed.

        4. The Regime’s olive brach came right at the time more demonstration in popular areas in Caracas (they have been going on in other cities for a while), were starting to happen and becoming news. The pause seem to have cooled down the streets in western barrios of the capital.

        5. The most important: perhaps without consciously planing for it, the MUD has taken away the most import asset the students had: activation of the population. If the motivation to demonstrate ars off the Regime will have the upper hand on controlling the streets. This is important, we must remember that what turned the tide last February was not the call of the students to take to the streets, it was the graphic imagery of the assassination of Basil (and to a point Robert’s). This events were unplanned for, and as such fortuitously degenerated In the dynamic we saw in the streets until yesterday. To re-ignite, if necessary, might be cumbersome, people also gets tired after two month of protests.

        I hope by now you realize the only one winning with all this façade of dialogue is the Regime. Needles to say, they are following the Castrista script, who have 50 years in and on-and-off dialogue with the US each time is politically, and strategically, convenient.

    • Quico’s comment is a fear, and Juan’s reply is a hope: a house divided cannot stand, but two houses can be rejoined together.

      I wouldn’t dismiss Mr. Coco’s ventures into the political fray, nor would I say that the MUD is the whole of the opposition. It did come close.

      Do any splits form the coalition have any chance outside it? Electoral history suggests no, but the next electoral cycle is a myriad of crises away.

      It is somehow telling that, even though the actions of the MUD are vocally criticised by many (and that is their right, of course), no party oficially splits from it. So far. (Perhaps because what Keller or Ivad showed? (no single party has as of today a more favourable rating than the MUD, either as a notion, idea or organisation))

      We have to also appreciate two things: Opposition safe-zones are the political base of some of the Unidad’s most vociferous critics. Even a major split wouldn’t hand them over to chavismo (the ugly race for El Hatillo serves as a cautionary tale; Chacao’s race in 2010, also). Thus, could these movements against the different mainstream opposition coalitions become a national movement unto itself? Ideological zeal is something that could bring them together (they are more “indignados”), but also could bring them apart (ultra-liberals, perezjimenistas, etc.; alas, the MUD belies this). Can they have a national reach?

      Secondly, could they hurt the so-far-mainstream opposition if there is a split? VP and MCM are not PIEDRA. One is a growing movement (viciously attacked by the government), the other has just formed a party and has a personal brand which is hugely polarising (and also viciously attacked by the government). There’s a lot of potential.

  7. One important consequence of the whole series of events since February, both guarimbas and negotiation, has been Lula’s call yesterday for a coalition government.

    Is he perhaps an imperialist stooge? Or does his intervention undermine the legitimacy of Mr. Rule-by-Decree?

    • Lula’s call, while encouraging if one is feeling kindly, is practically undoable.

      There is no sense that the government truly wishes to find a way out of the mess we’re in.

      They believe what they believe and the rest can go to hell.

    • It surprised me. I think it is a signal to Mr. Rule-by-Decree.
      As is the involvement of outside participants in a dialogue with the opposition.

  8. It’s hard not to wince when you see articles and comments that favor opening a dialog with a regime that has constantly lied, spoken out of at least two sides of its mouth and generally been as unreliable a “partner” as any.

    However, if anything, the dialog can be used to point out that a good faith effort on the MUD side was undertaken. Should it fail, the “We tried this and it didn’t work” will carry weight overseas. Very likely the government side will be seen as the one that failed, since they hold all the cards.

    The MUD can no more control the barricades than can the government. These have taken on a life of their own and will only go away once the government ignores them completely. Even if Leopoldo, MCM and Antonio Ledezma ask them to stop I doubt they would stop completely.

    I see no harm, at least no lasting harm, coming from sitting down, in public and in a manner viewable by the entire country. If the government promises are reneged upon, it can always be pointed out and can become yet another reason for protesting.

    Demands such as the MUD has posited, such as liberating political prisoners, balancing the TSJ and CNE, disarming the collectives etc. are verifiable markers that can serve as indications that the dialog has proceeded in good faith.

    And yet, after all I have written, I don’t believe the government will become an honest broker overnight. I don’t think the dialog will get us anywhere near some semblance of “fairness”. Still, it must be attempted if only to cross off that point.

  9. My twitter feed is telling me that the negotiations are to be televised. If so. It’s a rare opportunity for MUD to address the country, and to take Maduro down ten pegs. We know what Chavez could do with such an opportunity. Can someone from MUD step up?

    • The photo-op of the exploratory meeting, yesterday, showed Aveledo, Falcon, and Barboza using weak body language (hunched, head bowed = submissive).
      Esteban Gerbasi ‏@estebangerbasi
      Lenguaje corporal, lo dice todo pic.twitter.com/g12sCa090T

      Otherwise, with so much outside pressure to attempt to talk, not doing so would be counter-productive.

      I reluctantly agree with Juan: attempting to talk can co-exist with the constitutionally allowed guarimbas.

  10. Harodani makes a point that I think is very important: the MUD has no real reign over what happens on the streets right now. They have very little to bargain with. Any valid dialog should include the students.

  11. Extreme left dictatorships always ask for “dialogue” when things get really messed up for them. Their “dialogue” is not an effort to lay down bridges for arguments to flow, it is just a way to slow things down soy they can put their shit together and continue what they do best: stay in power.

    Seems to be that no one here remembers the “Mesa de negociacion y acuerdos” ten years ago. Where chavez used his “statesman” face to reduce oppo to shards. Since then, his power rised to absurd levels. The fulano dialogo only allowed chavez to seize what little was left of “impartial institutions”.

    This was actually a cycle during Chavez’s reign: Punch hard, wait for the counter blow, moderate yourself, ask for forgiveness, rinse and repeat. This was a psycho play on the oppo who didn´t really grasp as a whole that Chavez was a dictator and had to be deposed as fast as possible by any means. Oppo just felt good “conquering spaces” at fiesta electoral, because, you know… democracy is all and only about “elections”.

    Maduro is JUST getting along with the rehearsal of Comandante Beef Jerky’s teachings: He posed as a statesman the day he -won- (“Cuenten las cajas!”), then he punched really hard (Dakazo, Precios justos, represion y muertes) and now is trying to pose, once again, as a statesman asking for “dialogue” and “peace”, just in time to cock the spring back and blow our face once again.

    Chavismo always played like that, the “fatigue” model. Put stress on enemies just until the brink of failure, go back as to make them think you´re “not such a dictator” and then break them when vulnerable.

    No dialog for these thugs, burn the country to the edge of a civil war if you can, is far more practical than to sit down and give them room to cock the spring.

  12. It will go the same way as Sicad 2. Just a farce. The result will be the same by the end of May or June, both will be shown as a farce.

  13. I wonder what are, exactly, the things that can be decided on such dialog. What is in the table, so to say.

    Because, say you have “End the guarimbas” in the table. That is not going to happen – the opposition cant all them off – UNLESS… “End the colectivos” is also on the table.

    Fat chance of that, right?

  14. No one can tell for certain why the regime does anything , they are assummed to be acting in bad faith which is likely the case or maybe just opportunistically ( see what fish they can catch) , in any case for both sides its a potentially favourable propaganda point ( even if ultimately the dialogue fails).

    But what makes walking away from the possibility of a dialogue without showing sufficient cause difficult for both sides is that
    1. the outside world including countries which are percieved to be friendly to each side want it and have said so very adamantly .
    2. The polls say that most people want both sides to sit down and at least attempt a dialogue to settle the most inmmediate points in dispute .
    3. guarimbas and continous protests are bad propaganda for the govt specially in this time of crisis but its unlikely that it will topple it which means that the protests and guarimbas must go on indefinitely for a year at least and thats an effort difficult to maintain , there is the risk that in time familiarity will breed if not contempt indifference in most people.
    4. The dialogues may create conditions for a truce which will gain the govt time to try and improve its now critical situation and for the opposition to gain political space from which to manouver to a stronger position in the future . For both sides its a gamble where they can lose or gain depending on a lot of variables and imponderables , but always a gamble worth taking .

    Not sure that the divergent voices in the opposition dont grant it a negotiating advantage, in essence it allows them to maintain their options open depending on how the process goes and if they turn out productive nothing prevents them from reaching a quick consensus .!!

    There is enough animosity against the govt that they cant later patch things up and continue with their separate but compatible political efforts !!

  15. So basically the opposition has to attend a sham dialogue with a status-quo that’s looking for any excuse they can get to throw them in jail? All for the obession with getting a pat on the back from an international community that turns a blind eye to what’s happening in Venezuela just for some oil bucks?
    The people that died in the protest just didn’t drop dead out of nowhere, they’re dead as a result of the brutal repression the government is exercising on its own people. All the proof of gross human rights violations are all there, clear as water. We all know the government doesn’t want to investigate it because why would they? They won’t throw themselves in jail.

    • Yes, but the Colombian government vis a vis the FARC and the Venezuelan government vis a vis the MUD aren’t the same scenarios.

      The FARC, although being squeezed, had something to offer the Colombian government wanted and, if a deal were made, could deliver. The Venezuelan government wants the street protests and the “guarimbas” to stop, but that’s something the MUD can’t deliver for the reasons others have already cited.

      I know that “dialogar” is not the same as “participating in a dialogue” and that “discutir” is not quite the same as “to discuss”, but the dialogue – in the English sense – has been going on from the day Chavez ran for president. It has become increasingly one-sided, however, as the government put the squeeze on the media and took total control of the electoral process and the judicial system.

      No doubt the economic disaster Chavez and his successor have created are a major reason for the protests, but the government’s abuse of the democratic processes that have robbed the political opposition of an effective voice in the on-going dialogue has caused the frustration that heightens their intensity and persistence.

      What is needed now to bring about anything approaching real change is negotiation, and for negotiations to go anywhere requires that the parties involved can not only come to an agreement, but also that they can deliver what has been agreed upon. The MUD, in its current powerless condition can’t. For it to be able to, it would have to be empowered by the government, and that would only cause it to lose what little credibility it has left.

      • The only way negotiations can go anywhere for the opposition is if it has leverage. I would be very interested to know where people think that leverage might come from.

  16. Estoy de acuerdo contigo Juan.

    Por la manera en que todo esto ha evolucionado, solo veo dos salidas posibles: forzar al gobierno a sentarse a dialogar o ir a una guerra civil.

    La segunda NO es una opcion para mi. Primero, no es sostenible en el tiempo. Segundo, le quitaria la legitimidad de la protesta ante la audiencia y organismos internacionales que poco a poco estan saliendo de su ignorancia con respecto a la situacion, y por ultimo, la perderiamos rapidito, enfrentando estudiantes muy valientes, si, pero inocentes y desarmados, con los asesinos entrenados por el regimen y con la fuerza armada, que esta con el gobierno, nos guste o no.

    • Carolina, there is a third option, and that is to continue with a peaceful civil resistance. No need to take up arms. In fact, research shows that armed resistance movements are half as effective as peaceful resistance in changing dictatorial governments.

  17. Excellent post, and comments all. Rationally, for the many reasons expressed above, the Oppo dialogue is the right thing to do, even at the risk of temporarily legitimizing Maduro with a wash of respectability. Practically, it is improbable the dialogue will produce any substantive results, since the Govt. will not budge in their hegemonic societal goals, and the students will run over the MUD in case of a whitewash or sell-out. Emotionally, it’s hard to swallow the idea of sitting down at a table with those responsible for killing, maiming, and jailing innocent protesters.

  18. Is there another plan?

    *sigh*

    Proposing or accepting a dialogue with someone who has built an echo chamber for his monologues, or proposing a democratic framework to someone who is hellbent on eliminating democracy, oh, I don’t know, sounds kind of naive.

    Realistically, there are not just two groups, here. Pragmatically, there are three main groups. One group is the chavismo leadership, hellbent on imposing their idea of communism on everyone else. Another group is the group rejecting that very idea of communism being imposed on us. The third group is the key. It’s the third group that simply supports either of the other two groups, but that can be swayed.

    We can try and sway the third group into finding the chavismo direction undesirable. Time was taking care of that, but chavismo could be finished in building the jail-nation by then.

    We can try and sway the third group into desiring our direction, through education about how our proposal is best for all in the long run. This is very difficult for lack of resources, but also because it’s easy for chavismo to counter via disinformation, or, worse, promises of short term benefits.

    We can try and sway the third group by proposing a third direction that includes short term benefits, is easy to communicate, and good for all in the long run. Clearly, proposals and willingness to discuss them is what we seem to lack, despite all our education –perhaps because of it.

  19. Dialogue may very well be the way to go, but the opposition is still being too submissive. How come Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil are the mediator countries on behalf of Unasur? That’s three chavista-leaning parties, then add the Vatican as neutral, wouldn’t it be fair that the opposition demand three opposition-leaning parties? Bring in Panama, at least.

    It’s not dialogue that’s wrong, it’s the fact that it’s blatantly conditioned to Maduro’s convenience that’s wrong, and the fact that the MUD is not stressing this enough, that’s even worse. Maduro has already benefited from dialogue, not too long ago he commanded armed paramilitary groups to attack civilians (“candelita que se prenda, candelita que se apaga”), and now he gets to wear a suit and tie and go play diplomacy.

    Regardless, the opposition has done a good job of displaying the pre-conditions for dialogue (even though Maduro already wiped his ass with them) but it baffles me how secretive the MUD is about what their ideology towards the whole thing is. Wouldn’t it be good for the world to know the true conditions under which dialogue will be undertaken? Isn’t there a lot of momentum that’s not being capitalized here? It seems the only ones who realize that are MCM, LL and Ledezma, who try to channel people’s discontent through Twitter. But the MUD as a whole just meanders from bland statement to bland statement.

    In other words, MUD, either your press team is doing a terrible job, or there’s more reason behind your silence.

  20. Look at what the Valencianos are doing:

    Cool. I still would suggest to give people more detailed information about how things are in neighbouring countries.

    • so, I take it, the rrrégimen’s next objective is to move the colas quickly from outdoors to the inside, simply to achieve lower visibility..

      • But there is only so much space inside. The queue here was short but they can develop into something huge. We need to keep doing this and improve the messages.

  21. The greater good calls for putting skepticism aside.

    Years of observation has lead me to believe, that by and large, the greater good is a concept that is largely foreign in Venezuela. Sure, its a great talking point, but in practical application neither the politicians nor the populace believe in it.

    • Unfortunately, I agree. This is a byproduct of the oil money. The vast majority of income is from oil sales, so Venezuelans tend to see this as a zero-sum game. The good news is that that, since the Chavistas have cooked the Golden Goose, Venezuelans are going to have to start learning how to actually create wealth in other ways.

  22. Firstly, but of least importance: The use of “dialogue” as verb really annoys me. Stop it. It is a noun. If you need a verb, use “talk” or “negotiate”. Ok? Good! Now that I have gotten that off my chest, I can talk about something important.

    Juan makes very good points here. In all human conflicts, diplomacy continues even after hostilities have been declared. To reject any sort of dialogue is childish. Talks with your enemy provide opportunities for gathering intelligence, discovering weaknesses, etc… In my opinion, the Regime has a lot less to gain and far more lose from this than the Opposition. So, suck it up, and get your heads back in the game!

    • Roy

      I realize we are wasting time with this but:

      One of the flexible aspects of English is that theoretically, any noun — and indeed any, absolutely any word — in English can be used as a verb, though admittedly sometimes it might sound weird. “I hello you” is a perfectly grammatical English sentence.

    • di·a·logue

      verb: dialogue; 3rd person present: dialogues; past tense: dialogued; past participle: dialogued; gerund or present participle: dialoguing; verb: dialog; 3rd person present: dialogs; past tense: dialoged; past participle: dialoged; gerund or present participle: dialoging
      1.
      take part in a conversation or discussion to resolve a problem.
      “he stated that he wasn’t going to dialogue with the guerrillas”

      [Google]

      • I will concede that it has been accepted by authorities in such matters. However, on an esthetic level, I don’t like it. It annoys me and smacks of new-age business-speak. And that is the last I am going to say on this subject. We really do have more important matters at hand…

        • Get back in the game I will Roy.You said:

          “In my opinion, the Regime has a lot less to gain and far more lose from this than the Opposition.”

          Then we will have to conclude that the regime is so gracious and generous as to concede this to the opposition 🙂

          • The Regime was forced into this by international pressure. They most certainly did not want to do it. The Opposition needs to take advantage of the opportunity to appear the aggrieved and rational party in this conflict, and expose the lies of the Regime.

      • Sadly, the only way a dialogue will work is if the is a “3rd person present” that will bring modicum of neutrality flavored with a sprinkling of rationality to the conversation.

  23. The extent to which the Regime will cede anything important in the “dalogueing” is exemplified by today’s, 4/9 “El Universal” banner headline: “Gobierno y MUD logran acuerdo para el dialogo”. Right under this headline, 4th column, is this gem: “Preven organizar 2.5 millones de milicianos en areas productivas ” …”en cada una de las areas productivas del pais, que van desde los sectores petrolero, electrico, construccion, salud, hasta las empresas basicas, las recuperadas y las privadas. Se le atribuiran competencias como “garantizar las conquistas (sic) de los trabajadores y la sustentabilidad de los beneficios (sic) del pueblo.” ” In other words, Oppo and garimberos, if (big IF with this incompetent Regime) we the Govt. can pull this off, at some time in the future you’ll be facing repression and reprisals not only by military and paid Colectivos, but also by millions of “milicianos” owing their economic livelihood to the continued Communist status quo– Any doubters left on this Blog?? BTW, tonight apparently the new Vice Ministry of Twitter/etc. has CANTV blocking at least 2 widely-used anti-Govt. internet Twitter sites–“Dolar Today”, and “Lucio Quincio C”–just more examples of Govt. “dialogueing”.

  24. Quoting Eugene Sharp from his book “From Dictatorship to Democracy”

    “If the democrats agree to halt resistance in order to gain a reprieve from repression, they may be very disappointed. A halt to resistance rarely brings reduced repression. Once the restraining force of internal and international opposition has been removed, dictators may even make their oppression and violence more brutal than before. The collapse of popular resistance often removes the countervailing force that has limited the control and brutality of the dictatorship. The tyrants can then move ahead against whomever they wish. “For the tyrant has the power to inflict only that which we lack the strength to resist,” wrote Krishnalal Shridharani.

    Resistance, not negotiations, is essential for change in conflicts where fundamental issues are at stake. In nearly all cases, resistance must continue to drive dictators out of power. Success is most often determined not by negotiating a settlement but through the wise use of the most appropriate and powerful means of resistance available. It is our contention, to be explored later in more detail, that political defiance, or nonviolent struggle, is the most powerful means available to those struggling for freedom.”

  25. “Let’s get real here: we might dislike it, but there is no loss in sending Omar Barboza and asking him to sit down and talk (does he have anything better to do?)” …. You’re being sarcastic here right. I admit I laughed!

  26. que chevere que hay tantos palabras en español!!! the bottom line is that any chance to get in front of the populous and dispel the myth of all that is Chavismo today, has to be grabbed… this isn’t about selling out… it is about another avenue of change… and we need many / every, after 15 years of manipulation…

  27. A good starting point to the dialogues would be that they(maduristas) return the miliions of dollars they stole from the people of Venezuela, starting with Cabello and the almost two thousand million dollars stole.

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