First I'll take your lunch money, then we'll chat.

Today, MUD suspended dialogue talks because they want concrete results instead of promises in order for conversations to continue. By having sat down for talks in the first place, they legitimized this giant farce and just bought the dictatorship lots more time.

Schoolyard politics dictate that when a bully beats up on the nerd, the nerd has to fight back.

The nerd might be smarter, or have the moral high ground, hell, he’ll probably go on to invent the next amazing social network and sell it for billions and marry the hot chick.

But for now, he’s scrawny and weak. If he doesn’t fight back, the bully wins. It’s a matter of legitimizing humiliation, or wrestling your way to respect.

This week marks three months since February 12, the day three Venezuelans were shot and killed after the opposition marched to the Prosecutor General’s offices to demand freedom for jailed students. That day marked the start of the nationwide protests that, to this day, have been savagely repressed by government forces.

This week also marks one month since April 10th, the night when (some) opposition and government leaders sat down on national television and began the Dialogue, to “find a solution to the political crisis in Venezuela.”

Finally, today marks the day when dialogue was suspended – not cancelled, mind you, “suspended” – following a statement by MUD Secretary General, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, saying that “concrete results instead of promises must happen in order for conversations to continue.”

Let’s go back to our schoolyard scenario. Imagine the weakling approaching the bully, and nicely asking if they can sit down for a chat, so that they can calmly discuss their differences and perhaps eventually get along. Nevermind the clueless nerd really has nothing to offer the bully, other than the benefit of the doubt.

“Fine,” the bully says, “let’s have a heartfelt discussion,” all while he continues to beat up on this poor loser’s friends, taking their lunch money, copying off their homework, and blaming them for cheating, to boot.

Now imagine if, instead, all the nerds, geeks and outcasts in school had banded together to expose the bully for what he is: a mean-spirited, insecure and insufferable asshole with daddy-issues who just wants to make the world a living hell for those he can’t agree with. What if all these underdogs, who suffer daily from the bully’s torment, stood up to his authority and defied it, slowly chipping away at his only claim to power?

When the MUD sat down to dialogue with the government, they legitimized the bully’s position. Parents reading this will know what this does to your victim’s self esteem.

How can you keep morale up amongst your nerd base when you’re ceding dignity to your oppressor? How can you struggle to get you buddy out from the locker he was shut inside when the bully’s henchmen are busy kicking the shit out of your younger pals in the bathroom? How can you lobby for fairer play in the dodge-ball field when the bullies threaten teachers into letting them win, and other students into keeping quiet about it?

Some claim that Venezuelans don’t want regime change, that they want a solution to their social woes instead. But shortages are worse, inflation sees no end, and crime keeps claiming lives everyday, Dialogue notwithstanding.

And now, Aveledo pouts to his mommy that the mean bully is being extra-mean this week, but instead of saying the Dialogue is over, he plays convoluted diplomat’s semantics with this meek drivel about “freezing” and “suspending.” Presumably the MUD will go back to the table if the government agrees to steal just half our lunch money or to beat us every other day instead of all the time?

At least the protesters are fighting back.

I used to think that the MUD’s greatest weakness was that they showed no real will to govern, that they recognized the government for the bully that it is, but just didn’t have the balls to stand up to it. But maybe I had it wrong.  Perhaps the MUD just wants to wait until graduation.

Emiliana Duarte

Emi is a cook, a lover of animals, politics, expletives, and Venezuela. She is the co-founder of Caracas Chronicles LLC and Managing Editor if the site until December 2017.