A major leak

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Don't you forget about me
Don’t you forget about me

Ever since he turned himself in, Venezuelans had not seen or heard from Leopoldo López. The nation’s most visible political prisoner was made … invisible, thanks to the government’s iron discipline.

Today, that discipline cracked just a little bit. A clandestine interview, accompanied by pictures of a bearded López in the dungeon, made their way to several of the continent’s most prominent newspapers. What he had to say was almost as important as what he looks like.

From his prison cell, López sent a strong message to his captor, particularly “temporary” (i.e., one wrong move and you’re toast, missy) Judge Adriana Lóopez. Interestingly, he claims that a call she received during the hearing, in the middle of the night, forced her to change her ruling, and to decide against letting him stand trial from a position of freedom.

He also says that he holds no grudges against the opposition coalition, the MUD, saying that he “understands” the reasons they searched for dialogue, but that they should now realize that dialogue with the government is impossible. In doing so, he shows himself more magnanimous than many of his followers are willing to be.

Finally, he lays out the road plan: we need to work on some sort of election to get us out of this pickle. Whether it’s a referendum, or activating a Constitutional Assembly (something even Henrique Capriles hinted at a few months ago), López presses the MUD to understand the urgency of the moment, and to act upon it using the constitutional weapons at our disposal. The López interview fueled the fire of Maria Corina Machado, among others, who today asked for new elections. López’s wife, Lilian Tintori, was at her side.

Leopoldo’s exhortation comes not a moment too soon. Most of the opposition leadership has seemed aloof and adrift, confirming what Leopoldo himself told me a few months ago, that many in the MUD think the only way out of this is to wait for the next Presidential election. Henrique Capriles, for one, continues to dodge the drama that is unfolding, refusing to set out a clear path forward. But López, from the loneliness of his isolation, sends a clear message: the time is now, hay un camino. How ironic.

These kinds of interviews were commonplace in the pre-Chávez era. Hugo Chávez himself held court for many of the nation’s top journalists from his cell in Yare prison. But Maduro and his gendarmes had somewhow managed to avoid letting Leopoldo be seen or heard from … until today.

Heads at Ramo Verde prison will probably roll after this. Kudos to El Nacional’s Alex Vásquez, who got the scoop, as well as to his paper.

81 COMMENTS

  1. Gonna take a look at the links.
    This regime has its days numbered.
    And before somebody says “yeah, that’s been told since 15 years ago”, in fact, dictatorships don’t fall in one day, many people claim that Pinochet fell after a single referendum, not mentionning that chileans went like 10 years straight protesting before that, as an example.

    • @Ralph: Days numbered? True, that has been said for 15 years. 15 years of “numbered” days: (5479). What needs to be known is: What IS the number? another five thousand? Are you “Gonna” tell us?

  2. What in hell is Capriles doing right now?
    And yes, I feel sorry for the guy on duty on the floor of Leopoldo. 😉
    He should know that his case made it in all majore press in the world and it is up to the people to remind the world – means Venezuelans abroad and theire families, friends SOS VZLA!!!
    Hans

  3. que Dios lo bendiga y proteja. (Y espero que no haya sido abusado.)

    Por otra parte .. I must point out the irony of a political prisoner who does not believe in dialogue with the regime, while he believes in popular elections, which are controlled by that very regime. (“Hay que derrocar a la dictadura por la vía popular.”)

    • The popular way isn’t only elections, is elections AND protests. The Assembly is a way to galvanize the efforts to defeat the regime in a specific point.

      • OpUno,

        Elections are damaging because they reinforce the world view that Democracy is a part of what the regime is about,and it isn’t. Elections are a lie in Venezuela .The truth about Venezuela is very simple and needs to be repeated so that people don’t get ” confused” : Venezuela is a dictatorship.

        About protests – why protest in a country who offers you the possibility of winning through elections?

        • A bunch of elections don’t prove anything, even the white-washers at the Carter Institute know that by now. And protest is neccesary to enforce the actual results of said elections, which is why San Cristóbal doesn’t have a chavista mayor despite the regime’s efforts.

  4. A constituyente would be the nail on the coffin.

    These goons could easily modify this constitution to suit, adding things such larger presidential terms, fewer overall elections, further gerrymandering tools and outright bans on all disent.

    Their comodin is always “Instigacion a delinquir, terrorismo y traicion a la patria”.

    Constituyente is a trap.

    • I wondered about the same thing. Seems to me, she has toned down her earlier shrillness, and has become more focused on elements of the bigger picture,

  5. Though Leopoldo’s statements are in accordance with his current situation, I find the mysterious call to judge Adriana López very hard to believe. He said that I’d wager to up the drama level. If you think she had actually made a different decision than the one she issued, then you must’ve forgotten who Maria Afiuni is and what she has been used for.

  6. say hello to Venezuelas next president…. on the other hand leopoldo is making a mistake by taking about a constituyente or seguir la constitucion, lets remember that la CONSTITUCION is not of venezuela is for el chavismo so they will be able to change or modify la constitucion in their favor, I think the real leaders of todays oposition ( students,Leopoldo and Maria corina) need to step their game up a little bit and get away from the lines of la MUD and their dialogue BS…. and capriles well i thought he was the MAN, but right now he can just sit down and wait hasta que el tiempo de dios sea perfecto…………………….

  7. This message goes in English for the benefit of readers that may not understand Spanish.

    The only thing, the single objective the Venezuelan oposition nneeds to accomplish is this: Become a majority. And I am not talking a 51% majority. I am referring to an overwhelming, landslide majority. We cannot be talking about calling for new elections, constitutional assemblies or anything of that sort unless we are certain of winning. Otherwise, we’d be, as some have said, simply digging ourselves deeper in the hole.

    Regarding Leopoldo, Where are, pray tell, those who commented that it was a good idea for him to turn himself in to “prove the justice system was broken”? I have not heard from them lately. I always opposed that he deliver himself meekly to the tender mercies of the GNB. He should have called upon the people of Caracas to support and protect him, barricaded himself in some strategic location with full video audio and Internet communications and let the government know: Here I am: come and get me.

    But NO, he had to play the Nelson Mandela card. Let’s not forget that Mandela was ultimately successful, but again, he was in jail for 30 years.

    • Pablo,

      If the opposition wins with anything less than a landslide it will not have the mandate to weather the blow back of the traumatic economic measures required to stabilize the economy. Think of Fuji-shock, as the economic measures implemented by Fujimori were known in Peru in the early 90s.

      Things getting worse now are only better in the long run. The Chavista brand has to be poisoned by their performance into obsolescence. The electorate in Venezuela has to really forsake Chavismo and cut away with any possibility of romanticizing this period. Do remember that Venezuelans have a tendency of doing just that, in cuarta republica times it was common to hear “…un militar arrecho como Perez Jimenez” or “..con los Adecos se vive mejor”.

      As for our very own “Mandela in alpargatas”, Leopoldo Lopez; he too is the bane of the regimen. We can only hope he can gain the stature and fame of famous dissidents such as Liu Xiaobo in China or Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar. Granted, sitting in Ramo Verde is a very high price to pay, put that notoriety and moral gravitas only comes with such sacrifice.

      Finally, Venezuelan opposition should not despair and make moral choices to combat these thugs. Indeed, firmly and unrelenting but “en el tiempo de Dios”, not with guarimbas.

      • …Venezuelan opposition should not despair and make moral choices to combat these thugs. Indeed, firmly and unrelenting but “en el tiempo de Dios”, …

        firmly and unrelenting but with pragmatism and not beato-speak.

    • When did “overwhelming majority” or “majority by a landslide” become such an acclaimed pursuit?

      Capriles really painted us into a corner with that theory. It even trumps the concepts of majorities and minorities.

  8. Geez, unfortunately everyone commenting here is right. The Oppo needs a firm 60/+ majority to even hope to win any electoral process, which will be heavily tilted pro-Regime by an electorate dependent on Petro-state patronage and coerced by Petro-state paid goons. The military decision-makers who could make a difference in the short-term are too busy filling their pockets with countless Govt. political positions, Govt.-owned business corruption (cement/cabillas/Guayana/etc.),Cadivi scams,military purchase commissions,contraband, and the drug trade. The Guarimba protests, which I believe were positive, particularly to focus international attention/condemnation on Govt. abuses in Venezuela, were not followed up by broad popular discontent. The 30% minimum wage sal y agua hike brought momentary contentment to the Chavista base, which, with its low aspirational level, has not protested loudly or widely to having to wait for hours in line to access scarce heavily Govt .price-subsidized essential foodstuffs. There’s something in the psyche of the Venezuelan D-E classes which conditions them to this servility, and I don’t think it’s their “dignification” a lo Chavismo, but rather an almost genetic peon mentality from the long hard pre-petroleum colonial servitude times…At this point,, it looks like LL is in for the long haul, and I’m not sure his personal/social background will be sufficiently preparatory to endure this hardship.

    • That’s one of the most racialist thngs I have read in a while in this blog. If you analysed a little bit the statistics of voting in Venezuela you would realise it’s rubbish what you are saying.

        • “There’s something in the psyche of the Venezuelan D-E classes which conditions them to this servility, and I don’t think it’s their “dignification” a lo Chavismo, but rather an almost genetic peon mentality”

          • “…an ALMOST genetic peon mentality.” The Modern Petrostate is the new Hacienda, its dependents the new peons (whatever their race). Thank goodness I’m only a 1/4 descendant (Schneringer) Teuton (now, THAT’S racism, Kepler).

        • Of course it is. Genes define races. Linking cultural problems to a genetic cesspool is an outre version of racism. To give you a household example, Perez Jimenez’s New National Ideal racial policy was to promote immigration in order to “cure” Venezuelans of laziness and backwards mentality.

          • It’s also racism to imply that people who were not born in Venezuela are less Venezuelan …if Venezuela is an identification rather than a specific DNA

          • So what was once accurately described as xenophobia is now racism?

            It looks like the race card keeps expanding its parameters as a defense mechanism, in this case, a reverse finger-pointing exercise for the foreign born/raised, dealing with the discomfort of a “tribe” not used to vast differences.

            In other words, what was once a natural process of acclimatization by both parties, which only time and effort could ease, becomes, in a polarized environment, an “accept me or I’ll pull the race card on you”.

      • And then comes the surprise: “Hey, I called all those people genetically inferior (a.k.a Untermenshen) and, on an unrelated note, I’m having a hard time convincing them to side with me politically”

      • Kep, do you have recent voting stats by Vzlan D-E economic classes?
        p.s. I agree with Net; his comment is not based on race.

  9. Some culturally induced traits of behaviour and character run deeper than skin , specially when they are perpetuated by customs or attitudes that have become ingrained through centuries of social experience, US social students are surprised at how some gheto inhabitants given certain external opportunities become more self sustaining and prosperous and educated but many others remain stuck in their original backwardness , no matter how much money is spent on programs which attempt to improve their level of education and opportunity . The fact is that generally you can, using external inducements improve the lot of these gheto dweller up to a point but always a plateau is struck and they get bogged down leaving whole segments stranded. They ve learned that unless you try to get to the manner of their upbringing, to what forms their character they are not able to advance as far as they want to.

    The problem is not simply one of winning elections, of flattering people with words or inducements that make them like you , however much you want their vote and support . its a deeper question of what you can do to get them to rise above all those cultural factors and forms of behaviour that weight them down.

    On a bare human level they are no worse nor better than people who achieve more , they can even be smarter its just that pretending that people who for generations have been scarred by adverse enviromental conditions are equal on all levels to other historically better advantaged people , doesnt cut it .!! however great the political rewards of such imposture .!!

    That doesnt mean that anyone is justified in scorning them as human beings but it does mean that to the extent they have nor overgrown those historical and social handicaps they cannot be considered the total equals of those who have either overcome those handicaps or have never been subjected to them. !!

    The problem is made worse by the fact that many of the cultural factors that scarr these people are also present in people in other more favoured segments although perhaps not to the same degree and level of depth . no one is perfect but some through no personal fault of their own are less perfect than others . ,

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