Was the government "strengthened" after the protests?

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#LasSalidas
#LasSalidas

People who put all blame for the opposition’s current woes on the #LaSalida protests – we need a hashtag for them, can we call them the #2019 folks? – say that the street protests enden up “strengthening the government.” (Re. Masó, Fausto, last Sunday’s El Nacional).

Now, we can argue all we want about the wisdom of the #LaSalida movement, but it seems to me that claiming the government was strengthened would require showing, first off, that the government is strong. This line of thinking is having a very difficult time surpassing a little something called reality.

Case in point: the latest Datanalisis poll, published by well-known journalist and sometimes CC-nemesis Puzkas, among others. A sizeable majority of Venezuelans – 83% of us – think the country is in bad shape. The radicals, those of us who think the country is in really bad shape, are 43.5% of the population. And who do they / we blame for this? A majority blames the government. The same government the #2019 folks think came out “strengthened” by the street protests.

The numbers in the rest of the poll are equally damning. A majority of Venezuelans want Maduro to either resign or for a recall referendum to be called in 2016. And while only a very small portion believe a Constitutional Assembly is the way to go, the fact that a full 32.4% of Venezuelans want Maduro to resign speaks volumes about the proposals of the “radical fringe.”

The main cause of these dismal figures is the economic crisis. Most people now perceive their purchasing power has diminshed substantially. Scarcity and crime remain the two big issues on the agenda, and only chavista believers appear to give the government the benefit of the doubt. The government has lost both the opposition and the independents, and that’s a good two thirds of the population right there.

Look, we’re no fans of #LaSalida, but we also think putting the blame of our current woes on poor Sairam Rivas is an apalling lack of basic empathy. Leopoldo López may be many things, but he is not the reason why Maduro is still in power. People who keep repeating this are basically playing politics in favor of the opposition’s third-most popular leader. As many in the opposition think that we need to go out and convince people, my question is: convince them of what? That this is a terrible government? It seems as though we’re a bit late for that.

If the protests “strengthened the government,” tell us #2019 folks, what would Maduro’s numbers look like had the protests not happened? What, exactly, is your counter-factual?

1 COMMENT

  1. maybe #LaSalida did not “strengthened the government” directly, but It failed to weaken the goverment, and, its only result was leaving the opposition in chaos, rolling back the reputation they had manage to build in the earlier months, some may argue that the oppo needed the shaking, but these actions removed pressure off the goverment, indirectly strengthening its position.

    Even if the economy has Maduro’s popularity level on the lowest point, for most people there is really no alternative to him, at least not outside chavismo. And I’m not even mentioning that it produced dozens of deaths wich won’t get justice in years if ever.

    Overall I think it was a reckless and useless exercise, that lacked intelligence and creativity to succesfully erode the goverment’s position.

    • Agreed. #LaSalida may not have strengthened the government but it surely weakened the opposition. The economic crisis was clearly foreseeable and the logical move was to wait for it to affect Maduro’s popularity (very different from waiting until #2019) like it has and then rain down the protests, with two important differences with #LaSalida protests:

      – emphasis on the social not the political aspect in order to unite instead of polarizing the population
      – none of that terminal, all-or-nothing, #ElQueSeCansaPierde, final solution. Instead protests sustainable in time with creativity and variety in order to not tire the people.

      A united and coordinated opposition together with a mobilized opposition would be a real threat right now. Instead thanks to #LaSalida the opposition is divided and the people demobilized giving some respite to the government.

    • ” its only result was leaving the opposition in chaos, rolling back the reputation they had manage to build in the earlier months”

      Uhhh… There was another kinda important result. It left over 40 people dead. But who cares about that right?

  2. Some times the right thing to do does not necessarily has to be the most popular!
    We need to give polls the right place they deserve and not attempt to poll rate everything.

    Principles for example, are not popular per Se.

    This regime is inconvenient for the nation’s interests, and very good for others! If you ask around perhaps many would like it to remain in power for a while, now, who are we to poll about this?

    • Agreed. With this TURD we’re going nowhere. It is not only that his time is past, as it was implied in another post. This guy had never had what it takes to be a real leader, and we have now seen the consequences of that fact. It would be downright suicidal to keep listening and following this asshole.

    • Una de las cucarachas que el chavismo le metió en la cabeza a la gente es que el “politizar” algo le quita absolutamente toda la importancia, transcendencia y validez como argumento o razón para algo.
      Es decir, es un comodín que usan para anular lo que les dé la gana.

      Al seguir utilizando el fantasma de la antipolítica, el chavismo no necesita discutir ni defenderse de ningún argumento en su contra, las pruebas por fehacientes e irrefutables que sean pueden ser despreciadas y obviadas con tan sólo decir que son “algo político” porque le toca al grueso de los venezolanos aquella semilla que los cubanos les estuvieron sembrando desde que castro se agarró la isla y mandó a sus espías acá: “El político es una mierda sin importar de donde venga, y todo lo que tenga que ver con este es una mierda, así que si tú haces algo político, eres un borrego de mierda porque te dejas manipular por los políticos que tanto te han jodido.”

      Pido disculpas por la oración a lo South Park que acabo de poner, pero no hace falta ver mucho para saber a qué me refiero: La gente que protesta por X ó Y idiotez que el chavismo ha hecho y que los jode de alguna forma, al ser interrogados por un reportero, ¿Saben qué es lo primero que dicen? Que “nuestra protesta no es política”, porque si alguien (Por lo generla chavista) llega y decreta que su protesta en efecto sí es política (El problema tiene causas políticas porque los funcionarios inútiles fueron puestos por el mismo gobierno inútil) entonces invalida la protesta, llenándola de mierda a los ojos de los otros chavistas y de una gran parte de los otros venezolanos.

      El anulador político se aplica a cualquier reclamo, por insignificante o descorazonante que sea, porque le permite al régimen escurrir el bulto y desaparecer el problema, volteando la culpa contra la víctima (Otra tara metida por los cubanos desde hace décadas)

      Semejante lavado de cerebro es la única razón que yo hallo para la estupidez de tanta gente que dice que no se puede culpar al gobierno de que los choros asesinen a miles de personas al año debido que no cumple su obligación, porque es “utilizar al muerto con fines políticos”; o que exigir que el imbécil de jessy chacón renuncie y sea metido preso por lo inútil que es en el ministerio que más jode a la gente después del ministerio del interior es un reclamo “con fines políticos”, y pare usted de contar.

      Lo peor del caso, es que hay un coñazal de gente que todavía se come esa pendejada de que porque tachan algo de político, pues es algo repugnante, asqueroso, y que tiene que ser excecrado al olvido “porque tiene la culpa de todo como los políticos”, más o menos lo que los 2019eros clamaron tanto acerca de la salida por ejemplo.

      Por cierto, respondo esta pregunta que dejó el Mr. Nagel en el tema:
      “convince them of what? That this is a terrible government?”

      Sí, hay demasiado chavista (o madurista, o como se quieran llamar) que siguen jurando que con este régimen pueden tener el chance de mejorar sus vidas algún día (Acuérdense de aquella gente que no ha recibido ninguna otra información que lo que dijo el fiambre primero, y ahora dice el imbécil)

      ¿Y cómo se les convence? Pues ni mentir hace falta, sólo con mostrar la realidad basta para que se den cuenta.

    • I hate to defend Capriles, (although not as much as I hated defending Rosales), the fact reamains that even if Capriles is cagandola then #LaSalida would still be wrong. It is possible that both sides of this debate are wrong.

  3. “If the protests “strengthened the government,” tell us #2019 folks, what would Maduro’s numbers look like had the protests not happened?”

    It reminded me of that silly “Visualize May” or something like that by FT.

    • What if April 11, 2002 never happened?
      What would we be doing if Irene had become president in 1998?
      Oh, what if CAP wouldn’t have run for president in 1988?
      Had Diogenes Escalante not gone crazy in 1945, would we be better off?
      What if Columbus never reached the Americas?
      *self-explanatory*

      • We can only be certain about one thing, and one thing only: Francisco Toro’s ‘political’ predictions will always be wrong.

        Abandons CC in February because “not much will happen from now on, I’m bored”.
        (francisco-toro-venezuela_n_4718249.html)
        Largest protests since 1989 a couple days after he says that.
        (venezuela-the-game-changed-last-night/)

        Says that by May no one will care.
        (visualize-may/)
        By August people still care.
        (i-visualized-may-wrong/)

        Thus my dear Gabriel, ask FT all these questions below:

        “What if April 11, 2002 never happened?
        What would we be doing if Irene had become president in 1998?
        Oh, what if CAP wouldn’t have run for president in 1988?
        Had Diogenes Escalante not gone crazy in 1945, would we be better off?
        What if Columbus never reached the Americas?”

        And the correct prediction will be the opposite of what he says.

    • I’m probably not ready to admit that I’m a 2019’s fan, but I would say that Maduro’s numbers would be pretty similar to what they are today. The only good thing for #LaSalida is that the venezuelan people have very short memory.

  4. My POV is that sans #LaSalida the discussions would have been the problems facing Venezuelans, instead it bought the regime months in which the discussions where about guarimbas/goples etc, with the added bonus for the gvnmt of dividing the oppo. A estos tipos les encanta un peo, lo que no les gusta pq no saben es gobernar.

    • What I find sorta silly is people thinking that the MUD was ruined because of the protests. I think it’s something else entirely, I think that the protests helped not only in shedding light on the issues the oppo already had, but made them explode! I will confess, I found the MUD’s ordeal to be absolutely hysterical XD! I mean, come on, we finally got to see the true nature of the parties and realize how unprepared we were; that HCap didn’t want to share the spotlight, that most of the oppo’s parties had a stale leadership (vease http://caracaschronicles.com/2014/07/30/one-giant-leap-for-oppo-political-culture/). In my opinion, these problems existed before the protests, guarimba-chion just helped bring em’ out sooner than expected.

      • Is not the protests that “ruined” the MUD it was the division. That unpreparedness that you mention is the result of some people doing things that go against the consensus. It leaves the rest of the people without a coordinated message and strategy making everyone look bad.

        It is very easy to break any unitarian pact, what is difficult is to build a consensus and act in a coordinated way, specially when there are so many differences among the members.
        It may be hysterical to see anything being destroyed, but it is not so funny if/when you realize that we are all the worse for it.

        Unity is not about this or that leadership being stale or fresh, because it is inevitable that you will like some and dislike others. So will everyone else. Those leaders that you dislike do have followers that do not like the leaders that you like. Unity is about putting them all together for the extra strength that results.

        #LaSalida was the wrong strategy for several reasons but it would have been much better if it had been the result of a unified strategy. By going alone it not only failed as a strategy but even worse damaged the unitarian efforts which were the most important thing the opposition had achieved to date.

  5. Had the protest not happened, (crisis ceteris paribus) I think we would be observing exactly the same figures.
    Had the protest not happened + had the MUD acted with some decency (crisis ceteris paribus), I think we would be observing even worse figures for the government.

    #FundamentalProblemOfCausality
    #2019Isn’tNice
    #ButIThinkIsBetterThanAConstituyenteWithoutANationalConsensus
    (#55%Isn’tANationalConsensus)

    • The problem is that the mud never acted with decency about the protests, they just opened fire upon them, reinforcing the regime’s idea about the “hated enemies who want to overthrow our government by force”

  6. The thesis seems to be that the protests “divided” the opposition, which prevents to have an united front for the elections (Because Unity only matters then!). Is that line of thought that makes people afraid of the #CongresoCiudadano, they claimed (and later had to retract because it was a terrible lie) that it was the launch rally of MCM, outside the MUD.*

    To what I say: Bullshit. The division between the ranks of the oppo has a date a little before that. We all know this.

    *I repeat myself on this entire comment, but I cannot go without saying that the attitude of “if you don’t like it, there’s the door” on politics aka the Ramos Allup Way, is not a productive way to lead to a consensus to say the least, and frankly the side of PJ and AD has to get over the fact that people disagree with them while on the same side.

  7. From now on, I propose that oppo politician who answers yes to any of the following questions be barred from any debate about what strategy to follow:
    1. Did you believe that the april 2002 coup was a “power vacuum”? Not now, but did you actually believe that back in 2002?
    2. Did you believe that the 2003 recall referendum was rigged? Back then of course
    3. Did you abstain from voting in the 2005 parliamentary election?
    4. Are you usually skeptical towards Datanalisis polls?
    5. Did you support #LaSalida? How about #CongresoCiudadano?

  8. Discusiones bizantinas de la oposición venezolana… por eso es que nunca vamos a salir de la peste roja.
    Capriles & Co. pasan más tiempo oponiéndose a la oposición que al gobierno. Desde que el carajo “gano” las elecciones parece más un abogado del gobierno que un candidato víctima de fraude.
    Supongo que soy yo, con mis valores de clase media (y por lo tanto radicales, racistas, clasistas, etc.) y mi apoyo a la salida, el culpable del desastre que a todo nivel vive Venezuela. Leopoldo, MCM y Ledezma seguramente buscaban implementar captahuellas para comprar harina pan cuando empezaron con su protesta en Febrero.
    Soy solo yo o hay alguien más que piense que lo que pasa en Venezuela es inaceptable? Como es que los supuestos líderes de más de la mitad del país agreden a un sector opositor por oponerse al gobierno. Repito, supongo que los culpables somos nosotros… por creer que si ganas una elección debes acceder al cargo en cuestión… no decir que te robaron y después mandar a la gente a tocar cacerolas. Todo muy venezolano, un cojeculo pues, no se entiende nada.
    Honestamente, ya no se ni que pensar. Estoy esperando por los iluminados que justifican esperar hasta que nada sirva, hasta que lo poco hay deje de existir respondan con su habitual sabiduría: hay que esperar 5 anitos más chico! Gran vaina! Nicolas es tan burro que se cae solo! Deja vu, del fiambre dijeron lo mismo y mira como estamos.

    • “Repito, supongo que los culpables somos nosotros… por creer que si ganas una elección debes acceder al cargo en cuestión… no decir que te robaron y después mandar a la gente a tocar cacerolas. Todo muy venezolano, un cojeculo pues, no se entiende nada.”

      Una caimanera pue

      BTW. I agree with every word.

  9. Earlier comments convince me that the obvious but key effect of the demonstrations has been to “communicate dissatisfaction” in a powerful way – the oppo was effectively quiet prior to the events. Perhaps creating a radical movement behind a simple hash tag (#LaSalida) was overkill and in fact counterproductive. Perhaps the MUD did a poor job cooling hot heads and communicating. But what alternatives where there really? And how to galvanize the opposition?

    Really interesting comments by those explaining why it has been important to spin the street demonstrations as nonpolitical expressions of dissent with the regime (a total oxymoron) – even though such spinning comes across at best as nonsense and at worst as utterly spineless when performed by a leadership figure like Capriles. And puts into question how one can claim for release of political prisoners when their activities where supposedly not political. One of the main problems is that LL is in jail, MCM is out of congress, MUD is in disarray. But a re-alignment may pay off, especially if with more pressure the oppo can achieve release of political prisoners and accountability of government officials (hey, we all are allowed to dream).

    And what about international opinion? Did the protests not successfully challenge Maduro’s claim of being the legitimate and popular choice? Did they not bring forth (some) pressure from the US government? Has this had any effect on assessments of Venezuela as a risk for foreign investment and further put heat on the government to be accountable? Are the (apparent) exit of Giordani and (again, apparent) shift to a more pragmatic economic policy line, not a coup of sorts that may be attributed in part on the evident dissatisfaction of an important part of the population, made evident through the demonstrations? Especially because of these last points I disagree that the government is stronger, although it might not be as ready to cede power as we would wish.

  10. What appears to be driving the govts steep fall in popularity ( which cannot be denied) is the economic crisis , regardless of the protests even though these probably were felt to be justified by the mayority of the rank and file opposition !! The protests did not make the govt more unpopular because they were tagged by the traditional chavista supporter (more lukewarn and dubious as time passes) as expressing the angry discontent of one part of the population and not of the whole population. Absent a political bias among the protestors they would not have happened .

    The govt supporters and chavista leaning independents did not become more Chavistas because of the protests , but neither did they (for the most part) feel compelled to turn coats and begin following the opposition. In this sense they were a failure

    They were a success in that they galvanized the spirit of large segments of the traditional opposition and made the students become more militant and proactive in their opposition to the regime . Also in that they helped substantially reinforce the regime’s bad image outside our borders . Much of international opinion now definitely see the regime as warped and despotic even if most latam governments turned a blind eye following their most venal interests .

    They also had unfavourable consequences in that the regime took measures ( such as LL and other imprisonment and MCM ouster from parlaiment ) which altough making the opposition voices stronger reduced the oppositions margin for institutional manouvering Worse of all they led the opposition to a rift which now demands a lot of oppo effort and attention to remedy. This to me is the worse consequence of the protests even though electorally Im sure people who are now at opposite sides of the opposition movement will all vote together to ouster the regime in all future elections

    One not often noticed success is that in part because of the protest the govt has been inhibited from taking necessary measures to alliveate the crisis for fear that the discontent will spill over to favour the oppo side and is now either posponing idenfinitely those measures or taking other measures that in the long run will only hurt its cause .

    • Right on Bill!

      But the question that vexes me is how long can Chavistas and Chavistas sympathizers cling to Chavismo? If you read Aporrea, after the normal chavista platitudes (Chavez is great, revolucion or muerte, etc) they criticize Maduro in no uncertain terms. The thing is that Chavista rojito despises Oppo more than Maduro. So I guess we have a voting chavista base with a ‘beaten wife syndrome’ / ‘mientras mas te pego mas te amo’.

      I also see why Chavistas just can’t fathom Oppo. The other day I saw a clip of Leopoldo’s wife and Maria Corina and their entourage enter the court room. They dressed in white exuding this Boticelli elegance. Meanwhile a vociferous crowd of spandex wearing ladies jeered at them. I can only imagine the first group will ride home in their A/C autos while the spandex ladies will get in the jeep in their last leg to their home.

      Is there any chance for the middle class promise (or beyond) for these people? Of course not. So I see envy to be a strong motivator, or even a case of ‘cutting off the nose to spite the face’.

      So we are left with an opportunity for Chavismo to birth an intelligent socialism (an oxymoron, if you ask me) or just the degradation of Venezuela with the hemorrhage of its intelligentsia to Miami. Yes, the dreaded Cuban model.

  11. If people think that the opposition has favored the government by protesting they are confusing their words( most common actually). The government was not strengthened BY the opposition, it was forced to find more strength to fight it.Big difference.

    The problem is that more opposition did not participate.

    There are so many ‘aguado’ and cowardly oppos out there ‘enchufandose’. People are so ‘enchufado’ that they see it as normal.

    In Venezuela, right from the start, the desire to criticize everything under the Sun to make themselves look good was the reason Chavez one in the first place…” I am going to vote for Chavez to get even with the 4 th Republic”

    There is a dire need for a sense of personal responsibility because there is so little of that in Venezuela that people cannot even see the sacrifice LL made.

    This is beyond shameful!

    We need more criticism of opposition behavior, because the opposition has done a pitiful job of opposing.

    • “The problem is that more opposition did not participate.”
      I knew that that phrase would come out sooner or later, more people did not participate in it because they knew it was madness, most people in the opposition wanted it to succeed but there simply was no way for it to work, look at Libia and Syria, different culture and context perhaps, but maybe you would have wanted people to go to the streets with Ak-47s, because that’s really the only way we could have made some progress against a militaristic populist regime without eroding it’s power base, wich are the barrio people, smart protest could have stood a better chance, not closing your own street, it made us look like fools for 90% of the population.

  12. I find it pointless, now, to criticise #LaSalida, since 1) not all protests were linked to it (especially those with a violent streak); 2) its own proponents have discarded peaceful protests as an immediate route (the “Congreso Ciudadano” and the calls for a Constituent Assembly are currently in order, and they are far from immediate). To be clear, violent protests did occur, on their own; and both peaceful and violent protests were met with undue and State violence.

    As for Maduro’s strength, it lies beyond a need for popular appeal. Rhetorically, those who are against the government are not-people, so their opinion is non-important. Politically, he has received the full support of the Armed Force (which is duly reciprocated), he has propped up his repressive apparatus, he has not been questioned by his party, and has seemingly put any leadership struggles within Chavismo behind him. Moreover, he has less financial leeway, of course, but that’s not due to any action but its own.

    Was this due to #LaSalida? I’m not sure, but its unpopularity -which I don’t find completely relevant or insurmountable- is not due to political factors, but rather, to economic ones.

  13. Many tend to forget that La Salida came into the scene only earlier this year and that still is very much part of the political process, now with much more justification than before due to the added humiliations the “bravo” pueblo has to endure. I find it difficult to be inspired by Fausto Masso’s take on La Salida, as he is a hostage to the Sabana Grande strain of the Stockholm Syndrome and agree with Nagel that this is a weak regime, If I ever saw one. The “sacudon” will probably reveal how weak it is. .

    • “now with much more justification than before due to the added humiliations the “bravo” pueblo has to endure”

      That is actually one of the reasons #LaSalida was implemented at the wrong moment in time. In February just two months after an electoral victory by Maduro and just one month after the year end festivities. The right strategy was to wait until the economic crisis hits and Maduro’s popularity suffers to then unify strengths between the traditional opposition and the newly disgruntled from the economic crisis. By coming out too soon they burned that cartridge, the traditional opposition is demobilized.

      Of course at that time the #LaSalida theme could only be political which naturally polarized the population always a plus for the government. Protests need to be themed on (not “spinned” like another commenter put it) on the social aspect, the unifying theme for all Venezuelans.

      The other negative aspect of #LaSalida was to make it into a terminal, do-or-die, winner-takes-all, final-solution, no-hay-vuelta-atras, #ElQueSeCansaPierde attrition battle against the government. That is putting all the eggs in one basket, never a sound strategy. Besides in that kind of attrition battle the government has the advantage.

    • I don’t think it’s that Fausto is so much hostage to the Sabana Grande strain of the Stockholm Syndrome (well-put, btw), but that he as an anti-Castro student leader in early Castro Cuba did not see student protests then weakening the Castro Govt. Worse yet, he had to seek refuge in the Cuban Venezuelan Embassy for many months (smarter move than LL’s delivering himself over to Venezuela’s “Che”-DC-for his own “protection), before eventually getting political asylum in Venezuela. That being said, I don’t think Fausto relishes the possibility of trading El Gran Cafe for Calle Ocho’s Domino Park, which is where things are headed , unless the Pueblo or someone in the military finally get some balls….

  14. Maduro’s numbers would probably be very similar to what they are. Look, LL is not the reason why Maduro is still in power, but you can add Capiles + MUD to that list too.

    The reason that Maduro is still in power is that this is a civilian/military/criminal government that is willing to do anything to stay in power, no limits!

    The country is in very bad shape indeed, but apparently that does not affect the government, they only care about what the armed forces think and to a lesser degree what the chavistas think. All other Venezuelans are only useful for putting the blame on everything that is wrong.

    From the protests we could imply that: (i) the armed forces are pretty much with “el proceso”, and that they are willing to use their power to stay in power, (ii) the government will not fall by “peaceful” street protests, and (iii) the government is happy to govern with less and less popularity, they do not care.

    Chavismo will fall when they fight between themselves, from within. I believe that the protests united them to fight the common enemy and stay in power. I have no idea for how long they will be united but I think that that depends more on the price of oil than on the influence of the MUD or LL or MCM or Capriles.

  15. I don’t know if it has been explicitly stated yet, but notwithstatanding the effects of #LaSalida on the government, it is true that whatever damage has been inflicted on Maduro in the polls has not been capitalised by an oppo that seems to be bereft of clear ideas. Is this a consequence of #LaSalida, or was this disease something that the MUD had been harboring for some time? Is #LaSalida only a symptom, like a bad fever? It may be inconsequential if Maduro lags in the polls if there is no one out there to reap tose benefits. If #LaSalida truly broke the MUD in two and thus rendered it incapable of reaching out to those left behind by Maduro’s policies then there is truth behind the assertion that #LaSalida did more harm than good.

    My counterfactual would be as follows: There is no #LaSalida. A more unified MUD, not afraid to alienate its own radicals, would be more willing and able to reach out politically to sectors of dissatisfied chavistas with a strategy that adds people to its ranks. It accompanies vast swathes of the population in its rightful demands, eventually asking for a removal of the government. This would only have taken a few more months. I do believe that #LaSalida hurt our chances and derailed the main MUD strategy in the hope of scoring quick points with a Hail Mary when we still have time on the clock and are only down by a couple of points.

    But what’s done is done. Now we need to own those events and spin them in our favor. Not an easy task.

    I am not sure what strategy would be best suited for our situation, I don’t pretend to know more than MUD head honchos. But we have to agree that Maduro will not simply fall all by himself, even if he were to dip into single digit popularity levels. The oppo has to do its best to manage this situation in the best interest of itself and Vzla as a whole.

    • ” If #LaSalida truly broke the MUD in two …”

      Which isn’t true, so stop lying. Look, with the economic situations and the repression and the blatant abuse of power, there was no way in hell that people would sit in their houses to listen salsa and wait for elections. Some people between the oppo recognized that fact and acted accordingly. Get over it.

      • I am over it. I am actually saying IF #LaSalida broke the MUD in two… And on top of that I hint at the possibility that #LaSalida is a sympton of an underlying disease within the MUD. I guess that everyone here is for the termination of this catastrophe ASAP, by just about any means available. If we do tend to disagree we do so on the means to terminate this government. I am not going on a limb here if I also say that we will all go permanently crazy if this lasts for too long.

        Whenever I participate in these discussions I become only too aware of what the inside of the MUD must be like… I see a bunch of people that I would cateorize as smart, some of them well read, some of them honest. All of these people have their own honest views on how to dispose of Chavismo, but there is no one with the authority to impose one clear path, one action plan, so we end up with a variety of half-cooked defeatist pseudo strategies that usually end up hurting the MUD and the oppo as whole more than it hurts the government.

        I am certain that #LaSalida had the best intentions, and I am also certain that the people that promoted it and that participated in it are capable and had the best interest of the whole of Vzla in mind. But all that is beside the point. If we are to judge tactics, if we should ponder about strategies, then we have to look at results. Are we happy with those results? Knowing what we now know, would we support it again?

        Of course we should also leave aside some bile for those that opposed #LaSalida, because if everyone had supported it, would it have been successful? Who knows…

        I really could not care less about being right or being proved wrong. What I really care about is seeing the demise of chavismo for ever as soon as humanly possible. And I guess you do too.

        Cheers!

  16. To me is so obvious that those that made #LaSalida costly are within the opposition. It was a kamikaze move against those stealing headlines. It continues to be that way for the Asambleas and other initiatives. If certain individuals within the MUD had not feel so threatened by #LaSalida we wouldn’t be having this discussion today. By the way, the ‘threatening feeling’ perceived was both caused by exacerbated personalities (MCM) and too sensitive ones (HCR).

    I second other comments here that the protest were both peaceful and violent and they were both met with violence. Many died in the hands of the State and in the hands of criminals, plus the very unnecessary beatings and tortures.

    Did #LaSalida strengthened the government? Of course not. Did it weaken the government? Hardly, but it did show a very ugly side of the government not yet seen. Everything else related to the governments unpopularity have to do with the economy, not civil liberties (sadly, but understandable). The quality of life has diminishing at a pace so rapid in the last couple of months that it is impossible to adjust, and accelerating.

    I agree with GTAveledo in his comments, but would like to add that talking about #LaSalida is pointless because the opposition has zero influence today. We are watching everything from the bleachers screaming and yelling thinking that we have a role in the game. We don’t.

    • “talking about #LaSalida is pointless because the opposition has zero influence today. We are watching everything from the bleachers screaming and yelling thinking that we have a role in the game. We don’t.”

      This reminds me of the depressing posts “we are unelectable”.

      I profoundly disagree with this defeatist position which leads to what is called ‘learned helplessness’. In the moment when the regime is at its weakest is when more ready and more cohesive the opposition needs to be.

      We should keep talking about #LaSalida because there are important lessons here not the least of which is that unity is the most important asset the opposition can have but it is also a very fragile thing. All efforts must be made within the unity umbrella. The opposition is a very varied coalition just like the country and it needs to be even more varied if it hopes to grow to include the former and current Chavismo sympathizers. That variety makes agreement more difficult but when it comes is more significative because is on positions that most people can fully support.

      “the opposition has zero influence today”

      Divided, you may be right we do not have much power but united the opposition represents the hopes and desires of at least (maybe more) half of the population of the country, and growing. Millions of people. That is a lot of influence, that is a lot of political power, never forget that. That BTW is the only real power the opposition can have and it should work to increase it.

  17. Who can be the leader who can unite the opposition (at least temporarily), the man MUD and independents can rally behind? Capriles is clearly not that man, MCM will never be accepted by even lukewarm disillusioned Chavistas, and LL is in jail…

    I know many on here are scared of new “Messiah” figure, but MUD is often dysfunctional, incoherent, and truly counterproductive that they need a leader, they need someone to direct their energies, to marshal their forces in the most pragmatic ways, someone who has the authority to command others. How do we get this leader? Good question. My fear is that these mediocrities in MUD continue to jockey with each other and protect their own position as much as they try oppose the regime.

  18. Good discussion, everyone. I promise this is the last “oppo vs. oppo” article for a while. Let’s turn our focus onto other things. Ultimately, the opposition is not where the fate of this disaster will be decided.

  19. Juan,

    Not to be overzealous on technicalities, but as you are right by saying that the statement “the government was strengthened by #LaSalida” is an unsubstantiated statement that will require a closer look into possible counterfactuals; I think you you must be aware (and probably are) that the statement “claiming the government was strengthened -by #LaSalida- would require showing, first off, that the government is strong”, sounds solid and nice, but is utterly, undeniable wrong.

    See, I know this is like the classical identification of the treatment effect problem that we all know can´t be answered properly without the proper setting, but still; we are in a point beyond good slogans.

    Me? The Puzkas´ leak left me very worried about how come, in the middle of this humongous economics shitstorm, Venezuela is still divided in three aprox. equally weighted political blocks OPO-CHA-IND (more or less the same of one year ago). My hypothesis: Is the treatment effect of a coctel of some people playing off-side, and the other people refusing to enter the field.

    • I disagree. When someone says “fortalecieron al gobierno” they are implicitly stating that the government used to be weak and now it is strong. It’s not a matter of degrees or statistical significance – I know what you’re getting at, that a government could technically go from being ultra weak to mildly weak and still be “fortalecido,” but that’s not what the semantics are implying. The only thing that remains in the head of the reader is “fortalecer” – which ultimately means you are associating “strength” with the government.

      • No. You said it very well: It´s a matter of counterfactuals.

        I´m not talking from ultra-weak to mildly- weak, I´m just saying that the premise “had the government been strengthened the government must be strong” is wrong. For example what if the counterfactual is that, in the absence of the treatment, Maduro would have been in his Havana exile by now? *insert cheek-in-tongue tone*

        That is exactly the beauty of the identification of the treatment effect framework: you can try to isolate effects and answer properly beyond semantics.

        🙂

        • You seem to be speaking in coded language, so please help me understand.

          Are you saying that whatever strength the government has right now it could have been weaker had #LaSalida not happened?

          If that is the case I agree, mostly because like in a chess board one sides strength is fully dependent on the strength of the opponent and the possibilities it has to mount an attack. Since the opposition is much weaker than it could have been the government is in a safer position.

          • Exactly, amieres.

            That whatever strength the government has right now it could have been weaker, is a posiibility, not a fact (I guess is impossible to prove empirically). But I just saying that the whole, look the government is super weak is proof of nothing.

  20. Did the demonstrations and the violent repressions of them strengthen a government that is economically deranged and imploding? Is that the question?

  21. I find the government *might be* weaker now, not because of La Salida or anything related, but due to its own economic policies. La Salida drove Maduro closer to the military and in these last months we’ve seen more areas being handed to them, in effect giving them more power.

    Maybe Maduro’s real weakness shows in his clinging to the military, not in the way he runs the country. I mean, what’s the state of the Union after La Salida? The forty dead, the prisoners, the tortured, the opposition como mosca sin cabeza, the further militarization of everything and the sad confirmation that, as the government famous mask of democracy went down, its falling off amounted to nothing, not a single shift in the government’s loyalties.

    Why do you think this line of thinking has nothing to do with reality? Why do you keep saying it’s counter-factual? Are this not the facts, or what?

    • Because that line of thinking blames the protesters for the goverment repression. Is a complete mystery why people disagree with blaming the victims for the violence of the aggressor. Stockholm Syndrome is terrible basis for a political strategy.

      • They’re quite different things, not being afraid of the government and being delusional. The protesters are also a matter quite different from the ones that got them into the mess and left the opposition prostrate. It’s quite possible the government is weak, but I doubt the regime is. Maduro might be shown the way out, but the regime way stay longer than him. And very little of that has anything to do with La Salida, while the appalling state of the oppo movement is.

        • Bull. The “apalling state of the oppo movement”, as you call it, is simply a disagreement with the way that the MUD leadership has conducted this fight, and is on them for their “if you don’t like it, then get out off my team” attitude. Or you rather solve conflicts like the chavistas, where the leadership has to be obeyed else you get fired….or killed?

          Also, for all the “La Salida didn’t got results”, well, the salsa post-elections didn’t got results either and got to be for far longer. And you all speak on past, when protests are flaring up again as we speak.

          • The Salidistas were members of the MUD; they went and their thing without consulting. Don’t get me wrong, I too think the MUD was contemplating its navel and doing nothing otherwise, but neither PJ or Bandera Roja went and threw a 40-dead resulting fit. It was never discussed, and amounted to a coup from within, a betrayal in anybody’s book. The ill-conceived post-election salsa didn’t get results either, apart from frustration and disengagement, but it didn’t fragment the opposition or drive important leaderships astray.

            Yes, protests are flaring, and, instead of the oppo’s being prepared for what some of them saw coming, instead of having tools to deal with it, they find themselves in utter disarray, and new, opportunistic Salidistas pitching the incredibly dim-witted idea of an Asamblea Constituyente. We’ll still have to see how that takes on.

          • ” a coup from within, a betrayal…”

            Now those are heavy words to be thrown around. Apparently, if anybody decides to have some initiative on the MUD is a betrayal. If anybody doesn’t asks for permission to PJ and AD before doing anything, is a coup.

            So, they don’t do anything and they don’t let anybody else do anything. And you thing that the MUD losing relevance is the fault of the people that supported La Salida? Please.

          • As far as I know, VP was and *is* part of MUD. To hold that this was not a betrayal is, as JC Nagel would put it, counterfactual. MUD is not a coalition only when VP sees fit. Either it is, or it isn’t. The same goes for unity.

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