Still searching for a narrative

The economic armaggedon Venezuela is undergoing gives the opposition a golden opportunity to break myths and lay the groundwork for the Venezuela of the future. Sadly, and barring a few exceptions, I don’t see the opposition establishing a succesful narrative yet.

Here are two examples.

Yesterday, opposition legislator Julio Borges posed 10 questions for Maduro, along the lines of what we’ve been discussing recently: where did the money go? What happened to all our savings? What happened to expropriated companies? What about the land that was taken over?

The problem is that these questions do not constitute a narrative.

Posing questions is a pedagogical tool as old as Socrates. Posing a question creates a dialogue, a discussion from which answers can hopefully stem. Questions trigger curiosity, and that is the basis for learning. But throwing questions out in the public arena serves no purpose if it is not followed by a story – by a narrative as to what really happened, and how we can get out of this jam.

Everyone already wonders how it was that we got to this place. Everyone knows what the diagnosis is. Politicians who emphasize the questions or the diagnosis are simply wasting their precious time, as well as ours.

On the think tank front, it’s no different. Take the above video from free-market think tank Cedice.

The video is OK in that it poses serious questions about public spending, but after watching it, do you feel that you have clear answers?

How can a video that wants to explain what is happening forget to talk about the gasoline subsidy, or Cadivi? Instead, they talk about the $80 million supposedly spent on Hotel Alba Caracas … In fact, for all its ranting about the inefficiency of state-owned firms, not even Cedice dares to say upfront that they should be privatized! They hint at it briefly, but they don’t say it)

Instead, the main message is that we need … more accountability. I’m all for accountability, but I wouldn’t put it in the top five in the list of things needed to solve Venezuela’s financial problems.

Barack Obama once reportedly said that every crisis brings great opportunity. Unless the opposition provides a clearer narrative as to why we got where we got, and what it’s going to take to get us there, we will have wasted this mega-crisis to do away with old myths and forge some new ones.

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