A sMUDdgy record so far


Treat at work

Today marks four months to the day since the opposition celebrated an unexpected and historic electoral victory hoisted under promises of change. Yesterday marked the three-month milepost since an emboldened MUD took control of Parliament, vowing to revive the institution while asserting its newfound clout.

So, how’s that going for us? Not great.

The original endorphin rush from seeing Henry Ramos shut up various chavista grandees from the dais has worn off, and a no-longer-concealable sense of drift has settled over the opposition coalition.

Today, all across Venezuela, tens of thousands of highly committed grassroots activists are sitting and waiting, confused, frustrated and disillusioned. They are desperately waiting for their party leaders to relay instructions on how to proceed. Some have no idea what to do about the six or seven candidates from their parties that have already decided to run for Governor of their state. Will there be primaries? Are we supposed to be collecting signatures for a referendum? Am I expected to pressure the CNE for a date on elections? What elections, exactly? Can someone please tell me what we’re campaigning for?

The malaise now falling over the opposition activist base should be setting off all kinds of alarms at MUD headquarters. Because let me let you in on a little secret: elections in Venezuela are not won in Caracas, they’re won at the voting center. When election time comes around, tens of thousands of activists swing into action: getting out the vote, witnessing audits, facing down attempts at intimidation, doing the actual work, on the ground, that can deliver a majority you can defend.

To chalk up their poor performance to the nasty, nasty government would be an insult to the voters who elected them.

MUD can compete, but only if it keeps its people on the ground, not to mention a bunch of diputados who grow more restless by the moment, busy and energized. Right now, they’re everything but. The regime-change plan seems stalled, with little clarity on next steps and a window of opportunity that will close in a few weeks. And the legislative front is not going much better, with MUD pushing a legislative-agenda-for-the-peanut gallery that doesn’t really address structural problems, and even then seeing it shot down at the Supreme Tribunal.

As things stand today, even if MUD could wave a magic wand and get its whole legislative agenda past the TSJ and implemented, it wouldn’t really make that much of a difference. And that, my friend, is depressing. Because shouldn’t it really be in the MUD’s best interest to do some serious legislating in anticipation of its eventual seizing of the coroto? Or does MUD think all of Venezuela’s problems will be kissed away once HenCapriPoldo gets sworn into office in 2019?

If we add to all this the colossal loss of credibility that the MUD risks through inaction, the opposition’s incentives for getting its shit together on both fronts are pretty obvious. And yet, maddeningly, it’s not happening.

Despite the ritual protestations to the contrary, MUD has yet to agree on a real plan for regime change. By “a real plan” I mean one you can operationalize, one that structures expectations and work plans for activists at the grassroots level. A real plan has priorities, timelines and goals: it’s about saying what you won’t do as much as what you will do. Since MUD can’t seem to agree on a real plan, it has announced it will do everything at the same time, a commitment-phobic “plan” of appeasement that not even Chúo Torrealba seems to take seriously.

Meanwhile, the legislative agenda is top-heavy with political bills conceived to advance individual party agendas instead of serious proposals for reform. And even in terms of rhetoric, it’s not like they’re punching at chavismo effectively.

Look, I’m not a MUD-hater. Nothing would make me happier than to see MUD succeed. But to chalk up their poor performance to the nasty, nasty government would be an insult to the voters who elected them. To shrug it all off with an “ay, pobrecitos, la tienen difícil,” is to lower our standards and expectations to an unacceptable level.

MUD needs to step up its game, period.

It’s objectively unacceptable and, frankly, irresponsible, that internal disagreements are still keeping our political leadership from acting with the seriousness that our country (and their survival) demands. They’ve had a 17-year learning curve and the privilege of serving the world’s most patient electorate. At this point, MUD’s inertia had better be down to ineptitude, otherwise, we’re in the realm of conspiracy theory.

The opposition has proven its organizational chops when it comes to elections, but it has left much to desire in terms of broader political stewardship. Failure to reach consensus on a coherent strategy is on the MUD, and the MUD only.

The real tragedy is that MUD leaders remain completely unaccountable, because, in a polarized scenario such as Venezuela, people will vote for you only because the other option is that much worse.


Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Emi is as pretty as sharp-tongued.

    How did not the BCV reform law adress structural problems? And even if it may be true that thousands of activists from some parties are doing nothing, there are ALSO several thousands of activists from other parties out in the streets, doing day to day work, following the party’s lead. So, “no nos metan a todos en el mismo saco”. Even if you are not a MUD-hater as you claim, you consistently prefer to see the glass half empty.

  2. If I recall my Venezuelan AN 101, isn’t there parliamentary immunity for the members which can only be stripped…by the AN? Why isn’t this being somehow leveraged. An asset isn’t really an asset if it remains underutilized.

    I recall this being the big issue of concern when LL was stripped of her seat.

    Why not push the boundary to see how the government reacts (granted, no one wants to be a sacrificial lamb, but this would be putting one’s money where the mouth is). Imagine LL’s “violence inciting” speeches with immunity.

    Likewise, imagine the institutional uproar and confrontation with the CNE and TSJ if the AN were to “investigate” a corrupt chavista parliamentarian ( assuming there are any corrupt chavistas in the AN) preliminary to booting them. The MUD could pick someone with a rojo alternate or go through the motions just to pick a fight just to see what happens.

    These guys think they need to hit a homerun. The knot is Gordian. Either pick it apart strand by strand or cut the damn thing and be done with it.

    • Do you still believe at this stage of the party that there is something sacred for Maduro’s cronies?, even parliamentary inmunity?

      • No. But then, that is the point, right? The AN talked the talk in the election period, now they need to walk the walk.

        Until they put skin in the game, they are not truly vested in making changes. All else is lip service, which is what we are seeing.

  3. I am also in desperate need of some good news by the AN or I will have to get treated for depression, but not in Venezuela, cause the ‘aint no meds’.

    I was fantasizing on a quick approval of the Amnesty Law and a dramatic and pacific march into Ramo Verde like Ghandi’s Salt March https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salt_March with all the opposition leadership in front.

    But lest we forget that these guys will shoot you and are used to impunity for their actions (Puente Llaguno, Feb 2014).

    Then I would entertain the idea of a general strike, but then Toripollo would argue: “see, economic war!!”, instead waiting for Venezuela to default would seems less risky. And depressingly slow…

    Go to international instances, pull “Carta Democratica” and all. They will probably ask, like Stalin, “how many divisions has the” OAS? and scream “see, Intervencionismo!!!”.

    Instigate a military coup seems expeditious but also a bad option because it makes the military the ultimate voice of the political system in Venezuela, something like it was in Turkey before Erdogan. I’m with Ramos Allup here, any coup is bad.

    This weekend, Nagle asked rhetorically if we should go to the jugular. I am not sure where the jugular is. It seems that things have slipped into a paralysis while the imploding economy works like bed sores on Venezuela.

    The situation looks so Cuban.

  4. Does the problem simply boil down to disagreement over strategy and the lack of a clear leader(s) or process to pick a course and make others follow? Other than that I really can’t understand what the problem is.

    • Egos may be part of the problem, an internal struggle for power, but I doubt that’s the main issue. Henry is the accepted leader. Why won’t the amnesty law pass? Why don’t they propose a Gas price raise just for the record? Why don’t they propose a law abolishing “precio justo” and demolishing all exchange control stupid regulations? Why don’t they propose a law banning free oil to Cuba and others?

      As with all complicated matters, the answer is a combination of multiple factors.

      Egos? Sure.. Internal divisions, struggle for power and glory? You bet. Incompetence? For damn sure. Add to that being hand-tied by the corrupt TSJ, and the executive branch thugs.

      Last, but not least, you can also bet that there are a lot of bribes, extortion, threats, did I say Bribes? Of course. Who do you think we’re dealing with? Venezuela has a demonstrated record after 4 decades of Ad/Copey of massive political corruption. Are we innocent enough to believe these new 100 Muddy deputies son unos santicos? Yeah… right. I bet half of them have already been bribed with PDVSA money. Or promises of a brand new apartment in St Vincent.

      Chavistas deputies must be having lots of cafecitos and whiskicitos with Muddy deputies, you know, Aristobulo working his magic under the table.. that’s how business is done, and has always been done in Vzla. Thus, the MUD has done shit to this day.

  5. I think it is unfair diminish the effort made in the National Assembly, they have done everything in their power, it is obvious for anybody that Maduro’s government is sabotaging the legislative branch.

    The referendum should be pushed by the parties not the assembly.

  6. Well very interesting. It now seems people are disappointed at politicians that have never known how to execute anything other than running around in political circles with zero track record of anything. But what happened every time someone asked for a plan? The classic mediocre answers: 1) We will cross that bridge when we get there 2) There is no time to focus on this now 3) They will come up with a plan eventually, they have to 4) Radical times, require radical actions. 5) Who do you propose then? Jesus?
    And the list of mediocre excuses goes on and on and on and on and on. (All of these are quoted from people in this blog)

    Surprise surprise, reality is here and guess what? Those same politicians that never made the cut before, don’t make the cut now. How shocking.

    And I don’t really need to edit this comment I made in Aug. 2015 because it is still perfectly applicable. The opposition did win (which I did not foresee) but the outcome is still the same. Angry backlash of voters coming in 3, 2….


    No, sorry, you don’t get to make any more choices, you’ve exhausted your chances. Game is over for you and the mediocre opposition cheerleaders.

    And Leopoldo doesn’t make the cut. Being a former mayor of Chacao and/or rotting in jail doesn’t automatically qualify you being a leader, you need a bit more (maybe experience running anything aside from being a politician?). Yes, he has courage, yes you can admire him as he put himself through all this struggle when he wasn’t forced to do it. But that’s it, he doesn’t make the cut. For further reference on successful politicians, please check one of the other 195 countries in the world, you might get ideas on how to do things.

    And yes, we will get the government we deserve as long as the only people left that can “think” (or perhaps they can’t) keep being comfortable with the current opposition body. But yes, what the hell, radical times call for radical measures right? Never mind that first you need an entity or group of people that can actually function in a normal environment and deliver in a normal environment. I guess that if it is a radical time, then you would really need people who can actually function even way beyond what is expected in a normal environment.

    And yes, if my position (and that of many others) further divides the opposition, then so be it because the opposition as it is, really doesn’t make things that much more better and is clearly not a viable alternative. Things need to get worse and a new opposition will need to be born for real progress to take place.

    It is funny, hard core opposition supporters are usually upset at the govt. because of the misery they have created, the mess they’ve thrown the country into, etc. and talk about the Cubanisation of the country, yet when it comes to judging its own leaders, hard core opposition are ok with half-baked and mediocre politicians with improvised plans. So in a way, you are very similar to what the govt. offers: improvisation, lack of execution, etc. so why should someone listen to you? You offer mediocrity of the mind and that is also not a way to move forward.

    I am not suggesting to just stand-by and seat idle, I am asking for a different (and a necessary) leadership, a change. I’ve voted for the typical opposition candidates in the past and it has led to nowhere. We need new faces. And what does the opposition do? Not even appoint at least a young politician but just go with Ramus Allup, dismiss Maria Corina and steam roll you all the way (i.e. una patada a la mesa). F-them.

  7. 17 years reacting to Chavismo actions teach you to follow and to scramble, but does not make you a trail blazer.

    Also, Chavismo swears that they will never negotiate with the apatridas nor give back power to them, AND the MUD swear that they will never approvfe a coup. Then status quo is here to stay…

  8. Who benefits from the status quo?
    Not the nation, not the opposition and also not the “government”

    only the regime and the occupation….

    Con quien nos enfentamos? con una cuerda de corruptos incapaces o con un ejercito de ocupacion.

    if we clarify this primary issue, maybe we can strategize appropriately.

  9. I can’t agree with this comment. A basic problem with the MUD is their overhyping everything. We need to get the activists and the pueblo excited only when it matters most. And that point is ALMOST here, but not quite yet. If we wish to do this democratically, the MUD has chosen its options: pressure for resignation (this has not been very significant, mostly because it will never happen), call for a referendum (something PJ has been pushing hard for and will continue to do so until they receive an answer soon), and introduce the enmienda, which is in the parliamentary backlog, as well as the Referendum Law which would technically help speed up all these processes. Of course, as Quico says, nothing will be possible without some negotiation with the other side.

    It’s quite simply more complicated than it seems.

    • Yeah, why pressure for resignation?…Or protest in any way.. it’s never going to happen anyway… why even bother?.. it’s not like regime changes have been catalysed by any form of civil unrest.. In any country in the world..In any moment in history…

      At some point in life everyone thinks it’s pointless to ask a girl out.. it would never happen.. right?.. Then you grow a pair and finally understand that you need to get off your ass and go fuck the prom queen..so to speak

  10. The fuckers…

    Who would have thought? The only way they could figure to unite was collective castration.

    Venezuelan politics is like having an ugly girlfriend who constantly holds you at gunpoint and beats you while promising she may one day at least brush her teeth.

  11. Wow Emiliana, you really are effective.

    But no, Mr. Dow is right, the things going on now are more like a poker game than a chess game.

  12. Great post Emiliana! In my opinion the real issue is with VP and their usual splitting of the opo.

    Instead of focusing on regime change via the revocatorio (which makes the most sense) they are focusing on the Amnesty law, which has 0 chance of leading to anything that improves the misery of life in Venezuela. And this is of course due to Leopoldo and his ambition, that usually comes before the interests of the country.


    • If you were one of the ones in prison, you might feel differently. Just sayin’. Freeing political prisoners is a big step towards a free society. If you doubt that, then ask why Maduro opposes it so virulently? Tell me, why does Maduro want to enslave the society? Keep dissenters in jail? Stop presses? Cancel television stations? Have endless cadenas? Take away freedoms? Take away property like a common criminal? Destroy investment? Grind production to a halt? Imprison those who are effective in showing the lies and bringing sanity back? Why do you think all that is necessary? Why is it necessary to force a population into “socialism” – if it is such a good thing, why do the majority, the supermajority, of the population oppose it? Why ever could that possibly be?? Maybe you think a free society where men and women are free to speak their voice is not doing something for the country? Would you like to be thrown in jail for speaking in favor of socialism?

  13. hopefully apparent inaction is intentional and they are saving for a big push, or maybe conspiring behind closed doors. If that’s not the case then mud is as good as working for the psuv. An accomplice to all crimes going on, but aren’t we all?

  14. Back to basics! The new CC is great but this type of articles is what initially got me hooked.

    What this few months have shown is something that has been becoming clear since Chavez’s death: the opposition is just that, the opposition to Chavismo. Capriles, Leopoldo, Ramos Allup, Maria Corina – they are all so defined by Chavismo that eliminating it will effectively end them as well. Any political project necessarily needs to pass through the defeat of Chavismo but there needs to be a political project to start with.

  15. Perhaps the MUD initiatives have seemed somewhat helter-skelter, but, what, pray tell, are they to do, when virtually ALL the initiatives will be shot down by the President or TSJ, and, when Oppo marches are called to protest, only a few thousand show up? The entire Country/populace are in a state of suspended animation, as AN good intentions are blocked by the Government institutions needed to implement them, and what little wherewithal there is to implement them is being siphoned off in continued corruption, ridiculous military expenditures, and scandalous giveaways, such as the recent Govt. $1.4 bill.agreement signed with Cuba. PL/et. al. top dawgs have been bought off with the new military corp. supposedly overseeing mining/petroleum/etc. ventures, and the 80% poor are too busy making lines to nab, or are bachaqueando, ever scarcer consumer foods/staples. There must be a breaking point for this Public acquiescence in their own destruction, but we have not yet reached it. The only hope near-term is for patriotic lower rank military initiatives, HRA notwithstanding–either that, or we reach the Cuban free food-rationing booklet and Communal Council Legislative governance, as the so-called “Bravo Pueblo” rolls over and wallows in their own “patriotic” misery.

  16. Brilliant post Emiliana, simply brilliant.

    However, I am not so shocked at the reality. It has always been clear that the opposition had coordination issues (there is a paper called “Clear as MUD” looking into this).

    If it was hard coordinating while not actually having some policy-making power now that they do have -some of- that power it’s obviously harder, and the oppo leadership can’t allow the itself to be rolled on the floor of the assembly. I am actually surprised that chavistas haven’t used this strategy, proposing bills that break the oppo… Then again they (chavistas) seem to have no idea of what legislating is all about.

    Also, the opposition made some great promises of immediate change back during election time. It was obvioud then -as it is now- that those weren’t realistic, even in a scenario of chavista cooperation. The legislative path with all its deadlines is a long one. Bills need thoughtful consideration, planning, and writing.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here