What kind of political leadership declares the country’s constitution order has been broken just to take it back a week after? That’s the question opposition activists have been asking themselves all week, as MUD’s public relations machine — iffy at the best of times — has turned straight up ridiculous this week.

The president was summoned to the National Assembly for an impeachment(ish) trial, even though “political trial” doesn’t exactly turn up in the Constitution.

A week ago, the whole of the Venezuelan opposition, from doves like Julio Borges to hyperhawks like Maricori, were signed up for institutional/popular revolt against Nicolas Maduro’s dictatorial abuse.

The president was summoned to the National Assembly for an impeachment(ish) trial, even though “political trial” doesn’t exactly turn up in the Constitution.

And you know what? Opposition public opinion had reached the point where we were totally ok with that. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right?

This bold attitude led to a country-wide journey of protests on October 26th, hundreds of thousands of people went out on the streets and rallied through pretty much every major Venezuelan city, being brutally repressed in some places like Mérida or Maracay.

Right before that, all major voices in Venezuelan opposition dismissed the dialogue scenario, taking Chúo Torrealba’s credibility to underground levels. Preconditions just hadn’t been met, right?

There was a different kind of vibe in the air those days. We thought maybe we had finally reached the llegadero.

Apparently not.

Yesterday’s session will be remembered as a particularly strange one. It was lame before it even started: at 2:00 pm the required quorum to begin had not been achieved, even though some GPP diputados were in their seats. How do you expect your electorate to feel represented when its legislators don’t turn up for what had been promoted as the most important AN session of the year?

Half an hour later, when quorum was finally met, the session got going.

First Julio Borges and then Henry Ramos gave brief speeches to announce what they hoped for from the newly installed, Vatican-sponsored dialogue. Surprisingly the measure was supported by the vast majority of the oppo parliamentary faction, with the sole exception of Voluntad Popular, whose Freddy Guevara explained his reasons.

Needless to say the march to Miraflores, which was perceived as a breaking point for those who have been walking at MUD’s call these last weeks, is not to be.

Just like on September 1st, MUD arrugó.

I know dialogue is important, that it’s the only way how things can be solved in a civilized way. I even understand how embarrassing it would have been to dismiss the Pope’s envoy after you specifically asked for him to be sent.

It’s not Vatican diplomats who are dying in the hospitals, starving in jails or being murdered on the streets, and it’s definitely not Vatican diplomats who are your biggest political asset

But the way this late, late dialogue is being rolled out threatens to drive a deep wedge between the oppo’s leaders and their most committed activists. It’s not Vatican diplomats who are dying in the hospitals, starving in jails or being murdered on the streets, and it’s definitely not Vatican diplomats who are your biggest political asset.

You cannot say you will formally accuse the President for the destruction of the country one day and then unsay it. You can’t play with people’s expectations the way MUD has been doing these last two months.

In Henry Ramos’s words, MUD is ready to absorb the political cost implied by sitting across the table with a government whose only olive-branch has been the liberation of three of the more than 100 political prisoners it holds. And numerically, he might be right: in sheer demographic terms the activist base that is now apoplectic at this half-baked dialogue are probably not that numerous.

You cannot say you will formally accuse the President for the destruction of the country one day and then unsay it. You can’t play with people’s expectations the way MUD has been doing these last two months.

But they are the people they need the most: they knock on the doors, they hand out the flyers, they turn out to the protests and organize volunteers and drive people on election day and rally their neighbours and their friends and their families to support them. They’re the ones who man the phone banks and hand out phone cards and get thrown in jail now and then. If MUD’s leaders think they can do without the people who work at this…well, good luck with that.

I want to believe the dialogue is going somewhere, that our leaders have strong convictions they are prepared to defend. I want to believe that they truly think the change they’re selling us is possible.

But once bitten twice shy: this whole situation looks just way too much like the cadena we watched in 2014 with Maduro and every single opposition leader sitting around a table, promising goodwill and unicorns and rainbows. Two years on, over a hundred political prisoners, a murdered RR and a humanitarian disaster later; we all know how that ended up.

I want to believe the dialogue is going somewhere, that our leaders have strong convictions they are prepared to defend. I want to believe that they truly think the change they’re selling us is possible.

MUD, please. Just don’t fuck it up.

Not this time.

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