The announcement of the preliminary agreements reached through dialogue was a milestone in the history of the Venezuelan opposition. For the first time, MUD was forced to deliver — like, really deliver —  outside of an electoral context. Tested like it had never been tested before, MUD waded clumsily into a chin-deep uncharted swamp, and no-one’s the better for it.

MUD failed when it sought to claim a confusing process with an underwhelming result as some sort of victory. 

MUD is used to the immediate gratification and conveniently quantifiable feedback that comes from tallying ballots and measuring voter turnout. When that procedural artifice is removed, the distance between you and your voter base suddenly narrows. In fact, they were completely unprepared for a challenge whose results require judgment to measure. For MUD, this is alien territory.

MUD’s failure is multiple. It failed first when it sought to claim a confusing process with an underwhelming result as some sort of victory. It failed again when dialogue spokesmen (yes, all men) found themselves attacking anyone and everyone who dared to call out that process, those results, and the language used to convey them.

Venezuelans — myself very much included — are genuinely, earnestly desperate for information: is dialogue a good thing? What does it mean for me? What should I do?  

We can’t just flip on some 24-hour news network and tune into the public debate. There are no sounding-boards, no reference points, no pundits or late-night shows to curate or distill the news, let alone editorialize them to your liking.

But instead of using the precious little media coverage they retain to explain themselves, Chúo Torrealba and Carlos Ocariz have spent a week in an obnoxious, defensive, hubris-fueled media bender chastising us for failing to understand their contradictions. It’s as if, all of a sudden, we are to blame for their blunders.

MUD thinks we should prioritize Unity, well, how about uniting with us, the activist base, who are uniformly horrified at the direction you’re taking the movement in?

A minimally responsible political leadership would take the massive public outcry against the outcome of dialogue as a warning sign. A disconnect on this scale between leaders and their base should give rise to introspection, an opportunity for self-reinvention. Grasping the scale of this horrendous PR bungle could have been the first step to rekindling trust and much needed hope.

MUD thinks we should prioritize Unity, well, how about uniting with us, the activist base, who are uniformly horrified at the direction you’re taking the movement in?  

Those who warn MUD this partial agreement serves only the government’s purposes are not maladjusted insolents. We’re not capricious saboteurs of the keyboard variety. We’re the people most urgently committed to what you tell us you’re fighting for: democracy. We’re also the ones you’ve been incapable of showing gratitude towards for the pretty sweet deal you’ve been handed: your political survival.  

How will you face voters and ask for their support? Do you think that support is eternal? How long will you keep up your disrespect for your bases? Do you think it’s ethical? Do you even care?

Life in Venezuela is onerous and exhausting. I, for one, have tried to redeem it through politics. Activism, however futile it may seem, is my lifeline. I derive meaning and motivation from fighting for a cause which I believe to be just.

I never thought I’d end up being shamed for it. I never once imagined my political leaders would make me out to be as bad or worse than our adversaries for speaking my mind. Apparently, I am not worthy of supporting MUD.

Perhaps MUD is not worthy of my support either.

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

40 COMMENTS

  1. I would REALLY like to be able to argue with you. I can’t. I would like to point out some evidence of subtle strategic thinking that will get us to where we need to go. I don’t see it. I still WANT to believe… Ufff…

  2. This dialogue thing opened a can of worms for me, I live out of the country and I am deeply pissed, I can only imagine how are people in Venezuela feeling. It is a PR nightmare for a coalition that given the support of the population, the timing, the coincidence of so many favorable factors, was obliged to play responsibly. From the staging of the event, to the explanations given to the press, what I notice is an irresponsible reliance on paternalism and authority; that vicious feature of our political culture. On the other hand, given the magnitude of what is at stake, I am convinced that there is not only mistakes involved in this mess; the timing, the actors, the communicational strategy of chavismo(nationally and internationally) within hours of the first meeting. It also bothers me what has been the reaction of those who supposed to illuminate the path; journalists, intellectuals, and what it increasingly looks more like a new breed of embedded political commentators. And apparently, we need to feel guilty for feeling offended, betrayed?

  3. Well, every journey begins with a sinple step:

    http://www.lapatilla.com/site/2016/11/17/chuo-torrealba-denuncia-que-el-gobierno-no-ha-cumplido-acuerdos-suscritos-en-mesa-de-dialogo/

    Torrealba denounces that chavismo hasn’t fulfilled their part of the agreemets.

    What should be next? Well, my two cents would be, use this as a weapon to continue attacking and undermining chavismo’s base, the dialogue could be turned from a stupid and pathetic surrender into a proof that chavismo doesn’t want to agree to anything, proving that they are but a filthy dictatorship, thus eroding even more their “democratic facade” overseas.

    We must remember that chavismo’s lifeline isn’t the “people’s magical love for shiabbe” alone, it’s the belief that they are actually a democratic government besieged by a bunch of hysterical and fascist racist snobs.

  4. I’m beginning to think the only way out is to win the municipal elections (even if funds are subsequently denied) and eventually the presidential election. It’s going to take years for the people to take back their government.

    • That’s been the plan since 1999-2000, just go and wet the pinky, return home and dance salsa, NEVER EVUR dare to complain for ANYTHING AT ALL.

      In fact, that’s the most useless way of all, the whole “tiny ant’s work to change the hearts of discontent chavistas that will take decades”, it’s been demonstrated that that won’t work, and will just serve to prolong Venezuela’s suffering and destruction under the chavista regime.

    • Remember when they said the only way out was to win the parliamentary elections? and the if we somehow made the impossible and win 2/3 of the seats, the regime would fall within weeks

  5. Let’s do an inventory of MUDs political assets:

    – National Assembly, but it is effectively neutered by the government. Perhaps, international lenders may shy away from any further lines of credits because of this. But this will bite only later. As it stand, except for Ramos Allups clever quips, it does nothing.

    – Projecting power in the streets. This has been hit or miss. Yes sometimes people show up by the millions, but it is sometimes. Moreover, it is never in la avenida Sucre or San Martin. This does not change facts from the marches and bailoterapia of the early 2000s. At best Chavismo awkwardly ignores them.

    – Strikes. Well that again was iffy. Here to the strike by the ‘transportistas’ proved to be more effective than anything MUD cobbled together.

    -International support. All we get are the empty words of support for the worthless dialog.

    Now let’s inventory on Chavismo:

    – More people with guns than ANYONE else in Venezuela. This includes military and colectivos.

    – The much diminished oil revenue.

    – Narco revenues for some at the top.

    So when you sit at the dialog table, what is it that MUD has of interest in this realpolitik scenario to offer?

    From wikipedia quoting Stalin: “The Pope! How many divisions has he got?

    In the short term we are really fucked.

    • The MUD need to talk to the transportistas and other similar groups that have leverage. Find out what they want, give them a seat at the table, and then go dialogue.

  6. I think their biggest mistake was getting everyone’s hopes up that the crisis would be resolved in a short time frame, and when it proved not to be the case they really messed up explaining why the dialogue was the better way forward.

    We had a declaration of a Constitutional Coup, a “Political Trial” for Maduro accompanied by his likely removal for being a dual citizen, etc. You could almost see Maduro getting on a plane before November 1.

    Next thing you know, “the dialogue”.

    Managing expectations has not been their forte.

    And let’s face it, it’s not like the MUD lives on some sort of island of paradise. They look out the window and see the same thing everyone else does.

    If I hear “The Vatican” again, I’ll probably shoot the next priest I see………

    • Their biggest mistake was giving people the hope they would finally fight for what is right, just to put a stop to it inmediatly.

      • The real guilty party here is the Catholic Church and ass-hats like that fool Zapatero.

        They thought that coming in and forcing people to sit down for “dialogue” would help fix things. Instead all they have done is help legitimize oppression.

        If those fools had any backbone they would have given the opposition full support instead of pretending that this is an honest disagreement

    • One of his star members is a dude that dare to defend the Derwick boy´s and even claim that such accusations are coming from a communicational warfare laboratory of some plutocratics parasites, the fact that such pathetic excuse sounds similar to the stupid shit Chavista say everyday to avoid accountability shoulda been red flags to everybody in Venezuela

  7. I don’t live under the oppressive circumstances of a middle class venezolean with a good education, sanity, reason and all that, so I feel very clever dick, when I critizice here.
    On the other hand, I find that two-tier strategy of Chuo Torealba not that insane. Maybe I am missing something, but they had relinquished street protests only for a time. The hopeless economic situation – so depressing it may be for anybody – narrows the playing field for the criminals.
    Sometimes 1 step back is a good strategy.
    They have made clear with emphasis, that negotiations are time framed. That there is kind of a due date, when the Chavernment must have made real concessions to not risk szenarios, in which tragic violent incidents will have a sadly high probability.

  8. “Perhaps MUD is not worthy of my support either.”

    Well you know that once sweet Emiliana and the the MUD at at odds, the country will is certainly going to hell. For sure.

    But she’s right. My patience and tolerance for the “MUD” has also expired. They talk, and do not do Anything. And then they sit down with the devils themselves, have coffee, and “dialogue” .. Disgusting.

    They should be ashamed of themselves. Leopoldo Lopez would have never done that. That’s why he’s in jail. Henry? Capriles? One must respect their work, but they are free because they don’t have the cojones or mental clarity, or leadership that Leopoldo has. The Pope? Stay in Rome: and fix THE most corrupt country on earth, by all accounts, instead of preaching useless crap overseas.

  9. At this point, with debt running generations deep, little ready cash, tanked oil prices (and even the remaining oil sector is going up in flames as we speak), and a public sector in total free-fall, the only leverage the Chavistas have are the armed forces and armed bandits (colletivos). NOTHING else is keeping them in power. MUD looks pretty impotent as well so in real terms these negotiations might be like two bald dudes arguing over a comb. This has all the markings of something that will eventually be settled in the streets. Even if the Cahvistas agree to shoot the moon, how and who would enforce what you know perfectly well they will never make good on – anything that is not their idea or plan.

    • Saw that. I suspect that this stupid idea will die a quick death. If they do that, what would be the point of issuing the BsF. 20,000 notes next month? This one sounds to me like another case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

    • That limit was supossed to apply to transactions at ATMs from a different bank, example, you withdraw cash from your Bank of Venezuela account using a Mercantil ATM.

      Those operations were limited to 600 Bs before, as of today, most of the banks already allow people to withdraw up to 15 and 20 thousand Bs through a single day in their respective machines, the problem lays in the fact that the useless notes made the process incredibly difficult and time consuming, as you had to deal with a brick made of notes when you were done withdrawing your wage from the ATM.

  10. The Transition Team:

    Everybody wants to recall the president because he failed to set better conditions to the people. But why nobody could even dream to recall the MUD leaders when they failed to at least carry the recall which was there and vanisehd in front of them?
    Some people say (even in the chavismo) that president should resign because he failed. But how the MUD leaders do not resign when they also failed?
    MUD leaders say they want general elections now to remove the president. and why do they not start with themselves?

    These could sound like a troll but actually it could be a great idea.

    If the MUD leadership calls election to renovate the seats of their head, will gain:
    A sense of real democracy (in contrast with the regime)
    Estimulate the base and regain moment (demoralizing the diminishing the support base of the government)
    Recover the trust of the people (which right now is very thin and could end dividing the opposition)
    It may be promoted to elect the transition team (this could end having huge effect on people´s hope)

    By the way, they should do these fast and properly to show:
    the fraud that represents the currently CNE (in a moment where two ladies should be replaced)
    to show people they are ready to administrate the country (if they cannot carry an election imagine them handling the country)

    Right now the opposition and the country are stucked, now, imagine a new MUD leadership, refreshed, and confident, with the support of the people in two or three months,

    Remember also, that the peak moment reached just days before the November 3rd (they day of the march that never happened) Why? because people want to vote or sign or express their dissatisfaction with direction of country. Actually most polls suggested that people were going to sign despite all the govt threats.

    So it means that people exercising the democracy is the govt´s achilles heel. And the reason that the govt begged to the Pope to bring dialogue and demobilize the people. So do what is right and let the people vote and elect their Transition Team.

  11. supporters are annoyed with the mud

    the mud is annoyed with its supporters

    nothing new, except perhaps multiplied by like 100 & on steroids, it seems

    so what now?

    if you don’t like what is offered, come up with an alternative – i am not even being dismissive here, i think many actually want alternatives to the mud, but as of now there seem to be none

    i think it is smarter and more practical to take the anger and put it into action – the alternative will surely be backed up by all the likewise disenfranchised

    what do people think of the liberation of Rosmit Montilla? which was supposedly made possible by the hated dialogue… ??

    below is a video by the brilliant Luis Vicente León w/ some real talk, maybe some of you might get something out of it, i certainly did

  12. I saw today on Globovision’s streaming news some comment by Ocariz about the “recoleccion of firmas” for Nov 27 thru Dec 4, or some such dates as that. I came here hoping to find something as I have no clue what the comment is referring to. Anyone have a clue, or are we left in the dark once again?

    • It could be some sort of red herring. I was very surprised to see this headline about Lorenzo Medoza on TeleSur: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Venezuelas-Most-Powerful-Businessman-Could-Run-for-President-20161118-0025.html

      Reading the article, there is no evidence of the claim, and it is based on “rumors”. No other source is reporting the same thing. So, why would TeleSur invent this? It is another red herring to misdirect and confuse the population, building on their discontent with the MUD.

    • He announced that from November 30 through December 4 they would be collecting signatures in an attempt to show how the suspended 20% signature for recall would have gone.

      It’s a means to show that the street is still wanting Maduro to be recalled.

      It’s also a means for people to drain some anger and shore up the base.

      It is also a way to bring some pressure at the dialog on December 6th.

      • Thanks. Those streaming “headlines” on Globovision make me scream at the TV sometimes because they usually don’t make sense. “Man stabbed to death in apartment” was one I saw a while back. WTF? What state, what country?

        • I know what you mean. It reminds me of a classic line from Chevy Chase in a parody of a News Show back in the early days of SNL, “Moscow in flames! Film at 11:00…”

          • Sorry, that was not Chevy Chase or SNL. It was from Kentucky Fried Movie, a slightly wackier precursor to SNL from circa 1976.

  13. Chavistas against Trump?
    The Venezuelan in question is Jesús Rodríguez-Espinoza, Counsel General for the Venezuelan consulate in Chicago, who recently spoke at the Chicago branch of Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER),

    While the rest of the speakers accused Trump of the normal litany of grievances — that he’s a racist, homophobe, misogynist and charlatan — Rodriguez said his diplomatic position forbade him from weighing in on Trump.

    “Because of my diplomatic position, I’m going to be very careful about what I’m going to say tonight,” Rodriguez-Espinoza said.

    “Before I was the Counsel General in Chicago, I was a regular citizen in Venezuela just like you, in 2002, was moved in my basement because of the attack against Hugo Chavez. Because of that I started getting involved in politics.
    Rodriguez-Espinoza also claimed the current economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela is over-blown. “All the humanitarian crisis that you hear in the media most of that is an exaggeration. The only crisis we face is destabilization in Venezuelan oil. I’m not saying everything is perfect; I’m just saying it’s overmagnified because it’s in the interest of the most powerful countries in the world to get rid of the progressive government in Venezuela.

    International ANSWER and a Chavista diplomat. Given International ANSWER’s connection with the Worker’s World Party, no surprise that a Chavista diplomat would sign on. What is more surprising is that MUD spokesman Torrealba also signs on to the anti-Trump coalition. Apparently the only thing that unites both sides of the Venezuelan political divide is dislike of Donald Trump.

    • “Apparently the only thing that unites both sides of the Venezuelan political divide is dislike of Donald Trump.”

      It’s more the anti-USA obsession as a fashion trend.

  14. Venezuela has been living its own personal Groundhog Day for a time now. The difference is, after every dialogue Venezuelans get shafted deeper and deeper.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here