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.