This week has been full of political confusion. Critics and defenders of MUD have been pouring all over. All in all, one thing is clear: nothing is clear.
Let’s take it from the top to try to make some sense of it.
2016: A New Hope
The Opposition started 2016 fresh of a landslide victory of the National Assembly, which meant we’ve effectively held the most representative, most recently legitimated power available in our State’s structure
The Opposition started 2016 fresh with the landslide victory of the National Assembly, which meant we’ve effectively held the most representative, most recently legitimated power available in our State’s structure. While we were well aware an opposition legislature would be unenforceable due to PSUV’s stronghold on the remaining powers, the country’s resources, and a monopoly on both legitimate and illegitimate use of force, it nevertheless held a political significance that could not be overlooked.
2016 felt like the year it would finally be over.
It began with a simple proposal: chopping off the head (?) of the snake, or removing the President through a recall referendum. Through it all, MUD made two things very clear: they were betting on a 2016 referendum, and they would not sit down to talk if it didn’t happen.
To recap on the timeline:
- We went to a huge march on September 1st.
- We were called to a series of weekly, gradual marches that never happened.
- We had an October 12th march that didn’t quite live up to expectations.
- We were called for the Toma de Venezuela, where “no se descarta ir a Miraflores”.
- We did not go to Miraflores, but, we would go next Thursday. And the National Assembly would hold a “political trial” for Maduro.
And here’s where the fun begins. Because, to the surprise of most -MUD politicians very much included- MUD decided to go to the dialogue. No Recall, but never mind. Not too bad, because we’re still going to Miraflores and the political trial -despite TSJ’s sentence- is still on. Only not really. When the time came for the alleged political trial to happen, both were suspended.
The rest is more recent history. The government made some promises, MUD said they’d walk if they didn’t deliver. They didn’t deliver, and MUD stayed
As the Narcosobrinos trial came to an end, the National Assembly saw it fit to bring it to the floor. Because, you know, when the Presidential couple’s nephews are found guilty of drug trafficking charges, admit that there was some involvement by the national government, and, erm, mention the presidential ramp at the airport, well, it somewhat calls for the Parliament to bring it up.
Also, the deputies from Amazonas were very much not taken off the National Assembly.
The combination of these two things, allegedly, had an effect on the government, which promptly turned into Schrodinger’s dialoguer, both leaving and staying on the table.
Now if you look at MUD’s communications, you’ll find it hard to understand where they and the government are in this conundrum.
Take a look, for example, at Carlos Ocariz’s tweets:
Hace semanas lo dijimos: El gobierno se quería parar de la mesa y ahora a cada rato anuncian que congelan.
— Carlos Ocariz (@CarlosOcariz) November 24, 2016
Solicitamos a los mediadores exigir al gobierno seriedad, cumplir lo acordado y facilitar el cronograma electoral.
— Carlos Ocariz (@CarlosOcariz) November 24, 2016
Or Henry Ramos Allup’s
Único cierto es q el gobierno no ha cumplido con ninguno d los compromisos q asumió en la mesa d diálogo y ahora dice q no asumió ninguno.
— Henry Ramos Allup (@hramosallup) November 24, 2016
What about Chúo?
— Jesus Chuo Torrealba (@ChuoTorrealba) November 24, 2016
And finally, the widely retweeted Adriana D’Elia
Atendimos al llamado del Papa Francisco, ellos no cumplieron con los ojos del mundo puestos en ese diálogo #ElGobiernoHuyóDelDiálogo
— Adriana D'Elia (@adrianadelia) November 23, 2016
One question: Did the government leave the dialogue or not?
So what now?
Primero Justicia announced that they’ll collect signatures as a symbolic, popular form of referendum. Henrique Capriles, on the other hand, said that it was a mistake to cool off street protests for the dialogue
What’s going to happen next? Will we take to the streets again? Is the political trial still on? Will the dialogue continue?
Primero Justicia announced that they’ll collect signatures as a symbolic, popular form of referendum. Henrique Capriles said that it was a mistake to cool off street protests for the dialogue (Do I even have to say it?). But there seems to be no consensus and no coherent plan.
Which brings me to an article Chúo wrote for MUD’s website. He makes some well-reasoned arguments, calling for consistency and coherence. He says things like the struggle will last what it needs to, but it will be shorter if we’re together and coherent. I don’t disagree with him on this. But the other thing he does is reject all forms of criticism, accountability or responsibility on his (and MUD’s) part. Everything I’ve chronicled so far: the contradictions, the crossed-proposals, the mobilizing and demobilizing, the unbelievable lack of consistency, he admits to none of it.
So to the “What now?” question, I have two answers. One for you, our readers, and one for Mr. Torrealba.
To you, I say: there are more than 10 proposals on MUD’s table (no pun intended) right now. There are powerful egos at play, different viewpoints, and a historic lack of long-term planning capability. Uncertainty is the only certain thing. We may be closer than ever to achieving our goal, but we’ve much distance to run. My advice is that we each focus very strongly on the spaces in which we can contribute, and try as hard as we can to build things that last. Never to stop being critical, but always to think in terms of construction.
a leader can delegate almost anything, but not responsibility
Et tu, Chúo. You may not be personally guilty for all or most of MUD’s many contradictions. Maybe you’re doing the best you can to control the countless interests, viewpoints, and egos at play in your organization. And yet, mark the words of every significant leader and leadership author you’ll find: a leader can delegate almost anything, but not responsibility.
So, in going forward, I very much advice that you and all MUD leaders own up to the many mistakes you’ve made. The disinformation, the mixed messages, the contradiction. Consistency is key to credibility, to legitimacy, and you have none too much of either right now. I for one am willing to play my part and answer your call for unity and coherence from now on. That’s my end of the bargain. You have to own up to yours.
And MUD, that goes for the lot of you.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.