Today is December 6th. Exactly one year since the Venezuelan opposition won 2/3rds legislative majority in a dazzling display of competence, bravado and sheer will.

Since then, I’ve tried to rationalize what the year-long journey has meant for me, and it boils down to my uneasy relationship with one monosyllabic word: Hope.

December 6th, 2015 is the day I thought I learned what Hope meant. That day, I was  behind-the-scenes MUD technical staff. Like hundreds of others nationwide, I worked myself ragged in the weeks leading up to the election. That night I was, of course, deeply satisfied when the hundreds of hours that thousands of volunteers poured into a grueling civic effort paid off. I won’t lie, it was euphoric.

 It felt like the start of a new era. It felt like hope.

But the real joy, the raw transcendence of that moment, came from seeing, for the first time in decades, an actual possibility of change in my country.

Because there were numbers to prove it.

In the days following 6D, friends and relatives who had been planning on leaving the country decided to stay. People who’d spent years abroad started to think about coming back. It felt like the start of a new era. It felt like hope.

Remember that feeling?

It’s only now, on December 6th 2016, that I can finally say I know what hope means, because I’ve completely lost it. I don’t have any.

As it stands today, I have no faith in my political leadership, no strength to fight their insistence that I’m wrong, no way of helping those around me, and no means of justifying my life in Venezuela.

You can’t expect someone to generate hope if they don’t have it themselves.

I’ve also realized that I’ve been unfair towards MUD in blaming them for my loss of hope. You can’t expect someone to generate hope if they don’t have it themselves.

MUD displayed a total lack of hope when it agreed to trade its dignity, its credibility, and the mandate it received one year ago in exchange for a ridiculous dialogue.

It’s not so much that MUD is hopeless, it’s more like MUD has lost all hope in its ability to effect change. There’s no other explanation for their behavior.

I’m ashamed to admit that the powerlessness that stems from abandoning hope comes as a relief. There’s comfort in apathy, in giving up.  Now I get the allure of disenchantment.

Now I understand MUD.

As I start the futile-exercise-in-caring that it is December 6th, 2016, I want to leave you with this video of Vladimir Villegas’s interview with María Corina Machado last Thursday. There’s solace in her lucidity. I’m really grateful that someone like María Corina has not yet abandoned hope. I only hope that MUD tries to do the same.

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  1. From your post:
    “I’m ashamed to admit that the powerlessness that stems from abandoning hope comes as a relief. There’s comfort in apathy, in giving up. Now I get the allure of disenchantment.”
    This is their goal: that Venezuela gives up.
    This attitude is worse than all the shortcomings of the muderos.

  2. And the pro-opposition people keep drinking the Kool-Aid time after time after time….What is needed is new leaders to step up to the plate but that never happens. Why? Because what always happens is that one way or the other, the old dinosaurs of the opposition hijack any non-aligned opposition movement, any sort of spontaneous movement, and force it to play by their rules and impose their “way of doing things”, which hasn’t lead to anything. Conveniently, old dinosaurs added a roster of 2-3 new faces to convey the impression that yes, we are open to “new participants” but that obviously have zero experience in anything other than being students that went straight from undergrad into politics (F. Guevara, for example). Not only the old dinosaurs lack experience of doing anything other than being politicians (and failed politicians that is), but also the new ones, who act as puppets to save face to the old dinosaurs. Since when have the old dinosaurs been hijacking spontaneous movements? Since the very beginning, when for example people went spontaneously to protest to La Casona (in the era when Chavez still used to live there) only to then fall into the Chavez trap as he mocked them because they lacked leadership and then served themselves on a silver platter to the old dinosaurs and ended up with the “Militares de Altamira” and AD/Copei as their leaders. The student movement? Same thing. And so forth and so forth…And the opposition supporters? They kept drinking the Kool-Aid all along and expected that some day, the square peg would eventually fit into the round hole, that some day the old dinosaurs and the new student “leaders” would somehow magically acquire critical skills needed to accomplish anything other than just talking and doing politics. Knowing how to execute plans, how to perform and be judged based on the processes they set up and take accountability for their actions. Can’t you just see that the traditional opposition is just riding a free option? No downside for them (which is clear as no one can question them or judge them as they have no accountability) and all the upside whenever the majority of the population eventually gets tired of being neglected (if it ever happens) so that they can just take power (obviously assuming that Chavistas are idiots and static which obviously is not the case). Sigh…

    Square peg, round hole, square peg, round hole.. Can you please pass me another glass of Kool-Aid?

    Mediocre politicians = mediocre results.

    • A trolls job is to peddle despair and distrust , of course for a troll the oppo leadership is hopeless , full of old inept gizzers , ‘abandon hope all those who want to topple the govt’ , the govt is invincible ………!! , mix that with a few zingers against the govt and the troll expects his rants to grant him instant credibility ………!! The message sometimes is muted sometimes loud but allways aligned with the regimes goals of discrediting the opposition…….!!

      Ive said it before and will say it again …although I expect by now we all know the trolls in our midst !!

      • Instead of making troll accusations and being the troll referee, you could just respond to what I am saying and debate it. And the oppo leadership is hopeless, that is a fact. I am not saying abandon hope to topple the govt., just that we need a change of leadership. How is that the same thing? The longer this is postponed, the deeper the hole we are digging will get.

        Same about PDVSA bonds, still waiting for the imminent default that you and others have been cheering for a long time…In the meantime, collecting my very handsome interest while you bla bla and rationalise why you been wrong year after year. So sure, call me a troll. I am presenting you facts. Go drink the Kool-Aid.

      • Ni tan calvo ni con dos pelucas, Bill.

        It is one thing to troll the MUD, and another to criticize it.

        I agree with VT that there does not seem to be any downside for the MUD leadership.

        I criticize the MUD for not speaking plainly when they should have. They made it sound like Maduro would be in Moscow for Christmas on a one way ticket, and then got bogged down in a dialogue that anyone could see was just a way to gain time. Like arguing for months about whether the dialogue table should be square or oval during the Korean Truce talks in the 60’s.

        I also criticize the MUD for not attacking the TSJ before taking on the RR.

        The oppo leadership can legislate until they are blue in the face, and nothing will change until the TSJ and the “express magistrates” are dealt with.

        Hindsight is indeed 20/20, but if it were me I would have gone for the TSJ first.

        • Of course there will be things to criticize of the MUD because in Politics as in business everything is forgiven except failure , and we are in a confrontation were the hoped for magic dead blow hasnt happened … still quite a few things have happened which make the govt weaker and weaker each day that passes and which make the oppo stronger and stronger in many ways just that its not yet in a position to deal that death blow we so heartily desire………..

          The regimes financial economic and institutional situation has never been worse , they lack any credibility or legitimacy before the great mayority of people and the world community ……., errors of course have been made but many less that over excited people beat their chest for….., we have to be more realistic and patient ……, realize that the struggle is not a straight line course but a zig zag looking for the point of greatest weaknesses at exactly the right time …… that there will be two steps forward and one backward every time we move……that we must be resilient when we face inevitable defeats on the way forward but never allow ourselves to break up our unity without which everything will be much harder!!

          I myself would have followed a different approach on a number of things , I would have been more imaginative and tried many different slanting attacks , but there you are ……Im not part of the MUD leadership, dont have their information ( which I suspect many of us dont ) and dont pretende therefore to outguess where they are coming from !!.

          • Hey Bill,

            I read there are real problems accessing simple cash these days which makes me think as a massive blow to everyone in Venezuela. Of course long lines are terrible but if you do not have cash to purchase the meager things you need then the economy just ceases and ceases in the Christmas season the time of maximum consumption in Venezuela!

            Essentially this would seem the most incredible stickup ever recorded because massive amounts of people cannot get access to the money they own! And this should piss EVERYONE.

  3. You get too high and too low. You have to be more realistic and more even keel. Get up and move woman, you have two choices: fight or flight.

  4. I still have hope. However, it does not stem from the pathetic leadership and competence of the MUD. My hope comes from my faith in the even greater incompetence, greed, and venality of Chavismo. These jokers just do not have the chops to run a brutal tyranny. They would like to think that they can emulate Fidel, or even Robert Mugabe, but they just don’t have the cojones for it. At this point, I am greeting every instance of bad news emanating from Venezuela as good news in the sense that it is a further indication that the final implosion of this political and social abomination is nearing.

  5. I share your feeling Emi. I also thought there was some democratic vestige in Chavismo and thus a 2/3 majority win would be the end of it. But they have proven resilient and ruthless and immensely lucky!

    You are right, the MUD is feckless against Chavismo. I see two clear inadequacies in it. First, MUD is trying to do politics with Chavismo, a backward, anti-political ideology. They are vulgar (and corrupt) Marxist where brutal power is their currency.

    Secondly, MUD is unable to rally the poor, como dicen – el cerro. All those rallies come from the wealthy side of Caracas. They never march 1 million strong down Avenida Sucre or San Martin. One has to admit that Chavismo was very effective in alienating the less fortunate from the old and new political parties. With the disaster that Chavismo is becoming to them they seem to be going into a state of painful torpor.

    Has Chavismo won?

    I think Chavismo only and biggest enemy is Chavismo’s incompetence. They have no one else to fear for now.

    • Really well-said. It’s difficult to combat an undemocratic Regime with democratic means, especially if most of the Country is ignorant/poorly-educated/afraid, and depends on the Regime for their meager life-saving handouts (Govt. jobs/misiones/freebies).

  6. While I understand your frustration we can’t let a negative mindset take hold. Maybe you need a break.
    This is life, in bad times.
    What I personally do in these cases is take a brief break and go back to the drawing board and try to come with alternative solutions. Take it as a challenge.
    I don’t see how a bunch of illiterates incompetent fools can handle their downfall against the majority of Venezuelans and the world.
    All that has been happening so far is part of the possibilities, it all has been part of the plan. We just have arrived at the realization that we need to start thinking in more aggressive and effective ways to topple the dictatorship.

    So far I can contemplate 3 Solutions.
    1. After today the opposition organize and activate clever tactics of civil resistance, peaceful or not until it falls.
    2. The crisis reach such levels that the Maduro regime falls on its sheer incompetence, like running totally out of money.
    3. Military intervention, likely the USA or UN, but we can rest our hopes on this one, although I think is the easier and more viable since Venezuela Military is weak and a surrender is almost assured without firing a single bullet.

    • Why MUD leadership never resign? They have failed and if someone do not agree i would like to know why the same leadership must be thete forever? Who chose them? Borges and Allup were not even elected as diputados uninominales, they have never been in a primary, so it’ s very strange to read people defending them which is basically defending the opp leadership

      It would be very sad to oust the govt to see the power in hands of those who were the responsibles of chavez taking over in 1998

  7. Thank you for a wonderful post, Emi. You’re a very strong and intelligent young woman. I am British and have lived in Venezuela. I love your country a great deal. I know it’s very hard to maintain hope under the current difficult circumstances. But you must not. Maduro is an incompetent and his incompetence will be his undoing. One day — soon — he will be gone.

  8. I see a disturbing correlation between your levels of hope and the quantity of MCM quotes published by CCs. I hope is temporary.

  9. We do have hope, we just have to think straight. I don’ t think the government is incompetent, I just think they don’ t care at all about the people. We are just slaves for them. Now our main goal is to get rid of the MUD and impose a new kind of leadership, and a new type or organization that fits the circunstances. The MUD, as it is, is completely incompatible with us. We are just afraid of their propaganda, just as we have always been afraid of the governments propaganda. We simply have to understand that, sadly, they are a now part of the dictatorship, we can’ t trus them, and we have to stand against them the same way we have stood up against the government for years before we lost or way. They have imposed, through their propaganda, the view that there is no alternative, they have imposed their own pettiness and intelectual limitations upon all of us. Now they just sell bags of food, that’ s their future, they can’ t see beyond that. Where did PJ even find that food to sell? It is completely possible to get rid of the MUD, don’t believe otherwise, it serves no function whatsoever, and it just damages us as human beings. If someone is able to see we are in a dictatorship, it should be no problem for that person to see how the MUD is a part of it and its mechanism are exactly the same the government uses. I think the problem is psychological, we are in denial, we want to be part of the herd, we don’ t want to be excluded of the “cool guys’s club”. The MUD started to destroy any chance for us since 2013, we just didn’ t comprehended it then but now it is more than clear. Their discourse is absolutely suicidal and will never lead us anywhere. They won’ t even admit their mistake, so we can not even speak with them, they are just fanatical without any hint of reason. Whoever supports MUD at this point, must be considered the same or even worse than chavistas. El rancho está en la cabeza, después de todo.What we need is to cut their propaganda, find money to create our own media, and write our own history, call them what they really are and start a NVM; it may take some time, but at least it would have a chance. They try to make us feel shame for being right. But if we invest enough time and resources, we can turn that around It just a matter of power, of brute force (some don’ t understand the difference between violence and force, some think it is the same; they are the same ignorants that hide behind an intelectual posture) If we create the means, if we invest enough, we can challenge the Prodavinci dictatorship and fuck all those decadent elites that continue to screw us, and particularly the middle class that sadly stlll believes in them. You can call me crazy or a troll, but there is no other concrete way to challenge the status quo. Lose the fear. Free yourself from all the bullshit.

  10. The government is competent where circumstances allow it to abuse its untrammelled coercive power to sabotage the opposition’s institutional initiatives and persecute people , otherwise its totally incompetent, it cant feed the people, it cant fight crime , it cant stop the countrys finances from imploding , it cant stop hyperinflation, it cant stop the steep fall in oil income and production, it cant stop the world from condemning and isolating it internationally more and more and whats more important they cant stop the heavy continuous hemorraghing of their former popularity now reduced to a tiny segment of die hards, moreover they cant stop the opposition from handsomely winning any and all elections ……!!

    Competent indeed !!

  11. We’re 4000 KM north of Venezuela and have had the same oscillating emotions since 6D. We go from hope to despair and back depending on the news of the day or the calls from our family still living in Venezuela.

    Our situation is different than you are facing as we are not living in Venezuela so these issues do not directly physically impact us. They do however impact our family and friends still living in Venezuela. We are constantly worrying … do they have food, are they safe, do they need medicines or health care.

    On many days lately we go from hope to despair to just plain numb …..

  12. I am Venezuelan. I left many years ago (for diff reasons). I didn’t follow for years. I’ve followed a lot lately, then just some.

    After this last “let’s dialogue” and whatever that all means, I could only conclude that people value their lives, and surviving, however hard that may be, over (ironically) sacrifice for the greater good.

    It’s one thing to get mugged and killed by a thug, another to risk bloodshed coming from the gov’t. “To ask for it.”

    I, too, have lost hope. And now I’ll just have to keep watching the boring part (for me): the numbers. Or, how long it takes a person to die from starvation. Physical, that is; and well, other kinds, too.

    (My family lives in Venezuela.)

  13. The dialogue was a defeat, and people saw it as that, and I don’t mean the opposition, where everyone pretty much has to stand with whatever MUD says, but that sort of guabineo is not doing anything to put disenchanted chavistas on this side.

    If you look at the response they got on chavista forums (which of course is a small and maybe not representative sample, but it’s what we’ve got), the feeling I got was that of distrust. This is not good news because if i’m going to to the other side of the talanquera, i want to be sure i’m making the right choice, or else some of the assholes on this side will start stinking less and you can create the perfect scenario for a third way, and whoever it is, can capitalize on the still fresh memory of when we were really happy with Chavez.

    What could happen is a chavismo comeback and it capitalizing more efficiently of the anti maduro feeling (some define themselves as chavistas anti maduristas), and next thing you know, we have president Rodriguez or something like that (yeah, just think about that). The only thing stopping that from happening is that the government wouldn’t allow it, and that’s putting all of our eggs on PSUV’s basket again.

  14. The dialogue is a defeat for the govt too because they wanted to show the world and a great many Venezuelans that wanted the dialogue possibility to be explores that they were willing to work for a settlement to set things back to normal and its clear from the Vaticans letter and everyone else that they did nothing to further that goal , that for them its still a propaganda exercise where they make speeches on behalf of peace and love and keep taking the same measures that demonstrate their unwillingness to give an inch on their comfort positions !!

    What did they do to advance the dialogue in terms of concrete results , NOTHING !! despite sweet promises and humbug rethoric , so the failure is the Muds for making an attempt that the whole world was pushing for and didnt result in anything but also the govts because after calling on the Pope quite publicly to start it ,it then proceeded to act as if for them the dialogue meant nothing but talk !! Is this going to add in any way to the regimes already crumbling popularity …not one bit!!

    • BB,

      You talk about the regime’s popularity, but in whose eyes? The governments of the world already understood exactly what the regime is before. The international press? They also, have had it fairly well figured for quite awhile now. It took them awhile to get over their love affair with Hugo Chavez, but Maduro (who has none of Chavez’ charm) had torpedoed all of that nonsense long before the latest “Dialogue”. This has not changed any minds in Venezuela, other than by convincing many of the MUD’s constituency that they are incompetent and out of touch, or (worse) corrupt. So, how has this made the regime’s image worse than before? I don’t see it.

      • Polls revealed a large mayority of Venezuelans believed that a dialogue was needed , the same goes for the statements of many foreign leaders and organizations , whose support is important . Attempting a dialogue became a must for both the MUD and the regime because of these pressures , not attempting it was to give the impression that you didnt really want to do the ‘reasonable thing’ , that you were to wrapped up in your political passions….., MUD didnt believe a dialogue was even possible unless a more credible mediator could be brought in into the process , namely the Vatican.

        The Govt wanted a dialogue they could manipulate at their convenience , transform into a propaganda piece totally at their control . The MUD stood fast and started a process that made the govt realize that not going in for a more credible dialogue would work against its interests so to gain time they were forced to go to the Vatican so as to get the MUD at the negotiating table ….this changed the dialogue into something that the govt couldnt back away from without worsening its situation .

        Now theyve attempted their old tactic of simulating that they are engaged in a dialogue but without ultimately honouring any of the commitments made during its early stages , except that now the Vatican has gone public in calling them to order for their failure to meet their commitments …which has made them furious …., meantime the MUD leadership has had to suffer the condemnation of many in the opposition because it accepted a dialogue which even it believed was unlikely to produce any practical results but which universal pressure was pushing them to accept if a reliable mediator could be made part of the process .Also in the offchance that something might be gained by it .

        For the MUD if was not a first choice , but these pressures could not be ignored without some consequences , specially after the govt went hat in hand to tearfuly ask the Vatican to intervene as a mediator just as the MUD had previously demanded. to forego the dialogue meant going agaisnt the expectations of both a mayority of Venezuelans and important international supports , so they took the gamble .

        In fact they were between two gambles , either gamble that by raising the street temperature thru actions of direct confrontation they might effect a regime change ( something which might not work and instead produce very adverse results) or that they might effect a change via a Vatican led dialogue ( which also dicey) , they took the latter !!

        Gambles by their very nature are uncertain in their consequences , its what people do where there are no sure right choices , but this MUD gamble was not crazy , there were reasons that supported taking it ………still they could end up in failure ……and of course in politics as in business everything is forgiven but failure…!!

        • You are insane. First, there was no real obligation to sit on that table, you are just making that up. Were they under pressure? Perhaps, but the fact that they don’ t know how to deal with it is their own fault. They, very foolishly, called for the Vatican to intervene. That, in itself, is a big mistake. What about Almagro? Did you conveniently forget about him? Second. Accountabilty. The people who were a part of this have to step aside. They have to resign or shut the fuck up. Otherwise, they are just like Maduro, that would never resign no matter what. They speak of political costs, but of course they accept none because they are just enjoying their own particular dictatorship with blind support from the likes of you. Third. Let’ s talk about real pressure. Pressure on the street. You say a direct confrontation might not work and produce very adverse results. That’ s just bullshit. What we should be doing is movilizing all country against Maduro. That’ s a very concrete and powerful reason for all venezuelans to put aside their differences. It worked a year ago, and it would work now, if only we had some decent leadership and organization.
          The truth is I am being too generous and naive here, too politically correct. I should be smarter than that. The only logical reason than can explain what they did is that they are not only inept but fundamentally corrupt. Not even the most dim witted individual would have behaved like they did.
          You can defend them all they want, but they have nothing to show up for all your trouble. Just tons and tons of shit and blood, and bags of food with the words PJ printed on them. I don’ t even think they can win any elections anymore, at least not without some help from the government.
          No creo que valga la pena ni siquiera criticar a la MUD, es una pérdida de tiempo. Al final uno siempre termina diciendo obviedades y estrellándose otra vez contra los fanáticos. La MUD en este momento es como el cáncer, y el cáncer no se critica, se trata. Con un poco de suerte, veremos a la gente uniéndose y organizándose de verdad.

  15. Yep. “The world” is basically governments and Smart people that already know what’s going on, blind followers, people who don’t know or don’t care and a 2 more guys (pretty much like Venezuela itself), so even in the unlikely scenario where you could sway somebody’s opinion, it wouldn’t really matter.

    What would be a reasonable expectation from “the world”? A blockade? An invasion? Even calling maduro a dictator is really far fetched for most countries, So moving the conversation from a domestic somehow plausible RR towards a vatican backed (for some weird reason) show where we unmask the government once again is a bad trade, specially since it’s been a while since somebody spoke of the RR as a mandatory point.

    If they are setting the ground for something more inmediate and need to show that “dude, we tried everything else” maybe i would understand, but that’s really unlikely.

    There’s no legal plausible way that I know of beyond the RR until 2019 to get this people out of power, basically we just gave away the last resort without fighting untill the last minute.

    So I’m left with my tinfoil hat version and all of this was a last hurdle tapping on our animal instinct of trusting the church (when they knew it wouldn’t make a difference) and according to the letter we will have to wait untill Jan 13 (conveniently as mcm noted) when we will know the new ghost they will chase and we will be back on bussiness as ussual (OUR version of bussiness as ussual).

    We need to be more mediatic, we need to be likeable, learn to paint and show the country we want to disenchanted chavistas, then we can make a real opposition, and maybe knock down the MUD leaders and finally PSUV, sadly we need some sort of leadership and I don’t have any names.

  16. Any change in the opposition leadership must come spontaneously. If that is not the case, it will probably never happen. And still, there is the risk of old dinosaurs hijacking the whole thing (again). However, by reading how people are reacting and how some oppo leaders were literally booed out of a stage not long ago, maybe we are closer to this moment.

    However, Venezuelans don’t have a lot of time. Why? Because Maria Gabriela 2019 is just around the corner. She will tear apart any of the current oppo leaders just because she will be seen as an extension of “El Gigante”. You have been warned…

  17. Emi, despair is very real, especially for those with more than one dedo de frente living in Venezuela. I see only 2 plausible outcomes-the hambruna/economic collapse causes the Military to intervene (only 40% now, my calculation, dropping from a previous 50% prior), or Venezuela completes its transition to Cuba II (60%, new estimation, up from 50%). In either case, a middle-class remnant, such as yourself, will find tough sledding in the future, since, barring an extreme right-wing Government, crime/personal insecurity will continue to be a major problem, as will left-wing insurgency efforts to topple any eventual effective democratic government….


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