The Political Cost of Dialogue

A highly unpopular, narco-infused government ruling a country on the brink of starvation with corruption networks spreading in every direction faces an opposition that seems weaker than ever.

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The latest Datanalisis shows the bottom falling out of MUD’s support: in September 2016, 46.9% of respondents self-identified as opposition. That number was down to 32,2% in January 2017: a shocking 14% fall in just 4 months.

Not surprisingly, the NiNi group (those who identify neither with the opposition, nor the government) scooped up most of that support, reaching a never-seen-before 40% of the population, Ninis have turned —for the first time ever in Datanalisis’s telling— the blurry “third way” into the most popular political alternative in the country.

“How is that even possible?” you may ask.

Well, because Venezuela is a weird, weird place.

It’s a slide that ought to give MUD’s leadership pause. Remember, back in November, when Henry Ramos Allup told us MUD was willing to “accept the political cost of dialogue”? Here you have it, bitches.

The death of the recall was a million times foretold.

Just 15 months ago, MUD was able to rally big majorities in the country. Throughout last year, so long as the recall referendum seemed a possibility, it could claim most Venezuelans’ loyalties.  MUD’s member parties managed their own differences quite effectively, focusing all their efforts on recalling Maduro, the chosen way to constitutionally ease him out of power. 

Everything changed when that route was shut down.

The death of the recall was a million times foretold. Still, the announcement caught MUD unawares, and unprepared. It was like a thermonuclear bomb lobbed at the opposition, sending their whole PR apparatus into absolute chaos. Several proposals were made to respond to that clear violation of the Constitution, but MUD went with the one everyone could see wouldn’t work: dialogue with the government.

After months openly dismissing engaging in talks with the chavista big fish; most opposition figures (with the remarkable exception of those from Voluntad Popular) turned on a dime and decided to place their bets in a shady, church-sponsored alternative. 

Henry miscalculated. Badly.

As we warned back in the day, MUD was taking a dangerous bet, and they seemed to underestimate the impact it might have on its own support. MUD tried to buck itself up telling itself “dialogue” always polls well. They never stopped to realize that engaging in such a process without any guarantees (or even good will) from the oppressor’s side could create irreconcilable differences with the activists base its whole mobilization strategy depends on.

As early as January, the impact of that not-so-feared distancing between MUD and its voters became impossible to miss, as calls for mass protests started to flop. First, the call to commemorate 23 de enero, and then almost a month later, on February 18th, led to bare marches made up of hardcore party activists and no one else.

Voters felt betrayed by an organization that promised so much more than it was able to achieve. Opposition supporters are willing to put up with a lot. A lot. But not with an opposition that submissively plays (and loses) by the government’s rigged rules.

MUD failed to understand that the ace up its sleeve was the capacity to mobilize broad masses of Venezuelans, and that that capacity is built on trust. Tossing that trust into the pyre of a doomed dialogue was just the latest own-goal from an opposition leadership that can’t afford any more own goals. 

 

33 COMMENTS

  1. Venezuela’s obstacle to freedom today is this Pope that is keeping this farce of a dialogue alive.
    And the oposicion popists. No wonder Maduro wears a crucifix and defend this disgrace of a Pope who is not even catholic. Hey CEV, you are called by your Master to be a prophets, which is to be witnesses to the truth.
    Step up least you are found wanting and are d\discarded like the salt in your Master’s parable that losts its flavor.

        • And, the people who stand in interminable lines for: meager amounts of price-controlled food; meager pension payments at banks; insufficient/non-existent public health care/medicines; a seat on mostly over-crowded/ decrepit public transportation; even to eat out of garbage containers–all without complaining massively/loudly/publicly….

    • Wrong. The Pope is not standing in the way of freedom. You will never be free. This will require plomo that nobody is willing to give.

  2. The only logical explanation for the MUD to have embarked in the so called dialogue is that they were paid/bought by the government. Not all of them but a few important ones.

    • More than a few had their price met. You have to be realistic….no hay salida. Que hace un tipo como Borges? Get screwed? Who’s gonna pay for his kids US college tuition? Four kids = a cool million in tuition costs

    • It does not follow from the MUD’s political failures that there is no solution except one imposed by the military. To the contrary, that people consider the MUD to have “failed” indicates that people believe that there are other options that they could have pursued and did not, that could have had success.

      • because people on the streets will force the necessary implosion. There is no other way. As such, the Waiters (those who are leading the Opp waiting to take the seat or part of it) always stop the implosion (remember HCR in 2013 and MUD in Nov 2016)

        • The starved masses will force an implosion against well fed and armed military and police? Nothing a few bullets cannot solve. You are correct: there is no other way.

  3. It is very sad that MUD only cared about the political cost of the dialogue. People lake Falcon, Rosales, Timoteo, etc, were all for the dialogue, still are! They are frauds.
    These false leaders never looked at the moral cost of the dialogue. Many Venezuelans are still decent and dignified and will not consider admissible sitting down to negotiate with a gang of narco-gangsters.
    It is time for a split between the false opposition and the real opposition. This split has been delayed due to a mirage called UNITY. We cannot be unified under a same roof with the narcos, thieves and political opportunists.
    Venezuela will have to decide, sooner or later, whether it wants to be a molusco or a marisco.

  4. One can make the hypothesis the government is stalling the “dialog” until April 27th (cf. here and here), so as to be able to strip most opposition parties of any official status, and then using the TSJ to dissolve the Assembly and reelect a chavista one.

    • No question that the CNE-mandated “legitimizing” of political parties, embraced, with really no alternative, by the Oppo, is another “dialogue”-type delaying tactic, with potentially disastrous results, if the non-admission by the Govt. of large amounts of signatures in the RR is any guide….

  5. I am not against the dialogue per se. Just the way it was done, heck, they gave away everything they had in exchange for nothing. They were taken to to the cleaners, or went.

  6. The political cost is having a MUD comprised with politicians that:

    – Have very questionable reasons to belong (Rosales & family)
    – Are schemers for individual gain (Allup)
    – Have not recognized that their time has passed (Radonski)
    – Do not have any real political acumen (Torrealba)
    – Divide instead of unite (Machado)
    – Think or pretend that we are all dumb like them (Ocariz)
    – Have lack of vision (Borges)
    – Have a history of staunch pragmatism (Falcon)
    – Are an empty sack (Romero)
    – Are just trying to stay relevant (Barboza)
    – Have former “apostles” to remind us why we wound up with Chavez (Arria)

    • – Have no experience in a relevant discipline other than being a politician and went straight from undergrad to congress (Guevara, Armas, Olivares)

  7. There will be a presidential election. Maduro is not forever but Chavismo is and the apparent designated heir is the Druze TEA. Can see this one coming and soon others clamoring b/c TEA will get things done! Chavismo is not dumb. Maduro will have to go. Regime survival trumps Maduro. This is not about one man alone….Maduro is not HCF

  8. NO one wants a dialogue unless it leads to changes which one favours , a dialogue where all that happens is that every one gets a limelighted pulpit or stall from which to grandly state its postures is useless, in short dialogue is only good where it leads to negotiations which can result in changes ..but the regime is not interested in changes , its interested in only one thing , keeping itself in power indefinetely …….and yet there is this magic meaning to the word dialogue , that everyone in the outside world favours it without thinking too much of its actual effectiveness as means of resolving conflicts that cannot be resolved because one side feels its got the winning hand in the game.the control of the state entities which formally decide things

    So if you engage in a dialogue your are doing so for several reasons , to respond to the outside pressure of important international agents that you want to have on your side , second so as not to appear irrrationally conflictive which might delegitimize you in their eyes , third to make a throw of the dice to see if even improbably you can gain something from it , and fourth because the alternative is fraught with uncertainties risks and perils so great that you would rather avoid them !!

    The alternative was of course a march on Miraflores where the glorious mass of the people would presumably overcome the formidable armed forces arraigned against it and cause a regime change thru street violence ……!! of course if this march failed then there would be reprisals so savage ( justified to the world by the need of the govt to defend public order from a wild mob) that all the few political spaces left to the oppo to operate form would be snuffed……!!

    The MUD leadership didnt have to be bought in order to temporarily explore the road of dialogue , it was actually a bad choice but one which circumstances made very difficult to reject out of hand. NOW pillorying the oppo for the exploration of the dialogue route has become the fashion , we of course knew all along that the dialogue would fail and are incensed that this route was explored at all. The MUD leadership betrayed principle and cowardly prevented the flush angry masses from having their heroic govt tumpling march !!

    Evidently the road of dialogue is useless at this moment, things have to get worse for the govt to consider any real dialogue leading to changes , the sad thing is that people have responded very predictably to the failure of the dialogue effort ………because they see it as the MUD leadership throwing away an advantage it had using the threat of street protests to impose a govt change….

    Distrust of the MUD leadership ( encouraged by Govt trolls and valiantly indignant oppo voices) have taken a heavy toll on the resistance spirit of oppo followers……, a mistake (in tactics more than in strategy) has been made which has to be corrected but without the wholesale moral defenestration of the MUD leadership …., a two prong line of advance is perhaps the best alternative open to the oppo , keep the pressure on to get to an election which can further evidence the regimes democratic illegitimacy and be prepared to undertake more assertive action in the streets or elsewhere when the time is ripe , i.e when the govt digs itself ever deeply into the morass of an all encompassing financial and supply crisis ……meantime organizing its followers into more effective action groups is a no regret tactic….

    • Also, I recommend each of us to make an effort to sell the Venezuela case to our hosts countries of exile, expatriation, new homes….

      The nation is headed to a holocaust of the jews, a holomodor of The Ukraine, dying fields of Cambodia, Al-Damasq of the Syrians, or to the Mogadishu of Black Hack Down…

      Yet, we get no press and no International rescue or giving agencies, etc. have pictures and stories on us…

      We must raise awareness and build capacity to actually deploy the humanitarian relief that will be needed.

    • “The alternative was of course a march on Miraflores where the glorious mass of the people would presumably overcome the formidable armed forces arraigned against it and cause a regime change thru street violence ……!! of course if this march failed then there would be reprisals so savage ( justified to the world by the need of the govt to defend public order from a wild mob) that all the few political spaces left to the oppo to operate form would be snuffed……!!”

      Defensive maneuvers against the chavista death squads are a thing that must have been organized years ago, since the very moment Chávez ordered to butcher the people protesting in april 11, it’s not like they started resorting to violence since yesterday.

      And when I talk about “defensive maneuvers” I cover EVERY option possible, ranging from efficiently retreating, to outright neutralize those chavistas that were sent specifically to murder people.

      The chavista death squads act as they do only because they know the people won’t lift a finger to protect themselves because they aren’t organized in the slighest, the example is in the protests of Av. Baralt, after the incident, the colectivos sent to harrass the people were complaining and whining because the GNB didn’t come fast enough to “protect them from the savage hordes of unarmed people”

      The political maneuver in the outside must be letting everybody to know, photos in hand, in how the regime sends seath squads to EVERY single demonstration or protest to cause as much damage as possible.

      “The MUD leadership didnt have to be bought in order to temporarily explore the road of dialogue…”

      Except that they agreed to it in the very moment the regime was in their weakest position, how weird, right?

      “… it was actually a bad choice but one which circumstances made very difficult to reject out of hand. ”

      Ah, yeah, the whole “it’s because the Vatican is forcing us to sit down” rubbish.

      “NOW pillorying the oppo for the exploration of the dialogue route has become the fashion , ”

      No, it’s not a fashion, it’s the logical consequence of going against their base, for being grossly disconnected from the needs of the majority that demand the chavismo to be excised from power as soon as possible.

      “Evidently the road of dialogue is useless at this moment, things have to get worse for the govt to consider any real dialogue leading to changes ”

      Uhuh, the most criminal and irresponsible of all ways: “Waiting until the regime falls apart by itself so we can go and pick up the pieces, what are a couple of hundreds of thousand murders more anyway?”

      In today’s Venezuela, time isn’t measured in days, it’s measured in freedoms lost, children brainwashed and thousands of lives murdered.

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