16J: Putting Meat on the Bones of Civil Disobedience

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The popular consultation the National Assembly has called for tomorrow, July 16th, could mark an inflection point in the Venezuelan crisis. Organized without the participation or recognition of the regime-controlled National Elections Council, the vote tomorrow is aimed at a kind of mental emancipation: the moment when the large majority of Venezuelans who oppose the Maduro dictatorship break decisively with the fake democratic institutionality that regime has set up.

This matters.

For many years now, Venezuelan opposition figures have been in a bit of a muddle about what “disowning (desconocer) any authority that counters democratic values” might actually mean in practice.

For a very long time we were stuck in a cycle of continually appealing to the same institutions we claimed to be disowning. We protested the executive’s control of the Supreme Tribunal through suits filed at that same Supreme Tribunal. We’ve petitioned the government-controlled National Elections Council to try to recall the government that controls that Elections Council.

I don’t regret having done so, even though at the time we knew it was basically insane. Still and all, it was our responsibility to go that extra mile, to squeeze every last bit of protest space this rigged institutionality afforded us. And for a long time, that rigged institutionality did afford us some spaces to protest — spaces it would’ve been unconscionable not to exploit.

Putting this vote together ourselves, outside the reach of the government’s rigged electoral authority, isn’t a bug. It’s a feature. It’s the feature. It’s the whole point.

But little by little those spaces became smaller and smaller and then last year, with the regime’s refusal to hold a Recall Referendum, disappeared entirely. Even then the democratic opposition kept jumping through hoops. It’s easy to forget now that as late as March this year our parties were putting themselves through the absurd and illegal humiliation of rounding up tens of thousands of their members nationwide to sign arbitrary forms on randomly regime-determined weekends just to keep notional access to CNE ballots.

The protest movement that began at the end of March — and the brutal repressive reaction it has met from the regime — has brought at least clarity on the senselessness of this approach. And tomorrow’s vote —carried out in defiance of the regime’s rigged institutions— puts organizational meat on the bones of the oft-repeated vow to engage in civil disobedience.

And that’s why I’ve come to see the tendency to dismiss tomorrow’s vote as “merely symbolic” as subtly but deeply misguided. Putting this vote together ourselves, outside the reach of the government’s rigged electoral authority, isn’t a bug. It’s a feature. It’s the feature. It’s the whole point.

Disowning illegitimate authority has to be about more than announcing you no longer recognize it. It has to be about acting differently in the world. It’s taken the opposition a long, long time to figure out how it could do that, precisely. Tomorrow, that process begins in earnest.

32 COMMENTS

  1. Well-written. And as a poster in another thread said, the opposition-led AN then needs to move forward conducting its business as the only legitimate institution left in the country, which is what it is.

  2. Very well written article. The narco-regime will try to dismiss this consultation as fraudulent, of course. But we all know it’s meaningful.

  3. Appealing to (to me) illegitimate “institutions” was what always hurt the most, and the main reason I detached.

    It did take a long time.

    Here goes hoping.

  4. Anyone wanting to hear the most rotund and clear exposition on the need and legal background for the 16 of july consultation try and hear Almagros latest speech on the subject …….never heard anything so cleanly persuasive…….!!

  5. This is like the people suddenly realized that we dont need Tibisay Lucena permission to manifest our will. Wohoo !
    In my opinion, this is a much better use of time and effort than a march even though is not the final solution, but another crack in Maduro’s collapsing wall.

  6. Solid article IMO. It undrescores that fact that trying to play by Madoro’s rules is a non-starter because he simply changes the rules as required. We all know that Maduro can ONLY play by his own rules, making negotiating pointless. The two things that Maduro is really up against now is that MUD and all forks of the opposition are starting to make their own rules, and acting accordingly, and that the financial crisis now crushing the government will soon IMPOSE rules that Maduro et al will HAVE to follow or his cash flow will be cut off. What’s going to get interesting is when Maduro has to ply by rules not of his own making. Since we know he can’t do so, and has threatened armed response to anyone who might try and enforce same, some kind of ugly meltdown and explosion is certain to happen at some level. I hope it doesn’t start to happen tomorrow. My sense is that the sheer number of people mobilized will so overwhelm the security forces as to nullify their powers. Collectivos and agro GN’s can take their shots, and probably will, but i hope only on a limited scale.

    Tomorrow will be an adventure – the definition of which is that we cannot know the outcome beforehand. But with hope still alive, I like our chances.

  7. Interesting that alta-chavistas are still on TV making the case that the ANC is constitutional. Not sure if they’re trying to convince me, or themselves.

  8. Incredible sadness, tears, and pure anger in my household over the video being circulated by Machado over cyberland by the autistic guy who was SAVAGELY beaten yesterday.

    10 cops on one poor innocent, mentally disabled, beating the fucking shit out of him in unimaginable ways. And he didn’t know what the hell he did wrong.

    He has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, like my 26-year-old son. A condition which although different in each individual, is categorized by a lack of social skills (interaction) and poor communication skills.

    My God, we fucking cried our eyes out, as 10 Gestapo beat him with clubs, punched him, kicked him, RAMMED THE SHARP AND HARD EDGES OF THEIR SHIELDS INTO HIM…time and time again…with more Gestapo running into the scene to get into the “fun.”

    Compromise and negations with this administration?

    You gotta be fucking kidding.

    • I didn’t see the actual incidence you are referring too. But I do well what referring to (a close friend of ours sons has Asperger’s Syndrome). I guess Mad-Enrie and his henchmen have struck again (no pun intended).

      Sorry you (and son) have go through through.

        • By the way, in my couple days, under $400,000,000 you express a comment a you didn’t know I referring. SorryIt’s based Jonathan Swift “A Modest Proposal”‘. It’s consider one the English most imported piece of literature. “A Modest Proposal” is available on internet under that name – 3 pages long. I it’s very important “read” in days rapidly of rampant overpopulation. This time practicing by my sarcastic talents reference in reference to Mad-Ernie and Nacrostate.

          Please Read it so can understand what referring a little better. (I tend make obscure reference all the time)

          After I eat I go will your site. I don’t want ulcer a getting agitated on empty stomach.

          I will get back to you

          • It takes FOREVER for the page to load, and FOREVER for the video to load.

            So although you might see the video box with the play arrow ready to go, give it at least 5 more minutes to load.

        • Loaded instantly for me. We have it down to fine point, and we specifically stole your particular feed just when you were trying to load it, so we could watch it, instead of you. Ha-ha!

        • Watching the video is horrible. The guy didn’t appear to be doing anything, and if he insulted them with some off-the-wall comment, they showed extremely poor discipline.

    • Rather brutal on full or empty stomach. I have too friends has to leave Venezuela since Chavez / Mad-Ernie has taken. I lucky I only had a jet to fly back (after saying “no” to exports requests). If you read “A Modest Proposal” I suggest a big supply of large pots to hold Mad-Ernie and his Cronies.
      By the way I have MS and bad stoke, as a result that I have tendency to omit certain words. Best of luck with your.

  9. It is about time to make the GN and PNB a thing of the past, as the infamous SN, although the SN never was that barbaric (in the open) – thank you technology and social media, this is a document for posterity!.

    GN and PNB are criminals. They allow the jails to be run by themselves (and procure the entertainment & goods for the “prans”). In some states, people instead of shopping in the city stores, go to the jails to buy goods!

    It might be difficult to accept it, but there are people way outside the radar, for which no amount of effort will civilize them.

  10. Tomorrow is a gamble into the unknown. We don’t know how many will vote or attempt to vote. We don’t know how much violence the regime will throw at the process. If there is a large vote, we don’t know how the regime will respond. Throw the dice. The die is cast.

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