Last Friday night a friend who works at Universidad Católica Andrés Bello (UCAB) let me in on a secret: the likes of Rodríguez Torres, Capriles, Julio Borges and Eustoquio Contreras would all be sharing a stage on Sunday at a “Forum for the Defense of the Constitution.” It sounded like a dystopian version of one of those jokes beginning with “the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and the Boogeyman were sitting in a bar…”  My friend had to show me the event’s invitation just so I could believe him. I had to go see this for myself.

I arrived at UCAB’s Aula Magna at 9:15 a.m. sharp and there was already a huge line. Though the auditorium was at capacity, my friend got us in through the back door, and we were barely able to squeeze into a seat. UCAB’s Communications Director, Jaime Bello, introduced the guests and announced a strict 12-minute limit for each speech.

Father José Virtuoso, UCAB’s politically active rector, gave the opening remarks. He emphasized that we are witnessing a de facto state that could only be imposed through force, demagoguery and repression. He stated that the point of this symposium was to bring the defense of the 1999 Constitution to the forefront of the public debate, and to make it the epicenter of a broad political platform. In fact, the Venezuelan Bishops Conference – organizers of this event – intendended for this to be an unofficial launch for said platform, but that’s up to the politicians.  

Virtuoso is known for his progressive – ok, fine, leftist – political views. Only someone like him could have joined all those people sitting on that stage without flinching. They were organized in a sort of semicircle, from right to left (both physically and hopefully not ideologically), in the following order: MUD General Coordinator José Luis Cartaya, MUD Political Secretary Ángel Oropeza, Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles, AN Speaker Julio Borges, Voluntad Popular’s Freddy Guevara, Venezuelan Electoral Observatory Director Luis Lander, socialist dissident Nicmer Evans, former government loyalist and ombudswoman Gabriela Ramírez, chavista lawmaker Eustoquio Contreras, Former Interior Minister Miguel Rodríguez Torres, and chavista lawmaker (and husband of Luisa Ortega Díaz) Germán Ferrer. Cartaya, Oropeza, Evans and Ferrer were just there for show: they did not speak.

We are witnessing a de facto state that could only be imposed through force, demagoguery and repression.

Luis Lander was the first to address the crowd. He nicely framed the conversation that would ensue through a short, academic lecture on why the National Constituent Assembly is exclusionary, sectarian and illegitimate. He explained how the “presidential initiative” from articles 347 and 348 of the Constitution was deliberately misinterpreted by the Supreme Court, as a presidential prerogative to change the constitution at will. Going against those in the opposition that remain in the “electronic fraud” camp, he said: “we have sustained always that the Venezuelan electoral system is secure, if the proper external audits are carried out.” He went on to cite several irregularities that made everyone question the results.

Lawmaker Eustoquio Contreras followed. Contreras is technically a member of the Gran Polo Patriótico, an umbrella group of small chavista parties that has grown increasingly at odds with the monolithic behemoth that is PSUV. His party is called Vanguardia Bicentenaria Republicana. Last Tuesday, Contreras, Germán Ferrer, and alternate lawmaker IvoneTéllez publicly separated themselves from the Bloque de la Patria, the government caucus in parliament, and formed the dissident Bloque Parlamentario Socialista.

Contreras’s speech was perhaps the most apologetic of the chavista side. He began his remarks by admitting that “it is difficult nowadays to know where the right is and where the left is,” which is the kind of empty platitude that everyone is happy to applaud. As a typical socialist, he delved into his social theory of knowledge and referred to Thomas Kuhn’s concept of “paradigm shifts” to exemplify that we are at a point in time when the state is out of theoretical answers to Venezuela’s current problems… hence our crisis. His time was up when he started to bring his point home: that our current crisis is not institutional or of the people, “but of the country’s political leadership.” “We have worsened the crisis of representative democracy,” he went on to say. “We have a joint responsibility to solve the country’s problems, we can only come out of this together […]. There are no answers from public institutions because they are at their worst moment.” Referring to dialogue, he said that “conventional means are not working to solve the country’s problems, because the interests of the parties are at odds with the interests of the Republic, so the Republic is left without leaders.” He closed with a call to depolarize the country.

That last remark underscored one of the salient points of contention between the two sides represented on that stage: MUD does not agree with dissident chavistas when they insist that the country is polarized. MUD argues that the overwhelming majority of the country is against the government, while dissident chavistas argue that, although this may be true, the two poles (MUD and PSUV) are trying to represent two sides and neither are very good at it, so they should leave it to the rest.

Our current crisis is not institutional or of the people, “but of the country’s political leadership.” “We have worsened the crisis of representative democracy.”

Next up was Freddy Guevara – vice president of the National Assembly and national coordinator of Voluntad Popular while Leopoldo is in jail (or under house arrest, it varies depending on the day). With a clear voice, Guevara opened his speech by calling on the forum to evolve quickly into a “platform of joint actions.” “There’s a sense of historical responsibility that calls not for “Unity” (Unidad) – the traditional political alliance between opposition parties – but for UNION between those who have always opposed the regime, those who are chavistas, and all sectors of civil society, so that we can advance in the construction of a resistance agenda that allows us to rescue what’s left of our democracy in order to achieve change.”

The highlight of his speech was his laying out a course of action for the next week based on his expertise in the field of civil resistance: “What is a dictatorship but exactly how the regime has conceptualized its Constituent Assembly? An all powerful body, above all the institutions of the Republic, above all the people… This is what justifies our next step: a massive popular rebellion, we have to continue to apply articles 350 and 333 of the Constitution….”

He referred to yesterday’s military events in Valencia: “the last hours demonstrate that the crisis has reached the military barracks and this is something that truly worries us, along with the likely possibility of strong economic sanctions that nobody wants, but that are the consequence of the criminal behavior that the dictatorship has brought into our institutions.”

That last line got an audible response from the audience, but I quickly realized it had nothing to do with Freddy. Recently deposed Prosecutor General, Luisa Ortega Díaz, had made a surprise appearance at the forum, and entered the Aula Magna to a standing ovation. She was both solemn and ecstatic.

Freddy continued his speech and summoned another round of applause for Ortega (I got tired of the jalabolismo) when he said “what follows is to continue the application of articles 350 and 333: renouncing false authorities, which means that if the ANC tells people to walk on the right side of the street, we will walk on the left side, if they name Tarek William Saab as usurper prosecutor, we will stand by Luis Ortega Díaz as our rightful Fiscal General de la República, in the same way thatJulio Borges is the speaker of the National Assembly… This is not only the task of the National Assembly lawmakers, or of the young fighters who resist with their cardboard shields.” He warned that civil disobedience can only work if it is truly massive: “In the next week, every sector of society has to repudiate the power and authority of the Constituent Assembly…”

There’s a sense of historical responsibility that calls not for “Unity”… but for UNION between those who have always opposed the regime, those who are chavistas, and all sectors of civil society.

He asked rhetorically what we were willing to sacrifice in order to delegitimize and disobey the orders of the dictatorship. He hinted that if we are willing, we will soon be marching to Miraflores… not to lead a coup against Maduro, but to swear in a new President.

Surprise guest Luisa Ortega Díaz was added to the list of speakers and had her turn next. I have to say there wasn’t much new content in her speech – her very presence was enough of a novelty. As she fixed her microphone, she asked if she was too well endowed, “es que tengo mucho tamaño?”… a sexual innuendo which drew laughter from the crowd. She quickly added that the people of Venezuela were endowed with both stature and largesse. She was met with resounding applause when she stated that we are under a de facto power and that we no longer have a government to speak of.

Many in the audience were surely disappointed when she said that, aside from theoretical notions, governments are really there to “guarantee happiness for the people”… usual chavista demagoguery.

Ortega’s words could’ve been mistaken for a campaign speech. As if on the stump, she repeated over and over how there’s a de facto government that does not respond to the needs of the people, and how she does not recognize the decisions of the “Presidential Constituent Assembly,” as she called it, none the least of which was her being ousted from her post as Prosecutor General.

Her advice for MUD was twofold: She cautioned National Assembly lawmakers not to abandon the Legislative Palace and the the opposition in general that Tibisay Lucena was clearly on a path to cancel regional elections if the opposition participated, and to hold them if the opposition didn’t.

That the ANC is being sold as a replacement of the National Assembly is an insult to the people’s intelligence.

After Ortega came Gabriela Ramírez, Former Ombuds(wo)man and chavista legislator. She began by highlighting the lack of women in prominent roles as one of the reasons for our country’s inability to reach consensus, a problem that was difficult to hide given who’d been invited to sit on the stage that day. But her speech went downhill from there: she drew on a metaphor about how women should rescue our “motherly instincts” as a means of overcoming the crisis, explaining how political leaders should look to demobilized bases to recover from low morale because “our children force us to get back up…” She spoke of the sacrifices women have to make when they obey their instincts, “hearing the voice of the people,” referring specifically to Luisa Ortega Díaz and the Constitution as a mother, because “my favorite child is always the one that is excluded, sick or feels sad… the Constitution is the same.” These kinds of rhetorical devices held the audience’s attention, but were pretty ridiculous and much devoid of substance.

She also informed the audience that jailed violinist Wuilly Arteaga is the first civilian to be charged by the new TSJ appointed Vice-Prosecutor General, Katherine Harrington, that he is still wearing the same clothes as the day he was apprehended, and that his mother has yet to be able to see him in person.

She closed her speech by admitting how hard it was for her to be there, sitting next to political adversaries. Contradicting Contreras’ previous remarks, she said that the origin of the left vs. right clash harkened back to when the Right wanted separation of powers and veto power for the King, while the Left wanted separation of powers and the sovereignty of the people. She went on to explain how, finally nowadays, all sides want separation of powers and agree that the people are the sovereign. It was a bold and defiant way to close out her address, a deliberate move that changed the mood of the speeches from then on out.

Then it was Julio Borges’s turn at the microphone, Speaker of the National Assembly and Primero Justicia national coordinator. He started out by referring to the military rebellion ongoing in Valencia: “As speaker of the AN, we demand to know the truth about what happened. The behavior of the Armed Forces reflects the sentiments of a country that calls for change.” He spoke about the dwindling protest movement, which he considered to be full of “ups and downs and jumps, […], but what really matters is that we have carried on regardless, that we have not wavered.” According to Borges, what comes next is “to continue the same fight that we began 130 days ago. A lot of people feel that the installation of the ANC is a knife to the heart, but we see it differently. Each step by the ANC weakens the regime.”

… Tibisay Lucena is clearly on a path to cancel regional elections if the opposition participates, and to hold them if the opposition doesn’t.

He did not offer much strategy on what comes next: “we must now give substance and bear witness to the words ‘to resist.’ We must remain firm and organized, on the streets,” and work in tandem with the international community. The speech was saved at the end, when Borges told an anecdote from when the Pope and Lech Walessa met during the darkest moment of the Polish liberation from communist rule. “I forbid you to do three things,” the Pope said to Walessa: “to hate, to kill, and to give up.” Borges gave some good advice, asking the crowd to keep those words in our hearts.

Then came Miguel Rodríguez Torres – retired Mayor General of the Army, Chávez’s first director of SEBIN and former Maduro Minister of the Interior.

He called on political leaders to go back to “statesmanship,” so that Venezuela can cease to be a failed state. By statesmanship, he apparently meant planning ahead for what seems a sure presidential bid : “Whomever still insists on imposing a quick path out of this crisis will leave us sad and disappointed […] Fear can be a good thing or a bad thing,” he said. “Fear forces you to plan ahead to break with uncertainty. Maduro has an expiration date and we must plan from a superior place of unity for what lies ahead of that.” 

He went on to lament how Venezuela is mired in a spiritual crisis and that we must learn forgiveness, which is not the same thing as impunity. Otherwise, “the guarimberos will enter Miraflores and those in Miraflores will become guarimberos.” It was impossible to hear him talk and not think on how convenient forgiveness would be for him.

Finally, as if he had the moral authority to do so, Rodriguez Torres went on a diatribe about leadership. “We need a courageous and responsible leadership. A leader does not throw stones at the National Guard, a brave leader knows when to step back and how to put aside personal interests.” So much for that.

The last speaker was Miranda Governor, former Presidential candidate, and sometimes MUD outcast Henrique Capriles. He immediately began by scolding the crowd about the regional elections debate. “Are we going to stay stuck on this discussion or move on to other ones?!” Then he went on all-out crowd pleasing mode, declaring that “we must quit thinking that building bridges means keeping a serious face (¿?). The he really hammed it up “Why are we afraid of a kiss?” he turned to Gabriela Ramírez, adding “on the cheek, I know your husband is here,” he smiled. He continued his appeal to unity and understanding: “we shouldn’t be afraid to take pictures [with our former adversaries] or to sit next to each other.”

Jailed violinist Wuilly Arteaga is the first civilian to be charged by the new TSJ appointed Vice-Prosecutor General, Katherine Harrington.

A Capriles speech would not be complete without a reminder of his victories, playing to his strengths: “Many years ago, we set out to build a new popular majority. We have finally achieved this: the people will now join us in our projects and in our plans.” It felt like most of the time, Capriles was talking towards the left side of the stage, and to Rodriguez Torres in particular.

In terms of performance, Capriles gets points for being frank; Freddy, for laying out his doctrine of nonviolent resistance clearly and lucidly, and making a good case for its relevance to this particular political moment. Luisa Ortega gets credit just for showing up, for being gracious and candid in her advice to MUD. Eustoquio Contreras gets a passing grade for his opening remarks, Rodríguez Torres, I guess, deserves kudos for not hiding his presidential intentions. Gabriela Ramírez and Julio Borges get failing grades, I expected way more from both.

It’s sad that we are not used to these kinds of events. The audience was overly deferential to the “left” side and overly critical to the “right” side. The audience craved and rewarded every gesture of unity between the participants. At the same time, people valued when leaders talked frankly and visibly rejected whenever they euphemized or beat around the bush. The takeaway for all politicians? Being honest and acknowledging differences, rather than sugarcoating or ignoring the issues, gets you further ahead.

Moving forward, I believe we have three immediate challenges to tackle. Firstly, we must find a common position on the regional elections; second, we need to agree on common tactics on how to apply articles 350 and 333 of the Constitution, and how to disobey and disregard the Constituent Assembly. This protest movement has formally belonged to MUD, but it needs to broaden and be joined by anti-ANC chavistas in order to gain momentum again. Finally, we must address National Assembly appointments of National Electoral Council (CNE) authorities by working alongside our new allies: the Bloque Parlamentario Socialista.

All in all, I felt better about Venezuela’s prospects at the end of the event than I did at the beginning. The speakers did not give us a recipe for how to solve our crisis. They did all show willingness to listen to each other, to regard each other as counterparts in future political endeavors, something which I found very heartening indeed. Because the event was just a series of individual 12-minute speeches, interactions between speakers were reduced to a minimum. Any direct reference made by one speaker about another was kept courteous and polite. It was a good first step, but we need to have an actual debate in which leaders can tackle touchy subjects, asks questions of each other, and interact with their audience. Only then will we find out whether these politicians have anything else in common, other than upholding the Constitution of 1999 and the need to restore the Republic and our democracy. It cannot be staged as a presidential debate because it won’t be: we are far away from anything resembling Presidential elections. But this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a big, honest conversation. We need to get used to these things: it’s part of rescuing what politics is really about.

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Isa studied at UWC Adriatic (Duino, Italy) from 2006 to 2008 and graduated from Northwestern University in 2012, when she returned to Venezuela. She is a Venezuelan political scientist, activist and current president of Avemundo/UWC Venezuela.

55 COMMENTS

  1. I dont think they need to have anything more in common than the constitution, and beyond that, respect for democratic mechanisms.

    I mean, is not like I want at least half of those to ever hold office again, but if they are willing to respect popular will by clean and fair elections and participate via the true avenues of dialog in democracy (elections and Parliament), then well, it would be a happy thing to hate each other and “fight” as it is dbne in any other democracy.

  2. The cunt Lucena needs to be forced into cancelling the regional elections whether the opposition is serious about participating or not.

      • For Lucena it is spelled with a capital K.
        Her and Delcy are two people that I truly hope have a shitload of Karma in their future.
        There is nothing that can be done to them that would ever make me think that they had suffered enough.
        I fantasize about covering them with sweet syrup and chaining them up beside a fire ant hill.
        They are 2 of the most disgusting women that I have ever seen in my life.
        A vile and torturous death to both of them.

      • I rarely use the c-word because I rarely see a woman to which it applies. Heck, not even discussing US politics and such hags as Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi have I ever used it.

        If I’ve stepped over the line and offended anyone, I apologize to cunts the world over for associating them with Tibisey Lucena.

        • MRubio
          That reminds me of an old story.
          A guy walks into a bar one day. he is obviously in a foul mood. After a few drinks he just shouts out “All Lawyers are assholes!”
          A man at the end of the bar challenged him and told him that he was offended by his statement.
          The guy asked him if he was a lawyer.
          The man responded “NO, I’m an asshole!”

  3. I echo your sense of incredulity. And the boogeyman gets the standing O.? Who choreographed that entrance I wonder.

  4. This is better than nothing, but: Chavistas represented still believe in their Project/Leader; Oppo has fractured with many parties rushing lemming-like to Regional (IF held) electoral slaughter; the ANC will soon be jailing Oppo leaders (probably beginning with Vergara, “responsible” for Paramaconi incident, continuing with the (Un-)Truth guarimba-protests Commission)–all really reminiscent of a what-do-you-think-we-should-do? meeting on the Titanic as it’s sinking, with no one understanding that there are not enough lifeboats for all….

  5. Venezuela is now a full Marxist dictatorship. These politicians will be jailed one by one and should be running to a safe place before becoming totally irrelevant or bargain chips.
    Their job (if there was ever one) at the AN/MP is over, they need to stop pretending is business as usual.
    From now on is all about getting ready to topple the regime by FORCE and they should be coordinating at this point with the Armed Resistance and the International Community or move out of their way.
    Street Protest or Regional Elections will not be the solution to get rid of the problem we now face and would give more time to the tyranny.
    Fortunately we are closer than ever but tactics need to switch to a full armed struggle and that needs to be communicated clearly to don’t give false hopes of a peaceful solution because there won’t be any.
    Time to get real or the reality will roll over you.

  6. They should have invited the parents of the dead children and asked them to speak.
    Instead of telling the people what they must do, why not ask the people what they think should be done.
    I’d lay money on an armed revolt by any means.
    Destroy the ANC and all of the people involved in it.
    Recognize that Maduro and the criminal regime are at war with the people of Venezuela and are illegal occupiers that are no different than if Cuba had sent an army to invade Venezuela. starve the people and steal the oil.
    The very idea that violence is off the table, just as the MUD refuses to ask for foreign military intervention, empowers this regime and makes them believe that they can act with impunity.
    Almost anything can be used as a weapon. A vehicle, bleach, toilet bowl cleaner, a kitchen knife and even a hat pin can be deadly. The French resistance in World War 2 commonly used a pretty girl to lure a Nazi soldier to his death with the thought of a sexual encounter. The soldier was killed and his weapons were used against more Nazi soldiers.
    Explosives can be made cheaply with commonly available ( maybe in Venezuela) chemicals.
    A little ingenuity and the psychological effect can be immense.
    Hit and run tactics pose the least risk for the resistance and tie up tremendous manpower to protect the regime and the institutions.
    Maduro threatens anyone that speaks against the corrupt government. His threats to jail the people that “insulted” Soccoro Hernandez is a typical example.
    This regime that is shooting and starving your children needs to removed at any cost.
    Russia and China both recognized the ANC vote. If these countries feel that the way forward for them to be repaid with oil while this regime is in power, they may take steps to keep them in power. Any relaxing of pressure on the government may make them consider the government being worth an investment in anything from weapons to cash or any other tool of oppression.
    They need to know that the people will not accept Communist dictatorial rule and that any aid given to this regime is money pissed away. Any support other countries give this regime should be cited as culpability to facilitating the human rights abuses by this regime. Lawsuits and judgments for damages should be pursued against any country complicit in aiding this regime.
    If the MUD does not take a more unified and aggressive stance against the regime, there is the real risk of chaotic rebellion without leadership and the breakdown of civil order into warlords holding power in specific areas.
    This will cause long term instability and most likely a destroyed infrastructure within the country. Every place that civil unrest has become factionalized the destruction and suffering has become immense. The ability to bring everyone under a single peace process has been problematic and many countries have remained unstable for years if not decades. Somalia, Libya and most recently Syria are all suffering that plight.
    The MUD must be unified. The politicians need to bury their individual political aspirations until this regime is removed. The people are crying out for leadership. The 7 million votes in the plebiscite showed this.
    The MUD needs to raise their game and level of resistance on a continuing basis.
    The ANC is not a loss. The ANC is what has finally brought world wide condemnation to this regime and its ongoing barbarity.
    MUD needs to smarten up.

    • Amen. 100% Agree !
      I think the MUD-AN are desperately clinching to their slowly disappearing power so they are willing to believe in any desperate and unrealistic path to a “constitutional” return, in other words they are in DENIAL.
      I understand that they worked really hard and deserved to earn those positions but they need to wake the hell up and leave what they started in the hands of professionals, the rebellion’s armed forces to finish it up.
      This is why it was of the utmost importance that the MUD picked a single person directing but Julio Borges apparently doesn’t want to take the initiative hence the fractional problem with the regionals now, etc. They are still fighting with a single hand bound by constitutional mindset an enemy that fight with no rules under the single Castro leadership.

      A quick informal look at the social networks gives the sense that people are quickly abandon the MUD-AN and joining Cap. Caguaripano (the armed resistance). We want decisive and appropriate action and no more academic bureaucratic BS.

      And you know what, there was never a peaceful or constitutional solution to end Chavismo once they took power.
      They came determined to install a cuban-marxist dictatorship and they will die trying.

      • It is easy to spend someone else’s blood. The problem is, the cost is always much higher than expected. It is also much more difficult to stop than it is to start.

        Will you brave fellows leave your keyboards behind and be in the front ranks instead of parroting one another here?

        And please spare me the arguments that it can’t be worse than it already is. It can. It can be much, much worse.

        • “And please spare me the arguments that it can’t be worse than it already is. It can. It can be much, much worse.”

          Worse in what sense? Nazi-style genocide where colectivos go kidnapping people from their houses to kill them?

          Oh, right, that’s happening already.

          • Using terms like “genocide” and “Nazi-style” as your rhetorical devices proves my point that you have no idea how much worse it can get. It doesn’t help that it took all of 3-4 comments to get there, but, eh….Godwin’s Law wins again.

            You honestly think the state of things now is similar to a civil war?

          • “Genocide” according to wikipedia:

            “Genocide is intentional action to destroy a people (usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group) in whole or in part.”

            In this case, the group to be destroyed is the people who doesn’t kneel to chavismo, as they have demosntrated with more than 300.000 murders in the last 18 years, as the criminals that steal, rape and murder everyday are the prime tool of chavista domination.

            https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2017/05/12/colectivo-responsibility/

            “Nazi-style” corresponds to the mindless zeal that MANY chavistas exhibit in their actions, their sociopathy and complete detachment of reality.

            Go and watch several of the myriad of examples of this active brainwashing by the regime, you’ll find that people what would be perfectly functional end believing the most absurd lies chavismo defecates:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Lq5jtrRYE

            “You honestly think the state of things now is similar to a civil war?”

            When only one side is armed, it’s not a war.

            When one side outnumbers the other 9 to 1 it isn’t a war either.

            Chavismo has spiraled down to resort to old fashioned terrorism, knocking down doors and kidnapping people in the middle of the night to murder them:

            http://critica24.com/index.php/2017/08/02/ejecuciones-en-ejido-estado-merida/

            No, there isn’t many things that can “out-worse” chavismo.

          • Genocide: Planned policy by a government that uses its power to eradicate a group (Racial, religious, POLITICAL)

            Nazi style: Just check the incredible sociopathy of the average chavista, who acts as the worst sufferings their “leaders” have inflicted on the thick of the population are simply dismissed as “sissy whining”

            Again, you simply put a ridiculous strawman to avoid my point, how much worse can stuff get, you ask?

            There’s no food but that which you buy through the party-controlled monopolies.

            There’s no medicines but those that are expired that might be useless or are poisonous placebos sold by the cuban-puppeteered triangulations.

            People are at risk of being murdered inside their own houses.

            Hey, at least in Cuba there’s personal safety.

            Venezuela IS IN WORSE CONDITION THAN CUBA.

            Ah, and another little nugget of chavismo-NAZI-action: People being kidnapped and executed, Gestapo style.

            http://critica24.com/index.php/2017/08/02/ejecuciones-en-ejido-estado-merida/

          • I am not sure you understand a straw man; perhaps you might want to re-read what I wrote a bit more carefully when I identify why you don’t understand how bad it can get.

            This is not genocide. It is not systematic (yet). It is not an organized program of destruction (yet). Is it ugly? Yes. Does it contravene basic human rights and the Venezuelan constitution. Certainly. But it isn’t genocide. I’ve seen genocide first hand. Up close and very personal. Death squads. Intentional destruction of all food in an area. Shooting farmers in the fields. Mass graves. A rape camp. An SDG officer casually lobbing a grenade at small children seeking cover from the rain. Mortar rounds dropped into trees where civilians were sheltering/hiding. Making prisoners fight to the death for moldy food.
            Fun stuff. You aren’t there yet as much as you want to portray it otherwise. By comparison to real genocides, Venezuela isn’t even to the edge of the cliff yet.

            (Sidebar: the United Nations definition of genocide as a criminal specifically excludes political groups. One of the countries that explicitly demanded this? Venezuela, over 60 years ago. Also, guess which one, of several countries specifically provides immunity from prosecution for genocide at the ICC without the government’s consent? Yup, Venezuela.)

            You also generalize chavistas with your nazi reference. Most chavistas are in the same boat as everyone else and your inability to see that is unfortunate. I know several. They aren’t any better off or worse off than your average Venezuelan; the situation sucks for everyone. Just so you understand, as much as they want change and as much as they mislike the government, they dislike what a potential opposition reform government could do more. An ideology doesn’t make someone into a non-human or an automatically bad person. Meditate on that.

            Also, please don’t cite fake, or incorrect news stories. The critica24 article is two weeks old and I have yet to see it confirmed anywhere else. No stories of 27 missing kids. No parents looking for their sons.
            No mass graves. Nothing anywhere else. Most of my extended family lives in Merida-Ejido and there is nothing on this story that has appeared on twitter, facebook or whatsapp. Promulgating potentially fake news as real and accurate undermines your credibility.

          • “It is not systematic (yet). It is not an organized program of destruction (yet)”

            Yes, it is, if you don’t think so, then you missed the memos that chavismo passed since 1999 of how they wanted to purge the country of any “oligarch, apátrida, escuálido” or any other dehumanizing insult, it’s systematic and a state policy, the goal is the total eradication, be it via murder or through forced displacement of all the opposition people, or at least to make them submit and kneel to the chavista power.

            ” Death squads.”

            Because the criminals that murder 100 people daily in Venezuela aren’t considered to be death squads, nor the OLP cronies that kidnap and murder people.

            Or the colectivos that actively go to kill protesters, a policy that’s been running since 2002 when Chávez ordered the death squads to score some kills at april 11 and the Llaguno gunmen murdered two dozens of people in a few minutes.

            “Shooting farmers in the fields.”

            It’s been happening since the 90s, one of the reasons the agriculture production in Venezuela in several states was affected was because criminal groups as the farc harrassing and murdering farmers, and said groups are openly protected by chavismo as a state policy.

            “Mass graves. ”

            One example: The mass grave that has the corpses of the 36 miners killed in Bolívar under the orders of one criminal protected by the chavista state.

            ” A rape camp.”

            Any prison in Venezuela has become a rape and kill camp, if you don’t pay the weekly tariff to the pran you get either stabbed, tossed into the stab-athlon or simply are raped and stabbed.

            “An SDG officer casually lobbing a grenade at small children seeking cover from the rain.”

            News of perfectly innocuous bystanders being assaulted by the GNB have surfaced lately, as one guajiro child that was tied by the GNB who put a tear gas bomb on his back with the explicit purpose of torturing him just for the evulz, the video shows the 2nd and 3rd degree burns in his back and arms because the guards tied the bomb there.

            “Mortar rounds dropped into trees where civilians were sheltering/hiding. ”

            Well, you’re pretty much ignoring how the GNB and PNB have behave during the recent protests, they not only fire with shotguns directly into the houses, they tear down the houses’ and residentials’ fences and walls so the colectivos can get inside to destroy the property and maybe score some kidnaps and kills.

            “Making prisoners fight to the death for moldy food.”

            Uribana prison was only one example of a place where the inmates were forced to fight to death just for the pran’s fun.

            ” By comparison to real genocides, Venezuela isn’t even to the edge of the cliff yet.”

            So if there isn’t a pile of certifiable one million of more corpses then it didn’t happen, sounds like those folks that deny the holocaust telling that those murdered never existed and the dead ones simply died from natural causes. It seems that about 300.000 murders from which about 80% are due to official policies isn’t enough.

            “Most chavistas are in the same boat as everyone else ”

            No, most chavistas who remain “loyal” are as sociopathic as the nazi were, it’s not a hyperbole, they actually claim that “food is a political strategy” and “we have taken the control of medicines because people keep wasting them, and also they are a political strategy” and then they’ll openly whine and complain if somebody dares to say anything about such disgusting mockery, asking stuff like “why do they become so mad, what’s wrong with them?” or “why they want to go and buy stuff without making lines?”

            You haven’t dealt with actual chavistas, the ones you met are people who aren’t chavistas anymore.

            ” They aren’t any better off or worse off than your average Venezuelan; the situation sucks for everyone. ”

            No, the chavistas are completely convinced that they’re better now than at any time before, even when they’re starving and their children dying from some silly disease, they’re still convinced that everything is better now than how it was in the 4th even if they lived an actually better life in the 4th.

            “Just so you understand, as much as they want change and as much as they mislike the government”

            They don’t want to change the government, what they want is more chavismo but that continues to hand them stuff for free.

            “they dislike what a potential opposition reform government could do more”

            Brainwash, they hate without any reason to hate other than because Chávez told them to hate.

            ” An ideology doesn’t make someone into a non-human or an automatically bad person.”

            Daesh, nazis and communists are very likely to be people who cast away their humanity to impose control over others.

            “The critica24 article is two weeks old and I have yet to see it confirmed anywhere else. ”

            I have family living in that state that can confirm the news, the fact that you don’t like the page doesn’t mean it’s fake, besides, it’s obvious that the regime would want such a story shut down and censored in a time they’re desperately trying to appear as a democratic goody two shoes government.

            Forget that ridiculous idea that chavismo will one day go and gun down 5.000 protesters in a single day, the day they do that will be their suicide, as people will in turn go and hunt chavistas everywhere they try to hide in revenge, the chavista regime knows that by killing a couple of people here and there the rest will be scared and will go back into being non-opposition.

            The sidebar is quite convenient for the same manure that defecated what is now the chavismo.

        • Would you have been in favor of D day even if you had stayed in the US or elsewhere? I do not think that the only people that can have an opinion are those who live in Venezuela, so cut the crap about Torovolt or anybody else not having the right to voice their opinion because their blood is not the one being shed.

          • I won’t be silent unless he goes to Venezuela and sheds his blood. Otherwise crap is what he writes.

  7. Look man, is simple. I’m not voting on regional elections before presidential ones and with Tiby on it, SPECIALLY after the bastards that said that they won’t do that….just did. Fuck them.

    I hope that the next list of sanctions includes them.

  8. Hi Isabella, thank you for the synopsis! I saw bits and pieces streaming online in between breaking news.

    Biggest news is LOD pointing out how tramposa is Tibisay and it is good that she is being exposed by a former Chavista. Maybe it takes one to know one.

    Other than that a potpourri of speeches that these politicians can pull out of their ass in the last minute and with little preparation…thus why this conference was always interrupted for breaking news.

    Unless the Opposition can pull a rabbit out of their hat in the next couple weeks, I think we will lose all faith in the political class.

    Maybe this should have been the discussion topic for the night:

    Not how we can unite the opposition and democratic Chavistas in this country, but how establishment politicians can keep themselves from becoming irrelevant. Once the resistance wins, hopefully some of them will not have a political career anymore. We need to cleanse ourselves of the last few generations who brought us to this point by being the soap opera they are. Cant have the same old, same old in Miraflores.

    Haha MRubio, breaking out the C word. Yeah, I hear ya bro lol

    • Democratic Chavistas is an oxymoron.
      Chavismo is antidemocratic from the start with a coup.
      Democratic Chavista is code word for affraid-to-go-to-jail-marxist or at best clueless-ignorant-person.
      There are many ways to be on the left and be democratic. Chavizmo and everything that it means shouldn’t be one of them.

    • What a complete joke, a typical cowardly non statement on obvious injustice and tyranny.. Corybn has been a cheerleader of Chavez, Maduro and pals as they squandered a massive oil boom and ran this country into the ground, armed criminals as their shock troops aimed at intimidating and repressing dissenters and protestors, politicized the armed forces, systematically destroyed separations of powers and Constitutional democratic checks and balances, and led the country to the naked dictatorship it is now. He cheered them every step of the way, and yet he has no guilt or even shame.

      Is he so blinded by ideology that he doesn’t understand that it is the poor, whom he purports to care about so much, who are suffering the most under this regime? I wonder if he realizes that this regime has done more to discredit radical socialism throughout Latin America and the world than any right winger could have imagined in their wildest dreams…

    • JL, dream on. When one side are shooting bullets, defrauding the ballot box, and have 3 deaths, and the other side has incoming tear gas, and 110 deaths, there is no coming together. If I was a hard core chavista, as you are, I’d be trying to blur the lines and confuse the discussion like you.

      Corbin is a chavista – and he refuses to acknowledge the truth of today. Seem every word out of his mouth praises the golden years of Chavez, when he was singing “money for nothing and the chicks for free”

        • Judi Lynn
          The opposition was foolish enough to trust the regime and tried to negotiate a settlement. As expected the regime did not fulfill any promises made during the Vatican sponsored dialogue.
          This regime is absolutely illegal and illegitimate.
          They have proven that their promises go unfulfilled. Many of them face life in prison in the US or Venezuela should they ever leave power.
          You are not dealing with a political dispute. You are dealing with a Cuban sponsored seizing of a government and occupation of a country by people that have stolen hundreds of billions of Dollars, committed crimes against humanity and broken numerous laws.
          The idea that somehow there can be a process, short of the regime being replaced is utter nonsense.
          The regime will never peacefully cede power. Instead they will do anything possible to avoid the day of judgement for their criminal acts.
          An armed revolt is needed. Burn their houses. Destroy every piece of this government machine that allows them to function in any way at all.
          Every single person that supports the current regime is an enemy to the people of Venezuela, democracy and human dignity.
          The regime is practicing genocide against anyone that disagrees with them. Slowly starving the population, denying life saving imports and stealing the money that is desperately needed by a citizenry that suffers more and more each day. Illegal detentions, trial without the right of a defense and military justice have become everyday crimes committed against the people of Venezuela. When the jails are full, will executions be the next step?
          I do know that once these people are destroyed, they will commit no more vile acts.
          Judi Lynn, I would like to know more about you. How have your past experiences shaped your opinions? Do you live in Venezuela? How has the collapse of the economy affected you or your family? Do you or your family members work for the government? What is your income in comparison to the average Venezuelan?
          You seem very certain in your opinions. I’m sure others may wonder how you have developed the outlook you have regarding this regime.

        • Judi Lynn, I would like to know more about you. How have your past experiences shaped your opinions? Do you live in Venezuela?
          Judi Lynn is a lefty who knows about as much about Venezuela as an aardvark knows about arepas.
          For Judi Lynn, Venezuela is merely a place on which to impose her lefty template.

          • Mr Corbyn is a direct succesor of Mr Chamberlain , who believed that one could in good faith come to reasonable terms with Mr Hitler who after all only wanted the best for his country , and ensure peace and idylic happiness for all …….., We know how those goody goody postures ended ……… When dealing with gangsters like the Maduro regime carrying a big club helps a lot .

    • Yeah, but you also got to remember because everything that has gone down in Venezuela, everybody under 30 HATES SOCIALISM!!! PSUV will be broken. You will have Chavista politicians going out there and trying to salvage their political careers after this falls (and it will, but could be a bloody fight). However, they will be “closet socialists” after the final nail is put into the coffin of Chavismo. LOD might talk about Chavez now, but after this shit falls, you wont hear much more. Enough of this nightmare and we desperately need to move on.

      The fall of Chavismo in Venezuela, will be the “Second Berlin Wall” (Lulo quote). Marco Rubio knows the geopolitical significance of all of this. So does the CIA. Once this shit falls, so will Cuba and other leftists movements in the Western Hemisphere. Venezuela was always the gas pump fueling this plague. Research Foro de Sao Paulo.

      Western lefties will be crying on university campuses now because they will not have a revolutionary group in Latin America to champion anymore waaa! waaa! waaa! waaa! waaa! because they ran out of cash. Furthermore, you are on the wrong side of History if you support these corrupt criminals in Venezuela today. A no win situation. All a Leftie can say now is that the revolutionary model of socialism (created in Havana) is morally, economically and politically bankrupt. Just move on.

      Did I hear #SanctionsTuesday?? Music to my ears!!!

      • I wish Chavez had lived a few more years, to face the music. His myth among the poor would have been popped completely as the last gasp, debt fueled spending orgy of the election year 2012 ended and then followed by oil prices dropping. He always was a lucky son of a bitch, even in the timing of his death.

        His last words should have been…”Après nous, le déluge”

    • The most boring of noticiero digital’s trolls has arrived, judisociada is the one that everybody there calls “annoying old grouch”

    • It is fitting that Corbyn is the opposition leader in the country with the world’s oldest continual democracy.
      He is opposed to democracy.

      • He’s an embarrassment, a dinosaur marxist that belongs in the 1970s. Labour did better than expected in the recent election solely due to the Tories screw ups and unpopularity (as well as 6 razor close races that all went their way), and that had nothing to do with him or his views. The faster he gets booted the better for Labour and for the UK (and the world).

  9. All of this name calling is nothing more than frustration toward a minority (Maduro) who has little to no fear of the opposition. LL is feared because they know he would get radical if it came to it and nothing but a radical and painful shift of position can give MUD any traction now. So what can MUD and others do to sew fear in the Chavistas? It won’t come at no cost, but more of the same is unlikely to foment any real change. Otherwise the Chavistas are banking on a continued passive response they can manage with ease, though with some inconvenience and fallout. For sheer boldness, the Chavistas have it over the pueblo 100 fold. Once that changes, something might shift. Till then, we’ll simply watch the Cubanization of Venezuela.

  10. A couple of things bother me: why aren’t there any women on the MUD side? Couldn’t they have invited D. Solórzano at least?
    Secondly: the lack of discussion about the role of the military caste in Cuba and now in Venezuela. Just now Agence France Press published a little chart on Venezuela’s military. It is not just the amount of military thugs among ministers but also the sheer increase in numbers since 2012 and the comparison with countries that have a much larger population in Latin America.

    • Not the objective of the thing. I mean, it is clear this was just to show the possibility of enlarging the anti-government front with a different wing, rob Maduro of a bit of support if possible, and show the bona fides of the MUD promise toward anybody willing to stop propping the regime – we may not like you but there will be a room for you in the future Venezuela. Useful for encouraging more desertions.

      Getting a frank and open discussion of all the details would have got exactly the opposite result.

    • There’s been an astounding increase in Ven. military under NM/Castro: more than tripling from 110m to 350m=350m Brasil, +50% 265m Mexico/Colombia, 4X Argentina, and all to repress the civilian population, since, in a real fight, they would fold like a house cards.

  11. The principal duty of the military in a dictatorship is not to protect the people but rather to protect the government from the people.
    This type of coercive government can only be brought down by ARMED INSURRECTION. Peaceful demonstrations are not going to be effective and will merely serve as a means for the military to arrest, imprison and kill dissidents. This is the Cuban model of preserving the status quo. Cuban “advisors” are calling the shots in Caracas.

  12. I continue to be puzzled with this fawning treatment of Ortega (and other chavistas going against the grain). I mean, sure, when you’re going uphill in shit-creek without a paddle, you’re not picky about the people in the same ship, everyone’s going to have to put their arm in and row, row, row the boat. I just hope we haven’t forgotten stuff like this:

    https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2014/04/08/busting-the-myths-spewed-by-luisa-ortega-diaz-on-the-bbc/

    or this:

    https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2015/07/01/luisa-ortegas-spectacularly-failed-attempt-to-lecture-a-tunisian-arab-spring-leader/

    “Ortega’s enormous blunder is telling. She just lied so blatantly, so demonstrably falsely, nobody even vaguely fair-minded could fail to see the type of person she is, or the type of power she represents. She claimed there was no physical evidence of any attack against Afiuni – a useless lie, the medical reports documenting Afiuni’s wounds are included in the dossier available to the UN-HRC committee in Geneva. Afiuni alleges she was forced to strip naked in front of 20 National Guardsmen while undergoing one of these medical exams.”

    I mean gee…exactly when did her opinion on how Venezuela respects human rights fall apart?

    To my mind, this woman still needs to answer for a lot.

  13. Guevara has a thoughtful model, but I think he misses a key issue: that regimes relying on natural resources are different. We saw this in the ME: regimes relying on resource income could keep fighting (Libya and Syria) while Tunisia fell almost immediately.

    The origin of the non-violence ideas were various calls for a general strike to cripple the political order. For example, the 80s Polish regime needed the dockworkers and in general the people, otherwise there was nothing, so it was always limited in what it could do. This regime doesn’t need most Venezuelans, in fact, the regime would be better off if many starve or leave. So long as the coercive apparatus is intact and obedient and dollars from PDVSA are coming in – enough to pay the military – the regime can keep itself in power.

    To win, one has to deal with one or the other. Even here, there’s little appetite to target PDVSA with sanctions. The argument is that Maduro will blame others for the economic disaster and then reach for Russia and China. I suspect this is a bit too simple. Regardless, that’s the reigning attitude. This leaves us with targeting the coercive apparatus. None of Guevara’s ideas seem all that helpful here.

    • Unfortunately, this is all very true. Without a weeks-long 80-90% general strike, which most Venezuelans are unwilling/unable to do, the Cubanization of Venezuela will continue. Similarly, individual U.S. sanctions have been/will be shrugged off. So, things will worsen, until hard economic sanctions might work, or, if there’s sufficient international intestinal fortitude, military force is used; the alternative to the aforementioned is the unacceptable/eventually very serious increase in the threat to Hemispheric security of the subversive expansion of the Castro-Communistic menace.

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