Civil Society Pledges To Bring Dictatorship to Its Knees

Business owners, students, teachers, private citizens and even dissident chavistas came together at UCV’s Aula Magna to work together towards finding a way out of this mess.

Photo: Efecto Cocuyo

This Tuesday, civil society representatives announced an agreement with which they seek to join efforts and reach a consensus to defeat Nicolás Maduro’s government.

There was a full house in the Aula Magna of the Central University, where civil society organizations, communal leaders, business sectors and professional associations gathered to proclaim their unity with the motto “Venezuela doesn’t give up, the time for change is here.”

The event was convened for 10:00 a.m. on March 6, five days after the National Electoral Council delayed presidential elections for May 20.

The motto “Venezuela doesn’t give up, the time for change is here.”

Many would think that the Venezuelan civil society and the business sector are late to the party, since elections are underway with the same electoral referee. However, what we heard in the Aula Magna under Calder’s Clouds for three hours were the voices of workers and employees who refuse to leave the country, who stand their ground against an oppressive regime.

Professor Víctor Márquez Corao, head of the UCV’s teachers association, representing professors before the University Council and committed to this fight in defense of Autonomy and Democracy, was the man behind this call presented in three blocks, sans radical or extreme positions, but plural and representative.

Father José Virtuoso, rector of the Andrés Bello Catholic University, spoke on behalf of the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference, summing up the spirit of the event in a call against the injustice and tyranny “that has forced 89% of the Venezuelan population into income poverty and 67% into structural poverty. The country is collapsed and the government imposes its will by abusing essential human rights. This is why we say, from the pain of the Venezuelan people, that we need to change the government and the model.”

Even dissident chavista Nicmer Evans was applauded. “I’m here with you. I’m here for Unity,” a word that repeated in the flyers that the organization Dale Letra distributed to the audience.

“Our fight is to restore the rule of law, represented today by the true union of all Venezuelans, all of us who are here today are fighting for respect for the Constitution.” Evans urged those present to lend their hands to those who are still kidnapped by chavismo, to public servants who can’t express themselves and to those who wait for the CLAP box and want to earn their living with their own sweat and salary.

Our fight is to restore the rule of law, represented today by the true union of all Venezuelans

Since protests died down in August last year, people have been waiting for someone to call to street protests again. Nobody acknowledged it aloud in the Aula Magna, but the fervor of the fight could be felt from the start of the event. “Venezuela doesn’t give up,” was heard in all 15 speeches from sector leaders, teachers, doctors, neighbors, students and business owners.

Marcela Martínez, one of Dale Letra’s members, focused on encouraging peaceful protests. At midday, journalist Alba Cecilia Mujica, recently fired from a TV program for discussing former pilot Óscar Pérez’s death, read the manifesto in which all those present agreed to join efforts to topple Nicolás Maduro’s government.Marco Ruíz, Secretary General of the Union of Press Workers said that journalists are committed with the country and won’t give up either. There were tears, some of hope and some of sorrow. Dale Letra took the opportunity to call for actions, spreading through the Aula Magna with phrases like “we believe in peace,” “strength in unity” and “let nobody stand alone against the evil of repression.”Meanwhile, students made it clear that they’re willing to sacrifice their lives if necessary to recover democracy, “something that our generation has never known, but we hope for it,” said Rafaela Requesens. Later, we heard that MUD representatives wanted to take the podium but couldn’t.

“Time’s up for those who squandered our oil and the mining arc. This event is for change, we’ll immediately start demanding democratic help, the activation of humanitarian aid in food and medicines; the application of an economic policy that ends hyperinflation and favors productive development as well as better real wages; a policy to foster quality education and efficient healthcare,” she said.

The event ended with the promise of turning our country’s inhospitable and hostile environment into a space for life, with the demand to restore institutionality, branch autonomy and advancing change with the guidance of social organizations.

Time’s up for those who squandered our oil and the mining arc.

Professional politicians such as Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, Juan Requesens, Gaby Arellano, Negal Morales, Juan Pablo Guanipa, Andrés Velázquez, José Guerra and Dinorah Figuera remained in their seats. They’ll have their moment when the National Alliance, which will include those who participated in this event, is presented in a few days to face future challenges.

Mabel Sarmiento

Mabel Sarmiento is an UCAB-trained journalist with more than 20 years' experience covering community news, the environment, health, education and infrastructure.