Original art by @modográfico

Since 1999, political parties in Venezuela have suffered several crises, a roller-coaster of sorts. And in 2018, they’re undergoing their worst crisis so far.

After the political crisis of 2002-2003, when the protest agenda and the paro petrolero gave no results, and after deciding not to participate in the 2005 parliamentary elections, political parties were in deep trouble. People didn’t trust them for a long time. It took a huge effort, and then some, to get opposition followers hyped about the possibility of winning the presidential elections of 2006; even more to win the popular vote on the 2010 parliamentary elections.

With the defeat on the presidential elections of 2012 and 2013, and after the 2014 protests ended with no results, opposition political parties had to fight big to recover trust and win by a major landslide in the parliamentary elections of 2015. But only a year later, the electoral authority (CNE) blocked the initiative to activate a recall against Maduro, and the opposition was back to square one.

In 2017, most opposition followers felt parties didn’t do a good-enough effort to support the protests. Many leaders rallied in several cities of the country, but the protests were dismantled and, for many, it’s impossible to understand how parties didn’t make a special effort to cash in the results of a citizen’s consultation against the regime, organized by the National Assembly in July 2017.

And by the last quarter of 2017, the opposition’s behaviour was very erratic, with some figureheads running in local elections, even against the feelings of their own people.

Now, for the first time since 1999, the main parties in the opposition won’t have a candidate for the presidential elections. This is a new, different and dark scenario.

They made wrong decisions and their leaders haven’t always been close to their followers, but we must recognize they’ve been cornered by the government.

I don’t think the current political crisis in the opposition is completely their fault. They made wrong decisions and their leaders haven’t always been close to their followers, but we must recognize they’ve been cornered by the government; several oppo leaders are even in jail or exiled. The political candidate to contend Maduro in May 20th’s presidential “vote” was chosen, in a way, by Maduro himself. Remember the Supreme Tribunal and the CNE decided that MUD, VP and PJ couldn’t be on the ballot.

Political parties are trying to reconnect with the country through the Frente Amplio Venezuela Libre (FAVL), which is said to include organizations and renowned figures of civil society. However, after three weeks of its “inauguration”, the country hasn’t seen a clear political strategy yet, maybe because it’s impossible to achieve minimum consensus about what to do.

I’m convinced that political parties are essential to the country, specially in its darkest hour. Despite the failed discussions in Dominican Republic, parties are a must to organize citizens and find new and efficient ways to push forward any kind of strategy against the Maduro government.

I have no solution for the dilemma, but if opposition political parties don’t recover their strength (and our trust), the future will be darker.

If that’s even possible.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. At the moment, anyone who sticks his head up above the parapet of the trench gets it blown off. Volunteers anyone?

    The Opposition in Venezuela must recognise this new reality and must reorganize themselves into a government in exile with a clandestine resistance inside.

  2. “Political parties are trying to reconnect with the country through the Frente Amplio Venezuela Libre (FAVL), which is said to include organizations and renowned figures of civil society. However, after three weeks of its “inauguration”, the country hasn’t seen a clear political strategy yet, maybe because it’s impossible to achieve minimum consensus about what to do.”

    Could be called the “Frente amplio liberen a Rodríguez Torres”, since they’re acting like he was the “only political prisoner of this mean regime”

    “The Opposition in Venezuela must recognise this new reality…”

    A reality that the leadership of the political parties decided to ignore since 2002 when they thought it was better to keep people distracted with electoral farces dreaming of “defeating chavismo at their own game”

  3. When the referendum was blocked and no significant response ensued, that’s when I knew these guys are worthless.

    I trust Falcón more. At least he’s actually leveraging his position. Looking to win something which he can then continue to leverage.

    Self-righteousness sickens me. This is all I see in traditional opposition. Short-sighted political opportunism is the next worse thing. That accounts for the rest of traditional opposition.

    (I sort of respect people like Ulamog, who actually organize underground resistance. But I’m hardly about to put my hopes on teenagers with molotovs. Best-case escenario: Syria.)

    • “When the referendum was blocked and no significant response ensued, that’s when I knew these guys are worthless.”
      True, but I think they were following directives from the the Obama administration to postpone any conflict until after the US presidential elections.
      Bad deal since we got nothing in return.

    • “When the referendum was blocked and no significant response ensued, that’s when I knew these guys are worthless.”

      Yup, up to that point I actually was stupid enough to believe that there were constitutional means of ousting the regime. But with that event, not only the lack of fortitude on the part of the opposition was evident, but the fact that the regime would do whatever it had to do to hold on to power became crystal clear.

      I believe that until a leader arrives who can express a clear message of what it will take to bring this country back to democracy, restore the separation of powers, and restore a functioning economy, nothing will resonante with the vast majority of Venezuelans who are sick of it all but have given up all hope.

  4. “I’m convinced that political parties are essential to the country, specially in its darkest hour. ”

    Double Wrong.

    Kleptozuela’s opposition parties all suck. Big time. We all know that. The only one left who deserves some respect is MCM, and perhaps Leopoldo Lopez, (if only Lilian would just shut the hell up). And they are both frozen by the Narco-Tyranny at this point. NONE of the clowns who call themselves “opposition” are ‘essential’ now. The Circus they put up year, after year, after year is just a tropical tragicomedy of sorts. The laughable DR shenanigans, elections or no elections, “dialogos” and all that crap. All they do now is enjoy an extensive and expensive vacation throughout Europe, paid by who knows whom, begging for the same exact bullshit “support” the international community pledges every year, for over a decade now, with zero results.

    And no, it’s not Kleptozuela’s “darkest hour” yet. That’s yet to come, could be in another decade or more for all we know, certainly if it’s up to the despicable “opposition” MUD.

    What’s “essential” now is a Massive International Economic Strangulation of the Criminal Regime.

    Shut down the oil cash completely. Force them to survive on their Drug Trade cash only. Which means much less for Bribes and Guisos to the Millions of pueblo-people Enchufados and for the thousands of corrupt military. Which would hopefully generate severe popular unrest, unprecedented massive protests and generate some mid-level military upheaval. What’s even more essential then, when the Genocidal Thugs refuse to go, is a coordinated, rapid military intervention by the DEA the CIA and the US Seal Team 6.

    THAT is when the freaking “opposition’ MUDcrap could be finally useful or “essential” for something: to coordinate the internal rebellion of some mid-level malcontent military and the millions of pissed-off former Enchufados, with the US Military Interjection. To be ready to quickly take over after the US Marines save their sorry asses and gets the hell out, if the International Community feels sorry for the tragic mess they contributed to maintain with their grotesque ineptitude for almost 2 decades now.

    • “is a coordinated, rapid military intervention by the DEA the CIA and the US Seal Team 6.”

      Keep on dreaming bcuz it will never ever ever ever ever ever ever happen. How thick is that piece of wood you have in front of your head, must be meters! (Y)

  5. Political parties do politics. The problem in Venezuela is military, es que no se van por las buenas. That was clearly demonstrated with last years protest and the toll of 150 deaths y que se pasaron por el culo all elections.

    So it comes down to a shooting war, where the only possible parties to the war come from a hypothetical split in the military. In the meantime, we have a medieval siege in place with famine, disease and isolation. Sieges are cruelly effective, particularly with the government unwittingly cooperates with its bat shit crazy economic policies. (BTW, it seems that Panama will not let Venezuelan oil through anymore, Chinese deliveries are sunk).

    At some point, some Post Maduro Chavista, the military in all likelyhood, will offer terms to end the siege for nothing else but self preservation.

    • “Political parties do politics” You nail it Renacuajo.
      We need ALL in the opposition to form a coalition, the political parties are just one of them.
      If anything is crucial now to solve this that would be the Military, domestic or foreign.
      The opposition doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel here and should organize itself just like a nation state government. In exile with elections to pick up a leadership. We already have the AN and the legal TSJ, they need to go from there. Political parties are needed once Democracy has been reestablish.
      More importantly what we need is unity with the sole purpose of exterminate by force the regime.
      Curiously, “Soy Venezuela” apparently doesn’t exist if your only source of information is Caracas Chronicles.

  6. Anyone hear about columbian boarder being closed again for 72 hours and the suspension of all real estate and property transactions until they decide that they have recovered enough 100 Bsf notes? Corralito anyone?

  7. The oppo has been barred from electoral politics , first by fraudulent legal action that nulified their effective authority (even if they won elctions) and later by further fraudulent action that barred the political parties themselves from participating in any election. This is the result of their success in the paliamentary elections which made the regime decide that from then on there would be no more half credibl elections ..only those where they controlled all of the voting …….the CNE inside organization has been modified since then so that even middle level officials within the CNE are PSUV partisans or appointees , the Protests broke down out of frustration because govt repression became so oppresive that nothing coud be achieved with them …..the regime is waging an all out war agaisnt its many enemies, it makes use of every tool in the box of a tyranical regime . The political parties can still do things to organize their presence everywhere in Venezuela and to develop strategies that harrass the govt , but the only effective strategy to change the regime can only come from their capacity for movilizing people whose armed or violent action can topple it ……, political parties are not organized to do armed battle against a gangster govt , for that you need a different kind of organization ….., one which will be born outside the political parties official organization by those that no longer believe electoral opposition is possible ….

  8. Either these opposition leaders in the major parties are incompetent or crooks, or God help us, both.

    They have consistently mis-interpreted the support they have received from the public, especially since La Salida of 2014.

    At every critical juncture they have folded in the wrong way. To those who say about them that they are hounded and so on I say: If they had not counted on this then they surely don’t have the intelligence to be our leaders. It’s easy to fall into “they’ve been paid off”, perhaps because more than one has all kinds of rumors swirling about how they afford their lives. It doesn’t help when, for example, one of your nephews is a top bolichico. Or how they are rumored to be propped up by this or that bank/businessman etc.

    I have yet to hear a worthwhile explanation from them as to why they did not explain satisfactorily the about face after 16J, why UNT failed to show up and broke quorum to name a new CNE board, why the nationality of Maduro does no longer seem to be a concern and so forth.

    It’s easy to see why their supporters are not so keen about them any longer. We’ve been lied to so many times……….

    Compounding the problem is that is little to no upward mobility in these political parties. There is ZERO accountability internally, the same hacks continue to dominate and the up and comers either get tired of waiting and do something else or end up waiting until somebody dies in order to move up the totem pole.

    What a waste of momentum these idiots have let pass!

  9. “When the referendum was blocked and no significant response ensued, that’s when I knew these guys are worthless.”

    Indeed, up to that point I actually was stupid enough to believe that there were constitutional means of ousting the regime. But with that event, not only the lack of fortitude on the part of the opposition was evident, but the fact that the regime would do whatever it had to do to hold on to power became crystal clear.

    I believe that until a leader arrives who can express a clear message of what it will take to bring this country back to democracy, restore the separation of powers, and restore a functioning economy, nothing will resonante with the vast majority of Venezuelans who are sick of it all but have given up all hope.

  10. Venezuelan marginal society isnt interested in the niceties of constitutional government or civil liberties , thats only the concern of civil society made up mostly of middle class minded people (even if they might not have the income) , what most ordinary people want is to be able to lead a better , more comfortable life ,preferably with the help of a magnificently munificent government and to be able to flatter itself with histrionical passions that arouse their self infatuation thru the vilification and confrontation of a cartoonishly wicked enemy …….. !! We think of them as fierce , but thats only something that happens to them momentarily and ocassionally ,most of the time behind the loud noise they sometimes make and their picaro posturings they are meek weak willed small time comformists bent on surviving their daily travails and enjoying themselves the cheapest way possible ……!! The govt lost the only man that could really rouse the marginals passions and the middle class has only given rise to people that can rouse them but not the other half of the country …….. So passions maybe off the table for now ,not because people are happy which evidently they are not but because they are disheartened by the futility of all efforts to improve things !! outside the use of street protests which dont bring about any results !!

    • Hi Bill,

      If you are middle class, collecting some US$ and getting on a bus to Lima is a better deal than facing bullets from las Fuerzas Armadas de Ocupacion Bolivariana. The tradeoff is quite simple.

    • Bill, while I understand your sentiments, I don’t think the problem you diagnose is at all a special condition of Venezuelans, or marginal Venezuelans. What I think we are seeing around the world right now is a resurgence of a phenomenon well known to history, which is that if you can provide a certain level of economic growth, and/or establish an effective platform to gin up enough fear/xenophobia/outrage of one sort or another at a target group or groups, interest in the niceties of constitutional government can quickly wane. Including among the middle class. The Maduro regime has followed this playbook. Chavismo was on the cutting edge of a new worldwide movement, as it turns out, though not the one it thinks it belongs to.

      What the Maduro regime lacks at this point, however, is positive growth, and its propaganda platform seems to have lost a lot of its effectiveness. People can’t eat social division, half baked ideology, and xenophobia. The question is, do they see an alternative that they understand, trust and are prepared to take personal risks to support?

      I wish there were fewer opposition parties and I wish that they took a much more “short sighted” approach. Meaning, less concern about who will hold power and what will be done after democracy and free elections are restored to Venezuela, and much more focus on what needs to be done now to establish those conditions. It seems to me that if the focus was truly on the immediate situation, there would be much more unity, much less petty politics, rumour mongering and back stabbing.

      My half baked theory is, the opposition parties have implicitly prioritized what happens AFTER democracy is restored, AFTER they get to run in a free and fair election, and that explains the importance of their enduring, separate and mutually undermining identities. Now that politics in any normal sense is gone, maybe they will stop making the wrong choices in their “prisoners dilemma”, and will wake up and realize that their parties mean nothing without the fundamental issue of democracy and rule of law being addressed.

      • @ Canucklehead…you are right, the strategy that was used to gain and retain power in Venezuela has been used countless times around the globe. One would think that people would learn after seeing example after example of failed “socialist” states. One can only hope that people will finally wise up…and I don’t hold out much hope of that.

      • You know, it is possible that what feeds these anti-constitutional (which is not accurate… anti-institutional is closer to the truth) sentiments is that the people in charge of institutions, as an intellectual class, don’t really take others’ concerns and troubles to heart.

        Luckily, in the US they got a sane man with a realistic perspective as a leader for anti-institutionalism. Like Chavez, he wanted more to reform the institutions than eliminate them. Unlike Chavez, he’s not a fucking commie.

        Also, unlike some of his creepier peers in Europe and Brazil, he’s not a fucking fascist.

      • Im quite pleased with the comments that my small text raised , offering a marked improvement over what I wrote , Its quite true that marginals in Venezuela are probably not that different from marginals from most other countries , specially in latin america……, the desire for a better life is of course universal , maybe in Venezuela decades of oil fed prosperity or give aways has made us adopt more extreme expectations of govt help and made us lazier but the substance of the sentiment is basically common to that of marginals in other countries……over the capacity of the oppo to movilize the marginals with histrionically arousing discourses I am less sanguine , The enlightment liberal market creed which is what the middle class love doesnt have the same appeal for the marginals , they prefer something more virulent and full blooded and histrionical …which the middle class message lacks , at the same time the kind of leader that can rouse them doesnt happen just like that , they are accidents of history and only reveal themselves in rare ocassions , there is no one in either side of the aisle that has the right charismatic quality to move them , In Venezuela dont think that Chavez speech was all that attractive to people , except for the rethorical ‘lets give them hell part’ , socialism has become a limp doctrine and what charged it with excitment was that it was HE who spoused it in such fierce terms …otherwise it really doenst kindle their spirits , it also he had the money to give lots of freebies to people , but after the money went there is nothing to replace it with ……., the marginals although angry at their current situation are in a funk , they no longer buy the regimes message but they cant feel excited about what the oppo has to offer ……..thats our current dilemma and its very hard to tackle even if you could offer a sensible and practical plan to take the country out of the hole , because it just doents have any emotional appeal only a rational appeal which most marginals cant appreciate..!!

  11. Which political party would a person such as myself align with?
    Socially liberal. Fiscally conservative. A classical liberal in the Jeffersonian sense.

    Is there a party like this in Venezuela? I have not seen it. Every party platform I have seen is “PSUV lite”.

  12. Venezuela is now in the clutches of neo-imperialist, neo-colonialist Russia and China, with Cubans as their front-line enforcers. This is the price the Chavistas are willing to pay stay in power. [When recalling Chavez’s invocation of “the empire”, the irony is excruciating.] Venezuelan civic society, including its political parties, has been forced to the sidelines. Only force of some kind, or the passage of years, can bring it back.

  13. “My half baked theory is, the opposition parties have implicitly prioritized what happens AFTER democracy is restored, AFTER they get to run in a free and fair election, and that explains the importance of their enduring, separate and mutually undermining identities.”

    Wouldn’t it have been easier to just say at the beginning that the opposition has long failed to realize that these thugs would not be removed via constitutional means?

  14. “Que cesen los partidos y que venga la unión”

    A toda la casta politica hay que cortarles la cabeza, aqui se tienen que acabar los partidos, lo que han creado es la “partidocracia” y el clientelismo que acabaron con la republica. No son cruciales un carajo, son precisamente los partidos de ambos bandos los que se imponen para privar el cambio

    Hablar de democracia sin república es dárselas de payaso, no se como hay gente que aun insiste en esa ridiculez.

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