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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