Photo: Daniel Lara

Juan Andrés Mejía is a young deputy in Venezuela’s opposition-majority National Assembly, elected in December 2015. One of the founding members of Voluntad Popular, he graduated at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government with a Masters in Public Policy. For him, his greatest non-electoral achievement was being a part of the 2007 Student Movement. “The awakening of the young people, after ten years of deterioration [in the country]. It became a before and after in national politics, a watershed.”

The role of the politician is to lead those who want change in the right direction

During last year’s nationwide protests against Maduro’s regime, Juan Andrés, together with other young deputies and politicians, tried to “lead by example in the rescue of our democracy.”

Despite the political standstill, there’s still work to be done, and deputy Mejía does it in the National Assembly as a member of the Finance Committee, where they keep tabs on the country’s financial situation. Last year, they published the first National Assembly Inflation Index, monitoring the government’s actions that try to bypass the Constitution (like issuing the Petro, indebting the country without the National Assembly’s approval).

He’s also in charge of two soup kitchens in his electoral district, where, together with educational centers, they provide meals to vulnerable children. Even if that’s not the role of a deputy, he believes that “in a crisis like the one we’re living, we should all try to contribute beyond our responsibilities.”

I’m in politics for a dream: To achieve a different vision of society

Recently, Juan Andrés joined the Permanent Forum on Public Policies and a Vision for Caracas, inviting experts to contribute in infrastructure, solid waste, security, urban intervention, environment and culture. The result was a report on how Caracas could be transformed under a truly democratic government.

His passion resides within city politics, through the promotion of policies that allow Venezuelans to come together and recognize each other again. “That’s the city and the society that I dream of, that I aspire to; where your name, friends, parents or alma mater shouldn’t matter to get ahead.” He thinks this can be achieved with efficient public transportation and the construction of places where people from all walks of life can come together to share the public space.

If we don’t address the institutional crisis, we’ll return to the current situation

If he were to be elected president today, he’d prioritize health, food and institutional reforms. Juan Andrés thinks international humanitarian relief would help find a solution to the current medicine shortage and the healthcare crisis. The underlying hunger problem, he says, will be resolved when Venezuela increases its national food production as a result of a better economic environment. In the short term, however, it’ll be necessary to look for ways to help those who need it the most. To make sure these problems don’t recur, an institutional reform, a truly independent Supreme Tribunal of Justice, a National Assembly that exercises its control function, and a transparent Executive Branch and Armed Forces that serve the nation instead of a political party are necessary.

A tough hand is necessary, but not sufficient

Regarding crime, deputy Mejía thinks you need a strong stance to make sure citizens abide by the law, which you can be achieved through better patrolling, equipment, training and remuneration for all police forces in our country. However, he believes that to fight crime you also need a social structure that enables rehabilitation. There’s an imperative need, in his view, to improve schools, spaces for recreation and sports in the communities, basic services, and employment opportunities so youngsters don’t start taking drugs.

Since what’s urgent is always above what’s important, it seems like civil rights have taken a backseat compared to other pressing national concerns. However, key issues can be tackled in the short term. “It’s hard when you see people starving, or dying without basic medicine.”

Eventually, a negotiation will yield results

Despite the reality faced by Venezuelans today, Juan Andrés is optimistic about the future. Negotiations have gotten a bad rep, and talking about negotiating borders on treason for victims of the regime. However, they are a necessary (yet insufficient) mechanism to find an understanding between opposing parties, especially when the minority keeps the status quo by force. “This isn’t just about getting out of today’s scenario, it’s about changing our reality, so a medium and long term understanding is required.”

In Mejía’s view, the world’s political crises have resulted in negotiations that didn’t betray the principles and values ​of democracy. He specifically talks about the South African example, where a racial minority kept oppressing a racial majority, trampled, imprisoned and murdered. Yet, they managed to make a change that wasn’t based on revenge, but rather on unity and respect. When Mandela won the presidential election, his vice president was none other than de Klerk, one of the main oppressors, who ended up having an important role in the reconstruction. Although it seems impossible right now, Juan Andrés wants a peaceful outcome for Venezuela, and he believes that South Africa, with all its difficulties, is a positive example of what can be achieved through diplomacy.

The Armed Forces have an important role to play in the next few years; they also played an important role in the disaster

When the time for diplomacy comes, Juan Andrés thinks it’ll probably not be with Maduro in office.

While the government has the money and the force, the opposition has the people and the international community —even if the millions of Venezuelans aspiring for change lack coercitive  strength. That’s why he says the Armed Forces have an indispensable role in this dynamic. “I’m not appealing for a military coup; the duty of the Armed Forces is with the citizens, with the Venezuelans and the Constitution. Recovering that is fundamental.”

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17 COMMENTS

  1. “I’m not appealing for a military coup; the duty of the Armed Forces is with the citizens, with the Venezuelans and the Constitution. Recovering that is fundamental.”

    Isn’t this what is known as an, “oxymoron?”

  2. “When the time for diplomacy comes, Juan Andrés thinks it’ll probably not be with Maduro in office.

    I’m not appealing for a military coup; the duty of the Armed Forces is with the citizens, with the Venezuelans and the Constitution. Recovering that is fundamental.”

    But he is calling for a coup! Maduro has made it deadly clear that he will not leave por las buenas. I guess he cannot say it straight up or he will end up jail.

  3. Yup.. need more young, mealy mouthed politicians like Juan Andres to resolve problems. just how far further to the left can quico editorially drag CC.. while lining his pockets?

    • Right. I can see “dialogue”/co-existence solving the problems–Aveledo for Pres./DC (Ven.’s DK) for VicePres (with an accent on “vice”)….

    • Brave man you are? So righteous and willing to condescend from the comfort of Canada. Why don’t you go down and straighten them all out gringo!!!

      • KAK,(2nd comment try-believe Regime negative comments are being censored out)–I believe that Ven. needs more JAM’s–as many as they can get–it’s just that the ability to “negotiate/co-exist” with the Regime is neither possible, nor practical, particularly for long-term.

  4. “and he believes that South Africa, with all its difficulties, is a positive example of what can be achieved through diplomacy.”

    Mmmmm K

  5. A well educated young person staying in Venezuela and participating in government and a believer in democracy Juan Andres has a lot going for him and everyone should wish well and thank him for his service. I wonder though about his faith in negotiations and vague platitudes like his goal of a “different vision of society”. What does that mean? Anything you want it to, typical political gibberish. I also wonder whether Venezuela needs something different more. How about someone who can make the buses run, the electricity to work and clean water to reach homes, someone who was educated in Venezuela and learned about the needs of its people because he experienced those needs. Finally while South Africa avoided a racial bloodpath through reconcilliation I do not think it provides a path for Venezuela because the Chavistas’s “vision of a different society” is a dictatorship and to my knowledge the Chavistas have never conceded any of their power in any negotiation.

  6. Many of Mejia’s aims are admirable and important.

    In all walks of human life, however, every single day, we are faced with trying to make decisions between the IMPORTANT and the URGENT. Any individual or group which focuses only on the urgent risks losing sight of long-term goals and values. Conversely, any individual or group which focuses only on the important and ignores the urgent becomes disconnected very quickly from any societal or political relevance.

    Certainly, it is important to bring about cultural change in Venezuela, to restore democratic institutions, rule of law, separation of powers, respect for human rights, productive capacity, education, health services, infrastructure etc etc etc. I could add equality of opportunity for women, LGBTQ+ rights, environmental sensitivity and world peace. All very important as ambitions. The urgent, however, is the replacement of the putrid, self-serving, murderous regime which is responsible for turning an admittedly imperfect model into a catastrophic disfunctional anarchy. Without this, the important long term aims have little relevance other than a futile statement of future intent. They are quite simply not achievable without regime change.

    This regime has arrested, tortured, murdered, starved and robbed its own citizens in an unprecedented lawless rule of self-serving criminality, corruption and ineptitude. THEY WILL NOT GIVE UP POWER VOLUNTARILY, at least not without credible offers of amnesty. If I were a member of the regime right now, I would be delighted to have rising political stars in the opposition who believe that there is a route out of the quagmire via dialogue and negotiation – and especially if they want to use the Truth and Reconciliation process in South Africa as an analogue for a Venezuelan solution. Doing what the regime wants is unlikely to be the most effective opposition strategy. Appeasement and amnesty on a timetable dictated by the regime? Some people might believe that this is preferable to the alternatives which are (a) do nothing and continue to be beaten and starved into submission or (b) unite in extreme militancy against the regime. Personally, I think the opposition needs to find some courage. Mejia, while deserving of some respect for his long-term aims, does not offer a solution; instead, he offers appeasement and guarantees a long-term continuation of the problem until the regime decides to quit.

  7. Que jaladera de bola a uno de los colaboracionistas más habladores de paja que tiene el chavismo azul, quien es el próximo en la serie? el allendista comunista Miguel Pizarro? De pana está lavada de cara que le está proporcionando CC da súper asco, ya parecen caprilistas diciendo que la vía es pacífica constitucional democrática y blablabla, solo les falta cambiar su editorial y empezar a jalarle bola a Julio Borges y a Ramos Allup. Hacer caso omiso a todo lo que nos hicieron estos malnacidos mentirosos durante el 2014 y 2017 es una verdadera patada a las bolas a la sociedad civil que puso tantos muertos, ojalá saquen a esta chupabolas Fabiana papaianni porque de verdad quedan malísimo ya parecen el nuevo país.

    • Parece que te tienes que calmar un poco, respira profundo. Todo parece indicar que dentro de ti vive un chavista esperando salir. Cada medio y escritor, publica y escribe lo que le plazca, se llama libertad de expresión mientras no atentes con los derechos de los demás. Parece que vivir tanto tiempo con el chavismo te ha hecho olvidar lo fundamental.
      En todo caso no me interesa defender al Sr Mejía, puedo estar más o menos de acuerdo en lo que plantea o no. Sin embargo de lo que para nada estoy de acuerdo es en la serie de tonterías que has dicho, pero te las respeto aunque no las comparte, y también estoy dispuesto a dar mi vida para que cada cosa que digas después de haber pasado el filtro chavista que tienes en tu boca, sea escuchado o leído.
      Verás, la responsabilidad de la situación del país es de todos los que hemos nacido en él, y de los que al menos han puesto un pie lo suficiente como para haber dejado una huella de una u otra manera; No sé que nos hicieron esos “mentirosos” desde el 2014, lo que si sé es que si han hecho algo o no ha sido porque nosotros se lo permitimos, así como se lo hemos permitido al chavismo durante estos últimos 20 años.
      En fin, los muertos son de todos, sea del color que sea, los muertos son venezolanos como tú y como yo. Los muertos no son cuotas que ponen cada sector del país.

      Por cierto, eres libre de elegir qué y a quién leer. ¿o sólo leíste un par de oraciones y enseguida bajaste a dejar tu opinión profundamente chavista?

      • Calma bebedor de semen, que ya después de leer esta oda al retraso mental: “No sé que nos hicieron esos “mentirosos” desde el 2014” cualquier paja hippy democrática que escribiste queda como pura mentira, o no te acuerdas ya de los 400 diálogos secretos que promovieron tus líderes esos 3 años?O de cómo se cargaron en nuestras cara con el plebiscito de mierda el 16J?, me encanta como me tildas de chavista cuando tú mismo te delataste.
        A diferencia tuya yo no vote nunca por el PSUV así que la única responsabilidad que me puedes achacar de esto es votar por el maricón de Capriles y la falsa AN que es tan complice en este punto de mantener al chavismo que ni siquiera acata lo que le pide su TSJ de mentira.
        A diferencia tuya yo si le eche bolas en la época de protesta como rescatista y hace 2 meses los hijos de puta del FAES me quitaron mi único sustento allanando mi negocio de 20 años y robándome todos los equipos, así que chavista es la malparida puta de tu mamá cagasemen de mierda, porque yo si sufrí con este maldito régimen cadivero oportunista de mierda.
        Si leí todo este asqueroso artículo de mierda proMUD y lo que verdad asquea es cómo siguen diciendo que hay que cohabitar con los que deliberadamente nos mantienen en la miseria y nos asesinan incluso proponiendo un modelo surafricano en el que un chavista hijo de puta sea vicepresidente. Así que, malparido lameescrotos, tú podrás doblarte para no partirte y que te den por el culo toda la vida como te encanta, pero espero que cuando esta mierda caiga todos los colaboradores del régimen los metan a la cárcel pero a una como las de hoy en día dónde verdaderamente sufran el puto infierno y se suiciden porque son unos genocidas indolentes y la República que viene no se construye con ambiguos maricones como tú.

  8. When Juan Andrés says that we have “…to find an understanding between opposing parties…”, it gives me the creeps.
    It’s also telling us he doesn’t have an inkling of the criminal nature of the PSUV and all it stands for.
    How can he (and that probably counts for Voluntad Popular) be so blind?
    My dear blind friend, these folks have got nothing to do with politics and any move to get us out of this living hell is far removed from anything political.
    The only way out is by force.

  9. Calma bebedor de semen, que ya después de leer esta oda al retraso mental: “No sé que nos hicieron esos “mentirosos” desde el 2014” cualquier paja hippy democrática que escribiste queda como pura mentira, o no te acuerdas ya de los 400 diálogos secretos que promovieron tus líderes esos 3 años?O de cómo se cargaron en nuestras cara con el plebiscito de mierda el 16J?, me encanta como me tildas de chavista cuando tú mismo te delataste.
    A diferencia tuya yo no vote nunca por el PSUV así que la única responsabilidad que me puedes achacar de esto es votar por el maricón de Capriles y la falsa AN que es tan complice en este punto de mantener al chavismo que ni siquiera acata lo que le pide su TSJ de mentira.
    A diferencia tuya yo si le eche bolas en la época de protesta como rescatista y hace 2 meses los hijos de puta del FAES me quitaron mi único sustento allanando mi negocio de 20 años y robándome todos los equipos, así que chavista es la malparida puta de tu mamá cagasemen de mierda, porque yo si sufrí con este maldito régimen cadivero oportunista de mierda.
    Si leí todo este asqueroso artículo de mierda proMUD y lo que verdad asquea es cómo siguen diciendo que hay que cohabitar con los que deliberadamente nos mantienen en la miseria y nos asesinan incluso proponiendo un modelo surafricano en el que un chavista hijo de puta sea vicepresidente. Así que, malparido lameescrotos, tú podrás doblarte para no partirte y que te den por el culo toda la vida como te encanta, pero espero que cuando esta mierda caiga todos los colaboradores del régimen los metan a la cárcel pero a una como las de hoy en día dónde verdaderamente sufran el puto infierno y se suiciden porque son unos genocidas indolentes y la República que viene no se construye con ambiguos maricones como tú.

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