Photo: biendateo

“It’s too hot to talk of such things.” With that shameful phrase, Manuel Rosales refused to answer a question from a journalist who confronted him on Monday, July 23, about the meeting he held with Henrique Capriles, Henri Falcón and Henry Ramos Allup.

Rosales has never shown eloquence as a politician when it comes to answering uncomfortable questions as evidenced in November 2017, when he avoided taking a stance regarding the National Constituent Assembly in an interview for CNNbut many hoped he’d be prepared to talk about that meeting, in view of the rumors that the opposition would be willing to retake the electoral line for municipal council elections in December, or perhaps try and negotiate with the government a new presidential election before the year was done.

Rosales has never shown eloquence as a politician when it comes to answering uncomfortable questions.

The veteran politician and Un Nuevo Tiempo founder, who faced Hugo Chávez in polling stations in 2006, getting 36.91% of votes, simply focused on listing all the problems affecting Zulian citizens, especially blackouts and protests.

This press conference,  in which he claimed that governor Omar Prieto had turned Zulia into “the worst state in Venezuela,” seemed like a desperate attempt to return to public life, trying to take the lead in people’s dissatisfaction, after months of media silence.

The fact that Rosales is making headlines again shows the serious political crisis that opposition sectors are going through in the Zulian region, where mass demonstrations and marches against Nicolás Maduro have been reported all throughout 2017.

An article published by Panorama reports how members of the Zulian opposition leadership have been leaving the country little by little. “The apathy, the dissatisfaction and disappointment in the lack of a political leadership, as pointed out by respected analysts in the country, have made some opposition leaders in Zulia choose the way out to try their luck in countries such as the United States, Chile and Peru,” the newspaper said.

Members of the Zulian opposition leadership have been leaving the country little by little.

Perhaps that’s why Rosales is taking the chance to make news again. But he’s not the only one.

Juan Pablo Guanipa, the opposition politician who refused to be inducted by the National Constituent Assembly after winning the gubernatorial election in October, has been struggling these recent months to maintain his popularity, although this last decision is precisely what has undermined his support base. He doesn’t seem to regret this, because he seems convinced that in a hypothetical regime change, he’ll be the only MUD candidate in the elections who’ll be able to say with pride that he didn’t kneel before the dictatorship.

Guanipa gained relevance in Zulia state thanks to a regional TV show he started in 2003 called De acuerdo, where he used to visit the poorest communities with the aim of giving voice to their inhabitants. In recent weeks, he’s returned to those same communities to show his face and earn approval through protests against power cuts, especially on Fridays, on behalf of the so-called Frente Amplio (Broad Front).

His actions haven’t been ignored, because he’s constantly threatened, even with prison, by Prieto and his state secretary Lisandro Cabello, who frequently blame him for alleged sabotage against Corpoelec and calling for violent protests.

But still, it’s not enough. The Primero Justicia leader doesn’t have the same popularity he enjoyed for years, which led him to win a seat in Parliament and gave him 690,000 votes (51,06%) in the gubernatorial race.

Guanipa gained relevance in Zulia state thanks to a regional TV show he started in 2003.

With a demoralized Zulian opposition, a third group has emerged, although they don’t seem to have much rallying power either: dissident chavistas.

Since Omar Prieto took office, his administration has been at odds with former governor Francisco Arias Cárdenas, who was recently accused of being directly responsible for the electricity crisis. The former lieutenant colonel, who led alongside Chávez the failed coup d’état on February 4, 1992, has responded by visiting various media outlets to reject the accusations and fire back with his own.

But he’s not the only one. Prieto’s administration has also been criticized by Rodrigo Cabezas, who’s considered to be his political mentor, and Giancarlo Di Martino, former mayor of Maracaibo. With Cabezas, the rifts started with the removal of Regulo Pachano, former chairman of the Lía Bermúdez Art Center, while Di Martino published an article in Aporrea criticizing the authorities’ “lack of action” against the “mafias” controlling downtown Maracaibo, claiming that Maduro can’t be president and also governor of Zulia.

Prieto’s administration has also been criticized by Rodrigo Cabezas, who’s considered to be his political mentor, and Giancarlo Di Martino, former mayor of Maracaibo.

This is a bleak landscape for citizens of the fifth largest and traditionally oil-centered state in the country, in view of the apparent incompetence of its politicians to take the reins of dissatisfaction and materialize it in concrete actions.

We can’t underestimate the government’s role, both with Maduro and in Chávez’s time, on demoralizing the regional and national opposition, now lacking any form of rallying power. How can they have a competitive challenger if they control all State powers and resources, with a partisan justice system; when they steal elections and are willing to fire against anyone who breathes in their general direction?

The political opposition’s downfall is far from casual, because in a democracy, chavismo wouldn’t be in power and its authorities would’ve been, in the best scenario, tried by international tribunals.

Just like with blackouts, it doesn’t seem that light is coming any time soon.

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13 COMMENTS

    • Maduro admits that El Pueblo has failed Chavismo. There is nothing wrong with the leadership… but the leadership can only do so much.

      El Pueblo has failed the Eternal Galactic Commander Chavez.

      The answer then, is to have less El Pueblo and more “hands on” government. So it is a good thing for Chavismo that people leave or die.

      Hows that for spin, eh?

    • Maduro: “We must stop whining about imperialism.”

      5 min later,

      Maduro: “All our problems are caused by imperialism!”

      • That begs the question: Imperialism by which empire?

        Before Castro/Chavez, Venezuela exported many high value-added products along with raw materials (crude) and was expanding refinery output to convert more of the crude into value-added product.

        Now, Vz exports virtually nothing but raw material (crude) and imports high value-added goods — the definition of a pure colonial economy — brought to you via marxism.

        So Maduro is right* about imperialism causing the problems, and we know the imperialism is perpetrated by the Evil Empire.

        * Even a complete liar eventually tells the truth if they talk long enough.

  1. But…but…but..Maduro is expecting a return to prospererity in a couple of years since they are going to quadruple oil production. I say let the good times roll! Happy days are here again!

  2. Everything coming out of Chavismo is looking like the most deranged, corrupt and blind game of charades of modern times. A government is marked by results. Now look at the place and contrast that with the rhetoric, the promises, the lies. It’s like watching a herd of pigs trying to play chess.

    As mentioned, the weak link here is the power grid. Once a big part of that goes down, you’ll see a cascade effect and it’s possible that the whole McGilla will crash. Like the political system, it’s beyond fixing.

  3. I thank Sr. Poland’s for the eminently readable- but utterly disturbing- article. But in turn I’ll take a quick stab to answer this.

    “How can they have a competitive challenger if they control all State powers and resources, with a partisan justice system; when they steal elections and are willing to fire against anyone who breathes in their general direction?”

    Answer: by shifting power Away from the government to a parallel, opposition one.

    It’ll be difficult, but it is not impossible. Start on the local level. Try and go around organizing local neighborhood groups to manage peoples’ responses to the rolling blackouts and shortages, because those are essential roles for government. Then start thinking about defense.

    Try and keep it on the downlow and organize secretly, you don’t want collectibles coming to bash your heads in.

    Then go from there. When you’ve gotten something organized to represent the interests of a community or part of a community, you can then build using those groups as a building block.

    Ultimately, Chavismo wins if you play the game it sets out.

    So flip the board. And starting out down that route, the ability to host secret meetings in someone’s house will be much, MUCH more valuable than the ability to get people out in the street with slogans.

  4. I find it hard to believe that domestic agricultural production is producing anything close to the 25% of total consumed by VZers, as claimed in the link posted above.

    More misleading, I’m sure that this number is based on the drastically inadequate total SUPPLY that VZers can actually get their hands on in the first place, be it because of too high prices or out and out shortage.

    And now for the comedy:
    ………..
    “I estimate it will take about two years to reach a high level of stability and see the first symptoms of new and economic prosperity, without for one second affecting social security and protection,” added the president.

    Maduro’s economic recovery plan includes increasing oil production to “six million barrels a day by 2025 or before.”
    …………….

    Do the delusions never end? The country is headed right toward the cliff at full speed with worn brake pads, and this idiot is talking recovery and 6 million barrels a day.

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