Carlos Blanco's A Time to Talk, released on October 21
"Changing overall election results is as much a fraud as forcing people to vote for B when they want to vote for A"
Henrique Capriles, former opposition presidential candidate, has claimed after 10/7 that he has defeated both radical as well as old politics. This discussion could prove to be useless, were it not for the fact that more elections are coming and that further defeats or desirable victories will depend on a clever opposition strategy.
It is very interesting knowing who the radicals are. They should be those that bien pensants use to discard when, satisfied, they say that extremists from each side have been defeated in favor of the mainstream which is seemingly "the middle." Looking at this closely, there does not appear to be anyone that might dare support a coup against Chávez, which would be an evident expression of radicalism. Furthermore, after 2005, there is not a single soul that could dare call for abstention, a stance that could perhaps be described as extreme; nobody is promoting a people's insurrection; at least not that we know of. So, who are the radicals? When this issue is analyzed, one finds out that radicals are those who have critical thinking within the opposition and dare express it publicly.
Examining this a bit deeper, one finds out that radicals are those who, long ago, then in the primary election and later in the election campaign, have insisted in some issues. Did this happen to be a call to topple Chávez with a military coup like that of February 4? Absolutely not. What the so-called radicals did was protesting against the existing election terms and conditions and urging people to stop fraud. However, a political and semantic scandal happened: you should not talk about fraud because...Now, a short story.
Opposition leaders accused the government of having won the recall referendum in 2004 thanks to fraud. Then, in 2005, more than 83% of registered voters abstained. This led current opposition leaders to conclude that reporting fraud was equivalent to calling for abstention, which is neither logic nor true. From that moment on, people could not talk about fraud and the word was erased from opposition's vocabulary (some other words were also erased, but that is another topic...) This prohibition was accepted reluctantly, until we arrived in this rather ridiculous situation: claiming that the lack of a fair playing ground, outrage, intimidation, blackmail, bribery is just that, i.e. lack of a fair playing ground, outrage, intimidation, blackmail, bribery, but not fraud, because fraud is only about changing the overall election results. Therefore, one could only talk about fraud in the recent electoral experience if Capriles had gotten more votes than Chávez and Chávez would have proclaimed himself as the winner, which is completely false. Changing overall results is as much a fraud as changing the results of a large group of voters who want to vote for A and are obliged to vote for B.
However, let us admit that the word "fraud" is loaded with a heavy burden of history and polemic. Let us talk about... Rip-off? Misappropriation? Cheating? Then radicals have become those who suggest that fighting for a change in the election terms and conditions is necessary. Vis-à-vis this stance, some opposition leaders state that it leads to abstention, because if those terms and conditions are not changed, abstention is the only way left. False.
This is false for two reasons. First, reporting election unfair terms and conditions results in fighting to change them. If they are changed, fine; otherwise, you vote, but report anything that has to be reported. The second reason is that spontaneous, random abstention leads to nowhere; only an organized abstention within a plan to intensify struggles can make sense; and this action is not viable today after the desolation that came about after 2005 abstention.
Those are the radicals. They were marginalized from the campaign, but have now been vindicated, because they are the ones who believe that people are "multitasking"; remember that "God helps those who help themselves."
THE OLD POLITICS. Another favorite issue of Capriles and some of his allies was the attack to the "old politics." First of all, it is worth remembering that this expression was made popular by one pro-Chávez hero, the late Guillermo García Ponce, editor of VEA newspaper. The "old politics" has been the codename used to refer to parties like AD and Copei and in a lesser degree to MAS and other groups in that what Chavezism calls the 4th Republic.
By marking a distance with the "old politics," the candidate excluded the most traditional parties and their representatives; only a few former leaders were allowed to participate, albeit discretely, so as the contrary would not have reasons to make accusations, something they did anyway.
By rejecting traditional political parties and their leaders, they might have gotten the votes of their followers, but not the coordinated, joint and enthusiastic work of their leaders, who were sent to the political leper colony. Would Capriles have obtained the majority of votes to defeat Chávez if "radicals" and leaders from the "old politics" had been actively engaged? Nobody knows; but the only thing that can be said is that political exclusion toward some was not compensated for with opening toward others. In fact, the campaign remarkably addressed "light" Chávez's followers, who would have supposedly been attracted with the inclusion of former Chávez's followers. "El Gato" Briceño became more popular than AD, Copei and MAS parties. The upshot is evident: former Chávez's supporters were not able to attract current Chávez's followers, but this strategy did succeed in pushing away a good part of those who face Chávez; not from now, but since February 4, 1992.
Undoubtedly, there are reasons to criticize political parties, both old and new; some "new" parties have reedited in a shorter time and in a more terrible manner the vices of old parties; but, in any case, one thing is criticism, and the sectarianism that has prevailed is another. There cannot be leadership without organizations backing it up; the 6.5 million voters have scattered after 10/7, because crowds move in critical times and for a limited time when they can touch victory with their fingers: what is left before and after is the organized scaffolding, the structure, if any.
FINAL NOTE. Nobody is throwing in the towel and former campaign leaders should be more discrete in their diatribes. Rather, it is essential to claim that practices that led to the disaster be stopped. These practices included arrogance, sectarianism, nepotism, preservation of the status quo, exclusion and certain historical blindness. Today, answering the key question is essential: How can you replace a regime that through peaceful or violent, legal or illegal means is politically, militarily and financially organized to prevent its replacement?
By the way, relying on the presidential illness to attain that goal means that you have not understood anything...
Translated by Álix Hernández
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."