Carlos Blanco's A Time to Talk, released on November 11
"People would appear to be convinced that convergence with a sector of Chavezism is necessary"
Fourteen years are too much, aren't they? And 20 years since Chávez' coup d'état seem infinite if you think how this character has since affected the souls of this afflicted corner of the planet. Those who were children back then became young adults who have not had other background music but red marches; young people turned into adults; adults mutated into members of the species of older adults; and those who were already older became immortal. Twenty years of fandango with the expectation of another six is an entire life. Some, the author of these lines included, have devoted these years to keep record of the Commander's actions and, particularly said author has been busy this past year closely looking into the existence of each one of his tired fellow citizens. Today this storyteller has got into meditations. Some of them deep; some acute.
PEDAGOGICAL ROLE OF DEFEATS
Children first learn at home and later at school. Parents and teachers try to teach them for them not to make the same mistakes as adults, but that is impossible. Adolescence of our children reminds us that nobody learns from other people's mistakes and that while they are at the wheel of their existence, parents are on the passenger seat: Watch out! The light! Take your foot off the gas! Hit the brake!
Peoples have a harder time. They do not go to seminars, do not read press articles; although they want to be educated, they do not want a Samaritan to educate them (notable ones use to be clowns). They got their education beaten into them.
In the case of opposition people, experiences since 1999 have been their school. Struggles within the framework of civil rebellion, election, abstention, "guarimbas" (street blockages), primary election, strikes, everyday protests, have been and are their classroom. Each one of these events has left lessons, temporary victories and defeats. Let us just remember the brief time when Chávez was ousted in 2002 as a result of mass demonstrations and military disobedience; let us remember the sensation of power after 2005 abstention; let us remember the days before October 7 and the plans that every opposition voter was doing for the reconstruction of their future...
For these reasons, dividing opposition history between "failures" before 2006 and "victories" since then is silly. If you trespass the line in the recount of your existence, the result is that Chávez is still there...as if nothing has happened, but if you dig deeper, you will see that there has been everything, and basically lessons learnt.
"CHÁVEZ ISN'T LEAVING!" OR "CHÁVEZ GO HOME!" OR "CHÁVEZ, WOULD YOU PLEASE GO...?" The main lesson learnt from that time would seem to be about the regime's nature. Some leaders earlier and others later understood that Venezuela is living under the empire of authoritarianism, until those that used to be more lenient with the Caudillo, who used to believe that Chávez' was just a mean-spirited government in an imperfect democracy, have finally convinced that this is a neo-authoritarianism that does not evolve into democracy, but against it.
This conviction slowly organizes once again more complex, albeit peaceful, forms of struggle. Elections are one of them, but not the only one. In autocracies that are obliged to hold elections, these can be used to promote the return to democracy. It is always worth remembering Pérez Jiménez plebiscite in 1957, which was swiped by the dictator, only to leave five weeks later to delight with Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, the other assassin. In the end, Pinochet's referendum was the occasion for the military fracture to reveal and the dictator to count in elections that were won by democrats the following year. In those cases, street struggles, political unity, alliance with militaries, elections and relevant international connections paved the way for a situation that made it possible to get rid of dictators. This was not achieved without elections, but not only through elections.
The Venezuelan opposition appears to be at a time when their struggles to recover democracy are set out to produce that vast alliance that will include many today's Chávez's followers.
AN APPOINTMENT WITH CHAVEZISM. The idea that Chávez's followers that go over to the opposition side are enlightened and that opposition members that go over to Chavezism are traitors and miserable, does not appear to be very sensible. Nobody is perfect; among other things, because on this side there are also some practices that have to be rectified and overcome. Of course, it is not the same being on one side or on the other: the fight for freedom sets a higher moral level than that of the fight to violate it; but sometimes, behaviors on both sides are too alike. In any case, people would appear to be convinced that convergence with a sector of Chavezism is necessary. By the way, not by speaking softly, making false promises and looking like their Caudillo, but by facing them with the harshest realities: sometime in the future, the country is to blow its top, because there is vast social, political, economic, military and institutional discontent; then, an unavoidable convergence will be sought. Civil rebellion is waiting for its time to come.
THE CONDITIONS: "GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES." That what nobody wanted to do before 10/7, on the grounds that demanding fair election conditions would promote abstention, has changed. Discontent at triumphalism and disdain for those voices that were crying out for facing the National Electoral Council (CNE) have made a substantial part of opposition voices to join the demands for democratic election conditions and understand that you can vote and complain, report the CNE and call people to vote for opposition candidates for governors.
The silly thing according to which you have to accept without uttering a single word the decisions of that twisted pro-Chávez entity has been overcome. This does not guarantee that you will get what you desire, but that the CNE will be placed on the side of the enemies of democracy, and it is possible that the opposition can get some not all of their demands, besides showing the world the true nature of the prevailing regime. Prevention is better than cure; but if this prevents subsequent disasters, the more the better. Hopefully, it is not too late. Dialogue between MUD and Esdata, Súmate, VotoJoven and others would be very useful.
UNITY. Unity is purpose and order. It was partial for 10/7, with the exceptions of "radicals" and "old". It should be expected that sectarians of the "new" politics have changed now; better late than never. A long road is ahead; you have to vote in the upcoming elections and continue with the debate, social struggles, civilian-military alliances, as well as being willing to understand that differences are to be used to add instead of subtracting.
Translated by Álix Hernández
Cristian Fonseca, a businessman in La Candelaria district downtown Caracas, was doing the accounts in his small shop office on Sunday December 21, 2008. The Christmas shopping season kept him working late hours into the night. It was around 11 p.m. and his phone rang. A friend broke the bad news to him over the telephone.