As most, I strongly disagree with MUD’ decision. Presidential elections are supposed to be at the end of 2012 (we think, not that we are entirely sure of this, by the way…); so February does seem to me like too late to pick the candidate that is going to struggle against Chavez amazing machinery campaign, power and intimidation in the hope to beat him at the ballot boxes. I can name loads of reasons to support my stance. But I don’t think is important to state why I think February 2012 is too late and could put our only hopes in serious risk. What it really matters is that my disagreement with the way MUD’ took this decision is stronger than the decision itself.
The opposition parties (or most, the ones who were agree on delaying the date), took this decision against the claims of the citizens they should answer to. I don’t know if there is an stats proof anywhere but it does seem to me that the general mood of those of us who consider ourselves part of the “opposition” was to make those primaries this year; as soon as possible. The sooner we had our candidate elected; the longer was the time we had to make him/her stronger. More importantly; the opportunity for the Revolution to do anything “legal” to prevent this person to run for the office against the “great leader” itself, could be weaker. I never heard in the streets, in the radio, in the endless dinner talks between my family or at my office; a single comment of anyone in favor of delaying the elections. Everyone wanted them to be as soon as possible.
Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. But the message most opposition parties at MUD are giving us is this: “we want some extra time to make our candidates stronger for the primaries; so they can beat the guy who’s now the strongest (that would be Capriles, Miranda’ governor)”. Even worse, they are also sending me this message: “Maybe, if Capriles continues to leads the pools, the government will disqualify him; and with him out of the game, our candidates could take his place. But of course, we need time for that”. None of the messages is telling us they hear their voters at all.
They are playing their cards. And that’s ok, that’s totally legitimate, I have nothing against it. After all they are politicians and that’s what politicians do (among other things, of course): they calculate their moves and work to get access to power positions, so they can act from them. But they are forgetting something. They are forgetting the moment and the context they are acting in. They seemed too much into their game to understand that this country is suffering a crisis; and thus this is no time to be politician in that sense.
This is the time to act not rather like a rescue team. We expected them to be the fire-workers that would save us – or at least try - from the fire that is consuming Venezuela little than little; and perhaps even start to plant over the ashes. We wanted water, oxygen, an opportunity to breathe again in a place where all doors seem to be closed or about to close. We definitely did not expected them to throw some more flammable material.
I hope their mistake will no bring any further consequences. I hope that in opposition primaries we can vote and select the candidate we want; not the candidate they want or, more likely the candidate we had no choice but to vote for him because the one we really wanted was disqualify by the Revolution (I lost count of how many times I have had to make that nasty kind of vote). I hope that once this candidate gets elected, there is still enough time for him to make campaign, and to convince some ni-nis to vote for him on presidential elections. I hope the Revolution, in this remaining year and a half, makes enough mistakes to become more unpopular than what it already is, thus leaving us the road free and saving MUD’ leaders by the bell.
But either way I want to remind them (I wish I could tell them, but I have no access to them) that authoritarianism, dictatorship, fascism and all those things and attitudes we so deeply despise of the Revolution; do not belong only to Chavez and his comrades. They are inside each one of us. After all, in what other way you can explain the fact that Chavez – a military and promoted of a failed-bloody- coup d’ etat was elected by an overwhelming majority of Venezuelans back in 1998? And in this overwhelming majority many, many of you were included. Don’t tell me again the story of the deprived and old political parties and the hope Chavez represented for the low classes. The fact is when an entire country makes a vote of faith to a man who betrayed democracy in such an open and offensive way; is a country without democratic nor political culture. This is a country that has Chavez and all what he represents: authoritarianism, dictatorship, fascism in the blood, in the genes, in the most deep part of each one of their citizens.
We all have Chavez inside us, and even when we are working against him, we sometimes end up acting just like him. When you guys from the MUD took the decision of delaying the primary’ date against what your voters think, following personal interests and putting in risk the sake and hopes of an entire country; you acted just like a Bolivarian Revolutionary. It is really painful for me to say this. And I know I’m earning more than one eyebrow and a few “dis-follow”, plus million critiques as I write this. But I think it is important to speak this out, out loud, to force us to face our own inside demons. We have to recognize that the biggest and hardest battle we have to lead is not against a regime, or a political system, but rather against ourselves. We have to work in a different direction, work to strengthen our almost inexistent political culture and conscience; work to promote in the internalization of our democratic values.
But every time we make a cult around out own personality. Every time we refuse to let others take the microphone and participate. Every time we discard an argument because of the person and not the argument. Every time we shot our ears. Every time we consider ourselves way too important to hear others because a couple of radio stations called us to hear our opinion. Every time we look at someone as it was less than us because of their social class, their origins or their short number of professional qualifications (aka foreign institution’ diplomas). Every time we believe that is not important what we say but how we say it, and we write it in a complicated language just to brag about ourselves. Every time we take good use of “la viveza del venezolano” and pass over others just to achieve a personal benefit. Every time we do that, we act like Revolutionaries. Like the Revolutionary type we don’t like. Like the Revolution that has harmed us so much. Like the system we don’t want for our country.
But we want to be different, don’t we?
So please, lets act different!
Long – and- important PS: As I promised at Twitter, this will be the fist and last thing I will say on this issue. I will now pass the page and focus on the primaries, and the elections that follow immediately. If there is any help wanted, to promote vote in Venezuela or abroad, to promote awareness abroad, to announce something, to denounce anything… I’m here.
Long and important PS 2: On the other hand, I can say here and now that I have acted sometimes or carried an attitude that should be more characteristic of a Revolutionary than of someone who is against it. There have been times (hopefully not many) when my actions or my attitudes have been everything but democratic. It would be a good exercise to recall some of those anecdotes in this blog. In the meantime, I realized that long time ago, I already posted one of those here.
I want you to understand that I’m disappointed with this MUD’ decision, but at the same time I’m equally guilty of similar actions. I bet many Venezuelans like me can say the same, if they dare. We always complain of the limits this government puts to democracy. And that's all right. But what about the limits WE put to democracy?
PS 3: While this stance is yes, visceral (after all, this whole blog is... well, visceral). Miguel offers his rather more rational stance. I share it instead of the stances of others, because this one differs from mine, or at least try to see the things with a positive point of view. It takes some notes from Venezuelan history and it does have a good point. Miguel, I wish I could be agree with you. But more than that, I hope you are right. You are older and you have more knowledge than me, so let's hope you are right, for the sake of all of us.