There is real cause for concern: all the signals the opposition alliance against Chavez, MUD, has been giving for the past two months are extremely worrisome. There is no hiding the harsh truth on that. In fact, I am starting to suspect that the silence form the MUD is due to the inability to keep up their negotiations and reach regularly some agreements. In other words, the MUD is silent because it is about to break up.
And even worse, the political situation is changing as the Venezuelan barrel of oil is crossing the 100USD mark which is going to give Chavez a few months of respite. He is showing all signs to use it the best way he can: consolidate his following through hand outs and thus create again a new aura of promises that might be fulfilled. If he goes unchecked and if oil holds above 90 USD until at December 2011, he will simply walk away with the election in 2012. True, it will not be a sweeping away victory as in 2006, not even a strong cheating enhanced victory as in 2004, but Chavez will take a 52 to 48 victory without any misgivings and surf ahead in his mad project for Venezuela.
We must realize that the Venezuelan people is not basically democratic and that in spite of civilian governments since 1958, "el pueblo" has never left its longing for the strong authoritarian leader, a tradition going as far in time as the Indian Cacique, the Quilombo Chief, or the merciless Spanish Conquistador. It is our culture, we were never democrats and the so call democracy of 1958-1998 was just a pseudo democracy where a mild dictator was elected for 5 yeas, softened further by a semi separation of powers and a relative free press with little consequences. Let's not fool ourselves. And if you disagree with me let me remind you that were the Venezuelan people real democrats they would have never reelected Chavez in 2006, and they would have even less given him the eternal reelection referendum of 2009. A true democrat cannot vote for a Chavez style of administration, period.
And thus even with 52% Chavez will be able to pursue his road to destruction for Venezuela that will end up inevitably in civil war and loss of independence. The opposition needs yet to show us it understands that, and that it is able to provide arguments to rally all democrats and to convince enough pseudo democrats to abandon the regime. Let's be clear on another thing: if a 52% victory is enough for Chavez, the opposotion needs a bigger margin if it wants a chance to resist the sabotage and cheating of the regime.
Unfortunately for us, the few democrats that are around, maybe a 20% of the Venezuelan population, the MUD has not given any serious hint that it s grasping the changing electoral context. Besides the pious wishes for unity, there is nothing coming from the MUD since the unity motto of 2010.
For example, the opposotion representatives elected last yer have simply fallen to the parliamentary game even though the National Assembly has been all but voided through the enabling law. What these people should have done, since they could not perform properly in the National assembly, was to take the streets, to visit government projects to verify their execution, to crate all sorts of media events. Instead they are doing, well, I do not know what they are doing besides worrying about who will be the next opposition presidential candidate. Note, all opposition representatives are not worthless, but the bulk of them is, demonstrating that the "negotiated" nominations for the 2010 election was more a way to give a few people a job and steady income rather than making them articulate defenders of freedom. I dare you to cite 20 names of the National Assembly right now, form the top of your head, as to events they have made notorious in the last three months. I can, but I cannot name 30, and even less visualize the face of the other 40. And I am kind of a political wonk.
Preparing the election of 2012 has not been very successful. With great pain a date of February 12 has finally been fixed, pleasing no one except the dinosaurs of AD, PVzl. UNT... This would not be so bad if for example we had already the first draft of primary contest rules. Or if we had been introduced to a commission of 20 guys to write the post Chavez initiatives of government. But all of that is still clouded in mystery, we are been told that progress is made, and that is that. As far as I can tell only Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular are already working actively in preparation for 2012, starting with the beginning: organizing their bases rather than bemoaning Chavez while discussing the sex of angels or of the next presidential candidate. The image projected by the MUD is that of a group of people working harder at barring certain candidates than promoting a promising union candidate.
And I am naming names, starting with Salas Romer who was the main artifice of the primary postponement I suppose in the hope to see primaries fail and himself become the dark horse candidate. Continuing with Rosales who cannot understand that his time has passed and that not winning his home state in 2006 is an unforgivable sin in an electoral career. And going through AD who being without a candidate is trying to see which one of Ledezma and Rosales or even Perez will give them the more town halls and governorships in 2012, and hell with Miraflores.
It is not too late yet. The MUD needs to understand clearly that it needs to bulk up on the basic ingredient to win an election: raise the trust of its electorate, motivate it. This can still be done but there is no time to waste anymore. Within the next three months, and I am not kidding, I really mean by August, the opposition needs to have come up with:
- primary rules, so that the primary campaign can start in earnest, distracting the country from the constant repetitive messages of Chavez in his endless cadenas.
- a country project, not a government program. That is, a project that will answer questions such as: will we have a decentralized state where people can find solutions at the local level or depend from Caracas? Will we have a real police even if repressive, with adequate jails and fair tribunals? Will we have a private sector that will be able to create real jobs? Will we have social programs that actually work and are designed really for the people that are supposed to be benefited with instead of being a den of corruption? Will we spend our money on Cuba and weapons or on Venezuela? Etc...
- a reply system to the regime abuses. That is, the MUD needs to have specific groups of people that are authorized to speak in its name on different group of issues. This people not only will seek the press to counter any of Chavez idiocy, but will be crisscrossing the country as needed. And more importantly, they will provide ALL primary candidates with regular studied replies so that they can all use those they want to counter Chavez propaganda without major cacophony.
- National Assembly members actively on the road, monitoring the government actions, taking risks if needed, showing us all that they mean business and that they will be on the front line if things get ugly in 2012. Invited or not they should show up to evaluate housing projects of the regime, ministries, Mercal, hospitals, etc... and if the authorities refuse to let them in, they should make sure the media record the scenes and let the people know that the regime is hiding things. How come they have not started that already, on a weekly basis at the very least?
If someone has a better idea on how to develop the motivation of the opposotion electorate and how to seduce it with a "can do" attitude the wavering chavista vote, please, be my guest, I will let you publish an article in this blog. But right now, yours truly is already having visions of himself salvaging the MUD candidate, working for a Chavez victory so as to once and for all sweep away that mentality inside the MUD that cannot learn, that makes Chavez bed on a daily basis.
It is true that I may be over-pessimistic, that no matter how high oil prices are the the system set by Chavez now can never have enough money to make its machine run, that in a few months people may get really sick and tired of the overbearing media presence of Chavez. But we cannot count on that, and definitively if all of that were to happen, if Chavez keeps adding more errors, it is still not enough for the MUD to win on that mere basis. Yes, the MUD has some early starting advantages but what I see is that we are wasting them steadily.
Oh! nulla! È il vino che mi ha suggerito!