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Lack of credibility: the main flaw of Venezuela's opposition

By Aleksander Boyd

London 21.03.05 | Venezuela is, politically speaking, a deeply divided country. In one corner we have a fundamentalist cult known as chavismo, centered on the messianic figure of Hugo Chavez who exerts great ascendancy over a large group of pussillanimous civil servants incapable of reasoning on their own account. On the other corner a motley crew composed by failed and morally corrupt politicos who 'represent' us, as in citizens opposed to the neofascist regime of coupster Hugo Chavez. In searching for common elements with either contender one realises the notorious flaws of the so called opposition. I won't bother readers with more criticism towards Chavez for I believe I have done more than enough in that respect to prove my point. However the time to start questioning, with equal irreverence, the actions of those who are meant to share my political vision has arrived.

On August 20 2003 I went to one of those 1-million-people-strong rallies in Caracas. It was a memorable experience, albeit for all the wrong reasons. The gathering point was "Cubo Negro" (east Caracas) from where a walk towards the end of "Avenida Libertador" was planned. Other marches coming from different parts of the city were to converge in "Francisco Fajardo" highway. In spite of the huge number of people the general mood was one of defeat; my wife told me "this is not a political rally but an incredibly big fashion competition". I must say that the characteristic snobbish attitude of middle class Venezuelans was evident. No chants, no collective sense of nationhood. Women peaking at other women's tri-color attires whilst being courted by men's sweet talking. We got to the end of the rally; there was a stage from where countless 'representatives of the people' were uttering incoherencies to which no one was paying attention; low and tired voices lost in the sea of amplifiers distorting salsa sounds.

Three days later I went to the chavista celebration in "Avenida Bolivar". Although the number of people weren't anywhere near what the opposition managed to gather, the chavista mood was completely different; it was one of sheer joy, everyone was chanting something or dancing or cracking jokes about the squalid opposition. I wrote something in that respect. Thus I could witness first hand the fundamental difference between supporters of the two sides of the political spectrum.

Nonetheless I was quite confident that should the times to put up arrived those millions would take the streets to defend wathever their concept of democracy and nation was without much prompting. How wrong I was for the time came (August 15 2004) and none of the very many opposition leaders had the balls to take a stand and threaten Hugo Chavez with massive protests a la Ukraine until votes had been counted in transparent fashion. My in laws, currently visiting us, said the other day "we were too tired; we were queueing for 12 hours..." and so were the rest of the 4+ million that voted for Chavez' revocation. Again no collective sense of responsibility towards the defence of democracy. The self appointed 'leaders' of the opposition went into hiding only to reemerge now with a different outfit.

Leadership

Without a doubt Hugo Chavez is the best politico Venezuela has at present; what's more he's in a league of his own. There are no such figures on his side much less on the other and even if there were they are unknown to the majority. Opposition politics continue to be dominated by the same actors responsible for the appearance of Hugo Chavez; they do not permit the emergence of fresh new leaders capable of turning the tide of antagonistic sentiment. Decisions are taken behind close doors -over bottles of aged scotch; appointments made without any form of citizen participation; a constant cat fight to steal the limelight dictates every action. What they do not seem to be able to understand is that people would rather go to the beach before having anything to do with their bullshit. And those of us who would very much like to enter the fray are scorned as any chavista would be.

It is not an orthodox bout but a gang fight and everyone but the strongest bully is having its crap beaten out. The rule is that there aren't. What's happening under the present circumstances is a complete take over by communist Cubans, narcoterrorist Colombians and other equally heinous and undesirable elements that are, for the first time in their miserable existence, being officially supported by an incredibly gullible and wealthy benefactor. Chavismo will implode any day but what comes after is what truly worries for the new oligarchs will kill before ceding their ill acquired riches. Dispossessed old timers will come with a vengeance and the layman, i.e. me, will continue at the mercy of the unscrupulous politicos.

The main flaw of the opposition is that they have got no credibility, not even among those who oppose Hugo Chavez. Another one is the belief that Venezuela is Altamira and Los Palos Grandes and a third one is the premise that we will write a blank check to them once Chavez is out of the scene. Our society has matured politically but said development has occured at a much faster pace among ordinary citizens than that of political parties and its unelected leadership.



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