Category Archives: Politics

Making the case for Democracy in Venezuela

Venezuelans have become involuntary pawns of the never-ending ideological global battle between left and right. The struggle democrats in Venezuela have undertaken has been reduced to a “minority in the hands of the far-right” (that’s one school of thought), or “shameless beggars waiting for crumbs” (the regime’s talking point).

There is very little (to none) mention to the almost 20 years of effort Venezuela’s opposition has put into an electoral solution to the crisis, first during Chavez (and of course, the global left will remind us all of the 2002 coup they adjudicate absolute responsibility to the opposition as one), and later under Maduro. The regime’s narrative has always labeled the opposition as coup-plotters, at the service of the ‘empire’, and the global left has repeated it tirelessly.

The irony is that the Venezuelan regime with Chavez started a close relationship with Cuba, later extended to China and Russia, and the financial support these two countries have provided turned into a co-ownership that the global left has completely ignored, making their criticism of colonialism intellectually dishonest. The ‘empire’ label fits China and Russia like a glove, but the current outcry with the US support to the Venezuelan opposition apparently ignores the leverage those countries have on the current regime in Venezuela.

An example of this shameful double standard is the involvement of China and Russia in the mining business under control of the Venezuelan military. The calls from environmental activists and organizations warning on the threat these activities represent for the ecosystem have been ignored by the international left. This dubious intellectual honesty, or lack thereof, is the base for claims against the opposition, where instead of aiming at the mismanagement and atrocious violation of human rights, their position is solely based on the rejection of the current American administration.

The Venezuelan crisis has reached a defining moment that could lead to a democratic transition or the consolidation of an authoritarian regime. After years of confrontation between ‘chavismo’ -first with Chavez, then followed by Maduro- and the opposition political parties, the situation is probably in its most critical phase. The National Assembly is the remaining branch of government elected in a competitive election, with the opposition reaching the supermajority, that the Maduro regime has sought to neutralize with the creation of a parallel assembly, aimed at replacing the legislative body. This situation escalated after the National Assembly president, Juan Guaidó, applying article 233 of the Constitution, swore in as interim president with a clear mandate to call for elections, considering that Maduro was not legitimately elected for a second term. A bold move that has had significant consequences, triggering worldwide recognition, with predictable condemnations from allied countries, to the step taken by the opposition.

On the other side, Maduro and his regime have doubled-down on their promise to remain in power, they have resorted to repression, as usual, with more than 40 casualties in the latest confrontations, with the most violent procedures directed to people living in low-income neighborhoods. It is never enough to emphasize the violent nature of the Maduro regime, but what must not be ignored is the military support it continues to receive to remain in power. Venezuela has abandoned any democratic forms, and the military continues to impose its culture of violence in our society.

The efforts by the US, Canada, the Lima Group, along with most members of the European Union, have been instrumental in increasing the pressure on the regime, but it is necessary to stress that change in Venezuela is going to take more than ousting Maduro. The destruction Venezuela has endured with Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro will require a lengthy reconstruction process, the country needs to rebuild political, economic and social institutions. Privatization will be inevitable, and this will deepen differences among the opposition, reminding us of previous rounds of privatization in Carlos Andrés Pérez and Rafael Caldera’s second terms in office, and the consequences (including Chavez’s failed coup in 1992 and his electoral victory in 1998).

Although there are great expectations with the possibility of Maduro leaving power, this is just the first step. There are still no signs of the regime’s fracture, nor of Maduro’s will to concede. The uncertainty is considerable, for all Venezuelans, and the fear for the outcome is intense. If Guaidó is successful, a very difficult transition will start, support will be determinant. The transition will require agreements among the opposition parties, and negotiations with displaced political forces. The calls for justice will not be responded with the swiftness people expect, and the pressure on the transition will be substantial. This could threaten the process, and that is why there needs to be a focus on the final objective and support for the current phase.

Venezuelans deserve a chance to pursue change, peace, and respect. Today nothing seems clear, but there is hope. Their only desire is to recover a sense of living with dignity. We know it’s going to take time and help. Is that too much to ask for?

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The failure of Hugo Chavez

In 1998, Hugo Chavez appeared as a modern version of Robin Hood, an avenger poised to punish the ruling class for their disconnect and corruption. After his failed coup attemp in 1992, Chavez tried unsuccessfully to boycott democracy. It became inevitable for him to realize -thanks to his advisers really- that there was no clear parh to pwer from the outside of the system. His candidacy was underestimated from the beginning, but once the traditional political actors lost their instict to advert the danger he represented, Chavez became unstoppable, he had no adversary. It looked like a disaster, and it has become a huge one at an enormous human cost. Chavez used all public resources to buy support for his political project, inside and abroad, turning out to be an inmense fraud. Chavez promised to fight for the outcasted, but his revolution ended with an 80% of overall poverty. Chavez destroyed the economy in his quest for a revolution, a farce to cover  his thirst for power.  In these dark hours, Nicolas Maduro, his heir, is fighting for power, that’s all what’s left from the revolution Hugo Chavez intended to build as his legacy.

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Una pausa en medio de la tormenta…

El régimen está construyendo un escenario en donde la Oposición se presentaría fracturada -a eso juegan- a un proceso de negociación. Lejos de ignorar sus movimientos, es importante que la sociedad identifique no solo la narrativa, sino que se forme un criterio para actuar en consecuencia. El liderazgo político venezolano, y en consecuencia la sociedad, parece no tener claro que en el futuro político inmediato no hay unas elecciones “normales”. En Venezuela el futuro inmediato parece irremediablemente destinado a sufrir una dictadura militar en la que el modelo pretoriano termine por borrar todo vestigio democrático. Si las fuerzas políticas lograran encauzar la crisis terminal por un proceso de negociación política, la transición estaría en manos de un gobierno (temporal/provisional) que estaría al frente de la reconstrucción institucional. La posibilidad de una competencia electoral previo sorteo de estos obstáculos es una discusión estéril, fútil, pero no así la determinación política de las fuerzas que operan dentro del sistema. Si desconocemos los objetivos de los operadores políticos estaremos actuamos como masa, es importante tener claro que la meta no es la salida de Maduro sino el compromiso de un gobierno de salvación nacional.

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Comparto este comunicado de Jorge Valverde (MOVERSE)

Tal dia como hoy hace 4 años tuvimos un encuentro con el entonces Sec. Ejecutivo de la MUD Dr. Ramón Guillermo Aveledo formalizamos el ingreso de nuestro partido MOVERSE a la MUD y de inmediato nos incorporamos a la campaña presidencial Capriles Vs Chavez. En tan criticada mesa tuvimos un puesto con voz y participabamos semanalmente en las reuniones del comite ampliado de la MUD donde se discutían y decidían todo lo que hemos vivido en los últimos 4 años. Hoy estamos a punto de desaparecer como Partido Político por dos vias (o nos agarra el chingo o nos agarra el sin nariz) 1) Via TSJ-CNE con la eliminación de los partidos via ley o en la legitimación de los partidos via CNE y sus requisitos inalcanzables y 2) Via MUD quién introdujo una ley aprobada ya en primera discusión en la AN donde solo los partidos con Diputados principales no se tengan que relegitimar pero si los partidos con diputados suplentes o no (y aquí nos caería el CNE con sus requisitos imposibles de cumplir) y no contentos con eso en los próximps dias la MUD va a presentar la propuesta de reforma organizativa de la misma donde solo pertenecerán a dicho ente político unitario los partidos con diputados principales. Tanto el TSJ-CNE-MUD borran de un plumazo a las minorías, incluso partidos con diputados suplentes, entre 12 y 15 partidos que llevan mas que nosotros en la lucha política oposicionista a este régimen, trabajando por la Unidad, defendiendola en sus horas mas bajas y de mayor crítica, incluso sacrificando nuestras tarjetas para resaltar la Unidad y la tarjeta única y ahora quieren desechar sin un gramo de conciencia del daño al sistema político venezolano, a la lucha de la oposición a los partidos políticos minoritarios y a un ejercito de militantes que el dia de las elecciones se restea en las mesas y en los centros de votación para defender los votos de la Unidad, porque está formado en muchos procesos electorales para hacer eso, que conoce los procedimientos, que se enfrenta a un sargento o a un teniente o al arbitrario funcionario del CNE, a los colectivos y demás malandros que quieren jugar con el sagrado acto de votación o la voluntad popular. Seguiremos votando oposición pero sin incentivos reales para la defensa del mismo. 

Peligroso que desde la AN-MUD no se rescate la representación proporcional de las minorías sino que se profundice en tan criticado modelo chavista de concentración y centralización del poder. Les recuerdo que la exclusión origina cambios y estos no siempre apuntan a donde mas lo desean quienes mas lo provocan o aquellos que los luchan. 

Seguiremos trabajando hasta el último dia que legalmente existamos como organización política. Nuestros jefes regionales ya no solo preocupados con buscarse la papita, luchar contra el gobierno, por el revocatorio, por las elecciones de gobernadores (alguién se acuerda que deben ser este año?) Y ahora también contra la MUD? Diría una colega politóloga: #NMJ
Jorge Valverde

Coordinador Nacional

Caracas 4 de Junio, 2016

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Studying for Comps? Here are Three Approaches to Try Based on Learning Style

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Source: Studying for Comps? Here are Three Approaches to Try Based on Learning Style

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