A few people have been asking Caracas Chronicles to say what they think of the current wave of protests. CC does not have an “editorial” opinion, but for what it’s worth, here are five points I would like to make … from my own personal perspective.
- God bless the students. Their nerve, their idealism, and their enthusiasm is contagious. They do what most of us “keyboard activists” won’t or can’t do, so kudos to them. Having said that …
- While there are plenty of reasons to protest, there does not seem to be an agenda for the current wave. #LaSalida is not a strategy, it’s a hashtag! Do they want Maduro to resign? What about the National Assembly? What about the courts? Do they want a military coup? Are we headed to a Constitutional Assembly? What. is. the. strategy? How does #LaSalida actually become a reality? When these sorts of things work, it’s usually because they are triggered by something in particular, and the trigger becomes a focal point, the rallying cry from which other things flow. There are a number of potential triggers: the Law of Fair Prices, for one, or the Spear murders. But none of these is the rallying cry, none is seen as the objective unifying the protests. Leopoldo López says there is one objective: “la mejor Venezuela.” However, that is his governance plan, it’s not an objective! When the leader of the movement seems so confused about the difference between strategy, tactics, and objectives, you have a duty to be skeptical. So far, it seems like the protests are all catharsis. Reading this interview with a ULA student leader, who vows to remain on the street until the regime falls, I get the distinct feeling that we are headed right into a brick wall.
- The protests have not been massive … yet. It remains to be seen how many people show up tomorrow. That, more than anything else, is the reason why the media has not paid enough attention to them. Yes, what is happening to the students is not pretty. Yes, Leopoldo López’s tiff at Maiquetía Airport was illegal. But this is no Tiananmen … yet.
- Not a tweet goes by without someone praising the protests while blasting Capriles at the same time. Capriles has a point in that he doesn’t see this as being the right moment for massive protests. We lost an election a few months ago, and as Luis Vicente León rightfully reminds us, we cannot simply assume we are a majority. And yet Capriles, by raising these important questions, becomes everything from a traitor to a pariah in the eyes of some. If we can’t cordially disagree with someone on our own side, what kind of message does that send to chavistas? Have we given up on the idea of convincing the other side?
- Both Quico and I have been saying that the events in Venezuela do not depend on the opposition any more. Our leadership’s only immediate task is to raise their voice, yes, but remain united, a viable alternative should chavismo implode. The street protests, along with the public bickering they are engendering, are creating a false sense that our actions can undo the regime, while at the same time casting doubt on the opposition’s unity. Some people think the opposition remains united, but regardless, I fear that the “impression” of disunity can cause a lot of harm. This makes the current wave lose-lose in my opinion. Then again, these things can snowball quickly, so I may be proven wrong – here’s hoping!
Alright, blast me away in the Comments section, but this is what I honestly think.