The government has been pushing hard the idea that they want peace. I don’t doubt it. But it’s a very particular type of peace. It’s peace through domination. It’s the peace that comes after war. It is the subjugation of its opponents.
Let’s recap last month’s “peace offensive.” A series of peace conferences were launched on a nation-wide cadena simul-broadcast, beginning with The Economic Peace Conferences (I kid you not).
On that occasion most of the air time went to Maduro, though he did allow brief speeches by Lorenzo Mendoza (CEO of Polar) and Jorge Roig (President of Fedecamaras, Venezuela’s largest umbrella business group). What was the outcome? More meetings. What else? Well, Mendoza got some greenbacks the government owed him. Relaxation of the currency exchange controls (some doubts persist) … and that’s it.
But are these really the outcomes of the meeting? In other words, would thesenot have happened had it not been for the meetings? Or were merely things the government intended to do anyway to deal with empty shelves and solve a balance of payments problem, and why not, get some political capital while they were at it.
The talks then hit the road, going on just about all over the country. The set up is always the same. Some government rep blasts away, usually led by Arreaza on a stage talking, but no one really talking back. None of the key stakeholders present.
Then, UNASUR came. A delegation filled with foreign ministers, ambassadors and other lesser bureaucrats, they came, stayed for a whopping 48 hours, and then left. They met once with the MUD’s Secretary General, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo. In the end they promised a report (don’t hold your breath) and said they were really satisfied. This is code for “Maduro may be a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch.”
While all this talk about “peace” and “dialogue” was happening, the death toll kept rising. The number of detainees kept rising. Two mayors from the opposition were detained on charges that roughly translate into “not doing enough to fight the protests,” regardless of the fact that constitutionally it’s not the municipal’s authorities role. Opposition congresswoman Maria Corina Machado tried to present the Venezuelan case to the OAS, and failed to do so. She was welcomed back with the news that she wouldn’t be in congress anymore since Diosdado Cabello, President of the National Assembly, decided he didn’t want her there. Since he can’t actually do that, a kangaroo court took care of the paperwork in a closed doors trial, in which the defendant wasn’t there to defend herself. Unsurprisingly, she was found guilty.
Just two nights ago a bunch of kids camping on the side of the Francisco de Miranda avenue were heavily repressed and 13 of them were detained. I can personally vouch that there was no provocation at all from the kids’ side. A few hours prior MCM in Plaza Brión was bombarded with tear gas – and again, no act of aggression took place against the authorities. Many more peaceful demonstrations have occurred, and all have been put down using tear gas, armored vehicles, and brute force.
The cherry on the top was the way Maduro, in the same speech in which he talked about peace, pivoted to launching his Workers Militia.
The working class will be respected ever more. They will be more respected if the worker’s militia have three hundred thousand, five hundred thousand or two million workers in uniform, armed [and] prepared for the fatherland’s defense.
For those who want a true dialogue, who would be the appropriate counterpart? Aveledo? MCM?
The opposition is increasingly riven by intrigues. Leopoldo López has set forth unrealistic demands as pre-conditions. Primero Justicia made some public statements supporting Machado, but didn’t show their mugs at the National Assembly, the Plaza Brión, nor at the Prosecution Office.
Maybe the issue at hand is semantics.
Dialogue to us means to have an exchange of ideas and form a consensus. But that’s not what the government wants. From their military mindset, what they pursue is domination. The government wants peace built on unconditional surrender.