Roberta kills dialogue

Thr truth commission!

Thr truth commission!

The MUD announced it was “suspending” its participation in the Unasur-sponsored dialogue process. And yes, in case you were wondering, the sarao at Miraflores was not a one-time thing, since apparently there had been several more sessions. The mere fact that many did not know it was an ongoing thing … says volumes about its impact on people’s lives.

But I digress. The MUD decided it was in no MUD for dialogue (pardon the pun), and so it finally decided to call the whole charade off. The reasons given were the expected: heavy government repression, and weighty government interference in the “truth commission” that is supposed to investigate rights abuses.

The thing is … that all of these factors were present when they sat down to talk. Therefore, the skeptic in me is not convinced.

To me, the real reason for the breakup doesn’t have to do with the government’s usual, expected intransigence. What tipped the MUD inside the MUD (sorry!) was the virulent questioning it received on the heels of Roberta-gate.

Just like any politician threatened by her base leans towards it, the MUD is worried that its legitimacy is being called into question. Therefore, it is willing to throw a bone to the radicals in order to appease them for a while. The end result: no more tequeños in Miraflores. Just say you’re doing it for the kids.

As you can imagine, the MUD isn’t burning their bridges entirely, they are merely “suspending” their participation. Still, whether or not dialogue gets back on track will depend on internal opposition dynamics as well as government openness to flexibility.

It’s funny, though. No amount of calls from inside Venezuela could get the MUD off its tracks. It took one slip of the tongue from Ms. Jacobson, one session in the US Senate, for the MUD to change tactics. For once, chavistas may be right: the opposition’s strategy … is decided in Washington.

36 thoughts on “Roberta kills dialogue

  1. Nice to see the overall thrust but would balk at active non-MUD oppo folk being classes as “radicals”. Inter alia, it plays into régime hands.


  2. JCN: “The reasons given were the expected: heavy government repression, and weighty government interference in the “truth commission” that is supposed to investigate rights abuses.”

    Your two examples, repression and interference, are not really found in your link to MUD’s reasons given.

    “The thing is … that all of these factors were present when they sat down to talk. ”

    I don’t see among the reasons given in the link you provided of MUD’s reasons, any factors that were present before the first sit down. In fact, in the link dates are provided for the presentation of documentation for which they expected results.

    Am I missing some links?


  3. I do not agree. Had the MUD rejected negotiations from the beginning it would have given the regime the card that they expected: announce to the world that the opposition was unwilling to find a solution to the crisis by rejecting the “amiable invitation” that the government had “wholeheartedly offered”. By accepting to sit at the same table, and nevertheless setting forth its “conditions” for doing so, the MUD le mató el gallo zambo tapao that the government was holding. Now it’s different: the gov has given massive evidence of what their real intentions are so that now nobody in the world believes a bit of what maduro et al say. The MUD has no need to explain why they are “suspending” their attendance because the gov already did it for them, and very clearly BTW. Another point to their score: the recent summit of the Internacional Socialista in República Dominicana produced a very clear and forceful resolution demanding from the gov the same actions put forward by the Venezuelan opposition in general. That was no good news for the 21st century Venezuelan socialists. And then you have the forthcoming measures by the empire’s high authorities. It is increasingly difficult for any government in the world to side with maduro anymore. I certainly believe that cubans erred their repressive strategy because they never considered the possibility of the Venezuelan youngsters going to the streets with so much determination. They never had to counter such a situation in cuba, FGS!!


    • I have to agree with you, Edmundo. Even the government just agreeing to talk, and having its domestic negotiations overseen by neighboring countries (can you imagine the Mexican and Canadian ambassadors overseeing discussions between the US government and its opposition!) are significant validations for the opposition, and to have refused would have made them look linternationally like radical derechistas of old. Also, to cut off the talks after raids like this is necessary for simple dignity of the opposition.

      In addition, there are all the rumors (probably fed by MUD people in the various ‘technical’ talking groups on the side in parallel to the main negotiations) of the past couple of weeks of soon-to-come ‘pragmatic’ moves by the government. It must be that officialismo is making these statements to the negotiators … We’ll see, of course, if anything actually comes to pass. (In any case it shows the desperation of officialismo…. which HAS TO make changes, and is up till now incapable of making some ‘revolutionary’ changes in the economy and such.) But, in any case, it is a process that needs to be played out, even if nothing comes from it, to establish the legitimacy and sincere intentions of the opposition — at home and abroad –that has tried to meet officialismo half-way.

      At a certain point, a lack of progress has to lead to the opposition demanding a change or no more talking. But, it has to be played out so that the average person understands the traffic jam with Chavismo, or something actually moves forward.

      It could be that the suppression of the student prostest camps was a rogue act (see Devil’s Excrement blog today) by the Interior MInister Torres, as part of the PSUV factions intent on scuttling the discussions …. especially with all their recently reported talk/rumors of officialismo promising to take some pragmatic/reform steps soon.

      Vamos a ver.


      • I can tell Edmundo Dantes and Tom O Donnell do not understand the venezuelan situation, JCN got it totally right. the MUD did set conditions for the talks, but those conditions were never met, and even so, they went ahead and sat down anyways.

        Regarding the oversight of the representatives from UNASUR, everybody in the latin-america knows that this is nothing but a club of leftist government officials established by the late Hugo Chavez who is completely partial to this dictatorship. So it means nothing to us the Venezuelan people.

        I completely agree with JCN that were it not for Roberta, the MUD (man, they picked their name right, pun intended) will still be playing the government’s game and making them look real good, as if they really want to talk and fix things, which is a lie that nobody here believes. They are still repressing the students, killing them and jailing them for exercising their constitutional right to protest, invading private homes without court orders and having their armed militia killing people at their will. Criminalization of protest is the name of the game.

        Emiliana Duarte must live in some other country too, we the people do follow this kind of things. Ever since Ms. Roberta said, what we all suspected, the MUD got into more trouble with Venezuelans. Well, most people are sick and tire of them anyways.


        • ND / 14 may 2014.- Un grupo de connotados venezolanos y más de 250 miembros del Frente Militar Institucional emitieron este miércoles un duro comunicado dirigido a Ramón Guillermo Aveledo y a los directivos de la MUD reclamando “las confusas y contradictorias actuaciones de los distintos sectores de la oposición frente a los acontecimientos que hoy vivimos”.


        • You are of course correct that UNASUR is mainly aiming to save chavismo — the Colombians are an interesting and somewhat different aspect.

          As to what the opposition SHOULD HAVE done before agreeing to the discussions, and in the first,public negotiations’: I felt it was unseemly how easily they agreed, in that they should have, every one of them, first and foremost said clearly word-for-word the same thing at least in the first TV encounter: that the political prisoners, especially Lopez (whose call for protests directly led to a situation where the government and UNASUR had to cal for negotiations) have to be released or there would be no more discussions after the initial one.

          It is unfortunate that Caprilles’ and Lopez’ tactics are considered as two separate political lines. In reality, if one wants to get the State to negotiate and compromise, one has to first put sharp pressure in the streets. Once negotiations begin, any retreat by the State from seriously engaging has to be met again by mass demonstrations whose size and determination menace the State. The street and the negotiation table should be two aspects of ONE UNIFIED STRATEGY.

          Just briefly, I’d like to say also, that if the opposition took power tomorrow, I am very skeptical that they could manage the state or economy. They are not properly prepared. The reasons and history of this is of course complex. Caprilles (and Lopez as well) know this, it seems to me.

          If they are REALLY so upset about Chavismo in power, then form a REAL, genuine UNITED FRONT. Convert the MUD into an organization with a well-defined level of organizational (party) discipline. Decisions are taken, and they are taken by everyone, but then there is an organizational discipline and they are implemented by everyone.

          Look at how Lula brought together all sorts of disparate parties into ONE Workers’ Party in what was initially an illegal struggle against a dictatorship. The political line, how much more or less social democratic or christian democratic or whatever, is not the issue here; I am speaking of what an opposition UNITED FRONT or unified PARTY means.

          If you are going to take over a dysfunctional state, you had better have a clear party/movement program that has been debated and voted on and widely promoted among the population LONG BEFOREHAND, And, you need to train (theoretically and in practical organizational work) party/movement cadre who are adapt at taking that program and implementing and promoting it among all sections of the population in a unified manner.

          PRINCIPALLY, they must do this as members of the United Front and only secondarily of their particular party (some mini-party around one or two leaders in the case of Venezuela). The PSUV was Chavez meager, semi-successful attempt at this sort of United Front among the many pro-chavista mini-parties. In Venezuela, facing a MUD/oppositon lacking any such sense of organizational discipline makes its work fairly easy.

          This not only gets a disciplined, unified force in the struggle to take power, to win elections and conduct protracted protest movements in the streets, in strikes, and whatever is needed, but it is ALSO the key to being able to run the dysfunctional and incompetent State once you take over. It would be these same party organizers, who are accustomed to working together, and very conscious of the movements political program/platform who then have to get jobs sprinkled throughout the weak/dysfunctional bureaucracy to imbue it with a backbone and discipline to carry out the tasks that the new government will have to take, and can explain it to not only their fellow bureaucrats in the State, but to the people. The MUD has absolutely no sense of this (Caprilles and Lopez know that Venezuela suffers very weak and partisan institutions, especially Lopez, …; but they need to build an opposition that is prepared to deal with it)

          Chavismo will survive for decades as a political movement in Venezuela. And, any new administration will have to learn how to work with various of its factions, avoiding kneejerk extreme polarization and demonization. But, you cannot work, with confidence, with the now-opposition chavismo without having some coherence and confidence in your own program and organizational capacity both within the state bureaucracy and in communities. The fall back, without this, would be the mirror image of what Chavez did in a similarly weak organizational position: mindless and counterproductive demonizing polarization of the others. [i.e., Chavismo was always very weak, in both the State administration; but also in the electorate as far as having an organization to get out the vote, something which didn’t change till at least 2010 or later when the PSUV was finally established as a get-out-the-vote machine in barrios.]

          The people are losing confidence in the State and in officialismo’s capacity to run it, but the alternative is organizationally and programmatically diffuse and, even among its own members, lacks credibility. I put particular blame on the old Leftists among the opposition, who should understand something about the type of programmatic and organizational unity that a United Front requires, esp. in a perpetually dysfunctional and weak State.


  4. I disagree as well. Robertagate has barely been noticed in VZ. The MUD made sure the whole issue went quietly into the night, not to be noticed by anyone except for political junkies like ourselves. The pressure came from within.


    • At the risk of sounding trite, following the histrionics-in-a-teapot on this issue, allow me to paraphrase Jimmy Buffett:

      “Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame,
      But I know it’s internal’s fault.”


  5. Whatever the cause, this thing had a short shelf life. Maduro is not up to any bold moves. He had his moment to change course and thug that he is he took a pass. No harm in seeing what he and his fellow toads had to offer. They had nothing to offer and apparently want to totally wear the disaster that is unfolding, so let them.


    • Btw, when Maduro first arrived on the big stage, weren’t people ( not so much here) talking about his subtle diplomatic skills? ( ie reviving the relationship with Colombia, etc etc). This guy has no skills!


  6. I think the MUD got what they needed from the dialogue which was the televised debate where they scored some good points. After that, the meetings at close doors were detrimental to their image as well as completely fruitless as everyone expected. The MUD wanted to get out of that trap as soon as possible. The government gave them the perfect excuse with the recent rash of detentions and they wasted no time getting out of there. Good decision.


    • I totally agree… The pesuvi gvmnt can’t accuse them of not sitting down, and they got the perfect excuse to leave the said table. I think it’s a win win situation, and they must be lighting candles to roberta…


  7. I have said it a thousand times and I will say it again:

    The only reason we should ever participate in a so-called dialogue is to have a televised debate – or show
    as debate is unbeknownst to virtually all of these politicos

    They said they can’t keep cadenas, etc but we don’t need cadenas. We need access to VTV/Telesur to say anything, anything we want to both Venezuelans and as Yoanni remarked, to Cubans.

    Anyone abroad and in Venezuela who is not in power will understand we demand televised debates. The government is very unlikely to accept one again and this rejection can only play into our hands.

    Any closed door session as the Carter Centre figure Coy wanted is bad for us and extremely good for the government. Those are the sessions that have kept Mugabe in power.


    • Kep,

      Diplomats of all stripes always favor dialogue with those already in power. They do not like sudden changes in power, because it means losing their existing network and having to form new networks. They are very conservative people by nature, and are far more comfortable dealing with the “devil they know”.


      • But that’s them. Bugger them. This is all about PR with everyone outside Venezuela and in Venezuela.
        Those same politicians would have a very hard time going against someone who asks for the dialogue to be heard by all The People. If a mediator openly says he is against that he could as well say he likes killing baby pandas.


        • No argument here. No sir! You won’t see me advocating for killing baby pandas!

          Seriously, you know how it goes… they just blame the other side. But, I agree that the MUD should be pressing for the dialogue to be public.


  8. At this point, I see two camps within the MUD: Those that want a FAST change of regime with a complete reconstruction of the government and those that want a SLOW change and reform of the existing institutions.

    People in the FAST Camp include: Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado, and virtually all of the student leadership. The argument for this approach is that all of the institutions of government are so thoroughly compromised that they cannot be fixed, and therefore must be re-built from scratch. “If ’twere be done, ’twere best done quickly.”

    People in the SLOW Camp include: Henrique Capriles Rodonsky, Henry Ramos Allup, and nearly all of the “old guard”. The arguments for this position are the possibility of avoiding violence (or reducing it) and generally cushioning the blow to both the society and the economy. Not to put too fine of a point on it, but if the FAST Camp succeeds, most of the old guard will become irrelevant in the new Venezuelan political landscape. Obviously, the “Dialogue” is favored by the SLOW Camp.

    While both points of view do have merit, I think that the political and social situation in Venezuela has already devolved beyond the point at which the SLOW strategy will work to contain the situation. Venezuela is already on the verge of a dangerous and uncontrollable social explosion which could result in an unthinkable loss of life and property.

    I am tempted to also discuss the merit of thoroughly discrediting and dismantling the PSUV, lest Chavismo rear its head again 10 years down the road like Peronismo did in Argentina. However, the current situation is so dangerous and so dire, I don’t think we can afford to think that far down the road. The question at hand is how to escape a bloodbath in the very near future.

    I tend to think the FAST Camp has the best chance, but I would like the opinions of others on:

    1) Is the SLOW vs. FAST Camp model accurate or too simplistic?

    2) Which camp do you fall into and why?


    • I think the difference between the two views is not in terms of the speed of change itself but of the length of the struggle for change. Because this type of situations when they unravel they do so very quickly, change is abrupt and encompasses every institution and every aspect of the country. Power switches hands in a swift way and the powerful of a time become just a bad memory soon after.

      From that point of view, MCM & Leopoldo are pushing for that breaking point to happen now through massive protests, international pressure and some catalyzing –though mysterious to me– event. Capriles envisions a long term approach where a progressive build up in support for the cause and a diminishing support for the government would eventually change the balance of power even to the point where those in government recognize their future in power is limited and prepare for a dignified exit.

      Which strategy is better? I personally prefer Capriles’ because a sudden collapse of the government will result in a highly unstable situation where anything is possible and violence, chaos and destruction are likely with people fighting to fill the many vacuums of power and others just taking advantage of the unstable situation for their own agendas.

      Anyway paraphrasing the popular saying, those in the fight should hope for an early resolution but gear up for a long struggle, because the worst they can do is give up. This thing may go quickly like it happened in Serbia or Perú or last for decades like in South Africa or India. Lets hope for Leopoldo’s sake that is the former.


      • Another socialdemocract patch? How sure we are that Capriles would do the difficult thing that are needed like fiscal discipline, reduction of public financing on political parties, reduction on the extreme power of worker union,reequilibration of the relation “Arrendador, arrendatario” and of course the reduction of the public bureaucracy.

        The problem of center-left government like the one capriles surely would establish is that is very possible that it shows they true colors, and mantains this clientelist-kind-of-government even with a moderate action


        • My comment is nothing about how the post chavismo government would look like, is about getting there in the first place.

          But since you mention it, I think is too early to be complaining about it. I would be happy with having rule of law, respect for human rights and private property and all the freedoms accorded in the constitution.


          • True, i forgot to mention: since capriles is social Democrat, and deep in their core his ideas got some of the same influence than government, we should ask if its long term strategy is a Form os appeasement to some radical left factor and a path to cohabitation.

            I’m sorry, but after more than 60 years of center left governments and a good time studying the Constitution, i don’t believe capriles got the strength or the motivation to change things (it unwillingness to take harsh choices probe it)

            But hey, is just my opinion


    • IMHO the FAST camp is right and the other guys are just looking out for their own interests. I pray that all those old SLOW camp jerks become a thing of the past. I completely agree we are past SLOW Camp at this point in time. Things need to change and quickly or this country will completely collapse, we are very much nearing that point. I really hope Leopoldo Lopez gets out of jail, because I think he’s the only person qualified enough to be the next President and with the guts to start all the painful changes we need to make to jump start this country again.


  9. A dialogue has to be credible to those that engage in it , i.e. it must be sustained by the belief that its prosecution will lead to some practical results ,

    In Venezuela , a country were the govt customarily floods public space with niagaras of hollow promises and pompous self serving verbiage, with a showy smothering stream of words that lack any practical meaning , that are just bubbling rethorical babble , language has lost most of the credibility that it has in the rest of the world thus people can only take account of what the govt actually does to discern its intentions . this was pointed out by one of the US early ambassadors . Take no notice of what the govt says , only of what it does . Thats as true today as it was 10 years ago.
    its not that deeds speak louder than words , its that this govt communicates only through actions cooned in a cloud of empty verbiage . If the Mud looks at the govts deeds after the dialogues started they see nothing to indicate that it has any intention of following through with any commitments tor actions hat address the concerns that the Opposition has and which presumably justify its dialogues with the govt., rather the opposite repression has become more violent and arbitrary than it was before the dialogue started .

    This being the case MUD is justified in thinking that the govt is not serious about pursuing a dialogue , that it only playacts that it wants one in order to get the international pressure of its back and to improve its public image as an repressive and dictatorial regime .!! That they dont believe in the dialogue only in gaining time and blustering their way out of an international climate that is starting to really turn against them . Theve always meant the dialogues to fail but want to make it look as if its the MUD that has refused to pursue the dialogues because they lack peaceful intentions !!

    Once again they show their wizard of oz tactics , you can scam and trick everyone with verbal spectacles and strindent gestures while following only your despotic agenda .!!

    Even without the jacobson incident and the internal oppo criticism of the dialogues , the suspension of talks had become necessary , if only to bring pressure on the govt to make clear to the world that the govt was dishonest in making believe that it had any interest in any true dialogue. !!


  10. The plan of the “MUD-hating radicals” was not reject dialogue outright, it was to ask for a minimal of conditions before sitting at the table, like the liberation of political prisioners.

    The less galling description of that position was “arrogant”.

    That’s the problem with the MUD, they sell “moral victories” and empty talks instead of actual results. “But there will be bloodbaths and violence”, fuck off, 25k murders on 2013 and all the repression so far on the protests don’t count? We are already there:

    I happen to live on that city, so don’t tell me “we must prevent the violence”, it shows a complete lack of awareness of the situation on the country.


    • Not just sell, they’re adict to “Moral victories”, forgetting that in politics, all dream is possible only when you have the real power to make it true. Is MUD seeking real power? I doubt it, i even believe they are afraid that they could not handle it


      • I believe that they are too afraid to lose their positions and, in some cases, lose their dirty business with the regime. The perfect examples are Capriles and Ramos Allup respectively.

        No different than the bunch of morons making a line on a Bicentenario for breadcrumbs while wearing their shirts of Chavez’s eyes. At best useless, at worst on the way.


    • Op-Uno thanks for the video, yeah, they are not shooting rubber bullets either. Our students are brave. My hat off to them. God bless them for fighting against this devilish dictatorship full of thugs and drug Lords, pure BOLIMALANDROS, that’s they are.


  11. RGA went to extreme lengths to note the dialogue is not “cancelled”, that MUD is not walking out, that they are “freezing” their participation in an ongoing process pending some unspecified better behaviour from the gov’t. A estas alturas del partido.


  12. You’d be amazed at the dozens of unconditional support the MUD gets on Twitter. A lot of oppos refuse to even consider the MUD is up to shady business, and most times they’re heavy on criticizing LL/MCM and #LaSalida and fully subscribe to Capriles’ strategy. The fact the MUD/Capriles has had an effect on some of the opposition similar to what Chavez had on chavistas, turning political figures into unquestionable godly leaders and creating polarization within the opposition, is really frustrating.

    Also, this just proves how dialogue was built to fail with UNASUR mediating. A different mediation committee would’ve been way more stern with the government’s behavior during and post dialogue. Holguin and Ecuatorian dude have known their part from the start. Only semi-good thing we’ve gotten out of this is that one cadena.


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