Last week MUD Secretary General Jesus Torrealba announced that opposition primaries for the National Assembly elections will be held on May 3rd. A scant few hours earlier Ledezma had been snatched by SEBIN. The timing of Torrealba’s announcement made some opposition supporters furious: people went cuckoo denouncing how insulting it was to be talking about primaries when the Mayor of Caracas had just been arrested merely for having signed a letter. What we should do, they argued, is take the streets.
Others dismissed those complaints as radicalism. As senseless emotional reactions to something that is important. Something that is fundamental. “Just what the government wants!”
The episode threatened to become just the latest episode in the never-ending radicals vs. moderates battle within the opposition. Capriles, as usual, headed up the moderate camp:
In criollo, partida ganada no se tranca.
Who’s right? I think they both are.
The opposition must have primaries. Primaries are a key source of legitimacy. Not only do they provide legitimacy but they also resolve conflicts in a civil way.
The parliamentary elections will be a significant source of legitimacy. Like it or not, Chavismo has been legitimized over and over again via elections. We can’t afford to keep gifting that to them.
But only focusing on this is having a too narrow scope and taking it that route alone will be plagued with dangers.
Hegemon corp needs to be fought relentlessly. Nothing will be enough here. It’s not either/or, it’s both-and: Pirate radio, pamphlets, 2.0, word of mouth, international outreach and lobbying. All will be a crucial element if the MUD is to establish its narrative, and to dismantle the governments.
But none of that helps if your own house isn’t in order. Primaries do help: people coalesce around elected candidates. Those candidates must condemn any violent spark immediately but understand protest and civil movements. MUD must be prepared to bring people out onto the streets, not for road blocks, but to gather publicly and denounce all the abuses we’re now facing.
This means keeping your own crazies at bay.
In the coming months, we can expect any number of strange twists and turns. Maybe elections get cancelled, maybe a big victory is at risk due to a faulty election, maybe we win big and the opposition takes its seats at the AN but the executive branch ignores the legislative. In any such case, the capacity to act constructively and responsibly on the street will be a key test of MUD’s credibility. The idea that any street action is inherently violent just buys into Hegemon Corp’s narrative. Hay que hilar más finito.
We need primaries, because we need a cohesive, legitimate, nation-wide opposition leadership to guide us through whatever craziness may lie ahead in the coming months. If anything, Ledezma’s imprisonment should make that even clearer.