On Saturday

MarchaSome of our readers have been wondering why we haven’t said anything about Saturday’s marches in Venezuela and abroad.

For the record, here is my brief take:

The marches? A galvanizing, resounding success. Obviously, not enough. But they amp up the pressure, and that´s not a bad thing.

Leopoldo? Proved his mettle as a leader by calling for massive protests from his cell, using a dingy video recorded on a mobile phone.

His hunger strike? A huge gamble, one that I dread might not pay off. Still, understandable given the circumstances.

The people criticizing Leopoldo? Cretins. Pseudo-academic wannabes, many of whom see Venezuela as an intellectual oddity instead of what it really is, a human tragedy that touches us all on a personal level, many of whom can’t find it in their hearts to empathize with somebody who has been unjustly imprisoned for more than a year, with no end in sight.

The MUD? Sigh. Emiliana is going to tackle that one in another post. (In fact, that is the reason we haven’t posted on this, Emi wanted to write about it, and she’s … taking her time!)

I don’t know where the MUD goes from here. I don’t know where Leopoldo goes from here. All I know is that the stakes couldn’t be higher.

73 thoughts on “On Saturday

  1. Your insults and ad hominem attacks to those who don’t agree with you are beneath this blog’s style and show you don’t trust your ability to discuss the arguments of those you insult.

    Liked by 1 person

          • So are you OK with where VZ is heading? No more “free and fair” elections- I mean REALLY actual free and fair elections etc- is where Cuba is today is what you see as an appropriate model for VZ 2020?? If it isn’t what you want for this country, what do you “in country” patriots see as the appropriate recourse or redress for the situation besides mass assembly and exercise of what remains of the right to free speech?


            • What are you talking about?

              I am talking about the insults, the way to transmit the message. Nothing more, nothing less.


            • No, I’m not OK with where Venezuela is heading. Remember, I just gave my opinion on the use of insults by Juan Cristóbal. The discussion on the appropiate recourse for the situation is complex and all opinions in the opposition should be respected and discussed, even if one doesn’t agree with them. Deducing that my specific opinion about JC’s post means “I don’t live in
              Venezuela” or “I’m OK where Venezuela is heading” is just another form of the ad hominem argument.


              • Thank-you Cal for continuing to mince words with me ; I concede to your point on the use of insults and respect for all opinions (even though Juan Cristobal did nail the descriptives ). But before I head back to the cholera trenches in Haiti with the NGO I work for, what do YOU think is the path to change for VZ as someone living there who doesn’t feel that this avenue toward public assembly is an answer or option?


    • jc is right though… these cretins are just assho** criticizing someone who is doing the hard fight, while they are sitting in their asses doing nothing…

      as the saying goes, mucho ayuda el que no estorba!


    • Or maybe they are not worth it… Mires tweeted in reference to LL something along the lines of “when did immolation become a part of western politics. Have we become Muslims?”… How can you argue with something so utterly wrong. Not only wrong as an argument, but plainly morally wrong to even think, much less broadcast.

      LVL has provided some very high doses of toxicity. Arguing that Saturday’s event was nothing new. We have had many of those, and that they are unnecessary. In his head he thinks that peaceful demonstrations SUBTRACTS from the electoral effort! COOOOMEEEE ON!!!


      • Yes, It’s not even wrong, it’s just plain absurd!!!

        If I were you, I wouldn’t want this kind of people marching by my side, anyway! Tell them to go to hell. You guys don’t need ‘friends’ like these.


    • Hmmm, this may be a good chance to practice silogisms. Let’s see, CAL rejects Juan Cristobal’s ability to discuss arguments. For the longest time, the Venezuela regime not only has done that, they can’t care less with those who don’t agree with them and even violate their basic rights. So:

      JC criticizes cretins who support the regime
      CAL feels offended by JC’s criticism
      No doubt, CAL is a cretin

      Yes, I know the above doesn’t follow silogism rules but who the f… cares about your opinion.


  2. On Saturday I was waiting to see the coverage in El Nacional, checked again on sunday and there didn’t appear to be anything. Am I right that it wasn’t covered by Venezuela’s last independent national newspaper?


  3. Given the amount of bulls*** heard in the last days because of this pacific and inoffensive march, which merely called for something that all the free world is supporting — the release of political prisoners –, Nagel’s sharp tone is appropriate.


  4. I saw a televised interview to Chuo Torrealba in which he stated that the MUD wasnt opposed to the march its just that they have procedures to make sure that if the alliance of parties officially sponsors an act they all must know about it and give a concerted approval . In this case they had a meeting with the wives of both LL and Ceballos etc the night before the viedo came out with LL call to engage in street protests and nothing was said by LL’s people about the coming call to street protest. The following day he talked to LLs wife and she apologized for not telling him about it but she had express instructions from her husband not to mention what he was planning on doing , The following day LLs cell was intervened violently by the prison guards and all outside communications cut out . Maybe LL had planned to tell his Mud allies about it and the regimes intervention interfered with it. Because the MUD comes from a past period of chaotic handling of common topics , they take their procedures very seriously . They could not officially endorse the call to street demos because it was an individual decision of LL and not something which had been discussed inside the alliance . Still they all felt that the call was legitimate and deserved peoples support. There was nothing in his speech that denoted criticism of LL or his actions .

    I think all the opposition feels that LL is a brave man who is putting his life on the line in defense of a cause that we all identify with . Some people however are a bit suspicious that at times it appears as if he is also someone who prefers acting on his own , who is more comfortable taking a protagonist role which sets him apart from the rest of the opposition . He may feel he has reasons for doing so .but the need for unity is crucial at this critical time and he toes a fine line when he takes actions which may deserve the support of all but which, are taken in a way that seemingly distance him from the rest of the oppo leadership . We all wish that unity be preserved and that both Mud and those which feel an special admiration for LL and his valiant acts must work hard to maintain it .!! The damage resulting from a divided opposition is too great to countenance or allow.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for another insghtful post.

    I would like to make two points.

    1) You call people who disagree with you “cretins”.That says more about you than about them.

    2) In this blog you have repeatedly said:

    In 2002 Venezuela produced 3,5 mbpd. In 2002 it produces 2.5. That is a failure.

    In 2002 100 bolivars could buy 0.16 USD. In 2002 they can buy 0.0026 USD. That is a failure.

    In 2002 the opposition could summon 1 million people for a march. Now you say summoning 200000 is a resounding success.

    And no marches coming out Catia, El Valle or Petare.

    It’s hard to see how your logic holds. This march was a failure.

    Let me explain why.

    Prisoners in Venezuela have an outsized impact. This may seem a new development but is actually old (remember “yo soy un delincuente”?). Venezuela also has a dismal judicial system and many, mostly poor men, are kept in prison unfairly (without sentencing, without access to justice, etc)

    So, instead of establishing a bridge to those poor people, they ask for fast and fair process FOR ONLY TWO GUYS! how thick do you have to be?

    Again: no narrative, no imagination.

    By saying only two prisoners are worthy of attention they wasted a monumental opportunity to connect with the very people needed to unseat the government.

    And then they compunded the problem by looking ridiculous. Ms Ceballos, in protest for her husbands situation, changed hairstyle. She was followed on Saturday by a few middle class boys who shaved their heads joyfully, among the shouts of people who looked like them.

    Try selling those images to people who are struggling, with no food, no time to think about their looks. To people full of social resentment who already have a strong prejudice against anyone unlike the,.

    After 16 years this opposition ignores the country it aspires to rule.

    The march was a failure of attendance, of message, of impact.

    The goernment didn’t even react to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I remember the years in South Africa when the MAIN opposition slogan, and main rallying demand, was “Free Mandela”. And yet, pursuing the logic of the above post, he was only ONE guy.

      By that logic, the ANC should have focussed on bread-and-butter issues instead.

      Because they just didn’t understand politics. They thought that Mandela wasn’t one guy, but a democratic leader, whose victimization resonated with all of the victims of the system.

      They missed their chance and will never form a government.


      • So LL is Mandela now.

        Listen: every single party in South Africa focuses on what you call “bread and butter issues” Indeed, that why Mandela became a leader: by fighting for equality and prosperity for EVERYONE. Not just himself.

        In any case, you see the situation is different and requires more than remembering the South Africa you knew so well.

        There are no black and whites, just Venezuelans. That actually makes the whole difference.

        It would do with remembering Venezuela and its history and how to gain from being a political prisoner. Certainly not like this.


      • “They thought that Mandela wasn’t one guy, but a democratic leader, whose victimization resonated with all of the victims of the system.”

        Gene Sharp on the importance of the “Mandelas”:

        “Perhaps the strongest force for conversion efforts is the demonstration of courage of those who oppose an authoritarian regime. Public acts of courage against oppression dispel the stereotype that sees nonviolent protestors as cowards. Courage is universally respected whether that courage is displayed by soldiers on a battlefield or by nonviolent warriors confronting an oppressive regime. In some cases, the suffering endured by members of an opposition group can greatly influence the attitudes of both the oppressor and the oppressed. Courage is not always measured in the blood shed by individuals on behalf of a cause. The willingness to brave the consequences of an act is a true measure of courage.”


    • And this turnover in a moment when all polls say the opposition is a majority.

      No, not at all, this March was a big flop, not a success by any measure.


    • “By saying only two prisoners are worthy of attention they wasted a monumental opportunity to connect with the very people needed to unseat the government.”

      Are you saying that there was no call from LL to free all political prisoners, meaning more than two? The reality flies in the face of your spoutings. Are you going to suggest making a call to free all prisoners in Venezuela? Is that what you want, Alejandro? Do try to be specific. It would help us to understand you better.


      • Sure.

        Venezuela has a dismal judicial system. Everyone is a victim, including guilty criminals who do not have access to justice,

        Now, imagine Mmes Lopez, Ledezma and Ceballos along with the MUD found the mothers and wives of unfairly kept, poor prisoners. There should be thousands.

        They then meet with these people, set up a common story of victimisation and injustice. The message: we are equal, even though our backgrounds are different we are fighting for the same rights.

        They start creating a movement for justice for the weak, poor, unjustly treated that resonates with the suffering of those voters who form the chavista base.

        You attack the heart of the government narrative, you eat its base.

        As a result you achieve several goals: increase the awareness of, and support to, political prisoners.

        You crack the electoral base of the government by turning its narrative on its head: you say criminals are victims but now WE are defending them, not you.

        The main success, for a political movement, is to steal your opponents flags and narrative.

        In this case you would turn LL predicament into a national movement for justice and fairness.

        Not to liberate criminals, but to fight for ALL PRISONERS, to get quick, fair justice.

        That is how to do it.


        • Alejandro: Why don’t you leave your cushy European post, come to live in Venezuela, and run for office? For clearly you have more experience than the pols who have been at this for years, who continue to live this reality on a daily basis, and who know the limits of what they can demand at one time.


          • Nah, I am reasonably successful here.

            I am sorry to rebuke you, but these experienced pols have been losing for 16 years.

            Daily reality or not, they DO NOT understand the country. You are wrong to believe experience only is enough for success. 16 years of failure more than prove what I say.

            And even more mistaken to reject the opinion of outsiders.

            Preaching to your own flock is unlikely to win you new converts. It is by confronting those who think differently that your views grow stronger.


        • perhaps consider that justice for many people in the VZ jails( who belong there because they are horrible criminals) would be to hang them by their gonads, i.e. the little group of charmers that murdered Monica Spears and her husband etc etc. Sorry but a VAST majority of ALL PRISONERS in VZ jails deserve to rot and die there. LL and a few others are political prisoners not criminals. Skip the ALL PRISONERS part and substitute POLITICAL PRISONERS.


          • Wrong again.

            According to Venezuelan law all prisoners deserve to have their human rights respected.

            Just by stressing this fact, that injustice harms all, innocent or not, you create a narrative where opposition and chavistas can meet.

            I actually disagree with you: the Venezuelan penal system is a concentration camp system, ruled by psychopaths.

            Very few people deserve to go there. Very few, not a majority, like you suggest.


        • Brilliant – yes, that’s exactly how you do it. Until the MUD reaches out beyond their traditional bases, these efforts will be for naught


    • “The march was a failure of attendance, of message, of impact.”

      Why do you think that?

      Message was aligned all across the board. Attendance was good. Specially when the last time something like this happened it was met with repression.

      Impact? What impact were you expecting? What do you think the goals were?


      • Good to see you again.

        My reasons are explained above.

        What was the message? freedom for LL.? for all political prisoners, as syd said? elections now, as I read somewhere?

        Sorry, the message was blunt and unfocused.

        Impact? I was expecting none. I think building a majority is the task, not getting your usual voters out. That wins you nothing.

        Attendance after violence was massive in 2002. Now, no. Sorry.


        • Not the same. 2002 was a disorderly event. Not the planned repression against dissidence. Also, the oppo camp has lost over 1 MM (some say) due to emigration.

          I thin you are right about the message, but phrased perhaps in a different way.

          To me the message is that we can be on the streets peacefully. Emphasis was made on that which I thought to be great.

          What it is unclear to me is how does this fit in a larger political plan. In can’t be just catharsis.

          I have been really busy with work and will continue to be for the next four weeks.


          • disorderly, as in, spontaneous. Don’t you think that is how they should be to hit the government hard?

            I think marches are the consequence of good political work, not the cause.

            A march in itself wins nothing. When the march is the expression of a feeling shared by a majority, then its impact is high. Specially if the people marching are diverse, reach a critical mass (empirically, in Caracas that would be 1 million) and go beyond Avenida Bolívar.

            None of these conditions was met Saturday. People there actually behaved in a way likely to disenchant the poor (the people that should be ready to pass on to the opposition, but the opposition can’t reach).


              • Ok, let me put it differently:

                Marches do not matter. At all.

                What matters is getting the people who do not vote for the opposition to share, embrace and believe in the values defended by the opposition.

                A moral majority.

                That is what AD did in the 40’s and 50’s, Chávez in 99.

                To accomplish that you could actually use LL’s and Ceballos’ captivity to underscore the similarities of the suffering shared by all classes: injustice, cruelty and also scarcity, fear.

                Instead, all these guys shaving their heads… It’s pathetic.


              • But marches matter also because it turns passive voters into activist. They feel like they are part of something greater, it gives meaning. And then, everyone helps to convert.

                I thought the head shaving was a great gesture. Solidarity beyond vanity. Shaving peoples head when jailed served a hygienic purpose, but also it changes your look. It affects your dignity. If I were Ceballos, I would feel a refreshing breeze knowing that folks are there for you.


  6. You might argue the definition given by Nagel to Garcia Mora. But the truth is that the attack of Garcia Mora against Lopez is both ignoble and hypocritical. He blasts Leopoldo for taking action but in his previous article in Prodavinci he said:
    “”La oposición tiene ante sí una tarea que se demora. La movilización del país pacíficamente para la liberación de los presos políticos. Es posible que la misión de más de un centenar de jefes de Estado y de Gobierno del mundo, que componen los miembros del llamado Club de Madrid, sean retenidos en los aeropuertos y se les impida acceder a Venezuela para contribuir a la creación de espacios para el diálogo entre el Gobierno y las distintas fuerzas políticas, y la reclamación de la puesta en libertad de todas las personas encarceladas por razones políticas y supuestos delitos de opinión.
    Tal vez igual le ocurra al expresidente del gobierno español Felipe González, quien junto con Olof Palme y François Mitterrand son considerados los europeos que más han hecho por la democracia, los derechos humanos, y el progresismo en Latinoamérica, y que está a punto de arribar estos días. Los recibirá el liderazgo de la oposición, repantigado en sus oficinas, sin mover un músculo para hacer calle nuevamente, como en los primeros meses de 2014, cuando le dejaron la conducción solamente a Leopoldo y María Corina, que del largo plazo político y de la unidad monolítica ante el combate sabían muy poco, retirándose. Y porque no era momento para guarimbas, cuando más allá de esos episodios reprimidos con saña, lo que estaba en juego era no desaprovechar aquella energía que se desataba para comenzar a movilizar a una población triturada por la crisis y la mano militar que mueve la cuna, y tratar de reconquistar su propio espacio.

    ¿Van a seguir esperando que desde afuera les resuelvan esto? ¿O VAN A ACTUAR? ”

    Garcia Mora wanted, demanded action. And when action takes place he criticizes those who act.

    What is he doing?


    • “What is he [García Mora} doing?

      Aiming for the contrarian angle in order to attract attention to himself and his spoutings. Nothing more.


    • Cretin: a stupid, vulgar, or insensitive person : clod, lout.

      Not an excessively offensive term. Mora is flip flopping on the issue, clearly insensitive to LL asking for peaceful protest. I see no trolling going on here.

      Which raises a question: since Saturday’s protest came off peacefully does that support his current defense?


  7. “The marches? A galvanizing, resounding success.”

    “About 3,000 supporters blocked a main thoroughfare in Caracas to rally alongside Lopez’s wife, Lilian Tintori (photo), and the wives of former San Cristobal, Tachira mayor Daniel Ceballos, and Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma, also opposition leaders behind bars.”

    A rally of 3,000 people in Caracas I would hardly call it a “galvanizing, resounding success”.

    Out of 1,258,677 of people living in Caracas, ranging from ages 20-69 (data according to INE’s 2011 National Census), the rally on Saturday managed to convene 0.24% of the population.

    Granted, not everyone of those 1,258,677 people are partidaries of Maria Corina Machado, Leopoldo López, Lilian Tintori, Daniel Ceballos, Patricia de Ceballos, Antonio Ledezma, and Mitzi de Ledezma. Also, other factors should be taken into consideration in order to evaluate the effectiveness of Saturday’s rally (i.e. availability/convenience of people to attend the rally), however, undernoting that such factors are difficult to quantify due to the lack of statistical data.

    However lets use the number of people who voted for Henrique Capriles in the State of Miranda on the 2013 Presidential Elections as a more approachable universe of the total of the population that could’ve gone to the rally on Saturday, 815,128 people. That still only accounts for a measly 0.37% attendance rate on Saturday’s rally.

    Therefore I wouldn’t call it a “galvanizing, resounding success”. Not at least on the quantitative aspect of it.


    • There were far more than 3,000 people at the rally in Caracas. I’m not sure what the number (and admittedly it was not as big as some of last years) was but 3,000 is a joke of an estimate, if that is what it is.


      • Some folks have difficulties with reading and comprehension. When a number is used in reference to a specific location, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the number applies to all surrounding locations.

        “About 3,000 supporters blocked a main thoroughfare in Caracas …”

        It is possible that Juan did not estimate correctly. But my take was that he did not apply 3,000 to all those who attended the march on Saturday.


  8. “The marches? A galvanizing, resounding success.”
    Yes? Exactly what was achieved? Did they free political prisoners? Did they say when will be elections held? Did they even say “Geez, the oppo gathered quite a crowd, let’s try to have a talk with them”?


  9. Wholigan says 3000????? The photo above tells a different story. The international press talks about 50,000 people. But marches took place all over Venezuela, add them up and you have more than 100,000 people.
    3000? Poor eye sight.
    Other commentarist, Santiago, says that nothing was achieved. Prisoners are still prisoners, no election date yet, the regime is not planning to talk to the opposition. He wanted that in 24 hours?
    Please, Sir, try to see the march as part of a process. It was better that it happened than staying inert like the MUD has done. Now we know that there is still a fighting spirit in a lot of venezuelans, The govt. is feeling the heat.Call the march a well placed banderilla on the tired, dizzy revolutionary bull.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Call the march a well placed banderilla on the tired, dizzy revolutionary bull.”

      Beautiful. Perfect analogy. Some folks (who should know better) are part of the instant gratification crowd, will never understand that to march, to vote are part of democratic exercises that, in spite of formidable walls, must not be buried, must not be flippantly dismissed because these actions don’t achieve instant results.


    • Correct. And given the levels of Terror, Intimidation, Threats, Bribes, 100,000, at least who marched out there was u big success. Many of the bloggers here were afraid of it, even in exile, and thought it would be a violent failure. Besides, you have 3 Million + enchufados who work directly for the Dictatorship, plus Millions more whose JOBS depend on the Government, one way or another, since the corruption is so pervasive, and the private industry has been crushed.

      People thought about it twice, after the 40+ dead in 2014, and the risk of losing their jobs for being accused by “sapos” of the regime.

      Plus the March was called by a Jailed leader, and even the opposition was no completely united. What else can you expect from our desolated people in such circumstances?

      So OF COURSE it was a huge success.



    • Sadly, the bull is carrying a cartload of banderillas since AD 2000. Some of us are staring to think that banderillas are useless.


    • Si usted cree que con banderillas se mata a un toro, es que usted nunca ha ido ni sabe nada de toros.


  10. And what were the goals? FREEDOM, to bring back Democracy above all. To Knock off the Dictatorship, and call for Elections.More so than about political prisoners.

    Huge Marches like that, in all major cities of the country go a long way in that direction. People know now they still have leaders, there’s a renewed sense of Purpose, for the 80% of the population who oppose the Regime, new Leaders have emerge, other Traitors, wimps and Crooks, even within the MUD have been identified and will be isolated.

    Now the Dictators have much more pressure to call for the elections, and people feel they have much more power to change things, if only by watching the aerial pictures of the Huge crowds out there. Of course some prisoners will have to be released, they cannot let LL and Ceballos die. And the Ladies, Tintori, MCM, Ceballos, have consolidated their status as National Heroines, that’s also very important too. Leadership.

    What else do you want from the oppressed, Bribed, dependent, desperate Venezuelans, in such dire circumstances? Just watch now how the Protests and Marches and Huelgas Multiply every week. Transportation in Tachira shut down yesterday. Entire City. If there were 150 Protests last year, there will be 1000 this year.

    Cretins. You know who you are. Escualidos, the minority of blind fools.


    • “Escualidos”

      The E-word might get you a free remodel of your face bones and also a free removal of a couple of dental pieces, dude, don’t fall in the same level of filth using their disgusting insults to try to hit a nerve, because some people would gladly to answer you with their fist.


        • ‘Palante is part of the Chávez generation. That is why he uses their language.

          Although he confesses to oppose the regime he actually embraced its values and manners.


          • He also doesn’t seem aware of the fact that there are no prescription meds in Venezuela…

            Sadly, he’s not the only person who gladly descends to the same level of filth that chavismo has tried to burn into people’s heads since castro was trying to invade Venezuela in the 60s.

            And to Palante: Remember, dude, the enemy is the regime, not the venezuelans, and part of that is refusing to use their language or even naming their rotting totem.


  11. i side with JC on this one. Critizicing action when the alternative is passive submmissive attrition to the cuban model has to come from a cretin.
    If you think this marcha was not succesufull you do not understand inertia and the laws of physics!

    The social movement needs to be awaken from its anomic state and every leader should paly a part.
    electons yes, demostration od political strenght yes, resitencia yes.

    …O como creen que se va ha construir una nueva venezuela, esperando?


  12. Folks, folks, we have to remember what’s the most important thing here: The enemy is the regime, every thing people can do to pressure and make it fail benefits us.


  13. Pretty strong emotions here. The “concentraciones”, more than “marches”, were successful, not resoundingly so, and MAY have involved 200m nationally.. True, this is not a big % of total population, nor do they compare to the maybe 1mm marching to Miraflores on 4/11, but they do show that the mostly upper-class Oppo is not dead yet, in spite of 1.5mm of them having emigrated in the past 10 years. These concentraciones were generally not accompanied by the lower classes, partly because the Govt. threatened to visit house-to-house in downscale areas to “campaign”, and partly because (“El Nacional”, Radio Caracas excepted) virtually NO audiovisual medium gave ANY coverage to the concentraciones, pre, during, or post. I don’t see the Govt. intimidated by these events, and believe that LL/DC had better accept Arria’s offered way out by stopping their hunger strikes because “they will be needed later”, which they will be. Also, the Govt. may finally announce the date of Parliamentary elections as a way out of the hunger strikes, since they don’t want a hunger strike health crisis with international repercussions on their hands, but I don’t expect the release of political prisoners anytime soon.


    • “but they do show that the mostly upper-class Oppo is not dead yet, in spite of 1.5mm of them having emigrated in the past 10 years.”

      A low bar for success. If that is the goal, to get out your ultra-hard-core voters, the march was a relative success.

      Only, the real goal is to become the government. For that it is necessary to build a big majority, which in Venezuela implies getting the poor on your side.

      If you don’t get that after 16 years, probably politics is not your thing.

      This march accomplished something very well: to show the opposition can’t even use what it has to attack the government.


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