By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — After failed attempts to reach a political agreement with Chavistas at a meeting recently held in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela’s opposition has decided to not take part in the presidential election that is going to be held on May 20th. Nevertheless, two opposition candidates have put themselves forward, moving away from the opposition’s general consensus to abstain, whose mission of delegitimizing the process because of a lack of opponents is now being threatened.
The main candidate of those is Henri Falcon, who recently separated from the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition, which is now going by the Broad Front (Frente Amplio) name.
According to Falcon’s own words, he was a Chavez supporter while he believed in Chavism but he knew when to separate himself from the movement when he didn’t agree with the path it was taking. He continues to share common views with the MUD but he doesn’t agree with its close ties with the US government or with not taking part in these presidential elections.
Falcon is afraid of the same thing the rest of the opposition is, but he believes not participating is far worse when the majority of the Venezuelan people want to go to the polls. Of course, he has a right to have different ideas, although many democrats (?) don’t understand this. They see him as an opportunity to beat Maduro if things get out of hand for the over-confident tyrant or to dismiss him as a dictator if he crudely rigs the elections or invents something to usurp power with the Army’s help.
Right now, the MUD and OAS are speaking out against him, as Almagro (the OAS’ Secretary-General) has said himself. I believe that this only displays discourtesy and a questionable democratic spirit. The opposition is accusing Falcon of being a two-faced Chavista, a kind of shill taking part so that Maduro comes out winning, making an impression and is legitimized. Even Almagro himself has recently said that he is a piece of hay that fell from the stack by itself, which he said is good for the MUD, and he had been recommending this for quite a while.
A good example of the interference an official has had in the national affairs of a country, who should instead be committed to upholding ethics and democracy at the same time. I believe that Almagro has crossed the line, which doesn’t mean to say that I disapprove of his solidarity and support of a democratic way forward for Venezuela.
Marti once wisely said:
“… the heart of the matter is to not compromise sublime Justice by mistaken or excessive means of asking for it.”
He also said:
“… elections, even when violated, are still useful because the person who violates them ends up being the thief with their reputation flawed.”
I believe the strategy being adopted by the MUD and Almagro, (who shouldn’t be getting involved and giving his own opinion), is less intelligent and further off the mark than Falcon’s own. However, if the idea of not taking part in the elections was a poor one, even with them being afraid of fraud and with the bitter taste of having to receive their calls from an illegal and illegitimate Constituent Assembly, the blunder of attacking Falcon is far worse. Both of these attitudes only benefit Maduro and give substance to opportunistic and partial accusations.
The best strategy for Venezuela’s opposition today, and perhaps the best hope for this country in the short run, would be to support Falcon immediately. No matter how many doubts they have about the former Chavez supporter, whether his arguments are valid or not, him winning is always going to better than Maduro winning.
I will even go so far to say that Venezuela needs a president like Falcon right now, from the center. Not a Maduro engorged with tyrannical manners or a Capriles or Ramos Allup from the Right, with their hearts full of resentment for Chavista abuses. Jumping from one end of the political spectrum to the other in such a polarized country would be dangerous and counter-productive.
Not supporting Falcon and continuing to criticize him and the useless call to ignore the elections, is the biggest political blunder in Latin America this century. It only benefits Maduro and would perpetuate his power. On the other hand, as it’s already too late to take part, they need to summon their electoral bases to support Falcon and prevent Maduro from legitimizing another six years in office.
Because with “Chavez’s son”, there surely won’t be any more rights to revoke him and he might eliminate this right from the new Constitution. And if they leave him in power for another term, he will completely grab hold of the Venezuelan people by the nose with their “homeland cards” and other inventions, at the risk of dying of starvation.
Today, Maduro and Chavez supporters are the worst thing for Venezuela because they have ended up sticking their foot the most in everything they fought against: the traditional two party pacts, neoliberalism, resignation, corruption. You’d have to be blind not to see it. However, they aren’t the only scourge in Venezuela and not every opponent is automatically an angel. I empathize with Falcon and I liked his arguments more than those made by the Right in the MUD, who by the way, I don’t feel have the potential to fix this country’s problems.
The vilified candidate was a Chavez supporter when it seemed a good thing to be and he separated himself from the movement in time. He also joined the MUD for the sake of creating a common front against the disaster and he had great influence as the Chief Campaign Officer of Henrique Capriles who in 2013 nearly took the presidency against Maduro.
Now, Falcon is brave enough to take an independent stand and move away from the script, and he’s doing this respectfully. Time will tell if he is or isn’t what he says or seems, but until then, he’s the best option and only hope Venezuela has right now.