Whose interest is it in for the opposition not to take part in elections? There is only one answer: Nicolas Maduro and his mafia.
By Fernando Mires (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – Two people never tell how something happened in the exact same way. One person accentuates certain facts, the other person accentuates others. Therefore, I am going to go out on a limb and say the following: the way a story is told says more about the people telling the story than about what actually happened in the first place.
Such is even more so when it happens in situations where ideological viewpoints, opposing experiences, different backgrounds take precedence. This explains why conclusions that derive from the story about the event are not only different, but also, antagonistic. This is the reason why the huge fraud perpetrated by the Venezuelan National Electoral Council (CNE) on July 30th (30/J) has been interpreted in many different ways by different sectors within the opposition, in and outside the MUD coalition.
To summarize: there are three opinion groups
According to the first group, the mega-fraud committed by the dictatorship on 30/J has buried the electoral channel which the majority of the opposition has assumed ever since 2006 (Rosales’ candidacy) and in 2007 (Chavez’s plebiscite), a channel which interrupted arbitrary alternatives (Carmona and the coup, oil workers’ strikes, abstentionism) thereby defending the liberal and Chavista 1999 Constitution.
According to the second group, the grotesque fraud made clear and proven by the voting machine company Smartmatic’s revelations, has shown that elections cannot be carried out under the CNE’s charge, led by Tibisay Lucena (after Diosdado and Maduro, the most hated person in Venezuela). This group’s prevailing tendency is: I would vote, but not with this CNE in charge of the election.
A third group considers taking part in regional elections, which will eventually take place in December, necessary because if they don’t, this would mean handing Maduro 23 governorships on a platter and, plus, it would also facilitate making the utopia of any dictatorship a reality, namely: there are elections, but without participation from the opposition (in true Cuban style).
In the first group, there is very weak communication with the second group and almost none with the third group. These are more cultural rather than political sectors, who are very emotional and opposed to debate, followers of messianic leaders whose rhetoric is based on honor codes which blinds them. The media presence of this group is much greater than its real inclusion in society, which is why they manage to exercise strong pressure within the MUD on certain occasions. These are the people pronouncing Maduro leave now, from the march without end, from zero hour, those from don’t mess with my deceased, voting is treason, and those from the transition government with embassies in exile (!).
So, the main debate is only happening between groups 2 and 3. Even though those from group 2 agree with those from group 1 about it being impossible to attend elections without legitimizing the regime after the 30/J fraud, many of them do agree with voting, provided that the CNE is restructured (something which is hard to do under Maduro). Smartmatic’s revelations would apparently confirm this stance. Those from group 3, however, have a different interpretation of the same events.
According to group 3, this CNE is exactly the same CNE that existed on 6D in 2015 (when the opposition won a majority of the National Assembly). Group 2 also believes it is the same institution but today it’s a different situation to the one in 2015 as the dictatorship is open about and acknowledged as such. Those from group 3 claim that this is precisely why they need to take part in the elections as the opposite would mean legitimizing the dictatorship. Those from group 2 claim that electoral participation would mean legitimizing the dictatorship. The debate seems to be never-ending. Nevertheless, this could be settled with just one question: Whose interest is it in for the opposition not to take part in elections? There is only one answer: In Maduro and his mafia’s interest.
If the opposition doesn’t take part in the elections, Maduro wouldn’t find himself driven to get rid of them. Then, those from group 2 will ask, why do we need to take part in elections if Maduro is just going to suppress them and if he doesn’t do that, then he won’t recognize them? Let’s just imagine this were the case. In this case, Maduro would come to heads again with the law and this would add a few more reasons for the loss of his legitimacy both nationally and internationally. However, with regard to this, professor Juan Carlos Soza Azpurua accurately points out the fact that Maduro’s dictatorship isn’t interested in being legitimate as all they need is force.
Mr. Soza is right. But, only to a certain degree. It isn’t convenient for any dictatorship, not even Maduro’s, to increase their level of illegitimacy, even more so if this illegitimacy threatens to break its ranks. Thanks to this progressive illegitimacy, Chavism is falling apart from the inside. If this process continues to expand – and stealing the elections again would increase this considerably – it could be the final blow that the dictatorship needs to leave this world. It’s a hypothesis. Take what you want from it. The important thing here is that Maduro doesn’t want the opposition to take part in the elections. And well, we have to remember one of the basic premises of politics here. It says: Don’t ever do what your enemy wants you to. However, those in group 1 and a part of those in group 2 insist on doing what Maduro wants them to. They are falling into the trap. This is the trap.
Where is the trap?
In the 30/J fraud itself, which has been reconfirmed by Smartmatic /Reuter.
Who didn’t know that after the 7 and a half million votes in the opposition referendum 2 weeks earlier, Maduro was going to order Lucena to invent at least 8 million? They set the bar really high, but they crossed it all the same committing a terrible fraud. There are two interpretations about this. One is positive, the other not so much.
The positive interpretation says: the fraud was so unbelievably outrageous that the dictatorship has made itself illegitimate once and for all in the world’s eyes. And even though it seems incredible, I share Professor Soza’s opinion. The dictatorship doesn’t give a damn about international opinion. The important thing for them was to exceed the opposition vote by any means possible. From a dictator’s point of view, nothing else could have been done. If I had been a dictator, I would have done the same thing.
But there’s another interpretation which isn’t so positive. This interpretation says: the dictatorship wanted to show itself being openly fraudulent. That was the only way that the opposition wouldn’t dare to compare the votes. Well, that’s exactly where the trap lies. Maduro is trying to demoralize the opposition with the threat of fraud and in doing this, is trying to distance them from all elections, the ones that this opposition could win more specifically. In other words: the more visible the fraud, the more skeptical citizens would be to take part in elections. It’s a double victory for the dictator. On the one hand, it holds elections and gets all the votes. On the other hand, it smears elections without the opposition having any other alternative channel to fight. A good deal.
Maduro’s dictatorship and his mafia are, like any dictatorship, anti-electoral. But, between getting rid of elections and holding elections like Cuba does, that is to say, without the opposition, it obviously prefers the second option. The problem here is that they really could do this thanks to the help that a part of the opposition is giving them (groups 1 and 2).
The opposition’s political duty – if they don’t want to fall into the trap put out by the dictatorship – is to go right to the regional elections, hold their positions and fight the system again. But, they have to go and win them like they won them on 6-D in 2015. People in group 2 will say: these are different times to 6-D. That isn’t true. It’s the same dictatorship, it’s still Maduro, it’s the same CNE and it’s the same opposition (even larger than in 2015).
Group 3’s position is supported by three reasons. One practical, one historic and another political. The logic behind the practical reason teaches us that every time the opposition goes to elections, sits down at roundtables, cross-checks vote after vote from the first to the last hour, it has favorable results. The logic behind the historic reason teaches us that the opposition’s greatest successes have been won in the electoral field and not in any other. The logic behind the political reason teaches us that popular movements have never been more intense than when they are built around elections. Yes, elections.
Wasn’t the fight for the recall referendum an electoral struggle? Wasn’t the fight for regional elections, before Maduro stole them, an electoral struggle? Doesn’t anybody remember the long pilgrimages to collect signatures which the sadistic Lucena made citizens longing to vote go on? Wasn’t it social unrest that began in April 2017 a sign that the Venezuelan people were ready to give everything they could to defend the National Assembly, which they elected in with their votes?
Likewise, didn’t the greatest street protests rise up in defense of universal suffrage, which had been run over by a Constituent Assembly which Maduro’s supporters invented with the sole objective of avoiding regional elections? Didn’t the opposition outline its political stance as democratic, peaceful, constitutional and ELECTORAL? And after all of this, now, when the chance to flood Venezuela with anti-dictatorship votes is here, the usual people, those in groups 1 and 2, are trying to move backwards, falling into the trap set out by the dictatorship.
No. From a historic point of view, this isn’t about changing the path like those in groups 1 and 2 argue. On the contrary, it’s about reaffirming the path. The opposition – or its vast majority – is constitutional because it’s electoral and it’s electoral because it is constitutional. Those who are trying to change the path are those who want to close the electoral channel without giving any other option, thereby falling into the trap that Maduro put out for them.
Let’s be frank about this for once and for all. The opposition only has three alternatives: 1) Armed struggle, which it isn’t prepared for. 2) Dreaming about a divine general, or about a marine invasion commanded by Trump. 3) Elections, which they know the best, which worries Maduro the most.
There might be a fourth alternative: going on Twitter and insulting parliament members and MUD candidates and everyone who we supports them. I wouldn’t recommend this one.