September 9, 2009

Crabs in a bucket

Juan Cristóbal says: - It's hard to understate the disarray in Venezuela's multi-colored, multi-generational opposition movement. The tsunami of legislation the government has barraged us with have left people with a sense of deja funk, a feeling that we should just aflojar las nalgas and resign ourselves to giving up what little civil liberties we have.

Ideas come and go, but none of them seem to find any traction, in part because the people proposing them are not committed to the idea nor to their own message.

Rummaging through the Internet, I found this interesting transcript of an online chat Leopoldo López held with readers of Noticias 24. What I liked about it is how disciplined it seems, how Leopoldo continues to press his case for primaries as the only path to an organized, legitimate opposition movement.

Leopoldo remains on message throughout, a welcome development for opposition politicians. He says winning the Assembly is the strategic goal, and kudos for framing it this way. In order to achieve that, we need a unity roster- anyone who doubts that hasn't read the new Electoral Law. The only way to achieve unity is to hold primaries. Backroom dealings in Caracas will not work because - well, because they've never worked. C follows B follows A.

It's really quite simple. Primaries have the added benefit of bringing people into the decision-making process, an inclusion that is severely lacking on the other side of the trenches. Most importantly, there is no real reason not to do it. It's the only way to get the opposition movement we need - a well-funded national organization with credible leaders able to connect with people.

In his words, we need to stop behaving like "crabs in a bucket," bringing down the lonely crab trying to climb out. And yet, the curious thing about his proposal isn't that people are tearing it down, it's that nobody seems to be willing to address it. Somehow, Leopoldo is being treated as some random unemployed citizen, muttering to himself in a corner in Plaza Francia. El loquito, pues.

López should not be underestimated. He may be out of a job, but like it or not, he's one of the opposition's most popular figures. It's high time to take this proposal seriously, and if there are reasons out there not to do it, then they should be debated. Ignoring this discussion only perpetuates the cycle where Chávez sets the agenda. It only presages our defeat.

Next year's Assembly elections are crucial, and unless the opposition manages to take it, it will perfectly predict the outcome of the presidential election of 2012. Either we get to work, or we're looking at eight more years of this, at least. The stakes couldn't be higher, and yet our leaders insist on ignoring the best idea out there.