[News] Venezuela - Dialogue or Coups

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Feb 19 19:00:16 EST 2014


  Dialogue or Coups

<http://venezuelanalysis.com/printmail/10369>http://venezuelanalysis.com/analysis/10369
<http://venezuelanalysis.com/print/10369>

February 19th 2014

The main question in Venezuela isn't about any lack of democracy in this 
country, nor restrictions on freedom of expression.

Regarding the supposed "democratic deficit of the Venezuelan regime", 
the facts speak for themselves. Since 1998 there have been four national 
plebiscites, four presidential elections, and eleven parliamentary, 
regional, and municipal elections. Venezuela is the Latin American 
country with the highest number of elections and it also has an 
automatic electoral system (much more modern than Chile's one), 
described 
<http://www.globalatlanta.com/article/25788/carter-praises-venezuela-scolds-us-on-electoral-processes> 
by Jimmy Carter, who has observed 92 elections in all continents, as 
"the best system in the world".

Then on the second argument that is being constantly repeated, the 
supposed lack of freedom of expression and press in Venezuela, once 
again the numbers speak for themselves. 80% of the media is private. The 
three national newspapers (El Universal, El Nacional and Ultimos 
Noticias) are opposed to the government, especially the first two, and 
they bring together 90% of the readership. Of the four television 
channels with national coverage, three of them (Venevision, Globovision, 
and Televen) are opposition, and likewise bring together 90% of the 
audience, according to information provided by the company AGB. In that 
sense, and according to the criteria of the United Nations, freedom of 
information in Venezuela is, without a doubt, greater and better than in 
Chile, as in the Caribbean country the diversity of property, the 
diversity of types of media (public, commercial, community) and of 
discourse -- which are the three main criteria that UNESCO measures -- 
is superior to Chile. Anyone who objectively compares, that is, with 
data (indicators, measurements, scales, etc), the Chilean media reality 
with the Venezuelan one, will see that our country [Chile] is in a much 
more precarious situation and not very democratic.

What is currently at stake is the type of opposition that the Venezuelan 
right wing (grouped into the MUD) will be over the next few years. What 
relation the MUD have with the government of President Maduro after the 
elections in December, is not at all clear yet, and that has provoked 
internal tensions that explain, largely, the violent mobilisations over 
the last few days.

To understand the current situation it's important to remember that ten 
weeks ago (8 December), /Chavismo/ achieved a strong electoral victory 
in the municipal elections. Despite a voluntary vote and the historical 
tendency of abstention in local elections, there was 60% participation. 
Chavismo got 10 percentage points more votes than the MUD and won 242 
mayoralties, while the right got 75 mayoralties. These unexpected 
results for the opposition meant the failure of their strategy that 
begun in April 2013, of not recognising the legitimacy of President 
Nicolas Maduro.

The MUD didn't manage to dispute electoral hegemony, or even question 
the legitimacy of the government, as they had made this event a 
plebiscite and they clearly lost it.

Shortly after this election President Maduro convoked all the mayors of 
the opposition to a dialogue in the presidential palace, two times. Even 
the right wing leader, Henrique Capriles, governor of Miranda state, 
showed up at the second meeting, and he and Maduro shook hands and the 
photo was passed around the whole world. This handshake symbolised a 
mutual recognition of each other, in that way ending the strategy of 
questioning legitimacy of the president, a strategy that Capriles 
himself had promoted and lead in 2013.

The possibility of starting a new and unprecedented phase of 
opposition-government dialogue remained. Actually, the majority of 
opposition mayors and governors had begun dialogue, participating in, 
for example, the mission for citizen security, or coordinating 
activities with the internal affairs minister, involving themselves in 
quadrants as part of the Secure Homeland Plan. All this mutual effort of 
dialogue and coming together provoked tensions with the far right wing 
of the MUD that isn't open to dialogue, nor to accepting the fact that 
the Venezuelan people vote in their majority, again and again, in favour 
of a government which questions the capitalist model.

It's about a similar situation that the Christian Democratic Party faced 
during the government of Salvador Allende. On the inside, the positions 
in favour of dialogue with president Allende (lead by Tomic and 
Leigthon) clashed with those who openly supported a coup style exit 
(lead by Aylwin and Frei).

In that sense, what we are seeing today is largely the manifestation of 
an internal problem of the Venezuelan opposition whose most extreme 
wing, with the clear support of the United States and the media chains, 
is trying to make any attempt to build a new relationship between the 
opposition and the government fail. Because in a year like this, which, 
unusually, is a year without elections, the scenario for this new 
relationship was very favourable.

/Pedro Santander is the head of the Communication Observatory, 
Pontificial Catholic University of Valparaiso, Chile./

/Translated for Venezuelanalysis by Tamara Pearson./
-- 
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