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The silence of de lambs

By Luis Manuel Aguana

Intervention in the Pío Tamayo Chair at the UCV on March 9, 2020

Once again I thank the Pío Tamayo Chair and Prof. Agustín Blanco Muñoz for the invitation to debate the issues that gravitate to the country. In this opportunity to discuss one of the magnitude of the one raised on this occasion is by no means easy. To answer a question like this, "ELECTORAL NEGOTIATION TO MAINTAIN OR DEFEAT "THE USURPATION"? implies from the outset having assumed a position in relation to what the official Venezuelan opposition is doing with the mandate given to Juan Guaidó Márquez on January 23, 2019.

And in that my position has been clear from the very moment they decided to abandon the mantra of the Cessation of Usurpation in the National Assembly to go to elections with the regime, on October 1, 2019, with the approval of the famous Integral Route, euphemistically called "Agreement for the integral political route proposed to the country that allows free and transparent elections as a way out of the crisis experienced by Venezuelans and the reinstitutionalization of the country" (see Agreement in Spanish in https://twitter.com/AsambleaVE/status/1179138987086286848?s=08). You can read my note of October 2 on my blog ICTs and Human Rights entitled "Last stop, the direct exercise of sovereignty" (ver https://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_46.html).

That new agreement led to the trashing of the Statute governing the Transition approved on February 5, 2019, which is why I am still surprised that Venezuelans are still wondering whether or not Guaidó and the MUD-Broad Front will go to elections with the regime. Of course they will! That has already been decided on October 1, 2019. This new agreement that allows elections with Maduro in power marked a different route than the one officially decided on January 23. The majority parties of the National Assembly decided to go to elections this year with the regime.

So the question is not whether the "electoral negotiation is to maintain or to defeat "the usurpation". Usurpation" is not defeated by going to elections with the regime under its conditions, as is indeed happening since they set up the Preliminary Commission of 11 deputies, integrating it with deputies from the PSUV who had lost their status as such by leaving their posts. The succession of subsequent events shows that the negotiation is on track, continuing with the parity appointment of the Electoral Nominations Committee in charge of appointing the new Rectors of the CNE. Nobody understands that 50-50 if the official opposition is the majority in the National Assembly. The cherry on top of that cake will be put by both "National Assemblies", the one in Parra and the one in Guaidó, to designate those Rectors already negotiated with Maduro's regime, with the approval of the President in charge, although he continues to insist strangely that "he will not go to elections until Maduro leaves". He has not denied a single step towards the formation of that CNE negotiated by his second Vice-President, Stalin Gonzalez.
I think some of us in Venezuela see ourselves as Agent Clarice Starling in the extraordinary film "The Silence of the Lambs", better known as the "Silence of the Innocents" in Spanish America, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster. For those who remember that extraordinary film from 1991, the character starring Foster, Agent Starling, tells how as a child she hears the lambs on her uncle's farm crying and as they approach she notices that they are being slaughtered. In an attempt to save them she opened the doors for them to escape and they did not move, and continued to cry, frozen in fear. She in her desperation decides to at least save one and runs away with it until they catch her. That is exactly what is happening with the Venezuelans to this day. We go again and again to the electoral slaughterhouse, and even if someone opens the door for us we stay there waiting for our throats to be cut. And until the herd moves, we will continue to hear the lambs crying until this nightmare is over.

In these terms the Chair's response is obvious: the negotiation is to maintain the famous usurpation of the mantra. But that does not solve the problem for us. The question should be because Venezuelans, and politicians as a consequence, continue to think that an electoral negotiation with the regime will change the very serious state of affairs in the country, in which the entire planet agrees that there is a narco-criminal regime in power that has corrupted the opposition spaces to the point that some of us think that popular sovereignty should be called upon to decide what should be done with it.

We Venezuelans reject confrontation. And remembering an analysis I made after the regional elections of December 2013, that "non-confrontation" syndrome I once explained, in relation to Elena Granell's studies at the IESA (see in Spanish Palabreo de la condición perdida, in http://ticsddhh.blogspot.com/2013/03/palabreo-de-la-condicion-perdida.html), The Venezuelan avoided confrontation at all events, with the tendency to slip away, not to face the problems, to think that doing nothing is a decision. And in fact it is. Doing nothing in the face of problems is indeed a decision. However, experience indicates that most of the time it turns out to be the worst decision.

We certainly don't like to confront. To quote Granell, "Our culture tends not to teach or reinforce assertiveness, i.e. the right that people have and should exercise to put forward their point of view, without disrespecting that of the opponent. To be assertive means to say what one thinks with certainty, without aggressiveness and with great respect for the opinion of another who may be contrary, and not to inhibit oneself from giving the appropriate response even when we believe that it will not be well received".1]

In a culture where the leaderships make use of that condition of the population for their benefit, it is clear that the whole country will behave like the lambs of Agent Starling. I was very struck by the fact that former Colombian Senator Piedad Córdova also realized this in a controversial television program in her country, and that I reviewed it in a note I published a few days ago, where she confesses the following: "This is a very solid team (referring to Maduro and his people), very Venezuelan I feel that they are very happy working with the opposition. The opposition has a great opportunity. You know what the most important thing is? That they don't kill each other. It's very different from us..." (see in Spanish Entrevista a Piedad Córdoba, in https://youtu.be/lLLkyKOADxY, min 14:30). In this confession by the regime's collaborator, the reality of what is happening to us is starkly exposed. A criminal regime very happy to work with its collaborators and an official opposition very happy to be given the opportunity to do so. Any other people would be killing themselves with the barbarities that are happening in Venezuela.

But assuming that this condition of the Venezuelan is positive, and that we believe in the solution of conflicts in a peaceful way, I would ask myself why not rather use that to our advantage and not to coincide with those who submit us by force? Why enter a field where the regime not only has an advantage over us because they are armed and they are willing to use those weapons against us, but because being the majority we could manage to change the course of political events in our favor.

And that brings me to the other questions of the Chair: "What is this possible project of measuring forces looking for? A march of the oppositions through the center of Caracas in the middle of the dictatorship-usurpation?" Answer: They are looking for the same thing as 2014 in a new attempt to unleash "something" in a people that structurally does not confront, when that solution, which occurred in 2002 without confrontation, they themselves did not know what to do with it when the military did have the decency to expel an assassin from power. It will not happen with those Armed Forces that are no longer the same and are managed by foreigners, and even less with 5 million people absent from our midst.

If the official opposition really sought to remove Maduro from power and not live with his regime, the actions would be different. I have the unpleasant impression that Guaidó is hiding something from the country with his blind call to the streets. And that call is exactly the same case of taking lambs to a slaughterhouse without telling them what will happen. He's playing on the hard line of confrontation, hoping that maybe it will trigger events that will lead the regime to its abrupt exit from power. I would like to believe that he has the guarantees for that, but in politics those guarantees do not exist. He returns to the same thing of 2014 when Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado called for "The Exit" but now with less force in the streets. López and Guaidó still believe in that story that continues to cost us lives.

The politicians in charge need to be real politicians. Unfortunately they did not learn anything else after leaving the Student Movement, when they fell into the hands of the most stale and decomposed of the traditional official opposition, used to making irresponsible use of the responsibility they have. We desperately need Statesmen, with a capital "S", leaders of peoples, who can use that political muscle of a society tired of so much opposition corruption and regime abuse, combined with the formal force that can be taken from the International Community. There is a condition for using the force of nations to remove a regime such as the one that oppresses Venezuela. Has this path been followed? Has Juan Guaido and his interim government met in an Arria Formula to discuss the probable use of a multinational force in Venezuela with the United Nations Security Council? Obviously not, even though it was proposed by the inventor of that Formula himself, former Ambassador Diego Arria, during his recent visit to the United States.

From ANCO we have proposed to use the voice of the Venezuelan people in Consultation as a trigger to go down this road of the formal use of force against these criminals who are scourging our country. This cannot be considered a "military invasion" as this action is incorrectly labeled, it is the use of a prerogative that we Venezuelans have and that internationally is called Self-Determination of the Peoples. And it is not "a hope" as one of the questions for today of this Chair says. It would be a reality if we were to work seriously for it, not by taking people out into the streets to continue killing them. The politicians in Venezuela have changed the historical reality. It wasn't that the people took to the streets to remove the dictator Pérez Jiménez. The people took to the streets after - not before - and after those who had to do their job actually did it. It is up to the politicians to take responsibility for that and for us to support them, not the other way around.

To the questions of the Chair: "Will the "peaceful-electoral" way then be imposed, or will the line of ending usurpation by force still be alive, as was seen in 2019? Will the same 2019 scheme of the "humanitarian war", the attempted coup, the use of members of the FANB for subversive purposes be applied?" There is an answer: The electoral route or the attempted coup d'état of the FANB will be imposed as long as civil society follows its plan of lambs in the slaughterhouse and does not civically impose a new route on those who lead the process. It cannot continue in the plan of simple spectator. We will continue in the same way as long as the lambs remain silent because they have already been killed...

Thank you very much...

Caracas, March 9, 2020

Email: luismanuel.aguana@gmail.com
Twitter:@laguana

[1] “Managing culture for success, Challenges and opportunities in Venezuela”, Granell, Garaway y Malpica, Ediciones IESA 1997, Págs. 86-87.

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