Reports from Cuba’s Venezuela: Lead, follow, or get out of the way

Juan Cristobal Nagel in Caracas Chronicles:

Lead, follow, or get out of the way

Henrique Capriles

Henrique Capriles continues to confound observers. His latest?

This process of disqualifying [political rivals] is hurting the opposition, because it is opening wounds that will be very difficult to heal. I have never said that we have to wait until 2019; find the place where I said that. Don’t start creating opinions like these because you may think you hurt me, but you strengthen the government.

We realize that keeping the cycle of he-said-she-saids really isn’t helpful. But how to hold back when we get baited like that?

Capriles keeps saying that what we have to focus on is naming a new electoral board. That sounds fine and dandy, but … how exactly is negotiating a new token electoral judge (remember Sobella Mejías?) going to help us have clean elections when they announce die-hard chavistas such as Iris Varela or Pedro Carreño to head the CNE? Are there any signals, any at all, that the government is willing to compromise on this?

I have been the first to argue that securing a credible CNE would be a giant step towards overcoming Venezuela’s malaise. But the time to negotiate for that was when you had some momentum from street protests, when the government was struggling to cope with the energy of the student movement.

During that time, Capriles was busy sending de-mobilizing messages, agreeing to participate in a dialogue that played right into the divide-and-conquer strategy the government has been banking on all along.

Criticizing the lack of unity in the opposition while suggesting that Maria Corina Machado wants to divide the opposition so that she can remain deputy for Baruta is a bit like hearing Luis Suárez complain about Chiellini’s biting. And let’s not even talk about the statement that criticizing him benefits the government: an argument straight out of the SIBCI war-chest.

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