Lessons from the September 1 Protest Rally in Venezuela

The reality of Venezuela demanded a recall referendum as the path to be followed, since a constitutional amendment was blocked by the judges of the Government making up the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice.

Unity is vital for the opposition. This is a truism, although it seems that some people are not convinced of this.

The best demonstration of its goodness is the result of a parliamentary election held on December 6 of last year, but paradoxically after this triumph unity was affected and the Bureau of the Democratic Unity (MUD) has lost political effectiveness throughout the past eight months.

The election of the President of the National Assembly was a key moment. From that moment the personal agendas of some were placed above the indispensable unity. There are wounds yet to heal from that situation.

The differences with respect to the way on how to remove Nicolás Maduro from the Presidency of the Republic were so evident that on one occasion the MUD presented four alternatives, all of them deemed valid and thought up for achieving such objective. It was one of those kind of "Solomonic" solutions that ended up being totally ineffective and rather counterproductive.

However, the reality of Venezuela demanded a recall referendum as the path to be followed, since a constitutional amendment was blocked by the judges of the Government making up the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice.

The resignation of the President lost strength when the own Maduro got tired of ruling it out and the possibility of a Constituent Assembly was also left side.

These differences led to a waste of precious time and to give the Government and its directors at the National Electoral Council (CNE) excuses to say that a request to hold the referendum this year was made late, something that is untrue.

In order to make the CNE accept to deliver the format for the collection of signatures for the referendum petition and for the day to validate each one of them, as well as to demand the final date to collect 20% of signatures from voters requesting the referendum, some mobilizations that had little echo among the population were promoted.

Most of those calls were made by some leaders of the MUD in an individual way, without taking into account other members of the coalition as a whole. Some of them behaved like caudillos from the 19th century pretending to impose their point of view without consulting anybody, not even with their own fellow party members. It was a very similar behavior to that of the late Hugo Chávez.

Good judgment seems to be back, though, and fruits are being reaped already.

The call for the September 1 march also received criticism, particularly for having been held well in advance, but its success is already evident. The optimism generated throughout the country is a victory for the democratic sectors.

The Government reaction is a proof of what we are saying here. Repression has been on the rise, attempts to generate fear in the population are repeated every day, arbitrary detentions and without foundation are the order of the day, the flight of all types of aircraft is prohibited so the world does not realize about the magnitude of the call, but the outcome is the opposite of the one expected by the Maduro government.

We wrote this editorial before September 1, a reason for which we do not know if our predictions were accurate, but what has been demonstrated again is that democratic sectors must act with unity of approach, since success is guaranteed.

We would like to make a call to those involved in the protest rally to hold it in a peaceful manner, as requested by the leaders of the MUD.

It is necessary to avoid provocations and violence, two things that are only useful for the Government.

New struggles will emerge after this September 1. We are not dealing with a democratic government.

It lost that status a long time ago, but we strongly believe that the right way out of it should be constitutional, peaceful, democratic and electoral as proposed by the MUD. So be it.

Laht | Tal Cual

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