Friday, March 13, 2015

Using anti-imperialism against the internal enemy

The day before the announcement of recent sanctions and the ensuing anti-imperialist reaction, I made this comment to a question by the Latin American Advisor:

Q: The government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro recently arrested Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma over accusations of involvement in a coup plot and has also sought to remove legislator Julio Borges from his seat, moves critics have said are the latest in a series of illegal attempts to silence opposition leaders. What is the state of the opposition in Venezuela today, and how are the government’s actions affecting its strategy? Will the opposition be able to capitalize on Maduro’s low popularity, which currently sits at about 20 percent, in parliamentary elections that are expected to take place later this year?

A: Hugo Pérez Hernáiz, professor of sociology at the Universidad Central de Venezuela: “If the opposition wants to capitalize on the government’s low popularity and win the next legislative elections, it will have to overcome several hurdles. First, the opposition has to sort out its internal differences between its radical and ‘electoral’ factions. Recent announcements from the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) of successful negotiations for the primaries and designated candidates are a good sign, but not the end of the story, as many opposition supporters could heed abstentionist calls regularly made through social media. Second, the opposition will face a government that will use its hold on most of the local media to frame the elections, not as a struggle between a powerful government and a battered opposition, but rather as an epic battle of a revolutionary nationalist movement against an imperial power and its local lackeys. Anti-imperialism will probably resonate most with the hard-core Chavista base and not among general voters, but the government could use the anti-imperialist rhetoric to justify further crackdowns on the opposition. For example, by politically inhibiting or arresting key opposition leaders, even candidates for the Assembly, the opposition’s electoral bid could be significantly weakened and the radical abstentionist faction strengthened. And last, a pre-elections surprise by the government, such as last year’s dacazo before the regional elections, cannot be ruled out.”

Yesterday the president of the National Assembly Diosdado Cabello had this to say at a political rally:

“We are going to send a message to the Venezuelan opposition: the fatherland [Patria] is being threatened. Any Venezuelan unwilling to defend the fatherland is surely willing to be a traitor, is surely willing to be an enemy, is surely willing to be an evil doer [malinche], and as such, he must be treated. The fatherland must be defended.”

President Maduro declared yesterday that the real objective of the recent sanctions imposed on Venezuelan officials is to force the government to free Leopoldo López, whom he called and agent of the Untied States:

“They declare a whole country as a threat in order to save one of their agents: Leopoldo López. They accuse us because Venezuelan justice has jailed the main agents they have sent in order to destabilize Venezuela. It is because of them [the opposition] that this country has been catalogued by the United States as a threat. (…) If something positive has come out of this juncture, is that the real enemies of the fatherland have come out from their hideouts, that [the fact has come out that] they have waged an economic war against us, a political war, a psychological war, and coup d’état attempts.”

Chavista political leader Juan Barreto also questioned the patriotism of the opposition. He is quoted by AVN:

“The right believes that the fatherland means only business, they ignore the true meaning of being born in this land, because to be Venezuelan is to be revolutionary.”

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