MUD Strategy to End Maduro Presidency Receives Muted Response

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David Smilde

Yesterday the opposition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática announced its long awaited strategy for pushing Nicolás Maduro from the presidency. However, rather than forging a consensus around one of the proposals that have been circulating in recent weeks, they decided to push for all of them at the same time with the hashtag #Vamoscontodo (roughly “Giving it everything we got”) (see the announcement here). They will:

-Carryout street mobilizations to push for Maduro’s resignation,

-Pass a constitutional ammendment reducing the presidential term to four years, leading to elections this year, and

-Begin to mobilize for a recall referendum, starting with a new law on referendums, to impede it from being blocked or impeded.

The reasons they give for pushing for all three strategies at once are that the situation is urgent and the government is trying to use the Supreme Court (TSJ) to block any initiative.

The absence of vigorous discussion and commentary in the media in the twenty four hours since the press conference does not bode well for the mobilizing capacity of this strategy. A quick look at opposition blogs such as Prodavinci.com, Runrun.es, Analitica.com, and Caracaschronicles.com shows scarce mention of what should have been a transcendental announcement.

In part this is because the decision had been leaked days in advance and already had received some, mainly negative, commentary. But one cannot help but compare the muted response to the polite silence that comes from the family of a musician after a disastrous performance.

One of the few opposition analysts to comment was Luis Vicente Leon who suggested that the real surprise would have been if the MUD could have come up with a unitary strategy, and offered: “From my point of view, when you don’t focus, the probabilities of success are dramatically reduced.”

In the past week, several opposition analysts warned against such a mixed strategy. In a piece titled “This Time the MUD Isn’t Getting the Job Done” Thaelman Urgelles said “with this ‘decision’ the MUD is only revealing its inability to develop a plan in the midst of the jumble of internal contradictions it has at its center.” He suggested the only reason other actors were proposing alternatives to the recall referendum was because this latter had been proposed by Henrique Capriles.

Benigno Alarcón of the Catholic University’s Centro de Estudios Políticos was especially prescient. After reviewing the various strategies he suggested they were all viable, but warned:

The real viability will depend on a condition which has not yet been met; the political will to cooperate and concentrate their best efforts on a unitary strategy. Not doing so converts this situation into a prisoners dilemma among opposition leaders and parties, and the most probable result of a prisoners dilemma is non-cooperation, even though through cooperating much more can be gained.