Is María Corina Machado Venezuela’s Hope for Restoring Democracy?

Venezuela’s Hope for Restoring Democracy
“And to those Venezuelans” said Maria Corina Machado during her speech, “are we going to ask them to wait another year, to give the regime more time?” (Notihoy)

EspañolThis week I attended a press conference during which María Corina Machado and her party Vente Venezuela expressed their “full support” for the updated “Almagro Report” on Venezuela.

The report, delivered by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, proposes that a democratic charter be applied without delay on President Nicolás Maduro’s administration.

It was at the organization’s headquarters that I asked about the national political situation, which after 18 years has not finished cooling down or warming up enough to pass, as they say in chemistry, to “another state.” And though it’s hard to believe, there were still voices there calling for reassurance, for not losing patience, for waiting one or two more years to see if something will.

There are those who go to bed without food, who have looked for medicine for months and fear that a friend or family member lost for days will appear in a morgue.

“And to those Venezuelans,” says María Corina Machado during her speech, “are we going to ask them to put up with this another year, to give the regime more time?”

There were no party leaders who, since the “Almagro Report” have appeared wondering, “How can we accept this document?” or “But is Almagro is not creating false expectations?”

What was fundamental for them was to speak on Thursday morning with Maria Corina Machado, at the headquarters of Vente Venezuela and with words and ideas that, though repeated very well, will never express the strength of fury, rage or emotion.

“We feel today that we are representing the voices, the clamor of the Venezuelan people who today support and appreciate that, finally, there is a strong position in the international democratic community and this position is consistent with what we have adopted since 2014, when, in March, I was in the Permanent Council of the OAS, denouncing what happened at that time in the streets of Venezuela.”

It has been three years of “false dialogue” that failed and continued to buy time for the government — including failed dialogues by the Vatican itself. Meanwhile, it’s been three years of violence, death and devastation.

“That is why,” continued María Corina, “I quote the Report of the Secretary General of the OAS, on page 72, when it says: ‘In the case of Venezuela, we have exhausted the means of dialogue, protocol, information missions and diplomatic approaches.’  So could anyone look in the eyes of a Venezuelan and ask them to give us more time for this regime ”

It’s exactly what one might be thinking about when heading home from that press conference. It was reported that the country started the day off without gas, rumors of battles in the bread war followed, and there were strikes or protests in multiple cities.

“Diplomatic efforts in Venezuela have been unsuccessful,” Maria Corina said again. “On the contrary, the regime has increased repression, there are more political prisoners, there is more pain in Venezuela. Today, there is no other option but to move forward and that is what Almagro has done, put a limit to deception and hesitation, and he grants the regime 30 days to move forward in the only possible direction that allows restoring constitutional order in Venezuela: to celebrate general elections.”

But we already know what Maduro’s administration is going to say: holding general elections is impossible because it is not explicitly stated in any article of the constitution.

Meanwhile, María Corina is already lurking. It is easy to resort to her next quote from the “Almagro Report”:

“To demand general elections corresponds to the rupture of constitutional order, and with the decision that the National Assembly approved on January 9 asking for Maduro’s resignation, general elections do apply and are the only mechanism to restore constitutional order.”

She concluded: “Why is the Democratic Charter useful? Well, because the Democratic Charter certifies that there is a dictatorship in Venezuela, it puts the official stamp of dictator on Maduro, and nothing more and nothing less. From this moment on, we Venezuelans no longer fight alone, but alongside the international community, is formally obliged to accompany us in this struggle.”

That is why it is important to make it clear now that the only thing Venezuelans should focus on is to displace and dismantle the dictatorship and begin the democratic reconstruction of the country. We can not allow them to give us crumbs with regional and municipal elections that are in the Constitution.

And again she quotes the Secretary General Almagro’s Report: “When he says on page 69: Cosmetic arrangements for democracy, such as offering elections for governors or gradually releasing political prisoners, do not change the nature of the regime. A parody of democracy, is not a democracy.

Therefore, until some time ago, two paths were proposed. One that they call the democratic coexistence, the coexistence with the regime. And another is the firm and frontal fight against the dictatorship. The first has been presented by Mr. Zapatero in these infamous documents that seek a false dialogue.

The time has come for every Venezuelan and every political leader to say which side they are with: Zapatero so Maduro can stay until 2019, or Secretary General Luis Almagro. ”

For the first time, I feel at a press conference that journalists and politicians, interviewees and interviewers share a common feeling: living in Vente Venezuela and María Corina Machado’s Venezuela may raise concerns but they don’t have mistrust. There are concerns but not pessimism.

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