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No, the Great March on Caracas Was Not a Success

By: Orlando Avendaño - @OrlvndoA - Sep 2, 2016, 1:25 pm
We must demand that our leaders be able to frame critics and express realities as tough as they are: the Great Taking of Caracas was a disappointment (canal de noticias)
Venezuelans must demand that leaders be tough on the Maduro administration.  (canal de noticias)

EspañolThis week’s expectations for the March on Caracas were colossal.

The largest march in recent memory looked to be what the country needed to change the horrid situation Nicolás Maduro and his administration have created.

Thousands of Venezuelans were to arrive in Caracas to demand that the government count the votes cast for a referendum to remove Maduro before the end of 2016. A few hours before the event, hopes were high as people began to massively stream onto the streets.

September 1 looked to be a historic day, one in which civil society could retake the country’s freedom from the grasp of a socialist dictator.

Memories of the 2014 popular movement hung in the air. That protest had been quelled. This one, though, was supposed to be different.

Media then began releasing the first images of the event — hundreds of thousands of people flooding the streets of Caracas with AFP reporting at least one million people turning out.

But numbers aren’t everything. At a key moment, MUD Executive Secretary Jesus Chuo Torrealba announced what steps would come next.

He said the protest was over, and there would be another one in seven days with even more to follow at the end of the month. What exactly is the strategy behind this? The “historic” protest in Caracas was over, with support shown but not action taken.

The worst part about it is that the schedule put forward by Torrealba and MUD is mediocre at best and lacking in greater perspective.

The protesters had to walk hours, go through pat-downs and theft to come to the march. Some natives traveled 12 hours from the Amazon region. Now they all had to go back to their homes beating pots and pans with nothing else to show for it.

This is a lethal blow, a demonstration of a lack of respect to the natives and everyone else that showed up to the protest.

The opposition leaders never demanded the recall referendum. Rather, they asked to be listened to, for someone to comprehend their message. But with no demand to the government, the government easily ignored them.

Maduro’s administration has bared its totalitarian teeth in the last few weeks. Instead of responding directly, MUD has chosen to play the game of attrition — a cruel game in which citizens aren’t alleviated from their sufferings.

The other player losing out in this game of attrition is the opposition. Despite their clearly representing the majority, among other minor successes, Maduro continues to enjoy the ability to talk freely on Bolivar Avenue in Caracas with total stability.

He knows the opposition is the majority; that’s not a strong enough message. Dictatorships don’t care about “popular support” — that’s why they’re totalitarian regimes. They might as well have sent Maduro the most recent poll numbers in the mail.

Maduro used his speech to turn the movement back on itself: in Venezuela, an opposition exists, and they have the right to “freely” protest. I.e., things aren’t that bad.

But things are that bad, and the opposition needs to do a better job of showing that to be true so real change can take place in Venezuela.

Orlando Avendaño Orlando Avendaño

Orlando Avendaño is a PanAm Post intern who resides in Caracas, Venezuela, where he studies social communication at Andrés Bello Catholic University. Follow @OrlvndoA.