#30M Protests Prove Unity Rests with the People, Not Politicos

People gathered in more than 30 Venezuelan cities on May 30 to demand the release of political prisoners.
People gathered in more than 30 Venezuelan cities on May 30 to demand the release of political prisoners. (Diario Sin)

EspañolIt all started on Saturday, May 23, when Leopoldo López released a video urging Venezuelan civil society to demonstrate and demand the government release all political prisoners and set a date for this year’s legislative elections.

However, instead of joining the protest, the coalition of opposition parties known as the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) announced they would not officially endorse López’s call for renewed protests.

The secretary general of those who purportedly represent the forefront of political resistance against Chavismo in Venezuela explained that López had not “consulted” with the MUD, and therefore he could not support the rally.

Once again, the MUD has proved to be nothing more than an interest group with little political vision, completely out of touch with the real needs of Venezuelans. They aim for all actions to conform to the one and only “Unity” Roundtable, for if anything should emerge from outside the MUD, it deserves to be sabotaged.

The MUD demands that Leopoldo López run protest plans by them first, despite him being locked in jail with limited contact to the outside world. The coalition labeled the legitimate and desperate calls from a political prisoner “selfish” and “unilateral.”

It appears that for the MUD the freedom of political prisoners in Venezuela and setting a date for elections are selfish and unilateral requests.

The MUD has an agenda, and whatever gets in the way of it, they attack. In their quest to capitalize on the struggle against the regime, they would have us depend on their timid brand of submissive resistance. The elections are all that they care about, which demonstrates their naivete and short memories, given the amount of “democratic” victories Chavistas have celebrated.

Abstention is not an option. However, elections are not are only tools; there are several others that are legitimate, appropriate, and perhaps even more pragmatic. Equally concerning is the coaltion’s deafening silence in the face of the Supreme Court’s ousting of Mayor Lumay Barreto of Guasdualito in Apure for allegedly “abandoning her post” — a stunning blow to democracy in Venezuela.

On Saturday, May 30, the Venezuelan people took to the streets and marched, disappointing those who looked forward to seeing López fail. Incredibly, the desire for change and trust persists. The streets of more than 30 cities became full with citizens who raised their voices to show there are still people prepared to fight for freedom in Venezuela.

Many still don’t understand that it is in the public sphere where real citizenship and politics happen, as Tocqueville used to say. The public sphere is a “space of appearance” (Hannah Arendt) and it’s in the streets where the citizen acquires recognition, as Rómulo Betancourt once argued.

Saturday’s protest was a display of civic duty. The country demonstrated that its solidarity lies with the political prisoners and that the goal is freedom. Factionalism, on the other hand, was rejected, proving that the people’s will and their desire for change are above any “Unity” Roundtable’s lust for power.

On Saturday, true Venezuelan unity was on display.

Translated by Daniel Duarte.

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