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How to Break Maduro’s Tyranny in Venezuela

We must be realistic: if the opposition leadership does not change, we will never liberate Venezuela

By Antonio Ledezma *

Social networks are a place where the most varied points of view cross each other. In that ocean of opinions there navigate the versions of those who do not hide behind pseudonyms, but rather assume their points of view openly. I usually interact with many people who ask for explanations or reasoning to clarify unknown factors and settle doubts on various topics. Those bursts are full of shots that aim to specific targets, while other ammo is from the so-called “crazy pellets” that are activated to cause an effect, not even thinking about what is really sought.

In one of those online debates in which I get involved, someone affirmed that “we have been wrong” in the positions that we publicly and coherently sustain, when it comes to setting a position regarding the strategy assumed by the leaders of the opposition under several circumstances. That flippant way in which people purport to rate our posture deserved a reply, so I gave it, and now want to share it in this article.

Was it wrong to warn the members of the G4 that they were infiltrated, as was evidenced by the assault on the symbols of the parties? Moreover, the double standard of deputies who “hoisted flags of the fight against corruption,” while issuing certificates of good conduct to characters that are involved in large-scale irregular dealings. Or the spy roles assumed by party leaders who attended meetings with Guaidó to debate the strategy to be followed and thereafter appeared receiving the stolen symbols of the parties from the regime?

Wrong for reasoning that there have been 13 dialogues that have only served the dark interests of the regime?Wrong for alleging that we can’t do this alone? Or is it a lie that we are dealing with a powerful criminal organization? Wrong for exposing the presence in Venezuelan territory of irregular forces of the Colombian narco-guerrilla, Cuba, Russia, China and Iran, in addition to drug cartels and criminal mega-gangs?

Wrong for warning that, in our Continent, the Sao Paulo Forum applies the agenda approved by the Group of Puebla to establish an axis of evil in order to control the governments of Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Argentina, Mexico and Peru? Wrong for denouncing the crimes against humanity?

Wrong for not agreeing with the sectarianism that has prevailed in the interim government? Wrong for demanding that they render accounts in order to differentiate us from a corrupt government that manages the public treasury at their whims and in opacity?

Wrong for demanding a coherent leadership, with defined political goals and respect for the interlocutors that are recognized today by the international community? Wrong for saying that acknowledging a National Elections Council appointed by an invalid National Assembly formed pursuant to the fraud against which we all protested in December 2020, implies disavowing the legitimacy of Juan Guaidó, since the Assembly that he presides over will be annulled?

Wrong for not endorsing a change in our views that Maduro is an usurper to now purport to acknowledge him as president in an eventual dialogue? Wrong when I denounced that due to the absence of the deputies at the session of December 15, 2016, which should have appointed the rectors of the National Elections Council, this aspiration was frustrated when the opposition’s deputies refused to form the regulatory quorum?

Wrong for having signed a document proposing a transition government that would save us from the disgraces suffered in these last six years? Wrong for claiming that the results of the plebiscite held last July 16, 2017 be honored?

If that is being wrong, please let me continue on this road of Quixotes that I will keep on treading with great peace of mind. You ask what is the solution? To rid ourselves of the infiltrated, because there have been many chances to do so. Without an ethical and coherent political leadership decided to implement a strategy it will not be possible to oust that criminal corporation.

The solution was to take advantage of the stage of competitive elections, as we did in 2021 and in April 2013. We won the latter, but unfortunately, we made the mistake of suspending the demonstrations to claim the victory that was shamelessly being stolen from us.

The solution was to prepare ourselves to win the qualified majority of the National Assembly, which we achieved in December 2015, only to have a group immediately sequester its decision-making powers and err in their strategy, which is why Maduro continues to usurp power. That it is no longer advisable to continue making these complaints? I do not believe so, and I rather think that unless we engage in a serious self-criticism, we shall continue stumbling over the same stone.

We must be frank: if the oppositon leadership does not change, we will never liberate Venezuela. Hence, the question “what do you propose?” has an answer in the examples I list in this chronicle. We may articulate the best plan in the world, with the most knowledgeable strategists, but this will do no good if those who are to execute those plans continue to act off track.

Look at the unprecedented support we have received from the international community, which has been directed towards false dialogues and failed negotiations, as those of last April 20, 2019, year in which there was held the so-called “Barbados dialogue”, sponsored by Norway. It is evident that both Hugo Chávez, in his time, and now Maduro, have sought to take advantage of those events to gain time, while discrediting the opposition leaders and managing to deactivate the demonstrations in the streets, as happened on April 10, 2014, when they demobilized the citizens that had taken to the streets in support of the “La Salida” (“The Way Out”) movement.

Maduro’s regime did the same after the overwhelming victory by the opposition in December, 2014: they used their courts to accuse the recently-elected National Assembly of contempt, and managed to wear down the opposing leadership by organizing a recall referendum that they truncated, they propitiated a dialogue session in the Dominican Republic in May 2016, which attempt ended in the dialogue sponsored by the Vatican in October and November that same year, with these outcomes: there was suspended the demonstration march to the Miraflores Palace, the political trial proposed by the National Assembly against Nicolas Maduro was annulled, and there was signed a document in which the opposition’s representatives admitted that “the economic crisis was a consequence of a boycott against the plans implemented by the revolution and that in Venezuela there are no political prisoners, but imprisoned politicians.” This

In the midst of those huge contradictions, the opposition’s parliamentary representatives did not renew the structure of the political powers, especially the Rectors of the National Elections Council and, I repeat once more, the session for that procedure, on December 16, 2016, was frustrated by the absence of two members of the opposition’s bench.

However, the citizens recovered from those adversities and returned to the street protests in February 2017; millions of Venezuelans again filled the public avenues to claim liberty, the symbols of that fight were the young squires that were assassinated without ever knowing the democracy for which they gave up their lives. The citizens organized a plebiscite on July 16 that year, with a clear mandate for the leadership, who decided to turn their back on that popular verdict and jump into the pit of fraudulent regional elections organized by the regime that had just perpetrated the electoral theft on July 30 that same year, in order to give itself, to the best of their knowledge, an illegal Constituent Assembly. Today we see with great concern that the fight has been cut down to preparing an elections calendar focused on regional elections.

In our opinion, that is not the most advisable way to free Venezuela. Maduro seeks to wash his tyrant’s face, dismantle the opinion that there is a narco-tyranny in Venezuela, stop the proceedings against him at the International Criminal Court and do away with the interim government of Guaidó, while validating himself as president recognized even by the opposition. It is a lie that there has been no unity. There has been and in excess.

Unfortunately, Maduro infiltrated the opposition, atomized and divided it. It is not true that Venezuelans are only waiting for the Marines to land in Naiguatá. That is false. The international intervention contemplates valid legal mechanisms, such as the R2P and the Rio Treaty that offer many options. What is true is that the credible threat has been dismantled and the regime’s allies are implementing their empowerment plan. Definitely, the solution is to have a political leadership capable of achieving the enforcement all those possibilities.


Antonio Ledezma is the former Mayor of Caracas before being forced into political exile in 2017.

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