The other day Reuters wrote an article called “Venezuelan ‘Resistance’ Movement Struggles to Bruise Maduro” (in Spanish here). Since they quoted me at the end I would like to clarify that their description of the resistance movement does not agree with how I see it. This is what they quoted me as saying:
Ulf Erlingsson, a Swede and former aid worker, helped found the [Operación Libertad Venezuela (‘Operation Freedom Venezuela‘)] web site four years ago after becoming convinced Venezuela was a nefarious influence.
“This is a criminal regime run by a foreign power, Cuba,” he told Reuters. “So there is nothing illegal in fighting them.”
The problem with this is that I all the time am talking about nonviolent action, as it has been described by Dr. Gene Sharp (@GeneSharpaei) of the Albert Einstein Institution, while Reuters in their text describe only a minority part of the resistance, the so-called ‘guarimberos’, those who block streets as a form of protest.
When we created Operación Libertad Venezuela (OLV) as a project for liberation of Venezuela from Cuba, the term “resistance” was chosen since it aptly reflects the fact that it is a foreign invasion (albeit implemented through deceit, blackmail, corruption, and assassinations, not through military might).
The nonviolent strategy of struggle was chosen since it was deemed the most likely to yield the desired victory. The strategy is based on undermining the power of the enemy, not confronting him openly. The resistance has won significant victories in these four years, by converting several views which used to be dismissed as “conspiracy theories” into generally accepted “truths”, thus defeating the state propaganda lie:
1. The revelation that Cuba is in a position of control over Venezuela effectively occupying the nation
2. The destruction of the propaganda lie that there is no election fraud in Venezuela
3. The revelation that Venezuela is an electoral dictatorship (i.e., the opposition yields to the fraud rather than fight to claim their victories)
All these are victories by the resistance. The first one in the list was won through a street occupation outside the Cuban embassy in Caracas, after Chávez had died in Cuba but the regime still insisted that he was alive, and forged his name on laws. The occupation forced the regime to stage the “return” of Chávez, and the continued pressure forced them to admit that Chávez was dead, and to hold elections on April 14, 2013.
Through the live election coverage by OLV on April 14th, organized by Ana Diaz (former number two in the Venezuelan election authority CNE, and spokesperson for OLV), the resistance was able to expose the election fraud (point 2 in the list above) and force the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles to not admit defeat (he had admitted defeat in the previous election where there also was fraud). This caused the people to take to the streets en masse, which the regime met with violence.
After 2 days Capriles told people to go home, and that he would fight the battle in court, where he duly lost and with that, let the whole thing run out in the sand.
When the resistance (which is comprised of many groups and individuals, all fighting for the same objective) convened a global day of demanding the truth on June 2, 2013, the opposition coalition MUD surreptitiously sabotaged the action, even though it was made to defend the victory of their candidate.
When a day of protests was convened inside Venezuela September 14 on the 5-month day of the election, called “Día de Furia” (Day of Fury, a name I proposed since it hints to the inevitability of justice), the MUD again sabotaged by sending out SMS messages to all their activists prohibiting them from either participating or forwarding the information about the protest. Albeit this time several persons forwarded the message to OLV, and OLV’s other spokesperson, singer and actress Maria Conchita Alonso, denounced this action proof in hand on a live TV show in Miami, the Bayly show. Myself I confronted a Venezuelan political consultant who said, when I kept insisting on an answer, that “of course they would do that”.
The Venezuelan opposition is clearly playing hand in hand with the dictatorship, which is why the resistance is the only possible road to liberation of the country. Not all in the opposition coalition are on the bandwagon, though; those who are presently in jail are most certainly not. It is not clear to me why those who disagree with the way MUD is run don’t leave MUD and set up camp separately. A friend of mine, political consultant Eric Ekvall (RIP) even suggested to Maria Corina Machado that she ought to leave MUD, but she has not done so. I know what her reply was but I am presuming it was said in confidence so I won’t repeat it, let me just say that I believe she has the best intentions and is effectively part of that broad informal coalition that I consider the “resistance”. And in my personal opinion so are her fellow politicians in MUD Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma, both political prisoners at present.
So to sum up, the “resistance” in Venezuela to me is a broad coalition and includes millions of people, but only a tiny minority are openly exposing their participation. This is for self-preservation; the punishment from the state for being a dissenter is very severe. It would take a separate article just to start writing about that, let me just say that the majority of those in the visible core of the resistance have been victims of oppression for over a decade. Also, in the course of writing the Reuters article a number of the resistance members were murdered, but their families later denied that they were in the resistance, because they were threatened to be murdered they too if they said as much (in fact, one of them was murdered shortly before a planned interview with the Reuters reporter for the purpose of this article). The situation in Venezuela is very hard, and the Reuters article does not describe this reality in an unbiased way. Media who operate inside Venezuela (like Reuters) seem to have a very hard time to free themselves from the influence of the regime propaganda, unfortunately.