Can the World Help Venezuela Save Itself?
In the current situation in which the Maduro government’s actions are generating daily condemnation around the world, it can can be easy to give the domestic opposition to this government a critical bye. Struggling to keep democracy alive against a government that has control of most of the money and guns, it can seem like the Venezuelan opposition deserves only unflinching support. But such an attitude does no favor to Venezuela’s political process as this opposition has some longterm issues that need to be addressed if they are to be effective.
It takes a relative outsider to the Venezuelan conflict like Abraham Lowenthal to push the Venezuelan opposition for focus (click on the title above to get to his op ed). A leading scholar of democratic transitions and founder of some of Washington’s most important think tanks working on Latin America–the Inter-American Dialogue and the Latin America Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center–over the past year Lowenthal has turned his keen eye to the Venezuelan conflict. Here is a key quote from his piece:
The indispensable step to secure constructive international involvement is for domestic opposition leaders to strengthen their cause. This requires developing an attractive vision of Venezuela’s future, as was done compellingly by the opposition to Gen. Augusto Pinochet in Chile, and by Nelson Mandela and the African Nation Congress in South Africa. Opposition forces need to do much more than denounce the incumbent government. They must overcome personal rivalries and fashion a unified coalition, not only to gain power but to govern. They also must maintain popular backing and keep a sharp focus on preserving the constitution.