18 May 2013 — Rebelión
Venezuelan political commentator Nicmer Evans analyses the first month of Nicolas Maduro’s presidency, arguing that despite the opposition challenge to his legitimacy Maduro is setting the country’s political agenda.
At one month since 14 April [the date of Venezuela’s presidential election, which Nicolas Maduro won by a narrow margin],Nicolas has managed to advance. It’s not been easy, yet not only has he resisted [challenges to his legitimacy], but he has begun a process of setting the political agenda that has managed to subordinate the opposition due to the latter’s repeated clumsy mistakes. However we can’t become over-confident, and there’s a lot we must critically self-correct.
Let’s reconstruct a little of this long first month. On 14 April itself, Nicolas Maduro committed the error of admitting the possibility of a recount of 100% of the votes, instead of calling on the CNE to pronounce itself and respectfully awaiting the result of the opposition’s legitimate right to challenge the election result. However the opposition didn’t wait, but convoked supporters in an inopportune and ambiguous speech, in Capriles’s words, to drain their “rage” with pot-banging. This was assumed by opposition extremists as a call for violence and as a result caused eleven deaths and dozens of wounded, losing [the opposition] the quantitative political capital gained on 14 April.
President Maduro’s decision to stop Capriles’ planned march toward the centre of Caracas was the first action of Nicolas’ government that demonstrated the “balls” of the new president to warn against the plan to copy 11 April [in reference to the short lived coup against the Chavez government on 11 April 2002]. Capriles responded to this decision by backing down, which evidenced that there was only one objective [behind the march], blocked by Maduro, and upon not achieving it, it was better to call the march off.
The second error of the Maduro government until now has been in the National Assembly. Diosdado Cabello [the pro-government president of the National Assembly], by banning opposition deputies’ right to speak [for their refusal to recognise President Maduro], for whatever the reason, allowed the conditions for opposition deputies to set up the parliamentary Harlem Shake in the following session, using the game of provocation and victimizing themselves in a scene clearly seeking the image of violence. While we had a politically mature pueblo, who despite eleven deaths incited by Capriles didn’t spill onto the streets in thirst of vengeance, we had some parliamentarians who took the bait of the clowns: something to analyse.
However, President Maduro understood that following the opposition’s political agenda would be to put himself beneath them, and he undertook a series of actions that have allowed him to reposition his legitimacy and capacity to govern. The “street government” has allowed him to gather together and make present issues of governance over issues over political theatre (the important thing here is that the methodology is actually effective, although for now it has achieved the objective); and actions taken on the international level, from PetroCaribe to the tour of Mercosur countries, have allowed Maduro’s abilities to be demonstrated in the development of practical politics.
Meanwhile the opposition complicates itself, launching a parallel international tour that generated widespread rejection. Yet perhaps more determining has been President Obama’s pronouncement, assuming the political leadership of the opposition by not recognising the legitimacy of President Nicolas Maduro’s government in an action totally isolated from the international context, making the alignment of the Obama government and the Capriles leadership evident.
To finish, what’s sinking the opposition is the deep division being created between the Capriles camp and the rest of the MUD [the opposition Democratic Unity coalition], who see the refusal to recognise the Electoral Power and the results of 14 April as suicide when we are at the doors of municipal elections where opposition aspirations have grown as a result of 14 April.
Meanwhile, inside the revolutionary process the hope of a franker and more horizontal dialogue between the diverse parts of the Great Patriotic Pole [the pro-government coalition of parties and social movements] is without doubt the great step that is expected. This is in order to guarantee Chavez’s legacy, based on the desire for a planned renovation of the leadership and decision making processes of Chavismo, and because of that that we must go for a “Coup at the Helm” to avoid any attempt at a coup d’état.
Translated by Ewan Robertson for Veneuelanalysis.com
 Phrase used by former President Hugo Chavez following his reelection in October 2012, to refer to the need to more self-criticism within the Bolivarian process.