Do Massive Marches Serve a Purpose? / 14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner
14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, 3 September 2016 — It may have been
the largest march in Venezuela's history. Did it serve for anything?
We'll get to that. I begin my analysis with a view of the government.
Maduro and the Cuban DGI agents, who actually rule the country, faced a
dilemma: in the face of a giant demonstration, should they remove the
fragile democratic mask they still wear sporadically, declare martial
law, suspend constitutional guarantees and dissolve the National
Assembly on the pretext they were impeding a coup planned by
Washington's perfidy, or should they obstruct the demonstrators, arrest
the leaders and cause the demonstration to abort by disrupting the march
at various spots in its course?
They opted for the second. They believed that they could do it. That's
what the authorities do in Cuba. They arrest, disperse, infiltrate,
harass the opponents, pit them one against another with a thousand
intrigues and prevent them from seizing the streets. The streets belong
to Fidel. That's the task of the vast and secret body of Cuba's
counterintelligence (55,000 to 60,000 people), the regular police
(80,000), plus the rough-and-tumble mob of the Communist Party, while
the three regular armies remain on standby in case they need to join
combat. Total: 350,000 rabid dogs, not counting the Communist Party, to
bring to bay 11 million terrified lambs.
They were wrong. The social control is not the same. In Cuba, the
opposition was liquidated by gunfire in the first five years of the
dictatorship. There was resistance, but the authorities killed some
7,000 people and jailed more than 100,000. Two decades later, in the
late 1970s, when the cage had been hermetically shut, they began to
release them. The Castros have held Cuban society in their fist for half
a century now. The Soviet KGB and the East German Stasi taught them how
to lock the padlock. Today, Raúl has perfected his repressive strategy.
It was the one the Chavists futilely tried to use in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan opposition holds on precariously in a virtual zone of the
state apparatus. They are mayors, governors or deputies. They hold posts
but neither power nor a budget. Chavism has deprived them of resources
and authority, although, because Chavism emerged from a democratic
setup, it has not been easy for it to build a cage. According to
surveys, the Chavists are opposing 80 percent of the population,
including a good portion of the D and E sectors — that is, the poorest.
They are an undisguised gang of inept caretakers engaged in larceny. To
hide and disguise reality, they bought, confiscated or neutralized the
media, except for a couple of heroic newspapers, but the country's
situation is so catastrophic that there's no human way they can hide the
Nevertheless, the opposition lacks the muscle needed to force Maduro's
overthrow and the system's replacement. In general, the oppositionists
are peaceful people, trained for 40 years in the sweet exercise of
electoral democracy. What could they do? They could march. Bang on pots
and pans. Stage peaceful protests. It was the only way to express their
opposition in the desperate situation in which they found themselves.
They could fill the public squares in the manner of Gandhi and Martin
Luther King, but against an adversary much more unscrupulous than the
Anglo-Saxons. They have done so, dozens of times. It was a civilized way
to confront totalitarian harassment. The people who kill, the
scoundrels, the organized criminals are on the side of Chavism. The
armed forces have been taken over by the Cubans and the top leaders are
knee-deep in drug trafficking. Letting the army brass dirty their hands
was a clever and vile way to tie them. Today they are not united by
patriotism but by crime and the fear of the United States' Drug
In the end, do marches and peaceful protests serve a purpose? Of course
they do. The Poles and the Ukrainians demolished their dictatorships
marching and shouting slogans. It's a matter of persistence. He who
tires, loses. But there is a very important physiological factor.
Participating in a common cause that expresses itself physically —
marches, slogans — provokes an exceptional secretion of oxytocin, the
hormone of affective linkage produced by the pituitary gland.
That's the feeling of unity, of bonding, experienced during military
marches, sports competitions or the innocent crowd gatherings to listen
to popular musicians. That's the substance that generates "esprit de
corps" and permanent loyalties.
The opposition feels fraternally united in these street demonstrations.
There's a burst of trust in the coreligionist and hope in the
resurrection of the homeland. That's all that Venezuelans desperately
need to find themselves again in a close and brotherly embrace, because
their country in fact is dying. It's being killed by Chavism.
Source: Do Massive Marches Serve a Purpose? / 14ymedio, Carlos Alberto
Montaner – Translating Cuba -