First, do no harm

The first Cuban doctor

The first Cuban doctor

The current political/oncological drama shaking Venezuela presents a tricky situation for the opposition.

On the one hand, they need to avoid the danger of appearing to gloat. Ultimately, even the most hard-hearted of us feels some sympathy for a man getting ready to meet his maker, and we must make that clear. This is a human being, one that millions of our countrymen adore and revere, and we gain nothing by wishing him good riddance or talking about “dulce de lechosa.” It’s not right, morally or politically.

Yet the way this whole deal has been handled threatens the very core of the Venezuelan State, and it is their duty to call the other side on this. The lack of transparency has been apalling, and everything – from the dedazo designating his successor, to the Armed Forces pledging loyalty to a single person and his political project – are simply unacceptable.

Take the small issue of who makes the calls. Is Maduro in charge? What happens after Chavez comes out of surgery? What happens if he lingers on for months? Will Chavez continue to guide the country until he becomes unconscious? If the gringos decide to invade the day after tomorrow, whose orders do the Armed Forces respond to?

The President should have resigned, or at least, declared a temporary absence as a prelude to his permanent one. However, politically the opposition cannot bring this up without sounding insensitive or shrill.

The other issue is the internal struggles within chavismo. It would be quite easy for opposition figures to stir the pot and create friction between the multiple strands within chavismo – intrigue, after all, is what many of these guys have for breakfast.

However, we run the risk of being portrayed as playing politics in a time of national crisis. It may even end up helping chavistas coalesce around Maduro.

So I guess their best strategy is to wish Chavez well, plan ahead internally, and stay out of it mostly. The risks appear to be too damn high for anything else.

13 thoughts on “First, do no harm

  1. I think they have done a good job so far calling for utmost respect for the constitution as the only unequivocal roadmap for what lies ahead, while at the same time insisting that the need to know the facts is not due to a morbid fascination, but to the enormous importance that the President´s health holds for national affairs. Aveledo did a wondeful job of setting the tone, I believe:

    • I just hope his heart softens up to the #PP very soon, or it is too hard to feel any empathy for a guy who is so cruel. I don’t really know how you guys do it.

  2. While civility demands Mr Chavez opponents show no mirth or delight on his ill health and poor survival prospects , basically out of good manners towards his supporters , there is no doubt that his own past conduct has so poisoned the atmosphere of public life that it is well neigh impossible for most of his opponents to view his current predicament with anything but glee . Practical considerations may dictate that such glee remain hidden and masked with shows of ‘compassionate concern’ but the irrepressible glee is there . There is a phrase by Borges which notes how tyrannies foster stupidity in people , maybe it should also note how it also fosters dark feelings of delight at an adversary’s miseries . To indulge in those feelings is maybe the price we must pay to be faithful to our own humanity.

  3. Not to sound as everybody else, but as someone who also has had a relative with cancer (and ultimatedly lost it to it) I can imagine how terrible this guy’s family feels.

    But on my behalf, I feel nor simpathy nor hate; I feel indifferent, which I think is the worst sentiment you can have towards someone. I don’t feel pity for him, and neither I cherish his death, I just dont care if he dies or if he suffers, as for me he is the fine example of the things I hate on this society. However, I feel glad to see we might step in another era.

  4. So far the MUD has been doing things right, like yesterday in the National Assembly: Respect for the Constitution, wishing Chavez well and at the same time, politely requesting more information.

  5. It might not be “politically correct” but it is the RIGHT thing to do to ask the president to step down, take care of his health and let someone that has the energy and the capacity run the country.

    The tone can make a huge difference in how this is done.

  6. The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.
    George Orwell (1903 – 1950), Polemic, May 1946, “Second Thoughts on James Burnham”

    Isn’t that the oppo’s mantra? So a escuaca person should be flogged and flayed for fantasizing ?
    Enjoy being mugged , offer your other cheek, bend down and get shafted day in day out. Ughhh..
    car ripped off at gun point, home violated and ransacked, cells snatched … this doesn’t happen to us at all. Lack of social justice is only in my delusional mind. end of rant :-)

  7. How is it possible than not even one at the AN voted against Chavez going to Cuba to get an operation? Why does this Tipejo get what He has not given to Simonovis, also with Cancer? Did he show any compassion to Brito?
    The opposition cries in outrage to the cameras of Globovision, but when they have to vote at the AN the become cowards.
    Politics is so full of hypocrisy that it makes me sick in the stomach.

    By the way Juan Cristobal, to ask for morals for someone that has not shown a bit of them to others in his same situation is immoral.

  8. “Ultimately, even the most hard-hearted of us feels some sympathy for a man getting ready to meet his maker, and we must make that clear. This is a human being, one that millions of our countrymen adore and revere, and we gain nothing by wishing him good riddance or talking about “dulce de lechosa.” It’s not right, morally or politically”.

    Speak for yourself: he has done harm enough, and not without intent, but knowingly. I won’t fall for this kind of “Christian charity” or “political correctness” stuff… I won’t celebrate it, but won’t beat my chest and force myself to feel a sorrow I don’t feel. He might be a “being”, but “human”? My foot!

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