Impressions of an Unprecedented Event / Regina Coyula

Those of us in Cuba who sat in front of the television at dawn, witnessed an unprecedented event: The dialogue between the government and the opposition in real-time, from Venezuela.(*)

Unprecedented in the sense that the majority of Cubans, born after 1959, don’t know what opposition to the government is. They have heard talk about mercenaries and traitors and but to see, sitting across from the Venezuelan government, a group of politicians with other points of view, provokes different reactions.

I followed the speeches of both sides with equal interest. The government remained on the defensive against accusations from the opposition, but within a framework of respect. Only the Vice President of the National Assembly seemed to confuse the meeting room with a platform for agitation, and Capriles, from whom I expected much more, organized his time badly to leave the impression that there was a catharsis around the presidential election loss.

I found the topics on the table very familiar. The Venezuelan government went for the Cuban model–I refuse to repeat that this is socialism–and the achievements in education and healthcare fail to hide the other realities which they enumerated in facts and figures. President Maduro too often forgot that he was elected with half the votes, which means that his support comes from half of Venezuelans. One of the great responsibilities of Chavism is the social fracture provoked, and as well stated on both sides of the table, with two opposite halves you can’t make a country. However, they have a Constitution that is not Chavista but Venezuelan and in which citizens feel they are represented and protected, at least in theory.

IO don’t have a lot of optimism about the future of these encounters. They are different postures and it was left very clear that those in power don’t intend to cede it. The violence and shortages affect everyone regardless of ideological tint. But Maduro is that the opposition will only enter Miraflores as visitors.

(*) From TeleSur, which for Cuba is a major window of information not offered by national television.

11 April 2014