The Case Against Violence or the Moral Superiority of Venezuela's Opposition
By Beatrice E. Rangel
Latin American Herald Tribune
June 5 2017
Former Venezuela Presidential Chief of Staff Beatrice Rangel on the lessons of Mahatma Gandhi and the non-violent resistance movement in Venezuela.
"There are many causes that I am prepared to die for, but no causes that I am prepared to kill for."
With those words, Mahatma Gandhi encapsulated the philosophy of nonviolent resistance against political oppression.
And through this philosophy Gandhi jumpstarted a movement that has transcended geography, culture, age and gender to begin a moral transformation of humanity that is about to reach its most trendsetting dimension in Venezuela, where for 65 days civic society has taken to the streets to protest the decantation of their freedom by a self-described revolutionary regime that reminds the world of Hitler and Stalin's leadership style.
The world has thus witnessed a population armed with only the weapon of its beliefs in the transforming properties of freedom face-off against the well-armed police and military forces that use lethal tear gas grenades, marbles and poison bottles as bullets to kill courageous youngsters. And after about 65 casualties, the combativeness and belief in their fight is today stronger than at the outset of the civic revolt.
The viciousness of the government repression is prompting many to think that in lieu of sending food and medicines to Venezuela, international solidarity should focus in arming these civic movements resisting oppression in Venezuela.
Mercifully this position is unwelcomed by Venezuelan protest leaders because that course of action would be tantamount to throwing their sacrifices and the progress made so far into the sea. Indeed, it is a consistently bad idea from all perspectives including:
1.Effectiveness: The relative effectiveness of violent and nonviolent movements in bringing down oppression has already been carefully studied by experts who have conclude that nonviolent movements stand to win. Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan published in Foreign Affairs the results of a systematic study of resistance movements to authoritarian governments in the 20th century. They examined 323 different movements from 1900 to 2006, representing violent and nonviolent movements aiming at achieving "self-determination, the removal of an incumbent leader, or the expulsion of a foreign military occupation." In Venezuela three goals are being pursued. Their conclusion was that nonviolent movements were twice as likely to succeed as violent movements, and that nonviolent movements often significantly increased the chances of a more peaceful and democratic government emerging in the aftermath.
2.Moral Authority: By means of resorting to nonviolent protests in the face of blatant abuses from the government against the people (scarcity of food and medicines); against the institutions (doing away with separation of powers); against the world (engaging in wholesale corruption), the Venezuelan opposition has brought to worldwide attention its moral superiority as well as the rogue character of the regime.
3. The aftermath, nation building: the research study conducted by Chenoweth and Stephan showed that countries whose political change had come through nonviolent fights for freedom were four times more likely to experience a faster and more effective transition into freedom and development than those whose liberation had come through violent means.
4.The Historic moment: The world has entered the Age of Semantic Networks. This defines success as a collaborative effort whether to create wealth, to create knowledge or to build institutions. As Millennials take the center stage in decision making, goal setting and goal achievement will be defined in collaborative terms. This makes those lone wolves waging weapons against rivals a piece of antique history just as that recounting the lives of dinosaurs.
Consequently, on every account, the young Venezuelan fiddler is more likely to achieve his goals and to be remembered by posterity than his tormentors who will most probably only be remembered by their defense lawyers when the time of reckoning comes.