My suggestions for the National Assembly

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The first month of the new decade is almost gone. With everything that’s going on, it’s easy to forget the opposition leadership promised that, before the month was through, a strategy would be in place for selecting candidates, and we would have the list of places where primaries would be needed.

There are still a few days left in the month, so it’s too soon to scold them for not meeting their deadline. Let’s check back in a few days.

Instead, I’m offering a few guidelines on where to find good deputies, to serve as pointers on the type of people I would like to see in the AN.

The criteria I mention are not the only ones – and the folks I mention may not necessarily be the most electable – but they would make great legislators. My goal is to point out issues we should be thinking about, and people we should keep in mind.

We owe it to ourselves to give people like these a place at the table.

1. Think local. Get out of Caracas, go to the interior, and you will find the real victims of the government’s insane policies. These are the people suffering the apagones, the kidnappings and the scarcity. Local politicians, with their local knowledge, their charisma and the wits to navigate the tricky electoral scenario that we have been dealt, are ideal for the AN. Find a spot for people the Caracas public doesn’t know much about, people who are not on Alberto Federico Ravell’s Rolodex. People like Vargas’ great Albimar Escalona. They’ve earned it, and so have their voters.

2. Think health and education. Venezuela’s greatest challenges lie in these fields. Without a dramatic reassessment of where our education system is headed, we will never enter the XXIst Century. Without addressing the acute problems in our health system, we will never be a fiscally-sound nation. We don’t need politicians for this, we need wonks. So go wonky, and find a spot in your lists for people like Mariano Herrera or Marino Gonzalez. They know what they’re talking about – and wouldn’t it be refreshing to see that for a change.

3. Think human rights. Whether we like it or not, the AN will play a crucial role in bringing democracy back to Venezuela. Why not include people who have not only fought for democracy, but have been doing so since the days of the IVth Republic? People who are respected internationally, have a laser-like focus, have credibility on both sides of the aisle, and know what needs to be done. People like Liliana Ortega would be an asset – scratch that, a luxury – in the AN.

4. Think intellectuals. Given the fauna we have become subservient to in the past eleven years, it’s hard to believe that, once upon a time, the AN was a tribune for some of Venezuela’s most distinguished voices. People of the intellectual caliber of Arturo Uslar Pietri or Domingo Alberto Rangel used the AN as their forum, so we would all benefit if we saved a place for our philosophers, our local litterati. It would be great to see people like Alberto Barrera Tyszka in the AN, giving a voice to Venezuela’s intellectuals. After all, politics means telling a story, so why not bring a storyteller to the table?

Don’t like my suggestions? Have a set of different ones? The comments section is open.

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