A three-horse race?


Miranda governor Henrique Capriles Radonski was interviewed by Maracaibo’s La Verdad newspaper. It’s well worth a read, if anything to begin getting a feel for the message he will try out.

Capriles’ coyness about 2012 did not lend itself to an in-depth profile.  Still, in between the lines, you could sense the message he will take to the voters.

He is unequivocally wedded to the idea of primaries, is convinced Chávez’ contender should be young, and believes he can provide a bridge between the two extremes of Venezuelan society.

As for his contenders? The money quote:

“Chávez fears having to confront a new type of leader come 2012. He would prefer having to face someone from the old leadership, or someone with profound weaknesses… I’m not the one Chávez wants to face…”

Not-so-veiled references to Antonio Ledezma  and Maria Corina Machado?

As of today, these three are the clear front-runners. I would add Leopoldo López, but since he’s barred from running, he’s a long shot.

(If anyone can find a public link, let me know – otherwise I can email the interview to you; it’s in Spanish)

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    • RBC,

      You are supposed to be defending Chavez and his regime in the face of that demonstration of barbarity indicating just how degraded is the professionalism of the the police force…

      … and THAT is all you could come up with? “Chavez or Death”?

      That was just pathetic. Chavez is paying you for THAT?

    • I’ve often wondered about that slogan. Does it mean, “I would rather die than have anyone other than chavez?” or does it mean, “I will kill you if you don’t accept chavez?” Either way, the stupidity of the slogan speaks more of the user than to the listener.

  1. I believe the MUD has already decided that a primary is the best option for selecting its presidential candidate. Those three you mention are clearly front runners now. As far as veiled references, I think not. Maria Corina is the only one of the three who has not held a public post. I think two years out is a bit premature to consider starting to run for the office. However it is a good time to get known and get to know the country.

  2. Hasn’t HCR -Miranda’s Governor- framed his whole political career as a man with no past and no weaknesses? Didn’t HCF -the President- come from pretty much the same image pond?

    While HCR has been a somewhat competent major and governor, his stint as President of the Chamber of Deputies in 1999 still haunting any notions I might harbor of the man: he chose to throw the institution he swore to defend under the bus, resigning de facto most powers of is deputies -and yet not the perks of his office- to the Constituyente. He had become an unwilling diputado, and has kept his moneyed class contacts handy since then, and they are willing to profit from that.

    To his credit, unlike LL -whith whom he shares many unsightly traits- he seems a little less “caudillesco”. Somehow, he might be an excellent candidate. Can he be a good president? Has he matured enough during the decade? Isn’t he a bit too much of a phony-populist?

    We might as well discuss all the potential opposition candidates (Machado, Ledezma, P. Pérez, C. Pérez, Falcon…) in-depth, though. Considering that in the last presidential season we had Teodoro, Borges and Rosales as the main three (but you might remember the botched Súmate primarias and some of the far-fetched nominations: William Ojeda, Pablo Medina, Omar Calderon). With no disrespect with the erstwhile main candidates -and all that they achieved- we’ve come a long way. Even our most implausible candidates have a lot in their favor now, which means the unitary opposition has actually come a long way.

    • I think it’s a bit premature to be discussing all potential candidates for 2012, because they have yet to define a platform or a message, and they are far away from even declaring their intentions. That will come, though.

      I will say that your characterization of Capriles’ tenure at the Camara de Diputados is a bit unfair. It wasn’t the Congress that decided to fold, it was the old CSJ that declared that the Constituyente had supra-Constitutional powers.

      I also don’t believe he will be running as a man with no past or no weakness. It’s not a candidate’s job to be pointing out his weaknesses, and he has a record in governance (good or bad, take your pick) that he will try to put out there. Chavez had none of this.

      Regardless, I think this interview makes it pretty clear he’s seriously considering running.

    • Juan Cristobal: Back then, when only a few sensible men were defending the means and ways of the 1961 Constitution, HCR declared “I’m not going to burn myself for an old institution”, give or take a few words… His diputados (Congress was not dissolved until December, as you might recalled) were bombarded and harassed on a daily basis by pro-government groups. Capriles could have ordered the National Guard (this was one of his post’s tasks) to bolster security… Nothing. Yet he used the perks of his post, even complaining when elected -and still legitimate- diputados had to climb up the Capitol’s fences. His only initiative then? Heading an anti-Y2K bug task force. His 1999 attitude has bugged ever since; I am not sure whether his commitment for democracy is real or not.

      I hope he has outgrown that phase (I’m ready to outgrow it, really). Most of our politicians are no stuck in 1998 or 2002: even Ledezma has evolved -he went to study a got a fourth level degree in Government, and dropped his anti-vote stance.

      And well, yes, it seems like he might be running. Hope he’s not recruiting any of the Y2K task force members for the campaign…

    • Hmm … Congress can order the National Guard? That’s news to me.

      Hey, he’s not my favorite either, this post is far from an endorsement of the guy.

    • The Presidents of the Chambers did have commanding orders over a National Guard outpost within the Capitol, for the safety of both the members of Congress and the building. Back in the day, they even had to review the troops every morning (there’s a small barracks under the Eliptico Hall steps…).

    • Well, I’m not telling you not to endorse him -though I understand that was not the point of the article-; I just get a certain alarm going on.

      But I would vote for him. Not as the lesser of two evils, and not with a handkerchief in my mouth. I’m throwing my “facturas” away….

    • Within the opposition.

      Sense will prevail, I hope, and it will be the opposition candidate, whoever he/she may be, again against Chavez. I also hope that this time, the opposition candidates discuss their ideas publicly, and whoever is elected is the result of a primary victory, rather than back room deals between people that do not represent the majority.

  3. Capriles must be extra-careful, after all, he is now holding public office…Chavez may invent something if he feels seriously threaten by him.

    I don’t know Capriles personally and I have not followed his political path, but in a recent trip to Caracas I got two different views about him. An opposition voter told me she did not liked him because she found him “arrogant” and told me she voted for him as a necessity. But the most amazing review was from someone working for the goverment who told me spontaneously that what was needed were new fresh faces like Capriles and Lopez!

    So, he might be right, he may have an appeal for people that otherwise would support Chavez. Lets say that I was pretty surprised about person number 2 spontaneous support of Capriles.

    • Hope so… And I hope the “Cuban Embassy Affair” (which showed in him a mix of recklessness and inability to lead) is not exploited by the government effectively.

      He DID defeat Diosdado, after all.

    • Many PJ people are less appealing to the opposition’s base than to moderates and ni-nis. Perhaps Capriles fits into this mold.

      Your comment about his vulnerability vis-a-vis justice is not unimportant. In that sense, someone like Maria Corina Machado (who will have immunity) will be safer.

      Having said that, nothing is sacred in Chavez’s Venezuela. If he feels threatened, he may order his minions to take away anyone’s immunity and have them locked up. Anything could happen, there are no guarantees.

    • As for the Cuban embassy issue, I’m still shocked beyond words that the case was resolved in his favor. And nearly as shocked that it wasn’t revived in some way to make him inhabilitado for the Congressional race. Very, very strange.

  4. Could you explain what would be the “profound” weakness of Machado? In your post you claim to read a not-so-veiled reference, but do not care to explain why is it that he (as you imply) sees Machado as a weak candidate. Or is it your opinion imposed on López’s?

  5. Machado es sifrina, Capriles Randonski no? Lopez deshabilitado/caudillo, Borges unicejo/pan con yema, Falcon ex chavista, Evelyn no tiene pagina web, Ledezma es adeco, Pablo Perez es maracucho, a Petkoff no lo traga ni su madre, OAP esta quemao como Ricardo Smith, Guillermo Avele.. Guillermo what? Barboza es proxy de Rosales…

    Juan, brother, listen to yourself. Realize, once and for all, that there’s no such thing as the perfect candidate.

    The candidate that’s none of the above has been in power for 12 years, do we want 12 more years with the perfect candidate at the helm?

    • I think all those things are true. But for the n-th time, I am not endorsing Capriles nor am I saying that he’s right in saying Machado is sifrina. I’m merely pointing out the messages they seem to be trying out.

      Capriles, imho, has bigger weaknesses than Machado – at least at this point.

    • You hit the target. Nobody is the Perfect Candidate. Except maybe the Dreadful President we have.

      What worries me though, is that 2012 is too near. Hugo Chavez may be beaten in 2012. But sadly, he will not be through and thorough.

      He will not be finished politically and he will not be finished with Venezuela and for Venezuelans by 2012. That can be catastrophic. It will be sadder still if Hugo, one way or another, steps out to hand a country full of trouble to a President who will be guaranteed a very rocky term, a failure probably, and a return to power for chavismo. Which will then finish it’s self-destructive trajectory, and that of Venezuela.

      It is quite scary. You can see that most Venezuelans are full of the kinds of beliefs, fantasies and expectations about themselves, society and about government that Chavez and chavismo used on their way to power. They have had short-term benefit from the implementation of such unsustainable beliefs and from an oil boom. They have not yet experienced the middle and long term harm that come from such a world view, yet. If Chavez leaves in 2012, not as an absolute failure, we, Venezuela learn the wrong lesson.

  6. Juan Cristobal has received a lot of flak for broadcasting a newsworthy interview (Capriles seemed uninterested in the Presidency not a month ago, so Julio Borges was indeed right)… Moreover, JC was pondering whether this was a timely discussion… (the MUD doesn’t seem to think so, despite the changes in opinion on the matter by some twitter-influential pundits…).

    Alas, I piled much of the flak on JC myself. My apologies…

    Taht being said, if we are indeed to play at king-makers, we might speculate on better things than saying that Machado met with G.W. Bush, Ledezma is former adeco, Capriles is a caraquista and so forth. As Alek has pointed out, this is all superficial stuff (to which I might have contributed, too): first, because there cannot be a perfect candidate (and the government propaganda machine will tear it up even if IT IS perfect…); second, the process itself will produce a candidate, and that’s a dynamic we cannot control (who will hold the advantage: party machines or spontaneous and grass-roots’ mobilisation? which potential candidate won’t be unfit for office? will there actually be elections?)…

    We might focus on that: right now, the recently elected diputados of the Unidad are getting together as a group (some of then have never met each other, which stems from the fact that many of them did not have a common militancia…). They are also being schooled in the parliamentary process… This is the main front we have right now: but the Unidad is also intent in mobilising society and, carefully, not threading onto already developing conflicts (so as not to kidnap social leadership nor “pisar” the government’s “peine”…). Perhaps we might want to comment on that as well?


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