The Miami pallbearer


There he is in Miami, sitting in the front row at Carlos Andrés Pérez’s controversial funeral, photos courtesy of Noticias 24. And there he is, standing guard by the former President’s casket.

We always knew Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma was CAP’s dauphin. What we didn’t know was how loyal he was to his mentor.

This picture will surely frame the narrative should Ledezma decide to run for the opposition candidacy in 2012. Should he win the nomination, expect to hear a lot of “No volverán!” shouts spouting from chavista mouths.

Only this time, they’ll have a point.

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  1. Did I not hear in these pages similar put downs on Ledezma circa 2008?

    It is not that I like the guy, I do not, but he has a way with Adecos of which many chavistas used to pledge fealty. Many, many…. Or is that people still think that chavismo voters came from some form of spontaneous generation?

    Maybe I should restate here what i wrote in my blog when CAP died: his best vindication is the current regime which will bring back AD into office also though some avatar form. That is, the adeco voter voting Chavez will eventually stop voting Chavez and will vote for whatever is the most vernacular to him or her, that is, and AD like speech. In the case of Ledezma, well, that might actually help him win just like it did in Caracas. We like it or not is irrelevant.

    • Um… where did you read a “put-down” ? Am I saying anything negative about Ledezma in my post?

      Ledezma, by placing himself front and center in this particular soiree, is aggressively, almost fiercely, grabbing hold of the IVth Republic mantle. That is his choice. Whether that’s a positive or a negative, we’ll see.

  2. Juan Cristóbal:
    No hace falta ser un maestro en semiótica para interpretar el tono de tu nota. La referencia al “no volverán”, que repiten los chavistas para hacerle creer a la gente que ellos son el futuro, es una forma de descalificar a Ledezma. Nunca fui fan de los adecos, pero está claro que estos días se vive una cierta nostalgia por ese pasado, nostalgia que refleja más el malestar con el régimen corrupto e incompetente actual que una añoranza porque vuelvan los de “la Cuarta”. El curso natural de las cosas contribuirá a que no regresemos a aquellos tiempos, simplemente porque los representantes de esa época se van muriendo. Lo que sí está claro es que lo que padecemos ahora es, con creces, muchísimo peor que cualquier gobierno anterior. Es por eso que CAP y sus delfines, que sin duda cometieron muchísimos errores y tienen su parte de responsabilidad en lo que vivimos hoy, salen relativamente bien parados. Es cuestión de contrastes. Ante el mamarracho que desgobierna Venezuela cualquier adeco se luce.

    • Totalmente de acuerdo con Issac.

      Ademas que el hecho que Ledezma este llevando el ataúd de CAP es mas respeto que nada. No solamente a su persona sino respeto a la institución democrática de Presidente que fué.

      CAP se merece todo el respeto como presidente porque sea lo que fuere respetó la institucion democrática, Chavez no. A la hora de su muerte, eso es lo que debemos recordar TODOS los Venezolanos.

    • Bueno, yo no le he faltado el respeto a CAP, por lo menos aqui no. Ahora, una cosa es respeto, y otra cosa es agarrar el primer avion espepitao para ir a cargarle la urna!

    • Must add, understand your point but not share it. What I see is the man siding with democracy. That’s what CAP represents now. That’s how I see it anyway. But I understand what you trying to say with the “espepitao” comment in regards of him as a politician.

  3. I’m writing this as someone who never was CAP’s fan: Hats off to Ledezma for going to CAP’s funeral. The politically wiser move for Ledezma would have been to skip the funeral (and privately excuse himself with a plausible story.) I respect him more as a person for going.

  4. Good on you, Juan! Plomo al hampa!

    I cannot for the life of me understand the current outbreak of Gochostalgia. It’s confusing and upsetting…like the opposition has made a conscious choice to forget all the things we’d all vowed to always remember…like after five years of slowly, gradually coming to understand that there’s no future in pandering to Marialejandralopezismo the opposition’s suddenly decided to go back to alienating unaligned voters for sheer sport…like on top of MINCI, VTV, ANTV, TeleSUR, RNV, YVKE, Vea and El Correo del Orinoco the government needs Ledezma pushing its rhetorical erogenous zones, too…

    …it’s MADDENINGLY frustrating…

    • Frustrating… but as you can tell from this comments section, politically astute.

      There is a remnant of gochostalgia out there, and Ledezma is sneakily cashing in on it.

    • Agreed, Quico. I have remained largely silent because I am very busy and somewhat depressed, but you are right on. Coming from a home where one parent was into Causa R and the other voted for the Gocho, but the repented and voted Velásquez in the next election, (And both falling for Chávez before repenting sorely), this is nuts.

      No matter what were the intentions of CAP, what is undeniable is that what we have now is a consequence of many of his actions, including ignoring the corruption.
      You might like the guy and not think he was bad, but, folks, if you want to win the elections you need to do better, there is still a LOT of people fiercely opposed to the past.

      But, who cares? The strategy of the opposition has been to get more and more obnoxious trusting that Chávez will get so bad that people will vote for anyone but him. It has worked, as Chávez is increasingly mad. Alfaro Ucero p’al 2012, Carajo!

    • Quico and JC you guys are seeing too much from this “gochonostalgia” or Ledezma carryin CAP’s rests. I imagine there is a heap of politicos trying to fish whatever they can at the time of CAP’s death for their benefit for sure, but it’s logical that people show their respect as President of Venezuela, and if you are a político democrático more. Adeco, Copeyano, ladrón, esto lo otro, it’s not important at this moment. After the burial, ok. Give it some time to cool off you know what I mean.

      I bet the majority of the people who feel gochonostalgico including myself is because on those days there was democracy, with a lof of faults, but democracy nevertheless. Also it reminds us *me* how far we have fallen, as a country, as a society. Tragic.

      We have to put CAP’s death in context and get the best of it… un momento de reflexión… CAP con todo y todo lo que hizo todo lo que se puede criticar es el Rey Salomón comparado con el que te conté.

    • Quico, watching the rating your comments are getting, it seems obvious there are many Marialejandra Lopezes who are silent around. Sad. And deadly for our chances to get rid of Chávez in any way, electoral or not.

    • Guido,

      Acknowledging the complexity of our country’s history, and acting accordingly, does not make anyone a “Maria Alejandra Lopez”. Drawing ideological lines in the sand and attempting to fit them to every situation, however… Well, let’s just say I’m more worried about someone who wants an impossibly absolute break with the past than I am about someone choosing to attend a friend’s funeral, however unpopular that friend might be.

  5. Funny, I have yet to find anyone, just anyone, in Caracas talking about CAP and his death. Maybe now that he will be buried here, someone may, but in my regular rounds at the office, vigilantes, family, stores, conserjes, obreros, I have heard about floods, crime, inflation, habilitante, estudiantes, but not a single person has brought up CAP, let alone Ledezma…

    Thought I would mention it, it seems to be more of a topic for Hola, or the blogs than for every day Venezuelans. Once again, maybe the local burial will change this.

  6. I wouldn’t vote for CAP if he were around, but I also won’t damn him to hell as some of you are gleefully doing. Perhaps it’s a consequence of Chavez dragging our standards below ground, but think about it: The man was indicted, stood trial, and accepted the outcome without a single shot being fired. In Chavez’s Venezuela, that’s downright utopian.

    Kudos to Ledezma for following his conscience rather than his PR wag.

    Sure, the chavista establishment will react in the expected way. Up to that point, JC is 100% correct. But so what? I refuse to play the “no volveran” game. The people who use it as a mantra are followers of the most disastrous president in the history of Venezuela. Until they wake up from that (and no amount of PR on our part will accomplish that), there’s no hope.

    I bet if I open up Aporrea right now, this picture will be in the front page, accompanied by a 10-page thread full of insults towards us just for walking on the same side of the street at anyone who expressed sadness at CAP’s passing (NOTE: I was half-right. The picture’s not there, but the thread’s 13 pages long). What sort of rational discussion do you believe is possible with people who think this way? I refuse to let Chavez or the morons still following him dictate the terms of the debate. I will not run from the past just because the cult has decided the past is evil.

  7. CAP would have won an election against Chavez even before he died! Whatever you say against him or what he represented ( which is true) is worse than this!

  8. I think a transformation took place in Venezuela during the last few months among the so called chattering classes. The Mirtha Rivera book “La rebelion de los naufragos” did a lot to rescue CAP from the wilderness, it made him somewhat acceptable again. By analysing the forces at play in his downfall ( CAPII), it put the present very much into perspective. It was also extremely well written, something not very common in Venezuela, where literary journalism is almost non existent. I found the book somewhat complacent towards the man, but had to accept that it was a riveting read. It was published in October and in a matter of weeks it had been reprinted and was by far the top selling book in the country. I think that perhaps something of that new mood is at play here and I presume Ledezma lo olfateo, and is acting accordingly. Contrary to what has been mentioned above, I wouldn’t be surprised if the funeral of CAP develops into a big January political event (Pre or around 23E).

    • Who reads in Venezuela? You, Daniel, my friend Pablo, your friend Pedro and Elena del Rosario, the same people who have access to the Internet, who buy El Universal or El Nacional and another regional newspaper. The same people who have been abroad at least on vacation. The same people who have access to cable TV. A subset of the same people who have always voted against the current regime.

      I rejected CAP but I am not going to trash here someone for going or not going to CAP’s funeral. Like Kolya I am glad Ledezma went as a friend, for his believes, whatever. I think CAP was very bad but a thousand times better than Chávez. I don’t think it was intelligent, but I see this beside the point.

      Now, I won’t waste time delving into CAP or not CAP. We are in a dictatorship. We need to act in completely different ways than just marches of students that will be suppressed by some thug wanting to get a medal for using a loudspeaker.

      Venezuela is a special country. It is the most Middle Age country of all middle- to big-size countries in Latin America. It is the country where advances in education arrived much later than in all the rest, where there were huge advances in education, but they were not sustainable at all: because the ones up were completely ignorant of general history and societal issues and the ones below got an education that became diluted by the year
      until we had the worst pupils of Spanish America in 1998, a nation without historical memory but with shitty military legends.
      Venezuela has suffered from military fixations since its colony. And because of that Venezuelans still think in terms of caudillos, warlords or, at best “civic caudillos who will single-handedly save the country”.

      Most law-level and many high-level Chavistas but for the extreme leftist were not voting or were ADECOS. The ones who are still voting for AD in the “countryside” (in Calabozo and in Maturin, in Tucupita and in Acarigua and in many other CITIES of more than 100 000 inhabitants) won’t be more now.
      Unlike in the US or Europe, the national government is the one giving almost all the money and that will go on being like that while Chavez is in power and probably afterwards. We have a problem if we let those areas just be dominated by the old dinosaurs of AD. AD won’t get us more people there. Go through the statistics for those areas. And in the areas closer to what we very pretentiously see as “civilization”, Caracas, Valencia, Maracaibo, most people in C, D and E areas are just not voting (I have gone through the stats for those areas). We cannot just hope they won’t vote in 2012 or else. We need to take them to our side and we won’t do that with AD.

      If Venezuela has any hope, the main new parties – UNT, PJ, perhaps even Podemos – have to understand they cannot function as feudal parties.
      In 2012 there will be a lot of cheating. We need to have not 52% of the votes, not 53%, not 55%, not 58% , but more than 60%.

      To do that we need to go after the people who were voting for AD before or who are the new ADcos, the Chavistas who are under 28 year old and all the rest outside Greater Caracas, Greater Valencia and Greater Maracaibo.

      To do that we need to go to those other places. Some of them are not even that far, you can reach them in half an hour, in one hour.

      But there is a problem: would-be politicians do not want to do it out of patriotism.
      What is the price of a politician now?
      From readings news I came up with this:

      * 2 to 10 several days of marching in their city or a hunger strike of 3 days
      for a candidacy at the Asamblea Nacional
      (That was the case of that silly student in Valencia who joined PVenezuela and organized a violent row in a MUD meeting because he was not going to be chosen).

      * 1 to 5 days marches in his previous territory if he was an old dinosaur for the same type of offer, a candidacy at a sure post for the Asamblea Nacional
      (That was Mendoza)

      *a little bit of permanent work without moving from the city, preferably by using Twitter
      for the same job or for a job at an alcaldia or state

      *actually moving around or visiting any other city than the city where he/she lives and has family or Morrocoy

      for the JOB OF CANDIDATE for the presidency of Venezuela
      for a very big salary as consultant for such a candidate for the presidency

      As the opposition does not have much money, it is hard to have people for the last.

      This is not good. I am aware we cannot expect people to become Gandhis, but at least we can expect them to become the couple of hundred politicians starting with Nehru but with many others, who did move across India not all the time but at least from time to time.

      We need at least 10 faces for each of PJ/UNT/Podemos…hell, even Quico’s Causa Я (ok, I voted for Causa Я in 1988 as I voted for the first time) to go around in Venezuela and talk about a real change. They cannot and do not need to do that al the time. Each one of them can focus on 10 places to visit in one year. That is not much. 30-40 bigger politicians doing that from now until the start of the real campaign, people with a message about open debate, pluralism, democracy, making Venezuela a developed nation, following the path of Chile or something much better, is what we need.
      We cannot hope AD to deliver for us those areas.
      It won’t happen. If you don’t have petrodollars, you need really a very different image and a real message.

  9. At a time where there are too many guabinosos I’ll take Ledezma’s stand… All the other MF are waiting for wathever comes out of this… He’s playing his cards with no miedo… I like him…

    • As respectable as you may find Ledezma’s position, I’ve yet to find anyone who can convince me that running as the “No volverán” candidate is anything but a suicide mission.

      Are we seriously considering running on a platform that the IVth Republic wasn’t all that bad? That’s what we’re going to offer the electorate? Because if that’s the strategy, then we might as well just call the election for Chavez now.

      But hats off to Ledezma. Judging from the reaction on this blog, he’s put himself in the mix quite nicely. Touche.

    • Juan Cristobal

      Let’s not forget that supposedly there will be primaries (and I am assuming that there will be open elections in 2012, me, the incurable optimist). So Ledezma is not running on the No volveran platform quite yet. So let’s not start juego adelantado quite yet and trash Ledezma just for the sake of it.

    • Yet again: I am not trashing Ledezma!! If anything, I am quite complimentary of his political skills. By placing himself as the sole heir to CAP among the presidenciables, he’s put himself in a very good position to win the primaries.

  10. what’s amazing is how stupidily the same to all the “dojitos” Quico and JC are with their talking from the pulpit to the populace….
    some people shouldn’t get a chance on a soap box….

  11. I never voted for the guy or his party. My family stand to the guy and his party I already gave in another post. As a member of the youth of a leftist political party, one of my first actions as an activist was to spray hundreds of Maracaibo walls calling for his resign.
    Ok, now that I maybe catch your attention giving you my anti-CAP credentials, I can tell you how disappointing and manipulative I find this post and some of the comments. I think we deserve de right to critically approach the guy’s historical contributions, negatives and positives, without fallaciously be called marialejandralopezes, gochostalgics or part of the operation to restore de ancien regime as opposed to the “no volveran”. I mean, quit the false dilemmas, the some of us that remember some virtues in the long political career of the guy, can do and at the same time thinking that someone with too much cuartarepublica tufo is certainly not electable in 2012. You guys maybe have to put more effort in separate your personal distaste for the guy from your analysis in your posts on CAP death, I find your tone somewhat insulting to your loyal audience. Saludos

    • But Omar, what we have to say doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in this world. What matters is that Ledezma will be framed *by chavistas* as the second coming of CAP. He will be defined as a return to the past, as the “No volveran” candidate, and this photo is pretty much a graphical representation of that.

      The election will then become a referendum on the Cuarta Republica instead of a referendum on Chavez. It will be a repeat of the 1998 election.

      Do we seriously think we can pull that off? I don’t.

    • I tend to agree with you on the (not) viability of a potential Ledezma candidacy. I personally don’t like the guy and wouldn’t vote for him in any primary. Is the tone of the post, the viuda de la cuarta, marialaejandrlopez, gochistalgic tag attached to anyone that recognize any virtue on CAPs legacy that i find fallacious…

    • I agree 100% with Omar. It insults the intelligence to find juniors sermonizing certain political actions, based on their readings, rather than their experiences. More insulting still is the discrediting by those, who hide behind the pulpit, of those who do the right thing. Case in point: why would Ledezma, the protegé, be thinking of political positioning when he’s simply paying his respects to someone with whom he had a long association. Are the sermonizers not familiar with doing the right thing that they so readily ascribe to the hyperventilation on multiple forums to gain their ideas and spit them out on this blog?

    • Does any one believes that, had he not gone to the funeral, no one would had framed him as the second coming of CAP or a return to the IV? really? this not even “one more strip to the tiger”, it doesn’t even gets to that. The guy does not have a “smell” of the IV, he was a very active force in the IV!!!

      My first impression was that this doesn’t matter, since he is just showing respect to someone everybody would expect him to respect, at least from a distance. Now, I don’t know what to think. And honestly, I don’t care. This doesn’t changes ANYTHING.

      VTV will frame the guy in any way the want, be it with a reason or not, if he happens to be the candidate.

      And to frame him as a second coming of CAP, they only need to show images of him a few years back. They don’t need to talk about the funeral at all.

      Let the dead be buried in peace!

      There are much more important news and things to discuss that who showed at CAP funeral. Honestly. As corrupt as he was, and as much damage he did to the country, he left power democratically and was president twice. I think more people should had gone to his funeral. That we are actually having this discussion only shows a small victory of chavismo to convince us that anything IV related is bad, ugly and not-to-be-remembered.

    • I don’t know if going or not going to someone’s funeral qualifies as “doing the right thing.” The man is dead, so it’s not like he cares.

      If anything, Ledezma chose to console Cecilia Matos over Blanquita, which opens up a whole other can of worms. So the ethical dilemma here, if there is one, is not so straightforward.

      So it’s not my place to discuss Ledezma’s ethics. My goal was to talk about the political significance of his presence there, in Miami, in the front row.

    • The political significance is very slim. Just you are not trashing ledezma, I’m not defending him.

      But I think that the tone of the post was way out of line. If someone can’t go to funeral of a friend, just for political issues, you are following the dictator’s game. Period.

      And I think that’s the feeling of many. You are over reacting to ledezma gesture. The support ledezma is getting in the rate system of the blog I think is caused by the constant attack on the IV by the government. So what if the guy is close to CAP? this is not new at all!

  12. When I lived in Guarico during the 70’s I knew Ledezma personally, at the time he was being trained by CAP as a leader for AD.

    Being not yet Venezuelan, and not even knowing the language well, I had no political persuasion whatsoever,but because of the nature of my husband’s job I traveled extensively with Ledezma, and though he was my type( in the sense of friendship)…I mean he was serious and political and I was artistic, and flexible( our world’s barely touched on the inner levels) , etc etc…ya’ll certainly know what I mean…
    well, I was still able to appreciate his considerable talents as a politician, and his tendency towards hard work, and honesty.

    I later came to know most of the rest of our opposition leaders in Caracas.I can promise you that Ledezma is perhaps the ONLY prospect capable of beating Chavez, despite his lack of charisma.There are a few others who are worth something but none have the inner strength and possibility that Ledezma has.

    Poo-pooing him, you are just poo- pooing our chances.Sorry for being so graphic.

    • Sorry,

      Correction: I meant to say that Ledezma is NOT my type of friend.
      Still want to emphasize his ability to beat Chavez .Chavez has outer strength.Ledezma has inner.Inner strength can beat outer any day of the week.The rest of the oppo leaders are only a fraction as strong as Ledezma.
      If we want to be rigid and follow the leader we can keep on parroting the “no volveran” phrase, that has come to mean nothing, as its use is not flexible to reality.

  13. citizenfeathers : “I bet the majority of the people who feel gochonostalgico including myself is because on those days there was democracy, with a lof of faults, but democracy nevertheless. ”

    Citizenfeathers, please explain to me your definition of democracy.

    Maybe are you forgotten that during CAP’s last term, there was the Caracazo. Quoting wikipedia: “In 1999, the Court [Inter-American Court of Human Rights] heard the case and found that the government had committed violations of human rights, including extrajudicial killings”

    Only one quote from the judgement:

    “480. Conduct an exhaustive investigation to identify, prosecute and order the disciplinary, administrative and criminal punishment of those responsible for the unlawful burial of corpses in mass graves in the La Peste sector of the Southern General Cemetery. In this respect, the State should continue immediately with the process of exhuming the corpses that was halted in 1991. Likewise, it should identify the remaining 65 corpses, determine the causes of death by means of official autopsies and inform the respective next of kin so that they may proceed to bury their dead.”

    After the Caracazo, I clearly remember at least one or two students killed almost each week during demostrations by the police/GN.

    Maybe that was very democratic for the upper-middle-class, but certainly not for the poors.

    My only regret concerning CAP death, is that he never was judged about these facts.

    • Cause toujours,
      As I understand it most of the police and army are/were poor people themselves.So where do you come saying that statement about the middle class?Do you have evidence that the middle class was trying to kill the poor? Of course not.Your comment makes no sense.

      Also you cannot characterize a whole government based on one incident.
      Alek Boyd has a very good article on CAP’S government which is more comprehensive than just focusing on one incident.

    • Yes yes yes Toujours, like I said, did you read my whole comment? Or you are only another pendejo sans frontier who loves Chavez and don’t even speak Spanish?

      That’s what I ended with this “We have to put CAP’s death in context and get the best of it… un momento de reflexión… CAP con todo y todo lo que hizo todo lo que se puede criticar es el Rey Salomón comparado con el que te conté.”

      BECAUSE far far far from having the perfect government, CAP’s government le dá por los dientes al gobierno de Chavez. Entendiste brother?

  14. Firepigette,

    The State and elected authorities are responsible for police/army actions. So, CAP was direct responsible of repression orders, even if direct performers are responsible too (cf. Nuremberg trails).

    I think you didn’t understood my coment, please let me be more clear:

    – Citizenfeathers think that, during this time, we had a Democracy.
    – I wrote that it’s not true, because there was a generalized human right violations and
    – I support that statement quoting the Rojo-rojita Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
    – Citizenfeathers said that CAP gouvernment was a democracy, I assume his bona fide, thus I assume he perceived this time as democracy
    – So, I ask his definition of democracy
    – And I make the assumption that his perception comes from the fact that he is probably a upper-middle-class/middle-classe people (access to internet, bilingual…) as well as me
    – Upper-middle-class people was not, during the CAP term, the main victim of repression, so that explains why they/us didn’t perceive repression/lack of democracy
    – Poor, at contrary, were the main victims of repression, so they actually perceived very well the lack of democracy

    Please, Firepigette, explain to me were I am saying that the “middle class was trying to kill the poor”.

    • causetoujours,

      Do you think Venezuela has now a democracy? Is the Carter certificate 2004 enough for that? The 2006 EU report that was already giving increasing criticism and that turned out to be made under these conditions:

      Do you think it is a democracy when Chávez has passed virtually all laws we Venezuelans rejected? And now deputies, unlike in any democracy (no, I do not see Cuba as a democracy), cannot go against their party? (this is an explicit violation of our constitution).

      Chávez and his thugs have de facto murdered more people in the two coups of 1992 than CAP did. Does that not count because “he already paid for it”?
      Were all murders of 1992 the whole responsibility of CAP and friends or also a lot of military who are now supporting Chávez?
      Why were some of the current Chavistas doing in 1992 shooting and organizing violent riots?

    • Kepler,

      Manichaeism is very bad way to analyse political problems. If I understand that you wrote, if I told that CAP gouvernment was not a democratic gouvernment, that means that I said that Chávez is a Democrat and his gouvernment the most democratic in Venezuelan history? Coño pana!

      My point, and I wrote about this in other comments, is that we must understand clearly what is happening in Venezuela if we want to act efficiently. Lo contrario son palos a la piñata con los ojos vendados.

      I desagree with the Ley Habilitante and with most of decrees, but the point is that the majority of the people in Venezuela still considers that country as a democracy (cf. Latinobarometro, at least last year).

      My opinion or yours, as persons, about Venezuelan political regime is not relevant, the key point is understand why so much people think like this and so few think in terms of Dictadura or “Castro-Comunismo”. Try to understand why Chávez is still supported by at least 40% of Venezuelans, after two years of economic contraction and what kind of political alternative and political strategy could work in 2011-2012 for alternance.

    • Cause,

      I agree we must understand what is in people’s mind.
      Now: what other people, even if it is a majority think, about the country does matter, but the fact it matters does not mean what they think is true.
      Venezuelans left and right also think their country is extremely wealthy (just that things are badly distributed). They – whether they live in Sal Si Puedes or in NY- think so much more than Europeans or North Americans who have been living in Venezuela for many years and who may sometimes have a very clear picture of Venezuela’s economy.
      Venezuelans are also the most content with their education system, as I expressed in another post. And yet: average Venezuelan pupils are bottom of the bottom in a region that does not do well in education.
      So, about the Latinobarometro: la gente puede decir misa. Ni siquiera saben lo que es un debate real. Como decía Herrera Luque, el venezolano no es demócrata. Es parejero, para arriba. This is not in their genes, but it is very much in their upbringing.

      Yes, at least 40% of Venezuelans still support Chávez. The reasons are many.
      I personally do not think Venezuela lives through a “castro comunismo”. It doesn’t even have socialism. I think I know pretty well what comunism and socialism is and what different regimes defined as “socialism”. Venezuela is a neo-Feudal Sambil-oriented society living off petrodollars.
      But we are de facto in a dictatorship when the Supreme Court is an absolute joke, when the Electoral Council is a farce – even if just does as much as necessary to “optimize” seats time after time-, when the regime rejects upright and time after time pluralism.

      I have been extremely critical of many MUD decisions. I do not think we will take Venezuela towards development and democracy by tweeting or writing on the Internet or being witnesses during election time in Cumbres de Ocurumo or having a Feel-Good event at Sambil.

      But one thing is to try to understand what people think and another to think their assesment is right. There have been many occassions in the last 100 years when people thought their country was indeed a democracy or the like.

    • Kepler,

      In general terms, I agree with you. And the description of a new-wave-consumerist-feudal society is interesting.

      But even if almost all the people is wrong, and they dismiss completely facts, their believes has an existence per se, and in political terms those believes account a lot.

      If people believes some inanity, for instance, “Intelligent design”, that matters a lots if the society have to chose democratically about education budget.

      If the majority of Venezuelans believes that we lives in democracy, any political strategy has to take it into account.

      If we are in dictature, the only consistent stratety is “Resistance” strategy: Civil disobedience (generally useless) or to take weapons and fight. If the majority of people reject your analysis and think that we are in democracy, they will reject any violence and gouvernment’s support will increase (cf. 2002-2004). If you continue doing political business as usual, you discredit your analysis about dictature.

      So, in my point of view, focussing in talk about dictature could be useful outside but useless in Venezuela. Venezuelans will change their opinion and identify Chávez with a dictator only if there is a real massive repression (political murders, desaparecidos, torture, etc.) or, for instance, if opposition elected deputies are not allowed to enter in functions.

      I think that Chávez knows that and he is trying to push MUD to the same 2002-2004 situation.

    • Well, I think we agree on more things than you think. Don’t you think Sandra Bullock looks great?
      OK, OK.
      I agree Chavez is trying to push the oppo to a 2002 or 2005. I also agree it is imperative to try to understand on one side the general population, particularly the ones not yet voting for the alternative forces and on the other the high ranking and middle ranking Chavistas – as much as I feel like repulsed by such people as the minister of “Agriculture” and the likes.
      Now: one of the things that we need to do is to refute the myths they have created. To do that, though, we need to know well the Chavista mythologies (here I mean the leading ones, the promotors, whether nationally or at street scale, not the humble voter). I am not into political science and yet I think some of our full-time politicians need more than us to learn about all those myths…and the histories and history and pseudohistory behind them and then design coherent stories to explain to the humble people why all that is a lie.
      Unfortunatelly, we won’t do it if a lot of the people on our side carrying the message to places we haven’t reached yet are old time adecos.

    • Comparado con el gobierno de Chavez viviamos con bastante democracia, Casetoujours. Y eso que estamos hablando del gobierno de CAP.

      That’s my definition of democracy.

      That’s what I said it’s a good time to put the CAP government who was a bad government in context and COMPARE from what we have right now. Conclusion: CAP respetó la institución democrática, Chavez no.

  15. cause toujours,

    Where did you say that?
    When you said:
    “After the Caracazo, I clearly remember at least one or two students killed almost each week during demostrations by the police/GN.
    Maybe that was very democratic for the upper-middle-class, but certainly not for the poors.”

  16. Cause toujours et others,

    I would like to say something I consider important to causetoujours and to some others whose names I need not mention at this time.Please try to understand this point:

    There is something called collapsing hierarchies and also something akin to it which is the inability to see differences.Some people have this problem.When they see only one thing that is similar between 2 or more ideas or happenings, then they say it is the same thing.This is a huge error in the thinking process.

    In a democracy bad things happen, just as in other systems.If you focus on an individual incident as a characteristic of an entire system then you are guilty of not seeing differences.In a democracy we will find isolated incidents whereas in a dictatorship repression is part of the daily reality.

    If you equate both you are doing a big favor to the dictatorships by trivializing the extent of the repression, suggesting that it is ALL the same thing.

  17. I agreee with Omar about the tone of the blog entry as well as Quico, JC and Guido’s comments. Guys, your attitude here is small-minded. Ledezma went to the funeral and paid his respects to a person he knew personally, a person who was important in his life. This was a normal and decent act we expect from anyone. You, however, used this opportunity to politicize the issue and basically accuse anyone who praised Ledezma being a pallbearer as supporters of Carlos Andres Perez. Yes, it’s natural for CAP supporters to be pleased by what Ledezma did (and there is nothing wrong in that.) I bet, though, that most Caracas Chronicles readers who saw virtue in Ledezma’s conduct are not CAP admirers, they simply liked seeing a man acting decently.

    • Oh please, let’s not be naive. It’s one thing for Ledezma to go to a funeral and pay his respects. It’s quite another to be seated *in the front row*, about two seats away from Cecilia Matos.

      I mean, seriously, have we learned nothing? Ledezma cared for CAP, sure, but this was also a political act, and a pretty astute one at that. He made sure the cameras captured his presence very prominently.

      Falto poco para que empezara a batir los brazos como el difunto…

    • Agree with Kolya. And JC, as much as I generally like your balanced writing, your appear to be selectively cynical, when you ascribe purely political motivations to the dauphin’s presence at his mentor’s funeral. Yet, you’re unable to use critical optics on a politcal topic that you previously fawned upon. I’m talking about your unwillingness to see the narcissism and hypocrisy of Ingrid Betancourt, after she was freed from the FARC’s grip. It’s strange how certain forces have a hold over us, even though we may not want to admit it …

    • Well, I dunno if that’s fair dear Syd. I wrote about Ingrid the moment she was freed, and my analysis was tainted by the emotions of seeing someone emerge from such an ordeal in such spectacular fashion. I don’t think I’ve written about her since. And if I were to write about her, my impressions would be decidedly different.

      Look, my last word on the subject por ahora: obviously, my interpretation of Ledezma’s presence at CAP’s funeral is different than most people’s on the comments blog. But let’s agree on one thing: chavistas will milk it as much as they can. They’ve already started:

      In that sense, it was worth commenting on.

  18. If return to the past it’s impossible to avoid, then return to the present is equally unavoidable, people.

    Beyond what we feel personally about CAP, whether we love it or hate it, or think he was only human or whatever, it is a reality that we need not only votes, but also good will from people currently disgruntled at us, and this kind of thing is not helping.

    Fine, you want to praise CAP and say whatever you want, you are entitled to it, but I’d like to see how could you turn that into a political advantage to gain those votes we need, whether you call them Antipolíticos or whatever, we need their votes and, more importantly in the post Chávez era, their confidence.

    • You keep blowing the issue out of proportion. No one is calling for a “return to the past”. This kind of hardlining has got to stop. Ledezma paid his respects to his former mentor. He was his pallbearer, and sat with his family. Extrapolating his role in CAP’s funeral into an embrace of the vices of the IV Republic is such thin an argument as to be unsustainable.

      You are quite correct in that we need to earn the trust and respect of the other side(s). I just happen to think honesty is a big part of that. Ledezma acted out of honesty, rather than political machiavelism. People who are willing to throw stones at him (and in a ridiculous instance of guilt by association, at the opposition movement in general) and cast him as the reincarnation of the past, are meando so far fuera del perol that there is nothing to be done but wait for them to realize how intransigent their position is.

      A Venezuela built in the mold of the IV is doomed to fail again. But a Venezuela built on a blind break with it is just as doomed. Learning from the past goes both ways.

    • EA, it’s not about Ledezma in particular. It’s about all the praise and convenient amnesia about CAP that I have seen these days. To me it is extremely worrisome.

      Hopefully I am wrong and people are still adeca deep in their hearts and his death is going to change things when we realized how unfair we were and how enlightened he was. But colour me skeptic until then.

  19. “I don’t know if going or not going to someone’s funeral qualifies as “doing the right thing.” The man is dead, so it’s not like he cares.

    wow, JC just WOW!!!!…not that you care, but in my book you just reached a new low with that one…….

    read “escualidus arrechus” last post…and then re-read it again..

    there was a good reason I stopped partaking in this blog, …..thank you for confirm this again…

    • I read, and re-read it, and I find it completely and wholly unsubstantiated. It’s just ad-hominem, no real reasoning behind it. Am I missing something?

      Sorry you feel so strongly about this, Correfoc. You’re always welcome here. But I will reiterate what I’ve been saying: I am not being critical of Ledezma in this post, nor in my comments. You’re reading too much into things and making stuff up if you think I am.

    • ditto, carrefoc, regarding your response to the why-do-the-right-thing-the-dead-don’t-care throw-away. Qué espantoso fue ese comentario. That’s the trouble with the Web, and blogs in particular. They give certain people with a penchant for platforms a greater opportunity to masquerade as knowledgeable, on a number of topics. But scratch enough and you’ll find precisely that: a masquerade by those who have not fully lived or matured.

  20. “I don’t know if going or not going to someone’s funeral qualifies as “doing the right thing.The man is dead, so it’s not like he cares. “

    so let’s assume a dear friend of yours dies. Some people will go to the wake and funeral to pay respect and because that person means something to them.
    however we notice the absence of JC….it’s ok…
    not showing to a friend’s funeral is not really “the right thing to do”

    sorry dude, yeah I feel strongly about this…coz it really bothers me how you and sidekick reek or self righteousness and superiority…..always talking down to everybody who does not fully agree with whatever your write

    and yes, you’ve been dissing Ledezma, in your comments and in the post….
    perhaps you should re-read them again?

    seems that there are others that also think you’re beeing critical of Ledezma.
    not just me

    • ditto, carrefoc, regarding your response to the why-do-the-right-thing-the-dead-don’t-care throw-away. Qué espantoso fue ese comentario. That’s the trouble with the Web, and blogs in particular. They give certain people with a penchant for platforms a greater opportunity to masquerade as knowledgeable, on a number of topics. But scratch enough and you’ll find precisely that: a masquerade by those who have not fully lived or matured.

  21. JC,

    The right to your opinion is not ever denied, but when your opinion goes against what others might consider moral, then expect strong anger.

    In this case, there are political reasons why people are justifiably against your views, but the moral issue of attending a friend’s funeral, should be understood my most anyone.

    We cannot judge why or why not some people are friends.Most every person has something good in them to love, or at least something someone PERCEIVES as good.

    I would hope that in the death of any human being ( even Chavez) there would be those who honor the light within, however small.

  22. Please, JC and Quico.

    Even CAP himself saw the magnitude of his first errors (in his first period). And committed a second set of ones (in his second period).

    Antonio Ledezma might as well have had a personal relationship with CAP. It does not mean he followed orders from him, or that he even agreed with him on any issue. So, he shows friendship at a politically inconvenient time, and you join in the beating?

    Imagine if I went to the funeral of some friends and/or colleagues of mine who are actually marxists! Disagreement only goes so far, particularly if you want to be a decent person and not a hateful fanatic.

    Do not repeat, do not parrot the lines given us by the fat-guy-in-a-red-beret-who-is-so-brave-that he-only-fights-straw-men-and-the-dead. Do not buy into his polarizing and typecasting schemes.

    He is the real, unrepentant, unredeemed successor of the worst vices of AD and CAP, to which he has added some serious ones that AD and CAP never developed but could as well. He needs to beat the dead man around, CAP, because ultimately, the worst of CAP is one of his (political) fathers.

  23. CaseToujours, you say:

    “Manichaeism is very bad way to analyse political problems. If I understand that you wrote, if I told that CAP gouvernment was not a democratic gouvernment, that means that I said that Chávez is a Democrat and his gouvernment the most democratic in Venezuelan history? Coño pana!”

    No, you didn’t understand AT ALL what Kepler wrote. What he meant with his comment was that there is less democracy with Chavez than there was with CAP. CAP respetó mucho más la institución democrática que Chavez, that’s all.

  24. JC, sorry, try as I may, I cannot read your post without it seemingly oozing negativity towards Ledezma throughout; despite your repeated claims of objectivity in the comments section.

  25. JC,
    When you say:
    “Should he win the nomination, expect to hear a lot of “No volverán!” shouts spouting from chavista mouths.Only this time, they’ll have a point.”

    Is this the politics that you wanted to discuss ?The problem with this statement was basically addressed by Escualidus Arrechus when he said that you cannot and should not make a complete break with the past.

    The concept of the past is often not understood in any essential way.First of all you cannot ever go back to the past because many changes have occurred making the present a somewhat different place.Whatever remains the same from the past will interact with changes creating a new dynamic.If we try to erase the past in our minds by denying its impact on the present, this is unnatural as the the part of the past that remains the same is still a part of our reality.

    Think it through JC.This is important for the future of the country.

    If the opposition does not come to the realization of the value( however imperfect) of what we had before Chavez appeared, it will never get anywhere because just promising some ideal solution to the countries problems without any reference to the past is just not convincing.

  26. Well Juan, I reckon public opinion among your readers is roundly against your, and FT’s, stance on this issue. The reasons on why you guys are so far off the mark (or as I’ve said about *some* of FT’s more immature and radical comments in the past “ni siquiera salpicando p’adentro…) has been expressed very eloquently by others above.

    But what truly shocks me is that you seem to have allowed your inner demons take the best of you on this particular topic. I don’t understand the hatred, the fantasizing about Ledezma’s intentions in going to a funeral, the debasing insults, mind you I don’t recall having ever read commentary of yours as radical as this. It’s like I am reading myself, some 6 or 7 years ago.

    Now, before your partner comes with another I’m-infallible-and write-very-well-so-everybody-else-can-kiss-my-ass swing, just ponder for a minute or two just how come 90% of the comments of your readers are against your wisdom. Normally the balance is just the opposite. So can you contemplate that on this issue you may be wrong?

    I am yet to read here a comment of someone saying that CAP was a saint. The common wisdom seems to be that the guy had his flaws, as any other, but his pros far outweighed his cons. Que si Porteñazo, Carupanazo, Caracazo, war crimes, etc., I challenge you to name one administration that has a clean bill in terms of human rights in the early 60ies, when countering violent uprisings against the State, or indeed in dealing with massive riots and looting in the latter part of the 80ies.

    Context my friend, context. Happy new year to everybody.

    • 90% of my readers, and you, are wrong. Simply wrong. You’re debtaing a straw man here. For the nth time, I am not criticizing Ledezma in my post, nor in my comments. I challenge you to show me where I am being “debasing” or “insulting.”

      Let’s debate reality, people.

    • Pardon me, but I’m not saying that you are wrong because you may be insulting ledezma. I couldn’t care less about that.

      You are wrong because:

      a) This does not has the political importance that you are giving it, which as I understand is the main issue. The guy was close to CAP, doesn’t “smell” IV republic but was actually an important of it. So I don’t see how going to CAP funeral hurts him more that all his past altogether.

      b) As many have said, this is not about Ledezma. Is about breaking from the past. Expecting a complete break from the past is stupid and not good as EA has pointed out.

      Now, how is any of these two points related to whether you are or are not criticizing Ledezma? are you really reading what people are writting? or are only trying no matter what that you are right? seriously!

      You are walking away. And you are wrong.

      I have to say, I keep returning to this blog basically for Francisco Toro’s post. The last months, you have been going deeper and deeper into an arrogance zone very similar to the chavista one. Sorry that’s how I see it. Are you a member of academia? I’m becoming one, let’s just say. And you arrogance sounds so academic-like, it’s frustrating because that arrogance hurts the science it supposedly looks after. In this case, it hurts your blog and other people who may look at it for valuable information.

    • You may be right in that it may not be important. On the other hand, pictures are easy to use as a frame. The electorate responds to simple definitions more than you or I wish to acknowledge. Chavez doesn’t need to elaborate on defining somebody like Ledezma, he can just point to the picture (or something similar) and say “son los mismos adecos y copeyyanos que nos llevaron a la ruina.” And a lot of people will respond to that, imho.

  27. “I don’t know if going or not going to someone’s funeral qualifies as “doing the right thing.” The man is dead, so it’s not like he cares.

    But then, you started with this:

    Should he win the nomination, expect to hear a lot of “No volverán!” shouts spouting from chavista mouths.

    Coming from someone already notorious for saying that there’s no one normal left in chavismo…

    So my point is Juan, you do care about what abnormal people say, i.e. chavistas, while you obviously don’t give a toss about what you consider normal people think, i.e. your readers.

    • What chavistas say about us, and how they campaign against us, affects our chances of unseating Chavez. So yeah, I care about what chavistas say, and so should we all for that matter.

  28. Definitions, definitions.

    Perhaps one should clarify what one understands by “chavista” as insulting anything who calls himself a Chavista may not be good.

    Aristóbulo Isturiz, Diosdado Cabello, Cilia Flores and all PSUV deputies are Chavistas.
    Josefina Rodríguez, leader of the female Círculo Bolivariano Boves Sanguinario is a Chavista. The thugs going around with Lina Ron are Chavistas.

    Is Chavista someone who is registered as a PSUV member but who has never voted for Chávez and always against him, someone who decided to register as PSUV member as that was the only opportunity to get tiny contracts (the other option would have been becoming a street vendor or cleaner, in view of the skills that person has)?

    What about streetvendor Yubilay Pacheco and unskilled worker Johnny 2 García, who vote for Chávez, live in very poor houses and who benefit from Mercal and whose children go to school whereas they themselves had to stop going to school at age 9 because the teachers stopped going to their village? (I know a couple of cases like that, even if they do not vote for Chávez, their relatives do).
    Are they also crazy chavistas? There are a couple of millions like them.

  29. JC,

    I showed you exactly where you were insulting Ledezma when you said:

    “expect to hear a lot of “No volverán!” shouts spouting from chavista mouths.

    Only this time, they’ll have a point.”

    The fact that you said they’ll have a point shows agreement with Chavistas that Ledezma is a throwback to a worthless or negative government.One that is even worse than Chavismo.

    The fact that you ignore my comments is not lost on me.I agree with those above that you devalue many of your readers.However when people devalue others it is usually because of insecurity.I also have seen that your normal, more reasonable side has gone awry in this post.

    Quico on the other hand is almost always insecure and immature.I thought that you eventually would have been a good influence on him.

    • “The fact that you said they’ll have a point shows agreement with Chavistas that Ledezma is a throwback to a worthless or negative government.One that is even worse than Chavismo.”

      No, it doesn’t. You’re putting words in my mouth. But suit yourself.

  30. The last months, you have been going deeper and deeper into an arrogance zone very similar to the chavista one. Sorry that’s how I see it. Are you a member of academia? I’m becoming one, let’s just say. And you arrogance sounds so academic-like, it’s frustrating because that arrogance hurts the science it supposedly looks after. In this case, it hurts your blog and other people who may look at it for valuable information.
    and thats precisely This blog’s motto is
    “we know como se bate el cobre” & you dont so sit and listen

    Pathetic truly pathetic
    You know whats disturbing? Having people pointing out that you r being arrogant and you becoming more and more arrogant in denying it so
    Lack of gonads in accepting the truth as others see it. There is nothing wrong in accepting who you are.

    • Correfoc,
      Why is having an opinion interpreted as “arrogance”? It’s a debate, I’m willing to accept when I’m wrong. In fact, I’ve done so in the past. Just that in this particular instance I honestly believe you are all debating a straw man. I seriously don’t see anything “pathetic” or “disturbing” in that, but I’m obviously in the minority.

      Oh, and this blog’s motto is not that.

  31. Hmmm,

    I re-read JC’s original post trying to figure out what was said that has earned him so much invective.
    Truth be told, I think the comments are off-base but that’s because JC’s post was missing another paragraph or two, explaining exactly where he was coming from viz. Ledezma and the IVth.
    If I’m reading it correctly, JC is stating that Ledezma going to the funeral will be used by chavistas against him (no volveran) if he ends up as the oppo candidate in the next election. That’s not exactly a big news flash.
    I think the commenters took JC’s post as a repudiation of all things IVth, and that’s because JC’s post sort of left the idea of that ‘hanging’ and open to (mis)interpretation.

    Just my 2 cents.

    For the record, though, I’m not in 100% disagreement with a lot of the criticisms expressed here, but not because of this particular post.

  32. “Why is having an opinion interpreted as “arrogance”?

    “90% of my readers, and you, are wrong. Simply wrong. ”

    “don’t know if going or not going to someone’s funeral qualifies as “doing the right thing.” The man is dead, so it’s not like he cares”

  33. “For the record, though, I’m not in 100% disagreement with a lot of the criticisms expressed here, but not because of this particular post.”

    Yeouch, on re-reading my own comment I’m not sure that what I said is crystal clear. Let me rephrase myself, “For the record, I somewhat agree with a lot of the criticisms expressed here, but not because of or due to this particular post.”

    If there’s a “teachable moment” here it might be that if something is written in a way that could be misinterpreted, dollars to donuts it will be.

  34. JC, it’s not what you said or not said in your post, it’s about how you would never have said it this way had you been anything but negative towards Ledezma. For example, if the Pope had gone to CAP’s funeral you would never have written that first paragraph in those terms, replacing the names. The rest of your post oozes the same negative tone of the first paragraph, in almost every sentence. You’d have to be very naive to think that a “I didn’t say anything negative about Ledezma” defense would save you from criticism about the clear negativity your post evokes.


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