Enlace Venezuela: Getting Serious About The Day After

In this special guest post for 23 de enero, Jose Ramón Morales Arilla announces an exciting initiative to start in on some serious planning for What Comes Next:

Today, we’re announcing the launch of Enlace Venezuela, a web-based initiative to generate serious, innovative, viable policy ideas for the period bridging the Venezuela we have to the one Venezuelans need.

Our country is living under a generalized state of insecurity. Our economy is increasingly volatile, and each passing year we depend more on oil exports for our survival. The decentralization of the federal government, and the governance successes it has bred, have been reversed and abandoned.

Ineffective social policies are leveraged as instruments for political domination. The unprecedented concentration of power in the hands of a single person has increased polariztion, and the non‐recognition of the other side has become the cornerstone of our public sphere. Armed violent groups are spreading throughout the country, breaching our sovereignty and threatening our safety.

As Venezuela approaches the 2012 presidential elections, the nation needs to take a long, hard look at its current predicament and set out clear-cut policy alternatives to address its most pressing issues. Any hypothetic post-Chávez government is likely to set advancing peace, progress, democracy and reconciliation as priorities, but: what will it be able to do in the short run given its multiple constraints? And what compromises will it be forced to reach?

One thing must be clear – if we manage to unseat Hugo Chávez in 2012, the future of the nation will depend on the opposition’s ability to deliver quality of life. Enhancing governability must be a priority.

The next government will inherit fierce opposition from within all public powers and the military. Armed terror groups will sieze any chance they get to destabilize. Crushing debt levels, combined with pent-up demand for unsustainable levels of spending, and a diminished capacity to generate income, will create enromous pressure on the next government. The country we inherit will be one without a viable private sector.

The new government will have limited administrative capacity to implement transparent, forward-looking public policies. Thinking through how to survive and move forward under such circumstances demands that we look past “magical formulas” and empty enumerations of pious principles, and move instead to establish clear priorities and realistic criteria for working through the inevitable tradeoffs any post-Chávez leader will face.

We need ideas to sustain the period bridging the end of the Chávez years and the start of a prosperous Venezuela.

To that end, a group of graduate students and young professionals formed the “Enlace Venezuela” Initiative. We will be posting articles diagnosing Venezuela’s problems, and how to best advance their solution, while handling all the budgetary, political, and bureaucratic restrictions and threats that Venezuela’s next government will face.

Of course, proposals to write a “Proyecto País” have been dime in a dozen in Venezuela since the early 90s. Actually, most of us have participated and witnessed first-hand how such well-intended initiatives have ended up piling dust.

Enlace Venezuela is different. It will generate contextualized, immediately applicable ideas for a transition government, not a generalist effort to set guiding principles. Timing is also on our side, since such narrowed ideas will be increasingly in demand as the elections approach.

Finally, many of us are members of political parties and are closely linked to political players on the ground. Part of our effort will be to take advantage of such links, so that the debate held at Enlace Venezuela transcends and influences actual decisions and proposals in the context of the 2012 Elections.

If we want to come up with the best ideas, we need the best criticism possible. Leveraging the Internet, and its ability to sustain spirited debate is critical in this regard. We hope to replicate the kind of critical discussion we see at Caracas Chronicles when it’s at its best, so we want to invite you all to join us in this effort.

Our initial approach is to develop ideas to address Venezuela’s generalized state of Insecurity, in the context of the restrictions and threats mentioned above. We disentangle this insecurity into 5 components:

  • Personal insecurity;
  • Territorial insecurity;
  • Economic insecurity;
  • Social insecurity; and
  • Legal insecurity.

Each blogger (or set of bloggers) agrees to lead sustained discussions regarding specific issues within each component. Everyone interested in collaborating with the debate held in “Enlace Venezuela” can do so as a commentator to the articles written, as a Guest Blogger to complement the debate on a given issue, or as an Official Blogger as long as he or she commits to sustain a debate about a certain issue.

Our Kick-off post by Jordy Moncada regarding Transitional Justice is already posted!

We wait for your support in www.enlacevenezuela.com. Feel free to contact us at anytime through [email protected].

We invite you to participate as guest bloggers, commentators, or by simply helping disseminate ideas. None of us has the right answers on our own – only together will we thrive.

I plan to use Caracas Chronicles to track this initiative closely and sound off continously. Hope you’ll join us.