Politician past his prime in presidential poll


Today, former Zulia governor and third-place finisher in the 1993 Presidential election Oswaldo Álvarez Paz formally announced he will seek the opposition’s nomination in next year’s presidential election.

The tone-deaf Álvarez seems to think he can do better against the formidable Hugo Chávez than he did against Rafael Caldera or Claudio Fermín. Not that it’s not his prerogative to run – the more the merrier and all that – but… seriously?

A guy with no platform, no recent record to speak of, no charisma, no known occupation, no social message… thinks he can take on the greatest campaigner our country has ever known? Really?

Álvarez Paz has a curious history. During his presidential run, he declared himself an admirer of Ronald Reagan and NAFTA. Then, in the early years of the Chávez era, he served as an advisor to the President on Constitutional matters, alongside some notorious heavyweights-turned-bashers such as Hermann Escarrá.

Lately, he became one of the President’s most radical opponents. He briefly gained notoriety last year for getting himself incarcerated after a series of comments he made about the President. This prompted Quico to launch himself into an ill-advised, fleeting bro-mance with the guy, one that I never quite understood.

So there he is today, saying he wants the nomination.

His sidekick? Another head scrather, it’s Chávez’s former foreign minister, Luis Alfonso Dávila, somebody who got 1.5% of the vote when he ran for governor of his home state three years ago.

His pitch? Fighting for “a Republic where there is balance, separation, and autonomy between the different branches of power, where the military power is subordinated to civilian rule, which is composed of states and autonomous municipalities with their own rights and privileges.”

Put that on your car bumper!

Something tells me that’s not going to play too well in Parapara.

This really wouldn’t be newsworthy, except for the fact that we want to like Álvarez Paz. We really do.

But it’s hard to take someone seriously when they don’t take themselves seriously, when they can’t seem to calibrate how deeply in doo-doo we really are, when they think the country is ripe for token candidacies and virtual platforms.

We want Álvarez to play a role in our nation’s future. But by setting himself up this way, he’s really just demeaning himself, and us. His campaign launch  is truly disappointing.

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  1. Here’s the thing that gets me: it’s like he’s running for president of El Cafetal.

    Really, look at his message.

    His message is 100% abstract, ideological, anti-communist constitutionalist posturing.

    His message to the 80% of Venezuelans who aren’t college educated? He doesn’t have one.

    His message to people who aspire to be middle class? He doesn’t have one.

    He speaks only and exclusively to the concerns of a tiny sliver of opinion in the better off neighborhoods of the 3 or 4 biggest cities. That. Is. IT.

    How is it possible to have lived in Venezuela for the last 12 years and not have figured out that that’s not good enough!? Coño how can that be?!!

  2. What’s to lose? People have a right to run.

    If he does well, Chavez will get rid of him.

    If he doesn’t you have no worries.

      • Re: “The opposition brand”

        I’m still of the opinion that “the opposition” first and foremost has to ditch that moniker and come up with something a little more “brand-able”/palatable/vote-for-them-able.

        Haven’t the foggiest myself, just sayin’.

        • Indeed. Opposition equals in the mind of way too many to “bunch of shady rich people that wants to go back to the old days”, even when people like Chuo Torrealba are in the opposition.

          • Yes, we could use an image makeover, but I doubt that standing for “a Republic where there is balance, separation, and autonomy between the different branches of power, where the military power is subordinated to civilian rule, which is composed of states and autonomous municipalities with their own rights and privileges” is a tep in the right direction

  3. Safety, Work and Rule of Law.

    That would fit in a bumper sticker…. (although err Conder tried the Work angle and it didn’t get him far, I was never quite sure if that was because no one seriously thought he had a chance or because people were more impressed with the freebies Chavez and Rosales were offering)

  4. Am I crazy or he just said a couple of weeks ago that he was NOT going to be candidate?

    With Davila??? Cónfilo, qué se desayunó Alvarez Paz? Por eso es que estamos como estamos….

  5. Tengo una pregunta sobre Leopoldo López, si la CIDH da un veredícto a su favor, hay posibilidad de que se lanze para Presidente? Venezuela acataría el fallo? Porque he estado viendo al Contralor y al TSJ medio asustados…

    • Parece que lo que están pensando para evitar acatar un fallo contrario es insistir que el gobierno “Bolivariano” nunca firmó el convenio interamericano, por lo tanto es a la sala constitucional a la que le tocaría decidir, contrario a lo que decían con respecto al tribunal supremo de Honduras…

      Al final, harán lo que les parezca que les convenga más.

  6. I really think that some things we just have to live with. The opposition is a melting pot of a myriad parties, each with different views on how to achieve power and on what to do with it once there. We will never improve the brand nor get a unified platform with this bunch. So we might as well work with what we´ve got. The opposition brand may not look too attractive right now but I reckon that it will improve with time -given that we do not put our foot in our mouth, which is a lot to ask-. We are forced to stay fuzzy, we are obligated to navigate the waters of staple promises like safety, work, legal stability, patriotism and such. If we are to finally win convincingly Chavez has to keep on getting more and more unpopular. In this scenario being the opposition grants a great deal of leeway towards framing the issues and being a bit of everything to everyone. This is more about staying competitive and being ready for that final dash to the checkered flag than about winning a battle right now. The opposition just needs to stay in the fight wait for Chavez to collapse and then sprint.

    In the case that Chavez somehow regains popularity there is nothing any candidate in the opposition can do to beat him, not with the cards stacked as they are now and as they will be come the time for elections.

    So for the time being we just need to keep our poise and choose our battle. We´ll get our chance. We just have to make the most of it.

    • “In the case that Chavez somehow regains popularity there is nothing any candidate in the opposition can do to beat him, not with the cards stacked as they are now and as they will be come the time for elections.”

      Offer daily cash, unconditionally, to all Venezuelans, for life. chavez cannot trump that. And even if he does with increased fraud, the seed would have been planted for his own people to be saying “!Dame mi plata!”

    • I’d be surprised if contact had not been made already.

      We should start a kitty (Primaria Potazo) and give it to the opposition primary winner to buy a Rendon Gift Certificate.

      Speaking of OAP, while on the one hand I think he is a capable and honest man, this is not his time. Whoever wants to run against Chavez better be able to talk plain and smart and funny, none of which was present in this launch.

      Even when it was his time, he did not excite the imagination or fire in the electorate.

      This campaign launch, well, phhht!

  7. I have nothing to say in OAP’s defense, really. For all his virtues, he has not set up a platform, and he was not famous, twenty years ago, as a hard-working candidate.

    As for the message, one thing is clear: it might be abstract, but it is not too far removed from the concerns of the people (who in a large plurality reject the details of the Chavista project). Properly framed, it might do better than expected (“pa’ que coja mínimo”, anyone?). However, this election is not about that. Running for the Executive cannot be framed as a parliamentary election: as a candidate, one should want power -and a big mandate- to “do away with society’s ills”, both in terms of collective concerns (safety, crime rate) and particular worries (unemployment) and say you can deliver better than the other one.

    OAP is not doing that.

    And Davila as a running mate? This is a textbook-case of “how to alienate two political bases at the same time”.

    Is this is what you guys referred to as dinosaurs, you can go all palenthological on their heads…

  8. It would be suicidal for the opposition to run anyone connected in any way with the 4th Republic. New. New. New!

    Slogan: “Para una Venezuela Mejor!”

    It’s code. Everyone understands it his or her own way.

    • De acuerdo totalmente, todo político de 1998 para abajo que quiera lanzarse contra Chávez debe meterse la lengua en el bolsillo y tratar de ayudar de otra forma. A lavarse ese paltó.

  9. Seriously the MUD, not oppo please, needs new faces, young, charismatic and believable doers who can connect to the pueblo in an emotional way (the only way) like Chavez, have a solid intellectual background unlike Chavez and have a solid program of doable effective things unlike Chavez.
    They should have the drive to ACHIEVE meaningful and useful change for all and only enough need for POWER to do that. Power corrupts, so use it sparingly. The need to ACHIEVE is something most venezuelan politicians do not have, only unbridled lust for POWER and POPULARITY which turns them into ineffectual demagogues like the ones that have ruled us uselessly for so much of our democratic past.

  10. Juan, I thing you framing this the wrong way. To advance the notion that a carefully crafted political message, delivered by a telegenic candidate with charisma, is going to beat hard, cold cash, in a country full of Parapara people, is, IMHO, wishful thinking.

    No one in the land can cast a shadow on the $2 trillion dictator, who, de paso, controla absolutamente todo lo que hay que controlar para asegurar sus victorias electorales. Don’t fool yourselves people. Time to wake up and smell the coffee.

  11. PS: it is a very simple question really. Between variations of “cómo me vas a resolver tu a mi (insert here preferred candidate name)” to actual, tangible and delivered goodies from chavismo, there’s very little that 80% have to think about.

  12. Sooo… Alvarez Paz is going to take the same ecological niche previously occupied by JVR, Eduardo Fernandez and the late Rafael Caldera before El Chiripero? You know, the eternal candidate with little chance who keeps launching his candidature because… well… dunno… seriously, why? Why they keep trying? It’s a misguided attempt to invoke the “Caudillo” gene? Their political party has no one better? Why keeping wasting all this effort in a dude that, if he worked in a normal company instead of on politics, couldn’t get a job better than middle Management no matter the number of impressive postgraduates titles he get because of his cheer lack of leadership and other social abilities?
    And I have that feeling that Zulian citizens dislike Alvarez Paz as much as we find him dull and charmless. If this man couldn’t get himself reelected as Governor, why the hell he keeps thinking he could get any victory from the rest of the country? Yes, I know that I’m keeping aside the fact that this man has no political plan of any sort, but honestly, that’s the least of his problems. Even if he had something interesting idea or adopted a very good “Plan de la Nación” of some sort, he lacks any sort of appeal to make even the rabid opposition people in the Anti-CH bandwagon vote for him. Why bother?

  13. Yet another non event. Little does it matter who the opposition candidate is. If it were a babboon there woudl still be between 5 – 6 million votes if not more. The more the merrier – especially if there are several opposition candidates to split the vote.

    Opposition unity will be tested in the primaries to see if all of the MUD stick to the agreement to respect a unitary candidate and not launch others. I see this as very unlikely and you can bet that Chavez will do another “Arias Cardenas” trick if there is any doiubt about him winning.

    The main problem is that everyone knows that the opposition candidate – whoever he or she may be – are just embusteros funded somehow by the CIA or State Dept.

  14. for the slogan, my 2 cents is “no more cadenas”, even my red-red in-laws hate that shit and turn off Arturo’s baboon every time he takes over the air waves

    • Better yet: “RCTV back on the air!”

      I see RCTV as the most important factor in bringing the nation back together during any transition. I would be asking them now to get a soap, and a radio rochela special together for then. They should bring back to light what they were in heart and soul of Venezuela, all of Venezuela. Their news program should highlight before, now, and future, with names and projects, spotlighting the recipients of any benefits, as they used to do.

      Bring back RCTV, and Dame Mi Plata!

      • But… RCTV’s programing was terrible.

        Seriously, the fact that it was illegally shut down doesn’t change the fact that it was a mediocre channel at best. Unless we’re talking about giving people the things they need to ignore reality.

        • Stone Chip,

          I don’t believe in giving people things to ignore reality. On the contrary, I believe in giving them things to deal with reality, like cash: give them the natural resource revenues, all of it, to all of them. RCTV was part of Venezuela’s reality. It’s about giving back a part of reality that was taken away.

          Ask anyone who saw the ratings figures back then about Radio Rochela. Do a poll to see how may Venezuelans still show emotion when you mention, Esmeralda, Topacio, or Por Estas Calles. RCTV was part of the Venezuelan culture across socio-economic boundries, across ages, and across regions. It is precisely RCTV’s mushiness, lack of professional politure, and Venezuelanisms, that would help the national healing.

          It’s like putting the family portrait back on a wall the day after a fire, however lousy the family picture, or the family. It’s symbolic of rebuilding, together.

  15. Branding:

    Let’s face it. The opposition is united ONLY in their rejection of Chavismo and Chavez. As such, it is impossible for the Opposition to craft a substantive positive message and vision for the future of Venezuela. That being the case, they might as well simply stick to their united rejection of the status quo. As near as I can tell, the platform and slogan might as well be a simple, “YA BASTA!”

    • The opposition is united in its rejection of chavismo and in its view of what a structure of government should look like.

      If the MUD fails, it will be because the structure they want looks a lot like, in fact is based on, the pre-Chavez structure.

  16. It doesn’t matter who you people nominate. The General in Chief has made it clear that the armed forces will not tolerate a victory by the oligarchy. So you might just throw in the towel and stay home. Chavez and Socialism are here to stay, and the sooner you accept that fact the better.

    • Um, RBC: you might just want to wake up and smell the coffee. Of course, Venezuela doesn’t produce that any more, now, does it? And, what else does VZ produce? Hmmm…not much, since the country now imports most of its foods now. Please, get a grip on reality.

    • lol, Red Blooded Chavista, chavez is here, but on his way out; Socialism never was here, and is moving further away. If you want socialism, you better vote oppo! I get the feeling with the oppos we’re finally going to start seeing oil revenue get directly to the people, something chavez seems bent on preventing.

  17. if i were president i’d be a cunt.
    I’d create a special police to deal with chavista insurgents like RBC
    anybody that says “patria,socialismo o muerte” can go to a labor camp,to produce cocoa beans(willing or not)
    If they’re aggresive like mario silva, they will serve as fertilizer.
    And also, socialism-communism won’t be taught till you reach 30.
    I have reasons to believe marxism destroys the young minds that dare read it.

    So thanks to those people,venezuela will start producing more and importing less.
    Agree with me?

    On the OP.
    So far i haven’t seen any “presidenciables” that make me wanna go vote.
    Is there a list somewhere?
    All dinosaurs and not enough new blood.
    We need new people!!!!!Young and married to the country, willing to “remodelar rancho en tu cabeza” as someone said.
    It’s not only money,goodies and jobs and all that.
    When are we going to start working on leaving this third-world country mindset and head to a better one? Enough already with the me-first mindset of the venezuelans.
    I still am amazed when i see a building with a pool and rich peole with blackberrys and see on the back,down below the ranchos.With blackberrys and DirecTV.
    I will never understand the DirecTV-on-rancho phenomennon


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