They bark, Sancho… (Updated)

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For the life of me, I can’t remember the last time an obscure, hard-to-understand decision by the opposition unleashed the torrent of invective that has been foaming from the mouths of Hugo Chávez and his henchwomen.

Because, if you stop to think about it, the decision by the opposition’s umbrella group the Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD) to have a “unity” card alongside the card of all the parties is really not that consequential.

The problem facing the MUD was how the unity candidate was going to appear in the ballot.

The MUD is comprised of dozens of political parties, some large, some small. The unity candidate would presumably appear in all the party cards, and the voter would choose to vote for the person by clicking on the party of his or her choice. All the votes for that person would be added together, no matter which party they came from, but the final breakdown would show which party has more support.

Obviously, the smaller parties, particularly those that are simply outfits for a single leader, balked at the possibility that their party would come out with just a few dozen votes.

So the MUD decided to have a “MUD” ticket alongside the party tickets. A middle-of-the-road approach if there ever was one.

Chavismo, however, is livid. Cilia Flores called it a sign that they politicians in the MUD are “constantly knifing themselves.” Nicolás Maduro warned that all they really want “are the riches of the State.” (Funny, what happened to the riches of the people?). DIosdado Cabello called the opposition “useless.” And Hugo Chávez himself, in a rare comment on the opposition’s strategies, called it “a swindle.”

The public must be wondering what all the commotion is about.

To me, the only reason for all of this much-ado-about-nothing is that the MUD is slowly achieving something few of us thought possible: the resurrection of the opposition brand. Poll after poll is showing that the public is looking at the opposition’s unity efforts with ever-improving sympathies.

We’re not there yet, but we’re not in the basement we were at in 2006.

Like in the lesson taught to us by Cervantes’ immortal quote, the extra attention Aveledo and his pals are getting is a sure sign they’re doing something right.

Update: Frequent guest on this site loroferoz makes an excellent point: the “unity” ticket is bait for Ni-nis, who want to vote for the opposition but feel queasy giving their votes to the political parties. Listen to the bird…

“You forgot an important detail, a flash of the glaringly obvious: If you vote MUD Unity ticket, you are actually not voting any one for these parties or their leaders. You are voting the National Unity candidate proposed by the MUD.

The message is not lost on ni-nis, repentant chavistas, and the opposition-minded (like me) who don’t identify with any of the aforementioned parties. It’s also a powerful message for all the single parties in the MUD and for all the overbearing “personalities” and “leaders” in the MUD. In a sense it’s a victory for common interest in restoring the republic and democratic representation vs. the power aspirations (successfully lampooned by chavismo) of individual MUD leaders.

Should the unity ticket be the majority option in 2012, the mandate is clear. Out with the divisive, sectary and imcompetent. In with unity and inclusion.

Hugo Chavez and henchmen are usually fierce on anything they fear. And they should. How are they going to attack a candidate for all the democratic opposition? The general feeling is that Hugo Chavez should go in 2012. That a return to the past is unthinkable. That giving power back to the old partidocracia is unconceivable.

If I get to vote (residing outside Venezuela 🙁 ) I will vote that ticket.”

1 COMMENT

  1. It’s fear. Calling the MUD the “table of the Ultra Right” & “Table of the United States” just shows how much they fear a united opposition.

  2. They have always called the alternative parties “the ultra right”. I would love to have a debate with a chavista for him to explain us what is then 1) extreme left, 2) moderate left, 3) moderate right. They use words, slogans, and expect people not to think.
    We need to incite people to think about those things.

    Juan,

    Obviously, that’s why Hugo is wearing yellow shirts now. He is a nini now, Diosdado and the rest are the red.
    See also
    http://www.slideshare.net/yvanserra/escenarios-polticos-venezuela-2011

  3. As it has been pointed out numerous times, the easiest way to understand the behavior of Chavez and his cronies is to understand a simple fact about them: they have the intellectual and emotional maturity of an eight-year-old child.

    For them, every shadow on the window is a monster trying to break into their room. Every sound coming from the closet or under their bed is a monster trying to eat them. Everything they don’t understand is a monster whose only purpose in life is to hurt them. And the invariable result of their fears is to be loud about them, either by crying (“magnicidio!”, “golpistas!”) or by insulting, degrading, or demeaning the source of their fears in an attempt to convince themselves that they are brave and don’t really fear the monster.

  4. You forgot an important detail, a flash of the glaringly obvious: If you vote MUD Unity ticket, you are actually not voting any one for these parties or their leaders. You are voting the National Unity candidate proposed by the MUD.

    The message is not lost on ni-nis, repentant chavistas, and the opposition-minded (like me) who don’t identify with any of the aforementioned parties. It’s also a powerful message for all the single parties in the MUD and for all the overbearing “personalities” and “leaders” in the MUD. In a sense it’s a victory for common interest in restoring the republic and democratic representation vs. the power aspirations (successfully lampooned by chavismo) of individual MUD leaders.

    Should the unity ticket be the majority option in 2012, the mandate is clear. Out with the divisive, sectary and imcompetent. In with unity and inclusion.

    Hugo Chavez and henchmen are usually fierce on anything they fear. And they should. How are they going to attack a candidate for all the democratic opposition? The general feeling is that Hugo Chavez should go in 2012. That a return to the past is unthinkable. That giving power back to the old partidocracia is unconceivable.

    If I get to vote (residing outside Venezuela 🙁 ) I will vote that ticket.

      • Thanks!

        But.. well, it’s more than ni-ni bait, it’s implications are for everyone, specially the parties in the MUD, and to the Unity candidate him(her)self.

        Particularly that he/she however popular he/she might prove to be, is there on behalf of people who want good governance and a Republic back, not the old “partidocracia” and no “caudillos”, old, new, or something in the middle. Telling everyone (and this person) that this candidate is NOT anything like Chavez, not seeking to rule for life, but to repair the damage he has done. Maybe it complements declarations by pre-candidates that they will not seek reelection.

    • I agree, it is a message of unity; but your comment also reeks of anti-politics, the very same attitude that took us to Chávez. Actually, that is the very basis of his discourse. Yes, politics is dirty, divisive and filled with “power aspirations”; and then, there is a need for it.
      There must be ways to deal with those leaders and personalities (nulidades engreídas if you wish), that do not require doing away with politics.

      • Nothing like that. Only that the next government and President will have a purpose and a mandate to restore institutions and govern for all voters, a “national unity” government. That is in the interest of everyone who wants freedom and democracy. After the situation normalizes a bit and chavismo disintegrates, politics will begin again on a saner basis as a result. Of course, it will remain to be seen if the petrostate clientelismo that poisoned parties and governments up to and including the present one can be ended in the next presidential period.

        About the “nulidades engreidas” and power hunger: strong and answerable (to the members) party institutions, with internal representativity and democracy, are a reasonable answer.

    • Agreed. I have voted the opposition, but feeling really bad about doing it, trying to vote for some minor party that supports the oppo candidate, avoiding at all costs AD or COPEI. Hell, when I go to vote I put on a surgical mask, because I am disgusted. If they pull this Unity card, I might leave the surgical mask at home for the first time.

    • loroferoz wonderful analysis… and of course you can vote in 2012… the international vote is truly important. we will do our best so that you can stand in line against all odds…

  5. Question: is there any potential implication here due to the morocha law/rules? I don’t recall all the details (not that I ever really understood them), but this doesn’t seem too different from some of the games chavismo was playing to take advantage of those loopholes.

      • Oh right, that was about Congress, and not the President. Well, unless the chavista reaction is fear that they might apply it that way, I vote for loroferoz’s thought. Chavismo has always believed in divide and conquer, and this makes it difficult, if not impossible.

      • Unless they change the rules again. Our most reliable political analysts at Chigüire Bipolar are saying the PSUV is proposing to declare Chávez king and make the elections be about a Prime Minister…(probably with the same powers as a prime minister had in Morroco some years ago, my addendum)

  6. They Do bark my friend. Just before 26S election IVAD showed almost 60% sympathy for MUD, this trend is clearly consolidated. And MUD is not going to drive the country to the past, MUD is the most important and effective effort venezuelan democrats have done in the last years. Chapeau for them!

  7. Nice post, reading those comments from chavistas in Venezuela got my attention as well, yet, other than some form of success from the MUD in voters’s intentions or sympathies, I could not point out the source of their angst.

    Just one thing, the quote is not Cervantes’s. It is attributed to him, but in his works, it is nowhere to be found!

    • Well, whaddaya know.

      Variante: «Ladran, Sancho, luego cabalgamos.
      Una frase frecuentemente atribuida a Don Quijote de la Mancha, de Miguel de Cervantes, no aparece en ninguna parte del libro. El origen, según Arturo Ortega Morán es el poema Labrador (1808) de Goethe: «Pero sus estridentes ladridos / sólo son señal de que cabalgamos». La adición del nombre Sancho se produjo, por error, en algún momento de la primera mitad del siglo XX. Eva Perón utilizaba esporádicamente esta frase. Podría ser, igualmente, una forma evolucionada del proverbio árabe “Los perros ladran, la caravana pasa”, bien conocido en la España medieval y que también pasó al acervo de refranes judeo-españoles. En su forma actual se recoge también en la versión cinematográfica Don Quijote, de Orson Wells.

      http://es.wikiquote.org/wiki/Citas_incorrectas

  8. It’s funny and revealing how when Chavez wants to criticize the MUD he basically takes a mirror and looks at himself:

    – “The unity card is a great swindle” says the author of the Kino constituyente and the Morocha cards.
    – “Are they going to slip us that Puntofijista package?” continues the president of the PSUV.
    – “behind them is the empire” says Chavez following recommendations from Fidel
    – “in this so called MUS the hurricane goes on the inside” as he tries to contain infighting for his succession
    – “they’re going to give the whole country to the Yankees” while giving more than $3 billion every year to Cuba and letting them manage his security, the ports, Identity cards and give orders to our military
    – “they cannot even manage one arepera” barks shamelessly as he closes the arepera socialista
    – “they steal from one another” …

    • You got it all right except: ““The unity card is a great swindle” says the author of the Kino constituyente and the Morocha cards.”

      The Morochas are actually courtesy of the Chiripero/Caldera II.

      You could argue though, that they are Chavez’ parents………

  9. I don’t know if you all are aware of it, but Venezuelans cannot vote at the San Francisco consul if they are not U.S. residents or citizens. Is that an official policy pre-Chavez?

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