Grand Theft Party


In the era of chavista social lunacy and decay, there’s always one more depth left to plumb. Today, we find out that the Supreme Tribunal is aiding and abetting the wholesale theft of a political party – by overturning the results of PPT’s leadership elections on its way to handing control of the party’s symbols to the rump pro-Chávez faction (PPT-Maneiro.)

That the vast majority of PPT members are lined up right behind their undisputed national leader, Henry Falcón, is neither here nor there. They’ve betrayed Chávez. The might of the chavista state is going to come down hard on them for sure.

And so, I’m guessing we’ll soon have yet another rump party to bring together the defenestrated pro-Falcón faction (Patria Para Los Que Ya No Tienen Patria Para Todos, perhaps?)

Because, make no mistake about it, the centrifugal forces at work in the Venezuelan far left are fearsome: PPT-Maneiro is a breakaway faction from PPT, itself a breakaway faction from Causa R, which was itself a splinter group from the Communist Party back in the 70s. (Juan Cristobal likes to call this game six-degrees-of-Gustavo-Machado.)

The part that gets me is that now that PPT has forsaken Chávez, you might think they would consider going back and rejoining Causa R – especially now that both have endorsed the same damn presidential candidate.

Even more obviously, Podemos and MAS (two more rumps for the six-degrees-of-commiedom game), that split over whether to continue to support Chávez, might as well get back together now that they’ve both agreed the guy is a lunatic. And, stretching things out even a little further, why doesn’t PPT-Maneiro consider rejoining the PCV, 40 years on, now that they both coincide in supporting Chávez?

For reasons I can’t quite fathom, it just doesn’t work that way. The Venezuelan left is expert at splitting up…but just can’t seem to get back together again.

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  1. Actually, unless my memory fails me, there are fewer “commiedom” splinter groups now than there were at the UCV a number of years ago, when the term “chiripero” (as well as “sopa de letras”) was originally coined. Some did, in fact, get back together around Chavez; others held out from the start or progressively dropped out later but it´s hard to rewind years/decades and annul vested interests of all kinds, no matter whether the VW is a bus, a Combi or a Beetle.

    However, the oppo is not all that far behind. AD-UNT-ABP, with regional and individual etcetras and Copei-PJ with their etc. are prime examples. It would take a Betancourt, who managed to lure back ARS and MEP, etc.sympathizers to AD before the 1974 elections, to put those Humpty Dumpties together again. Certainly not Ramos Allup.

    But maybe that is just as well, as long as they manage to cohabit under the MUD umbrella..They really have no choice — and neither do the Chavez inspired splinters and the poor, poor, sad PCV.

    All this may sound like pitter patter and leaves you important initial point intact, Quico: the “Supreme Tribunal” makes a travesty of law (viz. also the almost instant Kevin Avila decision, i.a.). No matter what one thinks of Arria´s Hague ploy, that story needs to be documented and publicized.

    • Thanks for making a serious and sensible point out of the flip little post, Pandora.

      I agree with everything here. My take, really, is that MUD is a party-that-doesn’t-know-it’s-a-party. The so-called parties *inside* MUD act much more like factions did back in the puntofijo era. Or like, say, factions still operate today inside Japanese political parties – each with its own name, its own universally acknowledged leader, yet still pledged to come around and support the party’s candidate at election time.

      By most meaningful standards MUD is a party. It’s just in denial about it.

    • The title (A portrait of the dictator), is more telling than the outraged article. Though Parmalat´s “apology” for poor *wording* may sound like self-humilliation, it is so transparently toungue-in-cheek that it´s almost an insult. If Chavez wants to be addressed as Thou, do it: That is no skin off a transnational´s back and cheaper, for now, than other alternatives.

    • The thing is: how to avoid the Spanish or, worse still, the Italian mess?
      I am for parliamentary democracy a la alemana (here again someone may complain)

      The problem in Venezuela is that we have never actually had real parties.
      We have always had caudillo platforms. That’s from the time when Carvajal killed the Welser, perhaps earlier. No debate or internal elections, just hit and run. We need debate, open debate.

  2. My father once told me an anecdote regarding two of Copei’s splits from its big left-wing split: Izquierda Cristiana. They were Movimiento 1° de Mayo and Grupo de Acción Revolucionaria (GAR).

    So, some forty years ago, he encounters a former fellow copeyano at the Castellino Ice Cream Shop (Quito Avenue, Plaza Venezuela; this former copeyano eventually became a powerful Chavista ambassador to one of the ALBA countries), and he said to him: “Fulano, how are things at the “1° de Mayo”?”. And he replied, angered: “Fuck off, Ramon Guillermo. I’m at GAR. We’re completely different”…

  3. Having said that, it is uncanny how different is this system from the previous political arrangement in the country. You can say what you will about AD, but, during its second major split in 1961-1963 (when mid-level political leaders from its second generation split into what was disparingly called the “Grupo ARS”: AD-Oposición, led by Raúl Ramos Giménez, and joined by Manuel Alfredo Rodríguez, Héctor Vargas Acosta, Manuel Vicente Ledezma, José Manzo González, César Rondon Lovera (Cesar Miguel Rondon’s father), José Ángel Ciliberto, among others (the majority of AD’s CEN back then). AD-Oposicion criticised the way Betancourt and the “Old Guard” appeased the Church, the Army, Big Business and Copei, and demanded a more left-wing approach.

    This can all be irrelevant to our case today, but AD-Gobierno did not mount pressure on the Supreme Court so as to remove AD-Oposicion of the right to participate in politics, or to blatantly favour its corralling. The CSJ decided that it would not let any of the adeco factions use its symbols and colours in the coming 1963 elections (AD-Gob used a black card with the effigy of Juan Bimba; and AD-Op used a silver card with an orange galloping horse); whichever group got the more votes, it would get its symbols back (the letters AD, its torch-on-map combo, and pearly adeco white). AD-Gobierno was, mind you, the ruling party, and claimed to be the legitimate holder of the AD legal personality (just as AD-Op did, of course).

    AD-Op got merely 3.5% of the vote in these elections, after which they formed the PRN. This group merged with a less-leftwing faction of the MIR and the VPN (formerly URD’s left), and formed the PRIN, and competed in the 1968 elections. The surge of the MEP in 1968 and the resurgent and pacified marxist left in 1973 obliterated most support for the PRIN. And there was no state meddling in the matter.

    • “…there was no state meddling in the matter”.

      Well, I would add, enough to matter.
      That brings us back to what I view as the most important point in the original post. Sure, we all criticized what we knew, or later learned, about the judiciary in the past — the government pressures, the party quotas, the “tribes”, etc. but that was nothing — peanuts — compared to the present.
      Remember that story about the guy who was about to commit suicide jumping off a bridge until a little old lady passingy by interfered, saying, “Don´t do it; things could be worse”. He heeded her words and she was absolutely right:: things did get worse. Here many did jump off that bridge , others didn´t, but things got worse anyway. I thought nothing would amaze me, the TSJ does it again and again,

      Your account of the AD divisions and sequels is valuable . I hope someone is compiling all that information for future generations…

    • Thanks for the history lesson, GT. I remember as a kid in the 60’s the whole mish mash of parties, and split ups, and re-formings. One that stood out was, “who the hell is that guy with the huge ear?” (El maestro Prieto, of course).

      Come election time we would collect the different “barajitas” that each party, and each splinter gave out, in the likeness of their image on the ballot. I had tons of them!

  4. The persistence of Revolution…

    Revolution means, for a continued state of things, that “Anything goes to keep in power, our aims are more important than any principle we said we would adhere to, This is a R-E-V-O-L-U-T-I-O-N!”. Since the Jacobins popularized the term through terror and government-by-thugs to our days. Any other adjective is incidental.

    “This is a democratic Revolution” means “F**ck democratic process if it becomes an obstacle, this is a Revolution!”.

    “This is a peaceful Revolution” means “we can send thugs to beat and shoot you, this is a Revolution!”.

    “This is a popular Revolution” means “F**ck the people and their actual opinions if they stop supporting us, this is a Revolution!”.

    “This is a Socialist Revolution” means that “We will hock the nation, condemn you to poverty institute a new Oligarchy and make it’s clients filthy rich to keep in power, this is a Revolution!”

    I hope the PPT and many other parties will understand that you might be radically opposed to an order of things, advocate civil disobedience and even violence, but when you stick “Revolution” to your form of government, things fall apart pretty quickly for you if the “Revolution” does not like you.

    In fact this is the only genuine aspect of the Bolivarian Revolution, which appropriately, has performed all kinds of perversions with the image and ideas of Bolivar; and I really dont’ want to know what, with his actual bones.

    • This is no new. The Bolivar cult was promoted by himself. Then came Páez, of all people,t the same bloke with whom Bolívar was in such a conflict, and promoted the Bolivar cult per law when he saw the economic crisis and political instability he was dealing with. He pushed for the adoration cult in congress, for which there was still opposition, so that Bolivar busts (commissioned in Italy) were produced and placed over the place, he started the negotiations to get the bones back, etc, etc.
      (Caballero said it was above all Guzmán Blanco who promoted the cult, but it was already there earlier…fucking sick thing we have had with that in Venezuela…it is just much worse now)

  5. Is PJ a Copei split? Were PJ founders former copeyanos? Not that I remember, though obviously they vie for the same sociological arena…

    Copei split into the Christian Left (which was a minuscule offspring), and later Convergencia (which was not a huge split, save for the fact that Rafael Caldera left with the group (though he never formally became a member of Convergencia): esto se lo llevo quien lo trajo. Nowadays Convergencia is only relevant in Yaracuy, and there are rumours that Lapi is going to make a Didalco-style comeback…

      • I don’t know about that percentage. Memo Arocha, for example, who you correspond with a lot, used to be an adeco.

        Furthermore, our presidential candidate is a self-defined “progressive” who cavorts and gallavants with Henri Falcón, Andes Velásquez and the like, much to the dismay of the right wing of his party.

        • That was just on sports. But
          “Memo Arocha, for example, who you correspond with a lot, used to be an adeco.”
          really? A former adeco? Cosas veredes. Perhaps that’s why: I sensed he was not the kind who would want to eliminate the daily glass of milk in order to promote the survival of the fittest à la Thatcher :-p
          Kepler running for cover.
          (ps. no, really, so far PJ has been the most attractive organisation in my eyes)

  6. What I have always wondered is why in the earlier days of PJ, they portrayed themselves as centro humanistas or as centro derecha, when,as Juan Cristóbal says, at least some of the founders where adeco, progressive, etc.Even Leopoldo went to Kenyon College, a school with pretty progressive ideas, and I bet some of those ideas stuck to him… What has happened in PJ that the more “progressive” wing of the party has become more prominent lately? Or is it just the nature of the times, that only people with those views can win elections? What are the advantages and disadvantages, today, of being “center- x”? Is the political field not ripe for political parties in the opposition to have very strong ideologies? Or are they inherently anti-ideological? Is it good or bad for electoral success and for the building of REAL STRONG political parties that some parties, including PJ, reject ideology?


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