From the rumour mill


I’ve been trying to get more information on what’s going on inside the opposition camps, and here is what I have found out. Take all of this with the proverbial grain of salt.

  • The Capriles campaign does not really see Maria Corina Machado as a viable Vice-Presidential pick. For one thing, if Capriles is the candidate, the VP post and all ministries would be decided after October 7th, not before. But more importantly, the criteria they would look for in a VP pick is someone who can help with the internal politics of the opposition and keep the coalition in check, someone who can also establish a dialogue with chavista powers-that-be. Say what you want about Maria Corina, but dealing with the MUD and with chavistas is not her forte.
  • The López campaign is in a bit of upheaval. Carlos Vecchio has taken a back seat, and Alejandro Plaz (formerly Maria Corina Machado’s partner at Súmate) is being given a more prominent role. That, plus the addition of a new publicity agency responsible for this curious ad, is what is driving the shift in tone. They convinced Leopoldo that he should talk about crime nonstop, in particular policies to combat crime directly, and draw a contrast with Capriles, who views crime as related to poverty and education. The problem for López is that most Venezuelans agree with Capriles’ position.
  • Pablo Pérez is suffering from a curious version of the Irene Sáez syndrome, whereby layers upon layers of dinosaurs have hijacked the campaign and have left the candidate spinning. For the debate, they were more worried about the awkward hand gestures and the dozens of different messages they wanted to convey than about establishing a clear, brief narrative and delivering it. His team was more concerned with swarming online post-debate polls and social media than about content. They understand they need to get their act together, but it’s not going to be easy for them.
  • All of these groups are impressed with Maria Corina Machado’s performance, but they simply don’t see how she can be a relevant factor in this election. Consider, for example, that yesterday was the first time many people had ever seen her on national TV. They think she does not have the alliances, the media presence, or the organization to be a factor.
  • Twitter is ablaze with the apparent riots in Guanare.

Have any more info? Mouth off in the comments section, or better yet, email me at nageljuan at gmail dot com.

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  1. Humm…. is this necessary?

    I do not think that we should write much on such rumors. First some of the ones you post can be deducted, representing merely the keen sense of the obvious from one of your informers. Second, we can add many more rumors such as the Leopoldo camp about to fold and endorse Pablo Perez (which after last night I doubt very much they will do…..)

    And as for Vecchio, he may be taking a back seat but las week he was VP emissary to Alo Ciudadano. Not much of a backseater job if you ask me 🙂

    • Yes, it’s necessary. Several people have pitched the idea that MCM would be a good VP pick for HCR. It’s important for people to know that is not realistic. It’s also interesting to know what seems to be happening behind the scenes in the LL camp, and why the sudden shift in tone in the campaign.

      Furthermore, why is it *un*necessary? It’s not like I’m posting anything too controversial here, and it’s not like I’m trying to make things come across as fact.

      • Anything is possible in a country where the cockroaches fly.

        Let the rumors be dissected and discussed, if needed. I have no problem with them, trusting that readers, and definitely authors of the blog, can apply the needed perspective.

      • JC

        Well, maybe it is me who prefers that you spend your political acumen on more than rumors. I mean it.

        This being said, some in the Leopoldo camp also told me that it would be nice for her to be Leo’s VP…. And AD was supposed to endorse her at some point and as such it is not that far-fetched to think that some in Perez camp would love to see her as their VP (though we may never know as neither you or me seem to have any access into that camp who loves to throw bombs at us on occasion, but that is another story).

  2. Daniel, I checked your last post and totally agree with your readers’ perception: MCM did better but HCR wins; he appeals to all Venezuelans.

  3. Given a widespread perception of non inner-circle regime supporters as opportunistic hangers-on and what, in another era and elsewhere, used to be termed ‘running dogs’, why is everyone so consistently sure that the ‘chavista powers-that-be’ will emerge as ardently chavista as they act today when they realize where their bread is buttered? I think that talanquera jumping might just become a national sport; after all, given an opposition victory, ultimately, what’s the future in staying visibly pro-yesterday? Which would strengthen aputative Vice-P’s position, especially if it were MCM: she’d be the ideal person to interface with the newly disenfranchized sector.

  4. i engaged a while ago in a futile twitter debate with a venezuelan version of an extreme teaparty right winger endorsing arria ¿? absolutely furious at HCR, calling him and the MUD vendidos, traitors, vendepatrias and all kinds of horrid etcs (she was the ouroboros of a chavista rant) because he answered it wasn’t a president’s job to prosecute his predecessor.________ leaving a blank in space that clearly meant – to me – “it’s the CPI’s job”. he didn’t say it , and by doing so did not slip on the mango peel question. the majority of the viewers and most feathered friends thought he nailed this answer to the nines.

    i was tweeting this bachmann criolla version that we may think, feel and chose and digress all we want, but should we berate,insult, throw out to re little red thugs these pre candidates? so harshly in public/twitter? don’t they have enough help from the red thugs, do they need their own voters to do the job? have we become so orwellian and seallike in these 13 very looooong years that any plurality and/or dissenting opinions in a #QQSP precandidate meeting are a scary red flag? democracy is about giving different opinions and respecting the other’s point of view, have we really lost our capacity of debating constructively?

    the guanare news is too sad. really terrible terrible so, if i may say so… i loved nagel’s post. no hay nada que divierta más que un buen chisme 😉 to wipe away a bit of the disgust of what happened to that poor little boy :'(

    • Thanks lavici, although I have to take issue with your analogy.

      A Tea-party Bachmann type, just because she supports Diego Arria? As we all know, Diego Arria is an old Adeco hand, who was a high-ranking official in the government that nationalized oil and expanded the Venezuelan welfare state to a point that led us to go bankrupt. A Tea-partier supporting “la Venezuela Saudita”? Don’t think so.

      • I have to agree with you on that one. Just because someone opposes a group that claims to be on the left that doesn’t mean they are on the right.

        PS: I’ve been a reader for a long time, but never felt like commenting before.

      • sorry, but with all the rain in ccs i’m answering late JC :

        yes, i mantain my point:

        all the reasons she gave me in our -thankfully short- twitter debate, led me think that bachmann is little red ( no pun intended) riding hood, next to this one.

        attaching herself and others of similar radical inclination to arria, has nothing to do with la vzla saudita’s policies or arria’s role in them. it’s because arria knows he has nothing to lose and verbalizes ad infinitum his rightful frustration, using it to great effect in these #QQSP’s & twirling around like a veronica at a bullfight, the right wingers wet dream of la haya, la haya, la haya, sending them into paroxisms of “killing the bastard is the only way out” and “prosecution and revenge is the only way, all the others are sissies and pink traitors selling themselves for a vote” ” the MUD is made of cowards, bastards and traitors” kinda rant. you could be reading @sergitoelvengador one of those chavista twitter accounts that invariably have: a cartoonish name, 2 followers, and hide inside an egg avatar, who “insulted” me today by calling me a gringa (lol)

        don’t get me wrong, i’d love to see “porky pig” behind bars as much as arria, i live with the autocrat for g’sakes…. but IMO HCR scored a #WIN when he didn’t step on this concha de mango. it’s the judge’s call not the new guy’s…he’ll have enough in his hands what with the TSJ, AN still in whatever rojo rojito hands have not jumped the gun.

        besides, HCR has to win over the nini’s and the repentant chavistas, and the cry for blood won’t get him in that camp. so these teabags 😉 who don’t see the political strategy behind that answer, attach to whom ever cries for more.
        hoping the rain stops…

  5. Straight from Rumor Control- latest. chavista camp secretly planning to vote in the opposition primary
    for _________________or against ___________________. to breakup the unity of the
    opposition.A weakened and disrupted opposition will be easier for Chavez to seriously
    attack. Chavez is ignoring opposition now..
    Also, Chavez will continue dropping bombs -ie. payoffs and giveaways to get large numbers of voters.
    Money talks.
    Big question is with out a 2 round primary – to eliminate some candidates- how will the field get narrowed ]
    and remain unified? Fighting can break out at any time now..

    • of course the seals will vote and try to go against the winning candidate. but, sorry chiabe himself today “confessed” he couldn’t be following the oppos’s agenda” which goes nowhere”. to me that sounds scared scared…scared.

  6. No rumours to offer. What is amazing to me is this notion of “MCM is the best but it seems she has no chance…” Of course she has a chance. The fact that it is beyond the collective imagination of the “experts” at this point in time doesn’t mean that she will not make it happen. She has what it takes (willpower, balls, acumen, intuition) and the voters know it. Hell, even Capriles said he is “mariano”. He might be her VP.

  7. I’m intrigued by the working paper they are redacting at the MUD. From what I’ve heard (Ramon Guillermo Aveledo mentioned it once when interviewed on RCR), there is some common ground an some sort of “plan de gobierno” being discussed in the MUD. So, my question is: how much independence do the candidates have if everything is being agreed on before hand? Are they working some general ideas or are they hammering out specific details?
    For instance, Mr. Aveledo mentioned that the MUD members have agreed on a gradual dismantling of CADIVI. I guess such matters are being discussed with experts and parties alike, but it seems that wedge issues – like this – are being left out of the debate. Is that the case too for security, defense and social security?
    If that’s the case, we may as well forget about debates and just vote for the more charismatic/good-looking guy/gal…

  8. – Whoever the winner is (Lopez/Capriles/Machado/Perez), it’s very reasonable to believe he/she will pick a savvy political operator to smooth things out. Obama have Bidden. Chavez had Miquilena/Rangel. It’s the logical thing to do, given that they are all green behind the ears.
    – Perez performance was terrible and Mr. Lopez’s anti-crime message felt as a last-minute improvisation. Mr. Lopez and Mr. Perez may listen to advisors. They may also look at polls and tinker with their campaigns. But they should NOT let other people decide by them. They should be true to what they are and what they believe in. Otherwise, people will see them as phony.

    • Amen,brother. “They should be true to what they are and what they believe in.”
      They are self-promoters. Facts and issues are secondary to them. Not fit to lead
      Venezuela. Caprilles and Machado are much more understanding of problems
      and solutions for Venezuela.

      • I have to admit that my assessment of Perez’s and Lopez’s performance is based on their performance and not their candidacies. I have nothing against them, I even kinda like them, especially what I have seem in previous public speeches and interviews. That’s probably what I have against them: they changed their approach and these changes looked phony. They should stick to what they have said and done so far, and leave these personas they showed in the 2nd presentation behind…

  9. Alejandro Plaz is in LL camp instead of MCM??????? wow, didnt know that. I do not know how to analyze that.

    “That LL camp is actually adding the publicity agency that did that ridiculous ad” I guess that LL loves to show his olympic-hurdles-desk-jumping skills and they think that skill is necessary to become a good president. I guess that he will jump over the next chinese debt payment comes up….

    JC, I do not know who would make a good VP for HCR or for MCM. I just think that HCR and MCM are the two best candidates, so I believe that they should have very prominent roles in a MUD government

  10. Juan Cristobal:

    The PP section on your post is not a rumour but a prejudiced characterisation of his campaign. This site has been throwing the word “dinousaur” too freely: why should not be a correlation between being a dinosaur and not having a focused campaign? And such lack of focus is not a rumour: it is a self-evident fact, then spinned with you “anti-dinosaur salt”.

    I’m historically inclined, and I’ve expressed my dislike with the term “dinosaur” time and again; it’s not disingenuous. You have the liberty to endorse anyone, but be honest about that.

    And, BTW, I’m not endorsing PP.

      • “Shorthand” for…

        Using that word is akin to say “sifrinos” or “neoliberales” or “policy nerds” and whatnot. They are all epithets, and they go against my “unity fetish”.

        I’m not condemning rumours or saying that PP’s campaign is going smoothly, nor denying any facts (some are old news, some might or might not be consequential, some might be true but I know as little as anyone).

        In any case, you can use what you want, and I’ll keep on getting mad and coming in every morning. Thanks for suggesting ditching it, but I couldn’t impose that…

        • OK, it is an epithet, because I don’t like the old politicos. Considering all they’ve done (yes, not all of them) a bit of name calling is in order. It’s the least we can do.

          One note, though: the disarray in the PP campaign seems to be coming not from the fact that there are old-timers, but because apparently there are too many of them, and all have different, sometimes contradictory opinions. As you correctly point out, old-timers can win elections and can mount succesful, coherent campaigns. Jaime Lusinchi taught us that.

          But I’ll try to remember not to use it anymore. Quico, on the other hand…

        • Oh, my God! What does that have to do with unity fetish? If we are really for democracy, we should be able to talk not like we do with a girl on our first date but a little bit more to the point and with brio.
          If there is one way we can help in diminishing the powers of dinosaurs, it is by calling them by what they are, preferably showing also why we call them like that.
          Unity means we can, in the end, work together for a common goal. Who is we? I want that “we” to be the majoriy of Venezuelans, not the majority of the currrent politicians. Politicians come and go depending on how other politicians and US react to them.
          If we had a more clear “talk plain, say for Goodness sake, the truth” policy, people would get more attracted to our ideas and not see us as more of the same old stuff.

          By the way: those guys may have won elections…that was 20 years ago or so.

          If they are the “most important party” in, say, Portuguesa, it’s only because Venezuelan politicians from the main 2, 4 cities, still don’t see they have to move their asses around the nation. Had they done that for several years already, AD et alia would be completely irrelevant now.

          • Kepler,

            It’s good to speak openly and honestly, but insults are never honest ( honesty is assertive , not aggressive)…they are tactics to put others down instead of emphasizing a point.Usually they are used when we are not clear about our ideas and need to attack as a defense.

            It is one thing to say, they you don’t want people from the past for ” x ” reason, and another to call them a name that sounds like echos of pre-history, or an obvious insult.

            If we cannot do this then we cannot have a debate, we can only have a fight.

            What passes for political debate all over the world, is usually just political fighting.In
            Venezuela, we cannot afford such chaos.

          • You are right about fighting. Ihave expected a fight to break out any day now
            between -for example Perez and Caprilles…

          • “Dinosaur” is obviously for blogs, but politicians should be very well able to talk about the absolute disaster that such parties as AD et alia constituted. They should have the cojones xor ovaries to tell the truth. That is what people do in pluralistic, multiparty systems. I don’t want Venezuela to be a biparty system, that’s only so much better than a tyranny.
            We need transparency, we need some very public figures to be honest and talk about how we got into this mess and how we should really get out of it, how we are not going to repeat the errors of the past for the 100000th time.

          • Fine, fine. I know most readers agree with the “IVth Republic” meme. But I’ll throw my two cents in its defense:

            – It was the most politically peaceful era in our country’s history. Most contemporary transitions toward democracy during the XXth Century did not oulatst its first five years. By its first decade, not only had these “dinousaurs” defeated a myriad of military plots, a full-scale guerrilla war, foreign invasion and assasination attemps, without postponing elections or defrauding voters. Moreover, it achieved the first pacific transition of power to an opposition party elected by the people; an even unheard of in previous Venezuelan history.

            – During at least 30 of those 40 years, it amassed a significant level of voter participation, unseen in most developed democracies. And this on really competitive and generally fair elections (with almost no statistically significant evidence of election rigging), with the added bonus of proportional representation, which favoured -and gave political clout- to minorities.

            – The Bipartisan party system was not a feature, but a gradual development; most political scientists would agree that a two-party system is evidence of a mature electorate. Our bipartidismo, alas, only lasted four election cycles (not as long as it is usually remembered).

            – We enjoyed the most active rivalry between the Executive and the Legislative. Even with regular but mostly limited leyes habilitantes, legislative initiatives were normally advanced by members of Congress (which passed over 1000 laws, as opposed to merely 60 by all of the habilitados during those decades; Chavez’s first Habilitante took on a lot more ground).

            – During this period, even though the State held its own, Venezuelan civil society blossomed (to the point of even trying to replace political parties as the specific and functional leaders of society -and modern Venezuelan civil society first expressed itself through its parties.

            – Agriculture, social indexes, industrial development, all boomed until at least the late 70s: Venezuelans became taller, better educated, more urban, better fed during this time. The 1980s crisis did lead to a slowing of the pace, and frank retreat in some areas, but as you can see in any comparative chart on human development, we were well above the Latin American and World levels during the whole period (there was a depression during the 1980s, with a small bounce in the early 1990s and a infamous plummet between 1994-1995). And even during the crisis, the infrastructure gains were enormous.

            – We built and kept on of the best Oil companies in the world, and -despite natural tensions and rivalries- achieved to keep it free from partisan influences.

            – And the dinosaurs did try to evolve: Reform initiatives filled the public agenda from 1984 until 1999; and it was only on the mayor political parties were reformist candidates prevailed. But society failed to vote or support such candidates into or during their governments, and sometimes it actively thwarted important changes.

            Of course, there were important failures and limits to our democracy (parties misunderstood civil society’s growth, which lead to a still present mutual distrust; the Judiciary became less competent (partly due to the influence of private firms); the growth of the Venezuelan middle class stalled -from the surreal heights of the 1970s mirage-; society did not become more productive as it failed to untangle itself for the grips of rentismo, and so on, and so on…). But to swallow the Chavista pill whole distorts history. We all have anecdotes and personal evidences against the “40 years”, but most of this period’s history has been written -freely and enthusiastically- by its historical rivals.

            Half of the parties within the Unidad were founded during these “40 years”. And they’ll be part of the future government’s force and, what’s more important, core social support.

          • Well, yours is not a meme, or what?

            “- It was the most politically peaceful era in our country’s history”.
            1) Perhaps. Perhaps you should consider the XVIII century as the politically most peaceful era in our country: but for some minor acts of violence magnified through “historians” (Guipuzcoana, Briceno, Gual), it was a very quite period.
            2) you do have a periscope view 🙂 and don’t see the context. It’s like when Chávez says Venezuela now has a much lower inflation than during Caldera II. So what? If you
            consider several other Latin American countries at the same time had inflation rates several times higher than Venezuela’s you put everything in perspective.
            Indeed Latin America was mostly under dictatorships, but before that (58) it was the other way around. Why?
            Think oil and the leverage it gave to any democratic government that could manage to get hold of power for a couple of years. Think about oil price evolution at the end of the fifties.

            – Most political scientists would agree that a two-party system is evidence of a mature electorate.

            First of all: I don’t consider politics as a “science” (well, it’s a social science, whatever). That’s the system you have in the States. That’s the system you still have in Britain. That is not the system you have in Germany, in the Netherlands, in Switzerland. Are those less mature democracies? Yeah, right.

            I am not saying that was the worst period. It was very much the best period for development in Venezuela since the independence…and it was completely unsustainable and it was bound to end up in the crap we have now.
            You talk about seventies and eighties and don’t mention population growth, oil price evolution, productivity. Venezuela was almost running on auto-pilot, thanks to oil.

            There were no parties in Venezuela. For Goodness sake, a party has a programme.
            Please, tell me what kind of programmes AD and COPEI had? It was more of an attitude thing: we are “social democratic, closer to “alternative parties”, to the 3rd world cause” on one side, “we are more traditional, closer to the Catholic church, closer to the right wing parties” on the other.

            When have you seen in a national newspaper the comparison side by side of the programme for party A and B and C? That’s the normal thing in a democratic country. We do not have a clue about it in Venezuela.

          • Kepler: I can argue against every single point you’ve made in your reply. But I don’t want to bother anyone else, being as I am a bit of a bore.

            However, I take issue with you Venezuelan XVIIIth Century remark -one that I’ve made, jokingly, myself-: no society built upon ethnic inequality and powered by slave labour is peaceful; it is rooted in underlying and regular violence. Such deep-seated violence begot the 1812-1819 civil war, and was the basis for much of the coming upheavals up until 1908.

          • The decay in social and economic indicators that began in the late ’70s is not just another factor that should be weighed equally with other factors. It is *the* factor. Inflation through the roof, scarcity, deteriorating educational and health indicators, poor public finances, escalating crime, corruption – these are the things people associate with the “IVth Republic” because, truth be told, that is what the last 20 years were about.

          • A simple statistic that shows the epic fail of the economic policies of our democracy since 1958 is that, in that year, GDP per capita in Venezuela was 90% of that of the US whereas in 2000 was about 30%. According to a recent paper by Venezuelan economist published in the last issue of the Latin America Journal of Economics, this “collapse
            […] is accounted for equally by a fall in total factor productivity and in capital accumulation. [… D]uring the collapse […] policies and institutions favor unproductive in detriment of more productive activities. These policies generate misallocation, lower [productivity], and a decline in capital accumulation. [They] show […] that distortionary policies can explain a large portion of the current differences in [productivity], capital accumulation, and income per capita between Venezuela and the United States.”

        • Kepler says when speaking of the 4th Republic :”It was very much the best period for development in Venezuela ”

          then he himself should realize how damaging it is to speak of it in such negative terms and turn it into a meme.When you need to build up a country you need to recognize the baby steps it takes to arrive at the goal.

          • Firepigette, we were advancing 1 step at a year when the country was growing 2 steps a year. It was not sustainable. There was no goal. There was just more cargo for the Papuans…for a while. Chávez didn’t come from out of the blue. If it was not Chávez it was going to be another very similar thug or two or three.

  11. I’m afraid that the unity fetish will make any real debate impossible. But it is not the candidates fault, but the MUD’s. Take a look at this video:
    The MUD headhonchos are calling the shots on how the debates are organized. What at first sight seems reasonable is turning out to be a terrible idea.
    They are afraid of showing any disagrement between them and prefer to play it safe. As a consequence, we get no debate, no controversy, nothing. Isn’t the whole point of a debate to get to know their ideas and contrast them?
    In my opinion, the debates are perfectly fine… if they want the primary to be boring and uninteresting, because it is not helping to make it believable or likeable. Even worse, they are making a disservice to all the candidates but Machado, who looks like the only one capable of exposing her ideas in 1 minute or less. The guy we saw (Perez, Lopez and Capriles) in the debates cannot be compared to those we see everyday, and that’s a shame for the opposition.

    Yes, unity is important, but being able to pick up the right guy is also important. Will the MUD shows us some courtesy and give us a real debate before the primary?

    • Even though it was not a debate, I am trying to look at the presentation of the candidates and the questioning and answers in a positive way. It was what it was and I liked it.
      I am proud of the candidates and they were asked some very important, relevant questions.

      • I liked the first presentation (not debate) and was glad about it. However, my expectations for the second one were higher. I don’t want to see the candidates throwing pies to the face of their competitors or mud slinging each other. I do NOT want that.
        But I was expecting that they were able to elaborate their proposals and be able to compare and contrast their proposal.
        So far, they have been capable of running very civilized and clean campaigns, so I don’t believe they are gonna do something against unity even in the heat of the debate. They should be allow to agree to disagree.
        The better way to train a contender to fight against a champion is through sparring. Shadowboxing won’t be enough…

    • Mr. Barreda: of course there’s the unity card in play here, but there’s also the caveat that the MUD and the candidates are talking with the networks in order to bring additional features to these debates.

      It’s not a discourtesy, or anything like that.

      • I cannot believe that the networks would have anything against some controversy, because any controversy will help their ratings. I understand that the MUD might be scared of VTV and Chavez showing them in a poor light, editing the contents of the debate to show them as “mesa de alacranes” or whatnot, but some friendly competition can invigorate the discussion and make more believable the whole primary process.
        We must not forget that passion is a part of politics. If the people don’t feel it, they probably will not participate. If you offer people lettuce, spinach and rucola, their eyes will wander to the grill nearby.
        Yes, it’ partly up to the candidates to spice things up, but a more open debate style can help them.

        • Whatever it is (and I tend to agree with you here), I believe the by far most important thing now is to be demanding time after time a series of debates between the chosen candidate and Hugo Chávez and calling Chávez a coward if he doesn’t accept.
          There are two possibilities: either he accepts (best case scenario) or he doesn’t (and then we say every single day until election time that he, as a military, is just like a Christmass tree, with wee balls for decoration).

    • I would like to see them in town hall style meetings, taking questions from regular people. They should visit other regions. I’d like to see them get more time to answer questions, but it is their job to communicate ideas efficiently.

      However, I don’t see the need to set up a scenario to have them go at each other like a cock fight. While it would be fun and entertaining, I don’t see how that helps us choose. The risk of creating animosity between them is not worth it!

      Solid parties can withstand bitter inner fights, but this is a fragile coalition.

      • There’s a matter of time and efficiency: as you might have seen, the 14N debate did not alter greatly the voters’ preferences. The 4D debate had a larger venue (VV has a national reach and many more viewers); there are merely 70 days to the election, and both the Unidad and the candidate’s HQs are talking with presumptive networks to air the next debates, and they cannot impose every condition upon the networks.

        Have these debates been perfect? No, but as this blog correctly pointed out,, we’ve been 27 years without any event of the sort.

        As for the fragility of the coalition: it is precious, but it has endured a barrage of constant attacks. It has prevailed and I trust it will continue to do so.

      • I think the candidates have avoided mud-slinging tactics during their campaigns. They have been very respectful and the only epithets against them come from the chavismo. Why should we expect something different in a debate?
        On the other hand, even if I don’t want a fight to death among them, why should the candidates pamper each other? They are not clones and they should be entitled to their own opinions and be able to disagree on amicable terms.

  12. I don’t know guys, I understand the frustration with the lack of fireworks but do keep in mind that the only chance to beat Java the Hutt is to go with one candidate. If for any reason the unity is unraveled and the oppo goes to the elections divided (or without the full support of all regional leadership) we will look back at this time and think 6 years more of Chavez was a high price to pay for those really good points HCR scored against LL in the debate.

    • You have touched a key element of this:
      “without the full support of all regional leadership”

      Why on earth is there such a thing as regional leadership as opposed to “national leadership”?
      Because Venezuela, unlike many other nations, is still in a feudal phase. We have been doing that since the XVI century, more than most regions in Latin America.

      • Regional leadearship implies that Venezuela is still in a “feudal phase”? What the hell are you taking about? Many so-called first-world countries do have strong regional leaders. Think of Spain or Belgium. Can you argue these countries are also in what you call “feudal phase”? Closer to home, in Latin America, we also see this type of regional leaders. Argentina is a good example.

        • Spain and Belgium? Right…great examples: the first one where whatever party – PSOE or PP – in power had to give much more to CiU and similar parties than what their share of the population would merit to keep themselves in power…and Belgium, which has the world record for formation of a government.
          But at least in those two countries we are talking about parties representing ethnicities: Catalonians and Basques in one and Dutch versus French speakers in the other. The closest you get is Germany, where one party, CDU, is not present in Bavaria and the CSU is only present there instead…they are the Zulianos of Germany. But “regional leaders” is not even about parties…it is about caudillos. The only reason those parties exist is because of their one cacique.
          Venezuela doesn’t really have much of parties, it has platforms for caudillos, caudillos who don’t have a clue about the rest of the country…unless they suddenly see themselves as possible future president.

          Feudal, very much feudal: because if that leader were to die, the party would crumble.
          The only exception probably to this is now PJ and AD. AD only exists as a relevant party because – let’s face it – the vast majority of Caraquenos, Valencianos and Marabinos don’t have the slightest interest about the rest of the country, if it is not for some little tourism like going to Morrocoy, Margarita or Gran Sabana.

      • I think regional leaderships are a natural consequence of democracies, it’s easier to build strength at a smaller, local level before you can build a national presence by either building coalitions with other local forces or by implementing successful practices learned in “your” local experience and gaining strength in other small, local places. I don’t think the fact we have local leaderships means we are in a feudal phase, it’s just the natural way of building national leaderships.

        • What do you mean by “democracy”, man?
          In Venezuela “local leaderships” are just feuds. Most of them don’t really have a national party. The only “party” that is really national at this stage is AD and perhaps COPEI very far from it, and only because people from the new parties haven’t got 100 miles close to the places where AD and COPEI are the main parties AND do not have a governor in place to give sweeties.
          A governor of Arkansas/Texas can be a “regional” leader, but he is also a member of a real national party. As in Europe: the only places where there are “regional” leaders with no national party to which they are attached are places such as Catalonia and the mutually exclusive Flanders/Wallonia (where Flemish vote for Flemish parties in Flanders and Wallons for French parties, exception in Brussels). A regional leader in Baden-Württenberg or Hamburg of party CDU or SPD or Green is connected to his national party…and the top 10-20 politicians of any of those parties travel through the whole country year after year in order to get connected and have a clue. Venezuela is larger than Germany and it is harder to travel, but I honestly think most wouldn’t even know what’s the capital of half of our states (something we had to learn as children in Venezuela), much less about the concerns of “the others” (be it Zulianos, Carabobenos, Guariquenses, etc)

        • Let me be clear: I am not against the regional leadership within a national party. I am against regional leaderships that have no real national party…it is very much like the Holy Roman Empire in the XIV Century, without the technology, the education but with the beaches and bikinis…and instead of a college of Prince Electors, the MUD…which Francisco Toro calls a party just because it is sort of united against Chávez.

        • I agree with Pixar. The ascent of regional leaders is a direct consequence of the decentralization process. Old parties were centralized in Caracas and imploded when forced to decentralize. Weakened national parties provided low defenses when challenged by a charismatic outsider. It ended up being Chavez, but for a while it was almost Irene!

          The advent of the MUD is a natural response for the need of strong national parties, and thank God it seems to be working!

          • You’ve read too much Allan Brewer Carias (and this blog has been critical of his ideas on Venezuelan democracy for quite some time). Decentralisation has a long story, and it caused much upheaval within the major parties, and yet it became a reality with them having a sizeable majority in both chambers of Congress. It is simply not true that all members of Congress were cronies of Caracas’: normally, Presidents would choose as governors some important regional leader (either from the party or from civil society akin to the ruling party), and a number of regional development Corporations (mirrored by regional trade unions and chambers of commerce, services, industry and agriculture), as well as centralised bodies in charge of local development, sprung. Moreover, which party won the regional elections in 1989 and 1995? AD (Copei won that of 1992). Which parties had former governors or majors as their national candidates? AD, Copei and LCR in 1993. Alas, the ascent of regional leaders has not meant much to the general electorate, who has never voted a former governor or mayor into Miraflores (but I think that trend will end next year).

            Also, bear in mind that for most of Venezuelan elder statesmen, Federalism was a danger zone. They feared it would lead to civil war, and yet they provided the 1961 Constitution with the possibility of reform, which occurred not after decades of bloody civil wars, but after a swift legislative process (which began as a COPRE proposal in 1986 and produced its first legal reforms merely two years later).

    • I insist once more: I don’t want to see a cock fight, but we don’t have to do it as the americans do. In Germany and France there are debates, and I don’t see nobody’s name drag to the mud in them.
      I’m not asking for fireworks for the sake of it. I see controversy as a mean to raise awareness and mobilize potential voters to the primary and presidential elections. A smart way to do that is through emotions, and let’s face it: people don’t feel the same way about a Caracas-Magallanes than, say, a Bravos-Caribes.
      There’s a reason why people is so obsessed about who won or who lost the debate: people LOVE winners, they love narrative of victory and defeat, they love to stories. Debates should be helping with that.

      • Well: it is nice and all, but in order to do that we need a lot of educational work and not just for the whole population but for our journalists and “politicians”.
        I think we have a little advantage towards the US: most people don’t care so much about a candidate’s sexual or religious behaviour, as long as it is not just something weird (so: it is really a non-issue)
        There are disadvantages, though, as access to private, “free”, channels is quite reduced and Venezuela has no state of law.

        France is a mixed system (presidential-parliamentarian). There can be quite interesting debates both at party and at party-against-party level.

        Germany has a parliamentarian system. Debates are the daily bread. It is inconceivable not to see the chancellor being crufified with questions week after week. That’s the price of power.

        In Germany debates are mostly between different parties. Within one party there are open discussions but there is little interest for the general public to see how they debate internally. Stiil, there a very open discussion about party lines and you sometimes see a little bit of infighting within the CDU or the SPD or the Grünen in the weekly news on TV: journalists try to detect when there is a clinch between two would-be leaders within the CDU or SPD or Linke or Green or FDP (which are the parties that count)

        Journalists are allowed to go to national party meetings and see the voting and all…but then there are actually thousands of people who are paying members of said parties…and they do have internal elections (and the one party were those elections are the most obscure is – surprise, surprise- the Linke, which is extreme left)

        Debates happen all the time, more than in other places, before and after election. You can watch the minister of economics debating on a regular basis next to the shadow ministers for two, three opposition parties.

        You also see all politicians are routinelly grilled by the PUBLIC channels (no chance we have that in a century, public channels get their directors via a gremium made up of a lot of key elements of the civil society)

        The thing is Venezuela has at this moment mostly regional parties for the opposition, as I said before. Some need to merge.
        Our best bet for the moment and until democracy comes back is to insist on a Chávez-opposition series of debates, keeping in mind Chavismo will do anything to pretend it accepts or the like (like suggesting the debate be done between Chavista “intellectuals” and the opposition)

        We need to teach by showing at least the way it is in Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Germany, etc. José Rodríguez from Calabozo hasn’t got a clue how it is done in Colombia or Germany. Let’s tell him.

  13. I give up on Venezuela, I believe there is no future in a country in which:
    1. Over 80% of the people support Ley de Costos.
    2. Around 50% of the people would vote to reelect Chavez (today).
    3. Candidates like Petkoff, Ledezma or Fernandez would barely get 1% of the vote in an opposition primary.
    4. Around 60% of the people believe in “socialismo”, and the word “capitalismo” is just taboo.
    5. Around 99,99% of the people believe PDVSA should remain 100% in state hands.
    Unless you are in the business of stealing, I think it is time to leave.

    • CPC..But are you certain of this and if so why?

      “Around 50% of the people would vote to reelect Chavez (today)”

      How much contact do have with Chavistas in different areas?Who are these people anyway? How much personal contact do you have with the barrios?

      I am not asking you to answer me…but to just ask yourself…you might be surprised at some of the answers.

        • CPC

          You can talk to a few people here and there or you can do your own personal investigation which is different.I highly recommend you and others to do so…you might be surprised, and if not you have lost nothing.

          Do you really believe that in a dictatorship these companies and their quests are reliable?Personally I find this a bit naive and quite contradictory with what we know about the government and people’s reaction to it, especially in the barrios.

    • CPC,

      I cannot disagree with you more. First, I don’t know where did you get those figures.
      1.- People is fed up with inflation. Any measures to control will be popular. A lot of people here (and elsewhere) don’t fully understand market dynamics and operate by dogma.
      2.- Yes. This is appalling. But hope is a powerful feeling. This is a reverting tendency. Hitler was also extremely popular in Germany. This was also appalling. They now regret it. So will Venezuelans. Chavez is nothing more than an “Historical Indigestion”.
      3.-They wouldn’t get my vote either. They might be smart, but it takes way more than that to lead a nation (perhaps with the exception of Ledezma). But, are you kidding? Petkoff? I love his editorials, and the guys is really smart, but also has a closet filled with skeletons, was part guerrilla and lacks so much charisma that he would be elected even in his condominium board. Fernandez doesn’t even deserve comments.
      4.- I believe that one should not exclude the other. You can have both a capitalist economy and a socialist policies. I am fed up of hearing people that one should exclude other. Neither is good or bad and the combo a nation has will depend in what their people want.
      5.- More people than you think doesn’t give a crap, and those who care wouldn’t mind seeing a different arrangement where the private sector has a share of it. For now, making PDVSA fully private or completely loose state control is a little crazy.

      I think Venezuela has tons of opportunities for sustainable businesses, innovation and if you are into those things, to have a tremendous quality of life. But we need to get rid of some thugs. If all the smart people leave (like you suggest) then yes, the country is doomed.

      • What I meant by “exception of Ledezma” is that he might actually have what it takes to be a decent president. Maybe lacks of enough charisma. But he has done an extraordinary job at alcadia mayor with very little muscle.

      • Thanks Rodrigo for staying positive despite everythig, I sometimes feel like CPC, and have to make an effort to not give up. That’s what keeps me coming here and in touch with what happens there. Moving away did not change how strongly I feel about it, on the contrary it made me realize that Venezuela is a part of my identity that I can’t deny, the good, the bad and the ugly, is all part of you somehow.

        • Indeed. Even with a US or Canadian passport you will always have on it “Caracas, Venezuela” and any immigration officer can look at it and say: “qué ralle, chama, venezolana!”

    • …Unless you are in the business of stealing, I think it is time to leave….
      join the club of many, many Venezuelians who have left and now work for their livelihood, pay taxes, and demand services from goverments and State!!!

      Venezuela, sadly, is a society of beggars, i once read. Someone had made an analysis of the Venezuelian society using narrative and images of fairy tales (king, court, buergesse, servs, princesses, princess, beggars, knights, etc…) and caracterised different groups… (BTW IF SOMEONE RECOGNIZES THIS SOURCE, PLEASE SEND ME A LINK, THANKS)
      The rich and definetelly the rulling classes, crave protectionism and clientelism.
      The lower classes, love to get the crumps…
      The middle classes, party hard and love cadivi, cheap gas, low taxes, bochinche.

      The Prince, only has to keep all of the above reasonably happy to endure.

      No one is in to challenge the model…. (I should say, few, extraterrestres, are! and belevie things should be run a better way.)

      Now, does this explain your numbers?….

      • I am hoping that love of country will prevail over greed
        and people will reject Chavez. When this primary is over-I hope the
        opposition candidate will stay focused on one thing:
        Chavez is the issue and Chavez has failed. Chavez must go for the good of Venezuela.

        • Sorry to disagree CahrlesC. In my mind, Chavez is not the issue. Chavez is a great result of waht the real issue is, and that is, we grew as spoiled kids, after our grandparents and father’s generations, were overwhealmed by the oir revenues to the country in the 30-60’s.
          For a good while, Venezuela was the singapure of the world. People moved in, infrastructure grew, education,health, urbanization, everything improved…. BUT,
          it was too much and it was too easy. LA venezuela Saudita se mato a si misma.

          De esto salio chavez, de esto salio la mentalidad facilista y malcriada del venezolano. El tabarato dame dos!, la superficialidad de muchos opositores a Chavez, que no alalizan sino que estan arrechos porque estos, les quitaron la teta que antes ellos tenian (via AD y Copei, et alias…)

          So, as Moraima says, my only hope to come back to this site, to keep positive in front of all this lost of opportunities and all the caos that i see ahead, is that hopefully a lesson is learned and we can move forward and rebuild on a more firm groundwork.

          This is why i endorse those options that tell it like it should be, There are no free lunches anywhere, and Venezuela has paid, and will paid dearly for its lack of responsability with managing its mineral wealth….

          CHavez!, dont even think about hem he is but a speck of dust. He is the worse in all of us.

  14. Moving away did not change how strongly I feel about it, on the contrary it made me realize that Venezuela is a part of my identity that I can’t deny, the good, the bad and the ugly, is all part of you somehow.

    kudos! well said.

  15. On old-timers: three of Pablo Perez’s guests in the audience last Sunday were Omar Barboza, Hiram Gaviria, and Aristides Hospedales.

    Those of you who know political paleontology will recognize the names.

  16. sorry JC but the old timers -including arria- have experience and are part of this history. good and /or bad. i wouldn’t vote for them, but they cannot be excluded from our future political life. or the transition back into democracy. más saben los diablos por viejos que por diablos. don’t forget it. everyone is necessary. agrrewith them or not. it’s democracy we want isn’t it?

    • One of the mistakes of la cuarta was to block new generations from ascending to power. The old timers have a role to play, but we are witnessing the blossoming of a new political generation. This is their moment.

      • of course, but we can’t commit their same mistake- that brought us directly to chiabe and his black hole. we have to learn from past experiences, and IMO we do have to hear what they have to say. tienen el cuero bien curtido. and invaluable experience. then you can pick and choose and edit what the new generation needs. we all have to be inclusive, otherwise you become just “another caldera” and be just like them.

  17. As T.S. Eliot says in The Cocktail Party:
    “I learn a good deal by merely observing you,
    And letting you talk as long as you please,
    And taking note of what you do not say”.
    You are careful not to mention Diego Arria. You must have him all the time in your mind.

    • I think it is an advantage that while the primaries last,Chavez CAN be attacked from different angles by various candidates.

      Some of the candidates can take harsher ,or more hardline stances against the incumbent, while others are more moderate and each of us is free to choose.There is NOTHING intrinsically wrong about this.

      The fact that people would ignore this is strange to me and somehow undemocratic in nature.Rather authoritarian don’t you think? At the very least immeasurably doctrinaire.

      Ignoring plausible , democratic, candidates because “YOU” don’t like them is the height of division and egoism.Unbelievable at this more advanced stage of Unity.

      • Example -look what the response of Freddy Bernal to the attack on Maria Corina Machado:
        ‘Rep. Freddy Bernal, a former Caracas mayor and close ally of President Hugo Chavez, told El Universal newspaper that Maria Corina Machado and other opposition candidates should steer clear of Chavez strongholds.

        “They know that they’re not going to have any votes there. They know that nobody votes for them there, that they are not wanted. So what are they going to do there?” Bernal said, according to the newspaper'(El Universal)

        I think it would be a good idea to create a blog for women in Venezuela now.
        A political blog. I heard of one in US called

          • Ok, maybe it is sexist. But , unnecessary- I think not. I see women as not having a
            voice and not getting respect. Why is the attacks upon Maria Corina Machado
            being ignored?

          • Charles, They are ignored precisely because of the sexism….but also because many political types like to ignore as part of power playing….it makes these childish people feel superior…

            and than too, there are very few people out there ethical enough to stick up for others.Most people are self centered and try to stay away from problems, even when
            ethics demand it.

          • Not trying to be rude, but let me add this-Name one government official,
            one Judge, one newspaper who has spoken out about these attacks.
            When something is broken, and nobody wants to fix it.
            Friends You and I feel like fighting about this, don’t you?(Not each other..)
            My gosh, why don’t people stand up against this? Yes, she will lose
            if she gets beaten and abused. and we should be ashamed for not protesting..

          • CharlesC –
            I think you are mixing up things: MCM has not been attacked because she is a woman. She has been attacked because she is an opposition’s candidate. The other candidates have been attacked too. One of them was was forbidden to run for public office for several years!
            About the attacks being ignored by the government, all of them have been dismissed, not only hers. In fact, the government has been promoting these attacks to later mock them those that dare to reply. It’s been a consistent tactic of the regime for years.
            I don’t believe that women don’t need to split from the opposition to be heard. That would be a dismemberment we don’t need at this point.
            Regarding blogs written by women: they are many! Bruni has an awesome one, for example. The beauty is that everybody, men and women can participate in all regardless of the gender of the author.

        • I disagree with Charles about the gender-related blog, but I want to call your attention again to his quote of Bernal. That should be seen as a challenge for the alternative forces to spend most time in THOSE AREAS.
          We have no more than 1% of our time to spend in Northern Valencia or Eastern Caracas, Baruta and the like. We need to spend the time in Maturín, in Punto Fijo, in Southern Valencia, in El Tocuyo and all those urban centres we had considered until now “rural”.

  18. I think it was Stockwell Day in his days as a Canadian cabinet member that said they did not make decisions based on statistics or polls, but on “what really matters to Canadians”. How the hell did Mr. Stockwell found out what mostly matter to Canadians if he did not listen to polls or paid attention to statistics? It’s the kind of arrogance that we see in politicians everywhere that makes them believe they have been endowed with some kind of special hability to read the collective conscience of millions of people. Statistics? Who needs them! That’s why we get into so much troubles, whether it comes from the arrogance and the authoritarian vein of a right wing Canadian conservative party or from a leftist and abusive government in an oil rich banana republic like Venezuela.

    • Because his intolerance Stockwell Day lost the leadership of his party and could never regain it back again. BTW, he retired from politics this year.

    • Tarek el Assami for example- where is he? All of Chavez’s gang give up any
      true identity and morals and become “zombie mouthpieces and la munecas”
      for chavismo. They forget how to react as honest, human Venezuelans.


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