Wiki-MUD

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Let's do this

A few days ago, I received the first draft of the MUD’s platform.

It is an all-encompassing 163-page document, filled with the opposition’s promises, hopes and wishes for the new government.

There is a lot to digest in there, or not enough, depending on what you were expecting. But getting a grasp on the whole thing is going to require a group effort.

If you’re interested, please email me (nageljuan at gmail dot com) and I can send you a copy. You can also read it here. It’s going to take several people to make out what the main proposals are. So let’s make a Wiki-something out of this, ok?

Just to get the conversation going, here are some interesting takeaways:

  • The writing is boiler-plate, pedestrian in a Boulevar-El_cafetal kind of way, and completely uninspired. Given how the MUD is a mish-mash of a lot of people and organizations, that is how it is supposed to be. It is not controversial, but it won’t lift our spirits either. It was written by a Committee.
  • It comes out head-on (¶46) against a Constitutional Assembly, and for the principles in the 99 Constitution.
  • In order to dismantle the current laws, the new President must use the Courts or present amendments to current laws to the National Assembly. If that doesn’t work, they believe that most of the laws can be changed via changes in the Procedural Rules governing them.
  • The Presidential candidate should announce who his Vice-President will be, in order to give the Vice-President more institutional weight and popular legitimacy. (¶62)
  • The come out against Enabling Laws in general, but leave the possibility open for asking for one with limited powers and time periods.  (¶64)
  • Eliminating the Bolivarian Militia. (¶112)
  • Giving RCTV and the other TV and radio stations their right to transmit. (¶145)
  • It does not come out for or against privatization. (¶215, ¶264-269)
  • Vaguely comes out in favor of targeted social programs. (¶229)
  • Eliminating FONDEN and integrating it into the budget. (¶282)
  • On economic policy, they advocate gradualism. (¶374)
  • Comes out in favor of MERCOSUR. (¶380)
  • It does not call for a reduction in the same of government, but a reduction in the rate of growth of government.  (¶405)
  • It won’t touch public employment. (¶410)
  • More debt. (¶414)
  • It comes out in favor of a unique, under-valued exchange rate that promotes our exports. (¶416)
  • They come out against the sudden elimination of CADIVI, because it would result in a maxi-devaluation. (¶417)
  • A new directory for the Central Bank. (¶422)
  • Gradual modification of price controls. They call for making them “flexible” but not eliminating them. (¶430-31)
  • Negotiating with anyone and everyone who had something expropriated. (¶440)
  • Paying the severance of all those who were fired from PDVSA in 2002-2003. (¶512)
  • Reducing the requirement that PDVSA hold 60% of the shares in any joint company. (¶527)
  • Gradually increasing the internal price of gasoline. (¶531)
  • Creating an independent oil regulator, different from PDVSA. (¶532)
  • Crime is all the way down in page 97…
  • Policies on crime are standard: disarmament, prevention, technology, working with the community. (¶725 and beyond)
  • They come out in favor of security cameras in hot spots. (¶760)
  • Increasing the number of prosecutors. (¶775)
  • Decentralizing jails. (¶784)
  • Targeted social programs again. (¶816 and beyond)
  • Conditional cash transfers! (¶818)
  • Focus on early childhood coverage, and excellent first grade teachers. (¶844, ¶847)
  • Nothing about ending the massive subsidy to public universities. (¶863)
  • Barrio Adentro and the agreement with the Cuban Doctors will be “reviewed.” (¶904)
  • Gradually adjusting electricity tariffs. (¶1089)
  • Timidly opening up the electricity sector to private investment. (¶1090)
  • Nothing about opening up investment in infrastructure (roads) to the private sector. Everything remains state-held, and state-controlled … (¶1122)
  • Nothing on selling off the CANTV, but rather opening up several growing telecommunication areas to the private sector. (¶1147)
  • Nothing on legalizing abortion. (¶1167)
  • On foreign policy, we will be friends with everyone! (¶1201 and beyond)

On the whole, the document is unsurprisingly disappointing. Heavy on the State, short on decisiveness, clueless on how much things cost – it’s exactly what I expected.

1 COMMENT

  1. And the first thing I find under your post is an ad for Alzheimer… don’t know what to make of it.
    Seriamente ahora: it’s gonna take a lot more than 163 pages Juan, but it’s something to begin with.

  2. ■It comes out in favor of a unique, under-valued exchange rate that promotes our exports. (¶416)

    sh#t… this says a lot, and has too many consequences to even think of

  3. and also, this means that even when the MUD will still exist after *if* we win, the newly elected president will be the one to make the toughest decisions and *most importantly* the one that will face most of the cost for them.

  4. The first government after Chavez will be like the U.S. Continental Congress after the American Revolution. It will be ineffectual and it won’t last. However, it should, at least, provide time and space for a serious national debate that can address what sort of country and society Venezuela wants to be. That debate cannot occur under the current circumstances, and that is why this platform is so weak and without any principles underpinning it.

    • “It will be ineffectual and it won’t last.”

      I don’t know about ineffectual, but it will last six years, unless the Constitution is changed. Six years is a long time.

      • Ineffectual? What would you expect to happen when you have an AN and a judiciary composed largely of Chavistas in the first case, and totally with Chavistas in the second?

        The existing constitution might survive and the new administration might muddle through six years, but my money is on a Constituyente Constitucional after about two years.

        And that is assuming that we have a peaceful transition of power. Venezuela will live with a very high level of political uncertainty for a long time to come. This will continue until the political and social divides that have been forged under Chavismo have been repaired sufficiently to allow the two sides to begin a true dialogue and begin to look for a national consensus.

        Juan, I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but you have to be realistic about your expectations.

          • Luis,

            I had to look that one up, as I had never seen it before. I do find it à propos. Although, I am certainly not arguing against change, as King Louis XV seemed to be. In recent history that argument has been made by a slew of dictators or tyrants who have since been deposed.

            I tend to look at long-term political change in terms of plate tectonics. Historical changes occur regardless of individuals. When the democratic process works well, change occurs slowly and undramatically, and few get hurt in the process. When a strong political leader or tyrant holds back the tide of history or forces the process in an unnatural direction, the tectonic pressures build up. When those pressures become too large, the result is a sudden change or a social and/or political “earthquake”.

            In our case, recent history has resulted in a Venezuela that is divided by a political and social fault. The pressures on both sides of that fault have been building up for years. The real challenge of the next administration will be to defuse those pressures and avoid an “earthquake”.

  5. “Paying the severance of all those who were fired from PDVSA in 2002-2003. (¶512)”

    How…? With bonds, shares, cash…? With or without interest…? Timeframe…?

    Do they really plan to do that…?

    Knock, knock – Who is it…? – Inflation

  6. Horrible, its a manual on populism with a little bit of sense.

    Really? WTF?
    – The come out against Enabling Laws in general, but leave the possibility open for asking for one with limited powers and time periods.

    The reason the country is the way it is (since the 70s, is too much power vested in one person).

    – It does not come out for or against privatization.
    – It does not call for a reduction in the same of government, but a reduction in the rate of growth of government.
    – It won’t touch public employment.

    The same or more government. Great!!! /sarcasm

    – Gradual modification of price controls. They call for making them “flexible” but not eliminating them.
    – It comes out in favor of a unique, under-valued exchange rate that promotes our exports.
    – They come out against the sudden elimination of CADIVI, because it would result in a maxi-devaluation.
    – More debt.

    Thats it… the MUD is full of morons.. I might not even vote.

    • Tank, on the Enabling Law idea, perhaps the best way to undo the damage done by previous Enabling Laws is with another. Remember, it’s just a tool, and can be used or abused. A hammer can be used to build or tear down something, and while building is its proper use, if you use it to tear down something that never should have been built, is that a bad thing?

      I think there are a number of examples on how bad laws/regulations/policies can and should be used – very, very carefully – to undo the worst abuses. Take the electoral law, for example, which allowed PSUV to win a large majority of seats in the NA, despite not getting a majority of votes. If the opposition happens to gain some extra seats next time thanks to that stupid law, should they not use the extra votes to, for example, undo that law and replace it with something fair?

      The rest of your examples, to me, mostly sound like baby steps in the right direction, remember that the first year (minimum!) is going to be very, very disruptive. Small steps will minimize disruption in some areas, which may keep the whole package from spinning out of control. (Just think of the chaos Chavez, if he is still alive and loses, could inspire…) In that sense, it may very well be the wisest approach. If things are going smooth, they can accelerate some things.

      Really, it all comes down to whether these things are handled wisely, or poorly. And that, in turn, will depend on transparency, watchfulness of the people, and the willingness of the leaders to respond. So the question for you, as to deciding if you should vote, is can you give them the benefit of the doubt? I hope you can.

    • That’s exactly what I was looking for on the document.

      Aren’t we missing a meager one or two pages summarizing the whole affair? A vision statement? A conclusion? Something we can make a coherent speech/narrative/commercial out of?

  7. “Because I sincerely believe you ARE a blockhead! I have to write down what I believe is true – it’s my moral responsibility!” from Linus Van Pelt (Peanuts, Charlie Brown cartoon)
    I would like to make a cartoon of Linus meeting Chavez…
    lWasn’t Linus an amazing character?]

  8. Realistically, all the important stuff is in the first 20 pages. The rest is noise.

    There are 3 big themes that matter and that I’d like to see analyzed in separate articles:
    – It acknowledges the 1999 constitution and will propose minor reforms to it but only when appropriate (we’ve come a long way from the Carmona days).
    – It proposes a path to deal with all the illegal legislation, including a reform of the justice system.
    – It recognizes that any government needs to deal with the current state of the armed forces.

    Juan/Quico do not get lost in the other details, here is a challenge can you make a post/analysis on each of those separately and let the arguing begin… Will this even work or are we just kidding ourselves?

    Platy

    ps. one other theme is the importance of the vice-president, this one will make my sister happy but I see as less crucial.

  9. Well, it’s a “documento en discusión”, so there is room for changes.

    Alas, the platform of 35 parties, which comprise from a pure-socialist one (BR) to a card-carrying member of UPLA (PVzla), should be full of compromises. I’ve read in different forums and twitter posts the charge that it’s too liberalising. So, go figure.

    Having said that, “to rule is to choose”, and we have to choose incremental reforms from this status quo. Dismantling it head-on would test and unnecessarily strain the future government’s ability to hold power AND normalise political life. As for economic reforms, the country is in a dire state: they are probably considering you cannot tackle everything at once, especially since the current government is leaving us socially less stable than before.

    So tacking on a number of crucial and yet subtle political reforms is, in my humble opinion, a good idea: bring down presidential powers, foster a more independent and technically minded cabinet (the idea behind “buen gobierno” and restore and deepen decentralisation. That can be done, mostly, by abiding to the 1999 Constitution (so, why would you need a Constituyente right away: there are other means). What’s the ideological frame of mind of the document? Certainly neither “neoliberal” nor “populist”, and yet realist and within the historical consensus of a strong and viable State and a strong society (which I see heavily favored as compared to the hostility of the current status quo).

    There is, also, an important critique of the “situacion actual”, which points to many of the failures of the current government, many levied at on this very forum. All of the sections have their own papers and policy dossiers, and were drafted by a considerable number of Venezuelan experts on each field.

    As for the language, Juan, what did you expect? Churchilliana? Haven’t you had enough fiery rhetoric?

    I do not see it as ” the lesser of two evils”. I see it as a good and comprehensive proposal, most of it good in of itself, some of it dictated by the circumstances.

    DISCLAIMER: I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating; I’m the son of Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, and I have many friends and acquaintances in the MUD. I, however, do not work for it as much as I publicly support it. To work for the MUD is a most legitimate and brave choice -and should not render anyone’s opinions moot-, but I do not want to present the easy and ample target of nepotism charges against the noble thing that the Unidad is.

        • I beg to differ, but that requires some further analysis. I would need to go through the document with a finer comb to be sure, but my general impression from reading, say, the electricity sector or infrastructure sections, is that it is heavily biased toward state solutions.

          I agree with you, though, that this is (partly) a result of the country we are inheriting, and the wisdom of only changing things gradually.

    • Guillermo Tell, I did not know you were the son of your father.

      Quick set of question: who elected him to his current position? How was he elected? When was he elected? What other candidates to the MUD leadership participated?

      Thanks.

      • Alek: I don’t know, really. He had never “left” politics, so it’s hard for me to pinpoint the exact time and means of his election. Were there other Venezuelans considered? I believe there were, but I guess he had both the political and civil society credentials to be considered; plus, he did not hint at reentering electoral politics, and he was neither too old nor too young… So he was chosen by the parties, witht he advice of the opposition “sages” (Petkoff, perhaps?), as an independent broker between them. Saying anything beyond this would be to toot his horn a bit too much, and it has been a team effort, really.

        The MUD only became a formal and organised agreement in June of 2009, but it had previous incarnations. Not the Coordinadora, because there was a void in opposition politics between 2004 and 2006, but the Rosales and the 2007 referendum campaign and the big parties’ agreement brokered in view of the 2008 regional elections, helped to this end. Also, the 2009 referendum defeat, as well as the loss of Bolivar state in 2008, persuaded the parties into promoting a set of rules and not a loose confederation based on 2008’s Acuerdo de Unidad Nacional.

        • Guillermo, while I tremendously appreciate your honesty, I am left with a bad taste. See, I have never been a fan of CEN-like “conciliabulos entre amigos” with Petkoff-type of power brokers.

          You may be aware of my staunch defence of la cuarta around these parts. But that way of doing politics, i.e. back door style, where unelected and unaccountable folks get to decide for all of us, that I not dislike, I despise, and see as no different from what happens within chavismo. That instead of one there may be four or five in the opposition, does not make the method any more palatable, to me at least.

          But again, thanks for your reply.

          • Alek: thank you for your candor, as well. I agree it’s not an elected leader, but it’s not unaccountable: he has put up all of his reputation to this task. The goal is simple, clear and transparent: the opposition wants to trump the PSUV; there’s no hidden agenda and no back-door deals. As a matter of fact, most of the electoral coalition has been gradually developed into a mass-consulting effort: the primaries have become the norm.

            I hope the MUD will become more institutionalised, not less. But the crux of the matter is whether we think parties can organise and represent its potential voters, and whether they are legitimate power outlets, especially considering what efforts society has made to gain power for itself.

            Again, I’m unsure of the details. There might have been friendly agreements, but not between personal friends…

    • Umm, that explains a lot. I did’t know either. But I am glad to be able to send your father regards. I think that his role in “coordinating” the MUD has been very good considering what they have to deal with. I don’t agree on all the decisions, but the fact that they have been able to sit together and discuss issues and have a disciplined posture once the decision is made, that’s what has changed the game. I also like that he really seems to be thinking about how to defeat Chavez and not how to get a piece of the pie for himself.
      I still think we lack expertise on the communication strategy, it’s a lot better now, but we are fighting with the uber-communicator. Also, I think they are not leveraging the power of the base as much. Last election I registered on the page to be witness in one area where I am positive there aren’t enough oppposition representatives (Las Adjuntas, Macarao) and I didn’t get a single email, text message, or anything. I am sure more than one opposition expert would gladly donate time and expertise to help out with commercial production, website optimizaiton, email marketing, online fundraising, things like that. But I don’t see a clear way one can volunteer.

      • Moraima: Thanks for you regards; I’ll pass them along. As he often says, there’s no “magic touch”; the will of the parties to convene and agree has been paramount, and for all the petty politics often portrayed outside, there is a lot of unsung generosity and kindness…

        As for the media effort, there’s hired staff doing that job; I can get you in touch with them if you want (my personal address is gtaveledo.ucv@gmail.com) Bear in mind that the MUD is not popular among many mainstream media venues, and it receives harassment and downright violence from State outlets.

  10. Problem: In order to dismantle the current laws, the new President must use the Courts or present amendments to current laws to the National Assembly. If that doesn’t work, they believe that most of the laws can be changed via changes in the Procedural Rules governing them.

    Solution: art 25 of el librito azul.

  11. I feel this is a platform to win votes and not shake the boat, not necessarily about what needs and will be done. That one would scare the hell out of most Venezuelans who are clueless as to what it takes to put any country on the road to prosperity and development in every sense of the words.

  12. OT: Looks like Nicolas Maduro won’t be VP anymore…

    http://www.lapatilla.com/site/2011/12/15/chavez-propone-a-maduro-a-la-gobernacion-de-carabobo/

    What went wrong for the bus driver? We’ll find out soon enough.

    About the MUD document (which I haven’t read completely so far), it looks like is the first draft, made by consenssus of all the parties involved (left and right). This document wasn’t really made for public consumption IMHO, but as a start-up for discussion and polish between the political actors. The final plataform will be defined by the winner of the primary and his/her political crew, but I don’t expect deep modifications of the spirit of this paper.

    It’s an alright start, given the circunstances. The MUD doesn’t want to rock the boat, but take things slowly and carefully. There’s nothing wrong to be cautious, given the gravity of the situation in all fronts. I see this as a work in progress, and that’s fine with me.

  13. Moraima,

    I agree with this :”I still think we lack expertise on the communication strategy, it’s a lot better now, but we are fighting with the uber-communicato”

    Aside from the fact that Chavez has unlimited airtime and the opposition is drastically limited in this sense, we have ALL of the media applying self censorship to avoid being suddenly wiped out by Chavez.An example would be in the previous thread where Julio Borges is unable to get his message across about the failure of Chavez to fulfill his promise to build a certain amount of houses.Instead the media publishes the governments false figures only the footnote that some people doubt their veracity.

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