How the Opposition Got Its Groove Back


Over on the IHT, I review the way Capriles has radically overhauled the opposition’s brand, broadening its appeal both geographically and socially.

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget how big an achievement this really is. It’s easy to forget how far down the rabbit-hole of hyperpolarization the opposition had fallen, to lose sight of the fact that our leaders’ discourse had boiled down to sheer personal venom against Chávez, total vitriol devoid of any hint of optimism, of a program, of a view to the future or a message that speaks to the aspirations of regular Venezuelans desperate to gain a foothold on the middle class.

It’s easy to forget that we used to sound like this:

…and now we sound like this…

Whatever happens on October 7th, that transformation is one we’ll always owe to the Henrique Capriles campaign.

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  1. ” this campaign isn’t an academic discussion on the relative merits of “capitalism” and “communism”; it’s about whether you can get a decent job, send your children to a decent school and live in a decent home.”

    You hit the nail on the head, Toro…

  2. Context is everything. Except in your write-up, Quico. I for one, don’t have a problem understanding how a Carlos Ortega came into the national spotlight, especially so soon after the shootings of civilians at a peaceful march. Back then, too, Chávez was not suffering from cancer, his economic legacy did not look so much like swiss cheese. He was in charging-bull mode, having initiated the vehemence and the climate of fear, which he aimed at maintaining. The public thought that Ortega could overcome the feeling of victimhood, of being pulled down a dark rabbit hole. It was not to be. The oppo was too much in disarray, too immature. But Ortega lit a needed wick, at e time, to give people hope that there was a way out of the rabbit hole.

    A lot of water has passed under the bridge, since then. Yes, the oppo has matured through skillful management (and I credit Aveledo et al on this). But chavismo, too, has exposed its underbelly and shown how badly are its frayed edges.

    Whereas in Ortega Chávez’ the fox found a charging bull as a dance partner, now Chávez the sick, ageing fox finds a nimble and sincere conteder whose message of hope and reconciliation is irresistible to a majority, tired of the fighting.

    It’s a matter of context and its intrepretation, even though that would detract from the easy-peasy copy.

      • Ch’s health is only one part of the decaying equation that has made Capriles’ work a lot easier.
        Making comparisons of two political figures within an entity, over the course of a decade of dynamic political events, in order to show how “mature” the oppo is now, is for me, offensive without context.

        Just as Ortega was the man for his time, so, too, is Capriles, now. The latter’s message of hope, reconciliation, and a better economic model (ceteris paribus), would have fallen on deaf ears, back in 2002.

    • I usually don’t agree with syd, but I do on this comment. I think that Carlos Ortega made some mistakes but he was the right man for the historical moment of 2001-2002.

      I also have always thought that one of the main reasons why FT likes Capriles (not the only one) is that at the end he “looks” like him. Capriles is a young, progressive, well-off man from the Caracas-based elite committed to leading his country to success. I think the the same could be said for FT. Carlos Ortega on the other hand is a trade union leader from Punto Fijo, whose parents were poor people from the border with Colombia looking for a better life offered by the oil refineries in Paraguana in the early 50s. This is obviously a very different personal narrative and makes it more difficult for FT to connect at a personal, visceral level.

      In any case, I will vote for Capriles on October 7th and will make sure that family and friends do the same. However, if we loose I think it would be fair game to reconsider the efficient government-chavista-light approach promoted by the Capriles campaign and think about how to best fight Chavismo in the next election.

  3. Thats all you got?!!!Groovey you got your groove back hey, well that and a nickel might get you a piece of bubblegum.

    For all those cat herders of the oppo’s…
    George Clinton – Atomic Dog

    Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay
    Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay
    Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay
    Bow wow wow yippie yo yippie yay


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