La memoria es frágil, infiel y tendenciosa

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The above video is of Manuel Rosales’ closing march in Caracas, in 2006. It was a memorable, heavily-attended apotheosis of people.

A few days later, Rosales lost the election by twenty-six points.

Look, we all love a march, and today’s was a beauty: full of enthusiasm, and with a great speech from Henrique.

But let’s not get carried away.

At this point in time, after April 11th and Llaguno and countless elections … well, what do marches really mean? I dunno.

Let’s keep our eye on the prize and our feet on the ground.

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  1. Well, its true. But I dont quite recall the same emotion over Rosales. I know that is not something all too relevant, but we saw Rosales more as a way to get rid of Chavez rather than an alternative. Capriles is an alternative and people feel him that way. Rosales was and is still a sack of shit; however id rather pay more attention to rallies outside Caracas

  2. Those were my thoughts exactly. Apotheoisis is how I remember it too.

    However, I do remember that the message that time was “get Chavez out, even if it means Rosales…” instead of today`s ” get Chavez out, now we have Capriles!”

    Of course, improving from the Rosales times can`t count as much of an achievement.

    • Also, and I have always thought this, I really really wish we didn`t need a fellow oligarch and that we could put our country in the hands of, like, a rank-and-file Mirandian or something. Capriles, let`s not fool ourselves, is simply the best we oligarchs have to offer, not the best Venezela has to offer.

      Still, I honestly respect and admire the guy. From all I have heard, people that worked for him and such, he no joke is the best we`ve got in the oligarch camp. My atheist prayers are with him.

      • Oligarch? What do you mean by oligarch? I don’t think Capriles is an oligarch. Your way of thinking is what brought us chavez in the first place… We need to start thinking again in terms of credentials and results, Considerations about class, race, gender or anything else, should be irrelevant. Otherwise we play into the game of the ideologues.

      • oligarch, nnc? what’s that all about? No wait, don’t tell me. You’re a pseudo-socialist living in a capitalist country and, like the McDonald’s motto, “lovin’ it”.

  3. That is what i said in the previous post. Rosales’ rally in Caracas was huge, maybe bigger that Capriles’. However, the difference is that Capriles has had big rallies in the interior and now we have los andes, which used to be chavista. Even in Los Llanos and Oriente we have had big rallies. I believe that winning this election is a possibility (not a certainty).

  4. I agree. I’ve been saying that all day. Caracas is always the strongest oppo turnout. However the rallies outside of Caracas keep me hopeful.

  5. perfect title, Juan. I can barely remember the Rosales campaign. So very much has happened since. So much development has occurred within the MUD, as it built its platform on a base of ashes, notwithstanding growing pains and formidable opposition.

  6. I agree – is good to be realistic and remember that we have filled those streets before. However, the truth is that this time feels different : A formidable candidate, not just an anti-chávez vote. I think that makes a difference. People will go out and vote for an idea, a program and not just against. Keeping a ‘reality check’ is good – Sunday’s vote is what counts.

  7. As I told my mother:in 2006 you saw a lot of people at rosales rallies and a lot of people at chavez rallies, now you see a VERGUERAL of people at capriles events and just some people at chavez meetings.

    And THAT has to mean something…

  8. Rosales became a candidate in August 9th; his closing rally in Caracas (the third of his “Avalanchas”) converged at the Autopista Francisco Fajardo near the CCCT. They were all big rallies (not as big as those fo Chavez), though the deepest they went into downtown Caracas was around Los Caobos . And I fail to remember any pollster, besides CECA, saying that Rosales had any shot. Again, memory is all those things Juan said; and I also recall Alek Boyd saying that he was convinced Rosales was about to win after his rallies, a few months ago in this very space.

    Alas, rallies, in a mass democracy, and moreover, in a mass and polarised democracy, do tend to be big (you only need t move a few hundred thousand to give a good impression). Some people say that the biggest rally they had seen was that of Caldera in Barquisimeto back in 1983. And we can check out how that turned out to be.

    But a rally has a symbolic effect: it shows (some) people are behind you; it gives said people an opportunity to mingle and feel energized. And that goes well beyond political junkies, who are rarely energized. And it gives way to press coverage, and a number of good soundbites.

    I feel cautiously optimistic and, to give credit where its due, Rosales’ valiant effort paved the way.

    Let us recall that HCR was on the Rosales comando, and he must have learned a number of lessons. As he has said many times: he has usually been underestimated.

    • I don’t give Rosales credit for his efforts but a move instead. The fact is, the only undeniable contribution Rosales gave to the opposition movement at that time was to concede defeat peacefully shortly after the election results were announced. By doing it, he killed off the sterile revolting actions some in the opposition had covertly been promoting and drifted them apart from sounder politicians who later would establish the MUD. It feels like ancient history, doesn’t it?

    • Rallies… as I often say, I probably have the best collection of pictures of huge rallies, from all around Venezuela, and not only in Caracas. Rosales’ closing in autopista Francisco Fajardo was, and still is IMO, the largest concentration that I have seen, bar the march that ended up with Chavez’s resignation in 02. Chavez’s have never come near having as many people. In context, all rallies in 06 were also huge, tiny towns in the middle of nowhere producing thousands of supporters…

      Marcha no gana eleccion, that much we already know. “3 testigos por mesa”, as Leo claims, that -if true- can.

      As you have rightly pointed out Juan “Let’s keep our eye on the prize and our feet on the ground.”

    • So the Rosales rally was on the Autopista? I was wondering about that. Does this make the first time an opposition candidate “invaded” Avenida Bolivar? That has to be signficant in and of itself (and it’s beyond miraculous to think they got permission from chavista authorities).

      • Not exactly. Days before the 2007 Venezuelan constitutional referendum the student movement called to pack Bolivar Avenue for the NO vote, and so they did.

  9. What strikes me more is how primitive Rosales’s speech sounds next to Capriles. Generic, unable to transmit any sense that the guy has a worked out plan for what to do in power, unable to project hope or optimism. Terrible, really.

    • You’re right, Quico. I guess that’s the difference between a man who simply fights against X, and one who fights for Y. It’s much easier to formulate a plan of action in the latter sense. Se abren los campos mentales.

      • I just listened Capriles speech from today’s rally. I think the main differences is that Capriles’ campaign has stolen the sound bites that were mainly Chavez’s property for many years…he talks about real problems, every day problems. CHavez’s campaing, on the other hand, sound like the opposition may years ago, save the planet,save the revolution…I really don’t know how it happened but I think that is the main differences, which was very clearly described by Capriles in his contrast his government plan with that of CHavez. However, yo no cuento los pollos anes de nacer, I still think the race is very close and the pressure of the opposition to make sure that the results of the elections are acknowledged by both sides, does not matter who wins is very important!

  10. I’d eat my Capriles hat if Rosales visited a place like Barinitas once. Capriles campaigned there three times. It is two roads and a main square, basically. Capriles got out there, door to door, literally, and the cumulative effect is showing.

  11. Truth be told, the opposition has always been able to hold rallies of this magnitude in Caracas,even when it didn’t win. What has been more striking about this campaign is not today’s rally, its the fact that HCR has gone to make successful rallies in places like Tucupita, Monagas and Trujillo or the ones he held on Catia and Caricuao, that most people in the rallies actually want to hear him speak and listen what he has to say. Whats different in this campaign is not the size of the crowds; its the locations of the rallies, the type of people who went there and the message of focus of the campaign. Will this be enough to beat Chavez? We’ll find out in a week. Is this an huge improve from campaigns like Rosales’ that consisted of massive rallies focused on Caracas and Zulia, attended mostly by middle and upper class voters saying Chavez vete ya? You betcha.

  12. Capriles is a builder. From the moment he entered politics, legally prepared for the trenches, he’s been building on his experience, he’s been formulating plans, and he’s been achieving goals,

    It’s always best, when carving out a new career path to do something, or to go somewhere, where no one else is interested in doing or going. And so it was for Capriles’ campaign. He began small and by reaching the furthest corners, where no politicans, or very few, had ever visited before. He also turned the chaos of floodings into opportunity. And that was the first of many sparks to come.

    Capriles started as an underdog. Throughout he showed sincerity and integrity in his messages. How could people not respond favourably to that? He invoked a little religion, not a bad thing for people disheartened after years of seeing virgins decapitated and santeros walking the streets. How could people not welcome that? In sum, there was goodness there. And there was a strength that kept growing and growing until today’s magnificent delivery.

    The Capriles campaign narrative will forever change the face of politics in Venezuela. No matter what the outcome on 7O, I’m convinced that Capriles will have a very important role to play in Venezuela’s history. Manuel Rosales never came close to reaching that stature.

      • Well, the title is a little Ucabista inside-joke, and a tribute to a great professor and mentor who was taken much too soon.

        In Prof. López Casuso’s class, he would always repeat that phrase: “la memoria es frágil, infiel y tendenciosa”

        Congrats to Federico for getting it.

  13. Big rallies to Bolivar Avenue are just an optical illusion. Math, as usual, helps show the truth.

    Let’s find out what the real capacity of Bolivar Avenue is.

    Bolivar Avenue measures 2000 meters long and has 8 lanes. Standard lane width is 42 inches (1.07 meters). It’s quite acceptable to remove 0.07 meters from the equation since there’s a fence dividing the avenue.

    1) Bolivar Avenue Area = 2000 m. x 8 m. (1 m. per lane) = 16000 m².

    Four fat persons or six thin ones fit in a square meter, so taking 5 as average means:

    2) Bolivar Avenue Capacity = 16000 m² x 5 people per m² = 80000 people.

    Hard to believe, isn’t it?

    It could be argued that sidewalks or crossing streets can hold extra people but what’s shown is the beef. The problem comes when word of mouth or journalists tell attendance in hundreds of thousands (even a million). Then everybody gets the wrong picture.

  14. If you use Google Earth and measure using the ruler tool:

    Length from were the Tarima was to tunnel near Alba Hotel (Ex-Hilton): 1,276 mts

    Coordinates:
    Start: 10.501716° N, -66.911167° W
    End: 10.499078° N, -66.899823° W

    Width: 26.50 meters

    Area: 33814 M2, if you use density of 5 persons/ M2 you have 169070 persons, 4 persons / M2 is more like it: 135,256 persons

    I agree with Francisco Toro it may have been more like 200,000, maybe even more if you count surrounding Avenues: Lecuna and Universidad.

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