Life is a fickle little thing

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!

Hugo Chávez said farewell tonight. He may show up a few times more, but let’s be honest here: the Hugo Chávez era is over. It could be a month, or six months, or a year, but it would take “a miracle” (his words) to pull out of this one.

The good thing about this historic, obviously painful speech is that the uncertainty is over. In praying for a miracle, he basically admitted he is dying, and he has named a successor. He has also said the Constitution should be followed clearly, and that elections will need to take place. He left no wiggle room. He called for unity among his ranks, foreshadowing the obvious infighting that will surely ensue.

On the opposition side, we can’t fool around: Henrique Capriles (assuming he is re-elected in Miranda this Sunday) is the only presidential candidate we have, the only one who can stand up to Nicolás Maduro. He is the only one with the name recognition to face what we are about to face. There can simply be no room for improvisation here. As Hugo Chávez said himself tonight, “Unidad, unidad, unidad, unidad, unidad…” We have been handed a get-out-jail-card for free – let’s not screw this up.

As for Maduro, he is very beatable. He has never been elected into executive position, and people don’t know him very well. He has a series of weak links, and while the emotional aspect of Chávez’s death is a huge wild card, he will struggle to keep chavista forces united and present an appealing face to swing voters.

There is a deeper meaning to tonight’s address here, one that will take us a few weeks to process. Suffice to say that life is a fickle beast, and only death is set in stone.

A few weeks ago, I said that something dramatic would have to happen in order for us to be electable. Well, something dramatic happened. Game on.

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  1. I would only add to the UNIDAD battle cry the word “prudencia…” UNIDAD Y PRUDENCIA are crucial for the opposition starting from tonight on… And also, a resoundingly good message to the country mañana mismo! (God lets hope they don´t waste this great communicational and political opportunity with the “show me a medical report” spiel… that would be a shame)

  2. I agree with you, we can not screw this one, our next candidate should be Henrique Capriles. There is no room for improvisation period. MUD should unify their ranks at the speed of light.

  3. “There is a deeper meaning to tonight’s address here, one that will take us a few weeks to process. Life is fickle – one day you’re here, next day you’re not. One day you’re rich, the next day you’re poor. One day you have all the power, next day you’re dead. One day you lose an election, next day you get a do-over”.


    That paragraph is as useless as an ashtray in a motorcycle. The text will be more powerful if you cut that out…

  4. Besides being as useless as an ashtray in a motorcycle, the paragraph it’s as tacky as a flowerpot and a candlestick in the same place… You sound just as Isabel Allende trying to sound wise… Just an opinion…

  5. I understand, but give it time. The moment of the “news” is not the time to become philosophical… Philosophy needs reflection… and a little calm.

    BTW: Chávez’s speech can just be another ruse… One never knows with this guy…

  6. Until I saw ir=t whith my own eyes and touch it to see if he is really dead.. besides then why the surprise visit? Cabello really tired the other as well…the narcogenerales…this would be like an AA meeting one day at a time…Elections without money?

  7. “Calma y cordura” a former president said many years ago.

    The facts are clear: the president won’t be seen for about three weeks, we (at last!) have an acting president and we must support the federal state by electing the most amount of opposition governors possible. Chavez’s incapability to continue as president is just one piece of a complicated puzzle.

  8. No contemos los pollos antes de nacer!
    First: we have to cross 16d bridge. What would be the impact of Chavez’ announcement on the upcoming elections? Will the voters jump out of the ship after discovering that there’s no captain on board? The mutiny might not begin at the upper echelons but among the file and rank.

    Is there anyone out there capable of rallying the hoi polloi just like Paez did after Boves’ death?

    I presume that HCR is the default candidate for an eventual presidential election, but the MUD must polish its campaign. There´s obviously room for improvement…

  9. Lo peor de la noche no fue el ver a un hombre totalmente vulnerable, intentando afrontar con dignidad y coraje un momento extraordinariamente difícil. Lo más triste fue recibir su discurso con escepticismo, no creerle, pensar que sus palabras estaban medidas, con el único objetivo que yo (como muchos) bajara la guardia para luego darme otro golpe. El cinismo de otras proclamaciones han creado un cayo. Me gustaría que la situación fuese diferente, que hubiésemos ganado la elección hace un par de meses, que él estuviese bien, que se prepara para su retiro en el llano con su familia. Pero no es así. Me gustaría sentir más compasión, pero no puedo creer lo que está pasando. Si realmente la situación es que estamos viendo, si es un enfermo terminal saliendo de la vida política del país, es difícil de aceptar. No puedo creer que esta sea la primera noticia que él haya recibido de su situación; no puedo evaluar el proceso de los últimos 18 meses sin concluir que fue un capricho, el ego enceguecido pensando que estaba por encima de todo, de los diagnósticos, de los consejos de los médicos, del sentido común. Es probable que en los próximos meses sienta compasión, hasta tristeza. Pero por los momentos no es así. Me tiene loco.

  10. It would be a mistake to launch a negative campaign on the back of the death of the president – people will want certainty not conflict.

    The article makes the assumption the next leader will be chosen by the people. I’d say the opposition have at least 2 battles: ensure there is an election held to decide the next leader & then put themselves front and centre.

  11. Cause of death: By his own hand (or omission).

    Life is fickle. But it does not take infinite wisdom, just not being a total fool (like Chavez and followers seem to be in spades) to see where a cancer patient working (or failing at working) a 24/7 job would lead.

    Predicting the likely result of this was as easy to predict as the likely result for a 20-year old Norwegian with a kilo or so of bling on, strolling on foot around Cajigal.

  12. Well, for starters: “enfermo” is not “desahuciado”. Don’t count Chavez out, although he looked pretty down yesterday evening.

    Second, I agree with (what I believe is the) general consensus here: let’s get some governorships on 16-D first, then let’s wait to see if Chavez can take possession on Jan. 10, and if not, THEN let’s think on who would be a good candidate to fight Maduro. By the way, not that this has to be done sequentially, just that we don’t need everyone doing the same thing at the same time.

    And third, on the Capriles candidacy, I don’t like it. In fact, I would hate to see the guy running for president again if there is an election come February. What is the message here? I sincerely want to fix things up? Or I just want my cambur, be it Miranda or the Presidency? Why running for governor if you are going to change your mind 2 months later? As a neighbor from Miranda, I would take it as an affront.

    Stay on message, Opposition. Stay on message.

    • Wow, Igg, RARELY do I disagree more with a comment more than I do with yours.

      First off – we can’t wait until January 10th to start thinking about these things. Are you kidding? That is not even remotely possible. I can assure you the MUD wheels are already in motion, meetings with plenty of Scotch are being called, and dulce de lechoza is being made as we speak. Expecting people to wait is unrealistic, and also not very smart. We can’t sit and wait for Tibisay to say “Se convocan elecciones presidenciales para pasado mañana” to think about what we’re going to do.

      As for Capriles, who else are we going to run? In an abbreviated presidential campaign, nobody has the name recognition that Henrique has. Nobody has built the goodwill that he has built. He is also the only one who can bring the opposition together this time around, courtesy of his primary win and of his performance during the election. I dunno, maybe I´m underestimating the bad blood the presidential campaign left within the MUD ranks, but I honestly think he’s our only shot.

      I know it’s weird given how he is up for Governor now, but guess what? I think people will understand if come election time, Capriles assumes the mantle of candidate.

      The only other name being bandied about is Ledezma, but Ledezma is not well known outside of the big cities, and has many, many problems.

      • Okey, we cannot wait. Events have overtaken us. But we have to get those governorships.

        But it’s really wise advice, to try to poll and research, maybe order some opinion polls, to see if Henrique is still current as a candidate, if people will welcome his candidature against the usual apparatchiks. Or if it’s somebody else that would fare better. Really the situation is changed and we need info. Expressing doubts about Capriles running again will not bring down the MUD, I hope.

      • Well, I believe that, in the first part, I didn’t express myself the way I intended. My point was that, given that this news was given a week before the regional elections, everyone would forget about 16-D and start making their bets on to who would be a good candidate. And then, since we forgot to either vote or encourage people to vote, Chavismo would get the lion’s share of the governorships (including Miranda, Carabobo and Zulia). That is not a desirable outcome, by any means.

        So, when I say “stay on message” is that there is nothing wrong in thinking who might run against Maduro at this point, but that this thinking should not be a primary concern for everyone in the oppo field. What good does it make that EVERYONE start grinding on the oppo candidate? Shouldn’t the message from, say, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo be something in the lines of “relax, we are taking care of a possible candidacy for a probable february election, but let’s win the governorships first, and next week we come out and outline our roadmap”?

        And on Henrique, I concede that this would be the pragmatic choice. But think of it: how would I feel, as a voter for Miranda state, voting next week for Henrique to find out 2 weeks later that he doesn’t intend to be a governor but instead he’s quitting to run for president? What prevents the Chavista machinery to spin this as “see, your oppo guy is not interested in helping people, he just wants his cambur!”? And what is the message for the ni-ni voter? I am not sold on the conclusion that they will understand – they will be convinced by the other side that Henrique is like any other IV-Republic politician and they will end up voting for Maduro – or not voting at all.

        Also, keep in mind that any election in february is not a conventional presidential election like the one we saw this year. This wouldn’t be a competition of plans and ideas (not that this past election was), this would be sold as an emergency election due to “unforeseen” circumstances. And Chavez is so aware of that, that on the saturday cadena he basically said to his 8 MM voters that the plan is the same, but Maduro would run the show if Chavez himself is unable to run it.

        When all is said and done, I reckon that Henrique will rue his decision of running for Miranda, instead of staying as a opposition leader. And again, I am not a bit sold on the idea that 1.5 MM voters (roughly the difference between Chavez and Capriles) can be convinced that Henrique is really a different politician when he’s following the cliché of the IV-Republic politics

  13. Aparentemente nadie recuerda que en Enero, antes de la toma de posesión, se renueva la directiva de la AN. Según la Constitución, el Presidente de ellla es quien asume la Presidencia de la República en caso que el Presidente Electo no pueda hacerlo. La oposición tiene capacidad para involucrarse en la negociación para la conformación de esa directiva

  14. While recognizing the dire situation, he still has yet to recognize he is really dying…
    OP/Chemotherapy/Recurrence/Radiotherapy/Recurrence, what are they going to do now? If they can extirpate the tumor it is only a matter of time to reappear, the health state of Chávez would be worse again, how he pretends to govern in the time…
    If he has some control of his power-mania he should stop here and let new elections be called. Maybe he wants to try until 10th january, but it is a sadly show and irrespective of Venezuela.

  15. “Tengo cáncer”. Toy curao”. “Tengo cáncer otra vez”, “Yo ya ni me acuerdo de eso”. “Tengo que operarme otra vez del cáncer”.

    “Enfermo is not deshauciado” my hat! He looks like a half-baked green berenjena, and that’s not the colour of health… Surely he won’t die tomorrow, but…

    The guy ALWAYS had cancer… I mean, a cancer is not a cold: you can catch and get over it two or three times a year… A two centimeter malignant tumour in, let’s say, an ovary, means at least five years of medical test every several months…

    This guy has been playing this card once and again for 18 months, so this must be serious…

    So, Iggy Pop, say what you will. I actually don’t like “dulce de lechosa”, but I’ll buy some, just for “vendetta”.

  16. Capriles again? I don’t know.
    Many high profile politicans are very pissed off with him. He is too soft. He plays the wannabe Chavez role which obviously did not work. He accepted the fraud, lied by declaring every single electoral center was covered by witnesses and mud staff. He execrated and did not pay attention to the veteran parties. His main allies Borges and Lopez are a couple of wise brats thinking they know it all.
    It’s not going to be as simple as ” yeah sure, let him run”. There’ll be lots of oppo against his candidacy.

  17. Juan, I have never liked your “we are unelectable” post-electoral discourse and I don’t like it now either, because you are assuming that, as Chávez disappears, Chavismo and what it means evaporates.

    To beat Chavismo, you’ve got to beat Chávez and now, with his sickness, it looks like we will never be able to beat him. In the end, he was invicted. That is serious for the country and for the opposition that was never able to demonstrate that it was a better alternative than Chávez.

    I would have liked him beaten in all the upcoming elections, in particular the National Assembly. I would have liked him revoked by the people. This will not happen. So Venezuela has the very high risk of never recuperating from Chavismo.

  18. It looks like a “perfect storm” is brewing! Yesterday morning, reports of imminent devaluation and spending cuts, and last night a possible new election! These two events coming together are not helping the revolution! Meanwhile, next door in Columbia, real estate prices are spiroling!


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