beyondbricsThe FT’s beyondbrics blog asked me for a little guest post on why the Opposition found it so hard to resist Chávez’s authoritarian project. I don’t care much for the headline they ran it under, because I don’t think we’ve done too little, just that we’ve done it far too late.

The argument in a nutshell:

And this is the real irony: throughout the first half of the Chávez era, when the opposition had virtually unrestricted access to the media, it lacked a message that could resonate with the broad middle of Venezuelan public opinion. In the second half of the Chávez era, as it developed such a message, it lost access to the means of delivering it.

And eduarte ripping me a second one in 5…4…3…

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  1. I don’t think the opposition has been able to articulate honestly its principal reasons for being opposition. Endless talk of crime, corruption and mismanagement does not implicate the president directly of any wrongdoing. Mostly, other people are to blame.

    The authoritarian argument simply doesn’t wash, especially now the man is gone: he’s left a system in which the public can propose new laws and constitutional amendments, recall the president, and are infinitely more politically conscious and active than before.

    • Verga yoyo, really mano, you need to watch what you write.

      “Endless talk of crime, corruption and mismanagement does not implicate the president directly of any wrongdoing.”

      This about man who insisted and demanded that everything go through him.

      “Mostly, other people are to blame.”

      At what point does the buck stop where, yoyo? We’ve had pretty much the same LOSERS in different ministries/offices, appointed directly by el finado for 14 damn years. When is enough enough? Where is the “I take RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY ACTIONS, Coño!!!!”

      “The authoritarian argument simply doesn’t wash, especially now the man is gone”

      What, so you’re saying that now that he’s gone, all his authoritarianism disappeared? Seriously?

      “he’s left a system in which the public can propose new laws and constitutional amendments, recall the president, and are infinitely more politically conscious and active than before.”

      He left us the Tascon and Maisanta lists, which prety much guarantees that at least 46% of the population would never, ever sign another recall referendum.

      What those who think differently than chavismo are “concious” about is that you do not speak up.

      Seriously, yoyo, you’re entitled to your beliefs and opinbions, and here, in this and manyother fora you are entitled to express them without being censored (unless you talk like Molero), but for you to pretend anyone will accept what you’ve written above, well it just boggles the mind.

  2. I think the opposition needs to get down with it and say “we will continue to help the poor but we will also mend the economy and put Venezuela where it should be on the world stage”. Guarantee not to dismantle the missions that work, not to reduce the medical and educational advances in Apure and other distal/rural regions. The country has so so much (and not just mineral wealth) that it should be among the best places in the world, not a pariah state!

    • You are theoretically right, but… The first thing the chavernment does is scare the masses they hold in their blackmailing vise ” you will lose everything if you vote for them” and it has worked. These people have been ingrained with the mantra chip: “with chavez everything without chavez nothing” and sompeople whomare not happy withnchavez stillmvote for him seeing him as the lesser of two evils and a sure ticket not tomlose the handouts y la bequita y la lavadora. Chavez’s legacy is leaving behind notnonly a pariah country, but a beggar one.

  3. Yo yo has a point in that the opposition needs to have a strong message beyond protesting the monstrous mismanagement , falsehoods , corruption and despotic misdeeds of the Regime whether represented by Chavez the man ( and his coterie ) or his succesors (now drawing force from Chavez the deified icon) which sytematically and credibly addresses the concerns of the poorest , not for political reasons but from strongly felt conviction . The 4th republic politicians saw the poor mainly as electoral fodder to be bribed by the use of cheap populist measures and corrupting patronage while most people outside politics neglected paying enough attention to the poor trusting the politicians to handle the problem. Now thanks to Chavez we all know that nothing can be done to rescue the country from the morass its sunk in unless something really effective is done to helpt the poor not only with social programs that give superficial and temporary respite and make believe solution to their most inmmediate problems but that tries to effectively salvage their ravaged humanity and allow them to grow into productive and responsible individuals , capable of contributing economically to the building of their own sustainable welfare. without total dependence on state funding of demagogic economically unsustainable social assistance programs. Perhaps this topic has been addressed before without my knowing it , but it certainly one that deserves more discussion .

  4. Quico,

    Nice post at FT. It summarizes in a nutshell the underlying positions of this blog since the beginning.

    I am left wondering would the outcome or the external perception about Chavez would have been any different if the opposition had not walked away from the game.

  5. Quico, you are right, but, I would add…

    1) Most of the opposition acquiesced with the Constituyente. White flags all around (only three congressmen defended the 1961 Constitution and the way it reined in any reform against the bull-dozer chant of unrestricted popular sovereingty, which ran roughshod over everything).

    2) The opposition didn’t have unrestricted access to the Media; it was the Media owners setting the agenda for the opposition, highlighting whomever they saw as the next great white hope -while burning a lot of said people-.

    3) The Media’s agenda -whose owners had been trying to control politics for decades- effectively pushed forward a number of people thus destroying any pluralist strongholds within the State: PDVSA, Trade Unions, the Armed Forces, the Bureaucracy (through the misplaced firmazos), and so on… They fostered the purges, inadvertently.

    4) Of course, the very core of Chavismo is a brand of sectarian politics, so it fed from the MSM line, and it helped to cement its own narrative.

      • It’s not a bad defense. I’m not saying your assesment is wrong: in fact, the opposition didn’t have anythong to counter the Constituyente, and the message coming from the MSM was so virulent, so racist, so authoritarian, it became D.O.A. (and has poisoned the public sphere just as much as Chavismo has).

        You’ve bee dead on in that.

        And that’s why the current opposition is less “sexy” than previous incarnations…

        • A great summary by Quico and terrific additional comments by gtaveledo.

          I would say this, though — the current decision-making players in MUD have been through more and tougher political battles than most politicians face in a lifetime. They are pretty tenacious, and absolutely better prepared than opposition forces in other authoritarian or semi-authoritarian countries. It is hard to feel optimistic short-term, but that’s not nothing, either.

          44% against a billion-dollar appliance-dispensing campaign, 44% with only 3 minutes a day on television vs no restrictions for the incumbent, 44% with a biased electoral arbiter, 44% in a region in which incumbents routinely rack up double-digit victories…it’s something to build on.

          The real fear, of course, is that the unlevel playing field is tipped over altogether, in favor of much more obvious repression.

          • Great article. Great comments. The futbolito playing field in the coming election is tilted at a much greater angle against the Oppo than it was in the Capriles’ Presidential election attempt.


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