Capriles drops a "C" bomb

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It's not like it means anything anymore
It’s not like it means anything anymore…

Henrique Capriles held a press conference yesterday, which he duly posted on his new Internet TV Channel (is there such a thing?) capriles.tv. In it, he let slip a significant piece of information: the transition away from chavismo is going to require a Constitutional Assembly.

This is a marked change for him, and for the opposition in general.

There’s been a significant amount of anxiety recently about Capriles and the opposition. “Where are the marches?” our more contrarian voices seem to say as they see Brazilians taking to the streets to fight for their rights. “Where is the leadership?” they seem to cry when foreign dignataries line up to recognize Maduro and dismiss the opposition.

Capriles is the undisputed leader, but there is some grumbling about where this whole thing is going.

Sure, so far Capriles had said that we were going to participate in the municipal elections, scheduled for December of this year. But this was a tactical move, not a strategic one.

Where is the strategy? What is the long game?

Yesterday marked a significant point in the process of coming up with an answer to that question.

It’s worth pointing out that Capriles’ support for a Constitutional Assembly is new. As recently as November of last year, Capriles was denying it was even necessary. Personally, I remember hearing Ramón Guillermo Aveledo say the same thing right before last October’s election.

It took the events of this year – the TSJ ruling saying that Chávez didn’t have to take the oath, the ruling allowing Maduro to run as candidate, the unprecedented abuse in state powers, and the conspiracy to commit fraud in April’s election – to convince the opposition that the only way to end chavismo is with a scorched-earth policy.

Chavismo will end like it started – with a popular sweep that leaves no institution untouched. When the end comes, it will come for everyone. There will be no insititutional coddling between whomever succeeds Maduro and, say, Luisa Ortega or Tibisay Lucena. The next President will not sit down and negotiate witrh Rafael Ramírez or Henry Rangel Silva. There is no Maritza Izaguirre within chavismo.

In order for it to work, this strategy requires time. The opposition needs chavismo to fester a bit more. The economy needs to deteriorate further for this scheme to work. Capriles seems to be hinting that we need to hit rock bottom, and that we’re not there yet.

It’s an open question whether or not this will work. But I’m convinced that’s where we’re headed.

1 COMMENT

  1. Luis García Mora wrote this last may on Prodavinci: ¿Asoma un momento constituyente?i: http://prodavinci.com/2013/05/26/actualidad/al-limite-se-asoma-un-momento-constituyente-por-luis-garcia-mora/ The money quote:

    “Y la Nación ya resiente ese enorme vacío. Tanto, que en alguna reciente medición de opinión lo de una Constituyente se despierta. Cobra vida. Por lo que ya no solamente se trataría políticamente (como pide Capriles) de la relegitimación de la Presidencia de la República. De la reformulación de la elección indefinida. De la reformulación de la duración de la Presidencia. De la forma de seleccionar a los miembros de los Poderes. Sino de la total relegitimación de los Poderes. Pacífica. Democráticamente.”

  2. I’m wondering what needs to be done and who needs to be included to establish a Constitution that actually lasts (in the sense that violations are violations and the rule of law is respected, after it is established). Political culture takes so long to change, but structural and institutional issues are definitely the place to start, right?

    But when you say “Chavismo will end like it started – with a popular sweep that leaves no institution untouched. When the end comes, it will come for everyone.” you don’t think there will be any remnants left of chavismo? How about mutations? I feel like the next constitution is going to have chavista hand prints on it just because Chávez has changed the way people view politics in Venezuela all across the political spectrum.

    • What about the 2 generations that culturally have only seen a way of behaving….Hat do you think people think about balseros in Miami? Raw…we have a country with lots of people educated to be beggars…and even Teodoro agreed with me ! At least talking to me in person…the mentality beyond a lot of cliches ….I am tired , today was get a new passport day…and H bomb let’s transform el gentilicio…I have already though how come we could be worst ,but the same thing the frog in warm water…I think they haven’t understood that the pacific way….they think gandhi and no violence….but the Brits did a lot of violence they just stood there….so shamefully….I don t see that day coming….they already trained the poor in mercal to do a line…to receive what they have…now is for the rest….

  3. In the eighties if you happened to go to many poor and lower middle class areas in Venezuela you will see young and older guys getting into the buses (you had to be in the bus) and talk…they were talking like Jehova Witnesses and evangelicals…but their gospel was “socialism”. I still remember once, a few months before the Soviet Union ceased to exist I saw one such guy talking marvels about the Soviet Union. I thought it was unbelievable he could be talking about that there. But then I am sure most people in that bus either didn’t care or they only read the worst tabloids.

    They had been establishing networks for decades. They were not very effective: many had the rhetorical skills of a Soto or a Maduro but they were there…and then they had the sheer luck of everything that happened with oil prices.

    Even the Russian counterpart of National Geographic, Vokrug Sveta, had an article about the communist networks in Venezuela’s barrios. You can use Google translations: http://www.vokrugsveta.ru/vs/article/2016/

    They had their credos…even if they were splitting all the time, even if they, as I said, were not precisely very skilled, some of them had established the networks.

    We need more of that. The opposition has gone to the barrios and, finally, has been going to the secondary cities, but it is not enough. It is not Capriles who can do that. We need several national leaders to go around, not as competitors but as partners to Capriles. And we need others trying to give information about some basic facts, some common denominators, some common principles we have to agree about.

    They have to be proposals about transparency, fool-proof accountability, development for Venezuela and so on.

    We have better tools than they had back then. But we need to get more average Venezuelans involved in establishing these networks. And these networks should be set up by people who don’t necessarily go on vacation to Miami or Paris as soon as there is a holiday after election time.

    • You’ll have to make big banners asserting that the true path for Venezuela will be enabled by the reestablishment of the dominance of capital, replacing the independent vision for the future economy with a model leading us back towards riots, vapid culture, extreme inequality and the exclusion of the voiceless majority.

      • Like now we have an equal society, with a murder rate three times higher than in 1998, with the Boligarchs robbing more than the worst Adecos.
        Chamo, explícame una vaina: tu papá es un venezolano y viven al lado de Londres, no? Y tú ni siquiera hablas español y nos explicas aquí lo que consideras que es la realidad del país de donde viene tu progenitor? No sabes un carajo de tecnología y nos vienes a decir también que en un par de décadas los robots van a poder reemplazar a todo el mundo y todos podremos vivir trabajando dos horas, no?

        Sabes quién es Diosdado Cabello? Sabes cuántos familiares tiene la Cilia Flores empleados en la Asamblea Nacional? Sabes cuántos contratos con sobreprecio ha permitido la PDVSA de Ramírez?

        • Por favorrr Kepler, da pena verte tan preocupado por mi nivel de castellano, mis familiares y mi ubicacion geografica.

          Para poder reemplazar a obreros, se requiere maquinas y la voluntad politica. Solo en revolucion esta previsto la liberacion del obrero. Por el otro lado la esclavitud eterna. Decidiremos.

          • a los obreros…se requieren….voluntad política (no article).
            en la revolución…está…
            How old are you? You must be 12 but you sound exactly like those old commies in 1982.

  4. I don´t know why, but ironically being a lawyer makes me very skeptical about the idea of using a Constituent Assembly to solve a political crisis. And be sure that the TSJ and the National Assembly will do everything to derail the initiative, call a reform or whatever they might think and up until now, when they have done such thing they have gotten away with them. Thus, I´m not sure about this.

  5. I don’t see how one could let the various Chavez appointees retain their positions on the Supreme Court, etc, after they have corrupted the entire institution and the concept of law. So, a new Supreme Court, protected against politicization, has to be created.

  6. I disagree!
    Returning to democracy inmediately will enpower the left again. In order to swipe the floor with them we need their same powers, at least for 2 years. Dangerous as it looks, democracy will not allow the much needed de-chavization of the state.

  7. La misma historia de Venezuela de toda la vida: caudillos, constituyentes, nuevas constituciones y nuevos caudillos….

    Tanto nadar para ahogarse en la orilla.

    • Una Constituyente no necesariamente tendría que ser para escribir una nueva Constitución. Y si, qué lástima, but do you have any better ideas?

      • Follow the Constitution. La Bicha is Chavismo’ straight jacket. 3 of the 5 rectores, el Contralor, and 10 Supreme Court justices need to be named. Use all your political capital to force the AN to name them.

        The current Constitution is a de facto consensus. All of us can agree to it. Instead of trying to create new laws, lets try to find a way to follow it.

        • I had the opportunity to ask William Davila, last night, about the naming of the Justices, Rectores CNE, etc. that have their mandates expired.

          His answer was that they will keep trying to get the PSUV to sit down and negotiate this because they do not have the “qualified majority” to name them outright, but that, as expected, they (PSUV) are in no hurry to do so.

          It took a microphone to his head and 16 stitches, plus a beating to Borges and MCM to get them to give them back the right to speak without acknowledging Maduro.

          There is precedent (2003) for the Tribunal Supremo to name the replacements, so don’t be surprised to see things go that route.

          Like Juan says, what political capital?

      • Juan, I am one of those venezuelans that:

        1.- never believed in Chávez
        2.- always thought that both the Constituyente and the new Constitution were a legal benediction for a coup d’état

        As a rule, I am highly suspicious of anybody ANYWHERE that proposes to change the State and to change the fundamental laws for a country to be functioning again. Usually it means that “functioning” is defined by the beholder.

        This being said, I realize that Venezuela is in a pitiful condition, economically, socially and in democratic terms…but truly, I still resist to fall in the Constituyente ritornello…

        To get a Constituyente, you need to win a referendum and that is as difficult as winning any election. I’d rather put my efforts in winning the 2015 parlamentary election with a very large majority.

        Once parlament is recuperated, one can change the TSJ judges, the ombusdman, the fiscal, etc etc. Once you’ve got serious people there, then you can change the country.

        • Bruni, there is simply no way Tibisay Lucena or Luisa Ortega Diaz or Luisa Estella are going to allow enough freedom for a large majority to impose its will. Look at the gerrymandering for the previous legislative election.

          Seriously, the issue here is not whether a Constituyente will put Venezuela in a better path. The issue is that our country has been hijacked by the mob, and how do we get them out…? We’re being held hostage by criminals and here we are, discussing political theory.

          Oh, I can’t believe how I sound, but after April 15th, what else can we say?

          • Juan,

            Tibisay, Luisa Estela and Luisa Ortega were all named by the National Assembly. The problem is the National Assembly that is not in our hands because, among other things, we gave that as a silver plated gift to chavismo in 2005.

            I repeat, the key is getting back the National Assembly in 2015.

            BTW, Tibisay’s term is already over and Luisa Estela is no longer the TSJ chief.

      • Lean historia y dense cuenta que las constituyentes en Venezuela nunca han producido un sistema político estable, siempre han terminado consolidando una hegemonía que jode al contrario. Si la MUD toma ese camino, que se vaya quitando de una vez la D de las siglas. Capriles podrá ser líder pero por lo visto aún le falta para ser estadista; y es que en el fondo, la constituyente es síntoma de impaciencia y desesperación por agarrar el coroto.

          • Juan, I have been saying it over and over: we need to stop working towards “the next election” and that also includes towards trying to bring about something in that form (constituyente).

            If we are to learn from history we need to understand the opposition must establish networks of educators – political educators – all over the country, people who discuss and propagate a clear political and economic set of goals.

            And when time is over we will be prepared for anything: a referendum, elections.

            This is not about a candidate but about changing Venezuelans’ mentality.

            With or without toilet paper.

  8. “Where is the strategy? What is the long game?”

    There is the problem with this whole discussion. Without really knowing the MUD strategy, we are just guessing. But, of course, they are not going to share this with us on a public forum. And even if we did know, publishing it would be counter-productive. Loose lips…

  9. The idea of a Constitutional Assembly was mentioned a lot by Diego Arria when the oppossition’s primaries and even though Bruni has a point, there are things that really nead to be changed because TSJ has made so many inconstitutional decisions creating jurisprudence that only changing the Constitution can we recover the our Country

  10. The result of 15 years of socialist destruction is just now being played out, for socialism seems to work for a little while until the money runs out. The time will come – shortly I hope – when many more govt. supporters will realize they have been tricked and wake up. We now have over 60% of the population on our side. The festering continues daily with more loss of support also daily. Ten more percentage points to our side will cause an implosion, much like the fall of the Berlin wall. Pushing too soon will create a dangerous confrontation that will surely lead to bloodshed. This s a fight of intelligence. Timing is a big part of the equation, making WHEN to do as important as WHAT to do. The Constitutional Assembly must be done but AFTER the implosion.

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