When Henrique Capriles ran for President last April, he was so vicious we started calling him the “Miranda pitbull.” Gone were the days when he didn’t even mention his rivals. He went all out against Maduro, mocking and taunting him endlessly. In the immediate aftermath of the election, he continued with this tone. But, along the way, something happened, and the more moderate, conciliatory Capriles we have now began re-surfacing.
My theory is that this was prodded by none other than His Holiness Pope Francis.
We can’t know what the two men talked about when they met last November, but from the press releases, the one word that keeps popping out is dialogue. The Pope clearly wanted the two sides in Venezuela to sit down and talk, to negotiate, as all Christians should be willing to do. I venture to say he invited Capriles to see chavistas as fellow human beings, who with all their mistakes, deserve to be respected. I can’t see him advising Capriles to hit the streets and not rest until the regime crumbles…
These types of encounters should not be underestimated. Capriles has already shown a spiritual side, rare in Venezuelan politicians, that annoys the hell out of a lot of people. It’s part of who he is, I guess. So when pondering his current position, think back to that cold November morning in Rome, and consider the possibility that the strategy was fleshed out then.
Some gentle prodding by St. Peter’s successor can go a long way in convincing a reluctant warrior to embrace his inner comeflor.