One Giant Leap for Oppo Political Culture

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Guillermo-Aveledo-Unidad-Delgado-Archivo_NACIMA20140605_0023_21Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, Secretary General of the Opposition umbrella organization, MUD, has just announced he is leaving his post.

In a developed country setting, this would be unremarkable. In Venezuela, where the whole principle of separating institutions from the personalities that lead them has never really caught on, it’s almost revolutionary.

Here’s his resignation letter:

Compañeros
Dirigentes de los partidos de la
Mesa de la Unidad Democrática.
Presente.-

Muy estimados amigos,

En los últimos meses, una campaña artera y sañuda se ha desarrollado contra la Unidad y su instrumento, la Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, y se ha escogido a fin de golpearla, disparar contra la credibilidad de su vocero y servidor. Empezó en los laboratorios del poder arrogante, pero no se quedó allí, la insensatez lo acogió con lascivia. En la fuente o en la desembocadura, playas unitarias han sido mojadas por esas aguas contaminadas.

Las políticas están sometidas al análisis y la crítica, por formación democrática y espíritu académico lo sé. Otra cosa es la mentira calculadamente sembrada en una sociedad angustiada y polarizada. Ni una sola de esas calumnias he respondido ni responderé. Figurar entre los blancos predilectos de los extremismos, sencillamente, honra.

Pero no es mi papel ser el centro de una polémica entre nosotros. El éxito de la tarea que pueda cumplir desde la función encomendada, se basa en la confianza. No estoy aquí como obstáculo para nadie. Mi trabajo no es ganar discusiones, sino ayudar a generar consensos. Y la situación del país es tan grave que se nos exige máxima eficiencia en aquello que se espera de nosotros. Así que precisamente por compromiso con la Unidad, para cuidarla mejor como el logro que es, en las actuales circunstancias, creo que lo procedente es hacerme a un lado. Sin romper, desde luego, los lazos que a este proyecto me unen, porque son irrompibles.

No quiero que mi nombre y la polémica que pueda suscitar, sigan siendo excusa para que se dispare por mampuesto a la Unidad. No me voy de la Unidad, solamente cambio mi puesto de lucha. De la Secretaria Ejecutiva que he ejercido estos cinco años y que hoy entrego, asumo con la frente en alto la condición de militante de la Unidad.

Dejo de ser el primero y paso a ser el último de la fila. Para servir a Venezuela, para ser útil a la Unidad, importa lo que uno haga y no la posición que uno ocupe.

Libre del compromiso de la coordinación, rescato mi derecho a la opinión y al aporte personales. Ofrezco mi colaboración a todo aquel partido o compañero que la necesite para mejor cumplir los fines comunes, y a la Unidad en su conjunto. Pueden contar conmigo. Es mi modo de agradecerles.

Como ciudadano que defiende la libertad, seguiré luchando porque no se olvide a nuestros presos y exilados.

Me concentraré principalmente en la tarea de políticas públicas, de apoyo a las gestiones regionales, locales y parlamentarias, a la difusión de los logros de la Unidad, y a la promoción del diálogo entre venezolanos, porque el modelo basado en la imposición ha colapsado, y el diálogo nos hace falta hoy, y más falta nos hará mañana.

Muchas gracias por todo. Amigo,

Ramon Guillermo Aveledo

I don’t for a second doubt RGA has plenty of reason for bitterness and recrimination: though his not especially veiled declaration that any criticism of him are “waters contaminated” by the government’s propaganda lab seems to me on the wrong side of the grandiosity spectrum.

Still, none of that matters now. What matters is that a tiny seed has been planted: the idea that leadership of a political organization need not be for life, that it’s ok, honorable, even necessary sometimes to step aside. And that, in its own right, is huge.

1 COMMENT

  1. Impressive. For one, I know that the likes of Ramos Allup will never do such thing, much less the followers of El Galáctico.

  2. Well done Ramón, for without your undeniable effort, the MUD as the only representative institution of organized resistance against the Chavista’s chaos, with all its falts and shortcomings, would not even exist. And, it would be even worse…….

  3. I’m as much of an admirer of RGA as the next person, but I don’t think this represents any kind of a precedent for public-service resignations. People don’t willingly resign from jobs that offer power, status and a monthly pay-packet. Executive secretary of the MUD is an honorary post that offers headaches, indigestion and sleepless nights. I don’t see many people lining up to take on this thankless task, not least because the sine qua non is that they be untainted by political ambition. Finding someone that fits that bill within the ranks of the MUD will be like searching for virgins after Spring break.

  4. Now lets hope the opposition can find someone that can do at least as good a job as his. If not we will all be the worse for it.

  5. Maybe not all the vile criticism of him came from the laboratories of the G2 but they would be proud to take the credit.

  6. Queda claro que la M:U:D pertenece a los partidos politicos que la integran, por eso dirige su carta no a la unidad per se, pero a “Compañeros
    Dirigentes de los partidos de la
    Mesa de la Unidad Democrática”
    Los partidos representan un 30 por ciento de los que nos llamamos opositores y en la mesa solo estan representados ellos, los partidos politicos. Tal vez el otro 70 por ciento deba ser considerado y no tildado de extremista como tantas veces les escuchamos. Ojala esta accion de R.G.A sirva de ejemplo a otros tantos incluido H.Capriles.

    • Mientras ese supuesto 70% mayoritario, se empecine en proponer y apoyar soluciones únicas a ultranza como la “Salida”, que no son factibles, particularmente en un país donde todo el poder de fuego represivo está controlado por un régimen agresivo y marcadamente autoritario, y esta no participe en la construcción de alternativas opositoras realmente factibles, que no impliquen necesariamente un enfrentamiento violento, y menosprecie la necesidad patente de construir una oferta de ideas y planes que sean lo suficientemente creíbles, inteligibles y aceptables por las grandes mayorías de personas que no pertenecen a la no tan numerosa clase media opositora, como sola estrategia, la tan necesaria unidad, que la MUD, en algún momento, ha representado bastante bien bajo la dirección de Aveledo, no será alcanzada, y eso si tendrá nefastas consecuencias para el país como un todo.

      • IMO here lies one of the great disconnects that prevent the opposition/Resistencia move ahead:
        I quote:

        ” empecine en proponer y apoyar soluciones únicas a ultranza como la “Salida”, que no son factibles”
        “y esta no participe en la construcción de alternativas opositoras realmente factibles, que no impliquen necesariamente un enfrentamiento violento, y menosprecie la necesidad patente de construir una oferta de ideas y planes ”

        Factibles!

        The time has come an gone for ideas and plans, to gain people’s favours, I read, to eventually win through electoral means….long etc.

        Plans have to be feasible, yes!, comeflores no.

        Its time to dress up with the long pants and realize, there is not a single strategy, but a multilayer one. On one side the electoral,k political effort to destroy the myth created by chavismo,and get people to understand where responsibilities lie in the destruction of the nation, on other the civic duty to defend the national interest from the foreign intervention and destruction promoted by the cuban masters, and yet on another, the military imperative to gain control of the fire power to prevent the further slide of Venezuela into oblivion.

        It is imperative to realize Venezuela will not be saved with words only. And to realize all means are required to fight this invasion and occupation off. Political, civic and military.

        zapatero a su zapato.

        Mr. Aveledo has it in him to continue his efforts from any new position he wishes. Kudos, and welcome! but there is an urgent need to continue with civic pressure and to get the military to defend the national interest and not that of the foreign occupation.

        • Sounds fine… how do you plan to “get the military to defend the national interest”? by civic unrest? That has not worked and it will not work.

          As long as the military receives their salary, they will stay put.

          and a coup d’etat needs the military (in case this was the direction you were heading).

          • I met him by sheer chance in a caminata opositora, a few years ago, and sice then, I am most honoured by his frienship and respect, which has nothing to do with his high political position whatsoever. To be able to harshly critizice somebody like Aveledo, well known otherwise for his fine intelligence and kindness, one has to, at least, give such a person the minimal benefit of the doubt……

        • Party bosses get a vote that is proportional to their party strenght (the strenght derives from voter share in past elections and current elected officials).

          I believe he was appointed as a consensus.

          And, even though you said further below, Capriles doesn’t “lead” the MUD in an official capacity. There’s no MUD “president”. Capriles is one of the leaders of the Opposition, who has enjoyed a primus inter pares status ever since he won the 2012 primary for president by a landslide. His primus inter pares status has been declining since the aftermath of the April 2013 election, and was further weakened after the 8D 2013 debacle.

  7. Much of the discussion on this post is completely missing the point. Recognizing that ones opinions, strategy, and tactics are not in line with the majority of the organization and concluding that the organization would be better off with alternate leadership, and then further resigning in such a way as to create minimal damage to that organization — That is class and maturity.

  8. “Still, none of that matters now.” Oh, I think it does. Aveledo’s goodbye points to a serious problem in the opposition, an inability to let bygones be bygones.

    Look, I think everyone agrees that Mr. Aveledo is a decent man and a skilled politician. His tenure, sadly, peaked too soon, in the February primaries that saw Henrique Capriles win. After that, it’s been a steady deterioration.

    I think his good-bye letter has a lot of good points, but it poisons the well, to use his words, by insinuating that those who criticized him (myself included) were basically feeding off the government propaganda machine. You can’t call yourself a “soldier of unity” and then blast the people who disagree with you. Plus, who is he referring to, exactly? Is Leopoldo part of that poisonous “machinery”? Is Maria Corina? And he never did respond to Roberta-gate in a satisfactory manner, imho.

    As far a political leaders go, we’ve had much worse. As far as exits go, we’ve had some that are far less gracious. But he could have done much better. Still, a nice guy through and through. We wish him well.

    • This is very true.

      He claims to leave in favor of unity strenght, but can’t restrain himself from attacking the other side, subtly as it was intended to be.

      On balance, I agree with Quico, that merely stepping down (as opposed to seeing MUD colapse Coordinadora-Democratica-style for lack of renewal) is an almost revolutionary act in Venezuelan political culture: a political leader stepping down and holding himself somehow accountable.

      • Renewal is overrated. The proper wisdom here is that is better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. There are not that many people with the qualities (and the willingness) required for the job like RGA,

        • If he’s so great, why couldn’t he hold on to the job?

          I keep hearing about how terrific his job was, and it may well be so, but … do you really think he was in a position to patch the opposition up again?

          • You would need to ask him why he is quitting. My guess is that it is a thankless job and if enough people are bashing him there is only so much he is willing to take. Also his capacity to continue doing the job is diminished by the loss in credibility.

            You can evaluate the quality of his job by his accomplishments: a mostly unified opposition throughout several elections including presidential, regional, legislative. A unified message during his tenure. Primaries.
            Not everything was rosy. There was some level of dissidence in some municipalities but the dam broke lose this year with LL, MCM and AL. Also he could not integrate the students into the MUD.

            The real question for me is: can someone else do such a good job? Maybe yes, maybe no. He is a very political person as such he is a consensus builder and that is good for some things like maintaining unity while keeping freedom of speech. On the other hand Chavez maintained a more solid unity by being an authoritarian. So maybe someone more authoritarian or with more authority can accomplish more with less consensus.

            Who knows? It all depends on who steps up to the plate. The MUD may become stronger or weaker or disappear altogether.

        • Be careful. The philosophy of sticking to the devil we know, taken to its final consequences, would encourage us to stick with Maduro, Diosdado, Ramirez, et al. instead of pushing a political change of government.

  9. They are losing what appeared to me to be a mature, reasonable, courageous, hard working, savvy, well spoken leader. With a completely thankless and essential job devoid of perks. For what?

  10. What matters is that a tiny seed has been planted: the idea that leadership of a political organization need not be for life…

    This has been established only if MUD survives as an institution without Aveledo. Someone of great ability must replace him as Secretary General, the key members of the staff must stay on, and funding sources must continue their support.

    If Aveledo’s successor is ineffectual; if the staff’s loyalty was to Aveledo, not MUD, and walk away; if funding dries up; then Aveledo’s departure will be the end of MUD.

    • That. Essentially, the “unidad” part was broken by “la salida”. Try as I might, I fail to see a future for the MUD.

  11. I agree with you Quico, this is a huge step in Venezuelan contemporary politics… Let it be an example for all the Wisin y Yandel of politics, that go into a room screaming “llegaron los líderes”

  12. Just as a cutiosity: since the MUD is not a party but an association of several, is it funded by the parties that are part of it? What is the legal figure of it? An association, a society, a fundation?
    Is the “Secretary General” a paid job?

    • If he takes over as acting secretary general, until there’s white smoke coming from MUD, I’m going to be sick to my stomach.

  13. Quico your point on lifetime tenures misses completely the point, which is: who can do a better job at coordinating el arroz con mango that makes up the oppo. That is all that matters at this stage not the renovating leaders crap. I think we lost today a solid leader, y que vamos a parir para conseguir alguien de su talla, especially after all the shit that’s been thrown at him by the “anti politicos” (who btw are in large part responsible for Chavez’s rise to power).

    • You read it here, ladies and gentlemen: Everybody that doesn’t believe on Our Lord and Saviour Capriles is anti-political.

      Dear, believing that the MUD leadership has been dropping the ball (not backing the protests, the dialogue fiasco, soft language against the Goverment criminals), and that VP is on the rise doesn’t make anybody anti-political.

      • Do not forget the #LaSalida & #ElQueSeCansaPierde fiasco.
        This is one of those cases where the ones making the mistakes rise in popularity and others pay the price for their failures. Capriles, the MUD and Aveledo, ‘pagan los platos rotos’, they have been discredited but, to me at least, the fault lies with LL, MCM and AL. But of course, public opinion is not the best gauge of what is the best strategy or who is doing a good job.

        • Ok, let’s try again, since you miss the point:

          Why disagreeing with Capriles and Aveledo is “anti-political”?

          Why the MUD couldn’t, if not support LaSalida, at least show some actual support to the student protests?

          Why support the “dialogue”, even to the extremes of Jacobson-gate (a despictable action by itself) when even before it there’s a mountain of evidence that the regime are a bunch of criminals?

          • I’ll leave question 1 for Rene since he introduced the “anti-politic” term.

            Question 2. I think the problem is that all protests were conflated into one: #LaSalida, the students protests, las guarimbas, the campaments. I think the MUD supported the student causes and even LL and MCM reasons but not the methodology and the timing (supported the why but not the how and when) and couldn’t show support to one without implicitly supporting the other. The fight of attrition implicated by #ElQueSeCansaPierde and also mentioned by some of the students was not supported by the MUD. The guarimbas even less. The timing of the escalation was completely inadequate seeing how an economic crisis was looming in the near future but had not fully hit yet at the time.

            Question 3. My opinion (and I seem to be in the minority here) is that the Jacobson-gate was a fabrication of Jacobson to justify their passivity before the congressional committee.
            Why support the dialogue? Because there was no way out of it. The opposition would have been branded as undemocratic and violent had it rejected a dialogue aimed at defusing a conflict that had taken the lives of several young people throughout the country, a dialogue brokered with international observers including the Vatican. Still the MUD managed a great propaganda coup during the first televised debate. After that the meetings at closed door were a bad proposition for the MUD but it wasn’t easy to escape the situation, until they found an excuse to do it.

          • Quoting myself:
            [OK I read the Aveledo’s communique and I do not see anything wrong with it. Basically it denies they have ever asked Jacobson not to enact sanctions on individuals.]

            and

            [She admits as much in her clarification: “the opposition has not specifically suggested we refrain from sanctions against individuals. Indeed, as the A/S explained in her testimony, some members of the opposition have encouraged it.”]

          • Regarding question #1, the reason that that they are anti-politicos in general, is that the accusations hurled at them basically boiled down to that they were traitors and corrupt that they enjoyed their comfortable position and were in “conchupanza” with the government, just like all politicos bla bla bla.

            Regarding the dialogue, what harm did it do? All I recall from the dialogue is that the oppo for the first time in 15 years gave the regime an ass-whupping in cadena in national tv. And don’t with the dialogue delayed sanctions bs, because as the carvajal example showed, we are alone in this fight, nobody is going to help us.

    • Ah, forgot:

      “…not the renovating leaders crap.”

      Aveledo isn’t indispensable, FYI. Nobody is, that’s the point of having an actual political movement, not an autocracy.

      • Maybe no one is indispensable but someone is needed that can maintain the unity of the opposition.
        Can that person be found?

  14. Muy bien lo de RGA, pero fue mas bien un acto intempestivo a última hora, porque la realidad es que nunca preparo o se discutió un cambio o mecanismo para cambiar la secretaría ejecutiva en caso de muerte o renuncia.

  15. Aveledo was a victim to a conceptual mistake. The MUD was conceived as an electoral alliance, a federation of political parties with the objective of winning elections. As a coordinator he did a fantastic job maintaining the coalition together. However, without elections this year, a void was created where the opposition needed leadership, and the MUD was not conceived for this purpose.
    Instead of destroying the MUD, which is basically what is starting to happen, a new organization should have emerged, where the MUD was just a part of it. Think of the MUD as Congress, just one branch of government. The opposition needs an executive branch, one that is elected in open elections.

    • Coño por fin.

      He didn’t make any “jokes” this time, but he did pose a riddle:

      “Quizás suene ilusorio que aún tengamos la convicción de seguir adelante en estas tareas desde otros espacios. En especial para aquellos que ironizan de la Unidad y de la factibilidad de retomar el camino de la democracia. Aquellos que con talante lampedusiano preconizan una concepción fatalista de estos intentos y defienden las fórmulas utilitaristas del poder. Ahí están haciendo fila los “mujiquitas”, los muñecos de ventrílocuo que parlotean sin ideas propias, los cortesanos de faldones, cuyas alabanzas les han dado tanto rédito, agrediendo insultando, vejando y ofendiendo sin límites. Porque la política para ellos, querido Ramón Guillermo, no es campo para la creación, solución de los problemas de la gente o debate de ideas, sino lugar para el lucro, el fasto y la vanidad. Muchas son las agresiones e insultos que hemos recibido en estos tiempos. Pero ello no nos puede amilanar. En lo personal no tengo dudas, y por eso desde donde se me permita, seguiré aportando mi concurso a la Unidad.”

      Who are these people?

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