What's in Henrique Capriles' iPad that is so important?

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We. Can't. Stand. Each. Other.
We. Can’t. Stand. Each. Other.

This blistering play-by-play account of the inner workings of last week’s MUD meeting is mandatory reading (in Spanish, sorry). In it, practically all the main players in the opposition come out looking like adolescent prima donnas not-quite-ready for prime time.

The main point of contention seems to be La Salida, but I think it goes beyond that. The main thing driving these people away from each other is a lack of maturity, a real absence of the urgency of the moment, a lack of awareness of the historical role they have to play, a complete absence of humility, and an inability to empathize with ordinary Venezuelans, particularly the political prisoners.

The money quote (and, boy, there were many candidates) was this one:

“While these and other skirmishes were taking place, people noticed that Henrique Capriles Radonski kept quiet, with a face that one eyewitness described as “profoundly bored,” (profunda ladilla) his attention focused on a tablet computer. The governor of Miranda and two-time presidential candidate did this deliberately. “It’s Henrique’s personality,” says a personal friend. He decided that through his silence he would “eloquently” express his disagreement with La Salida, with what was being discussed in the meeting, and with “immediate” methods “that failed in april 2002, and with the withdrawal from the legislative elections in 2005.”

No one failed to notice the silent protest. Only once did Capriles fall into the temptation of interpersonal duels. That was when Antonio Ledezma, Caracas’ Metropolitan Mayor, placed the origins of the opposition’s division not on the La Salida crowd – as Julio Borges and Justice First claim – but Capriles’ decision in 2013 to suspend the march to the National Electoral Council after the results of the Presidential Election were called into question. When confronted with this, Capriles jumped from his seat and said “I don’t regret it, and I would do it again. Whoever is bothered by that, tough.”

As folks such as Sairam Rivas sit in jail, as Leopoldo Lopez is imprisoned for simply raising his voice in protest, as the country’s economy veers toward complete collapse, as the opposition coalition lies in tatters … the supposed leader of the coalition cannot be bothered to engage with the people on his side. He is too uninterested, too entitled to explain his strategy to his partners. He’s too busy playing something (the Kim Kardashian app? a version of 2048 called 2019?) on his iPad.

There is lots more in the story: fights over how many people from which party get to attend the meeting, immature walkouts (Henry Ramos, that’s you we’re talking about), and a heavy dose of sexism (Maria Corina Machado, the lone woman in the room, seems to be everyone’s enemy).

It paints a sad horrifying picture of the MUD. Of the many things that jump out of this text, none is more important than the question: is the opposition … ready to govern Venezuela?

I think we all know the answer to that.

HT: Kudos to the folks at armando.info for the scoop. It’s an excellent, yet depressing story.

1 COMMENT

  1. We gave Ramón José Medina a lot of flak for virtually saying Leopoldo had his imprisonment incoming, but Capriles’s attitude also hints that sort of thinking. Sad. The government lowers its guard and all the opposition does is shoot its own foot.

  2. Heh, I liked a lot that Machado and Ledezma told to PJ that their “leadership” sucked balls. Call me petty of you want to.

    • Also, the lack of support for the citizen assembly, just for the arrogance of AD, AP and PJ is appalling. I mean, is nice to know that “connecting to the bases” is only cool when you are the center of the party.

    • Let’s not forget that the first “reculadores” that shoot to death the 2005 voting boicot were the idiots from PJ, starting with Julio power point Borges, who basically said then which Capriles said in 2013 about sending people to their homes and stay there doing absolutely nothing after seeing that the elections showed everybody that chavismo was less than 25% of the actual voting population.

  3. Come on, Nagel. I get it. You like Machado’s style and think Capriles is a wimp. Good. I don’t like Capriles too much either. But playing the sexism card is below you. She’s not some nice innocent lady who showed up at the meeting and was bullied by the big, bad, chauvinistic men. She is just as ambitious and selfish as everyone else in that meeting and has been antagonizing the rest of the opposition since the 2010 parliamentary elections. Everyone on the table wants to be the protagonist. It is only reasonable they fight each other, especially since none of these guys knows how to function when not in campaign.

    This is the same dynamics that got us into this whole mess in the first place: everyone is focused on the interests of their own inner circle and think nothing of attacking their political allies, regardless of how much these attitudes alienate the common folk. Nobody seems to have learned anything from the CAP II catastrophe.

  4. The article paints a good picture of how hard it is to reconcile the different factions of the opposition. Maybe now we can appreciate how tough Aveledo’s job was in the last 5 years. Now that morale is low (among the leadership no less) and everyone is in fingerpointing mood the job is twice as difficult and there is no one to do it.

    The task is so delicate and it is so easy to sabotage, even when acting with the best of intentions, that it seems hopeless. Right now they are not talking to each other but at each other. There is no cordiality just recriminations, no brain storming just posturing, no analysis just blame placing.

    They are power playing like 5 year olds by keeping silent (Capriles), leaving the meeting (AD), breaking the agreements before starting (VP). No one can recognize their own faults. Someone needs to be the grown up and leave the pettiness behind so they can move forward and discuss agreements and strategies.

  5. If I had written this article, I would have posted the link only and then used the rest of the article as the first comment entry. That would make more sense. As for the link itself, I think it is more shocking than Henrique’s attitude to know that Juan Jose Molina got caught recording audio of the meeting without anyone’s consent.

  6. “Is the opposition … ready to govern Venezuela?”. Why do you waste your time and mine with such a punchline. Was the eternal piece of trash and his Colombian political son ready to govern Venezuela? Gimme a break. And please think twice before you write such nonsense. Even Capriles maid as long as she does not belong to the PSUV could do better than Chavez ,not to speak of the Cucuteño. You are simply infuriating my friend.

  7. The problem is lack of presidential “stature”. It is inexcusable that the supposed Oppo prime presidential candidate cannot even deign to pay attention at an all-important-Oppo reconciliation meeting. Without unity, the Oppo doesn’t even stand a feeble chance in future rigged elections. So, the Oppo is left with: Military uprising (probably not in the near future), or Popular uprising (depends on what happens after coming economic adjustments, but probably also not in the very near future). The question then becomes: How much further does Venezuela have to fall into the social/economic abyss before something breaks, or before someone influential has the gonads to try to do something about it?

  8. Well, Capriles is proving to be a little despot himself. I’ll admit I was really sold on his non-ambitious, non-partisan persona during the presidential campaigns. Sad to see what lies behind and how other members’ ideas are refuted just because they don’t revolve around him.

    I wouldn’t say the opposition isn’t ready to govern Venezuela – it’s rather challenging to actually do worse than Maduro, I’d say they’ll never be ready to deal with each other.

  9. I think Capriles shot himself in the feet with his its-not-my-business attitude with all political prisoners.

    Yet, I don’t get the point of the article. Is Caprile’s iPad the problem? Is Capriles the problem?

    If your answers to any of these question is yes, then you’re probably looking the problem in a very very very linear fashion.

    You can choose your favorite candidate to blame for MUD’s current situation (Leopoldo or Capriles), but that won’t solve anything.

    • Yes, Capriles is the problem. And no, I’m not looking at the problem in a linear fashion. Capriles, as the former leader of the MUD, should have seized the moment and brought people together. Instead, he is focused on his iPad.

      • Capriles should’ve declared that he would step away from the National Scene and focus on governing Miranda State on October 13th, 2012.

        You lose a big election, you step aside.

        It’s a simple principle, really…

        • The principle is really simple but not necessarily right.
          Had Capriles not run for president in April 2013 would someone else have done as well as he did? Doubtful. Would that situation be better for the opposition? Doubtful as well.

          This is an old point but bears repeating leaderships do not spurt out of nowhere, specially not the good ones. If a leader calls it quits because of a failure then people are leaderless and that is usually not a better scenario. Specially when your opponent has established leaders who are not going to resign.

          Lets all just be #AutoConvocados.

          • How about getting 50% of votes?
            Isn’t that something?
            Or it doesn’t count for anything?
            Would someone else have gotten even close?

          • In reality… almost winning is loosing. A lot of harm was done by the lack of a plan for the failure, that is a speech, actions something.

            Capriles had none… twice…

            I don’t know if other possible candidates would have had 50% of the vote or 40% of the vote, but I think someone like LL (whom I dislike) would have had a plan. Maybe I am giving him too much credit.

            I am criticizing Capriles not so much by his electoral outcome. I am criticizing him because of what he did with his outcome.

            Having a worse outcome with a different reaction may have been a lot more effective in the mid term.

          • “almost winning is loosing” (losing)

            There is the black and white mentality. It reminds me of the depressing posts here after the defeats: ‘We are unelectable’ and others. That kind of demoralization is what brings about the bad defeats of Dec 2012, Dec 2013 and every time after a lost presidential election. Those are the defeats that really hurt us, because there is where we lose whatever terrain we may have conquered. The presidential elections were basically pipe dreams.

            BTW, “do or do not, there is no try” is pep talk meant to encourage your best effort, not discourage the less than ideal result.

            “I think someone like LL (whom I dislike) would have had a plan. ”

            His plan would have been #LaSalida and it would have been even been much worse had it been tried in April 2013. It would have been close to a civil war scenario. With barely 50% of support and nothing else in your favor while the government has all the money, media, weapons, judges, cops, military and thugs on his side it would have been a disaster.

          • You need to be careful not to fall in the black or white trap. He hasn’t ‘demoralized his whole movement’ or ‘destroyed his credibility.’ His numbers maybe down because #LaSalida stole his thunder but he is still the oppo politician with the best results and probably one with the least rejection numbers.

          • #LaSalida didn’t steal anything. Capriles was simply absent. In fact, la salida was a reaction to the total radio silence in the MUD. The rumors has it that Capriles wanted to dedicate himself to being governor, which is great, but then he should have explicitly let the coroto go. But that’s the thing, he didn’t want to.

          • “Stole his thunder” is merely an expression, it means it deflated him politically, it reduced his political stature, reduced him to a second plane.

            #LaSalida wasn’t a reaction it was an initiative of LL and MCM that got impatient and basically jumped the shark. If they thought something needed to be done they should have discussed it in the MUD, after all, they were/are part of it. Instead they went ahead breaking the unity of the MUD and destroying its strategy at the same time, that is why almost everyone in the MUD have criticized them. The damage they did was immeasurable.

            Capriles wasn’t/isn’t holding any coroto, he is just an important member of the MUD. He is important because he has a big following and that is something that is not transferable. Those that want him to ‘step down’ basically want the opposition to surrender, abandon part of that big following because a following cannot simply be endorsed to someone else. They are not going to just float to the “next leader” that will “emerge” magically from somewhere.

        • “It’s a simple principle, really” — Quico.

          Right — too simple. How about Abraham Lincoln? Having lost multiple campaigns for Congress, he should have stepped aside, ended his ambition for public life?

          Capriles has failed to Go Big, has failed to unite the opposition around a new strategy — and should be held accountable for that.

          But it won’t always be the right thing for a leader who has experienced defeat to walk away. Me, I kinda like my leaders seasoned with the kind of humility that only defeat can bring. Wouldn’t want to be governed by someone with a purely upward trajectory.

          • Lincoln was a candidate for Congress (U.S. Representative) only once (in 1846), and he won. He did not run again in 1848, as there was an agreeement that he would only serve one term (his predecessor had done the same).

            Lincoln was a candidate for U.S. Senator in 1854; that is, he was recommended to the state legislature by a loose coalition of former Whigs, Free-Soilers, and future Republicans. (At this time, Senators were chosen by state legislatures; and with the collapse of the Whigs and division of the Democrats over slavery, party lines were fluid.) The contest became three-way and Lincoln threw his support to a Free-Soil Democrat.

            In 1858, Lincoln was formally declared the Republican candidate for the Senate; the state legislative elections were largely fought over who would be elected Senator. The Republicans actually gained more votes, but the Democrats had a narrow majority of seats, largely because districts had been drawn after the 1850 Census, and rapidly growing Republican areas were now underrepresented. So the incumbent Douglas was re-elected. This close result, against the biggest Democrat in the country, gained Lincoln national exposure and respect

            One might compare this latter result to Capriles’ narrow defeat by Chavez in November 2013. I think that result made Capriles the logical choice for the April 2014 election. However, having lost that election, Capriles should have formally stepped down.

          • Lincoln lost the Whig nomination for his congressional district in 1844. He also lost a state rep race in 1832. Also had failures in business. Also lost for speakership of state legislature. Withdrew from US Senate race…which is like losing. And then lost a lot of battles in the Civil War. Before “winning”.

            The point stands — it’s not the loss that disqualifies Capriles. It’s his failure to take his millions of votes and build something new after the defeat.

          • Capriles doesn’t seem to be very clever anyway. He is quite different from Linconln. Have you analysed the speeches Lincoln made? I don’t have the impression Capriles has ever read any book other than what he had to read to finish his university studies…not that he had to be a bookworm…just that one would expect a politician these days to be better prepared than a young teenager.

            He doesn’t get to any depth in any conversation.
            His “more education, education” just made me tired…and I was one of those who thought initially he really meant it with “more education”. You can’t just repeat “more education” indefinitely without at least making the effort to explain how exactly.

  10. Why does this happen?

    Because the guy running AD is the same guy who was running AD in 2000, the guy running Primero Justicia is the same guy who was running Primero Justicia when it was founded, the guy who’s running ABP is the guy who founded ABP, the guy who’s running ABP is the guy who founded ABP, the guy who’s running UNT is the guy who founded UNT, the guy who’s running Avanzada Progresista is the guy who founded Avanzada Progresista. When you have *no* mechanisms to renew the opposition’s leadership and party leaders treat their jobs as lifetimes appointment, *of*course* you end up in total stasis, personal animosity and inability to advance…

    QUE.
    SE.
    VAYAN.
    *T*O*D*O*S*.

    • I can’t imagine the collective outcry that a scenario like that would ensue if people react like they did to Aveledo’s resignation.

      The MUD has adopted chavismo’s vices and its support base plays along. The fact public opinion is more focused on feeding Aveledo’s ego than on relaunching the MUD with a solid strategy is immature.

  11. If we had won in the April elections, then why did we get beat so bad in the Municipal elections? Turning the Municipal elections into a national election, a strategy proposed by Capriles, and adopted by the MUD failed. Why? Are we a majority or not? I don’t think anyone claims that the government stole the Municipal election from us. LaSalida would have made a lot of sense if we were a majority, but that does not seem to be the case.

    There lies the main divide in the opposition.
    It is logical that Capriles and Aveledo needed to accept their defeat, and should have resigned from their leadership positions of the MUD. Had Aveledo resigned in January, La Salida would have probably not happened as the rage of LL and MCM would have been spent in trying to take over the MUD. Waiting till now makes it more difficult, but it is a good opportunity to look forward. Unfortunately they seem to be focused on pointing fingers.

      • The changes within parties -and that includes the newly minted Vente, which is a budding party, no longer an expression of independents- are to be decided within the parties themselves. AFAIK, only AD has not had a recent internal election (and this happened a mere few years ago). PJ and UNT had “internas” a few months ago. We might not like their terms and results.

        As for the meeting itself, I can recall local party set in similar tones. Politics is a calling for dominating personalities, and put to the test in a dire situation, this is wont to happen. Almost any committee or board can delve into this territory, which is mildly cathartic. And nothing worse than 2009 or 2004. (There are reasons to consider the current circumstances as more tragic -valid reasons- but society has endured similarly serious repression in the past, which cannot be whitewashed).

        Th 2015 elections are upon us. These two major groups are ultimately going to agree on how (primaries or consensus) and who to present as candidates. Or not: let the voters decide: perhaps both major fractions don’t see their political bases as compatible.

    • “If we had won in the April elections, then why did we get beat so bad in the Municipal elections? Turning the Municipal elections into a national election, a strategy proposed by Capriles, and adopted by the MUD failed. Why? Are we a majority or not?”

      Because there are a truckload of municipalities in the middle of nowhere that are under control of the red plague, yeah, you might win in the most populated municipalities because the thick of people in big cities might be democrats, but you’ll still have lots and lots of municipalities where most of their inhabitants (In a group of like 1/10 of the population of bigger cities) are pledged with the destruction of Venezuela.

      That’s pretty much the same that happened with the infamous salamander fraud in the congress elections in 2010, when tibitibi lucena basically said “Now we’re giving the red-reddy circunscriptions a lot more of congressmen to elect!” all while taking away congressmen from more populated circunscriptions (That they knew were tricolor and not red)

      Also, the threats and flat out fraud the made again completed their phyrric victory there.

    • ” La Salida would have probably not happened as the rage of LL and MCM would have been spent in trying to take over the MUD”
      Also, #LaSalida didn’t happen because the “rage-filled” LL or MCM plotted it, it begun as a movement by other people, LL and MCM just added themselves to it later.

  12. What you’re writing about is the widening of a rift that had already been created back in October 2012. The proof is in the Hospedales Report.

  13. I think that the fracture of the opposition reflects the political fracture of the country. Inside the chavismo, there are the military and the civilians. Inside the opposition, there are those that support “la salida” and the others. No group has a clear majority support at any level, thus the division.

    The opposition has been claiming to have a majority, but if that is the case, it is a paper thin majority. With such a tiny majority, one cannot have strategies like “La salida”, for which an overwhelming support of the general population is required. IMHO, that is the problem: that the opposition has not focused in the last 15 years in becoming a viable majority for the country. When Chávez was alive, the opposition strategy was just “get rid of Chávez and all will be fine”. Now that he is dead, the strategy is the little caudillismo: everyone tries to get the spotlight to be the next candidate.

    The opposition has not learned its lesson. This has been going on for 15 years. It was a long-term battle in 1999 but since it always acted with a short-term view, it is still a long-term battle 15 years later.

  14. Again this is a long term strugle , with success , failures , set backs , advances , mistakes and corrections happening all the time , we must give proben leaders a bit of slack , give them a chance to try again , to explore new methods or strategies , you dont throw out whatever you have in place without finding a replacement , an empty seat is an invitation to more problems . You dont just play righteous puritan hanging judge when the dice are still rolling . If after each battle bolivar lost he would have been chucked out we d never have accomplished independence. . The greatest accomplishment of Bolivar was not military , it was political , it was maintaining the independence movement together with all the rifts and failures suffered by the patriot cause , each little caudillo wanting to set up his own shop. Headless movements dont go any where. !! Our penchant for poltical cannibalism after centuries of terrible experiences is still alive and well . What shame Venezuela !!

    • If Bolívar had died of syphilis in 1815 we would have probably got our “independence” like any other country in Spanish America…and probably more independence we ever got and not be subjected so dramatically to the military caste. Had Bolívar died in 1810 we would have probably achieved our independence earlier.

      In any case: we need to stop believing in “big men”. That’s bloody sick and one of the reasons why
      we are where we are now.

      • Kep : assumming you believe that independence was a good thing for hispanic america ( which some serious writers like Angel Bernardo Viso doubt ) independence in Latin America was won by strong military Caudillos acting independently of each other : Iturbide in Mexico , ( who originally was head of Spanish forces in Mexico and turned coats after the original leaders of an independent mexico, Hidalgo and Morelos were defeated and executed) , by San Martin in Chile ( who unable to advance the independence of Peru simply gave up ) and by Bolivar everywhere else . Maybe you could say that the independence of Rio de la Plata was largely won by the actions of the various srong men who altough fighting each other all the time took off enough time from their internal quarrels to defeat the very weak spanish forces in that region . Nowhere did the forces loyal to spain voluntarily relinquish their control of spanish america anywhere .!!. Dont know where you get your fantastic historical notions from !!

        This is not to say that I dont sympathize with your view that maybe we in our Culture are too drawn to the stupid cult of exceptional strong men on horse back and that leadership should really be recognized to enlightened groups of men working as a team , except that we latin americans have a very hard time learning to put our egoes aside and ‘acting in concert’

        In short I think your first statement is historical phantasy but strongly agree with your second statement !!

  15. Oh please. Capriles, and his supporters apparently, believe that what this country needs and what is neccesary to defeat chavismo is another populist “Big Man” to make front to fight against the ghost of the dead bastard.

    All the “leadership renewal is overrated” comments and Capriles’s attitude spell this clearly. The former specially bothers me because is the attitude used to justify unlimited reelections, which the dead bastard used to make sure that he was the eternal king. Is also the attitude that made AD and COPEI such unappealing choices for the Venezuelan electorate. In short, is an attitude that has done a lot of damage to Venezuelan democracy.

    The latter, of course, has been argued to death. Capriles believes that is beneath him to argue with the population as another actor instead of the center? Fine. I, and a lot of the electorate believe that is beneath us to vote for a coward.

    • [the “leadership renewal is overrated” comments and Capriles’s attitude spell this clearly.]
      That was my expression, so I’m replying, sorry for not doing it earlier.

      First of all Capriles can hardly be called a “Big Man” and compared to Chávez. He doesn’t fit the role, he doesn’t have the charisma, the magnetism, the grand personality or the megalomania. He lacks the eloquence and coherent speech of a MCM, DA or (to a lesser degree) LL. He also lacks the political skills to influence other politicians to follow him. What he has is discipline, energy, determination and a good political vision.

      Second, there is a great difference between unlimited reelections and politicians maintaining a leadership role. Term limits and limits to reelection are salient features of democracy because they are ways to prevent those in power from encroaching into it and becoming tyrants (Chávez style). Personally, I’m strongly opposed to any kinds of reelection in a presidential system. But to encroach into power you first need to BE in power. That cannot be compared with a politician being popular and having a significant following. That is what Capriles is right now. It doesn’t make sense to ask Capriles to step down from his role to let others take it because his prestige, his popularity, his following cannot be given to someone else. That is not how it works (ask Maduro). If he did part of that following would simply vanish to the detriment of the whole opposition.

      Besides politicians work hard to get where they are, it is a lifelong career in a cut-throat competitive world. They do not just retire to pasture when they are at their peak. Also they are into politics for personal selfish reasons. They like the power and all the perks that come with it: the adulation, the money, the fame, the life, etc. All of them, no exceptions. Sometimes they play in a team, but is basically an individual sport, where every other politician is competition. To pretend to ask a career politician to give up his accomplishments is at best naive but is also wrong. It is like asking Roger Federer or Nadal to retire to let other players win more tournaments. The new leaders, if they are going to be so, have to earn and prove that they are leaders, there are no short cuts.

      [what this country needs and what is neccesary to defeat chavismo is another populist “Big Man”]
      To your point, another Chávez-like caudillo wouldn’t be a good solution, just more of the same, but thankfully there is no one available and they are not going to magically appear. No, what this country needs is a strong united opposition where everyone brings their best qualities and resources and works in concert to earn the support of the people with coordinated efforts. Not by rotating leaders every few months and discarding the “old” leaders and throwing away their following and their ascendancy over the people (the most important asset). That would be like playing russian roulette until we get another “big man” that can do the job. Instead we have to support all the leaders we already have (no matter how much we dislike them) and have them work together in a long term strategy, without shortcuts and without personal adventures that can derail the unitarian effort.

  16. Que ladillas estos posts tan tendenciosos. Muy bien que cada quien tenga su opinión, pero el esfuerzo propagandístico y anti-propagandístico de las dos facciones principales de la oposición es tan vacío como una conversación con Maduro.

    Dejen la ladilla de tratar de vender a unos como moneditas de oro mientras los otros son lo peor. Que aquí todos los políticos han demostrado ser todos iguales de inmaduros y mentepollos. So over this….

  17. Chavismo is facing the worst economic and social crisis since it took control of the country’s reigns. Popularity is down to about a third and likely the tendency of both the country’s deterioration and the goverment’s support shall continue. In the meantime, the MUD crumbles, opposition leaders bicker, backstab and ridicule each other and in general seem to remain motionless or paralyzed as to the next steps to take in the struggle to resstablish order and sanity in the country.
    It is a disheartening situation, the sort that really makes us lose all hope of witnessing a real change in government. As a fragmented melange of interests, the only thing the opposition representatives agree on is that they will inconditionally continue to participate in elections for some false, fictitious quota of power.

  18. You’re all missing the plot here.

    Angry Birds.

    Deep inside, encroached in his darkest thoughts, Chapriles dreams about being launched in a heroic quest trying to destroy the structures shielding a bourgeoisie clan of wealthy green pigs. Green, tin-helmet-wearing… pigs.

    All that upholstered in a feathery RED PAJARITO costume.

    You guys have no fucking clue at all

  19. If A, the possible governing groups from the current government are not to be expected to manage the oil money well, and B, the possible governing groups from the oppositions are not to be expected to manage the oil money well, then what makes it so difficult for so many to conclude C, that we should take the management of the oil money out of whatever governing group’s hands? I know, I know, a good government would do wonderful things with it, but that’s not the given; in Venezuela, thinking that the oil money will be used properly is wishful thinking. We need to end the petro-state model. Any proposal that does not have that as it’s main goal is not facing Venezuela’s reality.

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