What's so offensive about a #CongresoCiudadano?

How dare they?
How dare they?
How dare they?

Tomorrow will be the launch of a new initiative inside the opposition, a citizens’ convention called the “Congreso Ciudadano.” According to its promoters, the idea behind the congress is to unite diverse elements of civil society and political parties inside the MUD and fan out a strategy for moving forward. Among its main backers are Leopoldo López’s party Voluntad Popular, Maria Corina Machado, Proyecto Venezuela, and Copei. The student movement has also said they will participate.

The whole idea sounds pretty innocuous, right? Well, not so fast.

Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, former head honcho of the MUD, has blasted it as some sort of elitist get-together. Henrique Capriles is boycotting the thing, and Julio Borges would rather eat nails than go.

There is nothing harmful or sinister about holding a citizens’ congress, just as there was nothing harmful in Capriles’ embrace of the chavista Táchira governor (a gesture that caused a lot of grief for some people last week), or in any of a myriad of alternatives different actors inside the opposition are pursuing. Yet the trashing of the Citizens Congress is real, the latest in the petty turf wars aimed at deflating emerging leaderships within the opposition. Everyone seems bent on trying out different strategies … and shooting down alternative ones in the process.

The whole dynamic going on in the opposition is so offensive to normal people trying to make ends meet, mourning the loss of a loved one, or worried sick about someone they care for who is rotting in jail, that it makes you want to give up on the lot of them. It strikes me as the last gasps of an opposition leadership that has failed to understand that the different currents inside the coalition need nurturing, not blasting.

Do you want to know who in the opposition is boycotting unity? Look up those hoping for something as seemingly harmless as a citizens congress to fail.

I think the time for gang warfare inside the opposition is over. Let the #CongresoCiudadano take place, pray for its success, and do your own thing if you’d like. Just stop preaching unity while blasting anyone who thinks differently from you.

Here at Caracas Chronicles, we will be covering the #CongresoCiudadano, and enthusiastically rooting for its success while we ignore the naysayers. Lord knows we need new initiatives to flesh out a common strategy, and while the #CongresoCiudadano may well turn out to be a flop, at least it’s something.

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  1. Nothing wrong besides the fact that is going to be en el Hatillo, hence it will be a gathering of a very broad sample of la Lagunita and la Trinidad civil society. Exactly what is needed to build a stronger and bigger mayority. Is not the fact of getting together that’s is wrong perse, the bad thing is selling it as if this is the actual path to solve this whole mess Chavistas have created. Anyway, I hope so etching good cones out of it. Best of luck

    • Oh, shucks, I guess the Centro Comunal del 23 de enero was taken! Otherwise they would have totally loved to hold it there.

      • Come now; no need to get nasty when the article above – quite rightly and suitably graphically – criticizes getting nasty.

      • Chavismo did a hell of a good job demonising the middle classes, more specifically the upper-middle-class-South-East-Caracas type. Even people with similar background now think this wide sector of the opposition must be ignored in favour of “converting” former and current chavistas. After 16 years of being the only segment on the Venezuelan society that NEVER bought the government promises (no trabajes! No le pares bola que aqui hay real que jode!) and after being in constant conflict with the red disease, now even PJ –funny enough, these guys are the upper middle class political party by excellence- use the terms middle class, el este, el cafetal, la lagunita, la Trinidad in derogatory terms.
        In Revolutionary Venezuela, not been born in a barrio is worse than being a corrupt bureaucrat, a thug or a narco-military officer. The original sin: have a family who cared about providing some kind of education to their children while they worked very hard to try to live in dignity not depending on a house provided by government (or anyone).

        Good luck convincing the people who put us in this position that they now need to work to pay for a house (or for anything)

        • I reckon you come from that little area?

          Do you think El Cafetal & Hatillo make up even 10% of the opposition voters’?
          No, they don’t. In fact: El Hatillo had 54000 voters. That’s about 0.5% of Venezuelans who vote for the opposition. Do you think they are an atom worthier than the rest? Why on Earth do our politicians spend
          99% of their efforts and time talking and living and breathing in less than 1% of Venezuela’s territory?
          Are they afraid to get killed because all the rest must be “23 de enero”?

          I wasn’t born in a barrio, but your trying to generalize that you and the people ho are in (certain) parts of
          Eastern Caracas are the true “producers” is sickening. I would think the same thing even if you included Northern Valencia, from where I am.

          It is not because of Chavismo that I know there is much more of Venezuela than that.

          Your victimization of the (old) upper class is just as pernicious, if not more, than the demonisation carried out by Chavismo.

          For you and for Chavismo, it’s either or.

          A complete disregards for the demographic reality is fatal.

          • It is amusing some of the comments in this post (not yours Kepler, I kind of understand what you are saying)

            Yeah, they should have rented La sala Rios Reina to have the Congreso Ciudadano. I’m sure they decided to go to el Hatillo because they don’t know that Caracas doesn’t end in Plaza Venezuela. Gosh! These guys need local geography classes!

            All I’m saying is that there is no need to disregard ANY opposition voters in order to reach a true majority. What is the plan once in power? (if ever) Have you notice that oppo leaders promise to deliver an honest and less corrupt chavismo? Any hint of real difference between the economic policy from chavistas and caprilistas? All I can see is chavistas dressed in red and PJ in yellow and black. My point is: if you want different results, you should do things differently. Until now, all I’ve heard from Capriles and Co is the same chavistas have been saying the last 15 years…. and amusingly bashing the middle class stronghold the oppo has always held from chavismo. Crazy!

            I get your point, I know Caracas is not Baruta or El Hatillo… but do we need to become chavistas to win an election? Apparently, many people think this is the case… allow me to disagree with that. Before you write a passionate manifesto against a class war: all I’m saying is that in order to convince the majority of Venezuelans we need to highlight what this very long government has been doing wrong and try to sell that being better-off is not (generally) result of “stealing from the poor”, that hard work pays and that the state doesn’t need to own everything (starting by PDVSA, let alone supermarkets, hotels of empanada shops). We also need to tell people that they have to take responsibility of their actions and their future and the state can help or guide, but not say what you should do with your life.

            I don’t see any relevance on this, but I’m from CCS in general: La Pastora, San Antonio de Los Altos, Los Samanes, La Trinidad y el Rosal. I lived in all those these places….

        • I meant my comment as support to the “congreso ciudadano” iniciative, it would probably be nice that people within the opposition would get together to discuss stuff and reach common ground, it would be a bit useless if there is no diversity of ideas tho.

          The proposal of the pj/capriles camp seems to be to wait till’ 2018.

  2. No por mucho amanecer, sale el sol mas temprano…

    Del atore solo queda el cansacio…

    Just a few thoughts on why sometimes it is not wise to support something just because it is something…

    Besides, it is not as PJ is not doing anything (they are massively going casaxcasa in the barrios) building a greater majority

  3. Wait, people are criticizing this thing because it’s not in a barrio? I get the opposition needs a majority, but this is ridiculous.

  4. Have you ever attended anything so frustrating and chaotic as a condo meeting , everyone loudly shouting what no one else listens too , chaotic discussions leading no where, bloated egoes shooting breeze , people feeling their stupid rants are the next thing to the imparted wisdom of the ages . theatrical dunces prancing their follies .!!

    In my experience the more people participate in a meeting the dumber they become. The perfect number for a discussion group is between 5 and 9 , the anthropologists ideal hunter pack group . anything above that and its very likely to lead to a wagnerian opera of madness .!!

    • Yeah, it is messy and chaotic. But, they have to do something to revive the movement. Who knows? Maybe some new ideas or new leadership will come out of it.

    • Bill,

      Your analogy of a condo meeting is a good one, but when a situation has reached the point where all of the strategies of the leadership have failed, you need to open the floor to something different. Also, you need to honestly take the temperature of your constituency. This is a way to do both. I think it is worthwhile. The leadership of the MUD may not like what comes out of it, but they may well discover that the winds are blowing from an entirely different direction than they thought.

    • “chaotic discussions leading no where, bloated egoes shooting breeze , people feeling their stupid rants are the next thing to the imparted wisdom of the ages . theatrical dunces prancing their follies .!!”

      you mean like most people in this blog?


  5. Am reminded of the way ancient Spartans approved the decisions when they met in assembly , by which group shouted the loudest when a poll was made of the “mayority opinion” . ( same as modern tv game shows) or that succint phrase by Leonardo “dove se grida non e vera scientia “.

  6. Stale leadership, people digging in to tactical positions as though they were matters of principle, zancadillas, name-calling, total loss of perpective about the bigger picture…MUD has failed, because the leadership of the “parties” that make it up is catastrophically stagnant.

    RGA’s departure was a hopeful sign. But if all the faction heads – Borges and Ledezma and HCR and Henri F. and Ramos Allup and Omar Barboza – treat their jobs as lifetime appointments, there is no chance at all for fresh blood, for renewed energy, for turning the page.

    Resignation is a cornerstone institution of democratic politics. They don’t get that.

    • Francisco do you mean ´resignation´as in gracefully accepting your loss and failure, that quintessential christian virtue of the chronically defeated or ‘resignation’ as in ‘quiting’ or willfully handing over your ´power’ or ‘authority’ or whatever represents it for some one else to replace you in its possession ??. I suspect the latter is what you have in mind .

      My concern is that while people in authority have to be mature and realize that there is a time for giving up what they have if they are no longer up to the task , there must be someone which can replace them and do the job . As the old saying goes ‘You dont change horses mid stream´’ unless of course you dont mind drowning . So if we want to see all those old burned out guys gone , are we sure that there are better people to replace them .?? If so who are they?. How do we know they exist ?? how do we know who they are ?? .

      Not saying that knowing when to quit isnt a virtue , but sometimes you dont get the ideal candidates , so you have to work with the cards you are dealt and wait for a good replacement to appear. Problem is how do you find out in a way that doesnt expose you to something worse than what you have ?? i dont have a ready answer. .

      Still we all remember how everyone got tired of the pols of the 4h republic and decided on this new guy Chavez , that was a pretty bad decision and yet we have never stopped hating those old pols and am always dreaming of new better ones .!!

      • “Still we all remember how everyone got tired of the pols of the 4h republic and decided on this new guy Chavez ….”

        Because the old leadership didn’t willingly changed and people voted by a military thug sold by corrupt, marxist and specially foreign interests.

        In fact, one of the reasons why people got sick of AD was that people didn’t want to see anymore The Eternal King of AD, Ramos Allup. Without the real possibility of impeachment or eventual replacement, leaders are free to do whatever they want and the other members of said organization have no choice than to suck it up or not belong to the organization anymore. Good leadership comes from, among other things, the possibility of being replaced if you take too many wrong decisions that harm the organization. In other words, accountability.

        So, “Resignation” is not the word that I would use. The phrase should be: Accountability is a cornerstone institution of democratic politics. The entire point of democracy and the rule of law is being able to hold the leaders of the population accountable.

    • “Borges and Ledezma and HCR and Henri F. and Ramos Allup and Omar Barboza – treat their jobs as lifetime appointments, there is no chance at all for fresh blood, for renewed energy, for turning the page.”

      agree 100%

    • Blaming the old leaders for the lack of new leadership is like blaming Capriles and the MUD for the failure of #LaSalida. There seems to be a lot of that nonsense going around. Criticize all you want the old leaders but point out who are those future leaders on which we should pin our hopes. The fact is that what we need is the old and the new leaders working together, not to discard used leaders as if they were spent cartridges and then try new ones until we hit the jackpot (the proper messiah). Everyone looks good at the beginning when you don’t really know them, then you realize it was more appearance and self delusion than reality. No one is perfect but we need all the energy and all the talent and energy and work we can muster to perform this very difficult task.

      BTW, good interview by Borges.

      • There is a good deal of old leaders keeping the new ones under the rug as they are a threat to their status quo.

        The future leaders are there and I can tell you that they belong to a more patient, better educated generation.

        • Like I said everyone new looks better when seen from the distance. In any event if they are so good I’m sure they will surge, that is if they know how to do politics, the proof is in the pudding. There are two ways to rise in party politics one is to become someone’s protegé, the other one is to construct your own following. The former can be stopped by the higher ups but the latter one cannot. Those leaders are created in the local elections they start as councilmen, get to be mayors and eventually governors.

      • the point is, we elected Capriles for the 2012 elections… how the hell does that imply that he will continue to be candidate for the following years? or that he should have a say in everything that follows after his lost candidacy?

        Capriles strategy failed… he should understand that, most people in the opposition should understand that.

        If Capriles wants to attract the chavista base at the expense of the opposition base, then he should use the PSUV card, not opposition’s card.

    • Who am I to say but, Francisco, I was hoping you would say something a tad more critical related to this event, namely its location in El Hatillo and the political stigmas of its major supporting leaders. You, a reader of Manuel Brigue, have always given a stoic sense of sociological context to this blog, and it is my opinion that now is as ever important for you to do so yet again.

      I wish to ask you if you think I am wrong in believing this initiative will fail not only because its leaders are, yes, caudillistas malcriados, but because –what is more pathetic– they fail to see how cartoonish it is to begin any national movement in such polarised and hostile political environment in the wealthiest municipality of the country. They will fall prey to ridicule before the whole thing sets off.

      As they say, in politics form often matters more than content.



  7. I support the citizen assembly because, with the media hegemony at full swing, those on the oppo leadership need a way to communicate with the population at large, and most Venezuelans don’t have Internet.

    And, if the chronicles of The Encerrona are true, then the reasons of Capriles and Co. blasting it is that they will have to act as another participant instead of setting the pace, and, most importantly, will have to face in person the criticism of their actions. Imagine a reaction like the one on said chronicles in public.

  8. Here is what I dont agree, first I dont bet in this idea will fail, but We have to be honest, the same people who passionately argue about the salida as a good idea, now talk about base movement, come on, who is the one without a plan?.

    you are entitled to your own opinión about Capriles, but his position about “la salida” was clear for the start, there comes the great rupture in the MUD, and I am sorry for those who somehow think that oposing la salida, is somehow treason to the opposition movement.

    Leopoldo and MCM have all the right to aspire to be the leader of the MUD, but please face the reality that la salida was as much again HCR as Maduro, and was a faliure, for the same reasons this Congress will fail, is not inclusive, Sorry to say it but is not.
    In politics apereance are of the most importance, and in the same way as la Salida, this does not apear to be a inclusive idea.

    Capriles is of course trying to hold is ground, this is politics and he must, so far he loose elections, politicians can survive this, (Sorry for the comparison,Hitler, Nixon, Caldera, Linlcon, Rajoy, Churchil).

    To concrete the answer, I hope this Congress bring positive Ideas to Venezuela, and that it Works, I do, but please hear the voice of reason, this is not a great idea, is not even a ordinary one, is as best the least had Idea they can produce.

    You want a great Idea?, it Work for many of my before list, strong your base, wide your support, and be better than your oponent, the ideas of this guys go always, in the other direction, the sad part is, that with all his faults, the MUD try to move in that direction.

    My apologies for any mistake as english is not my language.

  9. The split in the opposition has been present for a long time, and is the reason Leopoldo left PJ. Borges has a very specific idea of how to run a party and he is opposed to the idea of opening up decisions to the bases, but believes in more of a top-down approach. Same for the old guard inside the MUD. Leopoldo and MCM are more interested in a bottoms-up approach, of reaching out to people to bring them in to help decide. Open primaries? This idea came from LL, and is what he proposed inside of PJ. El firmazo? MCM.

    There is a huge pressure to open the MUD to organizations beside the political parties. Coordinadora Democratica part 2?

    • Who remembers here that LL walked out of the congressional elections calling for abstention from voting thus sinking us even deeper in the red mire?

      • And who remembers that Borges, Petkoff and many others bombed the elections boycott claiming that “the elections are valid even if one person voted” after it was shown that chavistas were no more than 18% of the voters?

        The morons killed and buried the fact that could’ve lead to getting rid of the red plague years ago, for reasons that nobody knows until this day.

  10. Sometime open meetings dont do so badly because their organizers carefully stage beforehand whats going to happen in them , prepare a script where different designated people speak and support each other in different calculated moments prodding the rest to support certain preset conclusions . Seen that a lot of times . A bit of spontaneity is allowed on the margins but is generally kept under control , they cram the crowd with groups of their supporters , give them the cues of when to applaud or boo . the slogans they must use to create the right mood etc.. Always a danger that some one will get too thrilled by his own deliciously overblown oratory for nothing riles up simpletons like hearing themselves speak out loud , but its not impossible to organize an open meeting in a way that produces the results you want . All Psuv public meetings are handled this way , they have a lot of practice. !!. . .

  11. Juan with all due respect you come across -constantly- as being so pro MCM &LL anti MUD & HCR that your posts are becoming soooo predictable. I even though of course everybody is entitled to his/hers personal preferences,I feel your posts should come across as objective? I totally agree with Ernesto. The main actors of la salida are incredibly arrogant, and selfishly and shortsightedly have shot the opposition unity- it’s only strength at this point- in the foot. Sorry but all this backstabbing just reminds me of la cuarta and what brought the damned “big eternal” scourge to our country… >:(


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