Wanted: wonks

0

mistrust-the-people-and-therefore-deprive-them-of-their-arms-aristotle-6732One of the remarkable things from recent opinion polls such as this one from Datanálisis is that, while the Maduro government is blamed for most of the country’s ills, a large chunk of Venezuelans still mistrust the opposition.

From the same Datanálisis poll (HT: @puzkas), we learn that while a majority of Venezuelans dislike the government,

  • 50% of Venezuelans think the opposition could not solve the problem of scarcity;
  • 53.9% of us think the opposition cannot solve crime;
  • 57% of respondents say they do not know what the opposition’s proposals on crime are;
  • 56.8% have no idea what the opposition proposes to tame inflation;
  • only 36% think the opposition can be trusted to solve the country’s problems, and
  • only 24% of independent voters think the opposition can solve the country’s problems.

Now, after two presidential campaigns, you would think that people know what the opposition stands for, that they understand what they would do if they were to reach power. The fact that they do not speaks volumes about the opposition’s inability to get their message across. It may also signal that the oppposition actually has no clue.

I know what many are going to say: the opposition is blocked from media, so people don’t know what our proposals are. To which I say: bull. Crap.

Listen, I am not one of those people who doesn’t get the message about the opposition’s proposals. Any time a “proposal” comes around, I dissect it. I look out for them. I analyze and write about them. And you know what? After all of my research, if polled, I would probably side with the majority of the people up there.

Few of our main opposition leaders have a sound idea about many of the country’s issues, and the majority sees through it. They are not idiots, or uninformed – in fact, they are quite clever. For too long, our leadership has disdained the concept of thinking hard about the country’s problems, and spelling out the *obvious* solutions to the people. People see that.

For example, there are a few obvious things that need to be done. The gas subsidy needs to go away. We need to bring in private partners to jack up our infrastructure. We need to privatize some of the government’s companies. We need to stop using PDVSA as a cash cow. We need money for more judges, prosecutors, and prisons. We need to do away with most price controls, including the currency exchange controls. We need to fire a bunch of government employees.

There are tough choices ahead, but unless we confront them, we will never solve the country’s problems. When was the last time you heard an opposition politician honestly say these things out loud?

Look, people are desperate. We now learn that Twitter is being used as a means to barter medicine for diapers, for crying out loud. The country has never been in worse shape. You, opposition politician, may think that sticking to sound bites is what people want, that responding to this or that crazy proposal is the only thing you need to do. You’re wrong.

People need solutions. They need to be told the truth. They want someone who is unafraid to show that they’ve thought about their problems, understands them, and is honest enough to give it to them straight. They want someone … who respects their intellect. And after looking at you, they have decided you are not that person.

Think about why that is.

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1 COMMENT

    • Actually, I disagree. Constitutional Assembly, mar de la felicidad, las cinco “R”s de la Revolución, we always knew where Chávez was taking the country.

      • Agree. His ideas were mostly wrong but he was clear about what he wanted to do. The problem was that some people seems to have thought he was bluffing…

        • And we are still thinking they are bluffing, They always tell us what they are planning to do well ahead in advance. How many times did I heard “Chavez es un bruto” or “Maduro es un burro”, well I think the brutos and burros are us because they are still holding power after 16 years

          • If they were so smart, they would have found a way to keep their status quo without resorting to the slaughter we’re surviving from 15 years ago.
            I don’t say that’s not an effective method to keep power, it’s served them very well for now, but many people are frustrated and furious about it, I guess I remember reading some time ago a comment in this blog that if hatred and fury could produce energy, Venezuela would be able to sustain all of South America with that energy alone for years.

          • Who said the slaughter is not part of the control plan? I think this insecurity is created to keep your mind busy on surviving than actually thinking on how to take them out of power. They have different ideas on how a successful country should be, way different than mine but that doesn’t mean they are dumb or stupid. Their status quo is well kept, there is a lot of frustration but feeling is neither side works so it is better to stay with them. Who do you think planted the seed inside the opposition? We are so break out in pieces right now that there is no way we can succeed from this economical hole in a short term unless we reorganize our side. Chavismo is busy keeping the boat afloat without having to deal with the opposition that is killing them self, if we ever had a good chance it is this one and we are egocentric enough to wasting it.

          • Digo en español mi mensaje porque creo que no lo escribí bien:

            “Si ellos fueran tan inteligentes, habrían encontrado una forma de mantener su estatus quo sin tener que recurrir a la masacre que hemos sobrevivido durante los últimos 15 años.
            No niego que SEA un método eficaz para mantener el poder, les ha servido muy bien por ahora, pero debido a ello mucha gente está frustrada y furiosa, creo recordar haber leído hace un tiempo un comentario en este blog que decía que si el odio y la furia generasen energía, Venezuela sería capaz de sustentar a toda América del Sur con dicha energía durante años.”

      • Think again, Mr. Nagel, the corpse actually never said more than “constitutional assembly” in his 1998 campaign.
        Some people KNEW that he was going to turn Venezuela into a cuban colony, but the thick of the voting poipulation saw him as “the avenger that would vindicate the people against the kleptomaniac murderous politicians”
        He also tried his hardest to hide his true plan to be done after the 4f, which involved basically fussilading the entirety of CAP’s cabinet in some Bolívar plaza in Caracas, just to name one.
        Also, this:

  1. I’m with the majority, no clue what the opposition would propose to solve the various issues, The government keeps proposing and doing things that do not make sense. Even during electoral campaigns I have heard more from the government candidate. What tells me that the opposition would propose something better?

  2. one person who would speak to your points sits in prison, and will not be heard from for a long time. capriles has no clue, including that his time has past. the other oppos, well, their politicians.

    • Capriles has a clear objective in mind which he shares with the rest of the opposition , and that is to replace the current regime with one where at least a chance is given to restore Venezuelas economy and freedoms and cause it to develop into something better for all . Then there is a second objective which comes after wards which is to set the economy straight by taking measures that Im certain he (or his very professional back up team) has figured out but which he has to be careful how he publicizes because of how the Chavista skunk works will disfigure and deface them in order for the ordinary person see with alarm and distrust !!

      The challenge comes in presenting his ideas for allowing venezuela to scape its current sorry condition without allowing the Chavista skunk works to disfigure them to turn the ordinary venezuelan against the opposition alternative. !!

      • I feel the same way about Capriles, Bass.

        And the things you wrote in this extract: “Capriles has a clear objective in mind which he shares with the rest of the opposition , and that is to replace the current regime with one where at least a chance is given to restore Venezuelas economy and freedoms and cause it to develop into something better for all .”
        would have actually happened had Venezuela had stronger institutions, given that Capriles WON the last presidential elections.

        Here in Brazil our version of Capriles would be the presidential candidate called Marina Silva, she is currently beating our version of Maduro (Dilma Rousseff) by 10 points: (45 vs 35), our version of Leopoldo López/MCM (Aécio Neves) is in third. So maybe the best way to depose this kind of Government is indeed by pulling a Gorbachev: to pretend to be one of them, to present yourself to the population as being of them, to be elected like one of them, and then to kill it from inside. But since electoral fraud can defeat this strategy, I’m afraid that Venezuela has passed beyond this point.

        I insist that we should not forget that this opposition we all seem to hate so much so much beat Maduro/Chavismo/Foro de São Paulo in the last presidential election against all odds.

    • What the Datanálisis poll didn’t ask is if people think there is a solution! Things are so bad that I don’t think there are any painless ways out this crisis, and certainly no politically acceptable solutions. It’s been well known for centuries that people don’t learn much from history, and if there is going to be any learning from this crisis, it will probably be from the pain of recovering from a total collapse. If there is ever a recovery. The first objective of the revolution was to get past the “point of no return” as Chavez put it. An unrecoverable collapse might be acceptable to the revolution for all I know.

    • Disagree, i really think you are biased because of his liberty’s sacrifice and the “Good intentions” it implies.
      Nothing to do with his possible proposing solutions

  3. I don’t understand this Venezuelan compulsion for flogging dead horses. I think it’s some sort of masochist/auto-destructive behaviour that only Venezuelans understand. It’s like FT’s fetish for criticising the few independent media outlets that are left and will be gone by the end of the year.
    To say that “the opposition can’t be trusted” is the same as saying “we want to maintain the status quo”. If that’s the case, good luck for the “skeptical” 64% that don’t “trust the opposition”. They will need.

    And I’ve already seen MCM defending most (if not all) of the reforms proposed by you.

    • I’m afraid that I agree with Marc on this point as well. As participants to blogs such as Caracas Chronicles we tend to have a ‘group think’ mentality and fail to consider what is obvious to others, the non-participants. Kim Jong-un would still garner a lot of votes in a relatively free North Korean election despite the decades of complete lunacy. The point being is that years and years of political propaganda would indeed have an effect on any legitimate opinion poll. We, the political pundits of CC, tend to forget this. This constant, relentless drumbeat of a political ideology over most media outlets produces weird, nonsensical opinions from those being polled. Socialism or muerte! It can’t be helped. It’s a truth that Orwell understood when he first began writing on the subject over 60 years ago. The Castro brothers understand this principle as well. Their moronic revolution depends on it. Just try and poll the Cuban people today after 50 years of insanity. The results would shock you.

      • William Shirer, American correspondent in Berlin during the 30s, recalled how he was often quite surprised to hear the things even highly educated people would say at the dinner table after several years of Nazi censorship and propaganda. It’s like living in an alternate reality.

        Hell, well over half of Russia thinks Ukraine is run by fascists

    • Those reforms are common sense, true.
      But even MCM had to put the “social” candy on her proposals, calling them “social capitalism”.
      Even having said that in a chavista-infected barrio (And having been harrassed by the fucking nazi murder corps that very day), she still looks more sane to me than Capriles, hell, even some guy called “vampiro extremista” like Diego Arria looks more sane and serious than Capriles (I said that because Arria is hated by a number of people in the very opposition)

  4. Thing is, most of the oppo intelligentsia (oxymoron, anyone?) is utterly afraid of speaking the truth for fear that sound bites will be taken out of context and the played over and over on VTV. Since they have no control whatsoever of what is aired they prefer to simply keep their mouths shut. I am being benevolent, this is a best case scenario, because any other option would just mean that they either have no clue, or what’s even worse, they actually think that the chavista program just needs a change at the top, it just needs to be well run.

    Of course, one more option: maybe everyone in the MUD does have a plan, but since every party has a plan, it turn out that those platforms are mutually exclusive, and in the spirit of not alienating anyone no one says anything. That could be it.

    In any case it’s a sorry situation that I am not sure will be solved, if ever. Sigh…

    • Good point, when Nagel says that “They are not idiots, or uninformed – in fact, they are quite clever. For too long, our leadership has disdained the concept of thinking hard about the country’s problems, and spelling out the *obvious* solutions to the people. People see that.” It sounds as if Capriles could just go on TV and propose selling PDVSA to Texaco or the highest bidder, or to claim that he will get rid of those stupid Mercals asap. Nah, I highly doubt that the average Venezuelan voter is that sophisticated and would see this kind of reform in a good light.

  5. There are no nostrums , Many in the oppo leadership will have a good idea of what to do to stem the rut but some of the ideas wont work or will work only in part or will take a long time to produce their effects , any solution will involve a trial and error excercise until the solution is found . Most likely the solution will not be an absolute and final solution but an improvement over the existing situation which can be built upon to arrive at a more acceptable one. Also to be considered is the political sabotage any hardcore Chavista die hards will apply to make the effort fail .

    There is a huge gap between the conceptual solution and the achievable result of applying such solutions , bridging that gap is that most hard to find element people who know how to do things , hot to practically carry them out, they will not talk pretty , they will not be handsome , they will likely be boring and fat and bald and wear heavy spectacles , they wont appear heroic and dashing and yet the implementation of anyt idea will lie with them .

  6. Tens of thousands of sick people are dying for lack of medical treatment right now in Venezuela.
    How come nobody (not in the government and not in the opposition) has dared to propose a temporary halt on the debt service of the international debt to import medicines and thus prevent mass euthanasia by negligence? The downgrade of Venezuela’s debt to junk would not be the end of access to credit would it, the junk bond market being out here along with yield hungry hedge funds? The downgrade would be expensive, undoubtedly, but the alternative is worse, no?

    Just think about this for a minute. There’s a psychological attitude behind this inertia, one that accepts collective punishment even if it leads to massive loss of life (crime, rationing, euthanasia). As though Venezuelans think that they somehow deserve what they get (like allowing prisons to become death camps, but this time, applied to the whole country), or perhaps they think that the massive loss of life is just inevitable for a nation of inveterate anarchists?

    Why spend any energy at all trying some other course of action, even a random one? Just stay the course, it’s easier and nothing else will work and anyway, we get what we deserve…that’s the attitude.

    • “How come nobody (not in the government and not in the opposition) has dared to propose a temporary halt on the debt service of the international debt to import medicines and thus prevent mass euthanasia by negligence?”

      Because the default would never be temporary. Venezuela is running on borrowed money, PDVSA is running on borrowed money. Once they default (which they eventually will) they would never be able to borrow again. If you think things are bad now, watch what happens if they don’t make October’s debt payments. They need to keep borrowing for as long as they can, because once they stop, the violence and shortages you see today will be remembered as the good old days.

      There was a comment above about “group think”. The ones in charge now havd the same group think as every other group. There group think is this. While we can borrow, we can stay in power, while we stay in power we can steal the money. Thousands of the people in Venezuela today with the most power may find themselves spending the rest of their lives in prisons or their entrails decorating the streets if the opposition takes control. They are cornered rats. Carvajal was a close one. If he had been sent to the states and agreed to speak for leniency, 100’s of interpol arrest warrants would have been issued for using NY clearing houses to launder money.

      If the opposition ever gets control thousands of todays most powerful Venezuelans and their families will be begging other countries for diplomatic refugee status. The smartest of the bunch have already acquired passports in Brazil or Costa Rica or somewhere that will not deport their citizens for that inevitable day. The forensic accountants will need years to unravel what has happened over the past 15 years in Venezuela.

      It is beyond the point of the military ever allowing the opposition to take control peacefully. Thousands of cornered rats would be better served turning Venezuela into Somalia. The colectivos with the guns will become the effective “government” in a thousand different Barrios. That’s what is behind “this inertia”.

  7. Question to people on the ground. Has the opposition come up with tangible mechanisms to improve some of the pressing problems in the states/municipalities they control?

    • Not much they can do in the context they are in.

      Central goverment controls finances, and strangles states and municipalities that doesn’t belongs to the PSUV.

      Decentralization is almost dead.

      In my opinion.

      • I think Carlos Ocariz, for one, is doing interesting things regarding crime. The problem is that, without changing the justice system, there is little a mayor can do. In spite of this, I have not heard Ocariz explain this in accessible terms to people. At any rate, Ocariz is not a national figure so it’s not his job to make this point anyway, but still … you have to wonder if there’s some actual understanding of the problem in their heads.

        • I think he has explained this to the people, but through what means?, tweeter, some news papers, Juan you have to admit the information agenda is controlled by the government.

          It isn’t that Caprilez or Ocariz doesn’t inform, but the agenda, what people wants to hear is something else.

          In simple words It isn’t news what Caprilez or Ocariz have to say.

  8. I think the proposal could be as easy as “recover the institutional order”, don’t know if it is catchy or marketing material but it avoids dangerous places.

    • Aveledo said once that “the constitution was the Democratic Choice’s plan”
      Democratic Choice ~ Alternativa Democrática (not in my best shape to translate)

        • True, it shows the end, some article speaks about the people’s right to eat, but saying the constitution is a “plan” doesn’t show how to get from here the point A to there the point B.
          But, you know, fixing this country takes two things for starters, destroying the populistic anti values through education, and applying policies to start fixing the economy along with policies to empower the justice system, and those basically crash against the vivo mentality that’s so ingrained in the minds of many venezuelans.

    • That’s exactly the kind of proposal we don’t need. That appeals to the educated urban middle class that values liberal democracy and already votes oppo.

      We need a message that hits the everyday issues: queues, inflation, crime.

  9. I’m not gong to dismiss Juan’s arguments regarding media access or the voter’s sophistication. Indeed, numbers tell what they tell (though there’s usually a link between dissatisfaction with political achievements and policy mistrust; one tends to carry the other, and not the other way round).

    I am, however, taking issue with the call for wonks. Not to say they are unnecessary, far from it. But rather that the Unidad, which remains the main opposition grouping, did work with hundreds of experts in different policy areas to work the “Lineamientos”: “Este documento fue aprobado por la Mesa de la Unidad Democrática el 12 de enero de 2012, luego de ser considerado por la Comisión de Políticas Públicas. Fue elaborado bajo la coordinación de la Unidad Técnica con el aporte de 31 grupos que incorporaron más de
    400 especialistas.” http://www.unidadvenezuela.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/MUD.-Lineamientos-para-el-Programa-de-Gobierno-de-Unidad-Nacional-23-Enero-2012.-Final-1.pdf (Disclaimer: I did not work in any commision).

    You can see many guidelines on the issues Juan mentioned:
    Energy Policy ss. 527-543
    PDVSA no-more cash cow ss. 343, 349, 383, 402, 437, 448-477, 479-480
    Judges and prisons ss. 91-95, 246, 682, 755-771
    Currency exchange ss. 345-346, 354 (and indirectly in sections regarding Industrial Policy)
    Public Officers ss. 202-213

    Most of these areas were developed in extensive policy papers, by those experts. Of course, some of what was proposed in 2012 is out of date, so any new unitary platform (for whichever political tactic it is deemed feasible by the 20+ parties that are within the MUD) needs to be revised, and there’s a bevy of young experts who did not work with the Unidad back in 2010-2011. As of today, there’s a team of Municipal Policy experts travelling around the country to help down-and-out municipalities, in a number of areas (Public Safety, Sanitation, Administrative Law, Taxation and finances)…

    I can agree, however, that most politicians pay little attention to wonks, especially outside the electoral cycle. Many speak off the cuff, many appeal to “clever” gimmicks.

    I know there were policy experts behind the Unidad: most are independent, but some are linked to political parties (alas, expertise can aim to different ideological and political goals, and you could mistrust the proficiency and/or biases of local experts, but those are altogether different matters). I do believe, however, that the main cause of the weakness in holding the people’s trust is politics-wise, not policy-wise, given the events in the last year and a half. There’s a deeper malaise.

    • GT, I don’t dispute those facts. What I am wondering about is why the conclusions from those documents never made it to the street. I think it has to do with a deep-seated disdain for policy among out top-tier politicians.

      I remember surprisingly-still-relevant Henry Ramos Allup – he who sabotaged our last chance to actually change things in Venezuela for the better – saying something recently along the lines of “the worst thing we could do is let economists tell us what to say about the increase in the price of gas.”

      Ultimately, you can have all the commissions in the world saying all the most wonderful things in the universe, but unless the guys and gals on top actually understand the issues, think about their own proposals, comprehend what they are proposing, and make it theirs, we’re just writing empty words, and our politicians will remain devoid of any substance.

      Here’s a little anecdote for you along those lines. Way back in 2006-2007, I was asked to write the political platform for Primero Justicia. Basically, I was asked to take a bunch of working papers from different meetings they had related to the Julio Borges presidential campaign and write a coherent document out of it. Now, as you can imagine, there were large sections where the party didn’t seem to have a position. Defense, for example, or infrastructure. These were large holes.

      What did I do? I simply wrote those sections based on my own beliefs. I remember even including a pledge for the party to stick to a “competitive exchange rate” that would ensure support for “non-traditional exports” … basically pledging to commit to an under-valued exchange rate, which is a huge debate in Venezuela.

      After a while, I kept dreading that I would get a phone call from somebody in Caracas saying “why did you put this in there?” or “this thing does not match what we believe.” Guess what? Nobody said anything, and the document was approved in an Ideological Congress. I think few people read the damn thing.

      • I agree with that sentiment, and I know of cases such as what you mention (though some politicians are more wonkish than others).

        Alas, I think the disconnect s not with policy proposals, but rather with political strategy: some might feel alienated with perceived violence, some with perceived passivity, some simply because there seem to be no popular way out of this quagmire: a mere 21% believe the Parlamentarias matter (I do, BTW), yes, but other “roads” poll even lower.

      • One of my favorite Ramos Allup quotes.

        “[…] Pero en medio de esas medidas hubo algunos necios en la oposición que en vez de culpar al Gobierno por haber distribuido mal los dólares preferenciales para que se produjera toda esa especulación, salieron a defender a los comerciantes que especulaban. Esos que tienen todavía el paquetazo metido en la cabeza, que si el libre mercado, que si el liberalismo y que si la economía sin regulaciones trae la prosperidad y la felicidad general, como que se les olvidó lo que le pasó al gobierno de CAP. Los economistas que se dediquen a lo suyo, porque cada vez que le hacemos caso a los economistas terminamos poniendo la torta política.”

        http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/131218/en-la-mesa-no-nos-estamos-hablando-con-sinceridad

        • Ramos Allup by making the point that sound economic ideas have nothing to do with success in politics and may even hinder it , makes clear that for him politics is primarily a smoke and mirrors game where all that matters is telling people what they enjoy hearing !! or the use of a primitive political discourse which inspire people to profess certain exultant passions.

          His is the same foolhardy belief of Cheney when invading Iraq , that all you had to do would be to win the war and topple Sadam Hussain and all would automatically fall in place . He did not think that winning the Peace would be as much of a challenge as winning the war . We now know how disatrously mistaken this was.!!

          All that toppling a regime (whether by means of war or by means of politics) wins you is the chance of entering a new ‘war’ or struggle to change conditions in a country torn by the ravages of tyranical abuses and mismanagement and to fight this second ‘war you need those sound economic ideas and whats more important, a way of implementing them, both in the realm of practical governance and public policy as well as in the realm of popular politics so that a new fate for the country can be won ,

          Ramos Allup is a pure political animal , doesnt see beyond the political struggle he is engaged in , The sound economic and governance ideas have to be worked up beforehand , they cant be ignored regardless of how much or little they may help you in your political game.!!

        • Allup, another politician that does not understand economics or governance. He misdiagnoses what happened to CAP2 and blames it on the economic measures. Politicians make this mistake time and time again. Trying to solve political problems with economic measures and economic problems with economic measures. Everytime they use the wrong tool for the problem, they make a bigger problem.

          – Support for the government is low? Throw money at the people.
          – Inflation is high? Control the prices.
          – The National Current Account is negative? Control the exchange rate
          – (chavismo) Want to strangle the opposition? Control prices, exchange rates & expropriate.

          Economic problems require economic solutions and political problems require political solutions.
          CAP2 was correcting decades of mismanagement of the economy with the right economic solutions, but he forgot about the political problems that would arise as a consequence. His ministers of economy were not prepared for that side of the issue, they were not political operators, and his party AD did not help because they felt neglected. CAP the political master dropped the ball on the political side. …. but the economists are blamed for the fiasco of the politicians.

    • I would ask you GT, to poll the residents of any barrio or lower to middle income place and ask them if they have read/understood/even know in a half assed way what’s in the document you mention.

      I am going to guess 99.2% will say they never even heard of it.

      Many oppos are voting for whoever the MUD puts in there because whoever it happens to be “is not Chavez/Maduro/uno de esos coño e madres comunistas de mierda”.

      Saying it has been published (and I don’t doubt you, of course) is one thing.

      Knowing that a large percentage of the voting public has at the very least been able to say they understand the basic “lineamientos” of it is quite another.

      As we are all aware, that just hasn’t happened.

      Last time around Capriles went out of his way to let folks know that many of the social programs the government was running would be kept, only run more efficiently. That was the big takeaway, “I’m going to continue the party, I’ll just administer the drunken hoohaw better”

      Chavez was a master of KISS, and while he had a hard time making reality match his promises, he certainly knew how to capture the voters attention and sympathy.

      How Juan describes his writing of certain sections of PJ’s one time platform is evidence that not even within the opposition are these things read, much less the average undecided voter.

      I’m also sure that the PSUV has it’s mammoth policy statements as well, and that very few people have probably read the entire thing cover to cover, but at least they manage to get many to understand the highlights enough to carry the day.

      • 99.2? You are incredibly optimistic. I would say 99.2% of the people in El Hatillo don’t know about the contents of said document. For middle class to poor the figure would be about 99.99999992%, which doesn’t mean they are more clueless than the better off…just with a different perspective and less access to Internet to get that document.

      • I can’t dismiss that fact, nor the way that HCR translated th measures of rationalization into a politically advantageous narrative (to which the opposition’s electoral growth in the 2012-2013 presidential cycle could -not should- be attributed (the growth in popular areas was small, though we did grow in cities)). But I believe the disconnect, right now, is political, and t wouldn’t be solved immediately even if we had the best program.

        Alas, I don’t recall a time when the opposition has ever had the trust of a plurality of people to govern. I’ll check that, though. I’ll check.

  10. Lo que hay que entender es que las personas están infinitamente más claras que la dirigencia y ésta no lo admite. Por eso en este momento el discurso de la MUD no conecta, por eso no se proyecta como alternativa ni siquiera para la gente que siempre ha sido de oposición Es como si Capriles mandara un fax o como si PJ escribiera sonetos de amor y los llevara la escuela de letras. El discurso de “hay que ir a los barrios y los caseríos” y hay que “ganar las parlamentarias” en este momento es inoportuno e irrelevante y lo es sobre todo para la gente de los barrios y los caseríos y la clase media. La MUD tiene que aceptar su crisis de liderazgo y de estrategia en vez de proyectar su culpa en MCM, LL y los “laboratorios”. Tiene que sincerar su discurso y escuchar a las bases, que en todos los sectores está más claro sobre el sistema en el que viven.

    • El peo más bien es que se cree que los discursitos populistas de “seguiremos con la regaladera, pero no les caeremos a coñazos ni los seguiremos matando, así que somos mejores que ellos” van a calar en la “base chavista” que es considerada como gente ignorante, consideración y forma de pensar aupada por el mismo chavismo.
      Es por eso que ningún político demócrata se “atreve a meterse con el chavismo”

  11. I’d like to disagree with the main thrust of this post. Wonks are not the solution.

    I remember being in a car listening to one of the Dukakis vs. Bush debates on the radio. From the content of what was being discussed it appeared that Dukakis was winning. Halfway through the debate I reached my home and continued watching on the TV, and then I realized that Dukakis was actually loosing dramatically because of his stage presence, his body language, etc.

    We tend to think politics has to do with ideas and ideology, but in fact it is much more primitive and is more rooted in a sense of empathy, identity, and belonging. Time after time polls have identified that Venezuelans do not want the Cuban model yet they voted for Chavez. They did not identify with his murky ideology, they identified with him, with his image, with his charisma.

    Chavez was able to form a tribe. The state media and propaganda has reinforced this with the use of color, branding, style, music, etc.

    The opposition on the other hand has not been able to coalesce into an identity. It has not been able to create a sense of belonging but one of rejection. It has not been able to communicate its core values, its identity, because it does not have one.

    Leaders provide an iconic presence that embodies the identity of a group. Ideas alone don’t provide this.

    • “They did not identify with his murky ideology, they identified with him, with his image, with his charisma.”
      Most of them voted for him for the hatred they felt against the others (Many of you would remember the brutalizing campaign in all media during the 90s claimimg that the goverment was guilty, not responsible, but guilty, from everything bad that happened in Venezuela, even raining and getting your clothes soaked…).

      Come on, the corpse was voted mostly out of spite and rancor from people giving the metaphorical middle finger that’s the “punishment vote”.

    • Splendid explanation Jotae, not sure that its the whole explanation but it sure is at the centre of any explanation that deserves to be believed , Ralph also has a point in that Chavez capacity to excite people with passionate rancours and hatreds was part of his appeal !!

      The resentful and failed voted their resentments through the Man that embodied them most dashingly and boldly . The thing is that the oppo has no one that can quite play at that game with quite the same dexterity as Chavez . The outline of a credible oppo program is there (as GTA points out) but is it emotionally sexy ??

      Does it have as much punch as the hatred filled slogans Chavez used to rile up people behind him ??

      • it might be true that Chavez had that game in his pocket. But anybody being out-charismaed by Maduro should change careers away from politics…

  12. The opposition should say what is needed to get the country back one its feet, why and how those measures would be applied, regardless of how they think the government will react. This should be done now that we’re not in an elections year. When the government tries to shut down these ideas, then explain them over and over again in a clear and consice way.

    The economy is in a really bad shape and the government will have to apply some of those measures sooner por later, and that’s when the opposition will literally say “I told you so” and come out as the people who knew better and that if we had listened to when these ideas were proposed, we would already be un better shape.

    • The opposition cannot do anything! 1. There is no more credit! 2. Private Investment is not likely to be forthcoming in a state where there is unfettered corruption and crime and no rule of law. 3. There is no security for private ownership. 4. The constitution offers no protection. 4. The banking is irrelevant. 5. The inflation is crippling while earnings are trapped. 6. Do get out of this crisis would require a complete and immediate reversal of Chavista Institutions, and how likely is that?

  13. The populism cancer (“el gobierno te lo va a regalar porque te ama”) mixed with antipolitics virus (“si algo es político es una mierda y si sigues al político eres un becerro estúpido”) still infects venezuelan indiosyncracy.

    That’s why a lot of the venezuelan politicians always say about “subsidies” and “helps” and “becas”, the “regaladera” as the ultimate solution for everything while saying that anything other than that is “venderle el culo de la patria al imperio y a las transnacionales”

    (Sorry for that mental image, just try to view the “patria” as a hot brunette so you won’t need too much brain bleach later)

    Opposition politicians, like Capriles, still think only in “getting to the chavista base” with promises of a better managed regaladera, while tossing a bone to the rest of democrats with the “yeah, we care about your rights too, but think on the people, please!” stuff.

    I mean, how difficult is to convince (or at least shut up) the zealously ignorant chavistas who dare to defend stupidity like the fingerprint hunter machines (“you put your print to claim a check too, why do you complain!!??”), the lines and scarcity (“you wait in lines to buy tickets for a movie, why do you complain!?”), the shitty services (“there were blackouts in the 4th too, why do you cokplain?!”) and even the thousands of people getting murdered each year (“it happens in ~insert country name here~ too, why do you complain?!”)??? Come on, just the idiocy of the armed murder squads (aka colectivos) could have been exposed to a lot of people in the world if the “famous” Julio Coco have put in the table a couple of photos showing the colectivos raining gunfire upon disarmed civilians. Proof beats faith most of the time, as much faithful and “chavez-loving” a chavista is, if she’s getting screwed everyday, one just needs to show them proof of how the very regime she worships is the one guilty for that.

    “I know what many are going to say: the opposition is blocked from media, so people don’t know what our proposals are. To which I say: bull. Crap.”
    That’s what hegemon corp is for.

  14. Juan: in my humble opinion Capriles knows what needs to be done and has talked about it that quite a lot. Post #14A Henrique has suffered the attacks of two groups that fear him: a) chavismo; b) opposition groups interested in becoming an option in the future. Both groups need to tackle him in order to take him out of the way. The partial success of the two groups is reflected in Capriles’ current popularity numbers, but no other figure in Venezuela has the atributes he has to talk to the 80% poor that will decide any upcoming election.

    • Victor, if he knows and is talking about it, he is doing a poor job at convincing people that he knows. The numbers don’t lie.

      Personally, I don’t think he knows much about what needs to be done, or if he does, he doesn’t talk about it much.

      • Juan something that worries me is that we still appear to think that leaders have to be all knowing , that they have to be omnicompetent , experience tells us that in todays complex world thats not realistic, a good leader is someone who works with a team of real experts that know how to tackle difficult problems . Thats Capriles strenght, he has a good team behind him , but thats not what people pay any attention to , they want the superhuman caudillo , the tall gruff man on horseback who commands attention and talks loud and is superbly persuasive Chavez was that kind of leader , the know it all , who impresses ignorant people with fancy images and easy slogans but doent really know how to achieve anything .

        Capriles job is different , its not that he doenst know whats important , but that what he knows is something most people wont get or which wont move them if you say it straight , his target audience is not people like you but people who have much less capacity to understand difficult and complex economic subjects such as you deal with as a professional . Thats a tough job and one in which improvement is always possible

        He has to try and modulate his message to the capacity of his target audience , hit them in their belly with his messages without exposing himself too much to the attacks of Chavista simplifiers and professional rabble rousers .

        Remember in WWI how the german victory at Tannenberg was won by two generals , acting together, one everyone revered and respected , tall, imposing , masterful looking, big moustached Gneral Hindenburg and a little bald unimpressive looking but very smart General Lundendorf. The latter probably had more to do with the victory than the former , but you needed big General Hindenburg to inyect trust and enthusiasm into the german army’s spirit .

        Considering the difficulties of giving a message that appeals to his target audience and the likely fact that people who read this blog are probably not his target audience , no wonder we are dissapointed in his inability to appeal as much as we would like to either one or the other . Still he is the one leader thats managed to reach the other side with greatest effectiveness , not as much as needed but bringing in votes that were never there for the opposition . You are of course right that the messaging needs improvement but maybe we have to consider the difficult job he is undertaken with dogged resolution and determination and whats very uncommon in our country a lot of humility.

        • I disagree. I’m done with “idiot savants” with a “pico’e plata” who have a good cadre of advisers behind them. Show me somebody who has actually thought about the country. I don’t need them to know the minute detail of policy, but I do want someone who understands the issues in their complexity.

          One could argue that part of CAP’s problem (in CAP II) was that he didn’t really understand the problems he was trying to solve … or rather, he was asking his team to solve.

          To me, the antithesis of this type of politicians is somebody like a Bill Clinton or a Margaret Thatcher. When you look at them and read what they wrote, you are awed by their intellect as well as their political skills. When was the last time someone in Venezuelan politicis “awed you” with their intellect?

          • I guess I share a lot of what your saying Juan but maybe the message I wrote was a bit garbled . Lets see if this time I can make it clearer. Im not always impressed by a persons high intellectual attainments as a requisite for being a succesful pol A good example of someone who wasnt very good at understanding anything in depht but being a wonderful communicator was able to achieve much of an ambitious agenda was Reagan . Then there is Oliver Wendells Holmes famous assesment of FDR , ‘a second rate mind but a first rate temperament’ , If you read Lord Blacks bio of the fellow you’ll see he wasnt all that smart about the economy, he was instead very open and pragmatic and had a very good team of people surrounding him. The US president usually judged to have been the most gifted intellectually was Carter and yet he proved to be a very poor president . Intellect is important but sometimes other qualities also count . I always admired Lady Thacher for her temper, political briliance and ability but her intellectual heroe Hayek didnt thing much of her intellectual grasp of his ideas.

            I have never met Mr Capriles personally so I cant judge on his intellectual acumen , only heard some of his speeches and frankly they dont impress me but then I dont expect a pols speech in this country to be that impressive , their audience wont have it !! I know a few of the people who make up his team however and those I know are top knotch at their respective fields and thats were I come from. If you have a good team (just like the one CAP II had) then what you have to be is a leader that knows how to get his message and agenda across in the field of popular politics, not brilliant intellectuals. I sense ( but of course cant know ) that he cant be too candid about what he understands because he will be judged by people who are not be able to appreciate those ideas , so he has to be canny and adapt his message to their expectations.

            I too am fed up with pico de platas and ‘idiot savants’ (although more to be feared are the academic savant idiots of which there are so many) and their coterie of political advisors , but then if there is anybody else that we think has that rare intellectual grasp of things and is better equipped personally to lead the opposition in the current circumstances , then lets hear their name and maybe we can start thinking of sponsoring a different leadership !!

            Do not think that I lack admiration or sympathy for others who have appeared as competing for Capriles leadership position , but I just dont know whether they will in the end prove more effective than Capriles at achieving what we all want to achieve. . ,; , . , .

          • “he US president usually judged to have been the most gifted intellectually was Carter and yet he proved to be a very poor president .”

            Maybe of the postwar era, but that’s it and not saying much. He doesn’t even belong in the same sentence as Jefferson, Adams, Wilson, Madison, etc.

          • Rory : I stand humbly corrected , Carter doenst hold a candle to the intellectual brilliance of many presidents in US history . its almost an embarrasment of nature that the hand of fate guided so many genial men to attain the presidency of the US during its political life. But that perhaps misses the point I was trying to make which is that not always the most intellectually gifted men are the most adroit politicians or statesmen , those which leave us with the most profound legacy . There are men whose temperament and personality rather than intellectual learning converts into giants . There is an anecdote about a prominent athenian who was scorned by many in his suit to become Athens first leader because culturally speaking he was not the best cultivated and who answered his critics by saying something like I may not be the most cultivated in poetry but I can make a city build of mud become a city of marble and gold and a modest city a city of majestic dignity ( the quote is not literal ) .

  15. I agree Juan. The problem with the opposition is that they have been “reactive” for 15 years. They played Chavez’ game and, whenever they had a tiny chance to win something, then they battled among themselves to see who can be the one in power.

    In any case, I agree with all those remedies that you propose, but I can tell you for sure, that as much as there is fear inside the chavismo to implement those remedies, the same can be said inside the opposition. Nobody wants to be the one blamed for another Caracazo.

    We need leaders that are willing to sacrifice themselves to better the country. When I talk about sacrifice, I am talking about political sacrifice.

    • At the start of the 2012 election I remember being very impressed that Capriles stayed on message and ignored the tsunami of distractions around him. In other words, he appeared to be above the reactive problem mentioned by Bruni. Was that the “real” Capriles?

  16. As I see it you have a quagmire due to two factors which have been well documented in this blog: the resource curse and loss aversion. The first factor means you are constrained by the problems associated with an economy dependent on a single commodity (import dependency, exposure to volatility in commodity markets). You make the case for government intervention as a way to ameliorate the problem – mainly find ways to stimulate growth of other industries. But that is a very long term solution to what has been a perpetual problem, and a solution that is not trivial to implement even in the best of times.

    The second factor (loss aversion) means that if you are receiving a sizable benefit under the current system – poor or not – you are not going to be easily sold on the idea that taking away that benefit now is going to help you in the long run. For instance, the explanation for why it would be a good idea to remove fuel subsidies simply won’t sell to anyone who is immediately affected by the removal (by say higher transportation costs), even if you explain that in the long term this is a good idea. It doesn’t matter how reasonable the policy idea might sound to you. And even if you can prove beyond reasonable doubt to the voter that the effect will definitely benefit them in the longer run, that cutting subsidies, in effect redistributing wealth, will result in a better ROI – FOR THEM – even if you can you still have to show that this is not going to significantly affect their pockets and possibly break them in the short run.

    Making a list of clever sounding ideas is not enough. If you are going to ask why the proposals for drastic readjustments are not being made by the opposition, you should first think about the apparent costs of the policies to real people, in the short term. Tightening belts always hurts in the short run.

    A politician (that is a career politician, not necessarily a suicidal one timer) needs to think not just about what benefits the country ten years down the road, but in just a few. Even the most educated voters will make a cost/benefit analysis and think: well, the short term cost is so great and the risk so high that I am not sure I want to vote for this. End of story.

    Also, note that the policy descriptions that you are suggesting might not be the obvious solutions you think they are. They might fail. Badly. And not because the people who implemented did not know what they were doing. Think for instance about your suggested cut in government payrolls. The country is in a recession. There are shortages. Unemployment is climbing. And you are calling for a cut in spending? Who in their right mind is going to buy into that plan (err, apart from Greece)??

    Which finally leads to the this point: you need political capital (trust, influence). Selling unpopular ideas is hard in the best of times and impossible without some capital.

    So I would suggest the following: First, decide who you are trying to persuade. Next, go through your list of proposals and focus on those that will have a demonstrable, palpable effect, that can be implemented quickly, with relative ease, and are expected to have an effect quickly. And work up from there, until you’ve sorted your policies in terms of difficulty of implementation and likelihood of success.

    My guess is Capriles is no dum-dum. He performed this analysis some time ago, and he found that promising refrigerators was not a thing he should cross off the list.

    • “He performed this analysis some time ago, and he found that promising refrigerators was not a thing he should cross off the list.”

      Yeah, how’s that populism thingy workin’ out for him?

          • Capriles is also an elected official. But this brings up a good point, namely what resources he has at his disposition and how to get the most bang for his buck. If he aims for a few photo ops distributing electrodomesticos as relatively cost effective advertising – who’s to blame him? Consider his opposition. Consider what he might do with those resources instead. How do populist initiatives measure up as a fraction of his administrations outlays.

            I know that there are other important issues here: he’s setting a bad example and a bad personal precedent, eroding trust, raising questions from the oppo etc. But I think “populist” has to be put into context. In the USA the equivalent might be “pork-barrel” politics. You have to consider what choices are available to him as a politician.

            Insofar as his seemingly spineless willingness to speak candidly in favor of populist measures like being against raising of gas prices and the like we know that he’s playing a risky game. I actually find it hard to believe that deep down he does not understand the cost of the gas subsidy but everyone in Venezuela is fully aware of what a hot-button issue gas prices are, and what can happen when you raise gas prices. When he says he’s against raising gas prices he is trying to ingratiate himself with the pueblo and stick it to Maduro. Perhaps he should just keep quiet on this and other subjects and pick his fights better.

      • Juan, isn’t it cruel to just blame the opposition while ignoring the nature of the enemy they are facing?
        This is an asymmetric war. Leopoldo Lopez is in jail. MCM has received so many death threats that she couldn’t even tell how many. Capriles and his family have endured the kind of psychological terror that would have neutralized all of us. We are talking about average people trying to depose a very well-armed military dictatorship fueled by the largest oil reserves in the planet. No easy task and far from anything conventional.

        Yes, the populism thingy might not be workin’ out for Capriles, but that is expected given the media blackout and the state-sponsored terror campaign against him. It’s easy to just point our fingers at them while mounting high horses in stable democratic countries. 100% of us wouldn’t bear 24h of what people like Capriles, MCM and Lopez have been enduring for years. These guys are heroes and deserve nothing but respect. When all this revolucion bonita bullcrap is gone, their names will remain.

        • Quite right.
          Also that “populism thingy” does not work for Capriles because he is competing against the populist kings that are chavismo. No one can beat them at that game.

  17. Perhaps what the opposition should do is write up a Marshall plan, including some promises of debt relief or financial support from a block of countries – never mind the difficulties of getting a binding agreement, and circumventing various laws. If most people are fed up with Maduro they might warm up to someone who shows something concrete of this nature.

  18. It seems that in Venezuela the opposition is it very own fiercest ‘opposition’. LL comes across as angry and not especially simpathetic to popular social sectors. And Capriles, although has tried to appeal to a wider voter base, doesn’t have the popular, carismatic draw needed. Both these oppo liders are also seen to belong to particular socioeconomic sectors of caraquenio society, something I think that works against them in the rest of the country. Conditions may change, however, whereby the appeal of Capriles may grow. But as things stand now the oppo are very much adrift in a political desert.

  19. The polls tell that people understand far more than you give them credit for. Capriles’s message ‘we have to appeal to the masses’ is far too obvious for the average, struggling venezuelan.That is not going to work. It is simply condescending and even disrepectful.

  20. I think one key point was made by gordo – it is probable that many of those who think the opposition could not solve Venezuela’s problems think no one could solve these problems, or at least that the solutions are politically impossible.

    And that ties into another key point: opposition leaders are reluctant to propose any of the drastic remedies that are required because any such proposal will be distorted by the chavernment’s massive propaganda engine.

  21. There has to be a plan which shows how people who are already living from day to day can hold on when the hard choices are being made, and people have to trust the opposition- whoever that is- to follow through on it.

  22. Let me express with some mathematical formulas (“lo bueno, si breve, dos veces bueno”) the historical error of Venezuela, sent today to an “aporreador” (aporrea.org columnist) in a private email (I know, I know… those guys are impossible to convince but that’s not the point for me and speaking with them is another lesson about Venezuela too)

    Literature + Russia = Tolstoi, Turgeniev, Chejov…
    Music + Russia = Tchaikovsky, Rimsky Korsakov, Balakirev…
    Science + Russia = Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space

    Communism + Russia = collapse of the country after 70 years

    Taking aside the infamous North Korea dictatorship, Venezuela-Cuba is the only country of the world which apparently still believes in socialism and tries to put it in practice. We all know how hard is for people to try to be right when history, human nature, common sense… are telling you that you are wrong but the current level of protests in Venezuela (almost negligible) indicate that people’s strength is still high and,unfortunately, much more suffering is needed till things finally change in the country

    • I defer to your judgment about the general level of hardship…I just know anecdotal evidence, mostly from a particular area. But I do know that the people who revolted in the East Block under communism had significantly better lives at that time than the average Venezuelan now. I guess the conclusion is, you never know what exactly is the point where people have had enough, but eventually, it arrives.

      • “…what exactly is the point where people have had enough, but eventually, it arrives.”
        It arrives when it surpasses the hatred they feel against the other venezuelans.

        Chavistas celebrate the finger hunter machines now because they think the “middle class sifrinos” (aka escualidos) will be screwed too by them, the chavistas have been taught to hate the rest of venezuelans to the point they think it’s fine to sacrifice everything they might have just to see us suffering.

        • “But I do know that the people who revolted in the East Block under communism had significantly better lives at that time than the average Venezuelan now.”

          That’s quite self-explanatory. Political dissent is always sparkled in the more affluent, educated and well fed sectors of society. From Lenin to Fidel; from Mao Tse Tung to Chávez. Of course, the commies always use poor useful idiots as maneuver mass in later stages (Caracazo being one example), but it’s expected that the richer areas of the Eastern Bloc and the affluent neighbourhoods of Caracas will complain more about the government than the people concerned with acquiring milk and eggs in Petare. The priorities are different. You can’t protest while your baby are crying of hunger. Actually, the reason why the Venezuelan poor still like the Government despite the terrible current status of the country is that they are still happy with what they have now, and that’s easy to understand because their only reference is what they used to have prior to Chávez, what wasn’t that much either. In their minds, they are still “winning”. And that’s one huge difference between Brazil and Venezuela, our poor were actually better off ten years ago then now in 2014, when the inflation is much higher, and Lula still maintained the inflation low despite the populist rethoric, until Dilma messed up badly the economy after 2010. So, the poor people’s lives got much much worse in the last four years compared to what they had in the 1990’s and 2000’s, and now they will kick the Workers’ Party out of government because they want change, whereas Venezuela has never had a “low inflation period” that had changed the poor’s perception of how better life can be. Life has always sucked in Venezuela. Still sucks now, but when they remember the 90’s, they didn’t find good memories either, so an ascension of the opposition don’t make them dream about a better future. In Brazil they do.

          If the Venezuelan opposition manages to make a miracle happen and becomes the government some day, they will have to focus 100% of their attention on the poor and invest on them until the poor stop longing for the “good past” Chavismo had created. And by doing that the opposition will have them in their hands forever. As it had happened with Chávez.

      • I must agree with you, you have a good point. In fact this is not mathematics and different degrees of suffering have always provoked different social responses. During the famine in Mao’s China millions died but it seems that none of them formed a group and revolt against the government that was killing them. The level of suffering Venezuelan people can accept is a mystery.

  23. I’ve never voted for Chavez (nor I’m a “ni ni”, I usually vote oppo) but I still have a bad taste in the mouth for the opposition’s performance during the accidental coup of 2002, the oil strike of 2003, and the assembly elections boycott of 2005. So, every time an opposition figure goes ballistic I’m reminded of that. Wouldn’t be surprised it a good part of the mistrust this polls shows is because of that baggage the opposition carries (along with characters like Ramos Allup, how they let people like him associate with them is beyond me).

  24. The left spent 40 years in the opposition, all details aside they were THERE for people when they needed help, encouragement, or at least an ideology to explain their problems.

    For all the vanguardism of the left, they manage to live with, near and LIKE el pueblo. Their life experience is similar.

    All you people and especially your leaders, are elites and privileged classes that may theorize and rant about the people and why they are so stupid, but very few if any, actually live like those you analyze. Nor would you jeapordize your own well being and dedicate a lifetime of struggle in the trenches (like say, 40 years of persecuted opposition) to make them like you.

    This is why even regular people who dislike chavismo don’t trust you, heck, even independent observers like myself who are clear on the problems of chavismo. You continue to think like a ruling class, and analyze from above.

    Good luck with that. And a tourist visit to take some pictures or the excellent efforts made in last years to crowd source relief for underfunded local institutions are great, but not enough. It may not be rational but a sifrino will never be trusted by the masses unless something effective, long term, and real is done to show a break from social cycle of privilege and poverty.

    Economic theory and a blind trust in the “obvious measures” that would fix everything, from above, with necessary violent enforcement, is not what is needed, no matter how correct it may be.

    • Are you nuts? Apart from the three Capriles, López and Machado, almost all of the opposition politicians come from the same social class as the military murderers and the ex adecos who are now in power.

    • Hello there, Arturo / Betty / troll tarifado, and now captain obvious.

      This is you, each time you read the truth in internet and try to defend the regime:

    • chavez wasn’t “there for the people”, he was an opportunist. And he collected a group of opportunists around him who govern accordingly. In their personal interest. I know a number of people who grew up with him, and grew up LIKE him, and they are as disillusioned as anyone commenting here. I think the closer you get to these so-called revolutionaries, the less they are actually appealing if you are a person who actually wants real change.

      • The greatest passion in Chavez was not ‘love of the people’ it was ‘self adoration’ specially in the form of his followers adoration of himself , He would do anything , say anything , to attract the attention of credulous people and to get them to love him . He was a first class narcicist, desperately needy of other peoples attention , to that effect he used the rethoric of lachrymose sentimentality and histrionic gestures and outraged social resentment to grandiosely pose as a modern day messiah !!.

  25. It seems that there is a need for a political “third road” that will find wider support and can lead the country to safe ground. Meanwhile the consensus is that the regime is too entrenched to consider anything that could jeopardize the power they have. The opposition has has no control, no majority, and no free press to project any ideas they may contrive as a solution. Now, we can debate whether the opposition can do something or not, but it might make more sense to face the future and try to imagine all the possible scenarios of how things might play out. Then, for each scenario, what can or should be done.

    I do not know how things are going to play out, although I once thought I did. I thought that at some point the regime would figure out that they are heading the country into a disaster, and they would want to jump ship. Now, I believe the regime thinks regressing back to capitalism would be a worse disaster than anything else that may come. As things deteriorate, they may change their minds, or they may become overwhelmed by the crises that are certain to come.

    I do have one certainty, however. History has shown that the vultures will come! After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was the KGB that became the financial power! In other cases the multinationals will return to sweep up whatever they can! It was the “carpetbaggers” after the US Civil War. However, if the pueblo does not know history, so what is the message?

    • “It seems that there is a need for a political “third road” that will find wider support and can lead the country to safe ground.”

      I don’t know if a “third road” is required. MUD is ok.

      What you really need is to make the opposition appealing to the masses who used to vote for Chávez and now vote for anything that the PSUV launches candidate. In Brazil we were able to do that by launching an ex-Workers’ Party* minister as our candidate for president. Her equivalent in Venezuela would be Henry Falcon.

      She looks like them (doesn’t look sifrino as MCM, Capriles or Lopez). And she used to be on the other side as Falcon did.

      As Harry S. Truman said, “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”

      And then kill the beast from inside. If it worked for us, it must work for Venezuela too.

      • Actually, “The Third Road” was how was interpreting the debate. I think the collapse of the is a foregone conclusion, but what will follow a collapse is a topic worth discussing. I really don’t have the knowledge or expertise to justify my intuitive suspicions, but here it is anyway in case there are others who can volunteer derails how the scenarios might work out.
        First of all, something like the collapse of the Soviet Union occurs. Somehow billionaires emerge buying up various various enterprises. These various billionaires were mysteriously involved in government or military and somehow had money, lots of money, as well as contacts and relationships in China and elsewhere. Suddenly, these enterprises are productive again. Surprising! Suddenly, multinational companies and contractors are back! However, a new financial oligarchy rises out of the ashes of the old regime.

        • You know what? If employment actually increases and we get back to a sane economic policy without exchange and price controls, I would be fine with that. If these 15 years have proved something, is that the State shouldn’t own the mining or oil companies on this country.

  26. “the majority sees through it. They are not idiots, or uninformed – in fact, they are quite clever.”

    Wrong, very very wrong. This reminds me of “vox populi, vox dei” or “el pueblo nunca se equivoca” favorites of Caldera and demonstrably wrong.

    If the majority was quite clever, as you say, they never would have voted for Chavez or Caldera 2 or CAP 2. They would have voted chavismo out at the first chance they got, or the second or the third or the fourth or the fifth time.
    It is because they are uninformed and not clever at all that chavismo is still in power.

    People do not vote for those that have the best thought out plans they vote for those that make the rosiest promises. The ones that lie the best and promise the impossible with a straight face get the popular vote. When they voted for CAP 2 it was not because they wanted the tough reforms. It was because they believed the bonanza of CAP 1 was going to magically return without any sacrifices needed.

    The people mistrust the opposition because it has a bad public image, no small part of it is due to the efforts of the regime. While Chavez had a very carefully maintained image as the happy go lucky robin hood and his band of merry men that always wins, the opposition image was that of the angry loser that is always protesting at the government.

    It is all about perception. Consider even the opposition minded and their perception of the MUD and Capriles. Just a year ago they were highly regarded, nowadays even the smart commenters of this blog have a bad image of them. Well, they were either wrong then or now. So no, people are not clever and they do not see through anything. They just have a very mutable perception of things which is based in scraps of information, myths, rumors, lies and truths and beliefs.

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