Deconstructing Capriles

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(Apologies for the source of the above video, it was the only version available on YouTube)

The bloggers of Caracas Chronicles held a cyber-conversation on today’s announcement by Henrique Capriles, where he abandoned infighting within the opposition and called for unity together with increased street pressure on the government.

Juan C: So … main takeaways? To me, there is a clear recognition that unity has to mean joining forces with Maria Corina, Leopoldo, and Ledezma. They are no longer rivals but rather necessary allies. I felt a certain humility in his tone. What did you guys think?

Rodrigo: I think that his announcement that actions would be announced later was disappointing…

Raul: I was OK with that, I prefer he stick to being prudent and not announce things for which there is no consensus yet.

In general, I liked it. I particularly appreciated his positioning himself as part of a team. When he began talking about “proposals” he was kind of chucuto, and I don’t think he needs to insist on differentiating himself from #LaSalida. I’m bored with that whole discussion of he said, she blocked, they guarimbed. Had he said it once it would have been enough. And his insistence that people in the shanties will not come down on their own, that we will have to go get them, was spot on.

At any rate, something is coming, and it’s important the opposition is not caught with its pants down.

Roberto: I agree with L-Rod (Rodrigo). We criticize Maduro’s @announcement of an announcement,” and Capriles copied it today! He could have built more on the enormous attention his press conference received. He needs to bring down to Earth the whole idea of “time for change” or “time to act.” It was the right moment to tell followers and undecideds how he will employ his still significant political capital.

Having said that, I agree with Juan. His position today was progress, a healthy first step to the opposition’s full display. Capriles knows that calling for people to the streets, calling for Article 350 to be applied is a story than ends with him in jail and blood on the streets. It would be #LaSalida 2, and we know how that ends.

With several international voices foreseeing an end game, Capriles reminds public opinion that he hasn’t gone anywhere, that he still has proposals, and that – like it or not – he still holds the title of “leader of the opposition,” in spite of all the lost support.

Beyond today, the coming actions and positions will determine where we go. Society has to remain watchful.

Anabella: Henrique reaffirms the importance of working as a team. It was important for him to say that the unity of the country is more important than the MUD, that most Venezuelans simply don’t participate in political parties. We ALL have to work for change, not just the parties, and not just party apparatchicks. We are all suffering daily, we must all find a solution.

Carlos: I would love to find out why Capriles got in touch with Maria Corina. My hunch is that the Citizens’ Congress that Maria Corina is organizing is gaining some relevance. Having Andres Pastrana, Felipe Calderon, and Sebastian Piñera come for a forum on Venezuela is a major boost for its sponsors.

It’s positive that Capriles called for unity. Capriles’ time has past, but he can still remain a leading force, helping to gel the opposition and assist in a transition to democracy. We will have to see what minimum consensus they can reach (for starters, decide whether this is a “dictatorship” or simple a “flawed democracy”).

Juan C: So, IS he still the leader of the opposition? I personally don’t think so. He seems to be “leading from behind.” People are fed up, and there is a general sense of “about time Henrique” regarding his announcement today.

Also, what did you think of his analysis of the situation? That was his weakest point to me. He didn’t really trace the problem back to the horrendous policies enacted. He didn’t say the exchange controls had to be lifted, nor that expropriations had to be reverted. He basically made it sound like it’s not the system’s fault, but of the people who are running it. Weak weak weak.

Anabella: He didn’t talk about dismantling the exchange controls, but about how Cadivi has engendered corruption. He spoke about returning unproductive expropriated farms and companies to their owners.

He diagnosed the country’s recession, inflation, and scarcity, and said the government had wasted almost $800 billion it got in 12 years. He did say it’s because the model is a failure. He talked about forgetting to push for national production, and privileging imports. He placed the blame on the government, who refuses to acknowledge its role and instead talks nonsense about an “economic war.”

Carlos: Yes he remains feeble, but what Moises Naim´s “The End of Power” teaches us is that power isn’t what it used to be. He may no longer be the leader of the opposition but he can still place enough hurdles in front of anyone who’s considered the most important leader.

Also, I think there are bigger fishes to fry right now, and the opposition is not even carrying a frying pan (possible hanky-panky orchestrated by the military linked to Diosdado and Rodriguez Torres).

Raul: He lacked depth in his proposals, and he was all over the place re. exchange controls. I think he did say expropriated companies had to be returned, but when it came to land he just said they had to become productive again. And then he veered away from the proposals – obviously he improvised that part. I think if his goal was to talk about unity in the opposition, he should just have skipped all that.

And about his leadership, we can throw darts here and there, but we will see in a few days.

Audrey: To me he is still the leader of the opposition. Everyone was waiting for him to speak, so he spoke. What were we expecting him to say or do? That he’s going to run for President again?

Gustavo: I think he really tried to justify (though not explicityl) the issue of timing. Many criticize his lack of action in the last year, and he argues that “slow and steady wins the race.” He is trying to relaunch himself as leader of the MUD, and differentiate himself (all of us) from what remains of chavismo. He was deliberately vague about mobilizing people, but that’s probably a response to a lack of consensus (leave the hard work to Chuo). Getting close to Maria Corina and VP a positive step, but it could have come sooner.

My bottom line: a good re-introduction, but not the best. Too soon to tell for sure. We have to wait and see.

Juan C: But Anabella, that’s pretty weak. Saying Cadivi has generated corruption without saying it has to be dismantled is akin to telling people that exchange controls are not bad, it’s the people running it that make it bad. I remember Caldera had an exchange control (OTAC) and he said, more or less, that all it needed to work was having honest people handling it. That is either being insincere – or not understanding the nature of the problem! And if you don’t “get” Venezuela’s foreign currency problem at this stage of the game … perro, that’s not a minot thing!

Anabella: I was present at the Press Conference and I can attest there was a ton of expectation in the air. All the media was there, but apparently only VivoPlay broadcast it live. Even capriles.tv went offline for fifteen minutes.

I think the problem was too much build-up, and people were not satisfied. The question in people’s minds remains: how do we mobilize? And why is now a good time compared to last year?

The country is in critical condition – much worse than last year – and maybe that’s why he decided this was the right time. I think the issue of teamwork comes up not because of the Citizens Congress (overrated) or because he feels excluded or whatever; I think he knows it’s the only way to effect change. We’ve seen that only when we are united (not in the MUD, but actually united) do we get good results. Individual or visceral decisions have led us nowhere.

Gustavo:  IS he still the leader of the opposition? Not now, but he wants to take that post again. He knows Leopoldo stole his thunder (even if Capriles was right about #LaSalida) as THE public image of the opposition. After a long period of keeping a low profile and sticking to governing, he saw that now is the right time to go out again. Of course, he has a more uphill task than ever before. Other than that, I agree with Anabella!

Juan C: How can we compare Capriles’ position with Maria Corina, Leopoldo, and Ledezma’s joint communiqué? They have asked, in no uncertain terms, for Maduro to resign. Capriles didn´t go that far, but he did talk about regime change. Are their positions different_ Ultimately, what is Capriles’ plan? What’s the other group’s plan?

Lots of talk about unity, not enough about tactics. Or maybe they’re just holding their cards close to their chests.

Anabella: Juan, re. the diagnosis, that was just the introduction, it was not the point of the press conference. He simply wanted to underline how BAD the situation is. There were some proposals that are applicable in the sort run. Obviously, he can’t fix the situation with what he said, but they are important first steps. Let’s keep in mind that Venezuela needs a structural adjustment that the government will not implement. So Henrique’s proposal is the bare minimum, something the government could do that would lead us to the solution. He even said that the ideal solution is a change in government, because they will simply not take the necessary measures.

Raul: From what I read, the two documents are similar. I don’t know if it reflects the fact that they have been talking, or if it’s a real convergence. They both talk about the high levels of rejection (80%) the government has. They talk about the need to mobilize people, and sort of used the same words. They talk about changing the government (Capriles hedges his position there a bit). And, well, they both think their position re. #LaSalida is the right one. They will die before admitting differently.

Gustavo: Capriles will not ask Maduro to resign unless he believes it is politically viable. He wants to maintain a reunifying image intact. The communiqué from the Citizens’ Congress is basically #LaSalida 2.0. As you say, there are coincidences, but different tactics.

Roberto: JC, I’ve felt time and again that thinking about hidden political strategies in the opposition is giving them too much credit. I think they simply haven’t had the will to reach minimal agreements in terms of messaging.

Ultimately, Capriles’ plan is to have the only remaining chair next to him when the music stops. He just doesn’t want to be the one to stop the music.

Carlos: This is going to give a lot of people something to talk about.

Rodrigo: So here are my comments:

1) At least he is not wearing a sports jacket.

2) I liked that he said that the “experiment” that was called the revolution is over. That will leave many still unsatisfied, particularly in the radical side of the spectrum. One end will argue that the experiment was poorly executed, the other end wants reasons. The reasons are fundamental to actually close that chapter. From Capriles’ speech, you don’t get to the truth that, had Chavez been here, things would had been the same.

3) The core issue with Capriles is that he is a “negation” of the government. Go to him to “negate” the government. There is nothing affirmative in his proposal. There is no ideal of justice or society. It is just about saying that the government is bad while he is anti-bad (which is not the same as being good). Fighting corruption is a duty of any government, it is not a proposal. There are many, many aspects where he goes bashing the government but doesn’t say anything about it other than saying something is bad (corruption, inflation, crime, etc).

4) Yes, failed model (what a horrible catch phrase. Muchacho uses it all the time). He goes on and on about how the “import economy” is bad, but by presenting all the bad arguments. He argued that the state resources ought to be used to finance local production. He doesn’t acknowledge (doesn’t understand?) that by having a sincere exchange rate, there are incentives for individuals to invest and sell in global markets. I read that as proposing “mas rentismo/paternalismo,” i. e. same model but better managed wraps up HCRs proposal.

5) I appreciate that he understands people are not going to take crap any more. Not only the lines, but that you can only buy when your ID matches the day? Come on. Saab is a gigantic douche bag. I had not seen that big of a moron in a long time. I met him once in the USB. He went to a conference. He was then the “poet” and not the “body builder”.

6) Proposals. OK, once we change of government, then what? This is my beef not only with Capriles but with any other opposition figurehead (perhaps a little more clear with Machado). “Agenda reinvindicativa” (again, and again, and again). Oil policy, stop gifts, not going into the technical stuff “because you are too dumb to understand” (which may be true, but don’t say it fool). Increase production (duh).

7) It was looooong. Really freaking fucking long. 2 hours and 15 minutes. He blabbered A LOT. Is Chavez-style of political communication going to prevail? It seems like that will be his (very unfortunate) legacy. He talked a lot, but said next to nothing other than “teamwork is needed” and “there is a need for a call to action which is unclear who will make it and what those actions are.” This seems to be reaffirmed in that only a few lines were written by each of you, basically, because there wasn’t much else.

I had to stop watching around Minute 59 to attend a meeting.

Oh, and Roberto, this is fucking brilliant:

“Ultimately, Capriles’ plan is to have the only remaining chair next to him when the music stops. He just doesn’t want to be the one to stop the music.”

Anabella: Agree with Rodrigo!

Rodrigo: I should say something else… Capriles is no statesman. But don’t forget that Maduro is much much less of stateman! Capriles may suck. But Maduro sucks to the nth power. When I look around, I feel like the Amigos Invisibles are correct: “Esto es lo que hay”

Barbara: Sorry I’m late! On his diagnosis, too much on the symptoms, not enough on the causes. On his proposals, weak! Agree with Rodrigo, “stop doing what this government is doing” is not a proposal.

I appreciated his humility in calling for unity. He was lacking, though, on an explanation for “why now?” It was not clear at all.

Notable phrases: I liked it when he said we had to hit the streets “until shelves were stocked.” It puts the goal on people’s welfare, and not on achieving power. Sad that people won’t remember. Instead, he repeated several times how he wanted Nicolas to leave, “because nobody misses him.” People will remember THAT.

The whole thing was too long, and nobody showed it live. Still, there was a ton of interest on what he was saying. I know Capriles hasn’t stopped working, but people really believe that 2014 was a wasted year for him. There is a generalized feeling that he hasn’t done enough to stop the rot. Whether today is a game changer on that regard, we will see.

By the way, chavistas are livid. @tmaniglia: “Mr Miranda Bum, it’s about time that when you speak about OUR CHAVEZ you wash your mouth first.” Aporrea says that Capriles’ message to chavistas is that the dream they were offered simply doesn’t exist.

Juan C: Conclusions? Capriles meh, Roberto brilliant!

Roberto: Jajajajajajaja… Pa brillantes ustedes 🙂

Esto es lo que hay indeed. If you’re looking for a child statesman, esto es lo que hay.

Raul: Lo que hay, but you have to remember that the road gets rocky, long, winding, and probably leads to hell. I don’t know if he still leads the opposition, but the press conference has caused quite a stir (just look at this discussion) even though he did not say much. He wasn’t announcing a candidacy or anything, and he didn’t need to list proposals. At any rate, I will see you all wearing your silly little baseball caps soon enough. Viva Caprile, eterno.

1 COMMENT

  1. I don’t know what’s coming, but Capriles is not it. Neither should the opo be. Let Chavismo take care of Nicolas, let them make the changes then do something. It is too early.

    • Sounds like a logical thing to do, but the whole country is in a very dare situation and, as Julius Cesar is thought to have said once, “let’s first take over power and then we talk/negotiate”

  2. Just remember guys, if you don’t hang together, you will all hang separately. Seen from afar, the Capriles/Leopoldo//Machado tactical disagreement doesn’t justify anger or stubbornness. I don’t care who is the leader of the Opposition.
    Venezuela is more important.

  3. I followed the event on Twitter and I felt it was much more powerful that way, I’m shocked to read he took over an hour to say that, when you could make his best points in 15 minutes and be really “contundente”.

    I see the value in saying that the agenda will be announced by la MUD and Chúo in that it brings home the idea that it’s a wide, unity effort, but it kinda seemed an “announcement of an announcement” Maduro style.

    Regarding the last point in the discussion, Pierre Trudeau famously said: “Don’t compare me to the Almighty, compare me to the alternative”. It is evident in the gov-oppo case, but it could also be true within la MUD.

    • Ah vaina, I wanted a video of the press conference and it was the only available one on Youtube. Disclaimer not good enough? ¿Te lo pongo con lacito…?

    • It’s inexplicable why the opposition, including Capricho, panders to Miami at all. They have more voting mass in Amazonas for fuck’s sake.

      • South Florida rocks. Would not trade for California and been there. Regarding Venezolanos en Miami, there is no fucking power here so those who spew “Miami” are clueless. We have a lot of rich Venezuelans that’s all. Cisnersos is based here, big fucking deal those arrogant pricks. The real political power in Miami rests with Cuban-Americans but Jews and Blacks also share. SOFLA belongs to the Democrats. They are better financed and organized. If and when Jeb wins the presidency, Miami will be elevated to second capital. Miami today is one of the most important cities in the country due to location and weather. The whole world is investing in Miami and the construction boom is under way.

  4. I hope capriles won’t be what’s comming next. We need free market, capitalism in this country not progresism nor chabismo sin chabe which is capriles’s proposal basically.

    No mas zurdos por favor

    • you mean free market like the government bailing out major banks that fail? or government which are purchased by the highest bidder (a free market) and then proceed to reward their donors and supporters with lower taxes, all the while claiming “we can’t afford to spend more on social programs”?

  5. Capriles is making a bid to regain the leadership of the opposition with perfect timing. He took a back seat in 2014 keeping a low profile and continuing his campaigning in small one on one encounters. Reading the moment is the core attribute of a good politician.

    I have no doubt that he will regain his leading position. However, will he be able to lead the opposition to gaining power?

  6. If HCR is not the leader of the opposition, please tell me who is the other guy / gal is that would have generated this much attention and hairsplitting. There has been a near total vacuum from the oppo. This is the only game in town.

  7. “I would love to find out why Capriles got in touch with Maria Corina. My hunch is that the Citizens’ Congress that Maria Corina is organizing is gaining some relevance.”

    It has nothing to do with petty citizens congress.

    The UNO and the VP crowd can’t dismiss him as they tend to do with most of the MUD. You can’t coherently accuse him of being a government agent when he sides with Maria Violencia without tarnishing her in the process.

  8. You guys — Juan C, Rodrigo, Raúl, Roberto, Anabella, Carlos, Audrey, Gustavo, Barbara — ROCK. I agreed with most of what you all said.

    In the live feed on capriles.tv (thanks Roberto N) I found HCR scattered, circuitous, repetitious and tiresome. (By now, he should be better at organizing and delivering his talking points.) After about an hour, I turned off. Yes, he may be the most viable oppo leader at the moment, but he’s lost a lot of ground. Frankly, he comes across as a junior, when compared to more verbally organized politicians. I think the real motivation for Capriles’ “coming out” was not so much “God” or “las cosas tienen su tiempo” but the coalition of MCM, LL in absentia, and Ledezma, as Carlos’ offered link indicates.

    And yes, I was relieved to see that Capriles wore his serious attire, as the situation calls for, leaving his baseball cap at home.

  9. Let Chavismo make the move. Let them get rid of Maduro, and then have things just as bad for the next guy. The Chavistas need to understand Maduro is not the problem, this disaster was the product of 15 years of Chavista rule and policies.

    • Really, you want diosdado & co. take over, rob some more $$$ and then hope that those chavistas see whats going on and hope they vote the other way??? You really think the people in Venezuela can sustain that sheit for much longer?? Have you been in Venezuela recently???

      • Agreed. Although I see the benefits of playing the long game, there is a grade of naiveté that I don’t like. We simply can’t even guess what will be the state of affairs by the time this big comedown happens.

      • Duncan makes a valid point as well. But, …but, …the real point here is that Chavismo MUST be discredited. You can’t allow ALL of the blame to fall on Maduro.

      • No, I have not been to Venezuela since Christmas 2012. I am white as they come and speak Spanish with a heavy accent. My wife was there this past summer. We talk on skype with my inlaws every several days when their internet is up, and hear they stories.

        I know it’s getting desperate. I know there is suffering, fear, and hopelessness. My point is that Chavismo must be discredited, it has to be done so completely and with zero opportunities to deflect blame or blame it on Maduro’s incompetence. Otherwise it, and it’s hate filled populism, will rear it’s ugly head in Venezuelan politics for the foreseeable future, sabotaging if not destroying any chances of building a healthy democracy.

        Let them try to make some adjustments, because with oil at $37 and dropping they simply will not be able to avoid it. I fear a situation in the near future where there is some sort of farcical unity government, and economic measures are taken and the Chavistas blame them on Capriles or whomever joined up with them.

  10. Tonight reminded me of the speech HCR gave when he registered for the past(?) presidential elections. After just running through half of the city with a crowd around, he reached the temporary stage to address the people waiting at the CSB and the rest of the country watching via TV. But then, as he jumped around across the stage with one of his arms rose with a fit, the only thing he was able to articulate was “God’s time is perfect”. It looked like he was illed prepared for a proper speech, and tonight he just looked the same. I feel sorry for him; to me HCR appears genuinely worried about our country, and frankly he comes across more honest than many others, but he seems to fail rising to the occasion when under the spot HCR. It might be for many reasons (lack of good advisers, political maturity, stress, etc.), that I understand. Still, current times are not the best for this kind of performance.

    • Actually Carive, I spoke to someone close to the campaign a while ago and he told me this speech you’re referencing was one of the worst points of his campaign. He told me Henrique was really, really sick that day – he had a fever and everything. It showed.

      • Thanks for the comment Juan; it figures. I just hope he is able to overcome those circumstances and consolidate his leadership. Whether we like or not, an eventual (and hopefully peaceful) transition to democracy cannot be done in a vacuum; leaders and parties are needed, votes and willingness by themselves do not do the trick.

  11. Just my opinion, but the popular revolt against the Chavista government is coming, whether Capriles or anyone else in the MUD decrees it or not. Just like last year, they are trying to get out ahead it, after it had already started and took on a life of its own. Theirs is a desperate struggle to claim leadership and authorship, but the truth is that they are not really in control of events and the public knows it.

    In not too long from now, the FAN will most likely become the de facto government of Venezuela. There will, of course, be an internal purge, and most of the generals will probably flee to enjoy their ill-gotten gains, just as the rest of the top Chavista officials will. As it exists now, the MUD will become as irrelevant as the Constitution. Discussions of economic policy will take a far backseat to the need to restore order and reclaim territory and defeat the “collectivos”, who are not just going to roll over and play dead. Once the dust settles, order is restored, and a minimum food supply is assured, there will be time for the debate about what political direction is appropriate for Venezuela and the restoration of the Constitution.

    The most important thing is to ensure that the popular revolt is successful. Let us hope that there are still enough officers in the military with some sense.

    • I more or less agree. Right now, the military enjoys crazy benefits that they are simply not going to give up. They hold more power than all of the opposition and they hold chavismo in power. If push comes to shove, and they being the pieces of shit they’ve shown to be, I have no doubt that they will fight to be the winning party of all of this mess, in the event of a popular revolt, which may happen if things keep going the way they are right now.
      A popular revolt is a true event horizon: That event after which nobody knows what will happen.

      One of the legacies of El Gigante is this militarization. And now that they’re here, like colectivos, I don’t think they’ll be okay with taking the backseat.

  12. I think he was concise, yes lengthy…but then again he always is…It is his style…He explains in detail…I have to say, after his absence I was reinvigorated listening to him…I think he is quite smart, speaks the truth and seems to have a good grasp of what will come..One thing that appears consistent with him is that he does not say things before he feels it is time..He may be right..He is the only one not arrested or with charges against him…This made me hopeful today..Since he spoke strongly, he must feel it is really time to change this gov’t..y pronto….He may not be everyone’s favorite player anymore, I realized a while ago, We all have to stop having the expectation that another Messiah is coming..Looking for perfect answers from one person, in every rueda de prensa..I don’t know if he would be mediocre or not..But it does not matter as much to me anymore..Not saying that is the ideal, but sometimes through the years there are just average leaders, and he may be one..What does make sense to me now is that he is back, and he loves the country deeply. This may be enough for me to support his second or third comeback despite the disappointments. Holding out for the “perfect one” just doesn’t cut it..We have what we have right now, and he is smart and probably can move the country forward..How much or how much we expect might not be so important this time around..We just need to move forward..Sure I would have liked to have heard more, or different or that perfect something, but really I was thrilled just to have someone who sounds like he knows something about the situation take charge again, even if he does not disclose all his plans right away..He is an attorney, it is part of their nature..They hold back and then come in at the end with the winning argument..I am hoping he pulls this off…So for whatever it lacked, or he did not say, I am behind him and want to put the nightmare of Chavismo behind us..Let’s cut him some slack, and unify…Thoughts???

  13. A lot of people criticise Capriles here, I challenge them to get 7,363,980 votes in Venezuela.

    Big mouths and lot of gas, little results.

    • I for one, complain as a voter. One of those millions of votes was mine, and since April 2013 to December 2014 he made a reluctant supporter out of me.

      A politician alienates his voters at his own risk.

    • That’s a fact that’s hard to counter. When the moment came he stepped up and came pretty close… It’s what came after that prompts the criticism. Some believe, I among them, that he did not do enough with that enormous sign of nation-wide support. But, hey, let’s see what he does know. The country, not just the opposition, still pays him enough attention to have some impact.

    • You have to bear in mind that when you become a figurehead against the government, these guys go after you with all they got. If they can’t jail you (and let you rot in prison), they’ll assassinate you morally. If you ever got high on a party when you were fifteen and there are pictures of you with the joint in your hand, Diosdado is going to find the picture and expose you for the degenerate drugdealer satanic abortionist that you are. Truth doesn’t matter, perception does.

      And the PSUV has the media, the soldiers, the goons, the intelligence agencies and the money it needs to destroy anyone. It has the power.

      That’s exactly why I will always give the opposition leaders the benefit of a doubt. Because in face of all that abuse of power, this is the guy who said “Okay, I accept to be the target. Let’s do this.”

          • It has to be a difference that makes fraud unbelievable and reflects a strong mandate for change. As you say, 25% sounds good. 20% is maybe enough.

            I think is doable, in view of the present situation and THEIR leader (because people attack HCR, but what about the other side?)

  14. On the whether Capriles is still “THE leader of the oppostion”:

    I think he definitely lost that spot in 2014, when factions reemerged within the opposition (salidistas and dialogue supporters), something that didn’t seem likely in early 2013, or even in late 2013 when he was the oppo “campaign manager” for municipal elections.

    But 2015 may be the year he came to terms with this realization, as he now speaks as a member of a team which includes MCM (et al), as opposed to the leader of MUD facing a mutiny within his ranks.

  15. Finally some humilty from Capriles and the MUD, actually trying to make an effort to work together, instead of attacking the citizen assemblies as a mutiny.

    By now it should be evident that hardcore chavista fanatics are going to whine no matter what the oppo does, so their comments are irrelevant. Capriles is not the leader of the oppo, he only represents a part of it.

    There’s some reactions to it and the document published by MCM, Ledezma and VP. Julio Coco made a call for all factors that oppose the regime (even Nicmer Evans) to come together (shameless self link):

    http://www.reddit.com/r/vzla/comments/2sh614/julio_coco_betapolitico_unidadpopular/

  16. From what I’m watching on twitter, it’s about to explode.

    Any person reading this that is still in Venezuela should leave the country NOW! It doesn’t have to be Europe or the US, just go to another Latin American country, as Venezuelans don’t need visas to enter most Latin American countries.

    I hope the transition to democracy goes peacefully and without bloodshed.

    Good luck, Venezuela!

  17. There is certainly another issue pressuring Capriles to make amends within the oppo: with government income falling precipitously, chavista legislators are not feeling generous and non-chavistas are feeling the pinch even more. My guess is that being an oppo governor is quickly becoming unsustainable…

  18. Do you ever get the feeling you`ve been cheated ?

    So what was all this Maduro air mile stuff about. Money ? Well may have been but probably not. Most on here had a good idea he was pissing in the wind and indeed he was, and is I suppose, as there are no and will be no cash regalitos on the way.

    And absolutely no clarification on the return date. Well no indication of what that date would be during the early days of his tour. And no one during his absence spoke up because all was to be revealed by Maduro himself and no one else.

    Capriles wanted to take to the streets, “Now Is The Time “, a strike was called, the queues increased in size and everyone was pissed off. I mean everyone. All levels shared the view that change was necessary. In fact the most outspoken and maybe more informed by experienced levels of discomfort were those who may have been considered as likely supporters of the revolution.

    Oil prices tanking by the day, the economy doomed and only a matter time for the guaranteed fall of the government.

    And then taking to the streets is cancelled, Lopez loses his right to speak in his defence, Hair reveals that Maduro will return to reveal his plans for the future and so on.
    So have the last few days been an an act of desperation ? Or maybe it was a cleanup exercise.
    If Maduro falls all of those distasteful factions face a risk that threatens their criminal empires. Better the devil you know, as they say.
    And where`s the Army in this mess ? Are they united ? Probably not. And was there a coup threat ? Well any dissent to criminals running Venezuela would be interpreted as a coup, imaginary or otherwise.

    So sending the President out of Venezuela make complete sense, remove the threats and protect the golden goose I suppose.

    And now the Government of criminals is more vocal, more confident some would say. Something happened. Somebody has been neutralised. The threat has been overcome and Maduro can come home.

    Business as usual although on a shoestring for the majority.

    • The last visit to Russia especially stinks – Putin wanted to be last to meet Maduro so he could get some concessions which Maduro would heartily concede after flailing and failing miserably on his goodwill tour. I would not be surprised if Maduro announces an agreement allowing Russia to open a naval and air base in Puerto Cabello to rival Guantanamo.

        • They might… Firstly, it would be a huge expense for Russia that they may end up regretting. Secondly, a base in Venezuela would not be the threat that it would have been 20 years ago.

        • Agree with Roy, it would not be much of a problem, especially with the state the Russian Navy is in. Like the U.S. Russia is pivoting to the Pacific, so most new ships will head to Vladivostok not to the Northern Fleet.

  19. As I have said several times, it’s very strange how we are so obsessed with the figure of a “leader” for the opposition.

    In the northern hemisphere this “leaders” are elected by the parties to represent them, and if they don’t, they are replaced by that same party. That concept doesn’t apply to us, as we keep looking for the messiah, the saviour of us all, the serpent enchanter or whatever you want to call it, to surge on it’s own. Our concept of a “leader” is so caudillo style, so XIX century!
    That is what Chavez was to chavistas, they sold the concept that having this intergalactic leader was the way, and “nos restregaron en la cara por años” that we didn’t have a leader. I actually feel kind of proud that we don’t!

    We have a coalition of leaders of different parties, the MUD, and I was happy to see them all yesterday coming together again, united and sorting out their differences in order to find a solution to this mess. Capriles with his press conference, and MCM, LL & Ledezma with a letter signed by all three. They are talking and discussing options and that’s what’s important! Not who’s the leader.

    Talking about what I think of Capriles’s press conference: 1) I think it was a shame that the cameras never showed the graphics he was showing. 2) Awesome to see him in a jacket. 3) He was all over the place as he always does, but he was very good at dodging uncomfortable questions (like the constituyente, for example). I’m thinking, just like SLuzardo said above, he being the lawyer he is, won’t spew the strategy until the very last, most specially if the MUD is still meeting. 4) I had a little bit of joy at his answer to Diosdado’s attacks: “aguila no caza moscas”, imitating Chavez. No Chavista can answer to that.

  20. An interesting point to note (not because I wish to blast Capriles) is that HCR spent almost two hours yesterday calling for unity and so forth…but still he was alone in that press conference. On the other side of the “unity” Leopoldo Lopez, Antonio Ledezma and MCM made a joint statement (link provided in the conversation hangout) expressing their view of the situation of the country.

    From the first minutes of Capriles press conference my sense is that he still believes that there’s some Institutionality left in Venezuela, and he believes the opposition should focus on upholding what’s left of it. HCR stated that actions must be made in group, not individually…yet he seems to lecture people on what’s right from wrong, although he claims to have met MCM and Voluntad Popular, and due to meet with Ledezma.

    Just something to bear in mind.

    • Interesting, but who’s to say that it was Capriles who decided to go on his own, and not the “unity” of the other three who left him alone?

      • His mandate expired after the municipal elections, there was no consensus on what to do, nobody with enough authority to call it, and factions reemerged.

        What’s the use of assigning guilt?

  21. Some people here and elsewhere hope for the army to “do something”.

    When has the army “done something” positive in Venezuela? Never.

    When has the army being decent in Venezuela? never.

    Who has profited the most these last 15 years? The military.

    What was Chavez? a military man (and an asshole, but I mean by training).

    Is the army united? YOU BET IT IS: they receive preferential food parcels, cars, salaries, bonuses and hold political and everyday power. Even a foot-on-the-soil, illiterate GN can treat a brain surgeon like shit if he wants to (as seen in Hospital Vargas, El Llanito, etc). Who can promise them more than the revolution?

    Which institution has been at the origin of every single disgrace that has befallen this godforsaken hell? The army.

    The only hope I hope about the Venezuelan Armed Forces is the next regime will finally understand our history and abolish them altogether, Costa Rica style.

    • I disagree. The only way a country can abolish its armed forces is by entering into an agreement with another country to guaranty protection against outside threats. This places such a country beholden and of “junior” status in the world. For Costa Rica, such a solution is acceptable. It is small and strategically unimportant. It has no aspirations be a significant player in the world, or even the region. Venezuela is a significant country with strategic resources. It should have its own defense capability and should be able to contribute to and support, when needed, international missions.

      Certainly, the size of Venezuela’s military can be smaller than we currently have. Venezuela does not have contiguous borders with any country that represents a real threat at present, but it does have an obligation to assist Colombia by denying the Colombian paramilitaries safe-haven. Furthermore, although I support decriminalization of drugs, Venezuela currently has an international obligation to cooperate in drug interdiction. Furthermore, even normal border control can require military support.

      No, Venezuela should not depend on “Big Brother” for its security.

    • I utterly agree with you man, but something that the great Romulo Betancourt used to say about abolishing the army was that “Costa Rica no tiene petroleo”…

      • It’s not like the army has defended the oil, has it? as we speak, Guyana is prospecting in Venezuelan waters without the army doing anything.

        The main oil smugglers are in the military.

        Oil is not a reason to have an army.

        • The thing is that one of the many things we have to reform is the armed forces. They served greatly (the marine) in safeguarding oil shipments abroad. Maybe shedding a part of the armed forces (army or national guard) could be in the discussion. Yet as a nation we need some form of decent millitary. I share your woes and disdain for them, but is on our TO-DO list in the many reforms to undertake

  22. I will be very honest:

    You would have to be a world class blockhead to call for street action of any kind now.

    Challenging a government that has every means to crush you and any millions of people on the street is just insane.

    The strategy here is: wait for the voters to revolt on their own and see the government manhandle their electoral base. I am telling you: the day people march from Plaza Sucre to Miraflores, the revolution is dead and buried.

    What the opposition has to do is to actually devise a plan to get the country on its feet again in 12 months. In other words, TO BECOME A SERIOUS ALTERNATIVE.

    AN WIN THE PARLIAMENTARY POLLS BY A LANDSLIDE man, unbelievable no one is talking about this 25 mph fastball the opposition has to hit.

    • True. Chavismo has to fall by their own base’s popular will, either in the streets, or in a large impossible-to-hide parliamentary election defeat. Otherwise, Venezuela could be cursed by a Peronismo-style Chavismo for a long, long time.

      • Net,

        Chavismo is Peronismo with an African feeling and uglier women.

        I would even say, Peronismo is more benign than chavismo, not all peronistas are jesseechaconistas (as in, a few peronistas are actually competent).

        • Well, yes and no. The uglier women is debatable, unless you’re a fan of Mrs. Kirschner’s post-operated/botoxed face. Peronismo was based on labor unions, and Chavismo is the negation of labor unions, as well as most organized groups that might have freely-elected leaders. Anyway, I’m saying that the Chavismo experience has to be totally dis-credited as viable so that it does not linger on to poison Venezuela forever, as Peronismo has done to Argentina.

          • I know, but listen: what you fear is inevitable. Chavez will remain among us a a legend (even if he was one of the worse heads of government in the history of the Americas).

            Peronismo is more discredited than Confinanzas and yet it lives on. Chavismo will be the same, sadly.

    • It is almot like the opposition has learned nothing over the last 15 years. Doing the same thing over and over. De verdad el muerto todavia nos tiene locos…

  23. Are there any presidential elections on sight? No

    Then why this obsession with a leader?

    Are there any signs, real signs, that the government is about to fall? no.

    Then why are you all holding your breath, aroused at the sight of empty shelves?

    Concentrate on the matter at hand, become an electoral majority. Show you are the alternative to hunger and chaos.

    • “Then why this obsession with a leader?”

      Anyone who wonders why we pine for a leader needs to go back to basics re. Venezuela. Caudillismo is part of our DNA, and it’s there for a reason. Today’s “caudillo” is yesterday’s “cacique.” Wanting for Venezuelans to not focus so much on “leaders” is the same as asking a chigüire to grow fins so that they can swim better.

        • Carolina, Carolina, Carolina presidente! Caro, Caro, Caro presidente! Esa es la madre de la Nación!
          Just kidding, I agree with you: we need to overcome the feudal society and think about how each one of us take responsibility for the country’s future.

      • Juan, te pareces en eso a Mario Silva: “lo tenemos en el ADN”.
        Y DAAAAAAAALE con el ADN, como decías que lo tenías en ti lo del rechazo a los milicos por tener sangre holandesa. Give us a break!

      • I don’t know if it’s ingrained in our DNA, what I know is that societies that follow leaders never make it out of the cave. Venezuelans need to realize one day that no one will save us but ourselves. If you are waiting for that messiah like caudillo to come and save us… keep waiting, cause is not Capriles it.
        I always remember a South Korean friend of mine saying: look it’s not like a leader came and told us “go to the cities and start being productive”, it just happened, our grandparents decided to pave a better future for their children, and that was it.

      • To follow your metaphor: maybe chiguires can’t grow fins, but living beings can certainly evolve, sometimes quite suddenly.

        And DNA sequences (what you may call a genome) are not stable; they mutate and accumulate changes in time. 15 years is a enough to take another look at caudillos, leaders and similars.

        I don’t believe in the immutable character of nations. I believe more in tides of change. One maybe upon us, leader or not.

      • JC: Though I agree that Caudillismo is an integral part of our culture, I don’t think it has much to do with the indigenous caciques. Look at Spain, a place ruled for 30+ years by a guy who styled himself Caudillo de España por la gracia de Dios, and you’ll see where this stuff came from.

        Recall that José Tomás Boves, arguably the first caudillo of the Americas, was a Spaniard—a pure Spaniard from Asturias, the only place in the peninsula where the crescent never flew.

        Let’s face it. The authoritarianism in our culture has Iberian roots. After all, we are more Iberian than we believe. This is a reality that we need to accept and deal with.

  24. I think that LL, MCM and HCR are unimportant compared to the top 50 civilians and top 500 military guys of the government. Specially with the communicational hegemony of the government.

    So, the letter from LL, MCM and Ledezma and the HCR announcement are probably important to you, but not for the short to mid term of the government.

  25. “By the way, chavistas are livid. @tmaniglia: “Mr Miranda Bum, it’s about time that when you speak about OUR CHAVEZ you wash your mouth first.” ”
    Typical whiny brat attitude, people like those don’t deserve attention, as they are not willing to work at all to rebuild the country, they’ll just try to sabotage everything just from spite because they didn’t have their whim for revenge.

    “Aporrea says that Capriles’ message to chavistas is that the dream they were offered simply doesn’t exist.”
    It’s not our fault that they were so naive to buy that so-called “dream” from a bloody murderous criminal.

  26. I see the unscripted presidential trip as a manoeuvre to have threats make their move, disclose themselves….too much unscripted to be plain chavacanismo.

    Something is/was going on and having the president figure out and about, complete with pictures of the family, in full provocation style leaked; the reckoning of the staples supply chain finally running dry, and the guayabo post Christmas evasion, (oil price collapse!) all a great mix for a happening February.

    I am putting money that something will go down before the end of February, my guess, the puppet show changes characters, but remains substantially the same. But, they will try to blame it on the oil price collapse, MCM had a great line about it!.

    Opposition has a chance to pescar en rio revuleto, and promote their agenda during the change of guard (puppets). Push for a black swan event. The danger being the unstable equilibrium is lost and we go full FUBAR social explosion mode, which can happen given the heated mood and dismal economic environment.

    If the oppo, just sits back and watched the chavista camp factions infighting, they will remain a side show and powerless and the country will remain in the dissolution trend.

    hard choices they face.

    Chavismo and cuba are not interested in the nation but in keeping power and continue the pillage as long and as deep as they can.

    I like BVC president’s posts (OGM) on looking forward, and building ways to have justice (eventually) track and bring back embezzled monies when the regime implodes. But again communication hegemon and cultural issues really limit the impact of his messages.

    My personal hope is that reconstruction plans are in place for the aftermath of the upcoming climax in the chavista orgy play.

    Mis oraciones estan con Venezuela y los venezolanos.

    La pradera esta seca! el viento arrecia y falta una chispa no mas.

  27. Gustavo Coronel had one of those “picture is worth a thousand words” postings. Que les parece esto que dice el cerdo Juan Barreto?

    Juan Barreto: “El pueblo debe hacer algunos sacrificios por la Revolución. Si tiene que comer menos, que lo haga [The people should make some sacrifices for the Revolution. If you have to eat less,you should do so.]

    Go to the link. The photo of Juan Barreto indicates that he hasn’t made such sacrifices in quite a long time. A priceless posting, Gustavo.

  28. I agree wholeheartedly with the comment about “…hanging together or hanging separately..”. For the past 15 years, the actions of our opposition (barring minor exceptions) has boiled down to reacting to government abuses and mistakes by sending out individual press releases and tweets about the unfair treatment on the part of the government. Daily reviews of Venezuelan news are full of individual news blurbs and quotes from hundreds of opposition representatives regarding what this or that person did. What Cabello, Maduro or anyone of the thousands of government representatives said or did to abuse citizens rights guaranteed by the constitution. The opposition message appears to be a litany of whining complaints which state the obvious, while falling on tired abused deaf ears and play into the hands of the abusers by distracting and dispersing any focused, concerted effort to throw the bums out. At the same time showing a total lack of opposition unity or focus.

    People, the frog is almost cooked, and nobody wants to hear about how hot the water is in the pot. Everyone knows that this is a communist dictatorship, run by buffoons, incompetents and criminals, and there are plenty of historical examples around the world about how this story will end. So please, stop the play-by-play narrative. Get your MUD heads together and show us what your plan is to get out of the pot before the water starts to boil!

    What is the MUD country plan? Show us how you propose get out of the pot. Give Venezuela a reasonable alternative. People are looking for a rope or a ladder, but until you don’t show a unified country plan; an alternative to this disaster, you don’t provide any reason for the millions of abused and suffering citizens to line up behind you to lead us out of the cauldron of boiling water.

    Provide Venezuela with a critical list of changes, a political platform for the future, that shows how you plan to deal with the crime, inflation, internal production, the oil industry, the bloated bureaucracy, the constitution, the TSJ and CNE. Where do you see Venezuela in five years.

    Show Venezuela that you have a viable alternative country plan so that when the opportunity presents itself, Venezuela will line up behind you and follow you out of this disaster into the future that it deserves.

    At this juncture, I see well meaning MUD leaders caught up in the infinitesimal small day-today details, where no one is seeing the forest because of the trees. This is not a country plan. So “..hang together or hang separately”.

    • I can’t think of any successful movement which has acted the way you describe.
      Successful movements have a few ideas/demands which are articulated clearly, and get widespread support. That’s what gets people to line up behind you – not detailed plans, which frankly most people will never bother to read.

      The way you described is usually a trap for protest movements and political parties – first, a lot of energy is wasted debating detailed plans which are irrelevant anyway (since the government doesn’t release the true data). Second, they divide the movement over details, while unifying the gov side (since such plans will always have some relative losers, at least in the beginning).

      • If no alternative to the status quo is proposed, how are you going to get people to support you who remember the disaster of Jaime Lusinchi or Caldera II? Which by the way is what spawned “El Supremo”.

        As regards to plans, I would compare the disaster in Venezuela to that of Germany or Japan after WWII.

        It will take a Herculean effort just to get back to where we were in 1998 and that could take 10 years or 20 years of it may never happen. But if you want to get there sooner rather than later, then you need to have something in place when the opportunity presents itself, and you have to move quickly with forethought and confidence to maintain popular support, otherwise you fall into the bickering and second guessing of the rudderless ship, that is Venezuela today.

        The lack of planning forethought, planning combined with corruption ignorance and improvisation is what has happened to Venezuela for 15 years, so it will take a reconstruction process similar to the magnitude of postwar Germany or Japan to fix the damage. The MUD will have to have the equivalent determination as did the allies in their reconstruction process, which will need to be financed with foreign investment.

        If all we can do is piss and moan about what they are doing today or the stupid plans for tomorrow or “we are getting repressed with no end in sight, who is going to back you into the future? Whining doesn’t inspire trust or confidence, forethought and competence do. Just takes a look at the president’s “Magical mystery tour” last week, to get a very recent taste of what improvisation has gotten us.

        An organized front with a plan for the future provides an extremely positive contrast to what we have today which will be a compelling selling point for people to back you, as for example a plebiscite (remember PJ).

        But if the opportunity presents itself, and all you get is Chavismo without Maduro or some sort of military Junta with a power sharing agreement with Diosdado, then you can be sure that you will never get back to where you were in 1998, not even if oil climbs to $500/bbl.

      • Chavez’s takeover of political power in Venezuela is a great example of an well planned and executed takeover, which rode the tidal wave of the failed IV.

        After the failed coup attempts, the divided opposition to Chavez split the vote and allowed Chavez to legitimately become president. The power grab that came later was an exquisitely planned ballet that happened in front of our eyes and we didn’t/couldn’t do anything about it.

        The point is that power grab was well planned and it went off without a hitch,and we are where we are today.

        If you suggest that the MUD should wait ’til they have power and then cough up a plan for the future, while in the meantime improvise and act without a plan, I think that you can already see the results of this strategy.

        • I am not saying ‘don’t plan’, and especially not ‘don’t present alternatives’. I’m saying that the people do not wait for a detailed plan from the opposition in order to rise up, and that the lack of said plan is not what’s preventing the regime from falling (that’s how I read your original message). Plans will of course be needed to rebuild Venezuela, but making a detailed vision the political centrepiece is a mistake.

          First, in order to get rid of the regime, the opposition should be as unified as possible. However, because the opposition is politically diverse, they probably don’t have the same ‘vision of Venezuela in 5 years’, and be unable to agree on exactly the same ‘country plan’. Membership in the opp shouldn’t be limited to people sharing exactly the same plan, but rather should include as many of the regime’s opponents as reasonable. To do otherwise is to invite failure.

          So what should happen is that the opposition unifies on the common obvious standards most can agree to. Members will try to make various plans to rebuild. If and when the regime falls they should start to implement those standards, while deciding which plans are useful from the planned set. The obvious way is to let the people decide in elections afterwards.

          Second, as the opposition is not in power, it is in a way campaigning, and political campaigns should be conducted with board powerful messages, not WW2-style plans. It is quite possible to suggest an alternative while avoiding a long manifesto, and your US example actually points in that direction.

  29. Apparently two Venezuelan cooks who worked at El Bulli and Noma (basically the best two restaurants of the world for the last ten years) are going to set up shop in Copenhagen (along with a Danish chef, also ex-Noma).

    A gourmet Venezuelan restaurant. I said to the people here that’s not possible, Venezuelan food is not gourmet and not expensive. It is earthy and cheap.

    But there you go. These guys learned their trade in the best places, so it will be interesting to have a meal there. It will be crazy expensive, but I reckon it will be worth the price.

    Venezuelan talent man, it just need a nice soil to grow and bloom.

    I am totally going this March.

  30. “At any rate, I will see
    you all wearing your silly little
    baseball caps soon enough. Viva
    Caprile, eterno.”
    por que eso es lonque hay… saludos desde bachaqueristan, bachacaibo.

  31. I agree, we need to see the long term but people are also expecting a viable plan for the most obvious and difficult question of all: how to get rid of the dictatoshorship before it is too late? And who am I judge them for that!This is where the leadership is lacking. We have to adress that short-term situation as well, if not people will turn against its leaders or simple resign and then everything is lost. As the situation stands right now, I don’ t believe that the politicians have enough influence over the people or the facts, so anything can happen. Some say Capriles is very astute, but I believe that he underestimates the importance of “troop morale” and that his ego plays against him. I believe his ego has done more harm than La saIida. I also think he lacks in courage and determination. He will not be a true leader (I do believe leaders are important, not only here but everywhere, I think that it is a cliché to say otherwise) until he understand that he will not obtain the full prize if he doesn’ t truly defy the regime and adress the short-term difficulties. People need to know not only that we can win, but that we can actually make a difference. He is one year late already.

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