This has been the week of Henry. The sharp tongued Secretary General for Acción Democrática, Henry Ramos Allup, is perhaps the most polarizing figure the New Majority has to offer.
HRA has the uncanny ability to make you laugh even if you despise him and what he stands for. He specializes in voicing thoughts you consider barrabasadas, even though you’ve probably thought them yourself at some point or another. Henry Ramos Allup is the guy you love to hate, but also the guy you hate to (secretly) love.
He led us down the despeñadero of boycotting in 2005 National Assembly Elections, which led to an all-chavista parliament, and all that implied. Imagine that: the same party that nowadays criticises heavily #LaSalida boycotted elections a mere decade ago. He has since rebranded AD as adamant moderates and constant critics of Voluntad Popular and Vente Venezuela’s more militant agenda.
Henry Ramos Allup is the guy preaching saber administrar la victoria but he’s not so interested in really putting that into practice. He’s been the prototype that Chávez sold to his followers of what the opositor is: a cynical, arrogant, elitist that most likely brokers deals with the enemy and sells his soul for a buck.
He’s so repulsive to so many that the look on your average MUD voter’s face when they found out he was going to be running in a shoo-in circuit for this election was that of a mother that catches his son smoking pot…again.
Yet, with his recent rant regarding ANTV, he did stir strong emotions on both sides of the aisle. For once, the man was voicing a consensus within the opposition nobody ever expresses. We’ve all thought of it, we all want it to happen, he just happened to say it: time to put an end the constant stream brazen, extreme propagandist nonsense on state media!
He took a beating for saying that ANTV was the “sewage drain of Miraflores”, the worst of the worst. Soon, chavismo was trying to emulate what RCTV did back on its final night on the air. All State-owned channels had their entire staff on set, while one of them read a declaration of solidarity to the workers of ANTV.
The President and the soon-to-be-former Speaker of the National Assembly teamed up and focused their fury on this miniscule topic, ignoring the fact that they got their asses whooped in an epic fashion, on a national scale.
Ramos Allup has also caught a lot of flak from the MUD, saying his timing was awful, and that this wasn’t the sort of National Assembly we’d have: one of revanchismo.
But instead of giving in to pressure, he doubled down, standing by his comments. And for standing firm on something that is, in fact, right makes for a refreshing change in itself. This guy hasn’t even been sworn in and barely 24 hours into the post-6D frenzy that has started, he’s manage to put chavismo on the defensive and under pressure.
“This isn’t an offense to any individual in particular. ANTV and the National Public Media System are embarrassing, a disgrace from a communicational point of view” he said completely unrelated to what reporters were asking. Yet it was enough to set the tone of both Contacto con Maduro and Con el Mazo Dando.
Freedom of speech has always been a priority for the MUD, and it seems rather unnecessary to even be having this discussion. It all seems to boil down to who said this, not what was said. Had it been Capriles, Leopoldo or even María Corina for that matter, we would’ve nodded and agreed.
But it wasn’t Capriles or LL or MCM, it was Ramos Allup who said it. His attack did something the opposition hasn’t really done effectively in a while: it seized control of the media agenda for a few days. And that’s exactly what we need: chavismo on their toes, reactive and even more prone to screwing up. That’s the next five years of the National Assembly right there, if he’s the one to preside it.
On the other hand, whatever we receive from any other possible National Assembly President will be centered mainly on reconciliation and, likely, on pisar conchas de mango chavistas will have prepared. Not to say they will be collaborationists or will sigh in defeat at the first sign of turmoil, but I cannot imagine Julio Borges, for instance, standing up to make sure the discussions that ought to be held are carried out properly under his command.
So we have two very different possible futures, depending on who’s in charge as of January 5th. Maybe Ramos Allup could be the gallo de pelea that could send a rotund siéntate Cilia to Diputada Flores, for instance, and make sure that real accountability and oversight come out of this assembly.
The only way for chavismo to become a part of the discussion is apparently to force them to. Thus far the only things they’ve said is that they won’t, and I’m pretty sure sweet talk won’t bring them around. The facts are in and they’re in total denial, or maybe just frightened of setting foot in a parliament they no longer control. To get them to face up to uncomfortable truths, heck, to get them to listen at all, we’ll have to twist some arms. And perhaps that’s what good old Ramos Allup was born to do.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.