Original art by Mario Dávila

“I know it’s a lie that the governors were sworn in without an order from Henry,” Nehomar Hernández tells me. “Nothing in AD has been done, for a long time, without his approval.”

It’s hard to believe that the decision to swear the oath of office before the Constituent Assembly was made without the blessing of Acción Democrática’s leader, Henry Ramos Allup. Although he describes the situation as an ambush, there’s no way it was so for a zorro viejo like him.  

“Thinking it was in the governor’s hands is for newbies. And I also doubt they were expelled from the party. There’s even a campaign on social media, to defend them with hashtags y toda vaina.”

Most people join AD as a family tradition: you become adeco because your parents were adecos. Not Nehomar Hernández; he’s the first in his family to join Venezuela’s Social Democratic party.

“I joined back in college, around 2008. I read one of Manuel Caballero’s books, a Rómulo Betancourt biography, and from that point on I was in. I liked Betancourt, the romantic image of the party. But in reality, it all falls apart. It happens in every party, especially in the older ones.”

For every party in Venezuela, it’s important to catch young fellas at college, but in AD the young leadership is a complicated subject. “Young people in the party become extras in the movie. They’re used as backdrops in photo-ops for the leaders or to hang up posters during campaigns. Beyond that, there’s not much we actually do.”

Soon after joining, he learned of the formidable weight that Ramos Allup has in the party, he has been in charge since 2000, first as party president, then as Secretary-General. He runs the show like a caudillo through and through:

“Henry doesn’t go unnoticed. When you meet him, he makes an impression. He has that thing, magnetism. I don’t know if it’s because of his legend, but he’s a nice and funny guy. Evidently well educated, reads a lot. [The first time I met him] they were deciding who would go to Spain to study for a week, as part of an agreement with the PSOE, Spain’s labor party. This guy from Margarita, as soon as he saw Henry, said ‘hello, boss;’ there was a hierarchical attitude. I just said ‘Hello, Henry’.”

Young people at the party become extras in the movie. They’re used as backdrop in photos for the leaders, or to hang up posters during campaigns.

“There’s an unwritten rule within the party that you have to wait a long time to even hope for being allowed to run for elected office. The AD ‘waiting list’ is eternal.”

The theory that these governorships will help a future Ramos Allup presidential run means that “beyond economics, what he wants is political projection. Now you’re the most important party inside the MUD, with four governors. You give that image to the nation and you could impose yourself, make people think that only you can be president, because Voluntad Popular’s Leopoldo López and Primero Justicia’s Henrique Capriles are forbidden to even run. And you have Maduro saying Henry will be the candidate.”

“The idea seems to be to screw the other parties. A conditioned opposition, checked; que no se coman la luz.”

During his time in AD, Nehomar was shocked by Ramos Allup’s complete power, even provoking the defection of party mainstays such as Alfonso Marquina, Claudio Fermín, Liliana Hernández, Luis Emilio Rondón and Ángel Medina from the ranks. There’s no decision made without his approval. The whole concept of AD’s governors “going rogue” and washing Henry’s face in the single most important political decision of the last few months makes no sense.

Can there be AD after Ramos Allup?

“I don’t know,” Nehomar admits. “He’s not preparing successors, but difficult times create leadership. Maybe we would see a regrouping of adecos all over the country after Henry leaves. He turned AD into a one person party, and that creates uncertainty for the future.”

And uncertainty for democracy.

Or whatever is left of it.

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Honestly, it is getting silly how people are over ventilating about AD decision to “play along” with the regime by participating in the elections. The worst is that is a waste of time but it also could bring more opportunities if you know how to exploit this situation even if those local powers ends up being just symbolic. What the opposition needs to focus now is in building the organization away from the MUD, not because they are evil but because they are not the adequate organization to fight a Dictatorship.
    Attacking members of the opposition is not helping and for that we need to take a page from the criminals in power.
    It was deplorable how the MUD were waiving their parties flags during the period of the street protest but that is the dynamics of power they find themselves in.
    The opposition has to organize itself now around an APOLITICAL leadership whose main goal is to exterminate the regime.
    These developments are going to be positive in the long run because the MUD has been the wrong tool to fight the regime.

  2. This was tweeted by Nehomar earlier today. According to Rodríguez Torres (yes, the former Chavez minister), Chavistas were sent to the MUD primaries to vote for AD as part of a deal struck between HRA and Maduro. This is a typical authoritarian technique; the PRI employed it all the time when it held a monopoly over Mexican elections.

    http://www.noticierodigital.com/2017/10/rodriguez-torres-revelo-que-psuvistas-votaron-por-candidatos-de-ad-en-las-primarias/

    http://www.caraotadigital.net/nacionales/pesuvistas-fueron-obligados-votar-por-ad-en-primarias-de-la-mud-segun-rodriguez-torres/

    Like so much in any election, this is hard to prove, but if the incentives are there…

  3. This infatuation that some people have with AD is ridiculous, you need psychological evaluation.

    Anyone who cares more about the party than his own country can’t be trusted.

    • Happens in the United States all the time. How does anyone think Hillary lost? The voters saw right through her. It was “her turn”… it didn’t matter that she was a horrible candidate and a vile human being. The Democrat Party hierarchy selected her and she adored the Democrat Party.

      • Pretty pathetic that a horrible candidate and a what you deem a ‘vile human being’ still got 2.9 million more votes than her opponent.

        I honestly think hardcore partisans (republican democrat whatever) think that the other party is a so much a danger to the country so that by voting for their own party they do care for the country.

    • Most people who were never part of the Apparatchik were already disenfranchised and disenchanted with AD/Copei in the 90s, otherwise chavismo would not have won

      But remember that a lot of folks made their fortune with ties to AD/Copei or with government institutions and PDVSA during the 4ta republica years and that corruption ties and client networks were a huge deal already in the Saudi era, .

      So is natural that oldschool enchufados and nostagicos de la 4ta would remain loyal to their brand. It would be the same with bolichicos and chavista cronies after psuv left office, years would pass yet they would probably be still trying to tap on the same vein or are simply nostalgic for their personal paradise lost.

  4. There’s something to be said for having two dominant parties, like in the U.S. And we ignore the other ones.

    So although I didn’t live it, just visiting, give me COPEI and AD, and that’s it.

    And I was a COPEI guy.

  5. If Neomar is reading this, or somebody can ask him, the question I dont see is how is the AD base taking this. The idea that a new leadership can come forward if HRA “leaves” is just if that happens or is that there is a probability (high? low?) of rebellion? Or spltting?

  6. AD is an anachronism. It should roll over and get over with it, that´s the best thing it can happen to the country.

    young people don´t like AD, we are sick and tired of hearing about the 4ta, the 5ta, is all a parade of smokes and mirrors, both those generations have screwed up our future and have plundered the nation. We do not have any kind of brand loyalty to the assholes that destroyed the nation even before we are born. I was born in the year of the caracazo and all i know is deterioration and decomposition.

    I´d say off with their heads, new parties like Vente and VP are needed with Liberal ideas not crusty old socialist farts with a fetish for centralism, oil rentism and nothing to show for other than memories from the 50s and 60s and their mansions abroad.

  7. The Venezuelan conundrum is that there is only a very weakened Oppo without the existent party organizations of HRA/AD, Rosales, and Falcon–and to replace these “collaborationist” grass-roots structures is a long-term proposition, at best; in the meantime, the Regime has completed the Castro-Cuban Communism conversion of Venezuela….

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