Julio's Legacy

Yes, Venezuela's National Assembly. Yet, Marcel Gascón argues, Julio Borges’ tenure as its speaker was more harmful to chavismo than many give credit him for.

EFE’s Marcel Gascón has an excellent round-up of Julio Borges’ tenure as National Assembly’s (NA) speaker. Although far less histrionic than most Venezuelan politicians, Borges managed to inflict more damage on chavismo than the bombastic, less efficient Henry Ramos Allup:

Borges launched an international campaign that has undoubtedly yielded results. Using letters and personal contacts, and without the histrionism of other more vehement opposition leaders, Borges relentlessly denounced the alleged abuses against the Constitution by the chavista government, with special attention to those committed against the Parliament.

A key element in Gascón’s perspective is Borges’ crucial role in closing chavismo’s access to foreign credit, one of the main negotiation weapons (if not the only one) that the extremely weakened-opposition has against the government (not to mention the international recognition gained by the NA and the widespread global rejection to the Constituent Assembly):

Borges explained in detail to these entities the alleged illegality they were incurring by buying a debt that the government unilaterally approved, without the seal of approval, required by the Constitution, of a Parliament now stripped of its competences.

As Borges himself — of Catalan and Valencian extraction and born in Caracas in 1969 — explained in an interview to the English language blog Caracas Chronicles, the strategy had two fronts.

First, making clear that ‘they were aiding and abetting a violation of the Venezuelan Constitution’; second, reminding them that ‘doing business with a dictatorship or a government that violates human rights or destroys a country’s democracy’ entails a reputational damage that banks cannot allow themselves.

Borges’s letters ‘scared many persons in the financial world’, a source close to the bondholders market told Efe…

Considering the hysteria surrounding Borges’ name (he’s called a traitor while, ironically, being one of the few high-profile opposition politicians that has been savagely beaten by chavista thugs —more than once), Gascón’s profile is a necessary piece on a complex figure that we’ll probably miss after finding out about his successor.