Photo: Celag

Democracy seems like a tricky thing in Venezuela and we’re not talking just about the government.

Even parties opposing chavismo have a difficult relationship with democracy. Alternancia en el poder? Nah. Most leaders of parties from the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) have been in office for a long time. Maybe too long.

Robert Michels, sociologist and specialist in political behavior, explained that political parties have the tendency to generate internal oligarchies that monopolize power. Cualquier parecido con la realidad no es pura coincidencia. Here is a paradox: How can parties fighting for democracy handle themselves internally in such authoritarian ways?

The obvious case is Acción Democrática’s Henry Ramos Allup.

Ramos Allup is the poster boy for the vices of la cuarta that chavismo criticizes so much. The now 74-year-old politician was deputy for Acción Democrática (AD) for the first time in 1984, 34 years ago. Jaime Lusinchi was president, Like a Virgin was taking over the radio and Rafael Vidal was winning medals in Los Angeles.

Back to 2018, Ramos Allup is, again, a deputy at the National Assembly, dreaming about becoming president of Venezuela.

During his time as Assembly speaker, he ordered the removal of all Chávez paintings from congress in a celebrated, but rather empty, move. Not a single important decision came from the legislative body during that time. Meanwhile, he remains unchallenged as Acción Democrática’s caudillo, arriving at the General Secretariat 15 years ago, but holding presidency since 2000, the year after Chávez took power for the first time. If we do some maths, Allup has been el jefe de jefes in AD for 18 years now. Formidable at eliminating internal competition.

Some opposition leaders broke apart from the establishment, but others seem glad monopolizing power inside MUD to keep, and sustain, their personal agendas.

According to former party members, several “victims” have struggled for control of AD, some in important positions now: Luis Emilio Rondón, Alfonso Marquina, Ángel Medina and a long etcétera. In fact, if we review the composition of the most important opposition parties today (Primero Justicia, Voluntad Popular and Un Nuevo Tiempo), a lot of fellas around here are former adecos. A tip for those who want a career in AD: it’s better to not mess with Henry.

Julio Borges is another familiar face in opposition circles. In Primero Justicia, there have been internal elections but Julio has managed to stay ahead as National Coordinator. He went from being a rising television star, to being PJ boss in 2000, the same year he became deputy for the first time. Elected again for the Assembly in 2016, he will remain in charge until 2021, if we still have an Assembly. That’s 17 years in charge of the yellow-&-blacks.

Un Nuevo Tiempo (UNT) follows the trend; born after a fight inside Acción Democrática, Manuel Rosales has been its leader since its inception in 2000. The party “hecho en Zulia” seems to work around the Rosales monarchy. UNT has carried internal elections, but Manuel holds the title of “Presidente Fundador”, at the top of the pyramid and when he was exiled, there was his queen, Eveling Trejo, who went from Zulia’s first lady to mayor. Not bad if the core of your CV is being the boss’ wife.

One of the reasons our opposition seems to be locked in a cycle of the-same-mistakes over and over again is because, through 18 years of authoritarianism, we’ve had the same faces in charge. Some of them broke apart from the establishment, but others seem glad monopolizing power inside MUD to keep, and sustain, their personal agendas (someone would say that being opposition is a way of living), and they’ll do whatever it takes to maintain the status quo.

Even if Venezuela burns in the process.

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33 COMMENTS

  1. Hahahahah
    I would say so much about this but i would not want an old man like Ulamog to have a mental breakdown.
    The other thing is they all reek of socialism, some opposition.

  2. VZ lost most of that could the country when Chavez kicked out educated during 2002 to 2003 riots. After that – nobody was allowed to think. you are paying the price now.

  3. A party is not a government , if you dont like your party you can join another or found your own party , but if you dont like your goverment you cant found your own government , for there is only one government ……, democracy as practiced in one political party it is not the same as democracy at a national govt level ….we are now living extraordinary times, actually a time of war and persecution , where survival is the basic aim of life while looking for an opportunity to effect a regime change which is the real purpose of a democracy in a national setting , and to survive you need to develop an expertise which means that experience gives you a hedge newcomers dont have …….!! having said that I do think that as a general principle it would be good if leadership in political parties is routinely rotated to give the less experienced an ocassion to mature and grow and of course to weed out those that dont meet the mark…..also I would favour wording within a collegiate structure , creating team that know how to work together combining the different talents of each member…but maybe thats the utopian in me talking !!

  4. It has to be impossible to write articles for CC, the criticism they get. And usually, rightfully so.

    What the hell is it with Latinos and the word “oligarchy?”

    I’ve said it before and I can’t help saying it again:

    Drop this stupid Latino nonsense verbiage.

  5. About two weeks ago, I sat down and read the major party platforms.

    If you put them all down on paper with their names covered, it would be impossible to tell which party was which. FFS, they all just want to give shit away (err… other peoples money) in order to buy votes. There isn’t a single party that espouses fiscal responsibility. Did I miss that one?

    • Nope, your analysis is spot on. And the CC editorial staff is becoming like a rudderless raft of chavistas, if they can just get rid of these guys we’ll get it right next time.

  6. I say, Baloney.
    According to your logic Apple Inc. would be a piece of sh!t company due that its founder Steve Jobs was the boss for so many years until his death. There are many examples like that but you get the point.
    Like others have said, one thing is the Government where alternance in power as a Democratic value is really important but it is another thing the internal organizational scheme of political parties.
    Besides, in critical times like this, you need a strong experienced leadership that could make quick decisions. In normal times, you can have the luxury of being more inclusive and “democratic” within a political party, but they don’t necessarily have to be.

    For me, the bottom line is if the relevant candidates are competent, educated and have experience for that particular job.

    You could accuse HRA of some other things but this seem to be a weak argument.
    In either case, I think HRA political career is over, he is no longer relevant so all this become a moot point.
    Bear in mind that the solution is no longer an electoral one and that is where the opposition has to focus on.

  7. I cannot say you are wrong because I don’t live in Venezuela but I do know that you failed to prove your thesis that the opposition parties are anti democratic. In the US, the Clintons have maintained cpntrol of the Democrats gor years and the Bush family the Republicans but I don’t think either party is not democratic.

  8. This post is messed up from top to bottom, as Bill was quick to correct in his clarification above.

    Furthermore, since it is about semantics, how about if for a change, we started utilizing key words appropriately? Even semi-professional writers on these blogs and all media keep using inaccurate, vague and misleading words to describe Kleptozuela. Is it just a bad habit, political correctness, laziness or plain ignorance of what the dictionary has to offer?

    Things should be called by their name. What was Venezuela is now, beyond a mere “dictatorship” or “authoritarianism”, and worst of all “Government”.. a Criminal Regime, a Genocidal Tyranny, or most accurately when using just one word, a Kleptocracy? Look these words up in the dictionary, they are valid, clear, much precise and accurate when describing Venezuela. In Spanish we have the much more accurate word “Desgobierno”, for instance, Desgobierno Ilegal, Fraudulento. That would be a feeble start.

    By calling the Narco-Tyranny “Government”, or even just “Dictatorship” we are legitimizing a criminal bunch of criminals and drug dealers, (Thieves, more accurately and above all – Thus my favorite word Kleptocracy ) who stole power, and keep stealing it by any means. Especially in writing, why do we keep using such inaccurate words? Benefits Chavismo, that’s for damn sure. “Gobierno de Maduro” over and over.. heck, it took over a decade for many to start suspecting it was even some sort of Dictatorship, and it’s much, much worse than that. Many Dictatorships are and have been a million times better than Kleptozuela’s criminal blend of Castrismo and other Neo-Tropical, Genocidal Tyrannies. Look these words up, all in the dictionary.

    Back to this messed up post: if the author had utilized the proper words: Kleptocracy, or Tyranny, Criminal Regime.. then it would have made sense to compare it with the Muddy MUD “opposition”. Not in terms of Democracy or Dictatorship, clearly reserved for Gobiernos or Desgobiernos, in Miraflores’ case. For starters, the longevity of opposition Parties’ leaders means nothing in terms of ‘democracy’ or ‘dictatorship’, what means something is that they may be as just as corrupt, complicit crooks, salivating vultures, immoral politicians as the incumbent Criminal Kleptocrats. Now that makes sense, and its true in most cases. This opposition is probably much more “democratic” than the Thugs in charge, and would rotate in power, as Ad/Copey did for 4 decades, but they are also probably almost as Corruptible as Chavistas.

    Thus, the appropriate title should have been “The opposition doesn’t know morality either” : they seem just as corrupt, hungry for power as the current Tyrants, responsible for Kleptozuela’s disaster. Now that would have been semantically accurate and correct for most opposition leaders, except for MCM and few others.

    Or just call it “The opposition needs new blood and strong moral values. For the most part, it stinks”.

    • I agree you. All you have now is people (criminals) trying to controls to rape and pillage of the country. Thank god I live there any more.

    • The title should be “The official opposition chosen by the cuban invaders’ puppets knows no morality either”

      Over and over again those folks have shown that they’re not opposition, as they’ve forced people to run in the chavista hamster wheel since 2005.

      The actual opposition is silenced either by having its leaders imprisoned or murdered, or by the absolute ban from all media so their message can never be heard (For example, those who still believe the whole thing of Oscar Pérez was a show)

  9. Whatever their individual flaws and weaknesses of some of its members its wrong and mistaken to see the politically organized opposition as being considered morally equivalent to the gangsters representing the regime , there is a clear and exorbitant dispproportion in attributing to such opposition the magnitude of criminal and monstrous incompetence and corruption that we find in the regime , thats playing the govts game , if they are all the same , there is no sense in acting to change the regime !! Most leaders of the opposition have inmaculate backgrounds and reputation , some have given rise to some rumours which never confirmed or validated…because of some things which some of their relatives are accused of …….still to me and to most of the oppo there is no question that to have the present members of the organized opposition become the new leaders of a democratic regime would represent an inmense improvement over the present leadership.

  10. Have you guys read Quico’s old posts on this subject? The longevity of oppo leaders is a symptom of a deeper problem: no accountability for failure.

      • Heres a list of longest serving Congress members, the top 15 have all been lovely Democrats. You have to love socialists and the mantra “power is for life”. Stick that in your pipe Quico.

        1 John Dingell (H) Democratic 59 years,
        2 Robert Byrd (H, S) Democratic 57 years,
        3 Carl Hayden (H, S) Democratic 56 years,
        4 Daniel Inouye (H, S)Democratic 53 years,
        5 Jamie Whitten (H) Democratic 53 years,
        6 John Conyers (H) Democratic 52 years,
        7 Carl Vinson (H) Democratic 50 years,
        8 Emanuel Celler (H) Democratic 49 years,
        9 Sam Rayburn (H) Democratic 48 years,
        10 Sidney R. Yates (H, I) Democratic 48 years,
        11 Strom Thurmond (S, I) Democratic, later Republican 47 years,
        12 Wright Patman (H) Democratic 47 years,
        13 Ted Kennedy (S) Democratic 46 years,
        14 Charles Rangel (H) Democratic 46 years,

  11. agree, grasping for straws.

    Not that the lack of rotation in Venezuelan opposition isn’t a problem. But when you see guys like Guevara, Stalin Gonzales, Goicochea, Pizarro, in essence, the 2002 students, and realize that they usually spend more time thinking about marketing than governance, you worry. But maybe that’s the future. And I don’t mean that they don’t consider governance at all.

    CC used to be much more elocuent regarding the nature of the problem: they simply called the old guard dinosaurs. But as the problem got graver, war ethics set in and they stopped hating on them so much.

    But now that they proved to be worthless, and you started hating again, I would ask you have a better analytic approach than this one which Bill Bass so easily dismantled.

  12. I think we all agree this was not CCs finest moment but it is more than offset by the full body of its work which I think is quite good. I know there is much division in the ranks of those who oppose the chavistas but the key is to find common cause against them in a sort of war time alliance, and then at war’s end resume the competition. The chavistas are too powerful for a divided opposition.

    • Think of it this way.
      Anyone who says they oppose Chavismo……..and is a socialist, does not oppose the politics of Chavismo.
      So by definition you are not opposition.
      I really can not understand how this is so confusing to people.

  13. This thing about an aging opposition.. it happens because of the Criminal Kleptocracy in place. Only somewhat corrupt, twisted, complicit old gizzards can survive. Career politicians, weasels and scoundrels like Borges and ramus Allup, only those survive in such regimes. The Tropical Tyranny simply gets rid of any young blood in a hurry. Ever heard of a guy named Leopoldo Lopez? What happened to young Caprilito? Guevara, Stalin Gonzales, Goicochea, Pizarro.. the list goes on. MCM, Freddy.. se jodieron.

    All kicked out, jailed or neutralized. Remember some guy named Oscar Perez, and 6 others, or we already forgot ? Young opposition leaders are simply crushed by criminal totalitarian dictatorships such as Kleptozuela. Nothing new there. Not that they ever had many stellar young politicians during the 4 pathetic decades of AD/Copey which enabled and gave rise to Chavismo, but the country is capable of producing young new, democratic, quality leaders in the future. Leopoldo was one of them and will still be there. Others like Lorenzo Mendoza might think about AFTER the Tropical Tyranny is kicked out.

  14. What would you have a new, younger “opposition” do? Form a united front and run in the farcical elections to oust the incumbents? Crusader nailed it above, there is no viable opposition in Venezuela all socialists with different colored t-shirts. One can’t but wonder how many more of Venezuela’s most vulnerable citizens need to die before a Venezuelan (and it MUST be a Venezuelan) takes a gun and actually shoots one of those holding the country hostage. Perez had the right idea but appears to have run smack into the face of native hebetude.

  15. The official opposition continues to be the center of the attention.

    All while the true opposition is labeled as “radicals” and “bloodthirsty lunatics” and are banned from all the media in a desperate attempt to silence the voice of the people that wants to get rid of the sewage that’s chavismo and their tailor-made opposition.

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