There are two type of death kisses, the ones you get without specifically looking for them (Judas, for example, though lately some argue that it was all arranged), or the ones that you actually look for even if you have been duly warned. We got two examples today.
Kiss me to death
Jennifer McCoy of the Carter Center arrived in Venezuela today. She is doing an announced follow up on the Venezuelan situation. One of her first errands was to visit the new CNE. OK, I understand she must meet them to make her survey of Venezuela. But on the very first day? With a CNE already so discredited?
To her credit she stated at a brief press conference that she was visiting them to give them some documentation with a sampling of international election laws. I assume it is a subtle hint for the CNE that they are not on the international wavelength as far as fairness in elections. She also told them that international observers of some renown will abide by a certain set of criteria. Could this be another hint to the CNE that it will not be able to decide on how observations can me made? Maybe one can hope that perhaps the Venezuelan observation fiasco of 2004 has stirred observers to put their act together and avoid to be entrapped as easily in the future.
Still, I think that Dr. McCoy started on shaky grounds her new effort, at least from what was said at Alo Ciudadano tonight. But maybe looking at the scant coverage from the official media (I only found this in ABN) she might be up to something.
The other death kiss was from Chavez to Teodoro. During a lengthy press conference at home (a rather very rare event by Chavez but with an electoral campaign he feels obliged to even receive opposition journalists...) Chavez tried to fish in troubled water. The excuse was the recent debate on whether the opposition primaries are as hot an activity as some think they are. I will reserve discussion of this topic for a later post, but what is important today (sorry, no direct link) is that he said that he sided with Teodoro in his criticism to the primary mechanism and accused Sumate to finance the primaries with money form the Empire who wants the primaries. And, I kid you not, he even tried to make a case that primaries were undemocratic because, well, that was what the Empire wanted.
Certainly Teodoro does not need such "support", in particular as his opposition to primaries is mild and based on the consequences of the Tascon List: no public servant or military personnel, and their close relatives, will dare to vote in an opposition primary least chavismo uses it to suspect their lackluster revolutionary ardor. But what Chavez was really doing was to manipulate the words and intentions of Teodoro who seems to be climbing faster in polls than what chavismo would like. At any rate, Sumate was prompt in smelling the rat.
Can you recover from a death kiss?
Very easy if you have the guts.
For Jennifer: once your visit is done, emit a declaration saying that under the present conditions the Carter Center would have to think about any observation role in Venezuela. And leave it at that, letting people speculate as to why you said that. You might want to add as an addenda that you did not feel the recommendations provided by your organization have been "all" considered "yet".
For Teodoro: "Bug off Chavez! When you get primaries inside the MVR then you will be allowed to speculate on other people primary business. You are certainly not one to give lessons of democracy." Then drop it and set a meeting with Sumate where you go in all smiles, and go out all smiles no matter what you discuss inside. I am sure Sumate will understand and fully cooperate.