What was Punto Fijo? Below I have lifted parts of the editorial of Veneconomia in English which cannot be linked directly.
On an October 31 fifty years ago, Rómulo Betancourt, Rafael Caldera, and Jóvito Villalba, the leaders of Venezuela’s three main political parties, signed the Pact of Punto Fijo, which made it possible to consolidate democracy in the country and guide it for four decades.
The Pact arose in the days prior to the first elections held following the fall of the dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez. These three great leaders and their party organizations undertook to defend constitutionality and respect election results based on a national united-front government with shared responsibilities and a minimum common program.
The core motive of this pact was to create the conditions for establishing a plural, free democracy. Another factor that determined the signing of the Pact was that the democratic leaders fully realized that, if they did not join in a common cause, the country would fall, once again, under a military boot.
That was it. Nothing else but a pact where democratic leaders agreed not to tear each other apart until a democratic system were set in place, solid enough to withstand the normal democratic battles and bruises.
And Veneconomia also brings us an explanation of why Chavez attacks the Punto Fijo tradition. He did so, by the way, ruthlessly, amid lies and historical rewriting in his cadena last Friday.
Today, as yesterday, Venezuela is threatened by the phantom of totalitarianism from a president who, despite having been elected under the laws of democracy, has unrestrained hegemonic aspirations and seeks to implement a country project called 21st Century Socialism, which has a clearly fascist overtones.
However, today, unlike yesterday, the country’s democratic leadership seems to be in disarray and looks far from synchronized. The urgent task before this leadership is the coordination of a vision of the country shared by the majority of Venezuelans to confront the fascism that is in the making.
Also unlike 50 years ago, the country’s leadership seems not to have taken the true measure of the destructive potential of its adversary that is capable of finishing off Venezuela’s democratic system once and for all.
Of course, Chavez might be the ultimate liar when he describes Punto fijo, but he does so because he knows quite well that the day all democratic sectors of the country finally wake up and see him for what he is, he will be toast. He has a big advantage that Perez Jimenez did not have: he is in office when the price of oil allowed him to spread the utter corruption, financial and moral, that a fat checkbook allows to spread in a country which is ill educated. Perez Jimenez did try that, but those were different times where even if you were corrupt you still believed that a certain efficiency in government would help you retain power. Chavez is not bothered by efficiency in an age of media where raw emotions and hate are better tools to carry the day. Up to a point anyway.
So far the opposition is not showing signs of clearly understanding what is at stake, in days where even the old Communist Party of Venezuela is somewhat sensing deep inside that chavismo is more akin to fascism as to Cuban revolution. We can see that very well in Bolivar state, or even in Trujillo and Barinas where supporting a dissident chavista would be enough to defeat the Chavez appointee. True, they are unpalatable folks that probably would try first to make peace with Chavez, but at least that would be the end in state of a knee jerk chavista response. Is it not worth trying if you are sure that you are not going to win anyway?