Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Experience talking again? Wisdom over emotion in politics

I did watch two interesting items today.

The first one was before leaving Caracas, an interview of Diego Arria in RCTV "La Entrevista". Diego Arria is a Venezuelan politician who successfully became an international diplomat. As such Venezuela has ceased to be his main place of residence though he visits often since I suppose he still must float around political circles who must use his advice and connections when needed. It was probably as such that late last year chavismo tried to link him to an alleged plot to kill Chavez. The ludicrous case claimed that he would have become the transition president of Venezuela once Chavez was disposed of. If the opposition never thought of him as the elder statesman of a transition, chavismo can blame only itself for suggesting what is a rather good idea if we must indeed have a transition government someday.

But I digress. Whatever one might think of Diego Arria, one thing is certain, his international career gives him two precious advantages: he does not need to seek glory in Venezuela anymore and he can speak his mind as he wishes. He did so today in a way that I particularly enjoyed: he simply put the blame for all that is wrong in Venezuela on the military because they have accepted to let themselves be corrupted by the money and power that Chavez threw at them. That is: they have failed their constitutional role to be the guardians of democracy.

Long time readers of this blog will remember that I am allergic to anything military and that I have occasionally supported this thesis. My surprise here is not that Mr. Arria agrees with me, most sensible politicians will agree with this. No, the surprise is how bluntly he expressed it, something unusual in Venezuelan political circles where the language tries to bring over their side by putting on them as many pleasant adjectives as possible, given the circumstances. But in truth Chavez has transformed Venezuela's democracy into a de facto military regime. Since 2002-2003 most of the key posts of Venezuela administration are held by folks coming out from the armed forces. And since 2006 it is fair to say that Chavez has completed the change in the upper echelons which are now filled by his supporters regardless of their merits. In other words the military have reached power without needing to make a coup.

I would love to talk to Mr. Arria to ask him what we could do with that army. I, for one, would go the Costa Rica way, eliminate it altogether, retaining only coastguards and border guards, with a strengthened police system for everything else. The only country that could one day want to invade us is Colombia and that can be easily taken care of by integrating our economies and currency European Union style.

The other item of interest was tonight Ramos Allup on Alo Ciudadano. The secretary of AD is not a favorite of mine as I hold AD responsible in great part for the mess which allowed Chavez to flourish. This being said he is tremendously entertaining on TV. Tonight he did not disappoint. The question was the flip flop Chavez did on the amendment. After two years of saying that eternal reelection should only be for him he decided three weeks ago to make it all inclusive. Ramos Allup has an explanation for that: Chavez sensing a likely defeat and not being able to backtrack or postpone the amendment has found this way to share the burden of defeat. That is, if the amendment is defeated next February, he will be able to claim that the defeat is the defeat of all elected officials who did not manage to convince the people to allow them to run for ever and ever. Voilà!

Bold but quite possible, will you not agree with?

However the interesting point here is that some old politicians seem to be making a limited but real come back. After ten years of emotional and near psychotic leadership suddenly old and wizened professional politicians might suddenly find themselves with a chance to finish their career honorably by daring to explain to us clearly what is really going on. Though we must also say that they did seem to have learned a lot under Chavez, hopefully making them more effective these days were the opposition needs surefooted moves.


-The end-

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