Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Endorsing times?

Yesterday my very estimable colleague Juan Cristobal asked in the comments whether I was endorsing Leopoldo Lopez. Fair question since I have been writing a lot about the Inter American Court proceedings that Lopez won brilliantly (even if it will do him little good it seems). Unfortunately the answer is not direct. 

My nature forbids me to endorse anyone in politics, or at least not heartily. Mostly all my voting decisions have been difficult, in France or Venezuela (or the US if I had been allowed to vote then). Only since 1998 my head was clear, my decision neat and precise: anything but Chavez, at any election that this creep or his minions or his referenda were proposed. My record low, so to speak, was April 1999 when I was in the 10% of those that voted against electing a constituent assembly. To this day, the only true anti chavista and possibly the only true democrats in Venezuela are those who went to vote NO that day in spite of Chavez rising tide or the first "abstention" movement of our recent history. I recall my last minute frantic call to convince at least my brothers to go to vote NO, only one did..... That I have been proven right since is of little comfort.

Since 1998 all my voting decisions have been based on which way is best to get rid of Chavez who has been a cancer on the country (kind of interesting that he is suffering of cancer himself and that he uses it to screw Venezuela even further as if it were our fault he got cancer; but I digress). In other words, I will support, heartily, anyone that has a reasonable chance to oust Chavez through the ballot vote, the only way we should remove Chavez from office if we want to avoid lingering peronista-like syndrome for Venezuela. In 2002 a more or less forced destitution was still an option as Chavez then was at his historical low and there was an argument that the 1999 constitution changes were illegal. But such an option is ruled out today now that the regime as managed a permanent polarization of the country and has created an ideologized group that will take years to educate back to the ways of democracy. Now, mere application of the 1999 constitution would be an improvement over the present situation.

The first real choice we had was in 2006 when we had to chose between Petkoff, Borges and Rosales as the unity candidate against Chavez. My choice then was Petkoff even though I did write a lengthy article on the validity of the three choices offered then. Once Rosales got the opposition nod I endorsed him fully which alienated me, for good, from one of my colleagues that had soul searching misgivings only well suited for those who have the luxury of living abroad.  Warts and all we had all to support Rosales.

The situation today is different since there will be primaries in February and in theory we can chose the unity candidate and my blogging could actually play a role, the tinniest, smallest, role for sure but a role in supporting a given horse.  And even though I have written extensively about Leopoldo Lopez plight, that should not be interpreted as an outright endorsement.

Let me explain first one thing: the tale on how Leopoldo took on the chavista judicial repression machinery and exposed it to the world, and even to too many Venezuelans that should have known better, is riveting, to say the least.  I would be remiss if I had not covered it in detail.  After all, other colleagues were writing on fiances and fraud, someone had to cover the story from early on.

This being said I do have three candidates for the primaries.  If they were today I would vote for Leopoldo but I have not closed my options on Maria Corina Machado or Diego Arria even though I have all but ruled out Capriles and Pablo Perez.

Let's start on why I have ruled out Perez and Capriles.  There is something that I do not like in their campaign, a feel of "chavismo light", a belief that chavistas could come to them just because they promise to keep the best of Chavez and make it better.  The premise is wrong on so many levels that I do not want to get started on that.  The main sin for me of these campaigns is that they are doing great disservice to the country by sugar coating the reality and waltzing around the tough decisions to be made in 2013.  It is almost the best recipe to send people back in droves to Chavez or some chavista, just the way they did go back to Carlos Andres Perez in 1988 for all the wrong reasons.   Nearly unforgivable for me there are the many mistakes along the way such as the long drawn out discussion between Perez and Rosales, or the twitter major faux-pas of Capriles.  It is not that I do not like them, after all I did write a rather glowing review of the a Primero Justicia congress, and I have more than once apologized for Rosales missteps.  But this time I have a choice.

I regard Lopez, Machado and Arria as my favorites right now because each one of them is doing what is right, what needs to be done if we want to do more than just beat Chavez in 2012.

Diego Arria has probably no chance and he has to suffer to get his 100K signatures so that the MUD will let him run as an independent.  But he is the perfect president for a transition that will last at least a couple of years, when the new government will need to negotiate tough agreements with all sorts of countries that have screwed up Venezuela and that will demand payment.  After all, they signed with Venezuela, not with Chavez, and it is not their fault if we were stupid enough to put Chavez in office.  Diego Arria has the experience for that and the contacts.  And he also understands that micromanagement does not work and he will hire the people to do the job wherever they are needed.  I sense that last part from no one other candidate except a little bit from Leopoldo Lopez even though many accuse him of autocratic tendencies of his own.  And if you think that I did not cover Diego Arria, think again: I covered extensively his fight to preserve his farm and his principled position against the regime (which did not do him much good).

Maria Corina Machado has already proven herself to be a good political manager when she was at SUMATE.  Since she is at the National Assembly she also has proved that she is a political animal, not a perfected one yet but a very fast learner.  And even though I covered her less than Arria or Lopez, I have dedicated a whole blog to the survival fate of SUMATE, a blog that may be mercifully dormant but ready to restart as needed.  Also, she speaks her mind and is not afraid of often  saying stuff that is un-PC.  Never mind that her rather Quixotic campaign is serving at least a major prupose: exposing the machismo inside chavismo where women occupy high positions but rule over nothing.

Leopoldo Lopez is easier to explain since I have done a lot of coverage on his adventures lately.  However I need to insist that he is doing something right too, creating a political party from scrap, which included extensive participation from its followers.  True, Primero Justicia does it also but not at all to the level that Voluntad Popular has dared to do. As such Voluntad Popular has had the benefit of attracting a lot, a whole lot, of the best and brightest of that student renewal that we saw in 2007.  Look at them then and look at 70% of them today organizing Lopez political activities.

Today, as I wrote, I would vote for Lopez but Arria and Machado I keep following and I can still go for them.  There are three long months of campaign and any one of the three can start failing... or be barred from running.  In fact, since either Machado and Arria are collecting signatures and since Chavez will likely bar Lopez, I might not be able to vote for any of them!

Speaking of this, since I consider that it is important that Machado and Arria go all the way to February to move the debate away from the "I am more efficient than Chavez". I will urge you to bring your signature to Machado or Arria.  Either one and you are not obliged to vote for them, but please, make sure they do participate in the February vote.

Since this is internet you can help Arria by going to his special Facebook page where you can download a form to support him and send it for free if you are in Venezuela.  I think that since the Tascon List this is a hard way to go, but if you live outside Venezuela or your name is already on the Tascon list, what do you have to lose?

Same thing for Maria Corina Machado who has a slicker web page. She gives you the option to download a form and mail it or a list of points where on occasion volunteers collect signatures.  And you can also mail them for free.

Still, to conclude, I need to re-assure readers who follow other candidates that if Capriles (you know who you are) or Perez win the primary this blog will instantly serve their electoral effort as if I had rooted for them from day one.

63 comments:

  1. RabbiBulla3:14 PM

    Bravo, Daniel!You handled this topic as a whole very well!
    I think you described the main weakness of the opposition-and it is a difficult one- if they come off too angry, too threatening to Chavez- he screams "they want to kill me-theyare backed by the empire"(he does that anyway)
    "The main sin for me of these campaigns is that they are doing great disservice to the country as sugar coating the reality and the tough decisions to be made in 2013"-
    Yes Yes- takes lot of educating-so many are uninformed or misinformed
    for example about billions in arms purchases and loans.
    I am so glad you reminded everyone of this. I hate the choirboy assembly-all illegal..

    " April 1999 when I was in the 10% of those that voted against electing a constituent assembly. To this day, the only true anti chavista and possibly the only true democrats in Venezuela are those who went to vote NO that day"

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  2. I do remember on the eve of Chavez' election when it was clear that he would become elected, saying that that was the beginning of a real tragedy for the country. Sadly, I wasn't mistaken. I didn't vote on the constituent assembly matter because I knew that at the time it was pointless.

    The analysis is impeccable, but I have misgivings about Diego Arria. You know, Daniel, that he has a non-sanctum past, especially when he was governor. He was a "limpio" before that. I said in another post that MCM's time can and will come, but she needs much more political experience.

    Overall, I am not confortable with any of the candidates. I think Perez is another populist clown, and Capriles lacks personal and political maturity to be president. His tweets show that, though not exclusively.

    Regarding Lopez, How can someone who only has been major of a tiny municipality claim enough expertise to be president?

    Is the primaries a game of choosing the least bad candidate?

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  3. "Maria Corina Machado has already proven herself to be a good political manager when she was at SUMATE"

    Really?

    Sumate said we won, we lost...

    Were our votes protected?

    Don't think so..

    To me that disqualifies her...

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  4. JMA

    In France we have a two round system, the first round being essentially the equivalent of a priamry election except that the distance between the two rounds is at most two weeks. The saying goes: "au premier tour on choisit, au second tour on élimine" At the first round we chose, at the second round we eliminate.

    The problem you have is that we already now the motivation of the second round, to remove Chavez from office. If it were a normal democracy you could cross over and participate (as it happens in many US states) since a bad result for you does not preclude you from coming back to the previous office holder as a lesser evil.

    But in Venezuela you do not have that option since no matter what happens in February you know what your vote will be in the second round on October 7 2012....

    In a way that perversity is good for us because Chavez needs the primaries to be as low participation as possible: if the participation is high (30% being high already) then that spells trouble for Chavez since already 30% of the people are motivated enough to vote against him and in a country with 40% abstention that Venezuela is. The opposition already has locked half of the ballots to be cast in October.

    In other words the most important result of next February is not who wins, but how many people went to vote. That is why we should all be encouraging people to vote in the primaries of the opposition, even the chavistas we know.

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  5. JMA: On Diego Arria, you are wrong, he was no limpio then, in fact, he lived in one of the two fanciest urbanizaciones de Caracas. I remember when CAP was a candidate Arria appearing on US TV, in an impeccable suit and speaking perfect English.

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  6. Miguel

    Well, it all depends whether Chavez cheated. In 2004 Sumate was also recent and maybe we can allow for rookies errors.

    The thing is that she was not alone in running Sumate and she made the referendum possible only because the "firamzo" had been a success in 2003.

    One thing is good/ bad politics and another good / bad management and sometimes both do not coincide at all.

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  7. JMA

    I concur with Miguel. Besides, that Arria took advantage of his political contacts for some sweet deals do not make him a corrupto in plundering directly the state coffers like those today are doing.

    When all of this is done we are going to have to do a lot of revisions on the meaning of terms like corrupto..... When people like Escarra say that Leopoldo "chorreo" money we do a disservice in repeating such accusations without regard.

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  8. Javier5:24 PM

    I agree with you Daniel, this primaries is like having a two round election and as for the candidates there is a neighbor of yours Henri Falcón, a batacazo, which I think Miguel also mentioned in one of his posts. Henri can attract good part of chavismo but combined with a respect for the law he is not your typical "a better chavismo"

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  9. Javier

    In this post I am not discussing who will win, but my likes and dislikes. Any candidate that does not appear is one that I do not care about, in good or bad.

    Right now, after the PODEMOS and CR endorsement Capriles looks stronger and stronger. And yet I am not running to enroll in PJ :)

    then again there is the AD endorsement left.....

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  10. Juan Cristóbal6:36 PM

    Thanks for the response, Daniel. I don't agree with it - condemning Capriles for a tweet while forgiving Arria for 30+ years of being at CAP's right side strikes me as a bit overblown. But it's your opinion, and I empathize since there are things I dislike about all of them, and I have not made up my own mind as to who I would support.

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  11. Miguel & Daniel:

    I should have said "limpio" compared to what he made while he was a member of government. Remember that in those times, a governor was essentially a secretary for the president, no autonomy there.

    I have discussed this with my father who is of course older than all of us and at the time had many contacts with adecos and had a info of what was going on. At the time, I was a teenager, but I frequently heard my father say how all these guys were involved in "pasteles" of several millions. It would be long to cite all "chanchullos" in which Arria was involved, but the most notorious is perhaps the one involving the infamous Ikarus buses imported from Hungary, those pieces of shit that ended up in a car cemetery a short while later. They were so flimsy made that even one kid died when he fell through the floor of one of them. I rode in those buses, so I can confirm that their floors were made of "carton."

    Why did he have to bring buses from Hungary if it probably could have made more sense to bring them from the U.S.? The answer may lay in the fact that throughout the so called 4th republic, it was always preferred to sign big contracts with European companies than with their American counterparts, because the former were more eager to pay bribes (something even encouraged by some European governments, especially, Italy, Germany and France) than the later, which is precluded by law to do so. I gather it was then much easier to get a bribe from the Hungarians, who weren't at the time in the best of economic situations.

    "Besides, that Arria took advantage of his political contacts for some sweet deals do not make him a corrupto in plundering directly the state coffers like those today are doing."

    Wow! Are you serious? Last I checked, in the U.S. politicians go to jail for doing that. Then, according to you Daniel, there are good and bad corruptos? Tolerable and intolerable corruption? So, it will never end. If we don't completely root out those with big appetites for the government coffers, then we are condemned to be a banana republic forever.

    There is a good article by Carlos Alberto Montaner that appeared in last Sunday's edition of El Nuevo Herald. You can find it in its web site or in CAM's web site.

    You will find there a reference to limited-access societies. CAM states that 3/4 of the countries in the planet fit this mold. Of course, Venezuela is perhaps the clearest example of them all. Although I do not agree with everything in his Op-Ed, he explains that precisely that kind of corruption in which Arria engaged is the one responsible for making Venezuela a limited-access society.

    BTW, far from me to imply that you, Daniel, would condone any form of corruption. However, the present level of corruption should not be our measuring stick, but we should rather use it to realize what it is to descend into hell.

    Regarding the candidates, it seems that the order of the day is to get rid of Chavez no matter what or who. Be careful what you wish for, you may get it, and may end up not liking it ... not one damn bit.

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  12. JC

    I apologize if my pragmatism comes across as a form of cynicism.

    For me that tweet of Capriles is the confirmation of a lack of statesmanship from him. Since he is governor of Miranda I have always felt that he has reached his top, that this is how far he can go. I really have a hard time in seeing him managing an après Chavez. True, it is important to get rid of Chavez before we can judge a post Chavez but in the primaries I can have the luxury to chose among those who I think have a clear understanding of what is in store for us. And a knee jerk defense of PDVSA is for me very worrisome.....

    As for Arria. He might have been corrupt but there is no trial that I have heard of. Also he had a very distinguished career in the UN and if he were indeed a crook I doubt very much that he would gone as high as he is, as respected a figure as he has become. We should just not throw such accusations that we hate when chavistas throw them at us, like the truly awful performance of Diosdado tonight at the assembly attacking even the family of Leopoldo as if it were relevant to the IACHR....

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  13. Juan Cristóbal10:30 PM

    Fair game. I agree with your assessment of Capriles, btw. He needs to grow in stature before I'm on board.

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  14. Anonymous3:14 AM

    Daniel,

    I can relate to your feelings when you say "anything but Chavez, at any election that this creep or his minions or his referenda were proposed..." Another dictator in a country near you came immediately to mind. As for Diego Arria, well, nobody is perfect. There is redemption for some.

    Antonio

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  15. Thanks for the, as usual, thoughtful analysis, Daniel.

    Regarding Diego Arria, definitely he has "rabo de paja" (a straw butt) not only for the buses that JMA, as well as I, rode in, but there was also a nice business deal involving sidewalks along the Boulevard de EL Cafetal and other places.

    There was even talk of his involvement in the deal that brought in the telephone system that used to run in Hamburg, Germany for Caracas!

    Still, these were long ago and far away enough that most people would not either remember or care, for that matter. Since his time in local government he has become an elder statesman and has a very good track record outside Venezuela, so really, kudos to him on that score.

    Can Arria translate this to winning first the primaries and then the big prize, I don't think so. I do think though, that he wants to run in the primaries for the same reasons any politician anywhere else does. To measure his draw, maybe to win and to use positive results as a bargaining chip for a position on the winning team should that team go all the way. For him it's a win win, there is no downside to participating.

    As for your stance on Capriles, well, you certainly have been clear, but I predict you will be endorsing him come February 15th of 2012 (3 days after the primaries).

    I don't think MCM has a shot this go round, and Leopoldo does not either. She because of lack of experience and the fact that she is a woman ( I have no problem with that, but many of our paisanos sure do).

    Leopoldo, while he has a winning smaile and an earnest attitude is still not over the inhabilitation hump, nor will he be until after the primaries IMHO. By that time, he will have to either choose to bow his head and get on the MUD bus or run independent and take votes away from the MUD candidate.

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  16. Island Canuck7:14 AM

    AN rejects decision by the Human Rights court in favor of Leopoldo Lopez.

    Luisa Ortega also says that Venezuela will have to review the functions of both the court & the HR organization.

    It looks like they will not rehabilitate Leopoldo.

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  17. Arria' "elegant appearance" at international events (and it does come up to that) has little to do with his capacity to be the president of a country that wants to be a developed country (well, perhaps Venezuelans really haven't figured that out).
    Arria was indeed too linked to corruption to be redeemed by just years and nice appearances abroad.
    Besides, he doesn't have a clue about his own country. This may seem like an anthropological detail to many but I think it is telling: he was applauding the "guajiros" in Southern Zulia for their stance against the regime.
    It's this "you-whatever-you-locals-are, I am with you but didn't spend time finding out who you are".
    This is not enough to govern a country, but in one with the identify chaos Venezuela has, it becomes handy. You don't have to be an anthropologist to find out about these things, just a minute or two of your time to learn about each state would do.

    One thing that strikes me about all these candidates is how they seem to talk like better managers for a city. They sound like candidates to become majors. They don't talk about Venezuela's development. The most I hear is from Leopoldo about
    a Venezuela bonita donde todo sea bonito (targets, wish list, no plan) and perhaps the best from Capriles about education, education, education (but that is way too vague, even "more schools" is too vague and education - even I say that- is not enough)

    They miss a big mission.
    But Diego Arrias: just an adeco who speaks English.

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  18. Arria's Wikipedia page:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diego_Arria . Not a 'limpio' or an uneducated person... and his first wife belonged to the high society in Ccs. Very difficult circle to enter if you are a nobody.

    That being said, I concur with Daniel, the man would be perfect for a transition government. He's got the age for it. For, let's be real here: the person who will take the 'coroto' is going to deal with too much garbage. No one can take this job and have a decent political career afterwards.

    But, I really don't think that he can win elections. He carries a lot of baggage -real or not- and is way too 'sifrino' for the common venezuelan. People love chávez precisely because he's not like that -to say it elegantly.

    I like Capriles. He's was my major and now my governor. I find him very capable. That being said... the man has no charisma :( which sadly is a thing that the common voter goes for.

    I love Maria Corina, but I think it's too soon for her! Jojota pues.

    Leopoldo Lopez: I like him in second place. But he's got the charisma that Capriles lacks and quoting our infamous VP Jaua, he's got a wife and a child. Things that look good while campaigning.

    I'll endorse ANYONE -well, not Pablo Medina of course!- . But as of now, I don't think that the regime will let Leopoldo run.

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  19. Daniel, I think your analysis, and stance, are spot on. One can only hope that more so-called opposition people would see it as clearly as you do.

    Regarding the candidates and primaries, I find myself in a similar position. No one's perfect, but whoever said that politics was about choosing the perfect candidate? Those don't exist, anywhere on earth. I think people in Venezuela should mature and realise that what's needed is clarity around issues, rather than around ideologies.

    As Arria told me once: "esos son los burros que tenemos y con ellos hay que arrear." Leopoldo, funny enough, said something very similar when I asked him -pre-inhabilitation- where were his dolphins: "hay que abrirle la puerta a todo el que quiera entrar, ya que muy poca gente quiere meterse en politica."

    To me, the most important thing in a candidate, at this point in time, is his/her ability to see the bigger picture, and realise that thousands of people will be needed to clear up the mess he/she will find after defeating Chavez. The fuck up is of monumental proportions, and it will take much skill, effort, intelligence, strategy, stamina, courage, contacts, money, and goodwill to solve it. None of the candidates have all that, individually. In fact they should all be part of a plancha, and then invite whoever wants to join in to help with the reconstruction, for everything needs be reconstructed in Venezuela.

    The talk about lack of experience, etc., that's just bullshit. Having said that, all candidates will, necessarily, have to address the skeletons in their closets, if they are to establish a difference with the past.

    I'd fancy doing research and publishing sets of questions to them, so that we can gain a better understanding of the individual, even before we get to the policies. I tried to do this with Arria, and hopefully, will do with others:

    http://alekboyd.blogspot.com/2010/12/diego-arria-desde-mi-esquina.html

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  20. It is not inevitable that bad regimes are replaced by worse regimes, though it has happened enough for us to simply assume that overthrowing a dictator means a movement toward freedom and democracy.Still, in this case we have to take this risk.I ask myself not whether or not to take it, but in what context is this risk being taken???

    When we insult the 4rth republic, we have to remember that we are insulting the vast majority of the people in Venezuela.Also perhaps we even forget, that with all of its flaws it was oh so much better than the current government.

    Democracy cannot be bestowed on anyone.We need a sense of responsible citizenship.In the case of the 4th Republic, it was not just the leaders who made mistakes but the entire population as well.When we insult the 4th Republic, we are also insulting the majority of people in Venezuela.

    To keep repeating this mantra about the dinosaurs of the 4th Republic, we play into Chavez's hands.I am sure that this is what he most wants, because his government has failed, but he needs us to believe that the 4th Republic was even worse and this has turned into a kind of scapegoat on par with the scapegoating of U.S.



    In order to BE FREE, we have to overcome this cultivated aversion to the 4th Republic, because the phobic reaction many are taking will only act as an echo chamber, bouncing the idea over to the opposite extreme where the Chavistas have set up camp.

    Once it has been accepted as a given, that the 4th Republic was even worse( although this will only be hinted at but that is enough), it is only an easy step to identify even the new candidates of the opposition with the 4th Republic ,after all these new candidates have more in common with the 4th Republic than with Chavismo; so it is that this is his technique to win the elections.It is a matter of playing with images.

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  21. "One thing that strikes me about all these candidates is how they seem to talk like better managers for a city. They sound like candidates to become majors. They don't talk about Venezuela's development. The most I hear is from Leopoldo about a Venezuela bonita donde todo sea bonito (targets, wish list, no plan) and perhaps the best from Capriles about education, education, education (but that is way too vague, even "more schools" is too vague and education - even I say that- is not enough). They miss a big mission."

    This is the best analysis of the post's topic so far, IMHO. Exactly what I feel about the candidates. Vague proposals all the time that sometimes step into the ridiculous ("Venezuela bonita"). Unless they are purposely dumbing down their speech for the masses. In that case, we will get our reward soon enough.

    "But Diego Arria: just an adeco who speaks English." A caballo regalado, ni que lo fajen chiquito. The man is totally overrated. EF and OAP - no santos de mi devocion - have a much better understanding of the country.

    Very telling how someone here dismisses anyone else's opinions like he was the owner of truth. Probably that is why his comment section is consistently ... empty.

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  22. Liz,

    As for the candidates, I totally agree with Daniel that I would also accept any candidate that is not Chavez.


    However, my impression is that Lopez is extremely immature.His facial expression remind me more of teen age years than of responsible adulthood.He looks simply too young to handle the complicated position of governing Venezuela.My guess is his expression reveals his inner condition.

    I don't think that MCM 's problem is timing...I think the fact that she is a woman makes if difficult for her in the extremely 'machista' Venezuela.

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  23. Anonymous10:50 AM

    Good analysis Danielito, probably the candidates already know that only as a united front can they defeat Chavez at the ballot.

    For sure, no one will fit the bill of "perfect candidate", but then again, that's pretty much the case all over, from Senator Obama to Spain's Rodriguez Zapatero.

    And I agree with Alek, there needs to be consensus on issues and solutions.

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  24. Anonymous11:11 AM

    Mark Steyn has resurrected a good line from Milton Friedman in his latest book:

    "Don't elect the right people to do the right things, create the conditions whereby the wrong people are forced to do the right things."

    While I'm sure Friedman had "more advanced" democracies in mind when he said it, it's not a bad thought to keep in mind no matter what stage of development a country (and its people) may be at.

    One more quote:

    "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

    Mike Nelson

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  25. I think we all would vote for anyone opposed to Chávez from this group. The issue is who could be the best.

    Firepigette,
    Venezuela is indeed very Machista, but I think that should not prevent Machado from becoming a president now.

    One thing we know: we are majority. One thing most of us think: we need more than 50,1% of the votes because the CNE etc will cheat in this and that centre. We need much more. And to do that we need a candidate who can show s/he understands the average Venezuelan. Unlike Liz, I don't think it is about being non-sifrino. I don't think there is either sifrino or "niche". It is about showing you understand how Pedro Rodríguez, living in Maturín, who never has left Venezuela, lives. He is the average Venezuelan. 65% of Venezuelans live in cities which are not Caracas, not Maracaibo, not Valencia and not Barquisimeto.
    That's where we need to get stronger to be 100% sure no cheating will take our victory away.

    It is not about Parapara, but about Maturín, Punto Fijo, Puerto Cabello, El Tocuyo.

    I actually think Capriles can show he understands those people. But I miss the big vision from him.

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  26. Anonymous11:14 AM

    If there is no consensus on whether or not there should be consensus to get rid of Chavez, what is the point of consensus?

    Why do we talk about consensus all the time, if we can't even agree on what to order at a restaurant? More to the point, why should we have to agree on the menu?

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  27. Well, I'll certainly vote for whoever wins the primaries, though my vote will get lost somewhere above the Atlantic...

    I see that "someone" brings grudges from other blogs over to this one. Please send your email address JMA, I'll make sure next I am wiling to express my opinion, I will email you in advance to check whether it pleases you.

    As per having an empty comment section, if that was indeed directed to me, whoever told you that I wanted to deal with the Calvin Tuckers, and the Chris Carlsons and the believers of Francisco Toro's infallibility?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Anonymous11:30 AM

    When I see the candidates, I try to imagine them as a president, in front of the camera, explaining the country that we are broke and there is no "rial" for nobody.

    In my opinion, nobody fits the mold but, perhaps, MCM is the only one enough "balls" to do it.

    The candidate we need to win is not necessarily the one we need to govern.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Kepler,

    I think you make very valid points here.We should not underestimate the capacity of the people to relate to someone who really understands them.Perhaps that's the key to the victory for the opposition.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Can't some of these candidates join forces just to defeat Chavez? Leopoldo and Maria Corina should have a freaking affair, whatever it takes..

    ReplyDelete
  31. Grudges? Certainly not. I do not know you to have any grudges against you. Not I am interested in the least to have them.

    "The talk about lack of experience, etc., that's just bullshit."

    You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion. But, you are no one to tag everyone else's opinion as bullshit. That is how a bully behaves. In my opinion, that's a very valid concern taking into consideration the almost insurmountable amount of problems the country will face.

    "Finalmente, el autor recomienda a todos los que crean en dios, en cualquiera de sus denominaciones, a los que crean que el cambio climático es causado por el hombre, ... por favor ahorrense su comentario, ya que no será publicado, a no ser que el autor considere pertinente utilizarlo como ejemplo de la estupidez humana."

    I don't think I need to comment on this. It's so wrong on so many levels. So much for freedom of expression.

    ReplyDelete
  32. About the quote from your website, I failed to mention that that is the price for admission to your comments section. Again, no wonder it is consistently empty.

    And don't worry about me criticizing you ever again. Lost all interest in doing so.

    ReplyDelete
  33. Haha! Sledge, you watch too much TV!

    What I do hope is that once the candidate is elected the others keep traveling around supporting him, going from San Cristobal to Curiapo and all from Pueblo Nuevo to San Carlos de Río Negro.

    What I think would be funny is if Capriles and Machado appeared at a joint press conference with disheveled hair, a shirt bottom wrongly put.

    ReplyDelete
  34. RabbiBulla1:02 PM

    So in the end- I agree with Anon
    (again)- Maria Corina Machado-
    has my blessing-although I would
    hope she would fill her cabinet
    with the other candidates.
    Some may say -oh this is too much.
    but- it must be a strong team -and the charisma factor-everything in
    a package. WIn and get to work!!
    (If Chavez trys to steal-international community-I hope will not recognize him..)

    ReplyDelete
  35. Coño, Sledge, too funny man!

    And Kepler, I would give a prize to the reporter that shouted "Huelen a jabon de hotel de la Panamericana!" at that press conference.

    Whatever happens in the oppo camp between now and February, I think it is pretty clear (for now) that they are for the most part going to jump on the winners bandwagon come February 13.

    "The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together;" for a while, anyways!

    ReplyDelete
  36. REMINDER to several of you: RULE #2!!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I didn't start, but I shall continue.

    I can express my opinion, however "rude" it may appear to you JMA, it's my opinion. If I think that your opinion is BS, I have every right to say it. If you think that my opinion is BS you have every right to say it.

    I am however the master of what gets published in my blog. Since I am not interested, in the slightest, in the opinions of some people, I have been straightforward enough to say, explicitly, that I am not interested, and they should spare their time. Whether you think that my stance is "wrong in so many levels" I, frankly, couldn't care less. If and when I am up to win a popularity contest among Venezuelan bloggers on who is the nicest, most progressive and accomodative to other views, I'll surely call you in for counsel. But since that's just not my thing, never has been and never will, I am not bothered in the least about having a "successful comment section' filled with fanatics, radicals, apologists, imbeciles and people who think they are infallible.

    So, to resume, take your grudge someplace else, for neither the host of this blog (see rule no 2), not me are interested in your BS.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Wow. It took me a little bit to read this posting and comments and many valid points. It's a littlw overwhelming actually.
    Honestly, I think that we are discussing this posting in the same way it was done at the 4th or like chavistas do: believing that one person, a mesiah, is going to come and fix things miraculously. I have the feeling we have to move on from that and realize that it really doesn't matter who wins the primaries, as long as that person and those that didn't win conform a team, a strong one, mixing their personal skills to work together, in order to get the chavistas out of power and most importantly, to get the country out of the absolute mess is in.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Well, I shall continue it, and also end it right here because you are at a point of no return.

    Rules of civilization state that even if you think my beliefs are bullshit, you do not have the right to tell me so. What you can merely do is just tell me that you disagree and nothing else, unless it has been proven that I am a dishonest person whose views are in stark contrast to my actions. So, you don’t have the right to tell me that my opinions are BS as much as I don’t have the right to tell you that yours are the same (and, I wouldn’t dare tell you so).

    The issue here is not to win a popularity contest. You are a communicator. You should be a defender of freedom of expression even if some opinions do not agree with yours. That is the point, a free exchange of ideas. But you state that as an admission ticket to your comments section, no one should believe in God or in climate change. Exactly, who are you to tell me whom or what I should believe in order to express an opinion? I believe in God, and I do believe in climate change, as do 98% percent of national science academies and scientists in the world. Why is it that my belief in God and in climate change, rooted in solid scientific evidence, by the way, precludes me to express an opinion about something that someone wrote, providing that it is an informed opinion? I already know you cannot care less for everyone else’s opinion, so I would not give you counsel even if requested.

    Finally, you believe that dissent from your views means that it is brought by “fanatics, radicals, apologists, imbeciles and people who think they are infallible.” Let me think … hmmm … who could relate to this way of thinking? Yes! I know! His name is Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias. Not to mention some good oldies, such as Hitler or Mussolini.

    PS: Daniel, my apologies for this, but I couldn’t resist it. I promise to be a good boy from now on and stick to the topic at hand. I really do hope the best for our country, and cry tears of blood for what is happening there. But, it is just too easy to debunk AB. LOL!!!

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  40. Carolina:

    I couldn't agree with you more on this. Most probably the one who wins the primaries will have deficiencies, but if he surrounds him or herself (I refuse to count MCM out) with the right team, then the future will look promising. You have proven to be a rare gem. Be well, your country may need you some day.

    ReplyDelete
  41. JMA, You said to Alex :


    "you believe that dissent from your views means that it is brought by “fanatics, radicals, apologists, imbeciles and people who think they are infallible."

    But you confuse me :) Why did you just say the following over on Miguel's blog ? :)

    "You are going to dump his goofy ass next year??? … and replace it with what??? Oh yes, one from the following list of mentally retarded, extremely ignorant, right wingers: perry, bachmann, palin, romney (yes, all with lower cases). I am laughing my ass off. As much as I don’t like Obama, I prefer him instead of one of those in this list of dimwits, and I am sure that either of them wouldn’t stand a chance against him. Talk about republicans delivering the election to the democrats …. Again, I am laughing my ass off at them and at you … troll."

    Perhaps you could define exactly what your idea of civility is ?It appears to be different for you than for others. I am interested to hear another one of your profound psychological interpretations :)

    ReplyDelete
  42. Roger9:53 PM

    The bottom line about this election: The best DEMOCRAT (in Venezuelan terms) will face off with the worst COMMUNIST (in International terms)! At least that's is what we hope. So far, what we have seen, is that anyone running against Chavez had better have their country of exile clearly secured! Which brings up the point that it take a lot more balls to run for president than to blog about it and even less from foreign country.
    If we are lucky,very lucky, all of the opposition canidates will come together with a common DEMOCRATIC platform and help the chosen opposition cannidate in the campaign.
    Another thing that is for sure is ,that if the opposition wins, it will take a lot of brave Venezuelans to overcome the un-democratic army and government. These corruptos are not about to clime on the next airplane to where ever and enjoy their profit from the last decade.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Anonymous10:41 PM

    Thank you Firepigette to set the record straight (there was much more similar ugly stuff than what you quoted).
    Alek is without doubt the one that has done more tangible actions fighting for a better Venezuela, than all of us together who opine on these blogs.
    While I not always agree with him, in my eyes he has earned a certain authoritative status, while you, JMA, mostly operate by offending people via ad hominem attacks and such have destroyed your credibility.

    Mike

    ReplyDelete
  44. FP:

    Perhaps, you need to read c a r e f u l l y: “What you can merely do is just tell me that you disagree and nothing else, unless it has been proven that I am a dishonest person whose views are in stark contrast to my actions.”

    Let’s go over it: it begins with “unless it has been proven that I am a dishonest person whose views are in stark contrast to my actions.”

    For instance:

    Bachmman: “I heard of one case in which this government injection (The HPV vaccine, proven to prevent cervical cancer, thank you very much) caused mental retardation.” See, I am a doctor, and I can’t be civil on the face of such an utterly false statement, which threatens the lives of countless girls, including my very own daughter. The American Academy of Family Physicians has declared that false statements like that push back the vaccination goal 3 to 4 years back due to the fear that it creates in the general population.

    Perry (The frontrunner, by the way): “We are dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax.” It turns out that these freeloaders are comprised of people earning less than $20,000/year, retired seniors living on less than $1,000/month (who spend most of it on medication), and the unemployed. BTW, the tax rate in the Clinton era for millionaires was 30.4% and now is just 22%.

    As much as I really want to, it is really hard for me to be civil in the face of such blatantly false statements produced by profoundly dishonest people, like chavistas pues.

    Finally, it occurs to me that you appear to have a fixation on my comments. I can only say this to you. Please, get off my back. I do promise not reply to any of your comments, ever! As if you don't exist.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Hmmm … I have destroyed my credibility because of ad hominem attacks? Perhaps you should illustrate.

    Let’s see, ad hominem: attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it.

    As much as I like to find common ground with … anonymous, I cannot find myself to do so.

    The claim (I suppose): "The talk about lack of experience, etc., that's just bullshit." Isn’t this negating an argument just because someone believes just the opposite of what you believe? If not, then I must have been transported to a parallel universe. Authoritative status? My a…

    “Alek is without doubt the one that has done more tangible actions fighting for a better Venezuela, than all of us together who opine on these blogs.
”

    Now this really is stretching it. I do not claim to have done anything for my country just because I express some opinions of its current state. Even if I have some misgivings about the presidential candidates, I do acknowledge that they are much better than me because they are in the fray fighting for the country. And I mean, in the fray, right there, in locum…

    Hell, if any of you want to know what the real Venezuela is, just spend some time living and working in Venezuelan hospitals like I have. I’ll bet most of you will feel a cold sensation up and down your spines. Even then, I do not claim to be remotely better than those guys who are in the fray fighting for a better country, even though I have my doubts about their capacities, but not their intentions.

    ReplyDelete
  46. "Which brings us up to the point that it takes a lot more balls to run for president than to blog about it, and even less from foreign country.

    The comment is impeccable; its conclusion, priceless.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Well JMA, it seems that you got yourself in a bit of a pickle here...

    Your beliefs are meant to be solidly rooted in fact, is that correct?

    Please place here evidence of the existence of God, and evidence of man made global warming otherwise known as anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Bring in some real life, verifiable examples if you want.

    But first a word of caution: don't let your ilk down by confusing AGW with climate change, which I have never denied (how can I do so? I'm a geologist after all...)

    When you're done with that, do enlighten me as to why I can't tell tell that your opinions are BS, either in a forum like this, or to your face. Mind you, I'd thought you were all up for freedom of expression.

    On your bike...

    ReplyDelete
  48. Guys, Daniel already said it. Please, why don't you discuss this in private? You can exchange your emails and there you go.

    Just this, Alek...Wikipedia (which should be seen as a reference of sources, not as reference itself) contains some material here
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming
    Judge by yourself. I think the vast majority of scientists in Earth sciences, but for some wackos believing in "intelligence design" (surprise, surprise: almost all from the US) plus this Danish scientist (I keep forgetting his name) agree on that. But just go to the references listed there.

    As Daniel said: we know humans are affecting the climate. We just don't know to what extent, as there has been, very obviously, a lot of different climate cycles (several depending on the sun position, Earth inclination, etc, etc, etc).

    I won't discuss the issue further here. If you do write further on this, I assume you feel the need to "prove yourself" to a general public, whatever you say about "I don't give a shit". So: discuss further via email between you two.

    Daniel has had a lot of patience.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Island Canuck7:56 AM

    God, this infighting is tiresome & boring.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Island,

    Allowing fights, to a certain extent, is good for the growth and development of all.Being fight phobic limits the ability to engage with others in any authentic and meaningful way.

    Of course there is a limit to what might be useful as well, and obviously this fight has come to the point of its proper end.All said and done,even if not yet totally resolved.

    But I ask you why yours or my boredom is so important? It is not.

    I get bored by financial posts, by Weill cartoons, by people calling Chavez 'Thugo', by the myriad of sycophantic gestures,and by the few boring and thoughtless comments of some, etc etc ...and so what ?

    Life is like that....some moments of boredom,and some of interest.I prefer to see myself as lacking when I am bored, rather than blaming the thread.That gives me more power.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I am defending myself from a totally gratuitous attack. Further, I don't think Daniel needs anyone defending his views, or patience, or behaviour in his comment section. However, don't expect me to go quiet, when I am being attacked.

    I am certainly not here to convince anyone about anything. If you feel you're right about global warming, consider yourself invited to present evidence that man is responsible for it. Not to me, to the whole wide world.

    Experience, or lack of it, caused this whole discussion. So to redirect the discussion to the initial topic, and picking up from one of the anonymous commenters up there, perhaps some of you can place here record of experience David Cameron had before reaching office. Or Tony Blair. Or Barack Obama, or Rodriguez Zapatero, or Reagan, or Clinton, or Felipe Gonzalez...

    To some, having an impressive previous track record seem to be the sine qua non requisite to become president of a banana republic, where, in the first world, that doesn't seem to be an impediment, where most of the most admired leaders of the first world, from left and right, have reached office with scant CVs.

    So, yes, I think that argument is total and absolute bullshit.

    ReplyDelete
  52. AB

    As I told you in my last post, I am done playing with the mouse. Time to let it go.

    " ... do enlighten me as to why I can't tell tell that your opinions are BS ..."

    I have told you several times, and you keep coming back for more?

    Now, this time for real, signing off. LOL!

    Daniel: my apologies again. This is the end of it.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Daniel

    Before Chavez came to power,was your family adeco or copeyano?

    ReplyDelete
  54. Josemaria Paulo Jeromino Martin Carvalho-Von Verster

    I do not see how relevant the question maybe but I have no problem answering it.

    I am from a family of French immigrants to Venezuela and as such we have had no particular attachment to any party of the day. As a matter of fact my father became Venezuelan very late in his life in Venezuela. We actually voted together for the first time in Venezuela. My mother was voting before but I think she only voted once for AD. She never told us who she voted for.

    I think over all my family voted least for COPEI because we were always put off by the religious implications (the French, you know) but we voted at least as often for AD as for third parties, in fact probably more often for third parties than the two main ones. I know I did anyway.

    But as far as I know 90% of my extended family has never given a single vote to Chavez.

    ReplyDelete
  55. No bullet proof evidence of God's existence...

    No scientifically rooted evidence of man made global warming...

    But damaging of all, not even evidence of impressive CVs of presidents / PMs of first world nations to support 'lack of experience' argument...

    Game's over, I guess.

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  56. AB and JMA

    I am pissed at you guys so no other posts of you will be accepted in this thread and any reference to this discussion in future threads will be mercilessly erased.

    Shame on you for making me consider that moderation should be reinstated after several months of a chavismo troll free period.

    ReplyDelete
  57. Daniel:

    Again, my apologies. You have my word it won't happen again, but it was fun.

    ReplyDelete
  58. RabbiBulla2:01 PM

    I have a nagging feeling inside-the opposition are being nice guys and Chavez plays the victim for every problem. Bear with me here- if 10 million is missing on a project- it is because of a corrupt banker,a corrupt yanqui-(never a corrupt General or a corrupt chavista)all mistakes under Chavez are someone' else's fault-anyone (except Castro). So- how does opposition attack Chavez on his totally miserable record of dealing with most any problem-electricity-for example. Chavez-continues to blame PDVSA- oh, how many times has Chavez cursed CITGO?
    So, how do you convince "el pueblo"
    that anything -name one thing- is
    Chavez's fault?

    ReplyDelete
  59. JMA - Thanks for your comments about myself. I didn't respond immediately because you were busy dealing with other business.
    BTW, I don't think I am a gem of any kind, I just pick my fights. I might be just getting old and therefore wiser.
    Regarding my country needing me, I must say I already spent 10 years of my life giving the best of me to it, fighting for it and defending it as hard as I could. I was absolutely unsuccessful and I had to choose between keep doing that or the safety of my children. I chose the second one and I am not going back. Participating with ideas in some topics in these blogs is the best, the only thing actually, that I can do.

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  60. PS: I must have said "10 years of my professional life". I spent the first 34 of my life in Venezuela.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Douglas3:20 PM

    Great post Daniel. A lot of food for thought. The obvious is not always the most attractive or the most politically expedient...but it remains the obvious. To get rid of the 19th century stupor that has engulfed Venezuela any political movement that arrives peacefully must:
    1. Unite against the common malaise: Chavez and the parts of Chavismo that only seek personal gains and perpetual power.
    2. Make the primaries with as many candidates as possible but unite around the winner as soon as the primary elections are held.
    3. There is no room right now for political differences and petty power struggles until all relevant public institutions that balance a democratic government are restored and given their required independence. This is something that will likely take years, at least 2-3 years of the next government if done well. This requires a pact between all the relevant power brokers.
    4. Use al resources and talents available, including Chavistas that want a better Venezuela. Establish cabinet heads as soon as possible, (mimmicking the current cabinet), and work out a detailed plan to resolve the biggest problems, from raising back the lost institutions to improving security, to reducing inflation and creating jobs. Use popular political figures for this if you can but get the managerial and technical talent below to plan and implement the "plan" aboard.
    5. This "plan", must be ready, at least in its objectives, as soon in the electoral process as possible and it must be used to convince Venezuelan society that there is a better way, and although some aspects may take years, there is a plan that can be understood and implemented. This means having the details worked out and ready to go from the first day of the new administration.
    Anything else is a waste of time for a society that cannot afford to waste it any more.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I was Referring to your History of endorsements that's why I asked this above question.

    Was your Family Communist,Liberal,Socialist,Centrist,Centrist.

    ReplyDelete

Comments policy:

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