The first thing we need to understand when considering the atrocious ruling of the Venezuelan high court, TSJ, is that it is a political decision, designed to weaken in any possible way the opposition effort at unseating Chavez. Thus we should not lose ourselves in nitpicking, detail debate and angels' sex, etc... and focus on what really matters.
In short the TSJ has decided that indeed Leopoldo Lopez can run for office, but if he gets elected president, and AFTER he gets elected president, then the TSJ will decide whether he can be sworn in. The excuse is that the TSJ cannot decide on an hypothetical scenario, dixit the ineffable Luisa Estela. Not only this is absolutely absurd and irresponsible as the TSJ is blithely ignoring a major potential constitutional crisis of its own making, but it contradicts all of its previous posturing on the matter as the whole story started when Leopoldo was barred from running as Caracas mayor. That is, he could not run for mayor but he can run for president? I knew the woman was a crook and mentally limited but this is just too much even for her! I can hear the laughter on the ridicule of poor Luisa Estela as her ruling reaches foreign courts of justice......
Here the objective is trying to have Leopoldo punished by the Unidad, make them bar him from the election, or at the very least make him lose the primary as many will be reluctant to risk such a gamble. All because apparently Chavez has a personal grudge against Leopoldo and is definitely scared out of his wits at the idea of facing him in October 2012.
What to do?
It is a difficult decision but the good news is that there are plenty of decisions available. For example the Unidad can rally behind Leopoldo and allow him to run. This assorted with an official address to the OAS and the IACHR and the TSJ, calling the bluff of this last one. The ruling of Luisa Estela is so ridiculous, so biased, so poor that a good campaign can in weeks force her to desist. And personally I cannot see how Luisa Estela will decide that Leopoldo cannot be sworn in if he wins. Surely she knows that herself, she cannot be that dense.
Or the Unidad announces in agreement with Leopoldo that he will not run but that they take note and that one of the first task of a new president will be to name Leopoldo its first vice president and launch a judicial reform process to remove Luisa and her combo from the high court as biased, undemocratic, sold out to the regime. In other words name Leopoldo the official campaigner against the abuses of the regime while the rest of the Unidad concentrates on winning the elections and doing the electoral promises that are necessary. Kind of a dual campaign if you will which allows Leopoldo to say all the things that might not be convenient for the standard bearer to say.
Or somewhere in between where Leopoldo doe snot run but picks a name and plays kingmaker.
The thing is that if Leopoldo is the victim here once again La Unidad has been handed a winning card, if it knows to play it. Will it rise to the occasion?
My own appreciation: this clumsy attempt at breaking the Unidad will fail because all have embraced it and anyone trying to stray away from La Unidad will be killed at the polls and his/her electoral career condemned forever. Heck, even the PPT understands that and has decided apparently to support Capriles! Leopoldo knows that as much as anyone else. Not to mention that plenty of reunions have been held in his suport, in support of La Unidad, etc... This is a gross miscalculation of the regime, which is accumulating mistake after mistake.
PS added later: I realized that in these two consecutive posts I never made it clear that the TSJ decision was widely expected and that only the people at VP had hopes of Leopoldo running. I mean, we all hoped that the TSJ would come to its senses and that a sick Chavez might knew better but to create yet more enemies internationally. But I never gave the TSJ more than a 1 in 10 odds to do the right thing and follow the rule of law.
The thing here is that if the Unidad does not fight this back, tomorrow Capriles could be "inhabilitado", or Perez. A regime that defies international treaties will have absolutely no qualm in banning from the race more than one pre-candidate. You read it here first.
You may read the declarations of the lone justice still not sold out to Chavez on that affair to see various angles in which Luisa Estela's decision is a major nincompoopery. On the other hand if you want to read yet another ill designed communique from a press agency you may read the one from EFE who more and more sounds like a Telesur by product.