I am not too sure what is exactly going on but one thing is certain: many players are getting ready for a change. We are not sure what change is coming but something is coming. And I am not talking about only the possibility of Chavez losing office.
The thing is that the reactions of some pro Chavez players added to the general reactions to Maria Corina Machado "por ahora" moment last Friday has been quite revealing in that some form change is certainly coming. I doubt that people know what they want but that is another story. I have been thinking a lot about that since Saturday and below, in no particular order, some thoughts.
MCM and PJ: exposing the COPEI-zation of Primero Justicia?
Last night Julio Borges, the head honcho at Primero Justicia, was in Alo Ciudadano. We need to understand that if Capriles is the candidate of PJ, Borges is the one running the show inside. He had actually a stellar moment last Friday too when he told Chavez that there was no point in discussing whether the regime built X houses when independent observers calculate it is only Y houses. His question was simple: if the regime indeed has built so many lodgings how come the climate refugees of 2010 and 2011 are still in the refuges? No real answer from Chavez on why these people have not received these houses for which we were told they had priority to the point of violating the Constitution with an enabling law, but we got in exchange a cruel exposition of chavismo hypocrisy, and on paper as good as the MCM thievery implication. Thus Borges was invited for a serious commenting on Chavez declarations; and yet every caller wanted to talk about MCM, one silly woman even asking why did not Borges defend MCM as if he were expected to run on stage and beat down Chavez to a pulp because he looked askance at Maria......
The answer to these emotions lies elsewhere. PJ is facing a problem that is bigger than what we thought: some people are resentful that PJ which natural vocation was to become a modern liberal right of center alternative is instead giving the appearance of selling out. That woman so harshly criticizing Borges is probably a Caracas woman that marched in many opposition rallies, probably often next to the PJ contingent if not within.
The thing is that it has been disconcerting to many, including yours truly, to see with what ease PJ has allied itself with all sorts of transfuges from chavismo. Nobody can quite clearly understand how come PODEMOS and PPT have been so easily able to pact with PJ when there were more logical options. If to this you add the non confrontational campaign of HCR, openly wooing the soft chavista vote, you can easily understand that the hard core opposition voters who are at the start of PJ are rather discombobulated even if until now they followed orders accepting the pragmatism of PJ campaign. You must remember that PJ leadership in 2002 and 2003 got a lot of tear gas thrown at them when Leo was still inside and when Ismael was still defending Chavez.
I have a possible explanation: dissidence of chavismo and reality checks have convinced PJ to become the one to deal with chavismo to ease its way out. That is why PODEMOS and PPT are in so readily because they think that negotiations are in order, that chavismo after 13 years cannot be removed as if nothing and thus a transition period is a must, which hopefully will benefit PPT and PODEMOS while PJ will hold power for as few years as possible. This implies that enough inside chavismo know they are done for the time being and are unwilling to lose their privileges making them willing to negotiate through third parties preservation of a power/wealth quota.
But this does not go without its problems for PJ and HCR as the not insignificant rather radical vote inside PJ is having a harder and harder time to swallow the pill. We have had that happen in our past and to this day we are still paying the price. COPEI started as the democratic right wing option to AD left wing. Yet it seemed very difficult for COPEI to reach power and its leader, Rafael Caldera was not the most patient of men. What he did was very simple: taking advantage of an AD internal division, he squeaked into power with the slimmest of margins and made a pact with AD by which AD retained some parcels of power while COPEI completed its transition to an AD like populism. As a result AD and COPEI became every election harder to differentiate, people got tired of the lack of options and in 1998 Chavez swept away the system.
Thus Primero Justica may be having its own COPEI like moment and there will be consequences to pay.
Maria Corina Machado and the new right?
While PJ is facing into consensus politics blandness MCM did break a taboo of Venezuelan politics last Friday, in addition of her "por ahora" moment.
Since 1958 there has been no avowed enter right party in Venezuela (except in circumstantial moments, flash in the pans like the Cruzada Civica Nacionalista of the 60ies). Even COPEI called itself "social-christian". Not only this has not helped the country by never offering a credible alternative, but it also helped Chavez in calling all those to his right the "ultra-right", and make it stick. After all, no one in Venezuela has any good idea what the democratic right stands for, since even our "traditional" right, the army, is now proclaiming itself socialist.
By reverting the tables when calling the socialism of Chavez robbery, MCM might have hit much harder and higher than she ever thought she could. Her enthusiastic reception by students and business folks last Sunday at the UNIMET tells us that. Her "capitalismo popular" suddenly becomes more credible as it is suddenly not associated anymore to the erroneous notion that free enterprise is organized robbery as chavismo would like us to believe.
Suddenly MCM has a role much bigger for her than winning next February 12: she is going to singlehandedly have the opportunity to create a democratic right movement that in 6 years from now (and probably much less) will become a real political option in Venezuela. As such, she stands right now to bring the biggest political change in Venezuela since 1958. Yes, 1958, because Chavez is a continuation of precedent politics, the final outcome of crass populism that always ends up into a transmutation into some form of fascism.
I do not know, and less speculate on how fast this will happen. It is probably too late for MCM to win next month, but it is quite possible that of today the HCR coalition can only grow from its left, as it will start a slow bleeding from its right. But this, to me, is not the point anymore. Be it Diego Arria or HCR, the next president will by force be a transition figure and surprising political novelties are in store for us.
Opportunists in the rebound
A sure mark that chavismo knows that change is on the horizon comes from of the pro Chavez private media which is suddenly rushing to renew their ties with the opposition. We already had the lousy debate at Venevision early December but today we have a stunt by Panoramra offering a debate among Unidad candidates through an Internet format and regional TV, labelled a debate for the regions. Seeing Panorama, the oldest and still main Maracaibo paper which has not written a nice line about anyone inside the opposition since I can remember, organizing a Unidad debate is at the very least a shocker. I am not going to reproach the primary candidate to participate in it, they need all the exposure they can get and such a Panorama move is good in particular if you ant to reach the soft chavista vote, but I note that of this tying the debate is only advertised by Panorama, of course, but also by Venevision.... Nor will I expect much from them since Panorama controls all the questions, even from the Internet, so we may be assured that they will try to avoid any offense to Chavez, reeling badly from last Friday as it is.
I will not follow the debate because my Internet is too lousy for such an event and Direct TV does not carry my regional TV. But that is OK, I am sure. Panorama is not expecting to change anything, they are just doing the needed hypocrisy to remain in business once the regime falls. Who knows, such a spineless paper may be some day supporting a right wing government of MCM........