Monday, February 17, 2003


In a follow up to the previous article (see previous post below), Michael Rowan points lucidly to some of the shortcomings of the opposition that explains in part why this one has not been able to oust Chavez yet. Here he suggests some of the things that should be done. Again, I do not agree with all what he says, but he is pretty much to the point. This time I added some comments at the end. Again, thanks for Mr. Rowan for sending me his article, and I hope he will forgive me to comment directly.

By Michael Rowan for el Universal [publication Spanish text 18 Feb 03]

Last week’s column ‘Ten Times Wrong’ noted the common mistakes of the international news media about the Venezuela story and Chavez. This week’s column is devoted to ten questions the opposition needs to answer if it is to be taken seriously by the world:

One, what is your government program? Be specific. Did you arrive at the program democratically? Did you have a convention where elected delegates nationally voted in favor of the program?

Two, what is your solution to poverty? Where are the details of the War Against Poverty you plan to wage? How do you plan to provide the Tools for Wealth – titles to housing, credit, training -- to the poor?

Three, what is your solution to systemic corruption? Do you plan to eradicate the monopoly power and secrecy that has corrupted Venezuelan governments from time immemorial? Specifically, how are you going to do that?

Four, how will you find a leader to win an election that stands for what you want to do in the nation? Will you have a primary election? Will losers abide by the decision of the majority?

Five, what are your plans for the oil industry? Do you believe in the expansion or price strategy? Opening the business to Venezuelans and the world, or closing the business for the state only? Using oil for wealth creation of the nation {liberty}, or wealth distribution by the state {rents}?

Six, do you want an economy owned and operated by the state or the nation? If the nation, what mechanisms will you use to ‘nationalize’ wealth creation, liberty, and economic opportunity?

Seven, do you believe in inclusiveness or exclusiveness? If inclusiveness, what are your plans to include Chavistas in political and economic alliances for common cause?

Eight, what are your plans to build the nation? How are you going to attract global and national partners for investment, job-creation, and diversification?

Nine, how do you plan to protect citizens against state despotism? What are your specific, concrete plans for individual Bill of Rights, judicial reform, independent prosecutors, and checks-and-balances in the executive, legislative, and judicial powers?

Ten, are you a departure from the past or are you part of the past? Systemically, the Fifth Republic [since 1998 by Chavez fiat!] is an exaggerated extension of the deficiencies of the Fourth Republic [the ever vilipended system pre Chavez!]. If you are different, how are you different?

Chavez is not what he appears to be to the world, true. But, dear opposition, who are you?

My comments:

ONE and TWO: this is very true. The opposition needs to be more programmatic than just kicking out Chavez. Of course, considering that the opposition goes from far left to far right, establishing a common program would be difficult. Nevertheless, they should give the impression that they are trying.

THREE could be a powerful weapon, but how to use it when the judicial system has all but collapsed?

SIX: I think that Rowan is a little bit unfair here. The opposition is clearly against the program of state control that Chavez is expanding. Its position is clearly against that, but politically it might not be wise to be too open about it while the chavistas realize on their own that the Chavez program will lead nowhere.

SEVEN: he is dead on there!

EIGHT: he is not dead on there. I think that this is best left when there will be a certainty that we are going toward fair election. Then the national debate between Chavez and the opposition can take place along these points.

Nevertheless, the ending of Mr. Rowan is quite clear "dear opposition, who are you?".

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