Monday, November 21, 2011

Diego Arria has a point, and he makes it

Diego Arria

The Unidad candidates debate of last Monday seems to have given us a new darling through Diego Arria.  We must admit that he is operating quite a remarkable comeback, if you ask me.  Not that he may win the primary votes next February though he seems very confident; and indeed three months is a long time in politics.  But I suspect that he is now in a position to influence the debate in such a way that he may just become a king maker of sorts.  

His first and most beneficial offering to the current political debate is to remind the Venezuelan public that after 13 years of propaganda and denial from the chavista regime that nothing pre-1998 was worth discussing, and even less saving, there is something worth retrieving.  For example Diego Arria started his modest campaign by walking as a mere citizen in Caricuao visiting places he had inaugurated when he was Caracas governor in the 70ies.  Needless to say that many of them today are semi destroyed because nobody paid attention to them, places which with a little bit of care could still be very helpful to a very battered community.

But more useful for the present situation is to remind the green footed candidates of today, 30 years younger than he is, that there were ways to make politics before Chavez that can still be of use today.  For example El Universal today brings quite an interview of Diego Arria!  This interview is a master class of political confrontation, on how to take on Chavez directly without antagonizing all of chavistadom.  In it Arria explains very well why it is possible to bring charges against Chavez at the Hague international tribunal, and the risks he is taking in doing so (he is introducing them this week).  These are not "risk free" politics, these are high stakes ones, far, very far from the floral games that 3 of the other candidates are playing trying to swoon an hypothetically softer fringe of chavismo.  In other words Arria harks back to politics of substance over image, as the ones that were practiced occasionally by Betancourt, Leoni, Caldera and Carlos Andres Perez, when unpopular decisions were made in the name of the state, knowing very well that the popularity of their administration would go down.  This is something that has been absent in Venezuela since the early 80ies when unpopular decisions stopped being made, and were just forced upon us from outside if needed.

By bringing back principled stands Arria is doing more than just improving his image through "front-paging" if you forgive me that coinage.  Certainly he made the cover of Zeta this week, but also he causes great concern as some people are openly voicing their concern as to Arria's own life.  If there is one thing that the current electoral campaign must thank Arria as of now is that he is placing us squarely in front of the challenge that awaits us.

Arria is blunt: there will need to be a constitutional assembly elected as soon as the Unidad takes office because the structure of the chavista state after 13 years is such that a new government will surely fail within months.  I am not sure I share all of Arria's vision as this is a country of political cowards and indeed there is quite a few chavistas screaming full devotion today that will make Saint Peter look like an amateur at denigration.

Yet we cannot deny that the armed forces are penetrated by drug trafficking, that many chavistas that are in high office and who are very corrupt themselves will not flinch if they need to make a coup to save their skin.  A new president cannot simply arrive and fire the TSJ, the general prosecutor of the republic, the comptroller, the hostile and illegal National Assembly, etc...  no matter how many of them are willing to collaborate.  And even if enough are willing to pretend a collaboration, how do we know that it will be sincere, institutional and of a long enough duration?  Is the new eventual Unidad president going to be a frog carrying on his back a scorpion?

These things need to be discussed and the ostrich policy practiced by Capriles Radonski in particular could in the end hurt much more our cause than help it.  Though I need also to note that since the debate even Capriles seems to become somewhat more critical of Chavez.

Let's be appreciative of Diego Arria's effort, not only by focusing the political debate on reality but also because he makes it clear that the next government will be one of transition whose necessary measures will give it an early expiration date.

PS: Diego Arria will be starting tomorrow his recourse against Chavez at the Hague with hundreds of testimonies.  He is a prolific twitterer and you may follow his adventures in The Hague here @Diego_Arria



Diego Arria has a web site set up for the occasion and you can read here a summary in Spanish of the stuff he submitted today for consideration.

Now, I am no legal eagle so not for me to analyze the merits of that denunciation.  But on my own, there have been enough reported in this blog to justify that Chavez is brought to justice someday somewhere.  The Tascon List alone is a notable Human Rights crime that still to this day makes me wonder how come foreign  governments have not been more vocal about its condemnation.

At any rate, maybe the charges pressed by Arria are too weak for The Hague, maybe they are adequate, but whether The Court accepts them and formulates an accusation is a win/win situation.

If it accepts, then from this blog to the real victims we will all be justified for having kept up the accusations.

And if they are rejected it will also be good because the regime is embarked on an increasing violence and in future history books it will be written that international institutions waited too much to avoid the Venezuelan tragedy.  Too late maybe for us but it would be good for other countries where such crap may happen.

Foot Note:

Sure enough the regime has dismissed the whole thing.  After all what can it reply to Tascon List, to Afiuni, to Los Semerucos, to Franklin Brito, to etc, etc...

The argument advanced is the classic shoot the messenger, that Arria is accused of corruption, that he had people killed.  Maybe, but since the regime controls all the judicial apparatus, has access to all the documents it can find, why is Arria still not formally accused somewhere?  The words of that poor Navarro, as ineffectual and suck up chavista as there is, sound to me these days as a confession of sorts.

Meanwhile El Pais does take the trouble to report on Arria.


  1. Island Canuck12:45 PM

    As I have suggested in the past. Chavez denies he is sick. He is therefore open game.

    The oppos should attack every area of failure in his administration & the future dangers that face the nation.

    Chavez's latest ploy is to admit some of these failures - use this. Attack, attack attack.

    You better believe they are going to do it against the oppos. This is no time for vanilla.

  2. Good thinking, IC: It's open season on a *perfectly healthy* president. Most of us are fixated on HCF's cancer, thinking that his death will be a magical way out of all the problems. Nothing can be further from the truth! What we fail to consider is the cancer he has created in every orifice of the nation, a cancer that will continue, after Chavez is long gone.

    Diego Arria plays the mature card with experience. Reading/hearing about his vision, his meat on the bone, puts all other MUD candidates aquarely where they belong: in nursery school.

  3. syd

    you would be surprised at how many people do not see it this way. just today in tal cual there was a pseudo satyric piece on eva golinger by enrique ochoa antich where he advanced that machado and arria are the exact kind of polarizing candidates chavez wants.

  4. syd

    well, it seems that at caracas chronicles quico is having a hissy fit on that matter too.

  5. CharlesC7:35 PM

    SOmeone said the ICC is too busy and Chavez case is not important enough. (I do wonder why case against Castro and Mugabe, and others has not arrived before the court also)Remember the quote from each letter by Maru Angarita:
    "Venezuelans need help from world leaders, and the International Court of Justice, to resolve abuse of power in Venezuela and restore democracy." I agree.

  6. CharlesC7:45 PM

    Daniel, you do not have to ruffle Syd's feathers(she can do that on her own very nicely)-ha.She's already "teed off" on Mr. Toro concerning his handling of this subject on his blog-and I would add he got off lightly this time...

  7. charles C

    when comments do not go above 20 something i may read them on occasion (in my experience any count above 30 is usually a useless fist fight between a couple of readers). so yes, i have seen syd comments. it was one way to let her know :)

    this being said, quico is absolutely wrong in his approach, not to mention he is reneging on the nature of a primary elections where different opinions get due process to sort themselves out.

    as for the ICC, it certainly is an effectist measure but it also is a necessary one. after all diego arria is bringing the lista de tascon, the maisanta one, the case of maria afiuni and the cases on "opinion crimes" among others. such crimes do not exist in any modern democratic country and as such are worthy of being reported somewhere, even if worse crimes are also reported in that court. or must we decide a degree in criminality and thus "allow" certain crimes because, well, you know, they are not that bad compared to those of X currently on the docket.....

    in the end relativity on principles never pays, not even in the universe it seems....

  8. Born-again Saint?

    "Diego Arria Salicetti (born October 8, 1938 - Caracas, Venezuela[5]) is a Venezuelan politician, diplomat, former Venezuelan Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the United Nations (1991–1993) and President of the Security Council (March 1992). He was Governor of the Federal District of Caracas in the mid-1970s. Other positions have included Diplomatic Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and Visiting Scholar at Columbia University.[6] He was said to be one of the "twelve apostles" (a group of powerful men close to the Presidency) of Carlos Andrés Pérez' first presidency.[7]"

  9. sledge

    first, wikipedia is highly unreliable as a source on anything political or controversial

    second, i never shoot the messenger. he may well be the most corrupt politician venezuela ever had, and he would have fierce competition today, that does not make his message unworthy.

    let's focus, shall we?

  10. Oh Daniel, on the bit about just how far FT is from el perol, I can only but agree. Visceral hatred is never a good thing, and the funny part is that he who calls himself 'progressive', has made a blogging life out of criticising radical views, demonstrates just such inexplicable radical his views when others with whom he disagree "dare" to do things he disapproves of.

    Pathetic really, infantile, "nursery school" stuff as Syd said.

  11. AB

    Tchhh, tchh...

    #2 rule !!!!

    let quico sort out his angst at his blog.

  12. Daniel, everyone knows wikipedia is not 100% reliable, but we all get facts there occasionally. In this case, what exactly is incorrect?Specifically. I do believe the biographical abbreviated facts I quoted are 100% accurate, aren't they?

    2. I agree we shouldn't shoot the messenger, and actually I also like Arria's approach, for whatever ethical or unethical reasons he's doing it.

    I bet it's to feed his own Ego in his old age, (he knows he doesn't stand a chance as the next president, and he surely has enough stolen Swiss millions for his current, comfortable semi-retirement

    My point was to remind readers about the depth or Venezuelan corruption, historically, with or without Chavez. Not to discredit your valid observations about that former crook, and his valuable contributions today. Corruption and many other things are worse than ever now, undoubtedly, but it won't get a lot better, regardless of who wins; let's not dream too much about instant fixes or much greener pastures for the next few decades, that's my focus.

  13. Actually, another theory about Dieguito just occurred to me: he might just be trying to to exorcise his own demons, feeling guilty about all the millions he stole, trying to give something back to the country before death: feeling guilty in the face of uncertainty and/or a final Christian Godly judgement. But that's just a a theory, and i'd like to live where he lives and the wealth of his family after the 70's. If he's seeking divine forgiveness, or just to sleep better at night, he should keep speaking up now to help the opposition dethrone Chavez, but also give every penny he stole to charity. And then tell the new generation of politicians not to ever walk on his putrid shoes.

  14. Daniel: "he is reneging on the nature of a primary elections where different opinions get due process to sort themselves out."

    Precisely my thoughts on the matter. Love him, hate him, or be indifferent, DA makes for a more dynamic process, where topics get aired out, in full, prior to the Primaries. I welcome that.

    What I don't welcome is any pup, who's wet behind the ears and without risk, issuing a toxic alert (not coincidentally after his reading the TalCual piece) on an old dog with points of view that are worth listening to.

    What's even more offensive is that the pup actually tries to convince his readers that he has done as much as the old dog. Bolas!

  15. Roger6:31 AM

    Don Diego has guts pushing Chavez as hard as he can to see how Chavez will react. Meanwhile the canidates with a chance are manuvering in the backround and taking notes. In short, if he does not go after Arria he won't go after them. None of these people are stupid. a bit corrupt perhaps but not stupid.

  16. Anonymous6:50 AM

    "None of these people are stupid. a bit corrupt perhaps but not stupid".

    That statement sounds like "a little bit pregnant to me".

    Are you willing to accept "a bit corrupt" as part of the future of Venezuela?????

    I sure hope you are the only one in Venezuela with that kind of an opinion.


  17. CharlesC10:43 AM

    Roger-I like your idea about Arria being "point man"..
    Another new article in PJM-finally some truth is coming out in media.

  18. Glenn2:44 PM

    Diego has put his life in danger in going forward to the Hague and in doing so he is, in sense, creating space for the other candidates. Perhaps he's the "bagman" in this campaign? What he is doing certainly must be helpful to the oppo cause.

    And in the end, an oppo victory would involve a certain amount of pardons of the corrupt and criminal ones. That is the rule in Latin America, yes?

  19. Guys:

    Apart from the catharsis for you, what's the purpose of Arria's move?
    What do you think he will attain?
    Will we find like that more time and energy and more space in the media to discuss about the need to go to talk to José González in Guacara or Punto Fijo, the same José who, like most Venezuelans, cannot watch Globo or surf on the internet from his home?

  20. Keplercito,
    DA knows he's not going to win... he's just there para fregarle el parque a chávez vale!

    The man even tweeted a pic of him and a student of UNIMET with a troll drawing. El tipo está claro.

    And as some stated above... we're not sure of chávez illness, we gotta work toward his ousting in anyway we can.

  21. Liz,

    I have said this before: I don't know if Chávez is ill or anything. The thing is we need to try to canalize every centimetre of our newspaper, every minute of radio shows, every discussion on the streets to trying to change the minds of at least some non-voters and Chavistas light (we are talking about 35+% + perhaps 10%), not
    feeling better ourselves.

    Do we do that with this?
    I seriously doubt it.

    I would go for telling Chávez very publicly he is a coward because he won't accept a real debate face to face, live, with the opposition because he would go crazy and do what he did at the Museo de Historia.
    We need to call him coward all the time. The worst thing that could happen is that he does accept to have debates with the opposition candidate, something incredibly improbable.

    Other than that, we need to make newspapers talk above all about how Boliburgueses are stealing, how it is impossible for Chavez not to know.
    That's what make him really go round the bend

  22. Kepler

    why do you think that jose is too dense to understand arria?

    a little condescending, are we not today?

  23. Daniel,
    On the contrary, Daniel...I don't think he is the one being too dense.
    I think José has other priorities and he wants our politicians to address those priorities firstly.
    That José is not imaginary.
    51-52% of those who voted, perhaps a couple more were on our side. 48% (perhaps a bit less) were against us.
    But that is of those who actually voted. 36% did NOT vote. A part of that 48%, even if it is 10% or so, could get to our side.

    Those people don't care a fig about Diego Arria's statements. They are not convinced about those statements, as simple as that.
    They want someone who does not have the background of Arria to talk to them about what's going to be better without Chávez for THEM.

    Security? Jobs? Don't come up with Den Haag, for goodness sake.
    Talk about Maturín.

  24. Kepler

    What about democracy, letting everyone run on his offering and letting people decide? It is called primary elections.

  25. "La denuncia, presentada en persona y a título particular, señala violaciones de los derechos humanos, en particular “asesinatos, torturas y desplazamientos forzosos” de civiles. ,,,, Arria pretende llamar la atención de la comunidad internacional. “Hay que acabar con la actividad delictiva del regimen"

    The funny part is that Dieguito doesn't mention the other big crime from Chavez: Theft and corruption. I guess that's so common, international, that the CPI can't even waste time on it, only genocides, murder, kidnappings and stuff, please.. I applaud DA on the initiative, but just can't help imagining what his true motivations are: Pride, Ego, self-reassurance, along the lines of " I might have been a multi-million dollar thief condoning huge corruption for decades myself, by I've never been a murderer like Chavez or others, I never committed "crimes against humanity" just stole a bunch of money. I'm going to Heaven, Chavez goes to Hell" "Y que se hizo mi wiskisito, donde esta la cachifa?"


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