Monday, December 19, 2011

Electoral stunts

Uribe and Lopez
One funny thing about primary electoral campaigns is that they tend to be full of stunts, more than general elections who need a little bit more of composure.  But when you trail in the polls and you have nothing to lose anymore, you either go to The Hague, or closer and cheaper, meet with Uribe in Bogota.

These stunts need not be a bad thing and actually do help focus the issues sometimes.  If going to The Hague was, for Venezuela today, useless, it was a good way to remind folks that the Chavez administration is a criminal one that has committed enough felonies to deserve at least a judicial investigation.  No poll yet has published whether Diego Arria benefited from that trip but he sure made a few headlines and forced the PSUV to reply even if it were to dismiss the stunt.  In other words, the stunt did anger chavismo which is not a bad thing in politics.

The stunt that Leopoldo Lopez pulled this week is of a more immediate effect because it connects the Venezuelan voter with the reality of crime in Venezuela and the knowledge by all that in Colombia next door, Uribe did improve things.  You may deny it if you are within chavismo but you cannot hide to yourself that your little buddies at the FARC are in trouble due to Uribe.  If he supports a Venezuelan candidate then this can only mean trouble for you some day somewhere.

Telesur, this paragon of objectivity, the CNN of our glorious Latin America XXI socialist wannabe did unwillingly reflect that in the video that I put at the end of this post.  The snippet lasted 40Sec, started by saying that Uribe "intervened" in Venezuelan politics (yeah right, Chavez, Telesur boss, never did interfere in Colombia), that the reason of the meeting was that Uribe is afraid that Venezuela is becoming a dictatorship (it is, Telesur should not even mention that word if you ask me), and finished saying that Lopez is corrupt and Uribe even more.  Quite a smashing argument from Telesur, I am sold!

But the meeting was more important than Telesur would like us to believe.  Even though Uribe is a busy man these days, he found 4 hours for Lopez.  And in these 4 hours he semi-publicly quizzed Leopoldo from oil production to how many cows are in Venezuela.  We do not know if Leopoldo replied to all but Uribe seemed pleased that Leopoldo was prepared enough though he took care to let him know that focusing his campaign on a single issue (crime in the case of Lopez) was not enough to defeat Chavez.

I do not know if that meeting is going to be good for Lopez, but it certainly was good for Uribe who shows that he is still on the top of his game, that he follows Venezuela as closely as he follows Colombia and that his office is a Mecca of sorts.

As for Lopez, he risks little.  He is trailing, a strong third maybe but still a third.  Such a meeting gives him a few plus: he is taken seriously by a notable leader of the hemisphere, that leader thinks he is viable and that he can be elected (and thus take office which chavismo is trying to muddle); he probably will get advice, and support from the Colombian community in Venezuela who likes Uribe.  But there are also negatives, after all Venezuelans do not like much "foreign intervention", even from someone like Uribe who could teach us a few things that we sorely miss these days.  Also he is not making happy the opposition umbrella MUD because of that "intervention".  But then again it seems that the MUD only likes what Perez and Capriles do, so why should Leopolod care much about the MUD angst?

In short, the kind of stunt good enough for a primary where you need to take chances to be seen as different.  Outcome uncertain but worth a shot.


  1. Anonymous7:19 AM

    Very OT: Kim Jong Il is dead:

    Who's next? My money is on Castro (Raul, not Fidel).

  2. 1979 Boat People7:39 AM


    The most important event of the year 2011: Not Chavez health, not Arab Spring, not Osama Bin Ladin dead, not Japan Tsunami but the 3D TinTin movie in the theatre this week.:)

  3. CharlesC9:58 AM

    Anonymous-not so very off-topic. I heard that for years Chavez sought to meet/visit N.Korea and with Kim.
    Chavez really wanted to do some trading (maybe missiles for oil..)
    like his frineds from Iran do.
    He probably had a replica of Bolivar's sword ready to give to him.
    I am sure Chavez is in mourning.

  4. First Gadhafi, now Kim Jong-Il - Assad is looking rather shaky as well. Chavez's peer group in the world is falling by the wayside. On the plus side (from Hugo's POV), George Bush is mostly out of the limelight (on the negative side, he's not getting a whole lotta love from Obama, outside of a smiling handshake and taking a book). But his real nemesis, Uribe, is not only alive but doing very well, thank you very much. He also got a VIP trip to Guatemala a while back, last year I think, to highlight his security successes. (Idle thought - what groups of people would invite a post-presidency Chavez to share his lessons learned from his tenure?)

    Even if he were perfectly healthy, I think these events would make him very nervous. Or perhaps he would be even more nervous if he were healthy, because that would increase his odds of serving a jail term, since his odds of finding a comfortable exile destination are slowly dwindling.

  5. CharlesC9:31 PM

    What if Chavez suddenly left for Cuba after losing the election and Venezuela finds out billions are missing...

  6. CharlesC11:58 PM

    Sorry, to post off topic above.
    As to Mr. Lopez meeting with ex- President Uribe in Colombia- I think that was great and Mr. Lopez
    did something very special.
    Colombia, the real government and not the FARC and trade with Colombia are one of the most important subjects for Venezuela's future. Good move. Sure it ruffles "chavista feathers"-that proves it was right thing to do in my opinion..

  7. Anonymous12:13 AM

    This meeting hit home with Chavistas


  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Given Mr. Lopez emphasis on security and the presence of guerrilla and paramilitary forces in Venezuela (Tachira, Zulia, etc), I think it's not a bad move to ask Uribe about his experience. After all, Mr. Uribe was very succesful against them.

    However, it is also true that Uribe's methods were not always kosher. I assume that it would be unpolite to ask Uribe about his mistakes, but it would have been an even smarter move for Mr. Lopez to say: we want to learn not only from Colombia's success, but also from their mistakes. Uribe did his best under his circumstances, but we want to do it even better. Security can go hand in hand with protection of human rights, etc...

    We must not forget that people are wary of abusive/crooked policemen and DIGEPOL tactics. The chavista propaganda machine will use that against him, just like we saw in this Telesur video.


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