Pablo Pérez Channels His Inner Adeco

So long as we’re looking for examples of presumptive oppo primary contestants on the stump, I thought it only fair to give Zulia Gobernor Pablo Pérez his chance in the form – admittedly – of a two year old clip:

The body language, the shouty grandiloquence, the arrechito declamatory style…you can put whatever three letters you want after his name, but Pablo Pérez is an adeco. A genetic adeco. If you’re not Venezuelan, I can’t explain it to you. If you are Venezuelan, there’s no need to explain it to you. It’s a tribal thing.

PP is also a kind of walking, talking demonstration that dinosaurity has precious little to do with chronological age, and everything to do with a gut level understanding of what it means to do politics. The empty, shouty speeches in public running in parallel tracks alongside real, elite-accommodating power politics in private, with a total disconnect between the two.

The huge ringing alarm bells that go off for me when I hear this rhetorical style are all gut level, so it’s hard for me to play the impartial analyst here. It’s a way of speaking that renders its content almost moot: the style carries its own message, one more immediate and more direct than the one the words carry.

I always took it for granted that if there was anything Venezuelans were reacting viscerally against when they voted for Chávez, it was this way of doing politics. Veremos…

22 thoughts on “Pablo Pérez Channels His Inner Adeco

  1. For an eight-minute speech there is really very little information about what he is proposing to do if he wins. In his favour, he is technically not a candidate or a precandidate yet.

    The speech limited to the topic of “Chavez is bad”. Everyone can talk for hours complaining about Chavez.

    This candidacy will take off when he starts talking about democracia social and some other abstract ideas that we the Venezuelan people love to hear.


  2. “I always took it for granted that if there was anything Venezuelans were reacting viscerally against when they voted for Chávez, it was this way of doing politics. Veremos…

    It’s odd that you say that because you could perfectly describe Chavez with the words: “The empty, shouty speeches in public running in parallel tracks alongside real, elite-accommodating power politics in private, with a total disconnect between the two”. Only instead of accommodating venezuelan elites, Chavez accommodates cuban, iranian and chinese elites.


    • Well said! Chavez is nothing but the platinum-iridium adeco, with some added new features: far more vulgar, abusive and pormiscojonista that any adeco we knew. Some of us have always rejected this way of doing politics. The majority of our people, however, not only does not reject it but embraces and ultimately loves it. The majority of the Venezuelan people respond positively to this way of doing politics. It’s a proven fact. Believing that there has been a change in how people respond to political leaders and that there is a thirst for content rather than empty rhetorical speeches (like the one from PP) is more wishful thinking that a rational analysis of the situation. I too wish that people would wake up and realise that electing Chavez was the biggest historical mistake we ever made, and that electing PP (with his immense ignorance, his lack of education and preparation for the position and his training in adeco style of politics) would also be a terrible mistake. The big question is: what are our real options?


  3. PP and LL would probably be indistinguishable as presidents. They are both Adecos at heart, but LL has the smarts to camouflage it. What characterized AD and Copei was their subservience to the capitalist class. Their speaking style was more cultural than anything else. It was a reflection of machismo and arrogance during a specific period of time, when popular revolution seemed impossible. Today it’s very different — politicos like LL are sweet-talking and grinning at the camera and strolling around in beige slacks.


  4. Francisco, I have allways held the hypothesis that Chavez is the 21st Century interpretation of the ADECO when its own rank and file failed to produced a more relevant and updated version in 1998. This conjecture has proven to be correct for every political struggle in Venezuela since 1998. And that is why Pablo can’t possibly beat Hugo. Hugo is a better ADECO than Pablo. So … That leaves us with Henrique to tap into the aspirational vein of the Venezuelan imagination with …. SI SE PUEDE


    • My own conclusions, to a jot.

      The biggest problem the opposition faces is lack of original (or at any rate different) ideas and trying to beat Hugo Chavez at the game of which he is a master.

      The biggest problem a significant fraction of people in the opposition face is the willingness to almost agree with Hugo Chavez while disliking the man (and the strangest of his many friends, maybe) personally and intensely. Some even liked and praised Fidel Castro, before he began helping Chavez.


  5. By the way … can you keep these going with the other Politically Relevant Oppo Leads ? This can only be good feedback as in Venezuela Politics is so much about Gut and Electoral Machinery. This discussions will certainly help with the first. It would be fantastic if you could match these to focus groups reactions of Oppo, NI-Nis, and Chavez hard supporters. Maybe Schemell can provide some data on this … Or maybe you can figure out a “statistical method” to correct for Internet difference penetration in these sectors through twitter re-tweets of these guys speeches. I claim that there is no way to get a clean data signal and trend from this info that allows you to reach a statistically relevant conclusion that can be used … but I am waiting to be surprised.


  6. jaja, veo que la tremenda tweet-metida de pata de Capriles el elegido radosnki ayer, tiene a los justicieros vueltos locos, sigan asi…


    • Sí vale, ahora que HCR perdió el apoyo de los 150 marialejandralopecistas furibundos en Noticiero Digital, su campaña está en crisis! Ji ji…


  7. Quico: everytime you got your anti-adeco riled up, I want to go to La Florida and sign up for the tolda blanca.

    As you say, gut-level. Similar charges could be made, say, abour HCR’s inane sifrinismo (with similarly unfair consequences).


    • GTAvex,

      This is certainly fair, but let’s dig deeper.

      What exactly is the Adeco Rhetorical Posture *for*? Where does it come from? What does it do? And how?

      Seems to me the point is very much to create an aura of strength, of macho leadership. The ARP positions the speaker not as someone initiating a reasoned dialogue, but as someone busy handing down truth, settled elsewhere, away from the discursive sphere. “I lead, you follow, no talkback!”

      Isn’t that what this is really trying to convey?

      The upshot here is that the real action happens elsewhere, in the backroom, where raw power is exercised. The ARP shields the speaker from democratic accountability, because it disjoints his speech from the real locus of power. ¿O no?

      It’s hard not to think back to CAP II, and the deep disdain he showed for the people in campaigning as an old style populist while intending to govern from the technocratic right all along. And that’s the problem with the Adeco Rhetorical Posture, it’s almost all noise, no signal. It doesn’t really give you any sense of what the person using it intends to do with the power he asks you to give him.

      The kind of affective bond the ARP can create between leader and speaker is the bond a landowner has with his farmhand. With his peón. Purely vertical, soaked through in testosterone and paternalist disdain for his ability to think or act for himself.

      This kind of thing had legs in the Venezuela of 50 years ago. Or 20 years ago, even. But society changed, and then Chávez happened. And Chávez pioneered a rhetorical posture that was vastly superior – mixing elements of the ARP with a much more soft spoken, empathetic, horizontal posture that talked to its audience – notionally – as equals. The kind of emotional bond that the Chavista Rhetorical Posture can generate is just so much deeper, richer, more multifaceted than what the ARP can muster, it’s not even close. Chávez’s Rhetoric is DVD, Adeco rhetoric is Betamax.

      And maybe that’s why Pablo Pérez’s rhetorical atavism strikes me as so pathetic. It’s like he never realized that the goal posts have moved. That both socially and in terms of media, Venezuela today is not like the Venezuela where ARP could consolidate all the political allegiance a leader needs.

      Leopoldo and Capriles seem, at least, to have gotten the message. To have grasped that people with access to DVDs are never going to go back to buying Betamax. And so they’re experimenting, trying different things, different tropes, different rhetorical postures and different ways of engaging their voters. Maybe they’ve just invented crappier versions of the DVD – but at least theirs have the virtue of novelty.

      If Pérez can’t step up his game substantially, if he still thinks that this generation of voters is going to respond to this form of political communications, all he’ll do is embarrass himself. We’re past that. It shouldn’t be hard to fathom.


      • Pérez is indeed repeating the pre-Chavez pattern of demagogic speech from above. Capriles has taken over a better message to the public, he communicates, talks and listens and that is better to counter Chávez’ permanent reality show.

        I still feel they urgently need to go a step further: they need to take the discourse to where it has never ever been in Venezuela, to a real – not a figurative – debate, at least to show they can and Chavez cannot. A debate is something that only the strong can survive. Unfortunately, almost nobody in Venezuela knows how debates work.

        Imagine the opposition candidate challenged Chávez time after time to debate openly, under equal conditions, and humiliated Chávez by telling people Chávez is the only head of state who is afraid of debating or answering real questions in real time to the opposition.

        We have gone from
        * the mute dictator who takes over by marching to Caracas (Gómez and many before him)
        * the microphone caudillo who announces things (where AD got)
        * the reality show autocrat who “cares” (Chávez)

        Now we need to get to someone who shows “he cares” but also shows he is couragous enough to get into a real debate, who can talk about ideas while the other cannot.


      • I get your point and agree with it. Chavez mixes brilliantly the platinum-iridium adeco with the empathetic “I am one of you” and the “we the poor people against the oligarchs” message. It is definitely a departure from the patronizing adeco style. But as much as I agree this has been very effective, I also recognize that this is something Chavez can do because of his background and his unique understanding of our people’s idiosyncrasy. Are we asking PP, HCR and LL to follow Chavez’s manipulative ways? If not, what are we asking them, originality? I think people would respond to an honest message that demonstrates an understanding of the country’s problems and that gives a clear idea of the direction the new government would take, pointing out the multiple mistakes and mismanagements made by the current government without falling into the trap of empty ideological rhetoric. I would build a message of optimism rooted on specific actions. If they can get people imagining a better future and making them believe that this is really possible and not that difficult to achieve.


  8. Ok, you got all Habermas-y…

    And yet…. PP wins elections. I wonder how he does it, especially considering that Zulia wasn’t much of an adeco state. Ever.


    • Zulia would go against anyone becoming too dominant. Chávez is an autocrat. Zulia becomes whatever is needed that is opposite to Chávez. I am sure Chavistas in Zulia have some sort of identity crisis.


  9. It’s a way of speaking that renders its content almost moot: the style carries its own message, one more immediate and more direct than the one the words carry.

    I always took it for granted that if there was anything Venezuelans were reacting viscerally against when they voted for Chávez, it was this way of doing politics.

    Writing as a gringo whose observations of Venezuelan politics are all second- or third-hand, ISTM that is exactly what gets Chávez the core of his support, or at least a major part of it.

    In Venezuela, as in any other nation, the great majority of voters don’t know enough to make a truly considered and rational choice among politicos and parties. They decide partly on “gut feelings” and partly by the influence of “opinion leaders” who (mostly) have the time and ability to collect and digest hard information and (sometimes) actually do so.

    Chávez’s appeal is a ‘gut’ appeal to a large bloc of Venezuelans who (with some justice) regarded all established political figures and groups as part of a self-serving elite from which they and anyone like them was excluded, and which ran the country for their own benefit at the expense of that large bloc.

    For these people, the only important thing about Chávez is that “he is one of us, not one of them” – a condition which is communicated by his appearance, accent, and speaking style. (This is all inferred – I don’t speak Spanish and haven’t watched any of Chávez’s talks.) As long as the content of his speech is blurry socialist generalities promising Good Things for that bloc, the message is less important than the messenger.


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