Eight things you and I can agree on

We shake with the right hand. That should also go on the list.

We shake with the right hand. That should also go on the list.

(With my apologies to those who think “dialogue” is a bad word)

A few days have passed since the session where two different countries collided in Miraflores. Most of us left convinced of what we believed going in – that chavistas and the opposition simply do not have anything in common because, well, chavistas are crazy. Reality means different things to both sides, facts are irrelevant, and not even the Constitution can serve as a bridge between the two sides, since the two sides can’t even agree on what the Constitution actually says.

Chavistas are from Mars, the opposition is from Venus. Or are they?

As the dialogue process continues – much to our bafflement – it is worthwhile to really ask ourselves if this is true. Are we really that different?

Questioning your assumptions is always a good thing, but that is not why we should seek common ground. The goal should be to not only confirm assumptions, but to signal to the other side that certain things will not be on the table anymore. Let it not be said that we didn’t go the extra mile trying to find the rare common ground.

In that spirit, I would like to make a list of eight things chavistas and the opposition can agree on. Some of them should be things that perhaps we don’t know we believe, but that we might as well believe them just as an olive branch to the other side. Others are those that, perhaps, we could persuade them to believe.

Here is my list. The idea here is to complement them with other ideas – so feel free to add them in the comments section.

  1. The Cuarta República was baaaad. We don’t need to parse things here. We can argue endlessly about whether or not things went South with Caldera I, CAP I, Luis Herrera, or Lusinchi, but what good would that do? We don’t need to fall in the trap of talking about how wonderful Venezuela was under Raúl Leoni. I think it shouldn’t be a point of contention that the last twenty years of the Fourth Republic were crap. Social and economic indicators show it, and democracy died a slow death during those times. We can even agree on the claims made by chavistas that human rights were violated. Admitting this important point for chavismo could provide an opening.
  2. April 2002 was a coup. I found the whole discussion last week by Henry Ramos Allup about an “emptiness of power followed by a coup” a huge turn-off. In April of 2002, a coup took place, one that removed Hugo Chávez from power. Whether it was justified or not is beside the point. What difference does it make? Every time we mince words and fail to call it what it was, we create a gashing distance between us and the other sides. It’s time to throw Carmona Estanga under the bus for good and call a spade a spade. It will be a sign of good faith to admit to that. Plus, how long can we continue arguing the same thing? Take April 2002 off the table by conceding it, I say.
  3. Simón Bolívar was the father of our entire country, and he was no socialist. Bolívar is one of the few symbols that we all share. We might as well take Bolivarianism off the table, by taking the man himself off the table as well. Bolívar has been used as an icon for warring factions since he came home a coprse in the mid XIXth-Century. Chavismo upped the ante by playing politics with his corpse – literally! We can all agree that trying to make Bolívar fit into one ideology more than the other is not productive, and it creates unnecessary divisions. We should also agree that labeling him as some sort of socialist does the man no favors. Bolívar had a deep social conscience, but he was no socialist, and using him to promote a particular ideology is wrong. Let the man rest in peace.
  4. Guarimbas are violent. Few people like the guarimbas, the barricades currently dotting many of our cities. They are disruptive, they harm innocent people’s daily lives, and they don’t lead us anywhere. Guarimbas in the Prados del Este highway are about as harmful to Maduro’s power as singing “Hay un camino” in the comfort of your own shower. It’s time to admit they are a mistake – a violent mistake.
  5. Coups are always bad, and democracy is good. File this one under the category of “things chavismo does not yet admit, but should.” February 4th was the birth of Chavismo, but it was an extremely messy, bloody, completely illegal birth. As long as chavismo doesn’t denounce its own genesis, it cannot, in good conscience, denounce other people’s coups. Either we all agree that coups are bad (April 2002 just as bad as February 4th), or we stop criticizing coups altogether. It’s really that simple. If chavismo wants to be considered democratic, it should begin by supporting democracy wholeheartedly. This implies respecting the outcomes of elections, such as Antonio Ledezma’s. It also implies understanding that they cannot simply jail a mayor elected a few months ago with massive margins (Daniel Ceballos). Democracy should be our common goal, so it would be productive to put it down on paper.
  6. PDVSA should remain in the hands of the State. I’m always surprised when chavismo hurls the false accusation that the opposition wants to “privatize PDVSA.” This is not even under discussion. Some of us wish we could have a discussion on why exactly the government needs to own the national oil company while neighboring Brazil floats the stock of its oil company quite successfully. Sadly, that discussion will never take place in Venezuela. State-owned PDVSA is something nobody in power questions, so we should put it in the basket of “things we all agree on.”
  7. Venezuela needs to develop its own food production. Rafael Ramírez thinks this is important. Henrique Capriles thinks this is important. Julio Borges, Maria Corina Machado, Leopoldo López – pretty much everyone can agree that importing our food … is really bad – bad for our farmers, bad for our wallets, bad for our self-esteem. We may disagree on the policies we need to implement to get there, we may have different opinions on whether or not we’re getting closer to the goal of self sufficiency, but at least we should agree that it is a worthwhile goal.
  8. Crime is not an intractable problem. In the Pope’s letter to Venezuelans last week, he said that one of the things we have in common is that we all “respect human life,” and that we are all terribly worried about “violence and crime” (not sure the Holy Father was thinking of the “colectivos” when he wrote this). It is worthwhile to pin this down. Many times, chavismo has excused its deplorable record on crime by saying it is an “intractable” problem. Their own unsuccesful efforts to lower the crime rate goes against that belief. It is time both sides put on the table two basic things: that the crime wave has gotten much worse, and that it can be lowered with the right mix of policies. We may disagree on exactly what those policies are, but we can’t continue talking with one side throwing their hands up in the air in frustration, while the other remains a victim of their incompetence.

What else? Are there any more things both sides agree on? Feel free to comment…

106 thoughts on “Eight things you and I can agree on

  1. Coups are necessary when there is no way to remove rulers from power. The 2002 coup was anti-democratic because the opposition understood the majority was not on their side. The 1992 coup was democratic because the coupsters knew that the system was designed to prevent the majority from voting in their interests. Only after the coup did it become possible.

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      • I sympathize with what yoyo is saying, but his argument is a little brittle. That same system that impeded people from voting in their interests actually elected a candidate who represented their interests. Of course, it’s more nuanced than that, but still…

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    • If you can justify coups, so can the other side. Los rusos también juegan.

      YOU don’t get to denounce coups or coupsters, though.

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    • So when a coup meets your ideological needs, it is justifiable as democratic; whereas when it contravenes your political ideology, it is a coup.

      Confirmation bias much? Festinger is likely giggling away.

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      • For my enemies, the law. For my friends, everything.

        Yoyo and his ilk have spent sixty five years cheering the Castro dynasty on. It is safe to say they are not democrats any more than Franco was (who by the way was a good friend of Castro). They tolerate democracy when they think enough of the electorate supports them that they can win. At all other times they turn to the gun.

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        • “Franco . . . (who by the way was a good friend of Castro.”

          Yeah, but that was not because of a confluence of political dogma – although it may have been of methodology, as you imply – but mostly because of eran gallegos y se entendian

          Sorry, I couldn’t resist. ;-)

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    • How can a coup be democratic? Do we vote for a coup? Coups are coups whether we like it or not… saying they are democratic or undemocratic is just adding adjectives!

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  2. Guarimbas are violent?
    I don’t agree, many of them didn’t start violently, they just reacted to the violence that attacked them… nowadays most are very close to violent the moment they block the street. But not all are violent, they haven’t always been violent, and thanks to them this government was put in incredible international pressure, so much so that they were forced to call a “dialogo” just to keep appearances. Add to that what Lula said about a coalition government.

    Coups are always bad?
    Not when you are fighting a dictatorship, it’s the only way. (this doesn’t mean that this is what should happen here, but they aren’t always bad!)

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    • The violent nature of guarimbas should be evaluated aside from its effects. Violent acts can sometimes have positive effects, but this doesn’t justify them, and it doesn’t make it non-violent.

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    • Guarimbas are violent not because guarimberos beat you if you try to pass through (even if you are an opposition supporter and live right after the guarimba), guarimbas are violent for the simple reason of completely preventing you from exercising a right, if they’d leave one lane open, or even if they agree to open it every 5 minutes for 5 minutes this would be different, but the way they are “structured” right now it’s as violent as a kidnapping… you could argue that kidnapping is not “violent” if the kidnapped person does not suffer phyisical harm? of course not! what about mental harm? stress? it’s precisely what happens with guarimbas.

      Rodrigo you very well know that i am fundamentally democratic: i never supported violent protests or even considered a non-democratic solution, i am against #lasalida since i still don’t know what the hell is that or how does it work (con que se come eso?), and i am convinced that the electoral way is the only way. But, and this is actually difficult for me to admit, i don’t think “all coups are bad”, let me explain why: we can all agree (and i hope we can…) that the north korean regime is bad, but there is no alternative to end things there unless a coup occurs, and of course there is no way of knowing what may happen after a coup, but this is only to show that, under certain circumstances, a coup might be the only way to end an evil dictatorship, and thus a coup on those circumstances would be “good” (or better than the alternative). That being said, i don’t think that february 92 or april 02 were in that category since Venezuela had (and still has) a functioning democracy (sorry to all guarimberos and dialogue haters as well) and thus, in my opinion, there is no alternative to a democratic and, above all, constitutional ending to this situation.

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      • I think you are invoking the principle of proportionality when violence is called upon. You are also invoking the duty to avoid harming innocents. I believe St. Thomas of Aquinas covers this in the principles of just war.

        Guarimbas are bad, full stop, but they exist. They have served to inflame the situation and embarrass the government. They have served their purpose in the paradox of evil begetting some apparent good. But it is now time to move away from them and put the focus back on the government.

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      • I’ll opt for reserving judgement on the guarimbas, but I agree with you on the coup thing. I believe that the coup of 1958, for example, was justified.

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  3. Muy bueno, Juan. Really good. I would say those are the eight things everybody can agree on. The extremes diverge from those eight, but mainstream venezuelans agree on most of those points. The real problem with the last 15 years is that venezuelan politics has been driven by the extreme ideologist on each side of the spectrum. The result is what we have today.

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    • Thanks Bruni. The troubling thing is that most people in the government would find it really difficult to agree with these eight points – because they are mostly radicals.

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      • Not that they are radicals, is that if they even give a milimeter in those points, then the truth will be exposed to the chavista base: That their leaders are basically guilty for like everything bad in the last 15 years and way before too, stripping them of their impunity and hauling their asses straight to a cell.

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  4. And yes, coups are bad.

    I happened to review some TV footing of Venezuela right before the 1992 coup and if one does not know that we are talking about 1992, one would think that the people that are talking about how difficult life is, how much corruption there is, how bad is the government were those complaining TODAY about the current government. It takes time to realize that was 1992. So for those people of 1992, a coup was justified such as some people justified a coup in 2002 or now.

    The reality is that a coup is never justified, it creates the precedent that one can just remove someone from power, regardless. That has been the story of Venezuela since Simón Bolívar and that is what we are suffering right now: we are living the post-4-of-february-1992.

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  5. I think the above two comenters miss the point, this show of what Venezuela is now.

    To both of you I show you a face of shame :(.

    The exercise is to reach points where we can agree, and yes ALL cup are BAD and yes GUARIMBAS are bad two, both of you will do better saying they are/were necesary evils for your point of view, but they are as bad as Mr Burns.

    This is a crazy tought: can I agree with Mr Maduro in something? With, Mr Leopoldo?

    I Will not hide my allegiance to HCR not today of all days but I can see points were to agree with Nicolas, that does not make me weak, stupid or “colaboracionista” (say a lot of people who still pay ISRL and IVA).

    Great Post!! Juan in the words of J.K Rowlling: It takes a lot of courage to face your enemies it take a lot more to face your friends.

    I think we can also agree that misery is terrible and we all must do our best effort to vainished from Venezuela.

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    • “(say a lot of people who still pay ISRL and IVA).”
      Don’t pay ISLR, and you won’t get access to like 90% of bureaucratic formalities needed for work, credits and such, also, you can be fined for that too.
      Don’t pay IVA, well, good luck buying anything AT ALL.
      There’s a difference between not being able to even eat due to not wanting to pay IVA (‘Cause you won’t be able to buy the food) and agreeing with the crazy bullshit chavismo wants to shove down our throats 24/7 with their comunications hegemony or supporting the apeshit insane stuff they do like the murder squads and their rampant hipocrisy.

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  6. Given that “guarimbas are bad” gives the goverment moral superiority to send National Guard and para-military thugs after them….fuck that. No, seriously, the irrelevant discussion about coups aside (irrelevant because is 2014), criminalizing a form of protest that surged as a response to the repression because it makes things difficult for somebody (which is the only thing that has proven to work on this country) is completely anti-ethical.

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    • I think one can entertain the idea that guarimbas are violent *and* that they should not be violently repressed. Guarimbas may be violent, but it doesn’t mean it’s OK to torture guarimberos.

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  7. I see mention of guarimba violence being bad, but I see no mention of the violence from anti-guarimba factors. How come?

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    • It seems to be A-OK, given the presence of Jose Pinto (from the Tupamaros) on the table.

      Is a complete mystery why that circus is despised.

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    • I think the point of the violent colectivos is not something we can agree on … yet. That is part of the negotiation. The point of this is to find points where there is already some form of agreement.

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  8. Do you really believe chavistas have made “unsuccesful efforts to lower the crime rate”? Yes, they have drafted N plans, which last a few days, just to look like they are trying, but they depend on giving impunity to armed thugs, since they are an effective dissuasion force against protest or disobedience by the opposition or disappointed chavistas. One example is the “Paz y Vida” program, which in effect gives money and free rein to gangs in certain zones in exchange for a few rusting arms.

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    • Funny to think that empowering criminals is a way of reducing crime, or that releasing them from jail is going to make them decent men , or that if they are given an oficial or informal job involving the use of their guns to ‘protect the revolution’ they are going to stop acting as criminals !!

      The regime is less interested in reducing crime than in turning criminals into armed regime shock troops for the regime or into bodyguards for the gov bigwigs. They are in fact enfranchising criminality , for use as the vehicles of regime repression !!

      In the barriios armed goons are use to set up guarimbas of bullets and intimidation to prevent the discontent from expressing themselves or conducting public protests !! they feel that these criminals cease to be criminals because they do the regimes dirty jobs. . I suspect that now there as many criminals acting for the govt , sometimes as policement or forces of order as there are criminals acting free lance , on their own..

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  9. <bThe Cuarta República was baaaad.
    One problem with this phrasing is that the Chavista narrative for the last 15 years has been that the Fourth Republic was soooo baad, and Chavismo is sooo greeeeat.

    Unfortunately for that Chavista narrative, the Fourth Republic doesn’t always suffer in comparison with respect to how Chavismo has performed. Judging by improvement in Life Expectancy and Infant Mortality, the gold standards for measuring efficacy of public health systems, Chavismo has performed about the same as the Fourth Republic in the area of public health. Chavismo’s performance in annual housing construction per capita is about about 60% annual housing construction per capita during the last 20 years of the Fourth Republic. Which is why I don’t like the idea of having the The Cuarta República was baaaad as a common talking point- because there is very little agreement with the second part of the Chavista narrative of “Fourth baaad, Chavismo greeat.”

    Perhaps it would be better to state that by 1998, nearly all Venezuelans were fed up with the performance of the Fourth Republic, and wanted nothing to do with COPEI and AD, the two lynchpins of the Fourth Republic. From Wikipedia 1998 Election

    The two traditional main parties hoped that the 8 November legislative and regional elections would give them a boost, a month ahead of the 8 December presidential election, but the poll remained a two-horse race.[4] At this point polls generally showed Chávez with a 6-12 point lead over Salas Römer’s approximately 38% poll numbers, though in some polls he exceeded that margin.[4] Both COPEI and Democratic Action now sought to endorse Salas Römer (he was reluctant to accept). COPEI persuaded its candidate (Saez) to resign, but Democratic Action’s candidate, Alfaro Ucero, refused to do so, triggering an electoral crisis as the National Electoral Council had to rule on whether the Democratic Action ballot slot belonged to the party or the candidate.[4] Salas Römer agreed to accept the endorsement of COPEI and Democratic Action regional and local parties, and sought to maintain a distance to the parties’ national leadership.[4] In the end, it was not enough, and Chávez won a substantial majority, and won 17 of 23 states.[4]

    From this I conclude that prior to AD and COPEI throwing their support to Enrique Salas Römer, AD and COPEI were polling about a combined 10% of the electorate. That tells me that by the 1998 election, AD and COPEI had lost nearly all their previous support. That, I believe, is something that all can agree upon.

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    • The Fourth Republic was bad in the same sense the Revolution is bad. In fact, the Revolution is worse but not fundamentally different.

      The nutshell of it is the question of how come that both managed to turn obscene amounts of oil income into poverty. In that sense, both represent the same – wasted opportunities to build the better country Venezuelans deserve.

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    • The Cuarta Republica was bad but the quinta republica is much worse , so of I had my pick Id pick none of them but specially anything that was least like the 5ta Republica .!!

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      • I think acknowledging the terrible aspects of the period prior to Chávez is a way to gain empathy with the other side. It’s a pretty basic negotiating tool. It also happens to be true. I don’t doubt that human rights violations occurred during the Caracazo, for example, and that the Fourth Republic did a crappy job investigating them.

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        • Fine. Acknowledge the terrible aspects of the period prior to Chavez, as a manipulative negotiating ploy, so that the other side can look at their belly button and say, “Om”. But why then not mention the equally baaad, aspects of chavismo, which produced worse results?

          Something doesn’t add up in the equation.

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          • And along these lines, I would add that your exposition, Juan, for all its logic, follows a meek-as-a-lamb acquiescence that is troubling in members of the oppo.

            To this effect, I give you Exhibit A: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/14/venezuela-s-agony-weak-president-strong-generals-riots-and-cocaine.html But Maduro’s weakness is not translating into strength for the opposition forces. They always had problems addressing the old populism of chavismo, and they’ve also been slow to adapt their tactics to the new militarism. Street barricades are fading, but they will mean nothing if politicians don’t show more ability to confront an ever less democratic government. So far, Maduro’s falling popularity only means the triumph of militarization.

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        • Juan Nagel,

          I think you are naive in this case.A realistic stance would not be ideological but practical .Sometimes empathy cannot be gained, and sometimes it is not needed.Your first mistake was in saying that some people are against dialogue.This is not true.But we realize its impossibility in this case.

          A dialogue is a conversation.Conversations follow rules of etiquette because conversations are social interactions, and therefore depend on social convention. Failure to adhere to these rules devolves, and eventually dissolves the conversation.

          The regime does not follow these kinds of rules.

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        • Juan,

          The 4th Republic did a crappy job with the Caracazo and the 4th Republic was 10 years in power after the Caracazo (effectively less than that). Chavismo has been in power over 14 years and the Caracazo was the main excuse for their bloody coups in 1992.

          And yet: they won’t investigate anything. In fact, I believe they would oppose an open investigation. Where is the list of missing people for them to claim more than 3000 people were killed? Almost no one in Venezuela is without a family and, unlike Colombia, the events took place along the coast in the most populated, urban areas and Barquisimeto.

          Do you want to investigate the nasty things of the IV Republic? Yes, let’s do it. But if I were a National Assembly deputy or one of the speakers at the Diálogo I would have looked at the camera and said: and that’s why we want Chacín to explain to us why he was in that helicopter going to Amparo and why Róger Cordero, deputy of the PSUV, did during the Cantaura events (there are survivors of that). We also want Chavismo to tell people whether the dictator who put in jail Villegas’s parents committed less violations of human rights than the IV Republic.

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  10. Finding common ground is useful only if the other side is also willing to compromise, otherwise is an exercise in unilateral concessions.

    For instance, Chavismo has direct democracy as one of its core principles, but it also has a culture of winner-takes-all. Chavismo would L-O-V-E to revert our democracy were Lusinchi left it:
    – currency controls to blackmail the press and award cronies (check)
    – price controls to keep economic factors in check (check)
    – governors and mayors directly appointed by the president (pending. workaround: viceroys in Corpomiranda, Corpozulia, Capital District, South Valencia, etc.)
    – some collusion among government branches (superseeded, Chavismo killed independence completely)
    – they also upped Lusinchi by puting PDVSA and the Armed Forces under partisan influence.

    I’m not sure Chavismo is ready to abandon this “conqueror” mentality, and share power.

    There’s also the issue of chavismo’s reluctance to admit to anything, which makes compromise unlikely:
    – It’s widely known and proved that there are Chavista paramilitary groups. They refuse to recognize it, and until they do, there won’t be any consensus on disarming them.
    – Security forces have tortured and abused protestors, have violated constitutional guarantees (right to assemble, to protest, inviolavility of the home, fair trial, etc). Until they recognize it, there won’t be any consensus to correct it.
    – The economy is not working. There’s shortage, inflation, arbitrage, salaries are among the lowest in the region etc. Until they recognize it’s not working, economic policy is going to keep sucking.

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  11. Good analysis as always. I would argue on #6. Yes, for now need to agree on government ownership since it is the only source of income to pay our bills. But an emphasis should be focused on investment programs. Sustainable food production is one. From there, the country should diversify in other areas to lessen the dependency on oil. After regaining economic stability, the government should get out of the business of extracting oil, producing electricity, telecommunications, etc. just like the rest of the successful industrialized nations.

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      • Yes! This morning I realized I had missed another point. We can all agree that we all want Venezuelans to have more – stuff, money, education, you name it. If Dakazo proved anything, it was that politicians will do anything to please the insatiable consumerist instincts of Venezuelans.

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  12. 1. Poverty is bad, it is incompatible with a safe, stable, functioning democracy, and we all share responsibility for eliminating it.
    2. If it is wrong for you to do it, it is wrong for me to do it.

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  13. Yes, here’s one you don’t mention: Some sort of state intervention is required. Prestaciones sociales, public universities, government pensions and other forms of subsidies all make sense and are expected.

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      • Please, UCV is a inefficient structure, just standing because is “Patrimonio” but it truly need to change its all-public funding conception

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  14. With previous comments I can only say: de polarization is subversive… for both sides.

    But until we understand that it’s the only path to fix this country we’re doomed. Worst thing is that ni-ni and important part of both political blocks could agree on that… but we’re taken hostages by the radicals.

    I didn’t need an effort to agree with the 8 points. Those were already part of my beliefs.

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  15. Well, Juan…if those are your points and you have been blogging for ages about politics I think the country has a big problem.

    If everyone can’t agree on the following factors, we are completely screwed up:

    1) Separation of powers is absolutely imperative and it doesn’t take only to say “there is separation of power” as Diosdado has said many times recently, as if by saying it, he conjures it, for that to be true.
    You can’t appoint to the Supreme Court anyone who has a clear past of political activity, unless, at worst, you can get people from different positions there to compensate. You can’t get someone like Morales there or like the Gladys thingie now there.

    2) Pluralism, including political pluralism, is the basic of every part of the State, of education.

    I don’t expect you to agree on this but shit on Bolívar. The guy was an absolute crap. He did not liberate Venezuela. It was hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans (and quite a few Spaniards) and last but not least 6000 well-trained foreign mercenaries who liberated Venezuela from hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans and quite a few Spaniards.

    We need to change that, although not with Chavismo, so we should actually agree on the fact Venezuela reeks of stupid caudillo cult and personality cults are stupid. Like no country in the world do we call every single location and institution after some military man or, at best, some politico.

    We can agree to

    3) give liberty of discussion about our history. We need more people like Carrera Damas…let them have their Myer, who sells books about Bolívar and about UFOs and ghosts, to talk to whomever he wants.

    4) we need transparency and clear methods for debate and for demanding transparency, the ability to question live every so many months or so any minister or deputy and also the head of State, live.

    and

    5) we need a discussion about measures to get off oil and to have a sustainable development…just a discussion, a debate. I hope someone other than a tiny fan of ecology finally realises Venezuela is sinking in its own shit, literally, destroying the best cultivation lands for certain products for good due to bad urbanising schemes, compromising social sustainability for the same reason, filling its rivers and beaches of dirt and poison like few others in Latin America. I hope someone can also show Venezuelans from any side that no one has done the maths about the different main scenarios of how oil prices can develop and how pensions will be paid in 20, 30, 40 years from now.

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    • I’ve always been critical of the Cult of El Libertador, but well, in Venezuelan politics you get as far rejecting it as you would get in the USA saying you are an atheist.

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      • I agree it’s harakiri for a politico in Venezuela but we might need some kind of group dedicated to debunking the personality cult…and mind: not only of Bolívar and Chávez.

        I produced this map pointing at those municipalities in Venezuela called after a military man:

        That was back in 2010. There have been, as far as I know, two changes: municipio Páez became
        Municipio Guajira just because for Chávez Páez was bad and Bolívar good (a simplification of the already present crap en vogue when I was a child)…and a municipio in Cojedes became “Zamora”, after a rich gangster who has long been stylized into a revolutionary.

        There is nothing comparable anywhere else on Earth (well, I don’t know the meaning of toponyms in North Korea). Colombia has a Santander and a Bolívar, the US has a couple of Washington and such, Chileans a couple of O’Higgins…but nobody has so many places called after the military caste.

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    • Actually, Kepler, you’re totally right: we ARE screwed. Separation of powers, liberty, transparency, are all subversive concepts in revolutionary Venezuela. In fact, these are one of the main points of contention between the two sides, more so than communism vs. capitalism. It’s liberal democracy vs. whatever-the-hell-chavismo-is.

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      • Juan,

        I am not sure these are the main point of contention. They SHOULD be but they are not. At least I don’t hear them being articulated in any clear or unclear manner by our main politicians. At most they do the fuzzy talk (well, I missed the “Diálogo” even if I was totally for it: my stomach was not right).

        We should have said much more clearly that we need Separation of Powers and Transparency,
        why in spite of Cabello’s and Gutiérrez’s assertions these are not given in Venezuela at all
        (proof, proof, statements like those of Morales, etc), we should have shown that on a board during that Diálogo and we should have stated a series of steps AND explained to the public how in democratic countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Canada, hell, even Uruguay, it would be inconceivable to have what we have at the CNE and the Supreme Court.
        We should have told people they can find a series of very specific Chavista-proof rules and methods to demand INTERPELACIONES of all elected politicians, including the head of State, at least with a certain periodicity that would allow things to function (obviously, no weekly grilling but at least once every second quarter).

        Why we haven’t produced clear-cut demands (I don’t believe what we had for the Diálogo were concrete, detailed enough)? I believe pereza mental.

        I believe – and this is the point – those demands during that event would have been mind blowing and they would have been supported even by a part of the 33% hard-core Chavistas. Only the stupidest, those who repeat whatever and, of course, those in power like all Boligarchs and the real commies and thugs – people like Mario Silva and the colectivo leaders – would and will always oppose that.

        Believe: if those things are well explained, even quite some idealist Chavistas will say: why not?

        Mind: the word “liberty” is already too fuzzy. It has been misused a lot of time (even by the Nazis). I wouldn’t use it because it is even anathema. But we could find concepts that imply it and are not disputable amog the vast majority of people.

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    • Testimonial of Bolivar overdone.

      I arrived in Venezuela when I was 11 years old from Peru and we had to put a postcard of “El Libertador” in the first page of our ‘cuaderno empastado’. Even for an 11 year old that seemed rather over the top. The picture of Bolivar hanging over every classroom too.

      In ‘tercer a~no’ we had a quarter where we covered the colonial period and then we had 6 months of “Independencia de Venezuela”, which essentially was the Bolivar’s doings and undoings. Then we had in “cuarto a~no”. There we started with Paez and on. All I remember is that they were all “corruptos” except Ezequiel Zamora which was something of a XIX “Che Guevara”.

      We covered all of world history in year while in “segundo a~no”. I could appreciate it even less.

      This Bolivar / Caudillo craze is embedded in the educational system and it is the flawed way where Venezuela was trying to inculcate a national identity. Even as a kid it felt weird, and boring. Funny thing is there have been times that people will react negatively to this observation. I still remember being chastised with “no te olvides que Bolivar fue el Libertador de Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru y Bolivia” and that was the knock down argument of the conversation :-)

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      • Renacuajo : Bolivar the historical figure has always been hard to swallow for Peruvian history text books ( Ive read a couple and the picture they paint is pretty sleazy ) In Peru San Martin is the real liberator and Bolivar a vain , unsavory and lecherous character who gained independence but at the cost of ruining Peru. If you read history in nitty gritty detail you know the reason for this .

        I agree with you that local history textbooks have ruined his true historical stature by making him into a overglamorized idol that threads his magnificent step in the highest clouds of glory so that once we start looking at the full history of his life and deeds we begin finding reasons to become dissapointed of him . He was a military Caudillo and now military caudillos are our of fashion among enlightened democrats , I see him as an exceptional man who played the hands he was given at an age of raw barbarity and primitiveness we dont really understand . He was the child of his age and circumstance , Lived during the full bloom of romantic conceits and became bathed by its bathos and exageration. He did not ride a white horse , he rode a rampant tiger than would just as easily devour him than those he was fighting . In the end he bitterly admitted that all his efforts had turned to failures and that he had sown the sea .

        Only in the last decade or so has the true human measure of the man begun to be understood , the fact that Chavez used Bolivars mistified reputation for his own political purposes has opened our eyes to that aspect of him which least endears him to modern democrats !! In our childhood he was a proxy for our dreams of belonging to a race of noble valiant men , that dream being dashed now we are taking it out on him .

        Probably we should leave his memory for a while , let historians look deeper into who he really was rather than into what he came to represent and dedicate ourselves to addressing the true live topics of our time , God knows they are pressing enough.!!

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        • Hey Bill Bajo :-)

          I appreciate your comment. Just a few notes:

          -Only later did I learn that Bolivar was held with some contempt in Peru as you point out. At 11, having just arrived to Venezuela, I was just surprised by the personality cult, something deep in me told me it was wrong.

          -I have no problem with Bolivar the historical man. In fact I like your depiction. I have a problem with Bolivar the cornerstone of Venezuelan identity. Bolivar as a national symbol, Bolivar the demigod.

          -I regret with the investment with 2/3 of my history classes during bachillerato devoted to a rather repetitive story of caudillos, ‘montoneras’ and corruption. It would have been better invested in World History.

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    • Agreed, but I believe Juan’s argument is that if they can reach a modicum of agreement on these, relatively minor, points, they could perhaps go on to deal with some of the bigger issues you mention. Personally, I don’t think there is the proverbial “snowball’s change in hell” possibility of that happening, but I’m willing to sacrifice the snowball, if only for the entertainment value of hearing it sizzle and seeing it go up in steam.

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      • Mmmm, this was supposed to be in reply to Kepler’s post of yesterday starting with <Well, Juan…. Oh well, clavo pas’o. :(

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  16. Cuarta bad, chavismo good or vice versa is simply not acurate ( fun in Animal Farm but mostly wrong in any nuanced political/ social/ pol.economy history).
    What is more acurate is ( to the not liking of the main actors today) is that both Cuarta (Pto Fijo) and Chavismo meant something good at some point ( political agenda in 1945 – voting rights for example; Housing as in Banco Obrero; infrastructure projects as in Guri; decent bureaucracy as in MEM, SAS & others in 4ta case, focus on poverty reduction , medical attention, expanding education in Chavismo case) BUT both regimes suffered/ /suffers from similar illness: self- serving elite too busy benefiting unproportionally from oil wealth, lack of fair rules for electoral competicion ( acta mata voto puntofijista & ventajismo chavista ) and lack of creating a decent and professional bureaucracy ( carnet adeco o copeyano or boina roja as key CV feature). Both political projects started on legitimate claims but were/ are distorted by these illness. The failure to create a nation that can be a tat more decent in spending oil wealth, have a tat more effective public apparatus and have some basic and stable rules of political game is both cuarta and quinta fault. In this we , those not clouded by extremism, can agree on!

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    • I agree with Opinador.

      Historical interpretation should not be an acto de fe. Give that to the Inquisitors.

      The IV Republic was not worse than the Pérez Jiménez dictatorship. In fact, let’s remember Pérez Jiménez had only 4 years to screw it on his own and he made a lot of money disappear – at a time Venezuela’s population was much smaller – and his regime saw to it that so many, including Eduardo Villegas’ parents, curiously enough, went to prison, were tortured or murdered.
      Chavistas, incredibly enough, claim to be lefty and still just said Pérez Jiménez and other right-winged milicos who tortured also people from the left (and centre and right) were better than the social democrats we had afterwards.

      Chavismo has some leaders who are the worst of the IV Republic, people like Chacín (planned the Massacre of Amparo, could not participate only because his helicopter went down before and he got injured, but he had participated in a lot of crap before) and people like PSUV-deputy for Guárico Róger Cordero (actually took part in the Massacre of Cantaura). People like Aristóbulo and Chaderton were integral part of that IV Republic as well.

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      • Don’t forget the walking corpse called José Vicente Rangel, a cancer on Venezuelan politics since the fall of Pérez Jiménez. The Chavistas call themselves “the new”, when they are a collection of the worst of the old.

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        • Exactly. And it is up to us to show this.

          We can even use an open debate to point out to these things on live TV. Imagine someone like Andrés Velásquez or Henry Falcón asking on live TV whether Chacín would explain how come he was on that helicopter going to that attack and whether deputy Róger Cordero would care to explain to everyone, including one of the survivors of the Massacre of Cantaura, what his role was in using that plane to shoot the guerrilla. They can also demand, finally, to get an independent committee investigate the Caracazo events and FOR GOODNESS SAKE, put up a public, bloody ONLINE list of names or something for anyone claiming to have a missing person from that time
          (Chavismo repeats ad nauseam, based on a very vague report about one anonymous grave with +-200 corpses that 3000 to 5000 were killed…where are the relatives of so many people and how many military could have killed those people and where?)

          We cannot use a scapegoat like the IV Republic, no. Even if we were to do it, we would have to include a great deal of Chavistas and we would need to fully investigate the Caracazo, which, I firmly believe, would reveal quite a lot of things most Venezuelans don’t know…even if we believed it was “only the ones in power”: a lot of military took part in the shooting, a lot of people close to Chávez.

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  17. The 2002 coup for me was a countercoup. It became clear that the Chavistas would transform Venezuela into a dictatorship through institutionall rape and inconstitutional referendums and some in the opposition tried a countercoup to prevent that. Coup is what Chávez tried in 1992.

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    • Hannah Arendt in her book “On Violence’ holds that violence ( read coups) , could sometimes be morally justified even if it did not count with mayority popular support , If we didnt believe that we would have to think that the War of Independence (where at least initially most people favoured the kings Cause) was unjustified and should never have begun. .

      Violence is unjustified where there are non violent institutional ways of protecting peoples freedom and human rights , but where they dont exist or are heavily repressed and curtailed then violence can be justified to restore them .

      Justice is not just a mathematical game of numbers, its involves principles, and principles are not abrogated just because most people are inhibited or distracted from recognizing those principles in force. All the
      Germans mass support of Hitler didnt make the Jewish Holocaust morally acceptable .. .

      The notion that violence is only justified where it enjoys mayority popular support is according to Arendt untenable. What she did suggest was that speaking politically (not morally) deeds done against the will of the mayority were illegitimate , the thing is that for her illigetimacy wasnt always inmoral , justice belonged to the moral realm whereas legitimacy, understood as the recognition of mayority opinion, dwelled in the realm of politics .

      Most people hate ambiguity and want black and white nostrums to comfortably furnish their minds , Hannah Arendt thinking didnt allow for that !! .

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      • “we would have to think that the War of Independence (where at least initially most people favoured the kings Cause)”
        Well: I don’t think we should be using those times as norm. Where is the border and where it is Zeitgeist?

        Even now you are assuming now we know better that the so-called Independence was better. That we think so is based on 2 centuries of ideology.
        The real independence movement was set into motion above all when the rich in Spanish America saw it would be better for them. The Cadiz Constitution set that into motion and then, when Felipe returned to power in 1814 too much blood had been shed and the oligarchs in Spanish America who had supported the independence saw that anyway they could only move forward…and they got it easier once the mostly British mercenaries without a job after Waterloo started to pour in.
        Otherwise we might have had a peaceful evolution, a Spanish-speaking confederation…perhaps with more liberties than what we have had.

        Sorry but the bloody coup of 1992 was no solution to anything. CAP was bound to leave in 1994 anyway and we had seen Velázquez got some chance…not bad considering other countries where two parties have dominated the landscape for a longer period of time.

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        • I used Venezuelas pursuit of independence as an example most readers would understand because there are very few people (such as your self) which see it as a mistake , at least regarding the destructive way it was won . Even bolivar voiced some regret as to the heavy price paid to attain it . you must have read Visos work on the subject .

          Not sure that conditions would have peacefully evolved towards independence, By 1898 Spain was firmly in control of Cuba and Pto Rico , it took the Spanish American War to gain Cubas independence and to allow Pto Rico a semi independent status as a sui generis protectorate of the US.

          As usual your reading of history is highly original if not idyosincratic , but thats neither here nor there , too often in history things happen not because men plan them but because impersonal forces and haphazard circumstances cause them to happen . The enlightment and the romantic movement left us infatuated with the conceit of beleiving that men acting rationally and purposefully are the absolute master of their fate forgetting the role that errant chance so often plays in the denoument of human affairs .

          The protestant reform was born of Martin Luthers response to the Churches practice of selling indulgences ( to fund the building of St Peter) , the churchman responsible for marketing indulgences was in fact interpreting the Church teachings on the subject in a rather un orthodox way which later got him into trouble .

          While the latter was in prison Luther wrote him a kind letter commiserating on his situation , telling him ‘ you need not blame yourself for the fact that the selling of indulgences sparked the fires of reform , that was something that was bound to happen sooner or later , you where just the vehicle fate used to cause it to happen a bit earlier ‘ , the people who begun the independence movement in Venezuela could not foresee what the consequences of their deeds would be , they saw an opportunity for achieving something they deemed desirable and went for it , the course events later took was as unexpected to them as fatal to the country that lived them . Thats just the way history works. !!

          By the way Felipe II of Spain was long dead when Fernando VII returned to Madrid from his years as hostage to Napoleon to the welcoming arms of his spanish subject all crying ‘long live our chains’ . The Cadiz Constitution was promtly revoked all those connected with it were either exiled or sent to the gallows .

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          • Sorry, lapsus. I meant Fernando, of course.
            You should read about the racist attitude Bolívar had towards the black. It was definitely not Zeitgeist.
            And he, like most others of his peers, were always scared of the pardocracia. His actions for the slaves
            only came after a lot of pressure from his benefactors and to compete against the way the pro-Spain faction was treating the pardos.

            Anyway, OT.

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  18. If we want to talk about the IV Republic, I beg you to tell us how come we don’t demand a list of
    all the “3000-5000 missing” Chavismo claimed and which were, apparently, all murdered personally by Carlos Andrés Pérez, Ítalo del Valle Allegro and Virgilio Ávila Vivas. Even if it was +-300 (we know, just one is too many ) who else was involved among the military? Don’t tell me “I followed orders”.

    About the Caracazo:
    http://eltiempo.com.ve/venezuela/politica/los-muertos-sin-nombre-del-caracazo/45592
    About the murders now: someone should take the effort to put a reliable list of people who, without any doubt, have been murdered for their political beliefs:

    Chavista coup mongers murdered over 200 people in the two coups of 1992 and have murdered here and there other people across the years:

    http://www.noticias24.com/venezuela/noticia/128635/mueren-dos-dirigentes-politicos-durante-una-caravana-en-barinas/
    http://www.noticias24.com/actualidad/noticia/57959/joven-asesinado-en-el-tigre-si-habria-pertenecido-a-primero-justicia-fotos/

    We should not make a tab count but we are obliged to keep every name and to record the versions of both sides if we want transparency.

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  19. I do not agree on point 1 (had some good things), point 4 (Repression against guarimbas is violent not the other way around), point 6 (you have to take it away from the goverment, give it to the people if you want to).
    Also there are many more important points like separacion de poderes, justicia real y efectiva, universal education…

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  20. Guarimbas are low violence and necessary.Under many circumstances
    all Government is violence. It does not ask you nicely to obey the law, it arrests you. That involves violence. So the question is basically the same as “is government necessary?” I would say yes. Maybe if everybody were never violent then it would be OK to get rid of the government, but we need it because sometimes people are and then they need to be restrained.We do not have a government who protects innocents in Venezuela, so the moral think will be to learn to protect themselves…from crime, from collectives, from government suppression etc, and because these protections will not be freely given , one must accept some degree of violent speech or act in order to secure them.

    We cannot be so black and white and lacking in inner integrity and at the same time uphold the good and rid ourselves of the bad.It is impossible to live in this world as it is without violence -We just need to make sure that the violence we commit is well intended and for the greater good and struggle to keep it at minimum…otherwise we will be sure to become the victims of continued violence on the part of those who are not so well intended.

    I would rather protect the innocent and well intended rather than keep giving power to those who won’t.

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  21. As for the fourth Republic, it had its good and its bad and was far better than Chavismo.Did it need improvement…of course…there was much to improve -but if people cannot see differences in degrees of things, it will be hard to make realistic assessments.

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  22. Juan, I see a number of problems with this thinking/strategy: 1) “La Cuarta Republica Was Baad”–It was not nearly so bad as the Quinta Republica, in many, many ways too numerous to mention, and most having already been mentioned on this Blog. To “agree” on this is just to justify the Chavistas’ raison d’etre–i. e., We Chavistas arose in response to the males de la Cuarta, and we are (more like always “will” be) correcting them in the future; 2) “April. 2002, Was A Coup”–In the strict sense of the word, yes, but in the traditional sense of military overthrowing civil authority for their own narrow military elite interests/benefits, no,since the military immediately turned over power to civilians. 1958 was a military coup, to end a military dictatorship, with a transitional civilian-military junta leading to democratic elections–not all.military coups are baad. To agree that “”April, 2002, Was A Coup” is to absolve Chavismo from their/Chavez’s responsibility for murdering innocent marchers by sniper fire, and for ordering mass murder via Plan Avila, as well as to justify continued jailing of scapegoats Simonovis et. al., who were obviously villainous participants in this murderous “coup”; 4) “Guarimbas Are Violent”, and, according to you, are baad, and don’t do any good. This Regime’s reaction to the Guarimbas is violent, and, yes, may have produced some defensive counter-violence, but little offensive violence so far. Thanks to the Guarimbas, the Regime is worried, since they beginning to spread to popular barrio areas (Catia/PetareCaricuao). Without guarimbas, there is no chance of “dialogue” with the Regime, and little if any international visibility/sympathy for Venezuela’s impoverished population increasingly sliding into Communist dictatorship. As for future fair/free/democratic elections in Venezuela, as declared by Maduro recently, “The oligarchy will never return to power, neither by coup, nor electorally”;6);”PDVSA Should Remain In The Hands Of The State”–Why, of course,”We Chavistas have been telling you Oppo this all along–PDVSA is finally, under us, “del Pueblo”-involved in all sorts of populist social programs (food/housing/etc. etc.), and we have increased the payroll 3-4x to 120 -150m to better serve the State.”. —As Omar Lares has said many times, “Se Cansa Uno!”

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    • I think many failed to see what Juan was trying to do here. He created a simple framework in which a path forward can be achieved. A way to unblock the game.

      1) It may be very well true that the fifth is worse than the fourth, but that statement blocks the game. Since there is no gain on proving that, lets just look the other way, at least, for now. 2) in the strict sense was a coup so why are we still talking about it. 4) worried the government is not. Guarimbas are anything but contagious. Those who earn daily wages had suffered the most from the lack of mobility and inability to access certain middle class neighborhoods from which the livelihoods depend on,

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      • 1) What blocks the game is justifying the Fifth; 2) A coup in response to mass murder on 4/11 is more than justified; so would one be now against a murderous fraudulent thugocracy; 4) worried the Government IS, or do you think they want to “dialogue” out of the goodness of their democratic hearts? San Cristobal/Merida are largely war zones, affecting all classes; the more guarimbas disrupt daily life/the economy, the more chance they have of success; the longer they last, the more likely popular support comes out of its fearful repressed hiding.

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        • 1) no one is. 2) coup is a coup 4) government want dialogue for PR purposes. Government wants dialogue due to international pressures. But are they after solving the conflict? Not at all. I said before, they want unconditional surrender. The government is not after consensus.

          After all JCN was wrong. We can’t agree on these 8 things. We may be more screwed than we thought.

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          • 1) The Fifth is in response to the Fourth, the Fourth was so terrible (NOT) that the Fifth was justified, and the Fifth is (always in the process of) correcting the wrongs of the Fourth–thanks for justifying my existence, Oppo; 2) Coup is a coup–come murder us Govt., but let’s decide this democratically at our next fraudulent elections, or by our appointed “Truth Commission”; 4) Govt. wants dialogue for PR purposes–right, they felt no pressure to do so, but their democratic longings just got the best of them–Repeating, “Se Cansa Uno”, and so will you and JCN when/if you come down to reality someday….

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        • Guarimbas disrupting daily life is good.There are an awful lot of people in Venezuela who have been too comfortable with the status quo.

          It actually makes me sick to hear the complaints, considering the sacrifice the students are making and considering how the poor live in Venezuela…no food, horrible crime…and there are still people out there complaining about barricades ??….give me a break!

          If you believe in Karma you must know how these silly complaints register on the Karmic imprint of compassion.

          From my talks with caring people most are quite willing to put up with guarimbas for the greater good.

          Of course I am sure it bothers business….but there are great worries right now.

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      • I didn’t fail to see what Juan was trying to do but the government, as you seriously or ironically said, is not interested in concensus but on PR and complete manipulation. These guys are no social democrats, they are no honest idealist neo-anarchists of soft blend. They are professional mobsters, military, extreme left caviar (or rather whisky).

        Yes, we can try – as long as it is live, on TV – to ask them to agree on general principles they cannot deny (we are not talking about what happened or not in any time, but about basic principles like a concrete definition of separation of powers, of independent investigation of human right abuses whatever the time and government) and of a separation of State and government and clear political pluralism as recognised by all. They have to agree on that less they be shown for what they are.

        Then (or before that) they can demand whatever they want (not that we will give them that, remember: this is and should always be actually for the public to judge) and THEN

        we declare that if they agreed on no brainers like the concrete measures on separation of powers, etc, things that in principle should be recognised independently of whether one is left or right or centre (as long as one is not extreme) they can make their concrete suggestions of how to accomplish those things and we present ours.

        Our petition should include

        1) renewal of the Supreme Court as mentioned earlier
        2) same thing for CNE
        3) investigation of Chacin and Roger Cordero, open, of Arne Chacon, etc
        4) an independent investigation of the Caracazo which must include a public list of missing people
        where and when they were supposed to have disappeared
        5) an investigation of what units of the military where firing where
        6) an investigation of who shot Carles’ brother
        7) public grilling of the head of state at least once a year – he has to answer to each question for a period of X hours
        8) same thing for each of the 45 ministers (we only have about 31 now, but I always see ahead)
        All this is based on the universal principles of Division of Powers, Pluralism, Transparency.

        And they can present their list based on those universal principles of things they want to achieve.

        I know the whole thing won’t progress into a concession by them but that is not the important thing.
        The important thing is that the people see how they will reject or go into sabotage mode.

        And we will then win over a lot of extra people and more international support

        As far as I see, the next meeting is behind closed door or with a stupid VTV cameraman selecting whatever the regime wants. That would be a BIG BIG BIG error.

        Correct me if I am wrong. Please, if you have contacts with the different actors, demand them to make the meeting public. We don’t need all channels to broadcast that but we need the State’s channel to do so.

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        • I wasn’t being ironic about PR.

          There are two types of chavismo. The chavismo elite and those who vote for chavismo that believe what they had been told in state media.

          Chavismo elite is government. They don’t care about all this. They only care about status quo.

          Chavismo voters do care and you need to reach a consensus with them.

          Again, I don’t know if the end of this will be in the polls, but via whatever means it ends, we need to have massive popular support. Some of that chavismo support was weakened on thursday.

          Guarimbas do nothing to weaken chavismo support. They do the opposite.

          Peaceful protest in lines, pamphlets, pirate radios, etc, do a lot also to weaken chavismo’s support.

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          • Rodrigo, I was not sure but then we agree in all. I have opposed the guarimbas and I have supported the pamphlets. I have collaborated with the people from volanteo on the message with some ideas and charts.

            I agree we need dialogue with the broader mass. What I am writing does not preclude that at all. What I am saying is that by challenging Chavécratas – perhaps that’s a better term- in front of an audience of
            oppos (our choir), ninis (part of our target) and above all Chavéfilos (the humble followers- the other crucial part of our target) we will manage to convert a lot of people.

            To do that we need to to present challenges that any Chavéfilo of good will think are fair. The Chavécratas won’t like that but we need to insist: every meeting needs to be shown live!

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  23. Juan,

    I’ll buy your argument that, in theory, these eight points could, if the will to compromise were really there, be agreed upon by both sides and taken off the table so that progress on more substantial issues can be made.

    I’m still not convinced that from a strategic perspective that sort of progress is what I really want to see at this point, but considering the ability of the regime to hold on to power through sheer brute force, and all that implies, I’m willing to concede it’s worth a try. It would, furthermore, enable the MUD folks, when election time comes around again, to say, “we tried.” That said, I’m far from convinced that compromising with the regime in any way would be a political asset for the MUD.

    I’ve been slowly suffering my way through the speeches made at The Meeting and must admit that the MUD reps scored some points while the regime dug itself deeper into the lack-of-credibility hole, if that were possible. I remain doubtful, however, that that is going to make much of a difference in the regime’s behavior, but again, it may help the opposition, come election time. But that is still a long way off, and memories are short.

    About point #6: allow me to point out that there is a crucial difference between the government, or rather, the state, owning PDVSA and government officials/politicians managing it. I realize that I’m nit-picking, but indulge me, if only because of my long-ago association with the industry and the nostalgia it stirs in my ancient heart. ;-)

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    • “…there is a crucial difference between the government, or rather, the state, owning PDVSA and government officials/politicians managing it. ”
      This man speaks of truth, folks, there must be a way to get the thugs sitting on top of the PDVSA’s dollar faucet to replace them for more responsible people that will do actual work and manage its resources for the country and not for their wallets.

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      • Free market, not monopoly. I think one of the thing you can blame CAP is the nationalization of Oil industry, and please, the case of Petrobras is not good if we take on account that the misdirection and involvement of Brazilian government in petrobras had affected it competitiveness (Just google Petrobras and energy crisis) so please, i prefer a bunch of national and international companies managing oil industry and paying taxes to the states of our federation where the resoursce is (this is important, because is common that states where oil is present usually don’t get the benefits of it

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        • Para mi, one of the best run national oil companies is Norway’s Stat Oil. Google their organizational structure at the top and you’ll see how they interface with the nation that owns them.

          I don’t blame CAP. Nationalization was a political necessity and had been seen coming for many years before CAP1, and the handover went without a hitch. The multinationals had done an excellent job of staffing their Venezuelan affiliates with thoroughly competent locals at all levels: not from the goodness of their greedy hearts, but because that was the best way of assuring that the supply of crude and products would continue as before.

          Actually, the multinationals weren’t at all put out by the nationalization. It is a lot simpler to buy the stuff than to have to run a whole company to get it and to have to invest heavily in assuring future production – not to mention the headache of having to deal with a succession of less than predictable governments. And then there was the lovely tax write-off they could take in their home countries for lost physical plant and optimistically proven reserves. It was a win-win, all-around good deal. That we screwed it up by electing incompetent, corrupt governments is nobody’s fault but our own.

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  24. First to address your own points:

    1. Cuarta republica sucked. Maybe, but not as much as chavistas make it out to, and certainly not as much as the current malgovernment.

    2. April 2002 was a coup. Whatever. It was not a coup in the same sense that Chavez’ own attempt was. It’s the difference between premeditated murder and manslaughter. Crimes? Yes. Deserving same punishment. NO!

    3. Simon Bolivar. Who cares.

    4. Guarimbas violent? They are violent in the same way the North-South Korean demilitirized zone is violent.

    5. Coups bad, democracy good. Not “good”. “Better”. Coups are bad but sometimes in the way getting a fever when you have a virus is bad. Sometimes it rids you of the virus. Democracy is good when properly implemented.

    6. Keep Pdvsa public? Too ambiguous. Probably in some form. The state can also license business.

    7. Venezuela food production? First, free markets and let them decide how to allocate resources. But food security is fundamental to any society. Put it this way: Venezuela needs to guarantee a steady food supply accessible to all strata of society.

    8. Crime is manageable. Kind of obvious, since other countries don’t suffer crime at the rate Venezuela does. Venezuela is unique in that it has not solved the problem, not in that a solution does not exist.

    I would say one of the biggest hindrances to dialogue is due to a governing cadre that says

    (a) we do not believe in compromise

    because

    (b) capitalism is evil

    That is a poison pill. Negotiations impossible from that point on.

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  25. Incoming wall o’ text:

    1- The Cuarta República was baaaad. : Chavism has gone to extreme lenghts to brainwash everybody
    into thinking that “Everything that’s not chavist is 4th republic”, so it’s not a waste of time claiming it was a craphole that ended giving us the chavism.

    2- April 2002 was a coup… Plus, how long can we continue arguing the same thing? Take April 2002 off the table by conceding it, I say.: “Conceding it” would be giving reason to chavists to stengthen their biggest myth: That the marh of unarmed civilians was a coup, that Simonovis sent the cops to kill them, and that the “viejas locas del cafetal” were blasting their own brains in the middle of the streets, and worse of all, that all the innocents that were imprisoned and murdered are left as the guilty of everything.

    3- Simón Bolívar was the father of our entire country, and he was no socialist. …Let the man rest in peace.: Again, this would straight kill chavism, they’ve no other figure to hang on other than Bolívar.

    4- Guarimbas are violent.: Only because the nazi gangs that come out to kill people, people are fighting back when the regime thugs come to assault them.

    5- Coups are always bad, and democracy is good. See point 3, chavism dies with this in one day.

    6- PDVSA should remain in the hands of the State. I’m always surprised when chavismo hurls the false accusation that the opposition wants to “privatize PDVSA.”: It’s part of the stupid regime fear-mongering, like “Capriles’s gonna take the money from the eldery!”

    7- Venezuela needs to develop its own food production. Rafael Ramírez thinks this is important (From the mouth to outside) “…pretty much everyone can agree that importing our food … is really bad” Except for the boligarchs that get dirty rich with bribes and comissions from the dollar trafficking.

    8- Crime is not an intractable problem. Widespread slaughter of people is a policy of chavism to stop them from complaining from the other screwups from the regime.
    Many times, chavismo has excused its deplorable record on crime by saying it is an “intractable” problem: They say “It happens everywhere, so don’t complain when they kill your son!” and it’s infuriating, and saying that crap is asking for a punch straight to the face.

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  26. “Our nation’s most pressing problems will not be solved without a candid evaluation of our predicament.”
    — Henrique Capriles Radonsky in today’s opinion in http://online.wsj.com . (Hat tip: Miguel Octavio)

    In the titled opinion, “Amid Venezuela’s Crisis, an Urgent Need for Dialogue”, HCR makes no mention of points of agreement on past history. Rather, he mentions steps that Maduro must be willing to discuss and take, so as to ensure that his words are not hollow, and that the conflict ends.

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  27. I agree with the 8 points. And i also believe that the dialogue it’s necessary, but i also think that as long as we don’t believe in the good intentions of the parties involved, we are not doing much. What happened last week can’t be considered as dialogue, they just expose the problems or hard feelings they have for one and others. That’s not dialogue, dialogue implied discussion, expose a problem and find solutions. I think the next meetings have to focuses on how we’re going to solve the crisis. And no more talk about what happened in 1992, 2002, 2011, 1800…. it’s not worth the while. As you say, we can all agree on this, why keep talking about it. Let’s move on

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  28. As a general comment I think that dwelling on the past is probably not productive , the thing that can move any ‘dialogue’ ahead is what can be done to improve the future for all with emphasis on very concrete practical things . Doing it publicly was all right for a 1st time , but if every person in the group knows his words are being heard by an audience then the meetings will soon become theather and nothing wil get accomplished !!

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  29. It may be important to remember that, much the same way that MUD does not represent the students, the chavismo leaders at the dialogue table do not represent their supporters.

    This is important because there are many things with which the chavismo supporters would be willing to agree with which their leaders would not (e.g., unconditional cash distribution).

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  30. 1) … because oil prices were low. Chavismo did nothing to fix the corrupt and wasteful practices of the 4th republic. Instead, it made them much worse, just in different hands, while doling out some superficial benefits to the poor. Its relative “success” is entirely due to an external factor – the great increase in oil prices and revenues after 1998. Its relative popularity is due to the perceived indifference of puntofijismo to the poor and non-white, and Chavez’s rhetorical skill in pandering to that group.

    2) April 2002 was a popular rebellion. A coup begins with security forces seizing the positions of power. April 2002 did not have had the support of the majority of Venezuelans, but probably a plurailty to start with; then for various reasons some former supporters and many neutrals turned against it, and there was an opposing majority – so it collapsed. The recent instability in Thailand is largely due to massive popular hostility in the capital area to governments with narrow popular majority support nationwide.

    3) Obviously true.

    4) Sort of. They are passive aggressive. And they are in many cases defensive responses to aggressive-aggressive violence by colectivos. When the other side is violent, one cannot be exclusively “non-violent”. See this review of ‘This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed’: Guns and the Civil Rights Movement, a history of how having guns for self-defense was critical to the American civil rights movement.

    5) Would that include the 1958 coup against Marcos Pérez Jiménez? Or the plurality victory of the NSDAP in 1932?

    6) ISTM that most of PdVSA’s actual operations are contracted out anyway. PdVSA should get out of operations entirely, and stick to collecting oil revenues – which should be distributed directly to the people. Also, of course, all the extra roles which chavismo has hung on PdVSA (mining, food imports) should be removed.

    7) Duh. The problem is that chavismo believes – regardless of reality – that state operation produces more food.

    8) “Crime” is an intractable problem; no human society has ever eliminated it. Venezuela’s problem is “high rates of crime”, which is not intractable – but chavismo denies that it exists.

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    • Regarding 8), it is not that it denies it exists (not since, say, 2010 or 2011). It says it is a problem that we always had and it is produced by the injustice that preceded Chavismo. They say things can’t change so quickly.
      Our national leaders have repeatedly failed to explained the simple concept of murder RATE. They don’t seem to grasp that either or what. Briceño, from that NGO, talked about that rate but few others did for years. And so it went that we could see Chavistas arguing with others that we had a lot of murders but Mexico had as many or that now we have more murders because now we have more people.

      We, the opposition, need to always explain things with references, talk about rates and explain what rates in demographic terms is.

      This is part of our homework…in a country where newspapers don’t use charts, in a country whose pupils in 1998 came last in a maths test where 13 Latin American countries took part

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  31. I won’t contest JN’s assertion regardng the IVth Republic. I mean, ¿1830 to 1998? A long period full of bad things. Sure, it was underwhelming.

    Alas, the period from 1958 to 1998 had many achievements (as well as many shortcomings). The most important one, in my view: the existence of a peaceful multi-party system (which included separation of powers, regular, competitive and mostly clean elections, a restrained military (no coups from 1962 to 1992), free media. This has no parallel in any other period.

    To me, a pluralist democracy is a good in itself.

    DISCLAIMER: I’ve developed this much further in a short book/anthology of documents regarding that period, which will come out in a few weeks.

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    • Also the implementation of the forth and fifth republic was brought by this government, before that there was no such thing. And the republic never “died”, so if we identify the fifth republic, as the one established by Chavez, it means we are buying their speech.

      Professor Aveledo im looking forward in reading your book when it comes out.

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