Building the perfect leader

Less bashing and more wooing, please

Less bashing and more wooing, please

Leopoldo López is a smart, visionary guy.

Maria Corina Machado is fearless, eloquent, a political megastar.

Henrique Capriles has great name recognition, and he is a master at building consensus.

It’s too bad we can’t have someone who combines all three features.

I thought about this as I learned the latest development in the tentative steps toward a Constitutional Assembly: Lara Governor Henry Falcón has shot down the idea, saying he does not support it, that it’s not the way, that it’s a “mistake.” “A majority in the National Assembly,” says Falcón, “will allow us to produce the changes that we wish to see in the country.”

Never mind that Falcón is dead wrong about this (a majority in the National Assembly? It will accomplish diddly squat if the Supreme Tribunal shuts it down) – how on Earth did López and Machado not ensure that Falcón was on board before saying the Constituyente is the way?

Let’s face it – no initiative as complicated as a Constitutional Assembly is viable unless everyone in the opposition – and particularly the governor of one of the country’s most populous states – is on board. Failing to build a coalition was #LaSalida’s original sin, and it’s hampered its efectiveness ever since.

So before talking about a Constitutional Assembly to a journalist, before announcing it to a cadre of your most ardent followers gathered in Eastern Caracas … shouldn’t you have built the political coalition that will carry it to victory?

It frustrates us to no end that López and Machado can be so careless about this. If Falcón is not on board, the Constitutional Assembly is a no-go … am I exaggerating when I say this? I hope I am. If not, then … why announce one? Seriously, I have no idea what they’re thinking.

Capriles was great at putting together a solid coalition. Unity during his presidential campaigns was never seriously called into question. But the current times have left him exposed, woefully unprepared, sorely lacking in vision. He used to toy with the idea of a Constitutional Assembly, but he hasn’t uttered a peep about it as of late. It’s like he doesn’t get the urgency of the moment.

López has offered a vision. He and Machado are bravely putting their skin on the line. They understand the drama of the conundrum, and they realize Venezuelans simply can’t wait until 2019. But they are hopeless when it comes to building a coalition around their idea for #LaSalida – whatever it is.

If we could just blend all these people into one tactical, effective, unity-forging, charismatic leader … then we’d be getting somewhere. It’s not that there’s no talent in the opposition – it’s just that it’s spread around too evenly.

68 thoughts on “Building the perfect leader

  1. As much as I welcomed the initiatives of López and Machado, at a time when the country desperately needed a voice to explain the madness, their maverick go-it-alone-for-the-most-part styles label them as ‘pichones políticos’.


  2. López and Machado have got “nothing” to lose. López because he isn’t an elected official, and Machado because she is a “radical” who happens to represent by far the most opposition leaning region of the country (well, used to at least). Meanwhile, Capriles is governor of a “Swing State”, which in reality doesn’t behave like one because it is heavily. In fact, the only reason the state is won by the opposition is because the abnormal margins they pull on eastern Caracas, which manage to overwhelm the heavily chavista municipalities in pretty much every other region of the state. Capriles has a vision for the future, the last close elections in the state helped him understood he couldn’t entirely rely on his large and safe opposition base, he needed to reach other people too; otherwise he’s doomed. However good López and Machado are for vitalizing the opposition, Capriles is also needed by other reasons. So, I think you are right in your argument, but we must realize the scope of the situation.


  3. I’ve been waiting patiently for Henry Falcon to step in, and I still feel his time will come. He’s the closest one to the country’s political centre, he isn’t strongly associated to the opposition’s old guard, he understands (and has experienced) the country’s key political cleavages, and… he also knows his time hasn’t come. Today I feel emptily hopeful that, in the end, he will be the one who will articulate a practical (and viable) solution to the country’s transition dilemma.


    • Falcon is a white collar communist.

      The guy is a dangerous bet, people seem to forget quickly where he did start


      • James you’re right.
        He is a nothing,and as a nothing he should be treated.There’d be no difference at all if he went back to wearing red shirts and applauding on a cadena.


  4. They didn’t wait because there is no hope of building a consensus around the proposal for a Constituent Assembly. Not least because it’s a spectacularly bad idea. Maybe it’s partly because I come from a country that muddles through tolerably well without even having a constitution. But I have never understood the Latin American obsession with constitutions – especially long-winded ones that purport to define everything down to whose portrait goes on the currency – as a solution to political problems. A workable constitution represents a social and political consensus. It is not a tool for sweeping your adversary from power (though, granted, that’s how Chavez approached the 1999 one).

    Leaving that, not inconsiderable, matter aside, it’s a mystery to me how the La Salida folk think they can put this master-plan into operation, given that in order to do so they need the collaboration of the very powers they are planning to sweep aside. Especially since they abhor the notion of a negotiated settlement almost as much as the government does.


    • “it’s a mystery to me how the La Salida folk think they can put this master-plan into operation, given that in order to do so they need the collaboration of the very powers they are planning to sweep aside.”

      That is the key of the matter and is the question that arises every time there are elections. What everyone needs to keep in mind is that the government must be defeated politically first in order to have a fair election, not the other way around. Still an election (even an election for a Constituent Assembly) may be the defining event if there is already a solid majority with the opposition.


  5. I never counted Falcon, as an actual leader of the opposition, he is just a desserter of the chavista movement, one of those disenchanted chavistas that STILL believes in the institutional, economical policies that brought us here, he probably thinks that the revolution was not implemented in the correct way, and that people like him can manage to successfully implement the revolution the way it was meant to be,

    He is like Ojeda, the only difference is that he has successfully got into office, by running for the chavista ballot ticket, yeah the one with the Chavez’s face on it, and later with the opposition ticket, nothing more nothing less. He is no leader, and he certainly can not inspire anything.

    BTW, it seems that we never learn the lesson of the Arias Cardenas, Ojeda, Baduel and others, we still believe that socialists/comunists are capable of changing their hearts and jump the talanquera, because they felt like it! we haven’t learnt anything! this is madness!


    • Maybe the best spokesperson to change peoples’ hearts is someone who has had a change of heart. Just a thought. I don’t know much about Falcon but he certainly speaks well and effectively.


      • maybe, but it’s clear that this will not be the case with Falcon, much less with any chavista. They are so imbued with revolution and socialism that any proposition outside of what they wish will be out of question for them, and that’s why see the reaction of people like Falcon.


    • comunista es comunista hasta que se muera. Oh wait, that’s what was said about adecos.
      I’m on the fence regarding Falcón. He bears watching, has to prove himself a lot more still. Don’t totally trust him. Por ahora.


      • I don’t believe a commie is always a commie. A commie can turn into anything, absolutely anything, ideologically speaking, including a democrat or something else.

        I do think corrupto es corrupto hasta que se muera. I have heard strong accusations of corruption by Falcón, it seems not only from one side…but that’s it, I can’t know. I don’t think he would be an Arias Judas, but I don’t know what integrity he has.


  6. I, for one, agree with Falcón. The answer is not a Constitutional Assembly; that will take us back to 1999 and to the political instability that we have been living for 15 years. Put that effort instead in winning back the National Assembly in 2015. A majority in the National Assembly allows:
    1.-The nomination of Supreme Court Judges
    2.- The nomination of the Fiscal
    3.- The nomination of the CNE members
    4.- The nomination of the People’s Ombusdman
    5.- The nomination of the Controller

    All those guys are passed their term and they have to be either ratified or re-instated, and it is the National Assembly the one that decides who gets there.

    We do not need a new Constitution, we need a new National Assembly. I have been saying that for almost 8 years. Concentrate on 2015!!!!


    • Bruni

      Do you think the government would allow an oppo majority in the National Assembly? IMO, they will never allow their own stranglehold on power to be compromised by an election. They’ll do whatever it takes.


      • Rory: it all depends on the majority. We need a San Cristobal majority, not a 52% majority. They can do as much as they please with a 52%, but a 70% majority is another matter.

        In any case, those that prone an Asamblea Constituyente, must be thinking in winning the referendum to get the Asamblea. That is at least as difficult as getting the majority in the current Asamblea Nacional. Frankly, I think that our efforts as an opposition are much better spent trying to get the win in 2015.

        There is no need for a new Constitution.


        • Bruni,

          With the gerrymandering we have today, do you know how many votes we need in what areas to get 70% of the seats or something like that? I don’t, but we need to calculate that. Or do you mean 70% of votes for the Assembly?


      • You just painted yourself in a corner, my friend.

        It doesn’t make any sense for the government to “never allow” an Oppo majority in the National Assembly, yet succumbing to an Oppo majority in a Constituent Assembly. Both elections require the same kind of voter support to produce results and both of them would face the same kind of obstacles (CNE, TSJ, gerrymandering, use of state resources, intimidation, etc).

        Furthermore, “they will never allow their own stranglehold on power to be compromised by an election”, sure sounds like you’re advocating a non-electoral and potentially unconstitutional strategy.


        • They won’t succumb to a majority in either. Although Bruni is right, it’s one thing to play around with a 54% oppo result, but a 70% oppo result is an entirely different matter.

          Personally, I’m pessimistic in general. As long as the regime can keep the loyalty of 35% of the population, control of the armed forces, and deploy Cuban supported intelligence and propaganda machines, I don’t understand how things can change anytime soon…(especially with a seemingly disorganized and incoherent opposition). If the economy doesn’t improve in the next year or two, it’s very possible that their support among their base slips and internal Chavista struggles come out in the open. But the fact that that hasn’t happened yet makes me question if it ever will.


    • I’m sorry, but I’m starting to think we will never get rid of the Supreme Tribunal. Not with 50% of the National Assembly, not with 66% or 75% or 99%. These folks are just too damn bold-faced. They’ve shown it in the past few months. Nothing short of a sweeping revolution will do the trick.


      • Juan, if by ‘sweeping revolution’ you mean the aforementioned Constituent Assembly, then I respectfully refer you to my previous intervention! Why would the same people that cheerfully and daily violate the 1999 constitution stand by and let the opposition elect a Constituent Assembly to do away with the lot of them? Where’s the kryptonite?


        • That’s exactly my point Phil. It is at least as hard to get the Constituent Assembly as a majority in the National Assembly, if not harder. So why lose time, resources and consensus trying to get that, instead of trying to build a solid majority to win back the National Assembly.

          Juan, large majorities count. Look what happened in San Cristobal. The goverment imprisoned the majors, the TSJ helped out, the CNE paved the way to help as well and what happened? The wives of the majors won with an overwhelming majority, despite the goverment, the TSJ and the CNE against.


        • Well, I think the political weight of a Constituent Assembly is much stronger than a regular old National Assembly. It would be an earthquake to win a CA referendum, not so much to win the NA elections. Not that any of this is in the cards…


    • Problem is the political/economical framework of the current constitution is not FEASIBLE for any modern country, is not that people are not able and will not be able to follow the rule of law, is because is full of wishful thinking and it gives a sensation of entitlement to a large number of people, and because that whole means to an end mindset, it concentrates too much power in the state and its entities.

      That’s why the constitution needs to be changed, to restrict the power of the government. Many people doesn’t understand that this is the real reason a constitution is needed in a society. That’s the first argument and most important argument for changing the constitution.


      • That’s an argument that has some resonance with me, jctt, as I hate the 99 Constitution. Yet, I feel that the instability is much worse than sticking with the Constitution.


      • What’s so unfeasible about it? Do you have concrete examples of unworkable articles?

        In my opinion there are some things that it could do without, but it’s not bad enough as to hamper a country’s chance to develop.


        • Dear J. Navarro,

          Thanks for taking a moment to reply my comment,

          Unless you were living under a rock for the past 15 years you should be aware of all forms of government overreach that occurred during this period, that happened because the way the constitution was redacted, or that the interpretation of any of its articles conveniently gave more power to the government.

          I’m sorry but I will not bother finding the articles for you, but if you want examples,

          1) Education: the constitution place the monopoly of the education public or private to the government, not to the family or community. That’s why they can freely decide what the children can learn and what not, that has lead to indoctrination. Again if you were not living under a rock in the past 15 years you should know what I’m talking about.

          2) Institutionalized hand out: there are many examples of articles, full of wishful thinking, stating that the government should guarantee to anyone access to free education, health care, housing, food (food sovereignty anyone?), does that sound like something that should be included in the mother of all laws. So what happens when none of those things are satisfied…. nothing right? … so what’s the point?

          This has led to a false sense of entitlement, where I, If I believe in this nonsense, I will vote for the guy who promised to provide these things, even though I’m not sure if this guy will live up to his promise. AKA a bunch of wannabe che guevara are elected and the result is a country that is almost competing with Haiti.

          I could go on, but at this point I’m out of f*** to give.

          Yours Truly,



          • Did I touch a nerve or something? It was a rather neutrally worded question.

            I disagree with you. Like I said, the 1999 constitution’s length is above average, but there’s no reason a latin american country running by it shouldn’t flourish. The problem is it hasn’t been upheld, ever.

            Most of the facts you point out are in direct contravention of the constitution. The real problem we have is that the Corte Suprema de Justicia (then presided by Cecilia Sosa) dissolved itself to avoid being dissolved by the Constituent Assembly in contravention of the 1961 constitution (valid at the time), and was replaced by a Tribunal Supremo de Justicia packed with chavista judges. After April 2012, when a large portion of judges turned out to be more miquilenista than chavista, it was packed with chavista judges using the Ley Organica del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia which was unconstitutionally approved with the support of less than 2/3 of the National Assembly. If the TSJ were independent and hadn’t rubber stamped every chavista violation of the constitution, we wouldn’t be where we are.

            For instance, you said that “the constitution place the monopoly of the education public or private to the government, not to the family or community” but what it actually says is:
            […] El Estado, con la participación de las familias y la sociedad, promoverá el proceso de educación ciudadana de acuerdo con los principios contenidos de esta Constitución y en la ley. (Art. 82)

            Public funded education (until high school), public funded health care systems and publicly run social security are standard in almost every developed or developing country in the world. The one part where it goes above average is in guaranteeing the gratuity of the bachelor degree in public universities. As in “[…] La educación es obligatoria en todos sus niveles, desde el maternal hasta el nivel medio diversificado. La impartida en las instituciones del Estado es gratuita hasta el pregrado universitario. ” (Art. 103)

            It’s true that housing rights, food sovereignty and mandating “bolivarian ideology” have no place in a constitution, but those clauses can’t be held responsible for this mess, if for no other reason, because public construction of housing for the poor and agricultural promotion (and even subsidies) are a farily standard practice across developed and developing nations. Bolivarian Ideology has been our own state religion ever since Guzman Blanco began the heavy handed promotion of a “Catecismo de la Historia de Venezuela” that portrayed Bolívar as a demi-god and the as the “greatest man mankind has ever had after Jesus Christ”. The only change is that Bolivarian Ideology got to be ranked at the constitutional level (as opposed to the status of centuries long standing tradition).

            Other examples of ways how the 1999 constitution would protect us, if it were upheld:

            From inflation, and double expending of the national reserves:
            Articulo 318: […] El objetivo fundamental del Banco Central de Venezuela es lograr la estabilidad de precios y preservar el valor interno y externo de la unidad monetaria. […]
            El Banco Central de Venezuela es persona jurídica de derecho público con autonomía para la formulación y el ejercicio de las políticas de su competencia. […]

            From politicization of the armed forces or civil servants
            Artículo 328. La Fuerza Armada Nacional constituye una institución esencialmente profesional, sin militancia política, organizada por el Estado para garantizar la independencia y soberanía de la Nación y asegurar la integridad del espacio geográfico, mediante la defensa militar, la cooperación en el mantenimiento del orden interno y la participación activa en el desarrollo nacional, de acuerdo con esta Constitución y con la ley. En el cumplimiento de sus funciones, está al servicio exclusivo de la Nación y en ningún caso al de persona o parcialidad política alguna.[…]

            Artículo 145. Los funcionarios públicos y funcionarias públicas están al servicio del Estado y no de parcialidad alguna. Su nombramiento o remoción no podrán estar determinados por la afiliación u orientación política.[…]

            From lack of public data regarding crime, the economy, healthcare, etc:
            Artículo 57. […]Se prohíbe la censura a los funcionarios públicos o funcionarias públicas para dar cuenta de los asuntos bajo sus responsabilidades. (this is repeated in Articulo 143)

            From police brutality:
            Artículo 68. Se prohíbe el uso de armas de fuego y sustancias tóxicas en el control de manifestaciones pacíficas.

            From fluctuations in oil prices
            Artículo 321. Se establecerá por ley un fondo de estabilización macroeconómica destinado a garantizar la estabilidad de los gastos del Estado en los niveles municipal, regional y nacional, ante las fluctuaciones de los ingresos ordinarios. Las reglas de funcionamiento del fondo tendrán como principios básicos la eficiencia, la equidad y la no discriminación entre las entidades públicas que aporten recursos al mismo.

            There’s also many articles entrenching federalism, no parallel budgets, pluralism, no party cogollismo due to primaries, etc.

            Like I said before. Lots of things have no place in the constitution, but if the constitution had been upheld since since 1999, Venezuela would be in better shape than it is. The same rings true if we had stuck with the 1961 constitution and abided by it.


            • Sorry for the tone of my reply.

              I’m just baffled that there are people that still believe that the government put in the right hands can amount to much.

              “El Estado, con la participación de las familias y la sociedad, promoverá el proceso de educación ciudadana de acuerdo con los principios contenidos de esta Constitución y en la ley”, that alone is the basis for wannabe che guevaras to change the academic curriculum to stuck Chavez’s face in every book and indoctrinate children! yeah that is totally legal!

              “Public funded education (until high school), public funded health care systems and publicly run social security are standard in almost every developed or developing country in the world.” Except when they run out of others people’s money and tax is not enough so they increase it like France or they bankrupt like Greece!

              “El objetivo fundamental del Banco Central de Venezuela es lograr la estabilidad de precios y preservar el valor interno y externo de la unidad monetaria.” yeah but according to who? and who defines the parameters to stabilize the currency, oh wait the government again! meet CADIVI, SICAD I, SICAD II

              “Se establecerá por ley un fondo de estabilización macroeconómica destinado a garantizar la estabilidad de los gastos del Estado en los niveles municipal, regional y nacional, ante las fluctuaciones de los ingresos ordinarios. Las reglas de funcionamiento del fondo tendrán como principios básicos la eficiencia, la equidad y la no discriminación entre las entidades públicas que aporten recursos al mismo.”… oh yeah let the government create the monopoly of the oil business, totally contradicting another article in the constitution against monopolies, keep a cut and called it a “fund”, oh and of course they can say how this “fund” is going to operate! what could possibly go wrong!?

              Don’t you see the pattern here? the government can stuck its nose everywhere, everytime!

              The government is not the solution is the PROBLEM!


              • I see where you’re coming from, since libertarianism and minarchism traverse your rants.

                But you have to get some perspective.

                Every country in the OECD and OAS regulates education. Each and every one. Infamously, in the US teaching evolution is still controversial in some southern states. They also subsidize education at about high school through public schools (some countries might only cover until middle school).

                The only country in the OECD and OAS that doesn’t have subsidize healthcare for its citizens it’s the US.

                All countries in the World have a publicly run currency, it may be that they don’t run it themselves (Panama, El Salvador, Ecuador, Zimbabwe) but the one(s) they use are run by another State.

                Macroeconomic stability funds are a staple recomendation of economists so the impact of financil crisis on the people can be minimized. Chile weathered the financial crisis pretty well because they saved money when the cows were fat and used when cows were thin.

                And no. Not every country in the OAS, the OECD or the world is communist, and not every country is going to hell in a handbasket. Canada, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Panama are countries where rule of law and sane economic measures have brought progress. In fact, even the economies of countries like Ecuador and Bolivia (who also compromised the integrity of their judicial system and are politically close to Chavismo) are doing pretty well because their economic measures aren’t fucked up.

                Like I said the problem we have is that most of chavistas measures contravene the constitution, and there’s no recourse against fucked up measures because there are no check and balances. We could have approved a swiss constitution or a Milton Friedman certified constitution in 1999, and we’d be pretty much in the same situation, because the chavista takeover of courts allows them to get away with each and every violation they commit.


              • “because the chavista takeover of courts allows them to get away with each and every violation they commit.”

                YES!! that’s exactly the point! and that why’s the government has too much power! because the constitution allows them to do whatever they want once any group gets the majority, the system of check and balances pretty disappear, and disappeared it did.

                There is the consequence, there is no accountability at ALL.

                I would have loved to see the same opposition to a new constitution back in 1998!! but now a new constitution where limited government and a strong system of check of balances is needed more than ever, and that will make it harder for any majority to fuck things up even if they so desire.

                I might be embracing libertarianism, but I do recognize few things that might be Ok for the government to be running, like education and health care as long as they don’t interfere with other people’s choice.


  7. You nailed it Nagel. The point of building a strong coalition is something that salidistas seem to miss. Then again, the other problem is whether we think there is need to build a ‘new majority’ or we keep thinking arrogantly and recklessly that *we* are already one.


  8. The problem is not the leaders, it’s the followers.

    OPPOS are not appreciating what their leaders do for them and they have a dependent attitude, while criticizing everything under the Sun.

    I think you are taking the wrong approach.


  9. So this is the bicycle race theory of leadership: the pack can only go as fast as the slowest of the stragglers. A.K.A., let’s-give-Omar-Barboza-veto-power-over-our-strategy-and-tactics.

    Erm, count me out.


    • Well, no. Omar Barboza doesn’t get a veto. Henri Falcón does. How can you win any sort of election if you don’t have the opposition Lara governor on board?


      • Who also represents a third of opposition governors (Miranda, Lara, Amazonas) and the second most important (behind Miranda ahead of Amazonas), and heads one of the former chavistas factions in MUD (Ismael being the other guy).


  10. Falcon is the most corrupt piece of shit to hit the Lara scene. When he was mayor of Bqto, the then governor of Lara, Reyes Reyes had to summon him to tell him to put a brake on all his stealing. In addition he is a commie fifth column all by himself.


  11. López and Machado have tried for six months to convince Capriles, Falcón and the rest of the MUD. It became clear all they want to do is wait for parliamentary elections and then the recall election. And that’s because they are extremely worried of losing their “parcelitas de poder”…


  12. “But the current times have left him exposed, woefully unprepared, sorely lacking in vision.”

    I disagree. I do think that Capriles has a long term strategy, which in my book is vision.

    First of all, he is a Governor. He was elected to be the Governor for all Mirandinos, and not just for opposition ones. He has responsibilities! People keep expecting him to rage against the machine, while we have elected him to be part of the machine! His best strategy is to be a good Governor.

    By taking distance from “La Salida” Capriles has positioned himself in the center between both sides, a classic triangulation strategy. Sure, that has cost him the wrath of the “come candelas”, but so what? They will be the first ones to vote for him if he eventually has any chance of beating Chavismo. The only way he can grow politically is to draw from chavistas. He is correct in sensing that many of them are up for grabs.

    I just saw an interview with him:

    I completely agree. The attention should be focused on the new CNE.


    • Riiiiiight …. if we could only change Tibisay Lucena for, say, Desireé Santos Amaral, that’s they way forward!


    • and here I thought that HE was the man…

      It will be more likely for hell to be frozen than these communists to hand out the power so easily.

      I don’t understand his position, if the people wants to rebel and overthrow this regime, well then heed to these voices!! and act accordingly for god sake!

      To believe that the government will let you decide the conditions for an electoral process, is an act of stupidity to say the least. All I can say is that you should probably stop smoking whatever is that you are smoking, pronto!


  13. I’m on the fence regarding this situation.

    On the one hand, a wide coalition behind a strong proposal is desirable, as it raises the chance for it to succeed.

    On the other hand, the Dakazo is still fresh in my memory. Not that I have any proof or even a first hand testimony, but my gut tells me that the reason MUD dropped the ball on November 2013 is because they couldn’t agree on a stance to take (defend private property vs go with the flow). The decision making process in MUD is broken, big parties waste few chances to get in cahoots to screw over the little parties (as happened in Eastern Caracas when primary front-runner Vecchio was sidelined to favor no-show dinosaur Enrique Mendoza), or when they ignored VP as it didn’t have many elected officials at the time, when they insisted on choosing oppo parlamentarians to the comissions in charge of handling the CNE and TSJ appointments proportionally, etc.

    Right now the oppo is divided in two big camps: #LaSalida and the talkies.
    – #LaSalida pushed for peaceful protests and put a squeeze on the government despite the oppostion of the talkie faction.
    -Then the talkies sat down with the government to negotiate and end to the crisis despite the oppostion of #LaSalida faction.
    -Now #LaSalida faction is promoting a Constituent Assembly without the support of the talkies.

    I say the blame should be shared, it appears neither the talkies nor #LaSalida are doing much colaition building. And sitting down to negotiate without #LaSalida is just as hopeless as promoting a Constituent Assembly without the talkies.

    I do think divided efforts seem more satisfying (I don’t know about effective) than doing nothing until consensus is achieved.


  14. If we could just blend all these people into one tactical, effective, unity-forging, charismatic leader … then we’d be getting somewhere.

    There was this one dude that was all that and a bit more. Great tactical politician, capable of consolidating a disparate group of people into one force, charming, a bit kooky but with a strong touch of the common man, eloquent speaker when needed… Of course, he’s dead now.

    Be very careful what you wish for.

    Rome had the same sort of desires for statesmen from her political parties from time to time. They ended up with Marius, Sulla, Caesar and Augustus, amongst others that weren’t so capable after autocracy was established..


    • If you know Marius was … Even if I don’t agree with you I owe you a drink. We don’t need a “leader” – Which by the way translates into German as “führer” – but then, we don’t have “old wise men”. What I am absolutely convinced is that NO (ex)military man it’s worth a try. Particularly those educated here, where they think goose stepping in Prussian gray is a “proud” tradition.


  15. I disagree. More important than finding the perfect leader, more important than trying to “teach” voters to be “better” voters, is having a better proposal.

    It’s not about getting poor people to vote for the opposition because it’s someone more charismatic representing the opposition.

    It’s not about getting poor people to be treated like children who don’t know what’s best for them.

    It’s about proposing something that the majority will want, without disrespecting the individuals, and only THEN finding the persons who best promises to implement it correctly.

    People make this same mistake when buying computers. They tend to first pick the hardware, then the software, then try to figure out how to do things that they want with it. It should be the other way around: Firstly, find out what you want to do with a computer, then find the software that best accomplishes the tasks, and only then choose the hardware that best runs that software.


  16. The economic trend will set the pace for political change, I think. Ideas and leaders will have to wait.


  17. Quick question:

    Anybody remembers when Maduro’s Enabling Law expires?
    Because they’ll probably pull what they pulled on 2010 again.
    See,you people think the National Assembly is something they need.They don’t,they never have.


  18. Juan, others:

    It could be interesting to think through what kind of strategies Cabellismo and Madurismo will use to torpedo or take over an Asamblea Constituyente.

    Perhaps a post on that?


    • The Constituyente is a no-go. It would be about as useful as a post on the pros and cons of Venezuelans colonizing Mars.


      • So you don’t think Venezuelans can make it to Mars? La mayoría de los venezolanos han vivido en la Luna toda su vida. OK, OK, I get it.
        I personally fear it won’t be possible. My take at this time and since 2012 has been we should be carrying out a low flame information guerrilla on a permanent basis, nothing more and nothing less…until it’s referendum time (for which we need to come with very creative proposals to minimize the effects of a Tascón II, which surely will come).

        That is hard and dangerous albeit not as dangerous as the guarimbas were. But we haven’t done that. Our people are not used to a long-term strategy.


        • To be fair, colonizing Mars may have once been possible. However, given that capitalism destroyed the society that was already there….

          And I agree, it would be easier to do that than to work the stacked deck against a constituyente.


  19. To build up a mass following you need a highly visible specific goal for people to phocus on and push for , Having an indeterminate diffuse set of goals for the mid term future weakens the resolve of oppo followers , LL MCM are for the ‘now or never’ approach to get people riled up and CREATE a mayority . Perhaps the Constitutional Assembly is not the goal , the goal is creating a mass of mayority opinion by asking for a constituent assembly ( even if the assembly is never allowed to go forth ) . Not sure this is the best tactic and of course there is a chance that it can backfire.

    However eve if the slow gradual bit by bit effort to build up a bigger mayority (HCR’s approach) may be a good strategy long term it is not politically sexy. Apathy (throug a process of learned helplessness) is a big enemy and has to be fought somehow.!! . There is no right answer , leaders do their best in a situation of great threat and uncertainty but there no guaranteed safe way to go. You roll the dice and see what comes up .!!

    I dont mind Falcon having left over Chavista inclinations , that may be an advantage , if there are Chavista leif motifs that can be salvaged and incorporated into a rational democratic program thats not all bad . A milder more rational and democratic form of Chavismo may be more acceptable than we war thorn survivors from the more crazed virulent expressions of Chavismo may feel. Before he crossed the line into the opposition my Barquisimeto friends found him an odd Chavista because they could genuinely like his method and policies even if he belonged to the other side.

    BTW do believe HCR recently did come out strongly against the Constitutional Assembly idea , he isnt just sitting passively letting his authority erode , he is acting and speaking his views . The thing to remember is that even if the oppo people hold differing tactical views they are strongly united in their main objective , to attain a regime change by bringing on board as many Venezuelans as possible .

    One thing not often noted is how the regime has adopted a much milder stance towards the MUD and HCR , all the phocus of their attacks is now concentrated on LL and MCM and the tactical approach they represent .

    . . .


    • Of course all of the regime attacks are concentrated on LL and MCM. Can you guess why?

      Many in the opposition have also been brutal with them I think.

      It’s as plain as day if you step back and take a look.


  20. Am I the only one who thinks that the position of “winning” the parliamentary elections next year supported by people like Henri Falcón is disingenuous to the point of idiocy? Even if the opposition gets 60% of the vote, chavismo will get most of seats because of the Constitutional rule awarding 3 deputies to each State regardless of size and gerrymandering, Chavismo will get the majority of seats and its almost mathematically impossible for the contrary to happen. I mean the idea of a constitutional Assembly is naive and potentially disastrous, but the stupidity or hidden motives of people telling to bet on the parliamentary elections as way out of the mess is worst.


    • Well, cacr210, IMHO, there is no way to get back power without getting back the National Assembly. It may now seems too late, but then the question is WHY? We have known that there are elections in 2015, the opposition should have been preparing for that election for years. BTW, it is not necessary to have an absolute majority, just enough power to have a veto when the Fiscal, the TSJ Judges and the CNE members are chosen. We are still suffering from the 2005 abandonment of the NA, after which some of the major figures that are now blocking any justice in the country were nominated.

      The problem with the opposition is that it is a reactive opposition. It does not plan more than the next election or the quick fix to get rid of the government that ends up being the longest fix, that has kept us here for 15 years. That is not the way to recuperate power. You have to have a long term strategy and that long term strategy is to convince the people that you are a better option.

      Yes, the situation in Venezuela is particularly hard because the abuse of power is unheard of, yet the truth is that we still, after 15 years, do not have a large majority, despite everything that is wrong with the country. The reason is because the opposition has not done a good job to become a viable alternative for the large majority of the venezuelan people.


      • Bruni,

        There is no way to plan or fix the hold the government has on the rural vote on the majority of Venezuelan states for the parliamentary elections. The constitutional rules and distribution of votes among rural states make impossible to gain a majority, as for the Fiscal, TSJ, CNE, the TSJ itself has rubbber stamped the fact that the people on those positions will remain there. The parliamentary elections would change nothing and I think is disingenuous and dishonest to tell people who are honestly proposing a crazy and misguided idea (Constituent Assembly) with an lie. If Henri Falcon and Capriles think we should wait until 2018, they can be honest and say it expressly.


    • One question: when the Constitution states :Each federal organ shall also elect three additional deputies” [Article 186], does this mean that each state gets 3 deputies independent of population- like US Senators, which are elected two per state?
      [I was writing about this when I saw that you had already addressed the issue.]


  21. the momentun was there but capriles got scared and then la MUD went into that dialogue thing and that was it……………… the best solution a MIRACLE because not even a economic disaster will save us


  22. And there we go again looking for a messiah.
    IMHO, Capriles has a goal in mind and it is to become President.
    Leopoldo and his heroics mean nothing. Populace for someone that cannot be elected to office.
    Maria Corina, super brave and all, does not ‘arrastra’.
    Together, they have a good image, and good support.
    Capriles is waiting it out. The candelitas will burn and he again will surface like a Phoenix. Perhaps with Henry as a ‘llave’.

    La salida, was a fart in a hammock.


  23. art in a hammock – that’s a good one.

    Agreed, a constituent assembly isn’t gonna save you. It’s either through institutional means decisively (like Chile & end of Pinochet, but with a larger margin) or the country descending to economic chaos, which triggers social unrest and ultimately, military intervention. So, if you are planning and hoping for a peaceful genuine ‘salida’, you start planning towards the former. Why can’t the oppo reach out to the working classes? Why don’t the most marginalized trust the opposition? These are the most basic issues and much of the opposition just doesn’t get it. At the end of the day, our democracies end up with the leaders we deserve – 8 years of G. Bush were followed by two terms of Obama in the US. All is possible.


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