Lead, follow, or get out of the way

Henrique CaprilesHenrique Capriles continues to confound observers. His latest?

This process of disqualifying [political rivals] is hurting the opposition, because it is opening wounds that will be very difficult to heal. I have never said that we have to wait until 2019; find the place where I said that. Don’t start creating opinions like these because you may think you hurt me, but you strengthen the government.

We realize that keeping the cycle of he-said-she-saids really isn’t helpful. But how to hold back when we get baited like that?

Capriles keeps saying that what we have to focus on is naming a new electoral board. That sounds fine and dandy, but … how exactly is negotiating a new token electoral judge (remember Sobella Mejías?) going to help us have clean elections when they announce die-hard chavistas such as Iris Varela or Pedro Carreño to head the CNE? Are there any signals, any at all, that the government is willing to compromise on this?

I have been the first to argue that securing a credible CNE would be a giant step towards overcoming Venezuela’s malaise. But the time to negotiate for that was when you had some momentum from street protests, when the government was struggling to cope with the energy of the student movement.

During that time, Capriles was busy sending de-mobilizing messages, agreeing to participate in a dialogue that played right into the divide-and-conquer strategy the government has been banking on all along.

Criticizing the lack of unity in the opposition while suggesting that Maria Corina Machado wants to divide the opposition so that she can remain deputy for Baruta is a bit like hearing Luis Suárez complain about Chiellini’s biting. And let’s not even talk about the statement that criticizing him benefits the government: an argument straight out of the SIBCI war-chest.

The subtext to Capriles’s position this year has always been obvious. He may not literally say “we better wait until 2019,” but arguing for polite engagement with the pseudo-institutions of our pseudo-democracy – first the CNE, then legislative elections, then … – amounts to the same damn thing.

Everybody can see that is what he means. Capriles doesn’t get to dictate the terms through which public opinion interprets his words.

Now, blasting Capriles for all this is kind of easy, but is he still relevant? We don’t pile on Pablo Medina every time he opens his mouth. Is Capriles on the way to Pablo Medina-ness?

It’s a legitimate question, the answer to which may dictate what the opposition does in the near future.

If Capriles wants to lead, then he should lead – have a meeting with Maria Corina Machado, come to an agreement with Leopoldo López, agree to reorganize the MUD, work the rooms, shake some hands … anything.

If he wants to follow, then he should follow – support the Constitutional Assembly, or support some other proposal out there about reorganizing the MUD or the opposition as a whole.

If he wants to do neither, then he should simply step aside. Take care of Miranda, and leave the driving of the opposition to more able hands. We won’t fault him if he decides this whole “national opposition leader” thing just isn’t his cup of tea.

Henrique Capriles is a talented politician, an asset for the opposition, and someone we are ready to support in the right circumstances. But, right now, we have no clue what he’s doing.

Scratch that – we know what he’s doing … being unhelpful.

92 thoughts on “Lead, follow, or get out of the way

  1. This is one of the many crude realities Venezuelans will face when the World Cup is over. Oh boy, it will be tough. I am really impressed by the fact that nothing is being done about the CNE. Not even a didactic effort to inform your average opposition fellow about what has to be done in order to achieve a more decent CNE, and what we can do to get there. Maybe nothing is being done because of the World Cup… they’re waiting for people’s attention span to… expand?


  2. The core issue here remains unresolved: in February 2012, opposition primary voters gave HCR what was supposed to be a limited mandate to act as leader of the opposition in his role as unity candidate for the October election.

    He’s somehow pulled a Ramos Allup on us and turned that into an unlimited lifetime appointment as self-styled leader of the opposition. Forever.

    No matter how much he stinks up the joint.

    He’s already shown he can’t lead. He’s busy demonstrating he can’t follow. It’s time to get out of the way.


    • It’s probably too early yet to throw Capriles under the bus, he has proven to be the only opposition leader that can bring on board some voters from the other side, but I have to concurr with all of you this time, If his strategy is to wait until chavistas suddenly “wake up” from their wonderland dream, he should at least be walking the streets trying to make people wake up, not hiding in the governor’s office getting in the news once every three months.


      • If that is the strategy, the campaign cannot be lead by him, especially since he is a public servant. Someone else needs to coordinate it and it should involve everyone willing to lend a hand.


          • Apparently many people want him to keep even more quiet. I think he has been very quiet for a while and when he had said something many in the opposition have not like what he said, so how can he lead anything now if people do not support him?

            I remember before March 2013 many were discounting him as done and gone. Then he gave that amazing speech on TV when launched himself as candidate against Maduro. What he accomplished after that was really extraordinary even if not quite enough.

            I think now he sees is not his time to lead because #LaSalida took the initiative and it goes in a direction that he doesn’t comprehend or agree with. So he is waiting for his time again every now and then testing the water by throwing his opinion in the debate and gauging the reception.


            • “when he had said something many in the opposition have not like what he said”

              Well, that’s bound to happen if you dismiss other leaders as radicals (remember his statements on #LaSalida in February?), and propose policies to solve this mess that are less courageous than chavismo’s (no devaluation, no increase of gas prices, no increase of power bills, etc).


              • So he disagrees with #LaSalida, people didn’t like it and he kept a low profile. The rest are just idle criticism of the government.


  3. Economically, socially, and politically, Venezuela has devolved into a sort of hell-on-earth over the last few years. Yet the majority of Venezuelans, regardless of their voting habits, fail miserably to react to this. In this way, you could actually argue that Capriles (and others like him) are effective leaders because they reflect the attitude and actions (inactions?) of the majority. As much as you or I may not agree with this or understand it, it is a sad reality.


  4. At least people can still listen to loud salsa music during the cadenas of Nicolas, as Capriles has suggested before. I’ve heard that people in Cuba used to do that during the record length speeches by Fidel. Maybe Capriles should talk to some Cubans and see how well that worked out for them!


  5. A follow-up post should be dedicated to his followers, who condemn anyone who dares to question Capriles’ approach. He literally is creating a new chavista-like movement and now that – is hurting the opposition.


  6. +1,000,000

    I’d just like to add that Capriles’ statement is a non-denial.

    He’s not denying he thinks we should wait until 2019, he’s just repudiating the quote, which may just means that he’s only said that in private discussions, or that he’s used different words to express that position, or something of the sort.


  7. I have a lot of gripes with Capriles that I take to heart.

    – Suggesting angry voters play Salsa music loudly instead of “cacerolear”, the day neighboring presidents were visiting for Maduro’s possession act.
    – Preaching “me veras haciendo todo para que estes en la calle” next to Lilian Tintori, in defense of Leopoldo Lopez and then doing the exact opposite.
    – Telling people not to play into politician’s “personal ambitions” by going out and protesting, keeping people from their right to protest and freeing the government of any responsibility in protecting peoples’ lives.
    – Effectively blaming #LaSalida of the lives lost during protests, without a mention about colectivos
    – Calling opposition members who differ from him “twitternaitors” and dinosaurs.
    – Converting his Twitter account into a joke, obsessing over the TarjetaRoja campaign and the tweeting Mostaza selfie.
    – Not going on record against the RobertaGate speculation that the MUD had to do with preventing US sanctions to government officials.
    – Refusing to even attempt to elaborate on the 8D election results stating he was too and “the country’s just split in half, no one won”
    – Never formally addressing the country for closure on the April elections, expecting everyone to just forget and carry on.
    – Stating that “los radicales nunca estuvieron conmigo” when he directly requested voters to remain at their mesas electorales and defend each vote.
    – Never acknowledging the full support Leopoldo Lopez gave him on the 2012 campaign, and later calling him ambitious or radical.
    – Not taking any responsibility for the people who die at the hands of criminals while we wait for 2019 elections or whenever he feels like making a move.


    • His overall platform of let’s go back to 2006-2008:
      “I wouldn’t have devalued the currency”
      “I won’t privatize public companies”
      “I will create more misiones”
      “There’s no need to raise gas prices” and “I will scrap the gas chip”
      “I’m not going to eliminate currency controls”

      He’s been less willing than chavismo to propose economic policy reforms. Chavismo has hinted increasing gas prices, increasing power bills, devaluation (“single exchange rate”), tax reform, etc.


      • Yes. Populism just runs through his veins, he just goes with the flow in attempt to collect supporters no matter how unsubstantial his statements are.

        He seems willing to say anything that will summon chavistas to his side and at the same time careless to say anything that will lose him opposition supporters.

        In Venezolano: está tan preocupado por sumar chavistas que no le importa restar opositores.


    • – His July 2 statement: “La Salida” is rejected by 89% of Venezuelans according to all polls. – disrespectful to all those who lost their lives or were imprisoned – including his old-time buddy Leopoldo Lopez.


  8. Juan, I congratulate you for your strong, unequivocal post on an open wound for the oppo, given the current panorama and una-nalga fence sitting by Capriles.


  9. These are the options for Capriles (and the MUD):
    1- Lead. But no one here wants to be lead by him … anymore … or for now (por ahora).
    2- Follow. Ok, but follow who? what?
    3- Get out of the way. Fine, and then what? Is that going to be a better scenario?

    The Allup reference (in Quico’s comment) is very apropo, because people always want those that represent a discredited movement to step out of the way as if the vacuum would magically span a better option. That is not how politics work. New leaders and new proposals have to make their own way, until then, the old ones even if discredited is what you have.

    The fact is, there doesn’t seem to be any good proposals out there, or any good leaders.
    The proposals out there are directed at the government: demanding a better CNE, fair elections, fair treatment. Having demands is fine but expecting the government to comply is naive. They have the power: resources, weapons, authority and laws. And they won’t budge. If they make a concession is sure to be a token poisoned one.

    The only thing the opposition can ever hope to have is people power. Every action should be targeted at the people, not the government. The issues should be focused and targeted for them in different ways, creatively, constantly and consistently. It takes time and there are no shortcuts. Rioting and violence doesn’t help because people shy away from that. #LaSalida was too much too soon. A strategic error. A burned cartridge.

    There are many issues that should be raised continuously to the people, from crime, scarcity, corruption, incompetence, blackouts, economy, abuses, political prisoners… We even have our tropical Mandela plus other political prisoners. They should be made a cause celebre and keep them in people’s mind all the time.


    • I agree, there’s need for the creation of a new creative PR campaing, one that puts the goverment in real trouble and push the public into a direction, probably the salida was a failed attempt at that, there needs to be a new approach, dont know what can that be tho.


      • I think the big historical models to follow are South Africa, India and the US Civil Rights Movement all of them transcended their own afflicted group and became global causes embraced by large percentages of the population of their countries an even outside. The South African outcry had Mandela rotting in jail as a ’cause celebre’ who was never forgotten, Gandhi and MLKjr were excellent propagandists and manipulators of public opinion.

        I’m sure there are many creative people in the opposition with PR experience. If we want unity is those people we want cooperating actively for the cause.


    • “The Allup reference (in Quico’s comment) is very apropo, because people always want those that represent a discredited movement to step out of the way as if the vacuum would magically span a better option.”

      There’s plenty of people to replace them. AD lost the generation of Ledezma, Marquina and Fermin because Ramos Allup’s generation withheld the party from them. AD has an internal election mechanism that allows the ruling clique to appoint about half electoral votes, that reform was carried out in the 90’s, if I’m not mistaken. Ramos Allup has been a dark force in Venezuela at least since CAP 2, when he was AD’s leader in Congress. Also Ramos Allup is kind enough to remind me often why I have a bad opinion of him:

      “Si es cierto que el diálogo no ha producido resultados hasta ahora, también es cierto que ‘La Salida’ no produjo resultados positivos. Al menos podemos decir que nuestra propuesta no trajo heridos ni muertos”

      roughly translated as: “Even though the dialogue hasn’t produced any results, neither did ‘La Salida’. At least our proposal didn’t get people killed”


      “[…]Nosotros no contábamos con esas medidas que tomó el Gobierno contra el desabastecimiento y contra la especulación, que tuvieron una enorme incidencia en los resultados electorales, porque pareciera que el Gobierno tiene asesores a quienes se les está moviendo el coco. Pero en medio de esas medidas hubo algunos necios en la oposición que en vez de culpar al Gobierno por haber distribuido mal los dólares preferenciales para que se produjera toda esa especulación, salieron a defender a los comerciantes que especulaban. Esos que tienen todavía el paquetazo metido en la cabeza, que si el libre mercado, que si el liberalismo y que si la economía sin regulaciones trae la prosperidad y la felicidad general, como que se les olvidó lo que le pasó al gobierno de CAP. Los economistas que se dediquen a lo suyo, porque cada vez que le hacemos caso a los economistas terminamos poniendo la torta política.”

      roughly translated as: “We didn’t count on the measures the government took against scarcity and speculation, which proved very popular and influenced the election. The government seems to have some smart advisers. On the other hand, some fools in the opposition instead of blaming the government for misallocating the dollar subsidy, went out and defended the businesspeople who were speculating. Those still have a paquetazo in their minds, and all that nonsense about free markets, liberalism, or deregulation bringing about prosperity and happyness, apparently they forgot about what happen to CAP [2]. Economists should mind their business, every time we listen to them we end up screwing things up politically.”


      Ledezma would be a hell of an improvement over Ramos Allup, as would almost any other adeco, excepting the likes of Alfaro Ucero, like his daughter Sandra Alfaro, who holds a special place in my heart for sabotaging Maturin’s Mayor taking his oath, after he preferred to appoint people based on their merits and not their personal relationship to her (http://www.ultimasnoticias.com.ve/noticias/ciudad/parroquias/alcalde-de-maturin-no-se-juramenta.aspx).

      PJ has even more valuable people (that I know of) than AD. There’s Ocariz, there’s Muchacho, to name a couple. It’s not like Borges and Capriles HAVE to be at the forefront for lack of people to take those roles.


      • And now there is an investigation against Muchacho…that is not coincidence. He is accused of being a traitor of the Vaterland.


      • I’m sure there are plenty of valuable people in all the parties and many may potentially be good leaders but the role of leader has to be earned, it is not gained by forfeit. The only reason the potentials seem better than the incumbents is that the potentials have not been in that hot seat yet and so are not well known and thus they show a lot of promise. When people are not well known they always seem better than the current one. Before Capriles was discredited he was one of those “valuable people” and people said that Allup was holding him down, now he is just like Allup holding others down. People want him to commit political suicide and squander all his political capital throwing it away so we can start from scratch with someone new as if that someone could just pick up Capriles’ hard earned political capital. If it only were that easy. It is not. Leaders are not interchangeable figures.

        All those people that you mentioned Ledezma, Marquina, Ocariz, Muchacho, Fermin?! (wasn’t he presidential candidate, twice?) have their merits and some may have a bright political future. Nobody is holding them down but they are not getting free political capital as gifts either. By the same token they won’t be stepping aside to let someone else take their own political capital.


        • Fermin was a presidential candidate, which was a signal that AD might be heading to a generational handover. But then AD undid all that when they ran with Alfaro-fucking-Ucero in 1998, ditching him at the last minute.

          Ramos Allup is at the helm of AD because he controls the election mechanism. His clique appoints about half the electoral votes, so the only way to beat him is by acclamation of the rest of the electoral votes. Fermin, Ledezma et al tried, unsuccessfully, to challenge that clique during CAP 2.

          That clique IS holding them down. That’s why AD-Caracas became ABP and AD-Zulia became UNT, and AD-Monagas was split when El Gato left, and Morel launched a similar spin-off with AD-Nueva Esparta. They left because leaving was their only way to stop having that clique in charge over them. It is clear that ABP, UNT, MiGato and Morel’s party did have their own political capital, they didn’t have to wait for anyone to bequeath anything as electoral results show.


          • What you clearly explained is how politics is played at the party level. Some leaders are destructive to their institutions because they only care for themselves some are constructive because they work for the benefit of their institution (whether that is a political party, government institution, enterprise or any other organization). Caldera is an example of the former. Chavez is another one. Whomever is in power wants to stay in power and is corrupted by that power.

            But wishing that a leader would just step aside and let someone new take his place is not only naive, but possibly misguided because there is no guarantee that the next leader will be any better. That is why the famous saying “mas vale malo conocido que bueno por conocer”, equivalent to “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t “.

            Parties (and politics) are not democratic institutions they are more like tribal organizations, the current cacique will leave only when he is beaten by a new one. Their internal politics and bureaucracy are designed to not let just anyone come in and challenge the current leadership. They are the creation of their founders and their heirs and they aim to retain a certain culture and ideology that should not be easily swayed.


            • “Parties (and politics) are not democratic institutions they are more like tribal organizations, the current cacique will leave only when he is beaten by a new one.”

              That may describe a political party, but not a democratic party. How can we trust a party to take part of a democracy if it doesn’t consider it should run itself democratically? It’s preposterous. There’s no way I can trust THEM to uphold free and fair elections, limited reelections, limited terms, decentralization, etc. If the organization the created to reach those goals has an unfair electoral process, keeps leaders in office for decades, postpones elections after terms have expired and makes all decisions in Caracas.

              “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t “.

              Worse than Ramos Allup and his clique? What’s worse than a guy self-perpetuating himself in power for 20 years while weakening the institutions he’s heading and alienating good people who were willing to work for the good of those institutions?

              Sometimes it IS bettter for toxic leaders to retire. Just like Caldera should have retired instead of launching Convergencia, killing COPEI, the 1961 constitution, puntofijismo and democracy in the process.


              • See the difference is that you believe that the ADs, Allups, Borges’ are the exception. I say ALL political parties are the same.

                “How can we trust a party to take part of a democracy if it doesn’t consider it should run itself democratically? It’s preposterous. There’s no way I can trust THEM to uphold free and fair elections, limited reelections, limited terms, decentralization, etc. ”

                That would be like trusting a wolf to take care of the sheep. You cannot trust ANY single political party with that. Not a single one. That is why democracy only works when there is some balance of power, when there are multiple parties and multiple leaders all fighting to attain power, they keep an eye on each other, they are their mutual guardians.


              • “That would be like trusting a wolf to take care of the sheep. You cannot trust ANY single political party with that.”

                A party I don’t trust is a party I don’t vote for.

                Not all parties are like this. PSOE and PP in Spain renew their authorities periodically, the Democrats and Republicans in the US also change party leadership periodically, as do the political parties in the UK, and there’s bound to be lots of other examples.


              • Also checks and balances don’t work if all participants are only interested in power for the sake of power, since the obvious points of equilibrium are: one party controls all branches and excludes the other parties, a coalition controls all branches and conspires to keep other parties out and all parties reach a power sharing arrangement. Neither of these points of equilibrium guarantees anything.


              • I’m sure you know the term Gerrymandering:


                Just look at the index in that page for a list of countries. UK and the US are prominent in that list with very recent examples.
                This is just an example of the type of corruption led by the incumbent political parties, even those that renew their authorities. Parties cannot be trusted to be moral ethical guardians of anything. The Republicans in the US have revolting partisan politics and I’m sure the Democrats would be as bad if they could.

                I’m not saying that in all parties everywhere there are Allups that have a stranglehold in their parties. But that is not for lack trying. What I’m saying is that politics is played in all of them and if someone can get that kind of power they won’t let it voluntarily, it has to be pried out of their cold hands.

                BTW in a previous post I gave examples of toxic leaders, but not of positive leaders (it is not that easy). I would postulate that CAP II was a positive leader, more preoccupied for Venezuela than his own power (still for selfish reasons but anyway). He didn’t fare well though.


              • I kind of agree on CAP 2. His policies were right, his salesmanship was poor, and his hubris blinded him the attacks from those whose interests were affected by the economic and political reforms he championed once in office. One of his most redeeming qualities, is that he preferred to die politically than to kill the Venezuelan democracy (through a self coup, or any other maneuver).

                To make note of a Venezuelan example. VP chose all leadership positions in open primaries. Not through life-long mandates, not through appointments from the anointed few, not through backroom deals, not on kinship (or nepotism), etc. That is something I think more parties should do.


              • “Neither of these points of equilibrium guarantees anything.”

                That is why democracies are so fragile.


              • “That is why democracies are so fragile.” Touche.

                Though I think, the fault lies not in check and balances, or in democracy itself, but in voters.

                You can’t expect to vote for non-democratic parties and get a democracy. To exaggerate: If the two most popular choices were a Communist Party and a Fascist Party, no arrangement would yield a liberal democracy.

                I think people should vote for parties that apply the values they cherish in their internal proceedings, not those that merely preach them de la boca para afuera; because the values in their internat proceedings are their true values.


              • “the fault lies not in check and balances”

                Although similar and very related I was not quite referring to “checks and balances”, more to a balance of power. The former are the formal mechanisms the latter is what counts. Venezuela has the former not the latter. If you had two parties Communist and Fascist both with similar power I would have high hopes for that democracy as both sides would keep each other honest. But when one of the sides becomes too powerful then it will try to eliminate the other one.

                The problem with internal politics is that they are much more obscure than national politics. Even when authorities get renewed, who nominates the candidates? who mentors them? who supports them financially? Even the communist party in China somehow renews their authorities.


              • ” If you had two parties Communist and Fascist both with similar power I would have high hopes for that democracy as both sides would keep each other honest.”

                Mmm… I think a civil war, genocide or separatism are more likely outcomes than a liberal democracy, because neither party actually believes in tolerance, alternation in power, compromise, dialogue or political freedom. An alternative peaceful outcome is a One Nation Two Systems solution (like PR China with Hong Kong and Macau).


              • How did you wedge that 4:25 comment between my 3:57 & 3:59 comments if there is no reply link?

                I hope VP continues to be so pure when it grows in years and stature. That would set a new paradigm for Venezuela if it is successful.


              • I’m a strong believer in primaries. The primaries for parliamentary seats where MCM got her nomination were a huge improvement for MUD transparency-wise, the primary for presidential, governoral and mayoral candidates was also a huge improvement.

                I’d like MUD to stick to primaries and ditch the more opaque methods of using bought polls,and backroom deals.

                Jajaja. I’m replying from the notification button. It appears in the upper right corner when I log in to wordpress. My guess is that my comment isn’t really “wedged”, and instead there is a limited number of indentation levels, and after the level of your comment, the indentation stops increasing, and that reply links are tied into this indentation scheme.


              • “I think a civil war, genocide or separatism”
                You are right, except maybe for genocide. This hypotheticals are too hypothetical for a good argument.
                Thanks for the interesting exchange J. Navarro.


          • “That clique IS holding them down.”

            Politics, even internal party politics is a game of power. Those in power make it their duty to “hold down” possible threats to their power. The old ones do it to the new ones, the new ones will do the same when they get into power. Happens in all political parties including AD, Copei, PSUV, ABP, UNT, MiGato, VP, PJ, etc..


            • If that’s true, then none of them are qualified to transform our country from a competitive authoritarianism framework into a functioning constitutional democracy.


              • None of them individually are, because like Churchill said, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” That is why congress is supposed to be plural, the Judicial apolitical, the military apolitical, the CNE with members that are apolitical and selected by the different factions and “civil society”, etc


  10. I did not vote for Capriles during primaries and then had no other choice but to vote for him during the presidential elections. I’ve always thought he is a pansy but now more than anything, I find he is an opportunistic politician who has his own, self-centered agenda.


  11. The problem is that Capriles has a broader and firmer national political base than any non-chavista politician in this country. That’s why he still remains as a “leader”.


    • And that’s the basic probem with Chavismo, when “democracy” sort-of works.. El pueblo identified with Chavez, one of theirs in many ways, uneducated, etc.. A Harvard educated guy like Leopoldo is the Elite any country needs in power, not just another pueblo guy like Caprilito,, even Indians had their Elite, Caciques or Shamans leading the way,, if you get the drift.


  12. I see a lot of Capriles bashing and blaming. The problem is not Capriles, he has done what he could following his own convictions. It is easy to criticize from the bench. So he does not have the answers. Who has them? What are the answers? Focusing on blaming Capriles is a waste of time. It is not even good as a catharsis. Lets focus on the answers, lets discuss that.


    • You are wrong, Capriles as a leader is doing more harm than good. He has divided the opposition. The more criticized, the more he’ll know he is screwing up.


      • The opposition is divided because some agree with him and some disagree, that is a normal thing. Put in a different way: he disagrees with some in the opposition, it is his right just like others have a right to disagree with him. Is he screwing up? What is he screwing up? What coherent actions or proposals are out there that he is damaging? Whenever there are differences in opinion, one side sees the other one as being the one in the wrong. But who can say who is right? Maybe both sides are wrong or both are partially right. Telling one side to shut up doesn’t help dilucidate the issues.


        • But he has been far more critical of Leopoldo, Maria Corina and #LaSalida than they were of Capriles, MUD and the dialogue.


          • There are differences in style and in convictions. If MCM and Leopoldo have not been too critical it may be because they didn’t oppose Capriles, the MUD and the dialogue as much. In any case the dialogue was a self inflicted wound by the MUD which by contrast strengthened MCM and Leopoldo’s image with a sector of the opposition. #LaSalida like Capriles said even if it had some positive results it also hurt the opposition cause in a large way.


            • “#LaSalida like Capriles said even if it had some positive results it also hurt the opposition cause in a large way.”

              The elections in San Diego and San Cristobal suggest that #LaSalida hurt the government more than it allegedly hurt the opposition.

              Chavismo lost votes in absolute terms, the Opposition gained votes in absolute terms and it translated in a victories with larger percentages than those of 8D.

              What hard evidence is there of this hurting the opposition? Polls on this area are all over the place.


              • This is only my personal appreciation, but to me #LaSalida was an offensive maneuver performed too early, when the climate was not ripe for it, not enough political strength in the opposition. It became a spent cartridge that cannot be used again in the near term. With a deteriorating economy, rampant crime, scarcity, etc,]. the support for the government was in rapid decline anyway. The ranks of discontent with the government were swelling. But by polarizing too soon, introducing violence and distracting from the day to day hardships #LaSalida didn’t have enough strength to tumble the regime. By being an all-or-nothing, el-que-se-cansa-pierde tactic it was doomed to fail because it became a war of attrition for which the government was better prepared. That is why they stoked the violence, to enrage as many oppo people as possible and then exhaust their energies leading to disappointment and defeatism.

                A more longer, more sustainable, non-violent campaign has a better chance of succeeding because it allows a growing participation by the people. #LaSalida has precluded and delayed that possibility, therein lies the damage to the opposition. Until that campaign starts, the government is sitting pretty.


              • That’s a theoretical damage, not a tangible one. I didn’t see any defeatism in San Diego or San Cristobal, two of the municipalities where demonstrations and riots where more intense.

                For me, #LaSalida should have come way earlier, as in April 2013, when we had a clear achievable goal: Audit the Election.

                Instead we got a Salserolazo, an early demobilization of the protesters, that allowed the government to get away with all their shenanigans.

                On the other hand, #LaSalida was launched as a non-violent campaign, meant to extend in time (maybe a cople of months). Unfortunately it was derided from the start by some oppo politicians, thus weakening it. What the rest of the MUD was doing was sitting and waiting for the next election, paying no mind to rising discontent, showed by the student prostests that began in January.


              • “I didn’t see any defeatism in San Diego or San Cristobal”

                Because the election allowed the people to express themselves in a non violent way. That was a self inflicted wound by the government. I do not know what they hoped to achieve. The defeatism will only come after the demonstrations subside and are deemed a failure by the people and only if they are not let any outlet to express themselves. Give them an outlet and they will massively go for it like they did.

                Theory becomes tangible only when it is put in practice. Until then every strategy, every plan is just a theory. That is no reason to disregard them. Some plans are better than others (in theory).


              • Since all the evidence we have points to #LaSalida increasing our electoral results, I consider claims that it “hurt the opposition” as unsubstantiated.


              • Substantiated?
                Like I said just my personal appreciation.

                Anyway we cannot compare against what could have been the alternative because the alternative cannot be tested at the same time under the same circumstances. We will never know. But we will see what the future brings. I’m hoping for that campaign to start sometime at the end of this year or beginning of the next or perhaps sooner.


      • You may have a point. Caprilito has certainly muddied the pathetic MUD, and huge missteps like talking to the dictators or all the popular propaganda lost in the caserios and pueblitos certainly don’t help.


  13. Caprilito has demonstrated for years that’s he’s just a populist politician, somewhat of a demagogue, certainly not the kind of leader Vzla needs, closer to a Leopodo or MCM, more educated, focused, more balls/ovaries, less propaganda or religious mambo-jambo.

    Caprilito is probably just a good pueblo guy, desrving to be Gobernador del Estado Portuguesa, o Lara, o Barinas.. you know..


  14. As Quico ponted out, the primaries of 2012 did not mean and eternal endorsement. And, as many have pointed out, some voted for Capriles because they had no other choice. Moreover, as Juan said a few days ago, some have written his political obituary.

    That being said, at least as of May, the figure of Capriles retains a healthy support, compared with any opposition political party (PJ being the largest in support) and most other leaders. Lopez -who remains tragically jailed- has gathered as much favourable opinions (some more, actually) and public recognition as Capriles, of course, but favourabilty measures seem to overlap among the general public (it is not the same thing to ask “do you view X favourably?” instead of “do you prefer x over y?”). This may have changed, but I have no hard data to back it up (and I’m sure any studies showing things gong either way would have surfaced by now).

    Polls aside, what I can gather is that Capriles remains relevant because of his own political capital: he is the Governor of the most populous Opposition state; he has been nominated as a candidate by the opposition twice (the first in open primaries, which he won in a landslide, and later via consensus). He is nationally known and more liked than not by the general public, and probably believes that, as of now, no one can fill his role. And from this I can surmise that he’s biding his time, and trying to set the scope of political action (i.e., leading) in the arena he believes he’s most likely to win or even be relevant: elections. To judge this as a self-centered ploy or a principled stand (and as helpful or unhelpful), it depends on where you stand on Capriles, the public figure.

    I’m not talking abut his beliefs or his skills, nor about his values, though I admit that might be a maddening aspect of his appeal: he talks to the centre, and the political centre in Venezuela usually differs from the readers of this blog (such as myself).


    • Good points, although I’m not quite sure who he’s talking to (the center? Whodat?). I didn’t like the guarimbas, and I didn’t like #LaSalida, and yet I find myself at odds with Capriles’ posture. Besides, since when does the political center want Capriles to pile on MCM or LL? He’s just all over the place for my taste.


      • We’re not the center, for sure. If we were, we would get it, I guess… I could muster that the center doesn’t like to rock the boat, despite not disliking the boat-rockers.

        And I agree that piling on anyone is, at best, unbecoming…


        • Agree, we’re not the Center. But #LaSalida is largely a consequence of ignoring the opposition base.

          We kept getting more worked up about government policies and actions (Dakazo, more controls, more scarcity, more crime) and we felt nobody was doing anything about it, so students began protesting in January. Then came LL, MCM and Ledezma and channeled the discontent. Ledezma said it better “If we don’t get on top of this, someone else is going to eat our lunch” (http://www.eluniversal.com/nacional-y-politica/140127/ledezma-maduro-ofrece-descuento-de-80-en-boletos-para-la-luna)


          • I think Capriles believes that the base of the opposition has shifted.

            In a sense, like when Cope became a mass political party -it leaned leftwards- and when the coalition of the Left became electable through avoiding Marxist tropes and projecting “nationalism”. They both leaned towards the centre and beyond their original bases of support.

            Is he right? I don’t know. What I gather is that our old base is not enough, either to win elections or to promote any other form of political change.


            • The traditional Oppo base isn’t sufficient, on that Capriles, you and I agree.

              But that traditional base is VERY neccessary, and Capriles (along with other oppo politicians) take it for granted. It irks to no avail when they issue crap statements like “Maduro is wasting Chavez’ legacy” in the hope of luring chavistas. Without that traditional base, Capriles no llega ni a la esquina.

              Let’s remember that those college kids, Capriles only reluctantly agreed to support on the 12F march, are the ones most likely to fill the electoral witness role, to hand over leaflets , to do community work, to man the marches, and many other “hormiguita” tasks.

              Let’s also remeber that widening the overall Oppo appeal isn’t a Capriles-only goal. VP had landmark victories in this regard in past elections: Maturin, a municipality in Portuguesa, and Guasdualito, if I’m not mistaken.


              • The victories in Maturin and Guasdualito aren’t solely the result of VP’s work (which has been great and should thrive in the future).

                What I see at the grassroots level at the parties and the students I know is that the February events are hugely polarising…


              • You are right, VP doesn’t get all the credit on those victories. My intention was illustrating how widening the base isn’t something being done or achieved only by Capriles and his faction, and also that it doesn’t require alienating the traditional base.

                The oppo IS polarized. That polarization started gaining strength after the April 2013 election. Some people thought demovilization was the way to go and some people thought civil desobedience was the way to go.

                LaSalida was polarizing because one of factions went ahead without the blessing of the other, and the other faction started trashing LaSalida and their leaders in public, something the LaSalida faction never did in return, AFAIK.

                But the Dialogue was ALSO polarizing. Because it was also an initiative taken by one faction of the opposition without the blessing of the other. Roberta-gate is a disgrace.


              • Well, of course. VP is a crucial part of any route to power.

                And #ElDialogo was/is polarising, but it would not have happened when it did had the Salida not happened.


  15. Juan, you are not discussing the context. We came out of a beating in the December elections, which played havoc on Capriles’s plans. So obviously the oppo was weakened and decided to play the middle of the spectrum before trying to overthrow the regime. Then came LL sensing a weakness in Capriles flank with the hardcore oppo, and goes for the leadership. Even though these months proved that it was not the right timing, it was for him personally, and just like he first did with PJ and then with UNT he throws the MUD under the bus. Imagine if we would have waited a few months what the reaction would have been. I think Capriles approach of letting the gvnmt make a huge mess of everything and saving his political capital for a better opportunity is correct.


    • Good context Rene.
      Maybe the opposition should have done like the romans that had two consuls that alternated in command of the troops on a daily basis.


  16. I am 100% sure that Capriles wants to be president of Venezuela as soon as possible and feasible, I really doubt he is counting on 2019. He had the guts when he went against Maduro just a few days after Chavez’s death, against the conventional wisdom that it would be a blood bath and that he would be humiliated, do you think he suddenly lost his courage?


    • There’s a theory making the rounds (I’ve read it in several places) that candidates who contest elections end up killing their political careers. Think AMLO, think Jóvito.


  17. From reading other comments, it seems that there are still some here who think there is a normal electoral path out of this mess. I think what happened last year proves that there will be no more normal presidential elections, whether in a week or in 2019. Maybe Maduro will never run again, but in his place will be Diosdado Cabello, Iris Varela, or some other equally dangerous psychopath. The night of the election, Tibisay Lucena or some other CNE lackey will “irreversibly” declare him/her the winner regardless of results, irregularities, etc. What happens then? You might not agree with the La Salida crowd or with the passive approach of Capriles , but something needs to happen soon. Each day, Venezuela moves dangerously more close to a “now or never” moment. There are some from the La Salida group who are proposing a demand for an impartial referendum. At least this would give them the objective they previously lacked.


    • “From reading other comments, it seems that there are still some here who think there is a normal electoral path out of this mess.”

      I truly don’t think there is anyone that believes that. Since August 2004 there has not been a normal fair election in Venezuela. Nevertheless elections are important if not decisive milestones along the way and they cannot be ignored, especially by the opposition whose only possible strength is people power. That something that needs to happen, needs to happen before the elections so that the elections can be somewhat fair. In other words we cannot defeat the regime through elections, instead we need to first defeat the regime to then have fair elections.

      That proposal of demanding the government call for an impartial referendum in 2014 seems really naive to me. They won’t even acknowledge such demand and if they do they’ll just say wait until 2016 (and with all the reason on their side).


  18. I suspect that in Capriles there is a private pol and a public pol , sometimes they overlap sometimes they diverge , he is clear in his aim and will be very pragmatic in reaching it or in getting closer to it , he might make mistakes , he is a smart man but not necessarily an invincible infalible hero, the superhuman messiah we all secretly hanker for . The private pol has views which are much like those most of the opposition supports but he will not expose his inner pol if it can be easily used by the govt to distort who he really is and use it against him . He is much more calculating and organized than people think . He will play his card as best he can but knows he cant win every hand , he wont show all his cards unless he thinks it is to his advantage , the conditions under which he must follow his program are very uncertain and difficult , he will change his game if it suits his purposes , but will be very careful about the timing . he is not a straight arrow leader but a zig zag leader , the thing for him is geting to the goal first and then be very versatile and practical about how he folows through afterwards. His game plan is not fixed in stone but subject to change as circumnstances change and offer or close opportunities. He is not devoid of human failings but also gathers strenghts that dont necessarily attract everyones instant recognition .

    Leopoldo is a more classical, fiery, passionately inspired leader , reads peoples impatience and anger and tries to make use of that anger and impatience . There were bad and good consequences from his initiatives . He appears more willing to go for broke on a strategy even if it has serious risk , that always admirable although not always wise. . Everything is timing and opportunity but no one can predict when is the perfect time for a particular effort !!

    My own basic view is lets not count anyone out just yet and lets keep our options open , If something better comes along it will show it self and then we will know , until then I wish there would be less bickering and flatout rejections or criticism of different strategies and personalities inside of the opposition !!.


    • Bill

      I concur in your appreciations of Capriles and Leopoldo. Leopoldo’s best effort to me was the creation of VP a truly dynamic party. I hate to see that squandered for his martyrdom. Seems to me he felt he was lacking his personal epic.

      Regarding Capriles he has never articulated his plan probably for several reasons:
      – not to tip off his hand giving away clues to the regime
      – because it is not a clearly defined plan but more of a general strategic vision
      – or, less likely, there is no vision or plan, he justs wings it

      In any case I doubt his plan is just to wait for 2019. I give him more credit than that. The natural desperation and impatience of people deem anything without clearly visible actions as just waiting for another election.


  19. IMO thses three leaders and countless others in the oppo circles are the proverbial “borrachitos peleandose por la botella vacia”
    The dimension of the destruction to the Nation far surpasses the challenges of electoral politics and tactics we are discussing here.
    I think the devaluation of our productive capacity, the forced emigration of our younger and most talented men and women, and the crushing of our national identity are the real flags any leader should aim to tackle.

    howw is it possible that in the maduro tenure alone the Bolivar has devaluated so much and no one in MUD, PJ, AD, LL, MCM camps, etc. does not have a serios PR front discussing this?

    How many have left Venezuela, does this have a cost to the nation? no one is saying anything.

    PDVSA is in shambles and continues to be a rabbit hole for misplaced finances and corruption. Any ctalking points on this?

    no! we are discussion whether presidential elections or parliamentary elections or CNE changes are waht is important. Meanwhile, the coffers keep being sucked dry,the Media continues to fall under Hegemon, Inc, and be become more of the internet age version of the cuban diapora in la Calle 8, discussing about homeland politics …..
    borachitos pues!

    For thee reasons I am behind MCM and LL more, since they are supporting clearer messagings and walking the talk.


  20. The only thing that MCM and LL are guilty of is overestimating the will of their fellow citizens. They thought they could inspire a massive public presence of discontent that would serve a higher purpose. They believed that the majority was actually committed to a better future, not just talking about it. If the inability to buy food, clothing, or medicines doesn’t cause people to react, I don’t know what will. For the people who sit at home on their ass complaining, and then cry when their children and grandchildren leave the country, I feel no pity for them.


    • “The only thing that MCM and LL are guilty of is overestimating the will of their fellow citizens.”

      History is full of tragic miscalculations like that. How many battles have been lost for underestimating the opponent and overestimating our own strengths?


    • Agreed. One of the pilars of the Chavista striegh is knowing the pueblo through and through. ” no me den, ponganme donde haiga”, and other true values of our masses were well addressed and channleed under the Chavista worldview.

      As a political leader, seeking to move the pople around your plans, you need to really know waht motivates them. In Venezuela, regretfully, better living standards,, opportunities for development, and higher concepts such as liberty, freedom, democracy are secondary to ‘Real, platita, poder!
      Guisky y mujeres!

      Its sad but over the chavista tenure, plastic surgeons and mamacitas have had the best ride!
      (and cubans)


      • Exactly. I should add that I enjoy whisky and mujeres as much as the next guy, but I am still able to see the big picture. Sadly, too many others can’t or don’t.


  21. I hate to disagree with everyone, but it seems as I am alone on this one: I think Capriles is executing a very smart long term strategy. He has carefully positioned himself between Maduro and LaSalida. That my friends is called triangulation. He is choosing to shed supporters in the opposition to better position himself to attract chavistas, which is where he has a chance to grow. Call it pruning, always necessary for growth.

    He does not have to face an election right now so he can take some hits by alienating part of his base in order to move to the center.

    He is also going deep into rural areas to increase the face to face contacts that are invaluable to a politician. The more he embeds himself with regular venezuelans, the better he will be in understanding and bonding with them. He is also continuing to work as a Governor which is really what he should be focusing on to prove that he can make a difference.

    LaSalida as a strategy was doomed to fail. Perhaps the 15th of April LaSalida could have worked, but not after getting clobbered in a local election like the opposition did in December.

    Even if it was successful, then what? How long could a government headed by Leopoldo and/or MCM lasted? How long till a counterpunch from chavistas? Is this the future we want?


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