It has been interesting to watch, at least to me, how different the opposition to Chavez has been by a trio of politicians, two old guard and one new guard, who have confronted Chavez head on rather than mincing words and trying to be somewhat civilized.
The first one was Diego Arria, when his farm Las Carolinas was intervened and expropriated. He not only explained why the seizure was illegal, but by confronting Chavez he managed to get the President to admit he ordered it, to which Arria simply called him a thief. Arria seemed to score more points publicly with this bickering, that the MUD, la Mesa and the table combined in the last three months. The Government tried to accuse Arria of suggesting Chavez should be overthrown, but Arria had been extremely careful, as a good diplomat has to be in the language he used, making the Government look somewhat silly.
A similar case has been that of Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, almost out of politics and aspiring to little, but chosen somewhat by Chavez and his Government as a target. Alvarez Paz was jailed for some statements he made on TV and let free a month ago. Since then, Alvarez Paz has been confronting and irritating Chavez every chance he gets. He has said repeatedly we have to “after Chavez” always being careful to say that this means we have to get rid of him in 2012. This irked Chavez, who on Sunday said Alvarez Paz was being disrespectful of the military and the Prosecutor and should not be allowed to go “around talking so much”.
To which Alvarez Paz replied that Chavez was abusing his power and that in the end he would have to be accountable to international courts, as well as divine justice, becoming in the end a great debtor to history. Chavez is likely to snap back to this, somewhat Alvarez Paz really get to him.
Finally, Henri Falcon has been less frontal, but he is increasing his direct attacks on President Chavez. When he spun off from the revolution, he said he still believed in it, but thought changes were needed. Now that Chavez has simply dismissed the relevance of Falcon’s party PPT, Falcon has become quite aggressive. His latest bark up Chavez tree was to say that it was becoming increasingly difficult to believe the President and that the Consejo Federal de Gobierno was an ambush to non-PSUV Governors, joining the chorus with Henrique Capriles Radonsky. Falcon’s advantage is that he is extremely popular and the people that follow Chavez know him well. When he starts talking like that, people listen and worry. Hopefully Falcon, whom I don’t like much, will continue to be loud and feisty, it will pay dividends for him.
For too long opposition politicians have believed that they confronting Chavez head on was barking up the wrong tree. These guys show that this is precisely what you have to do, day after day. It is dangerous, but it seems to be effective as in the case of these three courageous Venezuelans.