Archive for May 29th, 2008

To bash or not to bash the opposition: That is not the question

May 29, 2008

In the last two days, I made two posts in which I expressed my concerns about what I perceive are problems going forward for the so called opposition in Venezuela.

The first one is the fact that everywhere I go, it seems like a given that somehow, the opposition will win some 10-14 Governorships independent of what Chavez may or not do, the second is that so far, the opposition has raised only extremely parochial issues which are clearly not grabbing the imagination of the people and despite the hard work of many, the local message is not  playing through and we face very important issues that need to be faced.

At the end of the day in some sense what I am saying is that the opposition did not win nthe referendum, Chavez lost and the poll from Datanalisis shows it.

I believe, for example, that the opposition has handled relatively well the choosing of candidates, in my mind the Chacao race, the only one that some rarified noise, is essentially irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. However, I am not sure the message is getting through that this is not an easy process and people are watching the irrelevant parts and Chavez’ PSUV is only doing something worse than the opposition to those that have followed the details.

Because in the end I am not saying that people are not working hard, what I am saying is that the message is not getting through and the students by focusing yesterday on five demands to the National Assembly were much more effective than all of the opposition candidates in the last two months.

And I stand by what I said.

Because I am not even saying that the candidates to Mayor, for example, have to talk about economic issues or the Enabling Bill, but I do believe parties could have, for example, non-candidates that constantly speak on these same issues.

And if someone tells me  that it is hard to get on the papers or TV, then I must live in a different country, because I find the media hungry for interviews or articles with people that have something interesting to say.

I am not demanding that the opposition make a political project overnight, all I am saying is that they should make a list of the three or four more damaging or dangerous things that the Chavez Government is doing and appoint spokesmen for each and start hitting the media on them.

To me, this is not so difficult to do. This would be my list of the four topics that I would dwell on, day after day with all we have:

–Crime, it is the number one problem for people, it is a disgrace what this Government has done. This has actually been addressed fairly well, but as Rodriguez Chacin says things are improving, they are not. Blast him!

–Attack the nationalization of Sidor, Cemex, Larafge, Holderbank, CANTV and Electricidad de Caracas. The last two are already showing the signs of Government managing, but you can also attack why the money is spent on non-issues rather than in solving people’s problems.

–I believe the Enabling Bill represents the biggest threat to our freedom and economic system since the Constitutional reform was proposed, attack it. Ask what is the Government hiding.

–The recent resolution to force banks to sell their structured notes denominated in local currency is simply attacking the consequence of bad policies. But in itself it may be bad policy again as it may create a financial crisis. the Government does not appear to even get it. Blast them!

–Continue to attack the Comptrollers ban on candidates, the Constitution is the Constitution, defend it.

If I can come up with my five, you would think two or three parties together could find the top five and organize themselves around it.

Because in the end, if the opposition can’t reach the people, Chavez with all his money will and we will not be able to blame anyone but ourselves.

The Enabling Bill: Students raise awareness of its dangers

May 29, 2008

While everyone seems to think that it will be clear sailing
from here until the November elections, I have been worried by the fact that
the Enabling Bill, giving Chavez extraordinary powers in all matters, expires
around mid-July. (I am not sure precisely on what day it was enacted)

While opposition candidates have been going around talking
about local issues and jockeying for position so that they can show up
prominently in the polls that will select the candidates, I have worried about
this issue a lot. Worried, because last time Chavez had an Enabling Bill in
2000, he came up with 42 controversial Bills, including the Land Bill, at the
last minute, which became the rallying point for the opposition to his
Government. Unfortunately, those Bills were presented with ten days left in the
Enabling Bill, without any discussion, and most of them became the rule of law
to this day.

Much like in the year 2000, the Government has said little a
about the couple of dozen Bills that will be magically presented to us before
mid-July. There will be little discussion, we have seen the movie before, but
what we will see will help Chavez do what he was unable to do in the referendum
he lost in December.

Unfortunately, this time the Bill will go beyond the
economic arena, as once again Chavez violated the laws by including
non-economic matters in the Bill. But we do know that he intends to change the
Commercial Code, which regulates private companies in Venezuela, because in
Chavez’ words: “it is too old”. We are likely to see changes in the Banking
Bill and who knows how many other laws.

I worry about it, because only the paranoid survive, but I
must say that I was very happy to hear the university students go
to the National Assembly today
and ask that the Assembly do not extend
Chavez’ rights under the Enabling Bill. It may not happen, but at least someone
is worrying about this issue lost in the frenzy of the campaign for local

You see, apparently Chavez wants to extend the period of the
Enabling Bill for six months, so that he can issue his secret “package” of
Bills after the November regional elections and not create a controversy now.
Which only goes to show that , once again, Chavez has something to hide from
the “people” that he claims to rule for and so dearly love.

Time is running out for the Assembly to give Chavez an
extension, but the students have proven to be much more foresighted than the
opposition, putting the Enabling Bill on the headlines and attempting to send
the message that there is at least one important opinion group that will not
put up with arbitrary new Bills that violate both the spirit and the letter of
the results of the December referendum.