Archive for February 23rd, 2010

The Falcon and the Strongman: Henry vs. Hugo

February 23, 2010

Somehow I feel like I have to make a comment about Henry Falcon even if I really don’t want to. To me Falcon’s resignation from Chavez PSUV party has little to do with the opposition and a lot to do with Chavismo. Few may not remember that when Chavez created PSUV Falcon was ready to split from Chavez and join the opposition. But at the time Falcon decided he did not have the individual strength to challenge Chavez, maybe fearing that the Comptroller could ban him from running for Governor.

But this is 2010 and Falcon, in contrast with others with little to show individually (read Diosdado) has probably decided that the Strongman has weakened and it is time to throw his independent gauntlet into the fire.

Which in the end has little to do with the opposition, not because the opposition may not embrace him, but because he probably does not see himself in that role, it is one thing to run for Governor of Lara as a candidate for both the opposition and the left, it is another to see himself as the candidate for a post-Chavismo era of the progressive forces that may join him in this effort.

Personally, I find Falcon to be infinitely better than what we have, but he is still a populist left wing politician that in my mind will not take Venezuela in the direction I want it to go. However, he would seems to be a democrat, has respect for human rights and believes that all sectors of society have to talk to each other. To me, that may not be enough to vote for him, but certainly enough to shut down this blog if he became President.

That a politician of Falcon’s rank dares to take this step is a very significant departure for Venezuelan politics, over what we have seen in the last few years. Falcon is still hedging his bets against the strongman by staying in PPT’s ranks, as irrelevant a party on the left as there may be in Venezuela today. He would have been better off joining Podemos, except maybe Chavez’ ire may have been magnified a few orders of magnitude. But Falcon’s departure is certainly to rattle Hugo in his labyrinth, accustomed to have nobody oppose him.

The attacks on Falcon have begun, he has already been called “right wing” by Tarek William Saab, a stupid remark if I ever heard one. But Chavismo is accustomed to fight the “other” side and these bouts will take the Dictator’s time and energy and will rattle many who sympathize with Falcon within Chavismo.

These are cracks, which are no longer tiny, like when Podemos split with the Government, but are becoming significant as the economy deteriorates and Chavez’ popularity drops.

In the end, this is not about the opposition, it is about Chavismo having more discussions, more democracy and that can’t be all bad.

Whether Chavez intends to fight Falcon or not is yet to be seen, the next few days will tell us whether Falcon has become a pariah or whether Chavez will reach out to him and PPT in the knowledge that he may be needed in 2012 to preserve Chavismo in power.