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.

33 Responses to “The Falcon and the Strongman: Henry vs. Hugo”

  1. Grow cabinet Says:

    Wonderful stuff.. really full of usefull information. I’ll grab the RSS feed and will stay tuned for more. Oh, and I threw you a StumbleUpon vote 😉

  2. An Interested Observer Says:

    OT, Arturo? Are you incapable of staying on a topic, even one that was important enough to you to weigh in on, more than once? and

    Please – we just want to be “correctly informed.” (Or is that reeducated?) If you haven’t got a solid argument, it’s better just to stay away completely. Instead, you throw up arguments as flimsy as wet tissue paper and then veer off-topic, because you haven’t got anything better. Perhaps I shouldn’t fault you – since you dodge far better than you defend, you’re just playing to your strength.

  3. Bob Says:

    Chavez did a stupid move in freezing PPT., This will not stop other doubtful PSUVvistas form defecting into the bigger opposition.l Falcon might be the catalyst for a sillent rebellion within the PSUV ranks.
    Only time will tell,

  4. Eric Lavoie Says:

    Arturo you missed an opportunity to shut up and not look like an idiot, i guess you cannot help yourself and prove that you indeed are an idiot.

  5. moctavio Says:

    George: You forgot Chavez said the swap rate would g to Bs. 4.3 when it was 5.8, it is now 6.5. They will bring it down maybe as low as 5.5, but it will fly back up.

  6. Arturo Says:

    OT – I see your buddy/hero Uribe’s family is getting closer and closer to being officially classified as paracos.

    I was wrong – so what about Ravell? But….there is still time before September and the candidates have not been chosen yet. Note chosen NOT elected.

    You predicted the collapse of the banking system when the “scandal” about the notas estructuradas was top of your agenda. Don’t continue to lie your credibility ya está en las cloacas de la Av. Sucre.

    SHOW ME WHERE YOU TROLL, I PREDICTED 20 billion Bs. in losses, we are there already, I NEVER predicted a collapse of the banking system. We have about 3% more of the banking system to go and the brokers as yet unknown. Not all banks had structured notes, this crisis was the same, the structured notes were disguised as something else under your stupid leaders nose, so I am not as stupid as you are to say what you are saying. The banks that have fallen have been all but two of the ones in my list, not bad, no?

  7. George Says:

    Well, Mr. Arturo, Miguel predicted the financial problems way ahead of anyone I know, he was telling us about it a year and a half ahead of time and the names were the right ones. He also told s about the bolibankers and the robbery by Government officials via bonds, before anyone ever mentioned it.

    Meanwhile your boss said a year ago Venezuela was “shielded” from the wolrd crisis, well, the world is growing, Venezuela is not. And yesterday your boss said GDP would grow 1% this year. In his dreams, Veneconomia says -8%, Miguel says -10%. I will take Miguel over your foolish leader any day.

  8. moctavio Says:

    I never said the banking system would collapse, I quantified losses quite well and I am doing well already (they arealready larger than I said), it is not over and there are 20 billion Bs. in losses already (without brokers), that’s more inflation to come thanks to incompetence of your buddies.

    And remember inflation is a monetary phenomenon you troll

    (you even predicted Ravell would be elected)

  9. Gringo Says:

    Falcón 2010 = Baduel 2008 for the opposition at least. And where is Baduel?

    Given Thugo’s propensity to use the legal system to punish his opponents, and to not punish his lawbreaking supporters, Arturo has a point.

  10. Arturo Says:

    Be fair, Octavio, I belive I said that Ravell could be a candidate. So if I am wrong, so what? You were wrong big time about the banking system collapsing.

    Falcón 2010 = Baduel 2008 for the opposition at least. And where is Baduel?

  11. deananash Says:

    jsb is right, corruption charges will be filed shortly. Of course, most of the political leaders are corrupt. This is one way that Chavez keeps them in line, they know that he has the goods on them, and will turn on them faster than a…

  12. firepigette Says:

    I too am remembering Arias Cardenas.

    Falcon is a communist or Chavismo without Chavez , so go from there.

    Also I agree here with OW, Charly and Liz

    Hi Liz, glad to see you again

  13. Charly Says:

    OW, this photo shows Falcon in front of the ex-future Bqto West-end bus terminal, probably 3 or 4 years ago. They went to UCLA to find out about the conditions of soil at the site and were told by the University geotech specialists that it was not up to snuff and more field tests were needed. They were in a rush (revolution always is), bypassed the specialists recommendation, started to pour the footing and columns which in turn started to sink, end of project. Pure Chavismo in action. I pass regularly by that monument to incompetence if not to outright fraud. As a civil engineer I can’t help giggle everytime.

    As for Falcon, he lined-up his pockets solid with Transbarca and other City Hall ventures. Reyes Reyes, his personal enemy and Chavez best friend these days (besides the Cubans) knows about those deals. If Falcon life does not become truly miserable in the next future, it means that Chavez is badly debilitated. Is Falcon a canary in Chavez coal mine, another Arias Cardenas or the traitor du jour? Stay tuned.

  14. ow Says:

    hah, when is that picture from? Probably years ago. Yet the bus terminal looks now almost the same now as it did then. Meanwhile the busses they bought for the trolley system sit rotting in a hot sunny field ’cause they haven’t built that either.
    I’ve never seen much difference between Bqto and any other Venezuelan city.
    From the people I know the main thing that drives his popularity is that he organizes a highly popular music festival and brings international celebrities to what is otherwise a pretty provincial place.
    So I don’t see any change.

  15. douglas clark Says:

    the only road for Falcon is one that spells INHABILITADO. as someone posted earlier, anyone in politics today has something in their closet and he is no exception. PSUV first saud they have not seen any comunication about Falcon because he has not sent it to them therefore will not speak on the subject, second the campaign to discredit him is un full swing and third by the end of month there will be an investigation on corruption charges and would not be surprised if he is offered his choice of countries from which to exile himself.

  16. island canuck Says:

    The attacks against Falcon have started. Silly Flores & others calling him every name under the sun.

    It will be interesting to see where this all ends up.

  17. liz Says:

    Falcon is just chavismo without chavez.
    Well, I just see the rats abandoning ship, but hey… then we have to remember some other names: Arias, Miquilena, the other ‘comandantes’, Rosales, Baduel, Podemos.
    Will Falcon survive? time will tell….

  18. Isa Says:

    Turo the troll:

    P.S.U.V: Puede Ud. Ser un Varon

  19. correfco Says:

    nice take on the movie’s name!!!!


  20. moctavio Says:

    Arturo: Your understanding of politics sucks, remember that you said Ravell will be a candidate.

    Troll Troll Troll

    Remember, Inflation is a monetary phenomenon

  21. Arturo Says:

    Henry Falcón 2012 = +/- Francisco Arias Cardenas 2000

    Definite “false flag”. The PPT acted too hastily and remember the number of ministers the PPT has with hardly any votes from the population (less than 2%??). This is one party at Chavez’s beck and call however you spin it.

  22. moctavio Says:

    What I meany having to do with the opposition was simply the fact that Falcon was not switching sides like Ismael Garcia and Podemos and turning to the other side, but a sideways movement, he wants to have the chance of being a leader of Chavismo. Remember the opposition has extreme left and center and all the colors in between. Of course the opposition should hail the criticism of Chavez but Falcon is not switching sides or becoming “opposition” as many have suggested. (Recall he almost became an oppo candidate)

  23. Lapa-Dura Says:

    “Which in the end has little to do with the opposition”

    It has everything to do with the oposition!!!

    Of course, this is not a product of the “Mesa” or our so called oposition parties in whatever block we put them. But the Oposition, in general, is about sustaining a way to do politics which is based on dialogue, openess, negotiations and service to the population. The Oposition should be hailing high the letter Falcon sent to Chavez, as it highlights most of the things the oposition is fighting for! At the same time, they should pinpoint the diferences (i.e. being leftist or Chavez support) as having differences with other players is what democracy stands for. It doesn’t matter if this guy has different ideas (to the Oposition ones), the important thing is that he his defending the possibility, and the need, for politics to be based on searching common grounds and interests rather than separation and destruction.
    Falcon also addressed his letter to Chavez, not as a semi god or leader, but as the President of Venezuela, and as such demanded of him to behave as such. In today’s Vzlan politics, in Chavista turf, that is cherisable. And the Oposition need to let the people, the pelople who has been voting chavista and might have been afraid of the oposition, that the Oposition want indeed to open spaces for dialogue, that this is not a zero sum game.

  24. Bill Simpson of Slidell USA Says:

    ‘The Falcon and the Snowman’ is a great film, if you haven’t seen it. It is a true Cold War spy story. The conflict between law and morality intrigues me.

  25. CARLOS Says:


    In the Falcon subjet, lets wait, do not rush, tiem will tell us, neither of us wants another Cardenas or another coñazo!

    In another matter, last monday I read in EL Mundo Negocio that in the 11 years of HC there had been 112 mil millones $ in fuga de capitales. It seems to me a lot, but in that article it did not shows the fuente. And in the same report it seems contradictory in the number. Please, do you have that number?, How much money have been sent out? it is just to know the exactly number no to do a political debate!

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Another alternative interpretation is that he is a ‘false flag’ ( … tries to split oppos …

    If you read between the lines, this is one of the interpretations of April 2002 .. with a lot of luck for the leader .. conditions were such that a lot of people inside the military said ‘no more chavez’ .. Thugo came back .. and cleaned house

    Baduel played ball, thought that Constitution and Law would be respected .. and paid the price …

    In dirty wars as this one … there are little / no rules …

  27. jsb Says:

    There will be corruption charges filed against Falcon after the AN elections, mark my word. Chavez will not tolerate this.

  28. Susan Says:

    We wonder who could successfully oppose Chavez successfully.

    Maybe a list of candidates or governors who could coalesce.


  29. Juan Says:

    Thinking that Chavez will reach out to Falcon or PPT is a pipe dream.

    Chavez is in a one way mission to achieve divine and eternal power (a la Fidel) and anything or anyone that disagrees with him is his enemy.

  30. Floyd Looney Says:

    I think we foreign readers (odd to call oneself ‘foreign’) get the feeling that Hugo is weakening politically. This almost assures he will lash out even more often and more preposterously than ever before. Coming up to the elections I would have no shock to see him unleash his peasant army on the farms and ranches to “redistribute” land to the “masses”. (worked so well for Zimbabwe /sarcasm)

    Falcon might want to get some bodyguards. He might not be an opposition member but it seems certain he is trying to set himself up as a 3rd “moderate” force, probably for 2012. If so, this makes him an enemy for Chavez and that is not a good thing to be when Hugo has even jailed some of his puppet oligarchs.

    Even if Falcon does send Hugo into exile in Cuba or whatever, that will not be the end of Chavismo. You will have every reason to keep the blog up just keeping track of their blowback.

  31. but but but Says:

    Last night Contragolpe on VTV showed a conversation entirely about Falcon’s departure, perhaps the first time I’ve seen such a discussion publicly. But my moment of hope about them opening to criticism was quickly squashed – there was just one guest, some PSUV guy who assured everyone that anyone who sees Falcon’s resignation as a critique of the PSUV is just being manipulated by communication media. I guess he must be referring to Falcon’s own words, as they are pretty clear.

  32. Robert Says:

    “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” comes to mind, although I don’t think Falcon seems to fall into anyone’s camp as enemy, until Chavez declares it so.

    The oppo should send Henri a bottle of Buchanan 18 for his troubles.

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