Who The Devil Should One Vote For In The Venezuela Opposition Primary?

February 10, 2012

I have always believed in the concept of primaries. Political parties in Venezuela have been for too long vehicles for the man in charge to promote himself. If there was something that did not work in the Fourth Republic, it was that part of the democratic process. In fact, it was tried a few times, once, with Luis Beltran Prieto in 1968 winning, the result was not liked because Prieto represented the left wing of Accion Democratica. The result was not respected, the party divided and Gonzalo Barrios became AD’s  candidate. The second time in 1993, Oswaldo Alvarez Paz surprisingly beat Eduardo Fernandez, who had set up the primary to be anointed, only to see the people reject him. Alvarez Paz thought he was unbeatable, not understanding Fernandez had lost, he had not really won.  Because he did not agree with Carlos Andres Perez’ impeachment, Alvarez Paz left the country to rest, he was out of sight and Caldera came back to Venezuela, grabbed the limelight and won the Presidential election against Paz, one of the two politicians he had groomed to succeed him. The other was Fernandez.

After this, the primary process at any political level was seldom used, leading to political parties where all decisions are made at the top,which stops new and young faces from rising. Remarkably, the 2000 Constitution says that anyone running for political office has to be elected by the rank and file, but like so many things in Venezuela, this has been ignored by the Courts and the politicians.

But primaries are good, because they force candidates to define themselves, allow anyone that can find some funding to run and have your ideas exposed to everyone and candidates have to work hard to meet the people,walk the streets and campaign. In time, some rise, some drop in popularity, forcing decisions on the candidates that define the race. It is a natural selection process which also allows unknowns to be recognized, setting themselves up for a future race.

While I certainly hope the primary process has helped the opposition, there is still a long way to go for it to be considered a success, but I think it has worked rather well, even if the candidates have avoided strong confrontations with each other. Diego Arria had his voice heard, once, in that wants to see Chavez pay for his human rights violations and the second time in placing the focus on the difficulties that an opposition Government is going to have. Maria Corina Machado managed to get some respect with her direct confrontations with Chavez and showing she knows the numbers. Pablo Medina had his pro-union stance heard and fought to the end, gaining a visibility and respect from the opposition that he had never had. Finally, Leopoldo Lopez was allowed to register, but his campaign never gained the traction required. He withdrew and took the risky option of backing one of the other candidates, redefining the race.

I liked Lopez the most. I liked how he went and set up a national network, I like his intuition, his long term thinking, his broader economic vision, his knowledge, his experience and his direct questions. But still, I have more radical economic views than him, in terms of proposing change. And, of course, he is not a candidate any more.

I liked Diego Arria’s decision to run on principles and stay that course. That is how you build political ideas in a country. Remarkably, Arria seems to understand that “other” Venezuela, the rural one that votes for Chavez, better than the other candidates. That came through a couple of times in the debates, but Arria did not define things beyond his main goal, otherwise I could have said I would vote for him. (I actually can’t vote, still registered in Venezuela, where I plan to be next October 7th. for the presidential election)

Then there is Maria Corina Machado. Great race, great words, truly shook up Chavez with her words and managed to shine in the debates. However, she has little managerial experience (Please don’t bring up Sumate), little national structure and to me, she did not try to create much beyond herself.

Which leaves the two Governors, Henrique Capriles and Pablo Perez. In both cases, I disliked the fact that they ran as if they were running for reelection. They talked about satisfying the needs of the population, solving problems and providing services, but neither of them ever gave even much of a hint of the vision they had for the country and the few words devoted to it were not exactly aligned with my thinking. You can promise jobs, but please tell me how you will go about it, Venezuela is complex and requires many types of new jobs.

Pablo Perez was to me a disappointment. He is not only stiff, but he is not that articulate and even his delivery is faulty. In the debate I watched live, I scored him almost at the same level as Pablo Medina, which tells you he did not excite me at all.

Henrique Capriles was also stiff, but was more articulate, more precise. Still concentrated too much on the solving problems for the people without telling me much about his vision for the country. He made statements about the economy that I did not like. But he has experience managing a difficult municipality and a difficult state. The tempo and strategy of his campaign has been exquisite. And while I don’t agree with his less confrontational style with Chavez, it seems to work rather well. I wish it did not, but it certainly does and his political intuition has worked rather well.

And here, I will insert a personal note. I have many friends who are involved in Capriles’ campaign. They are all competent, devoted, hard working and I am sure many of them will occupy positions in a Capriles administration. That alone gives me some comfort in the future of a possible Capriles presidency. BTW, they all tell me Capriles is much, much better in person. Never met him.

But more importantly, at least to me, is that it is time for a new generation to take control and run the country in a more modern way. Capriles and Lopez backing him represent that. The old political parties, the cogollos and those that trapped the country in the Cuarta into an impossible path, should move aside.

And even more critically, we need a strong mandate on Sunday and I will vote to try to give it to Capriles. I think he will win, win big too. Pablo Perez could have beaten Capriles two months ago using his voting structure to get out the vote, but Leopoldo’s own structure tipped the balance strongly on Capriles side. Pablo Perez will not be close, Maria Corina will not do well. Those are my predictions.

Then comes the harder part, the winner has to beat Chavez. And I also believe that Capriles is the better prepared candidate to defeat the Autocrat. The soft style seems to work, even if I don’t understand why. If I was interested in politics, that would not be my style at all. Maybe that is why I am not, nor could be a politician.  It is  a long campaign between now in February and then in October, but the stage seems to be set.

So, now you know how the Devil would vote, even if you don’t have any idea who the Devil you would vote for. Whatever your choice is, go do it, in the end that may be the most important thing. If the opposition gets 1.5 million plus voters, it will scare the daylights out of Chavez, forcing him to change strategies and by now we all know he is better at setting the debate than reacting to it.

Please, go and vote!

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56 Responses to “Who The Devil Should One Vote For In The Venezuela Opposition Primary?”

  1. Daniel Says:

    Whoever engages Chávez with no fear will get the best of him. He’s a bully, but when confronted he’s demonstrated throughout his life that he’s also a coward. I like the whole roster in the MUD, and I’m confident any of them will do just fine. Personally, I like PP, but after tomorrow, we’ll get together, hire Mr. Rendón, and be prepared for the best chance the oposition will ever have to reverse course on this long, national nightmare.

  2. captainccs Says:

    Cuarta Cursileria is NOT coming back. Get used to it.

  3. AGuerreroE Says:

    After reading your story, it looks to me that you believe(d) in the “Cuarta” tale, a trick, a gimmick, a ploy that Chavez used to sell his XXI s. socialism and to convince millions of naive, normally, ordinary, “hombres de a pie”, rich, middle and poor who believed on “Cuarta trick” as smoke and mirrors, voted in 1998 for Chavez because he would get rid of Cuartas’s old parties, AD and COPEI.
    Unfortunately for the nation, Chavez brought not only “worst of the same “ –of Cuarta, accordingly with your definition- but something, not to new in our history in the last six decades, his socialism, his XXI century socialism. I guess, after all, it was not too easy to digest it, however, many of those who voted for Chavez in 1998, will not do it again in 2012, fortunately.
    Thirteen years of corruption, political apartheid, demolishing property rights, expropriating property illegally, using the political and social violence to destroy the nation, ruining the people’s private property, and replacing the history for its own personal epic, is enough to look around for something a little bit different.
    Following the Murphy common sense rules, it follows that voting tomorrow for any of the opposition candidates it is going to be easy. The most important, apart of the “Cuarta cursilerias”. But if some restrict themselves for the Cuarta cursileria and no too smart political parameter, it is going to be very difficult to find someone “pure” non- “Cuarta”, from Diego to Leopoldo, from PP to MC, from Medina to HC. Who win tomorrow primaries, it is not too irrelevant, the important issue, is that on Monday on, we could make the line being the winner, no matter who!
    My suggestion is to throw into the garbage can the “Cuarta cursileria”

    • moctavio Says:

      The “Cuarta” is not a cursileria, it is a good label for a political period which had 20 good to reasonable years and then became dysfunctional due to the lack of the democracy and modernization of the political ranks. And when CAP tried to change it,bringing well trained and younger people into Government, they got rid of him and we got a militaristic Dictator which certainly deserves a different label. Maybe you just dont like labels.

      And Pablo Perez is the “Cuarta” candidate, the old parties are all there, they are the same ones that did not allow primaries in 2006, AD, COPEI, MAS, Petkoff and combo. They did not want primaries this time around either, but there was no alternative to unity. Pablo Perez is so cuarta, that when gets out of a car for a MUD event 14 bodyguards spring out and then come the Mafia looking finaceers behind the, When the other candidates get out of their cars, there is at most one or two bodyguards, if any.

      And that is indeed a Cuarta “cursileria” , among the many that have to end.

      • AGuerreroE Says:

        Cuarta is pure Chavez cursileria, a bad trick which trapped unwaries . He brought it into the political market to justify his “Quinta”, another cursileria, but even worse than the Cuarta. On the other hand, someyhing usual in politics; all candidates -except one, I would say- who compete for tomorrow votes, belong to Cuarta in many ways. I will not write down bit by bit what was doing each of them at the times of Cuarta, (I am from this domicile, jejeje and Venezuela is just two main streets one next to the other) since it does not make sense to do it, I do not believe in Cuarta, Quinta “ni ocho cuartos”; I am for unity. Cuarta is a “sifrineria” used by some to hide his lack of understanding what is really going on in Venezuela. Let me remind you that all candidates were received by all political parties (AD, COPEI, MAS, PV, etc. etc. etc.) at the time they requested political support for his candidacy, something, by the way, normal and “regular” in politics. I would suggest to abandon the Cuarta and Quinta etc etc, it does no help to explain what it going to happens tomorrow!!!

  4. Bruni Says:

    Firepigette,

    whoever wins this Sunday, we must back him/her up 100%. The real contest
    is in October, not now.

    So far Chávez is still winning in the polls. It is important that whoever wins in the primaries has all the possible backing from the opposition supporters.

  5. firepigette Says:

    I love your post Miguel.Honest and well reasoned.

    Now as for me, I will cross my fingers that PP does not win and I wonder who will be the best for handling some of the tough problems like this one:

    http://noticiasvenezuela.org/?p=44009

  6. Albionboy Says:

    No one is a blind as he who doesn’t want to see. .
    This is not you farther’s Venezuela, as we new it in 1998.
    Venezuela is the next Syria, if not next year in the not
    too distant future.

    Chavez and his forty thieves are not going to give-up the
    greatest bank heist in history of the world and go peaceful into the night
    They will kill to stay in power, as he did to try to get power.

    He will dance around and bob and weave democratic. but like Assad he will kill to keep the family business alive, as any Mafioso Don would.

    Your not dealing with a government but a criminal conspiracy

    • LD Says:

      Only to correct that with Ali Baba:
      ” Popular perception of Ali Baba, and the way he is treated in popular media, sometimes implies that he was the leader of the “Forty Thieves”: in the story he is actually an “honest man”[1] whom fortune enables to take advantage of the thieves’ robberies.” wikipedia

  7. deananash Says:

    You saved the most important points for last:

    “…he [Chavez] is better at setting the debate than reacting to it.”

    and

    “Please, go and vote!”

    Voting in public is risky, but freedom isn’t free. Good luck to you all.

  8. deananash Says:

    Miguel, you saved the most important for the end:

    “…he [Chavez] is better at setting the debate than reacting to it.”

    “Please, go and vote!”

    Yes voting in public is risky…freedom isn’t free. Good luck to you all.

  9. island canuck Says:

    Our family & neighbours will also vote for Capriles.
    One concern is that a vote for Maria is one less for Capriles & brings PP closer.
    I will also support any candidate but if I had my druthers it would not be PP.

    There are so many problems to address that I hope all have a spot in the cabinet after Oct. 12. If they are smart they would announce the cabinet after Sunday so that all the supporters will get behind the campaign 100%.

    Good luck to all & hopefully Monday will; be the first day on the long road to recovery.

    I’m still available for a tourism appointment. 🙂

  10. Carolina Says:

    I was starting to wonder how long was going to take you to make your endorsement.

    I’m not voting either, but if I could, my vote would go to Capriles too.

    • Syd Says:

      I’m sorry that there is no effort where you live, Carolina, (Calgary, did you say?) to gather votes for the primary.

      • Carolina Says:

        I’m even sorrier if that’s a word.

        The consulate in Vancouver is doing all that’s possible to NOT be able to register the people from western Alberta.

        • Syd Says:

          But then it’s up to any Venezuelan living in your area, (or Edmonton, where so many Venezuelans live) to organize and arrange a venue that is not the consulate, where the primary vote can take place. Ojo! for Venezuelans to vote, even in this primary at a non-governmental location, they have to be registered in a (nearby) consulate abroad.

          For some Q&A’s on voting procedures for Venezuelans living abroad, you might want to refer to the facebook page set up by Rebecca Sarfatti, who has been organizing for several years, the referenda and voting set-ups in Toronto.
          https://www.facebook.com/events/223022571115148/#!/events/223022571115148/

          • Carolina Says:

            “Ojo! for Venezuelans to vote, even in this primary at a non-governmental location, they have to be registered in a (nearby) consulate abroad.”

            Exactly Syd. We are in no man’s land here. The nearby consulate is Vancouver and since its opening we are subscribed to them.

            And them, are not registering voters. “Not ready” they say.

          • Syd Says:

            So you are reg’d in Vancouver. Fine. That should not stop a Venezuelan coordinator, in Calgary, another in Edmonton, from finding a non-governmental location in each of those cities, and setting up a time and day to vote, those votes sent to Unidad, at the end of the day.

            The primaries on 12F are a separate issue to a national election (which will occur 7O.) Hence, I can understand the Venezuelan consulates when they say “no” to the primary vote collection on their premises.

            But that should not stop Venezuelans abroad from organizing and finding a way to gather primary votes and sending them to Unidad.

            Claro, all this had to be organized from the get-go.

            I’m just surprised that Edmonton would not have someone organizing all this at their end.

          • Carolina Says:

            Syd – my boss asked me this morning if I could vote by proxy.

            LOL. Oh Canada!!

          • Syd Says:

            hehehe.
            it’s too late now, but I’ve asked Rebecca Sarfatti if she has a counterpart in Calgary or Edmonton. (She’s usually slow to respond.) As soon as I know, I’ll post here.)

        • Roberto N Says:

          Only problem Syd, is that you do need to go to a consulate to change your voting center from wherever it was in Venezuela to the consulate. The MUD is using the list with a cutoff date of Nov. 30, 2011 to see who is registered overseas. If you are not on the REP list dated Nov. 30th, 2011 as voting overseas then you have to vote in Venezuela.

          This is the problem.

          You are correct however, when you state that for the primaries the voting is to take place on non governmental properties, since no embassy or consulate wold be caught dead offering their locations for this!


  11. Well, that makes it a landslide for HCR in the english blogosphere
    HCR 3
    MCM 1

    that is what you emant by a big margin, no?

  12. John Barnard Says:

    Miguel, where will you vote? (if it’s any of our business, just curious) Back in Venezuela or at one of the consulates?

  13. megaescualidus Says:

    Miguel,

    Your timing is great. I was asking myself exactly that question: who the hell should I vote for on Sunday? And you gave me the little push I needed, with a strong argument (as always). Thank you!

    BTW: every time I talked about it, with my family, and friends, I posed to them the same question you addressed here: who in the opposition will have a better chance to beat HC in October.

  14. Ronaldo Says:

    God Bless all the opposition candidates and may they all be united behind the winner. Venezuela needs change and a united opposition is the best route to assure a fair and open election.

    What is the best web site to view results?

    • moctavio Says:

      This one, of course!!! 🙂

    • Albionboy Says:

      The Opposition don’t have a snowball in hell chance.
      Chavez has spent every waking minute of his presidency on staying in power.
      The only reason there will be an election in October is he needs one more win to say “the people have spoken they want communism”
      All the Opposition is doing is being a stooge for Chavez.
      Venezuela ended being a democracy years ago. the country is just sleep- walking it’s way into communism and the Opposition is the midwife

      • CharlesC Says:

        I hate it but I can’t see any other “reality” either. Wish
        it were not the case…
        Chavez is going to “make a big show that looks like an
        epic victory”…

  15. la_roche Says:

    Was hoping to read this post Miguel. I agree with your views on this one and I will get to vote in NYC.


  16. Miguel

    I agree with you. I believe that Capriles is the best choice now and I’ll repeat what I posted over in Daniel’s blog:.
    I enjoy MCM’s emotional delivery and I believe that she truly wants to create a better Venezuela, but intentions are simply not enough. I think that maybe in the future, after founding a political party based on her values, she would be an awesome candidate.
    I also think that Arria is right in most of what he proposes but I believe he is in it just to make a point and bring attention those things that other candidates are just not saying.
    I fully agree with your analysis an Perez and Medina, thus it only leaves Capriles now, since Leopoldo decided to endorse him.
    I am voting for Capriles, even if I do not like PJ and what it has become, because I believe that with Leopoldo’s backing and charisma campaigning for him is now the best choice.

  17. edgarfp Says:

    Great article but only one question, how many people do you think will vote this sunday?

    • moctavio Says:

      I hope 1.7-1.8 million, have really no clue.

      • moctavio Says:

        The problem is that in referenda, more than 3 million people voted for the opposition, but there will be pressure here from the Government for people not to go and vote. In a referendum they could hide in the line as Chavistas and vote for the oppo.

        • Kepler Says:

          Still: there should be more than 3 million people older than 18 who do NOT work for the government, right? There should be more than 4 million, in fact.
          How lazy and irresponsible can people be? That is the rub.

    • PM Says:

      I’ve heard (not from entirely reliable sources) that in PSUV primaries no more than 1.4 million participate. Quite frankly, I think a million votes is not a bad turnout, all things considered.

  18. captainccs Says:

    BTW, people who have met Chavez in person have told me he is really nice. Since that helps him stay in power, it’s no satisfaction for me. 😦

    Who to vote for? MCM even knowing she can’t win. A solid second place would give her a good chance to join a Capriles administration.

    BTW, what does Capriles stand for in economic policy?

    • moctavio Says:

      I met Chavez in 1998 before he was elected, charming but I could see through him. What these people tell em is that he says things much better in person. It is different. I also knew few great people with Chavez, I do with Capriles. In fact, most of those that I knew that backed Chavez were truly mediocre, including the now President of the BCV.

      • moctavio Says:

        As for what he stands for, he and his economic team have talked about better conditions for the private sector, security for people in the agricultural sector, slow removal of controls, not increasing debt, more productivity, misiones should be substituted by jobs, eliminate parallel funds.

        This is his main economic advisor:

        http://www.pensarenvenezuela.org.ve/temas-opinion.php?author=Ricardo%20Villasmil%20Bond

        • Bloody Mary Dry Says:

          I know you disagree about the “slow” removal of controls strategy but, as you said, you need to think as a politician (as a devil, not the good one but the real one)… Just take as an example how far has HCF advanced in 12 years with “slow” changes… Can you imagine him, 13 years back, explaining to the Generals how the country would be 13 years after…… do you think HCF project would have been sustainable in that case? In the same way I cannot imaging Capriles changing all at once without being “removed” in the very short term. Apart from this, I agree 100% w/ u, and really appreciate your sharp analysis. So there are reasons to be happy!!!

    • Kepler Says:

      I met Chávez in 1999. I could see through him as well.
      I despised the guy since I first heard of him.

      Quite honestly, most people will think what they think about him one way or the other and perhaps there is a little image enhancement or reduction, but nothing more.

      Chávez is pretty small, though.

      The only guy I found surprisingly more charming “live” was John Paul II, whom I could by chance watch in the Vatican…me a non-Catholic and yet I was charmed.

      • Albionboy Says:

        Hitler was charming too I read, he was very good with with small children, I’m sure if one met the devil one would like to have a drink with him too.
        As the saying goes kill one man and your a murderer kill a million and and your a revolutionary.

  19. Syd Says:

    I loved this post of yours, Miguel. Thoughts duly noted, ahead of Sunday (for me, in Toronto). Small technicality: to respond to each of your posts, I have to intuit, linking onto the comment(s) already made. Might you not have a line with a ‘call to action’, after each of your posts?

  20. geha714 Says:

    Well, you made a good argument sir and I totally respect it.

    Great post.

  21. Juan Cristóbal Nagel Says:

    I’m surprised! Great choice, Miguel.


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