Give or take a vowel or a consonant, this rant (post) preceded the existence of this blog, which was created in 2002. In fact, in 1998, writing for a private publication, I noted that in the 1998 election, not a single one of the candidates had been selected by a primary election: They had all self-appointed themselves. In fact, even Hugo Chávez did that, and he could have had a primary and won it without a single vote against him. In that same note, I also pointed out that in the previous election in 1994, only one candidate had been elected in a primary (He lost!), despite the country having undergone a fairly undemocratic impeachment of a President, because some politicians wanted to get rid of the democratically elected President of Venezuela.
And 20 years later, things are not too different. Yes, we ask for democracy, but it seems that the opposition leadership has a particular conception of democracy, including “dedocracy”, choosing the candidates you want using your finger in a smoked filled room, if things get uncomfortable. “Dedocracy” works quite well when you have to satisfy the egos of leaders from the Paleolitic age, even if there is no literature that can explain to us exactly how they became leaders at the time.
And that is exactly what the “MUD” did yesterday (We all knew it was coming!) when they announced the 60% of the candidates chosen by the magic “consensus” formula. Here is one guy from MUD looking at it on the Board to figure out who was the candidate for District 3 in Caracas. Anyone that knows any math can tell what it says:
Since it is so incomprehensible, it has to mean Henry Ramos Allup is the candidate for the El Recreo District of Caracas, because it is obscenely incomprehensible that this man can be the consensus candidate there.
And yes, I know all of the arguments about the difficulties of holding primaries everywhere: It is complex, expensive, bla, bla, bla, but in the end, if the alternative is to have such a candidate in District 3 of Caracas, then the system is not only undemocratic, but it stinks.
It would have been better to ask anyone who wants to be a candidate to provide the volunteers to manage the voting polls on primary day. At least, the ability of a candidate to mobilize people would have told us about his popularity and ability to win an election.
Because Mr. Allup was always a candidate for Carabobo, until the 2000 election where he was hand picked for Caracas, maybe because he is not as well liked anymore in his home State, but vaguely rang a bell in Caracas.
And this shows how screwed up the system is. In Distric 3, Jose Guerra, who at least has been more politically active against the Government than Mr. Ramos Allup under Chávez and Maduro, had to go out and win the Primary, while Ramos Allup watched from the seats of the MUD stadium, doing nothing.
Let the candidacy come to him!
And that is the problem, we complain about the neo-Dictatorship that Venezuela has become, but the opposition does not offer a truly democratic platform. I am not inventing anything, this just so happens to be the law in Venezuela, as Art. 67 of the Constitution clearly says:
“…sus candidatos o candidatas a cargos de elección popular serán seleccionados o seleccionadas en elecciones internas con la participación de sus integrantes.”
“Its candidates for popular election will be selected in internal elections with the participation of its members”
Nobody can convince me that the MUD held “internal elections”
To me the only possible solution the MUD had was to have full primaries with the participation of anyone. I was in Caracas the day of the primaries for the opposition and since the part of the city where I was had no primary, nobody was even aware that a primary was taking place in 40% of the electoral districts of Venezuela.
Not the best way to get the electorate involved, says the Devil!
I wrote this same rant when talking about the Coordinadora Democratica (Remember them?), who had even fewer primaries. And there are other rants in this blog (Another one here) about this same subject: I truly believe until people don’t feel there is full democracy in Venezuela, people will continue to put down politicians and political parties will continue to be as “caudillistas”, inbred and gerontocratic as they are today.
And the strategy could eventually backfire, as I am told that part of the Government’s strategy is to “back” alternative opposition candidates against candidates like Ramos Allup, hoping to divide the opposition vote. I can imagine thousands of El Recreo voters, casting their vote for an unknown before doing it for Mr. Ramos Allup. Yes, I dont like Mr Ramos for too many reasons, but the chief one is that he has no place in Venezuela’s politics, because he stopped doing anything about it, except continue being part of this self-appointed leadership boards. But he has also made accusations against people I respect, like Alek Boyd and Thor Havolrssen, which were not only false, but self-serving.
But I am just using him as an example everyone can understan, I haven’t gone through the whole list, but I am sure there are many more “Allups” among the candidates of the opposition selected by the dedocracy of the MUD: Permanent members of the self-appointed leadership, “living room” politicians who know theory but don’t get their hands dirty, except when it comes time for self-promotion.
Until the opposition starts advocating the need to comply with the basic principles of democracy stated in the Venezuelan Constitution, there will be no progress. Democracy is what it is, not like what someone wants to say it is at some point in time. It is time for at least the opposition’s selection of all candidates and its party’s leaders to become fully democratic.
End of rant! Thank you!
P.S. Just after I posted this, our magnanimous Electoral Board announced that at least 40% of the candidates have to be women. If the MUD had held primaries, this argument would not hold water, as it would not be democratic. But given that they hand-picked their allupses and ramoses, they can go back and chose again and make some of them female. The tricks have just begun! And the MUD ain’t ready, who would have thought, Tibi is a feminist!