Tag | Capriles
I’ve responded to most of these points, at some point or another, somewhere in my comment history, in previous discussions of Venezuelan politics. I obviously don’t have the energy to respond to all of them now. Some of them, I think, are definitely legitimate criticisms of President Chavez; others, I would dispute.
For example, how can you believe the words of a disgraced former judge (Aponte) who, after being accused of ties to alleged drug kingpin Walid Makled (i.e. receiving monthly payments of $70,000 in exchange for his loyalty and services), did not even bother to defend himself before the National Assembly, which voted unanimously to remove him from his post so that he could be brought to justice, but instead flew to Costa Rica, contacted the DEA, and had them fly him to the United States, where rather than face prosecution for his crimes, he is given a platform to make allegations of his own! It is ironic that, this former judge hasn’t produced any evidence whatsoever for his allegations about receiving phone calls from Chavez’s office and from other high ranking officials, or about these ‘Friday morning meetings’ where orders were supposedly given on whom “they should go after”.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Capriles is well-intentioned. But I don’t think that, if elected, he could govern as a center-left President, even if he wanted to. The opposition coalition that Capriles represents is made up of some powerful, right-wing elements, who’ll stop at nothing to overturn the progressive changes over the last decade. Chavez has many flaws, particularly from my perspective as a proponent first and foremost of the “Bolivarian revolution” (and as a radical socialist), but for as long as he continues to defend and empower the lower classes of Venezuelan society against the more dangerous class of oligarchs, I think it is right for the people to re-elect him.
I appreciate the dialogue!
If you listen to the opposition, they’re quickly becoming very pessimistic about the October election. For example, Francisco Toro, the owner of Caracas Chronicles, the most prominent English-language anti-Chavez blog, is taking the latest polls (which show Chavez with a comfortable lead) very seriously. He is saying that their best and only hope for October would be Chavez’s untimely demise (i.e. from cancer), and strongly implying that a turn of the electoral tide is unlikely and that the opposition isn’t capable of defeating Chavez this year.
In the comments section, some members of the opposition are already giving up, saying things like:
I have always said that if Chavez is alive, he will win. Hands downs. In fact, if he’s still alive, I’ve even considered cancelling my return home to vote, as it will be a wasted effort. Sad reality, folks.
That is my prediction of the final result as reported to the world.
That’s probably a fair prediction. President Chavez, as super confident as always, is predicting that he will win October’s election “with more than 60 percent of the vote”. (I think he’ll win, but his estimate of 60% is too high.)
For the record, Chavez has announced repeatedly that he would respect the results of the election, no matter what their outcome might be (i.e. even if he were to lose). Henrique Capriles, the opposition’s candidate, has still not made such a commitment, “limiting himself to stating that ‘everything I’ve achieved in politics, I’ve achieved through the vote.’ Capriles participated in the 2002 short lived coup against Chavez” (source).
Interesting contrast between the two candidates in this year’s election: Both held rallies and gave big speeches to supporters this week. Chavez spoke for nearly 3 hours; Capriles barely spoke 19 minutes.
Polls show President Chavez with a double-digit lead over the opposition presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski. Capriles has a better chance of winning against any of Chavez’s potential replacements.
President Chavez, who holds a double-digit lead against Capriles Radonski in every poll taken to date, instructed his government to break relations with Israel after the Israeli military killed some 1,500 Palestinians and wounded another 5,000 during its 2009 siege on Gaza [in 2009].
[…] During his 3-day trip to Israel, the opposition’s Ledezma made no mention of Israel’s segregationist policies towards the Palestinians, the widely-condemned but ongoing blockade against those in Gaza, nor did he question the inhuman prison conditions currently under international scrutiny as several Palestinian hunger strikers near death.
Francisco, do you think I would respect you so much if you were a right-winger? Possibly, I guess, if you were as reasonably honest in laying out your arguments. But the good news is that I’m fully aware that you identify as a fellow leftist, and I personally regard you as such. I may still question the extent to which the particular positions you take may be unwise, in my view, with regard to political tactics and/or strategy, but I hope that we’re past the point of accusing each other of harboring a right-wing agenda! Opps, my mistake!–I did ask in my earlier comment whether the problems associated with price controls have led you to embrace “market-friendly” policies, so I guess I did forget for a moment that you favor “leftist social economics, where a big state guarantees health care and many other basic needs”. However, my confusion arises from the incredibly ambiguous nature of Capriles’ own position, which I assumed you share, as least as it is described by nearly all english-language news sources that I’ve read, as a “mix of market-friendly economic policies combined with income redistribution”.
“A Capriles victory would be a good outcome from the market’s perspective, in our view, as he seems to be a more viable presidential candidate than the opposition has presented previously,” Credit Suisse analysts Casey Reckman and Igor Arsenin wrote today in a note to clients. “He espouses a gradualist, inclusive, left-of-center but market friendly approach.” (from Bloomberg’s ‘Businessweek’)
Reuters is even more ambiguous in describing Capriles’ favored policies as “free-market economics alongside strong social welfare programs”. I hope you understand that, when I asked whether you were at all convinced (by the rightwingers’ claim) that “free markets are needed”, I wasn’t so much questioning your support for “income redistribution” and “social welfare programs” (which I’ve always associated with “leftist social economics, where a big state guarantees health care and many other basic needs”) as much as I was asking how, if you shared Capriles’ position, these things could be coupled with “market-friendly policies”! Yes, I suppose Lula da Silva’s policies in Brazil did manage to balance these opposing tendencies, but it is far more likely that, in Venezuela, the tension between them will remain, and that one or the other will eventually take dominance.
Thanks for mentioning Jose Guerra. I am definitely interested in learning more about Capriles’ economic plan.
Thank you also for not dismissing the concerns I mention at the end of my comment as lightly as you could have. Although I bring them up, in part, to explain or even justify why I personally do not favor Capriles in the upcoming election, and although I obviously weigh these concerns more heavily than you, it is actually just as important for Capriles supporters to prepare to deal with the consequences of a shift in power, should your candidate win an electoral victory and replace Chavez as President. (I still believe what I wrote here (which you may not have seen)–that not only is there a grain of truth to Chavez’s warnings that right-wing elements in the opposition might not accept the results of the election, if he should win–but also that the same right-wing elements are just as likely to foment disorder should Capriles become elected, if he does not give in to their political pressure!)
Francisco, I hestitate to enter into this discussion because I too “have little economic knowledge” outside what I can remember from Marx’s analysis of capitalism and what I have gleaned from newspaper articles like this. But, judging from what you said, I guess that makes me as at least as qualified as those embracing price controls!
Let me start by accepting your claim that food shortages are probably caused by many different factors. However, it does not seem to me that price controls should weigh as heavily as hoarding and speculation as factors because, if price controls are a factor, they only become a factor because, so long as they set food items at an artifically low price (rather than at a price determined by the free market), they have the unfortunate effect of creating an incentive (not only strong, but allegedly ‘irresistible’, according to the assumptions of capitalist economics) for individual capitalists and corporations to buy up these food items and/or to withhold them from the (government regulated) market so that the items can later be sold on the black market for a much greater profit.
It may be true that people like “Katherine Huga, 23, a mother of two” buys “whatever [she] can get” when going to the (government regulated) market, but is misleading and deceptive for the New York Times to suggest, as it does right at the very beginning of the article, that it is innocent behavior like this that’s causing the shortages. While it may be considered ‘natural’ for a caring mother to stock up on food items to ensure security for her child, it is something else entirely for capitalists to engage in hoarding and speculation to secure such great profits!
Alas, since the country is not ready to transform its capitalist economy to an entirely socialist or communist one, and since I imagine that, in the meantime, there must be some alternative methods of ensuring that inexpensive food items are made available to the poor, I have decided that it was a mistake for the government to introduce price controls on food, and that it would be unwise for the government to continue to pursue such measures.
I concede that, based on experience, measures to control the price of food do tend to do more harm than good, by indirectly leading to shortages, if not directly causing them. I also agree that, at least in terms of their effect, these price control measures do serve to “feed the rightwingers that free markets are needed”, but I have to wonder if these admittedly (politically) flawed measures have managed to convince you too of the same thing?
One reason that, despite my agreeing with you about price controls, you and I continue to disagree, is because, although you may not agree with “rightwingers that free markets are needed, that socially oriented economics with a big state don’t”, you still seem to believe, along with folks on ‘your side’, like Henrique Capriles, that there should at least be a turn toward more so-called “market-friendly” economic policies, and that such policies are compatible with “socially oriented economics” with, if not a “big state”, then with a significantly sized state.
Please consider that, just as some on ‘my side’ were misled into thinking that merely by controlling the price of food, they could solve the problem of making food affordable and accessible to the country’s poor, that some on ‘your side’ may be misled now by the promise of policies being both “market-friendly” and “socially oriented”.
Just as you can understand how, in spite of the intentions for which they were enacted, price controls on food items have had the inadvertent effect of actually making food less accessible by indirectly leading to a rise of food shortages, I recommend that you consider more seriously the possibility that, in spite of Capriles genuinely felt center-left political intentions, his coming to power (by election or coup) could have inadvertent effects of its own.
OK, I am just teasing you by saying ‘coup’ (since we were just talking about 2002). Regardless of his alleged participation in that coup attempt, I personally take Capriles at his word that he did not participate, and in any case, I do not believe that he is the kind of person who would agree to take power in a coup anyway.
I think that Capriles is a good man. But good men don’t always make good leaders. (By contrast, Chavez may be a great leader, though not a ‘good man’.) My view is that if elected (due mostly to the manner in which he will have come to power, by means of a coalition of opposition parties–who are uniting behind a single candidate not for ideological reasons, but solely in order to unseat President Chavez) a President Capriles would have neither the political strength nor the support needed to “take the ‘r’ off ‘revolution’ to give Venezuela ‘evolution’ instead.” If he were to cut the head off the Bolivarian revolution, Venezuela is more likely to “devolve” into something resembling the elite power-sharing system that traditionally ruled the country before Chavez came to power (that is to say, regardless Capriles’ political intentions–which I trust are genuine–rather than in accordance with them).
Lacking the strong base of popular support, on which Chavez could rely in fighting the country’s bourgeoisie, a President Capriles would by necessity depend disproportionately on the latter, who cannot be trusted to endorse policies that are for the best of all Venezuelans. The country’s elites will likely try to play him, in my view, and Capriles (assuming that he intends to make good on his promise of governing as a center-left politician) will lack the strength and popular support needed to cross them. This means that Capriles would either be forced ‘to pull a CAP’ and renege on his center-left promises once inaugurated, or push ahead with his proposed center-left agenda, leaving himself vulnerable to a coup attempt on the part of the elites and in no position to stop it.
This is not an unrealistic scenario, as anyone acquainted with the history of Venezuelan politics can attest. I would be interested in hearing from Capriles supporters as to whether they’ve anticipated these sorts of problems, and whether they’ve thought of ways to avoid the outcomes I’ve outlined. To be fair, I should say that a Chavez victory in the election would lead to its own set of rather unfortunate scenarios, especially if he should die in office (none of his potential successors seem to be up to the task). Venezuela’s future remains uncertain regardless.
The opinion polls released over the past couple of weeks have differed quite a lot in their results. Let’s review: the article mentions that “three surveys earlier in March found Chavez’s support at between 52 percent and 57 percent, versus 22 percent and 34 percent for Capriles.” These surveys were conducted by pollsters considered by some to be sympathetic to the government. So let’s assume these numbers exaggerate the gap between the candidates.
The article also mentions that “only one recent poll [Consultores 21] has put Capriles anywhere near Chavez, by placing him just 1 percentage point behind”. (Capriles himself touted these results showing “a kind of a technical tie”–but the same poll shows Chavez’s advantage rises to 6 percentage points among people most likely to vote in the election.) It may not come as a surprise, however, to learn that some consider Consultores 21’s polling to be sympathetic to the opposition. So let’s assume that Chavez is still holding onto a small but sizeable lead.
Datanalisis, the polling firm that gives Chavez “a solid 13-percentage point lead”, is identified with the opposition, but it is still respected–its numbers are probably the most reliable indication of public opinion right now.
I am pleased by the news that the Venezuelan people are apparently still standing by Chavez and the revolution after thirteen difficult years. But Capriles is a good candidate. This is a close race, and it may get closer yet.
Although I support Chavez and would like to see him prevail in the upcoming election, I would never condone any attempt on the life of Capriles, the opposition’s presidential candidate and Chavez’s main political rival. There is no excuse for violence from either side of Venezuela’s political divide, against either candidate. So I am glad that Chavez has come forward and has sent government officials to meet with Capriles’s security team to share with them information that his government has received about an attempt on Capriles’s life. However, I am very concerned that Capriles has refused the government’s offer for protection because, if there should be an actual attempt on Capriles’s life, the President will be accused of having incited it, due to the existing hostility between government supporters and the opposition.
The latest polls show Chavez in the lead, with one saying on Saturday that 56.5 percent of those surveyed planned to vote for the president, versus 26.6 percent for Capriles.
this is why i hate you and your kind
What kind is that? ManyWolvesNearby is an open-minded, critical thinker. There needs to be more people willing to contest mainstream propaganda.
while we have to coup with this shitty worthless goverment.
Did you mean to say “coup”, or was this a Freudian slip from someone obsessed with overthrowing democracy? Speaking of “coup”, how exactly was the opposition’s 2002 coup attempt against Chavez’s democratically elected government a defense of the Constitution which you allege that he is raping? I remind you that the coup leaders ordered the dissolution of the National Assembly and the firing of all the members of the Supreme Court.
you are so blinded with dead ideals and seeing Chavez like a god, just look at riot hero comments sucking Chavez in the balls.
It’s true that I am probably the most ardent supporter of Chavez on all of reddit, but I take offense at your characterization of that support. Like ManyWolvesNearby, I do not treat Chavez as if he were a God, and I’ve publicly stated my skepticism concerning the wisdom of some of Chavez’s most controversial policies–price controls and certain nationalizations. Given that these policies are where Chavez differs from his main political rival, Henrique Capriles, and the fact that I’ve elsewhere on reddit offered conditional support for Capriles in the upcoming election, I’d say you are just as wrong-headed in your characterization of me as you are in slandering ManyWolvesNearby.
“El artículo 235…”
Let me take a look at the Constitution, and at the reasons Chavez has given in his defense. I concede the possibility that Chavez could be acting in violation of the Constitution. I’ll be back with a response. You see, as ‘brainwashed’ as I may be, if you have actual evidence on your side, then I’ll consider it; there’s no need to resort to name-calling and insults.
I do have love for Chavez, and this news does suck. I wish him well, but he does need to plan for a successor.
*More*: I should say that, while I would support Chavez if he were healthy enough to run against Capriles (the leading opposition candidate) in the election, my support for his successor is by no means already-decided. My support would depend, of course, on whom Chavez were to choose, and on what his plans for Venezuela were. I’ve already suggested elsewhere that Chavez could do worse than throwing his support to Capriles himself–this would guarantee Capriles a far greater amount of support from amongst the Venezuelan poor, which he could use to advance his proposed center-left agenda and make good on his campaign promises–to maintain and even build of Chavez’s popular social welfare programs, while gradually dismantling only the most controversial government policies (i.e. namely, the price and currency controls and some nationalizations). If he is elected without that Chavista support (narrowly, I presume), my concern is that Capriles (who I believe is well intentioned) would be far more likely to respond to pressure from right-wing elements in the current political ‘opposition’ (who may not be exerting much pressure now, for strategic reasons, described below); if he feels his support base is comprised of disproportionately right-wing (upper-class and elitist) elements–who may be willing to support a ‘center-left’ candidate only now because the opposition parties have agreed that the best chance to remove Chavez from office, in light of the failures of all other strategies (which include coup attempts, a recall referendum, etc.), was to rally support around a single candidate–and that he cannot afford to risk weakening his anti-Chavez coalition, Capriles would be less capable of governing truly as a center-left politician and making good on his promises.
Let me just come right out and say it: there are a lot of possible scenarios being discussed. Here’s mine: if President Chavez’s health problems become so severe that he does not run for re-election, given the option of choosing a possible successor from among his inner circle, none of whom possess the charisma or influence necessary to defeat the opposition candidate, perhaps Chavez should consider actually endorsing Capriles. In all honesty, such a move could shift the base of Capriles’ support down a socio-economic level or two, so that Capriles would not need to depend on elite support to compete against the government candidate.
(As in any democratic election where a challenger faces an incumbent who has the benefit of using his resources to his advantage, Capriles will need ‘elite support’ to facilitate his rise to power. Even Chavez had to secure ‘elite support’ from upper- and middle-class voters to secure his victory in the 1998 and subsequent elections. I am not saying that ‘Capriles represents elite interests’, or that ‘Capriles is not a center-left candidate as he is actually claiming’; I’m merely concerned that, if he is to take power, Capriles does so in a manner that is not unnecessarily beholden to elites who could later interfere with his center-left agenda.).
If he goes along with this, Capriles would have the potential to bridge the division between Chavez supporters and opponents, and maybe even steer Venezuela in a positive direction (I say this as a Chavez supporter!).
Chavez is an embarrassment to the Bolivarian Revolution.
I do not share the view that you are expressing here, but I nonetheless want to recognize that you raise an interesting question about the relationship between Hugo Chavez and the larger social movement and political process that he has been leading.
The two deserve to be distinguished. On that, you and I would find agreement.
In my view, too many people on both sides of the debate forget that ‘Hugo Chavez’ is bigger than just one man, that Chavez himself is just the temporary leader and spokesman for a popular movement that will likely survive his life as a political figure.
Something great is being sullied by his actions.
I do not feel it is useful–for the continued advancement of the Bolivarian Revolution–to conceive the movement in this way, as “something great [that] is being sullied by [Chavez’s] actions”.
The Bolivarian Revolution owes a debt of gratitude to Chavez for his practical and effective actions that enabled him to take ahold of existing conditions to realize the potential for radical change, and to oversee the demolition of a corrupt political order and the emergence of a new one.
Let us not forget that it is in the nature of revolutions to lose their ‘purity’, for their practical and effective realization requires political actors who are willing to “get their hands dirty”, to engage vigorously in struggles where the outcome is yet to be determined.
It is in desperate need of new leadership.
I’m actually inclined to agree with this statement–if only because I’ve always emphasized the need to bring in ‘fresh blood’ to maintain the movement’s vitality (against stale reactionary forces) and ensure that the process that is unfolding continues to evolve and develop.
Just want to be clear on one thing, Henrique Capriles does not offer new leadership for the Bolivarian Revolution–but the very end, the death of it! Regardless of his true political intentions, he will lack authority to enforce popular measures opposed by Venezuela’s elite.
One should actually credit Chavez’s entire success on the fact that his political power has rested almost entirely from popular support garnered from the country’s poorest citizens.
I should have done that. Thanks for the tip.
I should probably point out why this perhaps seemingly insignificant oversight–the omission of any quotation from Chavez backing up the AP’s story about Chavez’s alleged accusation–troubles me; for if the news report is not itself ‘propaganda’, it is tailor-made for those who engage in anti-Chavez ‘propaganda’. Let me explain.
Chavez has every right to be skeptical about the opposition candidate’s intentions (given the opposition’s history of engaging in a wide variety of tactics, including violent coups, in seeking control of state power). Until recently, the opposition was largely organized by members of the former ruling elite who sought to reimpose a regime that was responsible for great misfortunes, economic crises, decadence, corruption, poverty, etc. Its intentions to re-instate oligarchic rule in Venezuela were made clear in 2002 when it staged a coup attempt against Chavez’s democratically elected government. (The first steps after the “triumph of a small oligarchic elite” were to dissolve parliament and void the popularly ratified Constitution!)
Now, after failing to gain power by all other means (both legal and illegal), the opposition has decided to participate in elections, and, for some strange reason, the same elites who had sought to reimpose an oligarchic regime are now apparently rallying around a supposedly left-of-center candidate, Henrique Capriles! So it is quite reasonable for Presient Chavez–and Venezuelan voters–to suspect that the opposition might be trying to pull an political ‘bail-and-switch’, something that actually has precedence with the 1989 elections.
However, without understanding this important context (which the AP article DOES NOT PROVIDE), when readers hear that Chavez is accusing Capriles of “concealing his true intentions” which he claims are to serve the interests of the country’s oligarchic elite, it’s easy to mistake this accusation for an anti-Semitic attack!
And SURE ENOUGH, just days after the article cited above was published, the AP comes out with this report: Jewish group: Chavez foe a target of anti-Semitism. Again, the article provides no quotation from Chavez making any such accusation against Capriles–and he makes no references to his jewish heritage! The AP repeats the same damn joke that was quoted in the article above–about Capriles dressing up for Carnival.
This stupid joke has become the basis for two AP reports, both of which are extremely misleading. The AP is truly writing its reports in a way that can be easily misread, and misrepresented by anti-Chavez forces!
This is not the first time that the ‘anti-semitism’ card has been played against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and supporters of the current government. The political opposition has elected a candidate with Jewish heritage to run in this year’s presidential election against Chavez. Is it not possible to point out that a Capriles presidency would be likely to represent the interests of the former elites who once ruled the country and who are now backing him, interests that are contrary to the aspirations of the Venezuelan people, without being accused of anti-Semitism?
I am actually afraid for Capriles if he does get elected.
The former ruling elites still behind the opposition have been anxiously waiting for the chance to regain control of the country for the past thirteen years, and they want nothing more than to reverse all developments of Venezuelan society since Chavez was first elected in 1998.
However, after failing every conceivable effort to re-assert control, the opposition has cleverly decided to conceal its reactionary agenda for the time being, and to pursue a wholly cynical strategy to retake power by riding in on the coattails of a promising young ‘left-of-center’ candidate.
They will tolerate his populist campaign promises as long as it secures him a victory in the election; but he’s in for quite a surprise if he thinks those elites backing him will ever allow him to govern in the way he is promising!
If he tries to make good on his promises and follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, they’ll turn on him immediately but unlike Chavez, Capriles will lack the power to stop them, and his rule will be short-lived.
If he swings to the right to please his new masters–as President Carlos Andrés Pérez did in 1989–the people, following precedent, will cry bloody murder and rise up in righteous indignation.
I’m pleased to see that the opposition candidate at least claims to be from the ideological “center-left”. Even if it’s not true that Capriles will govern that way, it means something–about Chavez’s success in shifting the political horizon in his country–that the opposition knows it could not win an election if it promised to take the country in a dramatically different direction from the one set by President Chavez.
I think you’re right to be suspicious of what would happen if the opposition candidate becomes elected. Consider the “bait-and-switch” politics of 1988, when Carlos Andres Perez ran a markedly anti-neoliberal campaign during which he demonized the IMF as a “neutron bomb that killed people but left buildings standing”. however, JUST DAYS after taking office, CAP proceeded to implement IMF plans for neoliberal reform, a turnaround that led to massive popular protests, brutal military repression, 500 to 3000 deaths, and, eventually, to two coup attempts, the end of the Fourth Republic, and start of the Bolivarian revolution.
It could happen all over again!