Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The buck stops... not with the opposition 

Sunday, Chavez did yet again something virtually no-one else in a leadership position in Venezuela ever does – he took responsibility for some things not going well. For the past couple of years the government has not met its targets for the number of houses it wishes to build for the poor. So this year Chavez set a very high target, 120,000 houses, and has been constantly pushing his government to meet that target. Yet they are still coming up short. Seven months into the year they have only built 43,000.

So on this past Sunday’s “Alo Presidente” Chavez stepped up to the plate . Not only did he admit this performance was unacceptable, saying “This will not do, with all due respect, this is not the way. …but at this speed we will not even reach the corner” but he took responsibility for himself saying: “I am supremely disappointed with myself and my government on this subject and the first responsibility is mine.” In no small part it is this candor and his willingness to stand up and take responsibility that endears him to Venezuelan’s for they are accustomed to leaders always pointing fingers at others.

In fact, just by way of contrast lets look at how those in the opposition have done when it comes to taking responsibility. To start we could look at the “Fourth Republic”, those governments from before Chavez’s election to office, and see what they did. But of course, the opposition, even though it is chock full of people from that era, Teodoro Petkoff, Antonio Ledezma, Marta Colomina, Gustavo Cisneros, and Carlos Andres Perez, refuses to acknowledge that what happened in the 40 years had anything to do with them. Why should we be surprised? After all, even when they were in power during those forty years they didn’t take responsibility for anything. For example, when Carlos Andres Perez in 1989 had the army go into the streets and gun down hundreds or even thousands of people did he take responsibility for that? Of course not – he wrote an Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal blaming it all on the I.M.F.

So given that the opposition won’t take any responsibility for the 40 years they were in power maybe we can look at their track record as an opposition and see at how they do in taking responsibility for their actions then. To do this I will look at their three biggest failures: the coup of April 11, 2002, the strike/lockout of 02/03, and the Recall Referendum of 2004.

First, we have the coup of April 11, 2002 where the opposition briefly toppled Chavez and upon coming to power dissolved the congress, all public powers, arrested others elected officials such as mayors and governors, and overturned the Constitution. Think they’re repentant about it? Think again. In fact, not only are they not repentant about it many of them argue it never happened. In their book it wasn’t a coup but a “power vacuum”. And as far as the overturning of the laws goes it was all the work of than one little man , Pedro Carmona. Surely, the opposition can’t be blamed for what that man did – to listen to them talk you would think they never heard of the guy before April 11th. But at least they must regret having gone on an illegal march to the presidential palace, Miraflores, in an attempt to “get the tyrant out”, right? Not on your life. I challenge and opposition supporters reading this to show a link to where a member of the opposition acknowledges that was wrong. Well, no standing up and taking responsibility by the opposition here. But they still have two more chances.

Next we have the strike/lockout of 02/03. As was mentioned before this attempt to overthrow Chavez by shutting down the oil industry cost the Venezuelan state oil company $13 billion and the country as a whole untold billions more. Given the horrific damage inflicted on the country, if any action cries out for a public admission of responsibility and an apology this one does. All the more so given that, unlike the coup, the opposition as a whole supported and participated in the strike – there’s no blaming this on one person like they do with the coup.

Well, actually, I gave the opposition too much credit. They actually do blame it on one person. And take a stab at that who that one person is that they blame it on. Yup, you got it – according to the opposition the whole debacle was brought about by Hugo Chavez. He provoked and brought about the whole thing. Its not the fault of the thousands of workers of PDVSA who went on strike; its not the fault of Carlos Ortega or Carlos Fernandez who were on TV every night telling everyone Chavez will leave any minute now, its not the fault of the TV stations who broadcast endless pro-strike rantings. “He made us do it” is all they can say. I think I was about 8 years old the last time I tried using that excuse. But the opposition is so infantile they can do no better. And in a further twist of hyper-infantilism they assert that all the damage that was done occurred only because Chavez was too “stubborn” to resign as any “rational” president would have done!! These people have never taken responsibility for anything in their whole lives so I guess why should they start now. Anyways, they have one more chance to step up to the plate.

On August 15, 2004 the opposition finally got what it had long sought, the chance to vote out Chavez in a Presidential Recall Referendum as allowed for in the Venezuelan Constitution. Millions of Venezuelans stood on interminable lines to vote. And when it was done the opposition had been thoroughly whipped – 58% to 42%. The opposition was apoplectic. It just couldn’t believe it. Actually, it should have. The pre-election polls showed it was going to lose. It ran an anemic campaign. It had no alternative program to inspire Venezuelan’s to vote for it. And even its trump card of trashing the economy in the 02/03 strike and then blaming it on Chavez didn’t work as by August 2004 the economy was rapidly recovering and it became apparent to most Venezuelan’s who was really to blame for the prior years economic difficulties.

Surely, this time, after having gotten what it had pined for so long the opposition would have to acknowledge that it screwed up and accept responsibility. But again, not a chance. Moreover, they once again sought to pin the blame for this enormous debacle on one man – Jimmy Carter. If only Jimmy Carter and his observers hadn’t been there and monitored and audited the results the opposition would have been able to successfully cry fraud and gets itself off the hook for yet another humiliating loss. Every time the opposition came up with a bizarre new theory, from computers having limits on how many “SI” votes they would accept to convoluted statistical theories that turned out to be complete fabrications, about how the vote was “stolen” Carter shot it down. Well actually, he didn’t do it all by himself. The opposition doesn’t mention this very often but the vote was also monitored by the O.A.S. – and they came to the exact same conclusion that the vote was clean. Further, all sorts of analysis of the vote was performed by various academic experts throughout the U.S. and they didn’t find any evidence of fraud either. So it seems it wasn’t Jimmy Carters fault after all. But expecting the opposition to acknowledge this and take the New York Times advice to quit pretending they speak for most Venezuelan’s when they clearly don’t is more than can be asked of the them.

So here we have three clear examples of the opposition being unable to take responsibility for any of its mistakes and any of the damage they have inflicted upon their own country. Yet again we see they have none of the intellectual honesty, integrity, and stature of Hugo Chavez. They are simply political and emotional midgets who can’t even tie Chavez’s shoelaces nor for that matter do what any 12 year old should be able to do - admit to their own mistakes. Fortunately, the great majority of Venezuelan’s see them for what they are and they, along with their ability to do more harm, are quickly fading.

UPDATE: I thought this was pretty funny. Either Petkoff needs to read this blog - or he already does and that was his rather lame response.


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