Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A dog with a bone 

Teodoro Petkoff seems very upset these days. Actually, he always seems upset. I think the main thing is that he is a bitter opponent of Chavez who wants nothing more than to see Chavez out of office (he was one of the primary cheerleaders for the coup that ousted Chavez for two days). For those who don’t know, he runs a newspaper, Tal Cual, dedicated exclusively to attacking Chavez – literally there is no virtually no other news in it. So as Venezuela does better and Chavez’s political fortunes improve Petkoff is not a happy camper.

In any event for the last couple of weeks he has been going on and on about the “morochas” and how they are unconstitutional (for an explanation of what they are see here). Ok, I’ll give him this – they do run against the spirit of the Constitution. I’ll concede that.

But what I don’t get and am hoping that someone can explain to me is the following:

Why in all his writings he never mentions that the first people to employ the “morochas” setting up a dummy party was the opposition. Opposition Governor Lapi of Yaracuy used them in 2000 and they helped his party get more representation than they were otherwise entitled to. And what did Petkoff have to say about this? Nothing. And what does he say about it now? Nothing. Bizarre. Could it be that Petkoff, rather than seeking to inform and set right a wrong is instead just seeking to propagandize? I would hate to think that but….

Next point. Petkoff thinks that the use of the “morochas” has made the opposition under represented on town councils – ie that they didn’t get a number of seats proportional to the number of votes they received. Actually though, I think they are over represented. Here is why. I noticed this clause in the Venezuelan constitution:

Article 67: All citizens have the right of association for political purposes, through democratic methods of organization, operation and direction. Their governing organs and candidates for offices filled by popular vote, shall be selected by internal elections with participation of their members.

So here is the rub. All candidates of parties are to be selected by internal elections, ie primaries, yet the only political party that actually did that was Chavez’s party, the MVR. So by rights wouldn’t all the candidates from other parties be banned from running? After all not a single opposition party has ever held a primary - all their candidates are appointed by party bosses. So it would seem to me the opposition has way more seats than it would if the Constitution was followed strictly. Following the Constitution the opposition wouldn’t have ANY seats.

I have yet to see Petkoff say anything about the opposition violating the Constitution by not having primaries. And I have to say, unless someone can come up with a good explanation for this I’m starting to lose faith in Mr. Petkoff’s objectivity and/or knowledge of the Venezuelan constitution.


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