Sunday, August 06, 2006

Just in case the suspense is killing you. 

Some of us have been sitting on the edge of our seats for the past few weeks waiting in anticipation in for the famous primaries that were going to be organized to select a candidate to run against Chavez. Through these primaries the opposition was to show its new found democratic character. Alas, the opposition has no democratic character and the primaries look almost certain never to happen.

Up to recently there had been three main opposition contenders, Teodoro Petkoff, Manuel Rosales, and Julio Borges. Last week it was reduced to two as Petkoff, polling not all that far from zero support, dropped out. This in a way is a blow to Chavez as I'm sure Petkoff would have been Chavez's preferred opponent. The reason for that is Petkoff spent a good part of his life in 4th Republic governments that brought ruin to the economy and misery to the Venezuelan people. He was planning minister in the government immediately proceeding Chavez's and bequethed Chavez an economy in recession, give-away oil contracts, high inflation, next to no public works under construction, and $6 billion in unpaid back wages for government employees. For those reasons and more Petkoff is widely, and justifiably, detested by the overwhelming majority of Venezuelans. It really would have been entertaining to watch Chavez shred him during a campaign. But that is not to be.

So now the opposition is left with Julio Borges, the Oxford educated yuppy heading up Venezuela's yuppy party, Primero Justicia, and Manuel Rosales the governor of Zulia state. The problem for Borges is there aren't that many yuppies in Venezuela. Manuel Rosales could actually be a formidable opponent for Chavez as he is an effective politician. However, he does have some baggage as he showed up in Miraflores palace on April 12, 2002 and gave Pedro Carmona a big hug as he was instituting his "dictatorship for a day" (I believe he signed the Carmona decree if my memory serves me correctly). I wonder how many times between now and December 3rd we'll see the video of that infamous hug if Rosales becomes the candidate?

Anways, you probably thinking, "well, they still have two candidates so the primaries are still on to pick one". Nope. Rosales and Borges are actaully squirelled away in back rooms to horse trade for the candidacy. Wouldn't you love to be a fly on that wall? One can only imagine how many tens of millions of dollars are being offered and counter offered by the various business and media magnates to have their preferred candidate selected. Not to mention there are the very delicate discussions over how all the future spoils would be shared in the very unlikely event that the opposition actually wins. In the best tradition of the 4th Republic you can't just have one party hogging all the bribes, kickbacks, and looting - they have to share with their bretherin. And all of that needs to be ironed out in advance to avoid any nasty surprises once in office.

So sorry for dissappointing any of your pining for opposition primaries - there aren't likely to be any. But rest assured Oil Wars is on top of the situation and as soon as the white smoke tells us we have an official opposition candidate I'll let you know.


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