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Sunday, August 20, 2006

COLUMN: DOES VENEZUELA'S OPPOSITION LEADER HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN?

Although his chances of beating President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela's Dec. 3 presidential elections are very slim, opposition unity candidate Manuel Rosales has launched his campaign with an unusually smart slogan: ''Ni el imperio, ni el barbudo!'' (Neither the [U.S.] empire, nor the [Cuban] bearded one!) Judging from what Rosales told me in a long telephone interview, he will hit Chávez where the Venezuelan comandante is most vulnerable: his penchant for giving away billions of dollars to foreign countries, while nearly half of the Venezuelan people live in poverty. Read the entire column here.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

prueba

9:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rosales will have a difficult time because he signed the anti-democratic Carmona decree and shows no sign that he needs to make a symbolic break with Venezuela's traditional political parties. He should reach out to a new generation of leaders and run a non-traditional campaign. Doing so would ensure that his proposals would at least get a hearing by some of Venezuela's voters who are growing wary of Chávez's foreign spending, divisiveness and penchant for conflict, at home and abroad.

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Carlos Reid said...

Rosales might not be able to win with the Chavistas manipulating the vote count and pulling all the dirty tricks they have done in the past, but if the opposition can turn out large numbers of voters maybe the other Latin American countries will show enough outrage at the cheating that Chavez will lose all credibilty, Al la Fujimora in Peru. Rosales is the best hope in over 6 years.

9:48 PM  
Blogger ow said...

Andres:

This was not your best column. Venezuela has not given away anything approaching $38 billion dollars. I can't believe you accepted that outlandish statement at face value with out asking for it to be substantiated. As a journalist you should be a little more discerning and skeptical. Accepting someones statements as the gospel just because you like their politics isn't acceptable

Also, the polls show Chavez's approval rating at 80% and the number of those intending to vote for him at 55% with Rosales stuck around 17%

11:40 PM  
Blogger roberto e said...

Rosales is a courageous man and I wish him well although the reference to the Empire is kind of sad but I understand he has to and if he believes it it is harmless enough

Sorry OW
whether its 38 billion or 3.8 billion for a country with such a vast majority of its population being poor and with the bad economic planning and corruption at home
Chavez and Co. are looting the Treasury
to be spending it on influence peddling, and unneccessary arms is criminal
not to mention splitting profits with Castro on the oil sold in the grey market market secretly by Castro
if not then why is Chavez's brother involved in Cuba and oil
and why does the proceeds of oil sales find its way back to Switzerland thru the tourism companies/projects including some financed by Venezuelan Govternment Banks

Back in the Cold War Castro did the same deal with Soviet leaders so they could steal even more as well
Castro also did this with Mexican leaders for a long time till Fox

Judging from Calderon's warm and fuzzy letter who knows??
Good article AO

7:09 AM  
Blogger Aleksander Boyd said...

Good article Andres and excellent replies from Rosales. Re OW -aka Daniel Burnett- 'views' be aware that he's nothing but a shill of the Chavez regime, as his mate Weisbrot, and if there's someone's statements that you have to doubt are his own.

Re his chances of winning, here's a bit of history that could help understand previous elections:

Manuel Rosales: "I won't sit in anyone's lap"
By Aleksander Boyd

London 20.08.06 | He may not be a gifted orator but he's certainly saying, and doing, all the right things thus far... Governor of Zulia state Manuel Rosales launched his presidential bid yesterday with a rather surprising show of force that no observer was expecting. His candidacy appears to count on a swelling sentiment of unity of purpose, which is apparently shared by many an enemy in Venezuela's opposition ranks. Presidential wannabes Julio Borges and Teodoro Petkoff forbore their aspirations to work with Rosales. And to top it all off Rosales registered his bid at the end of a week that had started with the news that Chavez's nemesis, union leader Carlos Ortega, just walked from a military prison where he was held unlawfully on trumped up charges.

So what's the significance of this? If I'm allowed some hope it means a great deal for Venezuela and its battered democracy. Once upon a time, nearly 30 years ago, a presidencial race was, against all odds, won by an opposition candidate that according to the polls of the day stood no chance. Unexpectedly this opposition candidate's win came about thanks to the vote of Tachira, Merida, Trujillo and Zulia states. The favourites then were baffled, as Chavez seems to be nowadays. The conditions are quite similar; there was a general disgust towards the irresponsible manner in which the defeated administration had managed the enormous income that had come, quite literally, out of the blue following the nationalization of the oil industry; the press was stifled, one of the last actions of the outgoing president was to present charges against a notorious journalist for allegedly having libeled him... Does that ring a bell?

National Director of Strategy for Rosales, Teodoro Petkoff, gave some startling declarations yesterday. Rightly he pointed out at the many failures of the Chavez administration, stressing that Rosales' campaign will be centered on explaining how to redistribute wealth but more importantly on how to create it, something which Chavez is totally avert to.

Manuel Rosales has an excellent track record in the public administration, not only was he reelected in 2004 as governor amid an abusive and unfair smear campaign deployed by Chavez but Zulia state's electorate, the second in number of voters in Venezuela, is squarely behind him, which in real terms means that he's got already almost 2 million voters in the pocket.

Rosales has said that he will govern for all Venezuelans, not only for those who don red t-shirts to get hand outs, contracts, jobs and so on. In a clear appeal to disenchanted chavistas he stressed that the business of pilfering the country's resources in international adventures that bring no real benefits to the people is to end. Alluding to Chavez's disgusting display of serfdom with dictator Castro, Rosales, a real patriot, stated "I won't sit in anyone's lap, nor will I hold hands with anybody, I respect the people of Venezuela." Touché...

The fact that he has been since 2000 the governor of the most entrepreneurial state of Venezuela and having Petkoff and others on board means that Rosales has a clear understanding of the necessity of wooing foreign investors and provide the required legal framework whereby the sanctity of contracts will be upheld. Again in stark contrast to the attitudes of the current caudillo.

Hugo Chavez himself admitted recently that his dreams of getting 10 million votes is impossible to achieve. His hollow rethoric has stopped trickling down. The premise that the military is fully supportive of his seudo revolution has irremediably been shatered; case in point Ortega's walk from military prison, the alert raised 14 hours after the act.

There are remarkable similarities between Carlos Andres Perez first presidency and Chavez's 7+ years in power. Petkoff expressed his conviction that Chavez is beatable and indeed Rosales may well reenact the feat of Luis Herrera Campins for all the same reasons and more. Should Venezuelans decide to ignore the abstention drive promoted by officialdom and realize the importance of participating massively in the coming elections there's a great deal of chance to revert the current situation.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous mucha said...

Artículo muy bueno
mucha

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andres, did you ask how the USA is "imperislaistic"? We don't sneak in tens of millions of our citizens into other countries and then order them try to force the English lanuage and culture on them. It's the other way around, we take in tens of millions of people from all over the world.
If he is referring to George Bush and his crusade to force democracy on the world, then you he has a valid point

Paul Thorsen
PThorsen240@aol.com

10:22 PM  
Anonymous Mousqueton said...

Aleksander Boyd is a little to abrasive for my taste but I have the outmost respect for him and his committment to his ideas and country.

I believe he is right when he says that we should not understimate the Venezuelan people and that indeed, Rosales may have a shot at winning the elections.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure if they all move out of Weston...

10:17 AM  
Blogger leftside said...

Boyd, instead of character assasination, why don't you try to refute OW's actual arguments?

You also know the figure of money "given away" is not anywhere near $38 billion. In fact, very little is "given away" at all. Yes, oil is sold on favorable terms to many countries - but that is because PDVSA's distribution system in the region cuts out the middlemen and they are generous with payment options. Healthy profits are still being made. Any "subsidy" is just on the financing end of things... and some help in building refinaries. But regional refinaries also benefits PDVSA. Rosales' math does not take into account what 20,000 doctors from Cuba actually costs, or any of the other goods and services Venezuela is getting in-kind. These things are ignored completely, but the people are not fooled.

The post's question is a joke. Chavez will get at least 60% of the vote.

12:58 PM  
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6:29 PM  

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