February 26, 2007

A response from Alek Boyd re: Primero Justicia

Katy says: Fellow blogger Alek Boyd had a different take on Primero Justicia's split than the one I expressed. I don't have an agenda on this issue, and people should be informed of all views, so I asked Alek if it was OK to publish his private response, and he agreed. Here's what he had to say:

"Well Katy, I have great respect for you, but I think your piece does not do justice to the facts. Before saying anything else let me absolutely clear about one thing: Leopoldo López wins elections, Julio Borges does not. Weeks before the split, I was in Venezuela, as you know. I met with Leo on a couple of occasions whilst there, and I said "voy a menear la mata en PJ" and I think that to some extent I did.

I did not advise López to take the route to public confrontation and shows on the media for, as you rightly pointed out, it would dampen the party's image. Having
said that, and after three months of traveling around the country, I can only but disagree with your take on Borges' alleged popular support. That's just bull, on the basis of his appeal whenever he presented himself nationwide and his electoral track record. I advised Leo to discuss with Julio the party leadership, in private, and the angle I thought most appropriate was the possibility to bring Julio's lack of want to accommodate his demands to international party donors and social Christian partners in Europe, task for which I put my name forth as a spokesman of sorts.

I also told him that the first step in the road to gaining power in Venezuela is to get rid of what's useless, and that applies to Julio, most of his claque and other figures that hadn't been allowed to register in the party as Ojeda and Smith, that Leo wanted at his side. He replied with an argument that seemed fair enough to me by saying that very few people were willing to become involved in politics and that one of the strongest bones of contention with Julio was precisely this business of having a committee approving new memberships, as any elitist organization would do. He agreed that what's useless had to be left behind but countered by saying that the situation was such that even the useless are important. Another chap that was present in the second meeting -very high in the Rosales campaign team with nationwide responsibilities- advised to take on Julio fully in the media. It is obvious that such was the road chosen.

I have to again disagree with you on the use of respecting rigid party bylaws, considering that this is Venezuela we're talking about. As said earlier Julio is not a charismatic leader, he has never won an election and his presence is not widely welcomed by regional party leaders. I saw that myself for I had the chance to speak to many of them. Fearing a defeat should Leo's conditions had come to bear he simply refused to accept them, which by the way were nothing new as laid out in my interview more than a month before the election, and not as you have suggested that it's a result of the party's success in Dec 3. In fact, these petitions were introduced more than a year before, as you know.

Katy, Venezuela is the land of the caudillo, that part neither of us will change. Where we can have an impact is in the propping up of the caudillo with the best chances at amassing political and popular power. Leo's reply to my question "¿donde estan tus delfines?" shocked me; as a progressive, foreign-educated and promising politico I would have thought he had thought about "la generación de relevo." I said to him that he stood no chance of ridding himself of the legal accounts that pend on him and that, for that reason, he had to start a larger movement with a popular base where all the conditions he wanted imposed in PJ could be put in practice, therefore only the best natural leaders could move up the ranks. I also told him that his political future depended on his ability to gain the leadership of the third party of the country.

He looked at me sort of perplexed maybe thinking "I just wasn't thinking so far ahead in time." As any other caudillo he has surrounded himself with lesser caudillos, not necessarily with the most brilliant disciples, but then again the same could be said of all the others. However I do think that he has a better chance at shaping the future of our country; he's not ideal -who is?- he's just the best of the lot.

To conclude, to cast doubts on his charisma based on votes cast in favour of Rosales as announced by the CNE: come on Katy, you could do much better than that...In my opinion pragmatism is key and will be even more in the future. Party rules in times of war? Give me a break."

As I told Alek via email, my experience has been that it's pretty easy to register people in Primero Justicia, and I have done it in numerous times. I had no idea Ojeda and Smith wanted to enter the party, but I'd be surprised if they were serious about it since Ojeda chose to enter Un Nuevo Tiempo instead and Smith has not formally joined another party, as far as I know. As for Borges not winning elections, that is factually incorrect: Borges was elected and served a term in the National Assembly.

It's also fair to remind voters that, while some people may think Leopoldo López wins elections but Julio Borges does not, at least Julio Borges is legally allowed to run, while Leopoldo is not, an issue that is not irrelevant in this feud.