March 19, 2009

Pondering whether to cut that anchor loose

Juan Cristobal says: - Today, Venezuela's Prosecutor General indicted former presidential candidate Manuel Rosales on corruption charges, and asked for him to be tried in prison. This is no surprise, as Chavez has been threatening to put Rosales in jail for months now.

What can we make of this?

The first reaction is to point out the unfairness of it all. A completely partial prosecutor's office indicts a political leader and a popular, recently-elected mayor of Venezuela's second-largest city, in front of a judicial system that has zero independence - if we were to leave it at that, the post would write itself.

And yet - what can we make of the stories of Rosales' many business ventures? What can we make of the anecdotes of the friends of Rosales's kids getting university scholarships through the state government? Why have opposition people in Maracaibo been talking about Rosales's farms for years now? Does he really own a real-estate company in Florida?

Because all of this has been circulating in Maracaibo - among opposition circles, mind you - for years.

On the one hand, Rosales may well be the victim of political lynching. There is rich hypocrisy in this government of kleptocrats, of the Cabellos and DiMartinos and Adan Chavezes of the world, indicting Rosales.

But on the other hand, must we show automatic solidarity toward a politician who may very well have his hands dirty? Should the opposition movement be distracted from the important tasks ahead and mobilize in order to "save Rosales"?

I, for one, am not in the opposition to support corrupt politicians.

Sad, we may never learn the truth because there is no chance Rosales will get a fair trial. But I can't be bothered enough by this to make it my cause, specially when he may very well be guilty.

The case against Rosales is a clear provocation, and while we should not be forced to accept the political persecution of the opposition, we can't simply assume he's innocent, not when he has this much baggage.

For years, Rosales has seemed like a half-glass-full politician, talented enough to deliver a key constituency (Zulia), but icky enough to render him intragable to the broad center that we need to conquer.

At times, he and his right-hand man, Omar Barboza, a man with deep ties to Jaime Lusinchi of all people, have felt like an anchor, weighing the opposition down.

So now - do we support him? Or should we cut that anchor loose? 'Cause I honestly don't know.