April 23, 2009


Quico says: Juan Forero's report for the Washington Post on the growing crackdown against the opposition paints a dismal picture of the extremes to which the government's strategy to criminalize opposition is going. It's worth a read, in part, to get a feel for the way the tone of US coverage on Venezuela is shifting these days, even from reporters who have long gone through great lengths to give the government a fair shake.

Personally, I find it hard to suppress a rather naughty thought about all this. Given that the Opposition establishment has proven unable to renew itself, to build the institutional mechanisms it takes to discard failed leaderships and serve as a conveyor belt for new leaders to emerge, isn't the government, in a really twisted way, doing us a favor here?

For years I've been dismayed by the realization the opposition doesn't seem up to the task of ridding itself of its deadwood. It might just take an assist from Chávez to, for instance, break the Blanca Ibañez-appointed Barboza-Rosales axis's deathgrip over Zulia politics.

It's the kind of thing you're not supposed to say in polite company, I realize, but hell, we all know this here ain't polite company.

Luis Vicente Leon, the Datanalisis pollster and Pundit of Pundits, caused a bit of a stir recently saying a leadership like Chávez's calls for a "hero" to face it down: some truly extraordinary personality willing to act with complete disregard for his or her own safety to challenge the regime in a symbolically loaded way.

I can't help but think that the new batch of leaders that will come up to take the places of those now being exiled or jailed are much more likely to play that kind of role. They'll be people coming into it fully aware of the risks, and fully cognizant that opposition, from here on out, is likely to be a semi-clandestine affair. For my money, if Venezuela is to find its hero, it's much more likely to come from the ranks of the up-and-comers, to be someone whose name you've never heard, than one of the established oppo figures.