Venezuela: Some pointers for opposition candidate Manuel Rosales

By Rómulo J. Ortíz

11.08.06 | Manuel Rosales is not new to politics and this much is abundantly evident after taking a quick look at his résumé, he has single-handedly managed to climb up the political ladder from the relative obscurity of the lower ranks in the historical Acción Democrática party, to a serious bid for the presidency representing a broad sector of the oppositionist political spectrum that has unanimously acclaimed him as our best chance to unseat Hugo Chávez.

I must admit that he wasn’t my first choice, but we must not lose sight of the fact that this presidential election is first and foremost a popularity contest and to a lesser extent, a debate of ideas and a clash of ideologies. Manuel Rosales is not Rómulo Betancourt but we could do far worse.

Alas, I have reluctantly accepted the fact that Teodoro Petkoff is simply an unacceptable choice for vast sectors of our society. I guess you could say that he is a casualty of democracy, but fortunately it appears that he can do Manuel Rosales a lot of good as he resumes his role as editor of Tal Cual, just take a look at what he wrote today!

I believe there are a few issues that Manuel Rosales should talk about and on his quest to gain the favor of the undecided/confused and light-chavismo, exposing this regime as the enormous fraud it is in a way that relates to the poor and resentful vast majority is key if we want anything accomplished:

a) Housing deficit: Hugo Chávez promised the completion of 150,000 housing units by the end of this year, the most optimistic projections indicate that we would be lucky to build half as many. He also admitted that his administration has built about 110,000 housing units in 7 years when the average 4th republican government built around 500,000 units every 5 years.

Always living up to his reputation as a violent brute, he repeatedly encourages his beloved lumpen to invade and take over private property; this creates a vicious cycle: a regime that attempts to ameliorate the crisis through invasions that scare away any serious private investors resulting in less houses being built which adds to an ever-increasing housing deficit.

b) Infrastructure development: Hugo Chávez being the great communicator he undeniably is, has launched a goebbelian propagandistic campaign to highlight the massively delayed completion of some iconic 4th republican projects (a 4-station subway line, a 42-Km train line and a 2-Km trocha). What he won’t tell you is that Marcos Pérez Jiménez built 5,500Kms of highways and the despised 4th republican governments left us an impressive roadway network of 95,510Kms.

c) Crime: Numbers speak for themselves, about 4,500 Venezuelans were murdered in 1998, this number climbed to almost 13,000 in 2004 and we should be at around 16,000 this year. We are officially the most dangerous country in the continent! How we could beat Colombia with its guerrilla, drug-related violence and paramilitary groups is simply unconceivable!

d) Disproportionate expenses in foreign aid: This regime has given away US$16,452,828,275.00 according to Hugo Chávez himself (who knows what the real sum really is); this is Bs. 35,373,580,791,250.00 that’s half our external debt folks!

e) Major corruption scandals remain unsolved: Click here for comprehensive coverage on the latest corruption scandals that have shaken the public opinion within the past few months: Central agro-industrial azucarero Ezequiel Zamora (CAAEZ), Fondo nacional para el desarrollo pesquero, forestal y afines (FONDAFA); Judicial city Lebrún; Antonio José de Sucre highway and the Orinoco river bridge among others.

f) Declining economic indexes: Take a look at the steep hike on the inflation rate for 2006, the external and internal debt figures have increased 30% and a whooping 1,500% (all this with a 70$+ oil barrel) and the unemployment figures are completely unreliable because they exclude those benefiting from subsidies issued within the framework of a handful of social programs.

g) Industry collapse and obliteration of PDVSA (state oil company): Click here for a complete independent analysis on the dismal performance exhibited by the former #2 energy corporation in the world. Take a look at some stats taken from the OPEC website regarding our diminished oil production capacity.

I must say I am very optimistic about this recent turn of events. Manuel Rosales seems to be saying the right things and targeting the right audience. He is an able politician and seems to have merged some proposals put forth by Teodoro Petkoff and Julio Borges into his own program.

If the conditions for clean elections are given, he can count on my vote!