Thursday, April 24, 2003

By Michael Rowan for el Universal 18 Feb 03

Last week's column 'Ten Times Wrong' noted the common mistakes of the
international news media about the Venezuela story and Chavez. This week's
column is devoted to ten questions the opposition needs to answer if it is to be
taken seriously by the world:

One, what is your government program? Be specific. Did you arrive at the
program democratically? Did you have a convention where elected delegates
nationally voted in favor of the program?

Two, what is your solution to poverty? Where are the details of the War
Against Poverty you plan to wage? How do you plan to provide the Tools for
Wealth - titles to housing, credit, training -- to the poor?

Three, what is your solution to systemic corruption? Do you plan to eradicate
the monopoly power and secrecy that has corrupted Venezuelan governments
from time immemorial? Specifically, how are you going to do that?

Four, how will you find a leader to win an election that stands for what you
want to do in the nation? Will you have a primary election? Will losers abide
by the decision of the majority?

Five, what are your plans for the oil industry? Do you believe in the expansion
or price strategy? Opening the business to Venezuelans and the world, or
closing the business for the state only? Using oil for wealth creation of the
nation {liberty}, or wealth distribution by the state {rents}?

Six, do you want an economy owned and operated by the state or the nation?
If the nation, what mechanisms will you use to 'nationalize' wealth creation,
liberty, and economic opportunity?

Seven, do you believe in inclusiveness or exclusiveness? If inclusiveness,
what are your plans to include Chavistas in political and economic alliances
for common cause?

Eight, what are your plans to build the nation? How are you going to attract
global and national partners for investment, job-creation, and diversification?

Nine, how do you plan to protect citizens against state despotism? What are
your specific, concrete plans for individual Bill of Rights, judicial reform,
independent prosecutors, and checks-and-balances in the executive,
legislative, and judicial powers?

Ten, are you a departure from the past or are you part of the past?
Systemically, the Fifth Republic [since 1998 by Chavez fiat!] is an
exaggerated extension of the deficiencies of the Fourth Republic [the ever
vilipended system pre Chavez!]. If you are different, how are you different?

Chavez is not what he appears to be to the world, true. But, dear opposition,
who are you?