The curious case of Antonio Ledezma

July 9, 2009

(Este post se encuentra en Español aqui)

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Typically a politician begins his career within a party or a political organization or office and climbs up. But seldom does a politician rise, least of all in Venezuela, then drop and then manage to rise even higher than he had ever managed to get before. This is the curious case of Antonio Ledezma. As times has gone by, not only did he manage to strike a tremendous and disciplined victory and campaign versus Chavez’ machinery  and simpatico pro-Chavez candidate Aristobulo Isturiz, but his public image continues to rise, not only above where he has ever been, but even more surprisingly above any leader of the current Venezuelan opposition.

Ever since his election last November as Mayor of the Metropolitan area of Caracas, Ledezma has become the most consistent and persistent political leader of the heterogenous opposition. He has obviously been helped by the way Hugo Chavez stripped him of most of his duties, responsabilities and funding. This whole affair has been so outrageous and undemocratic, that everyone can see that the votes of the people of Caracas were stolen by Chávez after the fact.

But even more important, Ledezma has compensated his lack of charisma with his energetic approach. Last Christmas it seemed as if only Chavez and Ledezma did not go away for the holidays and Ledezma has fought since then the immoral war against him with dignity and remarkable poise.

What Ledezma has done is to go back to the style that helped him rise as a student leader of Accion Democratica, tiredlessly working day after day. An attitude he brought to his campaign that led him to be Mayor of the Libertador District, a position for which he was reelected to in 1998, but his term was shortened by the Constitutional reform of 2000. And maybe, just maybe, it is only a personal perception that Ledezma lacks charisma, he has beaten Aristobulo Isturiz twice and last November, he managed to beat an Isturiz backed by the overwhelming Chavista machinery and funding. That’s more than most opposition politicians past and present can claim to have achieved.

And taking a move out of Chavez’ playbook, it is now Ledezma that walks around carrying the little blue book containing the 2000 Bolivarian Constitution as in the picture above, a symbol and gesture that Chavez seems to have forgotten or realizes would be a little bit of a farse since he tramples his once ” best Constitution of the world” almost daily.

And in the middle of the Honduran crisis, which is actually boring to most Venezuelans, Ledezma decides to go on a hunger strike at the OAS Headquarters in Caracas, demanding the attention of the OAS and asking its Secretary General Insulza, that he ask all countries to respect the OAS Democratic Charter and not apply selectively as has been done in the last few years.

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And as the Government of Venezuela was trying to get the OAS to agree to have  Ledezma removed, Insulza, who seems to have lost what little credibility he had left as Secretary General of the OAS, had no other recourse to accept those of Ledezma’s demands he could act on, while the Venezuelan Government quickly paid the money due to Ledezma’s office the day before the strike.

And while Chavez barked and threatened on Honduras, but got little done so far, Ledezma grabbed the spotlight (in all but the Government’s media) with his hunger strike, supported by the workers from the Caracas City Hall and the constant stream (and crowd!) of visitors to the OAS. (Even if most opposition politicians failed to even show their face)

And he quit the hunger strike and left today stronger than any opposition politician. He was the center of attention and now he will be received at the OAS (Joined by all opposition Governors, a Ledezma proposal) to formally present the numerous violations of the Venezuelan Constitution and the Democratic charter by the Government of Hugo Chavez.

It is indeed a curious case, how Antonio Ledezma has reinvented himself by going back to his youth, managing to come out of nowhere to suddenly become the most relevant opposition politician. Whether this speaks badly of the opposition is not the point. The point is that Ledezma seems to have more political intuition and desire than those that claim to lead opposition parties, without ever having received the same approval of the voters that Ledezma actually has.

13 Responses to “The curious case of Antonio Ledezma”

  1. Nur_Ich Says:

    Interesting video, Aristobulo talking about why they stripped everything from Ledezma.. especially the last part tells a lot

  2. Syd Says:

    political horseshit from the government of some of the people, just not all the people. No wonder Isturiz prefers to hide when exposing his quítate-tú-para-ponerme-yo ideas.

  3. Mike H. Says:

    Real change (both good and bad) often comes from something or somewhere you never expected before it actually happened.
    I don’t want to get too excited, but this story certainly has the “unexpected” part.

  4. MiguelE Says:

    Whenever I speak to friends in the UK or Australia, they all agree that Chavez tramples over democracy and freedom, but they also ask: is there a leader in the opposition that can stand against Chavez, and I never have an answer.
    Is Ledezma the answer? He seems to be willing to go the extra mile to confront Chavez.

  5. island canuck Says:

    Miguel,
    I have an interesting email I would like to send you however I can’t find a “reply privately” button.

    If you are interested please contact me.

  6. Roberto Says:

    Well it seems that 43-44% of the population has the same question you do MiguelE.

    According to Datanalisis, 43% identified themselves as “ni de un bando ni del otro” in the most recent poll.

    One thing Ledezma does have going for him is his spirit, which he has demonstrated since before the votes were stolen.

    But in one sense, there are too many opposition leaders, each with their strengths and weaknesses. And then there is the matter of who replaces the “anointed one”.

    Whoever ends up being the candidate to run against Chavez, better have big ones, to deal with a post Chavez Venezuela.

    Imagine the color of that sancocho!


  7. [...] El Curioso caso de Antonio Ledezma Julio 9, 2009 (This post can be found in English here) [...]

  8. deananash Says:

    Roberto, you speak as if you believe that Chavez is ever going to hand over the reins of power. He isn’t. (See Cuba/Fidel)

  9. Roberto Says:

    Deana:
    I still think that elections will be held at some point. I don’t think it has gotten to the point, yet, where he can get away with not having elections.

    Granted, there is a delay while the new Law is being “discussed”, but at some point elections will need to be announced and held. I realize we are overdue for some local ones (which should have been planned for this November).

    Of course they will want to wait for Chavez’ popularity to rise, so that the “aircraft carrier” effect is in play, but people will also begin to chafe if too much time passes with no elections.

    It will be interesting to watch as this scenario unfolds.

  10. Hans Says:

    @Roberto, someone sayed one day to me, and I agree with that, in Venezuela 30% vote for Chavez, 30% against Chavez and 40% dont go to vote.

    The numbers as we get them in the end are made up at the CNE. See some threads down miguel has those math. statistiks about the 2004 recall, thats the way it is.

    As long as there are not a majority of citizens going to join the vote its just too easy for the government to make up the numbers…

    Hans

  11. Kepler Says:

    OT: if you have suggestions to add to this, let me know
    (specially GWEH):

    http://desarrollosostenibleparavenezuela.blogspot.com/2009/07/la-boliburguesia.html

  12. GWEH Says:

    Kepler I don’t have suggestions but he’s tied in with Pedro Torres who fronts for Diosdado and JVR. They are Chavez inner circle guys. When Arne Chacon goes to Miami he goes in style. Why a PEP like him (politically exposed person) at his level with his ties can come and go freely from the US beats me… maybe he has no assets and investments in the US but clearly USG is overwhelmed when it comes to sorting out the Bolivarian PEPs and money launderers that use and abuse US financial system. Arne, as a former 4F coupster against the democratic government of CAP can be denied a US Visa on this ground alone (Chavez was denied visa by the Clinton administration for same reason).


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