By Alberto R. Zambrano U., from Guadeloupe
After a brief vacation hiatus, Cultura Política English is back. This time to share with our readers the sad, sordid tale of a hack of a politician, the last known Speaker of the House of the former Republic of Venezuela, depository to the popular vote six times —twice as governor, mayor, and president— in the revolutionary republic that came from the worst parts of a bizarre cocktail that sums up nearly a century of Venezuelan politics. The deeds of this peculiar Manchurian Candidate —like the classic 1962 film featuring Frank Sinatra & Janet Leigh— put him at the center of the latest political hostage release by the hands of the communist tyrannical regime that the Chavista administration represents, on that point, we’re glad to express that nationalist leaders like Luis Leal, José Luis Santamaría, & —the recurrent hostage of the tyranny— Vasco DaCosta are no longer held in that dungeon called National Center for the Military Processed at Ramo Verde, Miranda State, the same state that Henrique Capriles Radonski, depositary to Odebrecht’s corruption money governed like a corporation —little boxes included, as our readers will see— of political marketing that got franchised nationwide and got turned into a massive industry that lined up the pockets of opportunistic businessmen with no qualms, utterly corrupt government officials and a country too worried by the pains of daily life, to notice the gigantic racket taking place in front of them, just as the mainstream media collude with politicians to put out this façade of political opposition. Money is, after all, the raison d’être of their deeds.
When Henrique Capriles Radonski became a deputy to the lower house of Venezuela’s legislative, he ran not for his beloved Miranda state. Still, on a closed list after his cousin, Armando “Pelón” Capriles and Donald Ramírez bought for an undisclosed amount of dollars the congress seat for his little cousin in Zulia. At the time of Chavez’s victory back in 1998, the ancien régime held a significant portion of the seats for congress, the Capriles family, well-linked to media, politics, and commerce relations, a young Henrique at the Capitol. In no time, he became Speaker of the House and in the constitutional crisis created by chavismo. They chose to use traditional methods to stage a formal assault against the established constitutional order. It’s at this point that Capriles becomes the first lifeline for chavismo, the sort of controlled opposition that works for totalitarian regimes like the one in Caracas.
Milagros Socorro, in a piece for June’s 1999 Exceso magazine, described Capriles as “different” in that veiled tone, she lets the man express himself as more of the same kind of political cockroaches that blighted the circles of power in the pre-chavismo era. The son of a Jewish womb —a fact he likes to boast about as if it were a plus, and not an ordinary thing— initiated in the Semite tradition of circumcision, this yeke of Marian devotion, of rosaries & escapularios hanging from his neck, this altar boy claims that it was “the man upstairs” —not God, but his handlers whom we will see how they play out in this shameful case—that put him in the place he can claim now. Described as unoriginal and predictable, Socorro’s piece of him remains true. The young leader is bland, bleak, and malleable.
One of the reasons Capriles ended up becoming Speaker of the House was because of the political demise of Luis Alfaro Ucero, a veteran politician with an incomplete elementary education who managed to become a top man within the file and rank of Venezuela’s longest-running social democrat party. In the late 1990s, a political crisis within the parties ensued. The conservative Christian democrats saw a schism after one of their founders, Rafael Caldera, decided to set up his shop and flirt with every single rancid leftist out there. The long-time leader of the social democrats, Carlos Andrés Pérez, loses power, ends up in jail, and his party in shambles.
Chavismo promised to break away with the past forty years of bipartisan rule. Their clever political strategists chose to play the Fifth Republic Movement with the coupster Lieutenant Colonel against anyone linked to the traditional bipartisanship that characterized Venezuelan politics in the past.
Out of that 40-year old political quagmire, alternative leaderships came about, and Carabobo state governor Enrique Salas Römer became the spearhead of the opposition and had enough leverage to influence within the aisles of the Capitol, a candidate to run the Lower House of Venezuela’s congress. After many rounds of closed negotiations with party apparatchiks, Henrique Capriles Radonski, the half-Jewish Catholic altar boy MP from Miranda state representing Zulia, became Speaker of the House.
When Capriles becomes Speaker of the House, he breaks away from the COPEI party and starts to brand himself as a cohesive independent not long after Chavez imposed his Constitutional reform project, a provisional parallel congress called the National Legislative Commission. A de facto political organization that stripped away the legislative competences of the original Congress and Henrique Capriles acquiesced by handing over the political and oversight power that that government branch had to a clique of rancid leftist hellbent on destroying the nation. It’s at this point when Capriles and his gang become useful patsies for Chavismo.
Crafting Primero Justicia
Primero Justicia party was the birthchild whim idea of another traitor named Julio Borges, who after being educated by the Jesuits at the San Ignatius of Loyola school and the Andrés Bello Catholic University, thought with a group of yuppies it’d be a good idea to craft small-time courts of mediation for dispute solving in the underbelly of Venezuela’s slums. So, born out of the corruption inherent to the ancien régime, a state oil company director named Antonieta Mendoza de López wrote a check for a birthing NGO that would bring “justice” to the poor people whose access to Venezuela’s lousy judicial system had them marginalized. Thus Primero Justicia was born. With it, a group of young lawyers like Gerardo Blyde, Ramon Jose Medina, Carlos Ocariz, and Henrique Capriles Radonski quit their Christian democrat party COPEI after it went in shambles and set up their shop as Primero Justicia.
To buttress this social venture politically, Capriles chose to rub arms with a political figurehead with a lot of weight in the early 2000s: Miranda governor Enrique Mendoza, who coached him into his second political campaign as a mayor for Baruta —an opposition district. During the April 11th events, Capriles staged a violent siege on Cuba’s embassy and, after that, landed himself in jail for 100 days, becoming a “victim.” By 2004 Capriles gets re-elected in Baruta, but Enrique Mendoza loses the governorship of Miranda to Diosdado Cabello.
During Cabello’s tenure as governor, Capriles actively collaborated with Diosdado and dumped his political godfather Enrique Mendoza. Four years later, in 2008, Henrique Capriles runs for governor and so does Mendoza. A grave political dispute ensued, and to fix that stalemate, Chavista courts decided to open a judiciary investigation on Enrique Mendoza, barring him from running for election, and thus opening the way for the opportunistic youngster to grab the helm of one of the most influential states in Venezuela.
After winning the state, Capriles begins to build his way as a national opposition leader despite doing nothing for the state he was elected. During his tenure, crime rates skyrocketed, companies left the state, and governmental expropriations were quotidian.
Henrique Capriles did very little to improve the lives of those in Miranda. He politicized the teachers’ union, his handling of the state police like a praetorian guard caused a central government intervention, and he played the victim, claiming that he couldn’t do anything if the central government takes away things that belong to the state.
In 2010, Capriles was at the center of the opposition as a vocal figurehead, and his influence was vast, he gave the ok for candidates’ lists to congress, state legislatures, and township mayors. He convinced the public to participate in Venezuela’s less-than-reputable political system.
Two years of political chicanery after came the only open primaries for the presidency in Venezuela’s democratic history. Capriles dubiously wins the primaries. Every evidence of ballotage was burnt under the orders of Teresa Albanes and Ramón José Medina—, and claims over a million votes in his way, leaving his other competitors way behind.
For chavismo, it was relatively simple to choose Primero Justicia amongst the heterogeneous salad of political organizations that opposed them. Chavistas identified themselves as the vindicators and defenders of the black, poor, illiterate, of battered women, of abandoned peasants, of exploited workers. They tried to create an Imaginarium where they embody the indigenous and marginalized spirit of a disenfranchised group.
Chavismo needed, from a political standpoint, a figure that represented what they identified as the enemies of whom they claimed to represent. They needed opposed models. And they found in Primero Justicia’s boys the perfect element: White, educated, and with money. The racial divide, the class struggle rhetoric —one of the vilest things chavismo did—, conflated a bigoted thought that Venezuelans were of dark skin, indigenous ascent and poor. Chavistas couldn’t confront their self-created image with their predecessors, the Accion Democrática party. So they found in Primero Justicia the perfect fall guys.
The alliance between Chavistas and Primero Justicia was convenient. They partook power like a cake. While Capriles led a national opposition, his allies were procuring juicy energy and infrastructure contracts, laundering money, and systematically bilking Venezuela’s treasury. Capriles’ cousin, Armando Capriles, was instrumental to a multi-billion dollar money laundering scheme with other bankers from the most rancid rings of corrupt bankers ever to set foot in Venezuela. This controlled opposition was a nasty façade that has tentacles in the media, for no outlet exposed conflicts of interests, influence in culture, and daily lives, as it wasn’t possible to consider that Capriles was a puppet.
Capriles learned a lot of political handling by emulating the Petkoff doctrine, he’s the one who incorporated Chavistas who fell from grace with the regime into the opposition: Figures like Luisa Ortega Diaz, Nicmer Evans, Cliver Alcalá, Miguel Rodriguez Torres, Ismael García, and Henri Falcon, the sordid cast of characters with a nasty record on corruption, murder, drug trafficking whom the opposition had to accept as if they had done nothing in destroying Venezuela’s institutions.
Lula’s Model: Enter Odebrecht
El Pdte Lula es un ejemplo para tdos ntros países,en Miranda estamos desarrollando el programa Hambre 0 creado en Brasil
— Henrique Capriles R. (@hcapriles) October 3, 2010
Capriles’ insistence on painting himself as a progressive made him write that tweet. In retrospect, he lived up to it. Because when the Panama Papers broke, the Odebrecht bribe scandal, the Lava Jato affair, and many other corruption cases began to pop up in neighboring Brazil, Capriles, and the Chavista administration were all over the place. When Brazilian authorities began with the investigations, they found out that Construction giant Odebrecht, with stakes all over Venezuela, had bribed Henrique Capriles with a hefty sum for his campaign, asking in exchange that if he won the 2014 presidential election, he wouldn’t meddle in the existing contracts between the Brazilian construction conglomerate and the Venezuelan government would remain untouched.
Proof of the bribe that Capriles accepted were revealed by amateur OSINT blogger Alek Boyd, obsessed with credit we present his findings. On an additional note Boyd’s unwarranted scorn towards the editorial team at Cultura Politica is evident as he blocked our editors and writers when trying to grab him for a comment.
— Alek Boyd “Plagiarism is corruption” (@infodi0) September 4, 2020
Capriles “lost” the election by a meagre 0.5% and called out fraud, and organized a massive demonstration in Caracas, only to have it cancelled hours later in a shameful way, by asking the irate electorate to play a Willie Colon song. After Nicolas Maduro’s fraudulent win, massive demonstrations ensued, and a political razzia full of murder and violence painted the streets of Venezuela with bright red blood as Capriles and his collaborators actively informed chavista intelligence services and police apparatuses of resistance movements to appease and enter failed dialogue sessions that gave lifeline after lifeline to chavismo. First in the Dominican Republic, then in Norway, then elsewhere.
The political repression that ensued in the violent years of 2013-2017 left hundreds dead, hundreds in jail and a country in shambles. One of the reasons why Capriles is constantly trying to build alliances and negotiate with Chavismo is because international judiciary agencies like the Swiss district attorney gave the Venezuelan and Brazilian governments proof of the deposits that Odebrecht did to Capriles’ stand-in guys. So it’s no surprise that under the duress of going back to a cold dungeon of the chavista underbelly Henrique Capriles will be the adequate Manchurian candidate whose latest antics with the Erdogan administration paved the way for the release of many political prisoners and the reframing of a political scenario where parliamentary elections in December are the roadmap for yet another electoral façade that ensures the grip of today’s modern South American tyrannies, orchestrated from Cuba and with the blessing of Chinese, Iranian and Russian counterparts.