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Venezuela's government must take bull by the horns in Capital District strife

By Patrick J. O'Donoghue  Posted by Roy S. Carson (about the submitter)     Permalink
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VHeadline News Editor Patrick J. O'Donoghue writes:  Perhaps the clearest way of  explaining the new political entity of Caracas is to say that the Caracas-Libertador municipality proper has been elevated to a 'Capital District' coming under direct control of the National Executive. 

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez Frias

The government backs up its argument for legitimacy by appealing to the Bolivarian Constitution Article 156.

However, confusion seems to reign regarding the role and future of the current Metropolitan Caracas Mayoralty, which is supposed to "coordinate" five municipalities.  The problem is that the Caracas Libertador municipality -- which is now the Capital District -- along with Baruta, Chacao, El Hatillo and Sucre municipalities are part of the Metropolitan District of Caracas under opposition leader, Antonio Ledezma, who was democratically elected to the post last November.

The territorial organization of Caracas has always been confusing and contradictory. 

As on other occasions, government forces have been hard-pressed to prepare and properly explain the reasons behind the change. Something similar occurred during one stage of the last referendum campaign regarding extending term limits for the Presidency. 

One thing is fighting opposition propaganda and 'dirty tricks' in the current debate, and another taking the time to clarify the issue for citizens who have difficulty in grasping the difference between a Capital District and a Metropolitan Mayor's Office.  Even under the questionable de-centralization process -- which the opposition desperately wants to hang on to, and which, in effect, created fiefdoms and 'caudillos' -- the fact that some municipalities identified as part of Caracas remained within the Caracas Miranda State Governorship was at best unintelligible. 

  • Added to that is the anomaly that people living in Barlovento had, and still have, to transverse the city to reach the Miranda State capital (Los Teques) to complete their red-tape obligations. 

The government has failed to answer why the law was not launched earlier ... for example when Juan Barreto was Metropolitan Mayor. In hindsight, it would appear that the National Executive was aware of the contradictions in the territorial set up when, for example, it took over negotiations leading up to the sadly-lapsed London bus agreement with Ken Livingstone, leaving Barreto high and dry from then on.

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The government also has to answer a concern -- not just of the opposition, but also of supporters of the government, about  the fact that Ledezma got a majority vote!

Since the government boasts about its electoral record, that concern must be answered!

There is a slight suspicion about the current campaign that the National Assembly and the PSUV are showing signs of fatigue after the arduous and tiring referendum campaign and that the constant struggle to ward off threats from destabilizing internal and external agents. 

Let it said that legitimate doubts and concerns must be addressed, if citizens are to agree that it is right to change the territorial and social organization of Caracas, a city that has been hampered rather than helped by a failed de-centralization process.

Patrick J. O'Donoghue

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