By Ernesto Londoño January 8, 2016 2:48 pm, New York Times
Ramos image from article
The American government was thrilled by the landslide victory of the
Venezuelan opposition in last December’s parliamentary election. But Latin
America hands at the State Department couldn’t have been thrilled to learn the
new speaker of Venezuela’s assembly is the veteran opposition leader Henry
About a decade ago, the American embassy in Caracas issued a cable
conveying a scathing assessment of Mr. Ramos and dim hopes for the
country’s then-beleaguered opposition under his leadership.
His party, Acción Democrática, the cable said, is “going nowhere fast,”
partly because its leader is “unimaginative, overconfident and even repellent.”
For good measure, the cable’s author also called Mr. Ramos “crude, abrasive,
arrogant and thin-skinned.”
The embassy cable, which was among the government documents made
public by WikiLeaks in 2010, chided Mr. Ramos’s party for spending too much
time seeking money from the international community and not enough time
courting potential voters. “When refused by one Embassy official, they ask
another,” the cable said.
Mr. Ramos was not in a conciliatory mood during this week’s
rambunctious opening session of parliament. Making dismissive hand
gestures, he directed workers to remove posters of the late Venezuelan
President Hugo Chávez and his handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro, from
the national assembly hall.
The Venezuelan opposition has been beset by infighting and ideological
differences since Mr. Chávez, a socialist leader, took power in 1999.
Opposition leaders banded together last year in an effort to wrest control of
parliament from Mr. Maduro’s party.
The opposition remains a fractious bunch. Some have argued that the new
leaders in parliament should attempt to find common ground with Mr.
Maduro’s government to address the country’s economic crisis and other
pressing problems. Others, including Mr. Ramos, want to focus on ousting Mr.
Maduro. During the opening session of parliament, Mr.
Ramos announced that the opposition will seek to remove Mr. Maduro from
office within six months.