Thursday, January 04, 2007

Venezuelan's......Look What You Got.

It's been 1 month.

I guess when it comes right down to it, the majority of Venezuelan's were stupid enough to believe and vote for an abusive, international grand-stander who fantasizes about going to war with the United States. Although Chavez captured 62% of the vote, opponent Manuel Rosales by far had the biggest crowds, enthusiasm, the best slogans and ideas (read below) yet took a beating. It is clear Chavez bought this election with the billions he had at his disposal, with his hold/power over the media and through intimidation efforts. Why do Venezuelans want this guy as President when their country has seen a rapid decline in Freedom of the Press, Political Rights and Civil Liberties, World Economic Growth Competitiveness, Index of Economic Freedom, Business and Investment Risk, Total Competitiveness Rankings is beyond rational thinking.......stats are here.
Aah, try this -

One thing though, Rosales only had a few months to prepare for the election yet still garnered 37% of the vote. From what I gather, if you think the Republicans/Democrats are deelply divided here in the US, one can only imagine the split between pro/anti chavista's.

Daniel Duquenal in Venezuela has this to say.....

The election of 2006 would be very difficult for the opposition. Chavismo controlling everything from state money to the law making system and the judicial system knew that it could get away with pretty much any electoral abuse. Recommendations of the Carter Center, the OAS and the EU observers went mostly unheeded by the CNE, now a plain electoral ministry of chavismo. The only thing that forced some very counted corrections was the fact that Chavez needed a sparing partner for December 2006 to gain a legitimate mandate. Chavez would benefit from huge resources to wage his campaign, so much so that one could say he would be in a position to buy the election. And that is what happened through 2006, Chavez offered so many benefits since 2003 that the chavista abstention would be scared into coming back to vote for Chavez in the idea that without Chavez it would lose all the handouts it had been receiving. Never mind that crime kept its steady rise, that the private sector was unable to create stable employment: the lower classes of Venezuela saw their only hope in some stipend from a government awash in oil money and spending it recklessly.

However there were two complications to the chavista scheme. First, Chavez trusting that his reelection was a given, embarked on an ambitious foreign policy whose objective was to become the heir of ailing Fidel Castro. No means were spared, no present too small to buy the good will of foreign potentates. In an ultimate spasm of hubris, Chavez decided to buy himself a seat at the security council where he could berate against the US at will. This turned out to be a costly mistake, an humiliation that forced Chavez home in a hurry to retake the campaign trail.

This return of Chavez had been made urgent since against all prognostics the opposition belatedly managed to find a unity candidate. Apparently chavismo had counted on a divided opposition, facilitating the job of Chavez to the point of barely having to campaign in Venezuela so instead he could campaign outside for his glory. It was not really a question of Chavez losing the election. At no time any serious pollster gave Chavez below the opposition: only the margin of victory was a question, the opposition candidate, brave and forceful Rosales never hoping more than a squeak in victory.

However Chavez was forced to campaign again because he needed for his future plan a smashing victory, better if possible than the Recall Election. He needed that because he needed to justify to the foreign opinion that all his abuses in Venezuela were accepted by the people, that his model was a successful model, and thus that it was normal that Chavez became an international jet set star telling other countries what they should do.

The campaign that followed these conditions was perhaps the oddest one on Venezuelan history. The opposition candidate had the biggest crowds, the biggest enthusiasm, the better slogans, the only ideas. Rosales kept the limelight most of the time and set the campaign agenda most of the time. Chavez was some distant campaigner, far from the rather small crowds he attracted to his infrequent rallies. But out of sight his machinery worked efficiently cowing into submission public employees, misiones recipients, social beneficiaries and their large yet untouched relatives who were hoping one day to pass at the chavista cash register. Thus the outrageous pressure, the unfairness of the election (again noticed by international observers) would have made the election proceeding unacceptable in any civilized country. But it was accepted for Venezuela because, see, the world needs its oil and if Venezuelans are stupid enough to vote for such an inefficient and abusive government, well, that is their problem. The result was even accepted by Rosales even though the chicaneries of the chavista machinery might have padded up by a million votes the Chavez total. But fraud or not, it seemed that Chavez had bought the election and won. And with that victory he regained his political virginity, all abuses from the past now forgiven, all the power of the state now into his hand with the explicit consent of the stunned masses.

But the opposition has also to accept the blame for the present situation. In front of Chavez millions of dollars and empty promises it was absolutely unable to develop a coherent message. Rosales did try a decent message, perhaps populist and simplistic but at least realistic for the Venezuelan situation. But Rosales never got the time to try to have his message sink into the population, to make people understand that there was another way to happiness than to accept governmental briberies.

The opposition petty rivalries, silly battles for a handful of listless voters made the unity candidacy of Rosales happen only in August of 2006, for a brief campaign against the mammoth chavista machinery. In December 2005 the opposition was surprisingly able to inflict a severe political setback to Chavez. But it wasted the next 6 months pondering the imponderable. There were two ways for the opposition on January 1 2006: either announce that it would not run anymore in any election unless the CNE put its house in order (electoral rolls, voting system) or decide for a quick unitary front and take advantage of a relative weakness of Chavez to start a 6 months presidential campaign. For that the opposition would have required to have a program and a unique candidate no latter than June 1st 2006. On June 2 we did not even know if we were going to see primaries inside the opposition, get a united front or even a program or a campaign. Only some hapless candidates were trying on their own to stir some interests. When we consider these huge faults of the opposition it is almost a small miracle that in three months Rosales managed to motivate 37% to find the road to the ballot box again.

Could Rosales have won with 3 more months of campaign? Probably not, but the result would have certainly been closer and Chavez today would be in a much more precarious position to impose his will. Because this is the real drama of Venezuela. All the way until 2004 a case could have been made that all social sectors of Venezuela supported more or less Chavez or the opposition. But the unfolding of events since 2004 have completed the division of Venezuela into two groups. One group has decided (or has always thought?) that all salvation comes from the state and thus from Chavez. This group is willing to surrender their liberties if needed for a job, a handout or a kind word from a loquacious Chavez. The other group, the minority group, was put in evidence by the short campaign since only educated and politically conscious folks do get motivated in a short notice when there is no major crisis in a country as oil dollars roll in. This is a group that will never accept anything from Chavez, never believe a word from him, that will always see Chavez for what he really is, a snake potion salesman, a pathological liar whose only goal is personal power for ever and ever. It is also a group that thinks that its future resides in its own wits and efforts and not in the state. This group will find dialogue difficult with the other group, and might resist understanding the needs of this group must be addressed convincingly before the former group regains a taste for democracy and free choice.

Thus the cycle started in 2004 ended in December 2006. Nobody knows what is ahead, except for the new principles that will underlay the new struggle.

On one hand there is a president who is crazed by absolute power and still seeks more social control over the country. He is supported languidly by a large mass that will stay with him as long as the benefits keep coming and which has accepted to give him all what he wants as long as they think they will cash in or keep cashing in.

This social decantation is now complete as in front of Chavez the large majority of people who are self reliant and who think that individual choices and responsibilities hold still some meaning in Venezuela are in absolute opposition to Chavez. Never in Venezuelan history has the country split into such two, clearly identified blocks. The future cannot be hopeful and the drama only heightened as Chavez and his supporters need the skills and expertise of those who oppose them to dig out of poverty by real means besides the temporal hand outs made available by high oil prices.


At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Damn Joe, you really have your head screwed on wrong.

You think 7.3 million people (out of 11 million total voters) just voted for Chavez because they are all "stupid" as you say?

Maybe the "stupid" one is the one who would think something like that?

Maybe 63% of the people voted for Chavez because he has changed the country, improved people's lives, and is a much better candidate than the idiot Manuel Rosales.

Chavez got more than twice as many votes as Rosales. Somehow I think you're a little misinformed about the reality in Venezuela. Maybe you should check this webpage, by a gringo who lives in Venezuela and knows a bit more about what is going on.

At 11:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The previosus comment´s signature is missing.
Must be from Sala Situacional-Palacio de Miraflores.


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