Jujitsuing the Populist Binge

Quico says: Primero Justicia’s candidate in Petare, Carlos Ocariz, has finally put a snappy tag on a thought all of us have had at one point or another: faced with a pre-election barrage of handouts by the incumbent, why don’t people just grab the freebies and vote for the other guy anyway?

Misión Agarre (Mission Grab It) is what he’s calling it. Noting that the president and PSUV are planning to disburse some BsF.300,000 to local community councils in the coming days, he said:

Our message is clear: have no fear, grab that money, invest it in public works to benefit everyone in the community, but lets make the urge for change felt by voting for unity and democracy.

A few weeks ago, the people of Petare, with their heads held high, launched Misión Grab It 1. The neighbors accepted the home appliances that government supporters handed out in different communities, but they didn’t sell their votes. And our organized groups will do the same thing, by grabbing the cash that’s being offered to them in the vain hope of buying their votes and their consciences.

So starting this weekend, Petare’s community councils commit themselves to Misión Grab It 2 with no fear, and with their heads held high, so that those resources can be invested, put to work on specific projects to improve public services and the quality of life for each citizen. But, of course, on November 23rd, we’re still going to come out and vote for change and unity.

It’s great to hear this sentiment expressed so crisply, even if you couldn’t really call it new…

I remember it like it was yesterday, the first time I got involved in Venezuelan politics, as a 21 year old, back in 1996. Groovy leftie thing that I was back then, I was volunteering for Victor Moreno, a trade unionist and Causa R’s candidate in a special election for governor in Bolívar State.

In barrio after barrio we heard the same story: the AD incumbent, Governor Jorge Carvajal, was going around handing out bags of groceries on his recorridos. In hindsight, from the perspective of chavismo’s freebie washing machines, it seems almost quaint now that a bag of groceries is all the adecos used to hand out. In 1996, though, those shopping bags were a major challenge for the Causa R campaign.

Time and again, Moreno would plead with folks to grab the groceries and vote for him anyway.

They grabbed the groceries. And voted for Carvajal.

Will they do the same this time around? Two recent polls (here and here) suggests Ocariz will have better luck.

Stay tuned.