The Obvious Choice for Maracaibo


This Sunday, Maracaibo voters will select the unity opposition candidate to compete against chavista candidate Giancarlo DiMartino in the special election for mayor. The election – for what is arguably the most important mayor in the country – is scheduled for December 5th.

The two candidates vying for the slot are Eveling Trejo de Rosales, wife of Manuel Rosales, and Primero Justicia’s Juan Pablo Guanipa.

Guanipa has been in public life for years now. He is currently on the City Council, and previously was a state legislator.

Trejo, on the other hand, has never held public office – at least as far as I can tell. Good luck trying to find her CV on the web.

Guanipa’s website has content and actual proposals. Trejo… doesn’t even have a website. Oh, but she does plant a lot of trees.

Hmm, let’s see – on the one side we have an honest, hard-working public servant with actual proposals for making the city a better place to live. On the other side we have Trejo, a carpet-bagger with no real experience, no proposals, and whose family is in major upheaval.

Why is this even a contest? Isn’t Guanipa the obvious choice?

Normally, yes, but Trejo is the wife of Manuel Rosales, and Rosales is UNT, and UNT is Zulia. It’s all about cacique-dom, or in this case, caciquess-dom.

Trejo is our local version of Cristina Kirchner, but without the political experience.

Guanipa is a friend. I’ve known his family for a long time, and we both went to the same school. But that is not why I’m endorsing him as the best choice for Maracaibo. The real reason is that he’s the best candidate.

Whoever the opposition selects as its candidate will be the overwhelming favorite next December. Our side walloped chavismo last month by a 27-point margin. On top of that, DiMartino, a former mayor, is hugely unpopular in the city. When he ran for Governor in 2008, he only managed 39% of the vote.

The December election is not going to be a real contest. The real question for voters on Sunday is not to pick whomever can be the “perceived” strongest candidate against chavismo, but to pick the best possible mayor.

Voters on Sunday will have the chance to say whether or not they want to be governed by entitled regional power-brokers, or whether they actually want to be governed by the best candidate.

It’s obvious Guanipa is the best choice.

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  1. Although this is a late comment on Maracaibo’s election, I have to say that I agree with you. I met Juan Pablo several years ago (he is a friend of a friend) and I know he is a part of what you would theoretically need to change the country. But I also know that “the country”, that is, the main public, is not looking for him.

    This is not only about caciquismo, understanding that as the coping of political power from the top down. I think that caciquismo meets halfway with tribes wanting to have a cacique. That is, voters still don’t want public servants but caciques que los manden. The whole social notion of public service is that elected officials are authority instead of servants. Add up a little bit of beauty pageant effect and the result is Eveling beating Juan Pablo like she did.

    I think that even in cities like Maracaibo, with its rich and self developed cultural life and public interest in public affairs, there is a long road ahead before proposals and websites are the way to get to power.


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