Candidate Watch: Look Who's Coming to Rio


So, guess who raids Caracas Chronicles for her travel schedule?

Just days after we highlight Rio’s innovative barrio pacification strategy, MCM surfaces alongside Rio’s police chief, Marta Rocha.


Almost certainly.

And yet…

For my money, the most interesting bit of the N24 write-up on this is the Photo Credit: “Foto: Prensa María Corina Machado”. Erm, she has an in-house press shop? OK so she’s definitely running for president.

Oh and, I know our one Brazilian reader thinks Sao Paulo’s crime-fighting approach is far more serious than Rio’s. I have no reason at all to doubt that. But, from a Venezuelan point-of-view, that’s like having an impassioned Mac vs. PC argument in front of a guy who only has an abacus to do sums. We are so desperately, achingly far removed from having anything even beginning to ressemble a serious police response to urban violence, the terms of the Rio vs. Sao Paulo debate are barely comprehensible to us.

Oh and, I can’t help myself from pointing out that, according to this study, each additional student enrolled in a Conditional Cash Transfer program in Sao Paulo prevents 6.5 crimes, including 4.0 robberies, 1.1 thefts, and 0.9 violent crimes.

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  1. You know what’s disturbing? The comments over at that madhouse that is Noticias 24. Half of them have to do with MCM’s looks.

    Sad world this one.

    • Bueno, what’s hard is finding ANY ARTICLE on N24 that doesn’t lead to a total monkeyhouse in comments. En serio, they manage to be lewd in posts about like the Large Hadron Collider. I’ve seen threads about Knut the Bear degenerate into political shouting matches – honestly, it’s mental! It’s like the world’s most loutish classroom being led by the world’s most ineffectual substitute teacher, that forum.

  2. “Conditional Cash Transfer program in Sao Paulo prevents 6.5 crimes”…. Vergación, seems like the CCT is la verga de triana!!!

    • “Each additional student enrolled in a Conditional Cash Transfer program in Sao Paulo prevents 6.5 crimes, including 4.0 robberies, 1.1 thefts, and 0.9 violent crimes”

      Wao! That’s hard and convincing data. Let’s save it. We may need it to promote CCT’s in Venezuela, once our CCT modeling is done.

  3. Speaking of MCM, I think she deserves a complete post, talking about her victory over Carlos Vecchio and the chance to become the unit candidate for 2012 elections.

  4. And, she may well be “The One”. But, I sure wish she had a longer resume…

    When all the shouting is over, this county is going to need some seriously heavy-weight management to start putting its house in order.

    • For a while I have been thinking about this argument of the need of a candidate with “proper credentials… experience… CV…”, etc. But let us, just for a moment, put things into perspective.

      Take David Cameron, former leader of the Tories, current UK PM. What “proper credentials” had he got before getting the job?

      Take Barack Obama, former senator, with a rather mediocre, non-illustrious career, current US president. What “proper credentials” had he got before getting the job?

      Take, I don’t know, Rodriguez Zapatero, or Dilma Roussef. What “proper credentials”, if any, they had before getting the job?

      And take Silvio Berlusconi, or Sebastian Piñera. Have their previous record meant a consistently better performance at governing?

      Now let’s move to the local context. What credentials had Hugo before getting the job? Golpista fracasado, agitador profesional, etc. Had his lack of previous experience in the public sector impeded, in any way, his formidable assault on Venezuela, and the combined fauna of politicos with “proper credentials”?

      No country needs *a* person at the top, with “proper credentials”. Rather, what is needed are candidates with an acute understanding of the need of surrounding themselves with outstanding collaborators, while being firm believers in the practice of governing through consensus, dialogue, in a horizontal rather than vertical manner. I reckon we have to drop the caudillismo baggage that is so prevalent. The meme “We need a leader… the leader must have this or that qualifications…” needs be changed, IMO, for “we need a team… let those willing to do something for the country out of moral imperative join x, y, or z (who has to lead by example)…” Alas, who thinks/acts like that in our sphere?

      This is why Venezuela sucks: its leadership sucks, and so do its opposition, civil society, intelligentsia, military, youth…

      • Cory Aquino led Philippines to democracy, and she was just a housewife. However she was deeply committed to what democracy is all about, had the support of good collaborators and the military, and enjoyed high popularity.

        The only part that I don’t agree about your post is that Venezuela sucks. It is my country and I love it, regardless of the difficult situation in which it is now.

        • What are needed are TEAMS, people who decide to build teams and who have a clear understanding of the needs, myths and “rollos” of Venezuelans outside their 20km2 feud.
          What I find worrying is that the leaders we have are people from the richest Caracas families or Mr “Sympathy” César Pérez Vivas. We did not have that ever in the last century and I am not sure that is precisely good at this moment, with the oil boom and all. It can look like a caricature of the opposition.
          Lusinchi, Pérez, Campins, Betancourt: all those came from where most Venezuelans come from and they had a feeling for those regions.

          • The richest Caracas families…
            Your wording seems to be a case of damnation no matter what you do. If there was not a candidate from the “richest families” then those families are not working for the country; if there is one, then they are trying to take over.
            Please, doesn’t this shut the door to well prepared people that may do some good? The truth is that we never know what a leader will do, whether she will be successful or will become another disaster.
            Many world leaders came from very powerful families, just think of FDR, Churchill, el primo Simón…
            And, I would venture to say that the nemesis of the first two managed to channel the “feeling” of many regions and many volke.

          • Fombona,
            We are not in 1810 or in 1930 and it’s not the US or Britain. I have no problem voting for them, none at all, but I wonder how much of an advantage that is.

            I am worried too many from PJ, which is one of the most decent parties in Venezuela, are from Eastern Caracas, went to the UCAB, studied law or something similar and have at least 2 grandparents who were not born in Venezuela. Given that we are working so much based on personality and given the mentality of most of my compatriots, I wonder if that is not a problem for getting elected.

            At the very least I would expect them to surround themselves ASAP with people that come from a more average background.

            By the way: don’t tell me there are not loads of p eople there with top qualifications…they just don’t go to those circles.

            This is too much a “Caracas club” and that is NOT the way to go, Caracas is not where most Venezuelans are.

        • Idania, I think it was Germán Carrera Damas who said that we should leave that “I’m a Venezuelan therefore I’m proud of Venezuela” mentality. That’s rubbish.
          Instead, we should be thinking about what we should do in order to make Venezuela a country of which we can be proud of.

          Because so far, we are not doing things the right way. Just take a look at our hospitals, prisons, schools, government, army, infrastructure and everything else… How can we be proud of that? I love Venezuela as much as you do, and I hope I can help it somehow, but Venezuela is what it is. Before we earn bragging rights about being Venezuelan, we need to get our act together. Customary patriotism will take us nowhere.

      • Alek,

        Thanks for taking my off-hand comment and turning it into point worth discussing. I think I agree with you to some extent that the moral commitment to democratic principles is more important than a track record. But, damn, I wish we could have both!

        As for your “Venezuela sucks” comment, you have stumbled onto an aspect of Venezuelan culture that has fascinated and repelled me, since I got here: I have heard many people bash Venezuelans over the years, but none, as viciously as the Venezuelans themselves. In particular, expatriated Venezuelans are particularly apt to bitterly condemn the culture and morals of their countrymen.

        What I want to know, is do these comments by Venezuelan people reflect mere frustration with the political and economic status of Venezuela, or does it represent a true, cultural self-loathing?

        • Roy,

          We are like the Shi’as flagelating themselves to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, but we do it verbally to commemorate Columbus 3rd Voyage and any other event we can think of.

          • Kepler,

            You are making a joke of it, but my question is not just rhetorical. As an American who has lived abroad for most of my adult live, I am painfully aware of my own country’s shortcomings and cultural blind spots. However, while freely admitting to those, I am proud of what my culture has achieved and am quick to defend it against unwarranted attacks.

            So, my questions stands… How can someone say Venezuela sucks, and still devote the time to write a blog for years, dedicated to defending it from a tyrant?

          • Roy, I thought my reply could have given you an answer. I’m sorry it did not come through.
            My reply was a joke. Whether it is a bad or worse joke is not important. It was a joke. And that’s how we go: from joke to despair, fro swearing to saying how much we love something. Our capacity for a joke can be seen as a possitive factor, but it can also be a very negative one, as one does not take things seriously. I am aware of the joke I am making here, but sometimes Venezuelans don’t realise where the line is…and go on like that every second of their life until they die…without reflexion.

            I think Venezuelans in general have a weird sense of identity as well. Some, particularly the children of immigrants, feel a love for Venezuela but at the same time they are totally at odds with the place, which is understandable, as they were not the ones to choose it but their parents and they see how their parents’ birthplace is – comparatively speaking- less of a mess now.
            They were going to and from those places.

            Then you have the other Venezuelans, the ones whose grandparents’ grandparents were born in Venezuela. The vast majority of them do not know their roots and thus do not know why on Earth they are as they are now and where they want to go (if you don’t know anything about why you really are like that you are less likely to take action and you blame it on the others).

            So you have millions of Venezuelans playing “the eternal victim” or the like.
            I did not realise it before, but Venezuelans are particularly bad at history. They know by heart a couple of silly dates and a thousand quotations from the First Caudillo, but they don’t know where they actually come from, not really – and I mean not just events, but the ultimate whys it all ended up like this.

            That’s my take

          • There is another thing, Roy. I do think there are some nations where this “patriotism no matter what” across every group of society is stronger. One of them is the US. It seems like it is more of a sin there to say otherwise, to complain about one’s country…unless perhaps you are a Chomsky fan or the like and then you think the US is responsible for everything on Earth including Glasgow’s rains.

            I have never seen so many people saying “X is the best country on Earth” as US Americans…perhaps the French.

            Then there are the Germans who also like more self-flagellation…until you mention the war or the bus somewhere else is late.

            Do they really feel that or it is in part society?

            When arriving to the US, I had to take a minute or two to adapt when people I hardly knew said how much they loved me or how they were my friends or something like that. I was like: am I now too Germanized or what? But even Latinos are taken by surprise by those forms. Is this patriotism/national pride outburst also on a similar wave?

            What I do think is that people everywhere tend to exagerate some negative or positive aspects of their heritage (or both things) without realising those things were bound to happen not so much because of some national trait but because of the evolution through decades or centuries in a special economic, geographic and above all educational framework.
            A lot of the bad and good things we see now everywhere ar derived from this last thing and once we understand that we start to say: “no wonder”.

          • Kepler,

            I agree that Americans’ blind patriotism is one of those “cultural blind spots” I was talking about. After so many years of living overseas, I find some American cultural attitudes to be jarring, when I visit. Even amongst my family, there are some topics I cannot even debate with them.

        • Roy, I picked on your initial comment for, the other day, you wrote something along the lines of “it’s about time Venezuelans stood up for themselves rather than waiting for some foreign power to come sort out the mess for them.” Then on this issue, you come up with an equally senseless argument about “proper credentials” as if you were from a country whose history is filled with leaders with such credentials.

          As per your second comment, let me, yet again, put you in place: Venezuelans, as Americans, as Brits, as Colombians, as any other people, criticise their culture, idiosyncrasy, politics, leadership, etc. We are no more vicious than any other people. It may seem inconsiderate to you, personally, but that does not mean that we are in any way different in our opinions, or “self loathing”, as any other people.

          Any person, regardless of origin, with a modicum of objectivity, must accept criticism about country/history, etc., if said criticism is well placed. When said criticism comes from someone, who like me has spent years blogging, lobbying, and generally wasting a great deal of time, energy and money trying to get things to change for the better, then the criticism is all the more valid. In my opinion anyway. So I accept no one’s criticism of my criticism, as selfish as if may sound to you, for my criticism comes from what I perceive is an acute understanding of our situation. Furthermore, my criticism is not borne in a “quitate tu p’a ponerme yo” stance, neither in the ever so common -among our politicos and public people- stance of vying for position and money with a disgraceful lack of care for the general wellbeing. I think my criticism, and that of Juan, Quico, Miguel, Daniel, etc., is, *specially*, valid for as far as I believe, it is sincere, well meaning, we want to improve *everyone’s* parcel, ours being just not in the picture. We are not jockeying for position here, we are not doing it to gain an advantage, but rather to use our capacity, whatever it may be, for the betterment of our country, and *all* its inhabitants.

          Now what seems “vicious, or self loathing” to you is merely expressions of a group of people who are worried to death, sad in the extreme, and generally spiritually sick for the general lack of a collective realisation of what we could be, but aren’t, owing to easily correctible idiosyncratic shortcomings. Most of the people visiting this and other similar blogs are Venezuelans, as I once put it to Miguel, who are a tiny minority, a reduct of the moral fibre still left in our society. We are, mostly, a bunch of well travelled, well educated folks for whom it is physically impossible to keep quiet on the stuff that goes on, or, indeed, put up with the BS that passes for “analysis, criticism, or well meaning commentary” from people that, in our opinion, has not got the slightest clue about what’s really going on. We are a bunch of restless little indians, rebellious noble savages if you will. We have seen what can be achieved, we have witnessed and lived events in other countries, and the persistent questions that pops in our minds is: why not in our country? Have we not got intelligent, well educated people with enough credentials? Have we any genetic impediments? Ultimately, what do Chileans, for instance, have that we haven’t got? In answer to every question, what we lack is a self defeating sense of purpose, we don’t know what we are, as a people. Our identity has been shaped by charlatans, by crooks, by epitomes of the “quitate tu…” And so it hurts to see where we are at. To me at least.

          While we live with this constant moral burden, the least we can do, for our mental sanity, is to rant among peers whom we think are in a similar position.

          • Alec,

            That was honest, intelligent, and heart-felt. Thank you, and I feel very much the same, even though I am not Venezuelan by birth.

          • De nada Roy. Apologies for the mistakes above, as you seemed to have perceived it, it came from the heart:

            “In answer to every question, what we lack is a self defeating sense of purpose, we don’t know what we are, as a people. ”

            Should read:

            “In answer to every question, what we *have* is a self defeating sense of purpose, we don’t know what we are, as a people…”

          • Alec,

            I understood what you meant the first time, but if I may…

            “What we have is a self-defeating lack of a sense of purpose.”

            No sweat…

  5. In this day and age, a resume is almost a liability.

    She’s up there. The only reason we don’t talk about her more is that her polling numbers are lower than I would expect them to be. But she’s definitely in the top tier of potential candidates, I think.

  6. Violeta Chamorro, the Unity candidate against the Sandinista government, won without much of a resume, other than a general promise to “make a new start” sin represalias.

  7. OK you guys!

    One question: if MCM’s very pleasing physical appearance is all anyone cares about, and her intellectual prowess and well- known political courage are being discounted by it, then WHY did you feel it was so appropriate to show us all her picture?

    Her open-mindedness and good will shine out of that picture.
    It will be fun to see how Hugo The Ugly responds to such a candidate.

    She absolutely perfect.
    Why did it take us so long to notice?
    – Because we never saw her picture…




    • Well, they usually use the picture of whoever they are talking about. In this case, even more relevant, since she is with Rocha.

  8. MCM is not only beautiful, mind you. As quico says in his next blog, on candidate standings, she is cunningly effective and driven.

    My position has been that given venezuela is a de-facto matriarcal society, where everyone has a mom, echa’ pa lante! that pulled them through on a shoestring, los saco pa’lante como pudo, pues; her appeal to the working mothers and their children can be massive if well managed.
    Her cons: sifinismo and good looks need to be discussed up front. WTF is wrong with that? are we no all proud of Venezuelian beauty queens? well, this one has a brain and a strong love for her country too…
    And yes, it scares Chavez to death to have to to compete with her more than anyone else IMO.
    HAving said this, the sad part is that this electoral circus has caught up again, and the next 18 months are lost in everyone’s minds playing the electoral game, while the real game contiues unchecked.


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